Wed | Nov 29, 2023

For 15 years Choose Life’s been ‘helping people live’

Published:Tuesday | October 3, 2023 | 12:09 AMAsha Wilks/Gleaner Writer
File photo shows Sheryl Baker (centre) speaking about her son while Dr Donovan Thomas and his wife, Faith, founders of Choose Life International, look on at the World Suicide Prevention Day seminar at the Jamaica Conference Centre on Port Royal Street in K
File photo shows Sheryl Baker (centre) speaking about her son while Dr Donovan Thomas and his wife, Faith, founders of Choose Life International, look on at the World Suicide Prevention Day seminar at the Jamaica Conference Centre on Port Royal Street in Kingston on Friday, September 14, 2018.

CHOOSE LIFE International (CLI) was lauded on Sunday for its all-encompassing approach and dedication to making a difference in the lives of people in Jamaica, the Caribbean, and across the world.

The faith-based suicide prevention and grief counselling agency marked its 15th anniversary under the theme ‘Celebrating the Past ... Engaging the Future’.

Staying true to its tagline ‘Helping people live,’ CLI, which was founded by Dr Donovan Thomas and his wife Faith, has been playing a role in supporting and empowering schools, churches, business entities, and the larger community in the prevention of suicide among adolescents, children and adults.

The organisation’s primary objectives include helping to save lives, assisting individuals in putting their past wrongs behind them, helping individuals to forgive others, and assistance in them leading happy lives.

Additionally, the group makes sure to take advantage of every opportunity it has to spread the teachings of the Christian religion through its chaplaincy programme, which provides wellness support to the business community.

In his testimonial shared at Sunday’s anniversary webinar, Fitzroy Williams detailed how the founders of CLI were there for him and his wife Constance, who suffered the loss of one of their daughters on April 15, 2015, to suicide.

He acknowledged that Thomas and Faith journeyed with the family through all the stages of grief and never once made them feel alone.

Noting that although, for his wife and himself, the trauma of their daughter’s death still lingered in the household and that the experience felt like yesterday, the partnership that he has built with CLI has only grown stronger and has benefited his family in significant ways.

He continued: “One of the things we can say, without a shadow of a doubt, is that at no point in time did Donovan and Faith and Choose Life (International) consider any financial obligations,” noting that their desire and dedication to support him and his family was paramount.

Board Chairman for CLI United States Dr Patrick Perrin, in his remarks, thanked God for the work done by the organisation that has helped to rescue lives.

“The fact that we are celebrating year 15 means that CLI has a proven track record, thanks to Dr Donovan and sister Faith,” he said.

Perrin added that he was certain that God had called them and provided them with the skills and knowledge required to make such a significant impact on societies around the world.


Robert Levy, chairman of Jamaica Broilers, commended the organisation for their continued ministerial impact and support in saving lives and touching families in Jamaica.

“We pray for you and ask that the Lord will continue in a wonderful way to expand the borders of your ministry, way beyond even what you presently dream,” he said.

In their own reflection, Thomas and Faith recounted how they both quit their corporate jobs to establish CLI.

“I remember when the feeling was so overwhelming that I took some time off, a year’s sabbatical, to pray and seek the Lord; and in an unquestionable way, the Lord called us to start Choose Life International,” Thomas stated.

He added that the ministry was initially comprised of them and one volunteer.

Faith, who quit her 19-year corporate position, recalled being called by God and how anxious she was to move on with her life, so she could do more “hands-on counselling”.

Reverend Stevenson Samuels, senior pastor at the Waltham Park New Testament Church of God, who was guest speaker, looked at the Scripture Matthew 28 verses 18-20.

With a closer look at verse 19 which reads: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost,” Samuels commended CLI for being “ministerially proactive” and “missionally centrifugal”.

“When Jesus gave us this great commission, we were not to be a kind of reactive movement, a reactive ministry, a reactive church...but we are supposed to be proactive, and isn’t that what the work of CLI is doing?” he said, praising CLI for introducing initiatives and developing programmes to prevent suicide. He also exhorted the organisation for making themselves available for those cases where suicide has already occurred, in order to offer grief counselling.

Samuels further commended the CLI for being a global outreach organisation that was inclusive, unique and compassionate. He also saluted them for gaining, generating and growing disciples for Christ.