Patricia Salmon: Answering her call
Patricia Elaine Salmon recently made history in the Missionary Church of Jamaica when she was ordained as the first female minister at the Calvary Missionary Church in Highbury, Morant Bay, St Thomas.
She was surrounded by a large congregation of visiting friends, colleagues and representatives from the Christian fraternity, and her mother – Celestine Dunkley, a retired nurse. Here is her testimony:
As far back as I can remember, church has always been an integral part of my life. I was always an active member of Sunday school. As a single parent, my mother would send us to church every Sunday, and my education started in church, learning verses and Bible stories which taught me morals, values, and godly principles. I knew from then that God was special and that He cared about me. I was encouraged to participate in church programmes and activities.
At age 11, I had a vision. I call it that because it was not a dream; this vision was very similar to that of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament. I was walking on the road when a bright light shone down from heaven and the voice of God called me by my full name and told me he was ready for me. In the vision I became aware that it was God calling me not just to serve Him but to do something special for Him.
Life was very challenging because I was part of a dysfunctional family, and I had two near-death experiences. But God delivered me from them all. In my last year of high school I was so troubled that at nights I could hardly sleep because of a recurring nightmare. I had the ability to perform academically, but had lost interest in school because I was so focused on my problems. I was recommended to sit nine CXCs which I did, but only passed two. But God helped me. He blessed me with a mother who taught me not only to love Him but to value education. She assisted me in resitting my subjects and I was successful.
Today, I have a master of arts degree in counselling psychology, with honours.
Many times the Holy Spirit would remind me of that vision (I had when I was 11) and would tell me that the Lord had a special task for me. There was another occasion when a bishop prophesied over my life as being specially called by God. This happened at a convention. I had just delivered a message to the church when he came over and confirmed that I was being used by God. Over the years, there were times God revealed things thought dreams, the Word or giving me direct messages.
I felt persons would not believe that I was hearing from God, so, most times I kept it to myself. But confirmation came when my dreams became realities. Also, I was convinced and convicted that it was God who had placed a call upon my life because I had no peace of mind when I resisted. Every experience in life kept leading me back to God and His words.
At age 18, when a friend invited me to Calvary Missionary Church, I was taught the Word. It was explained to me so that I could understand who Jesus was and what He had done for me. However, I still struggle with unresolved issues and an ongoing nightmare that came from a near-death experience when I was in third form. Someone attempted to murder my family one night, but God delivered us. I was so filled with fear but in the back of my mind I believed God was real and that He had rescued us from death.
I was a normal individual who became caught up in a flashy lifestyle and so my time was spent working and doing what I called ‘enjoying life while I was young’. But God would never let me go.
There were times I was at a party dancing, and in the middle of the dance I would hear a voice saying loud and clear, ‘What if God should come and find you here? Would you be ready to meet him?’ Immediately I would stop and sit down, and I was the only one to hear that voice, none of my friends heard it.
So, the Lord began putting plans in place to get me to move on to what He had called me to do. It started with me being made redundant from my job. I made plans to go to UTech to do pharmaceutical study. I even got the voucher to pay for my first year but God led me to the Jamaica Theological Seminary to do guidance and counselling instead.
God provided for me in every way – my time spent at JTS was surreal. The Holy Spirit constantly spoke to me and guided me every step of the way, and when I felt like giving up (and there were times when I thought I would), He never let me. The Holy Spirit literally spoke to me and I knew His voice.
I feel blessed and highly favoured, knowing that this is a part of God’s plan, and that I am the vessel that He is using to fulfil His plan. It was never my plan to create history. I’m simply trying my best to please my Heavenly Father.
It is my desire to obey Him and to do his will. Now that I am thinking about it, my desire is for God to use many other female members to do His will and His work. The onus is on me to be an example – to be that servant of God whose life will encourage others to not only come to Christ, but to commit themselves to ministry also.
My focus is sharing the undiluted Word of God, and to help others to identify their specific ministry/calling and to serve God with all their heart. I unreservedly declare that my life has no value unless I can point persons to Christ and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them.
Ministry is not to be taken lightly – be sure that it is your calling before you commit. Our God requires individuals who are willing to deny self, take up the cross and follow. Ministry is challenging, but always remember that ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength’ (Philippians 4:13). It is also important to have the support and prayer of significant others and to trust God at all times, even when you don’t understand the circumstances. I must say that God loves us with an everlasting love. His love is unconditional. He never fails to blow my mind as He keeps giving and giving. He never gave up on me and I know He never will. I recognise that I need Him now more than ever and my desire is to please Him.