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A Glimpse Into: The Birth of A Vision

Bishop Malachi Nelson

On April 9, 1967 a baby boy was born to Ms. Ethel Facey in a small community called Cockburn Pen in St. Andrew, Jamaica. Little did she know that the name she chose for him was a prophetic statement of who he was to become.

Pastor Malachi Wayne Nelson is the under-shepherd for Faith Tabernacle of Jesus Church. He has often been heard to say “God is my boss!” because he believes that he words for the Almighty God, to whom the church belongs. He knows that as a pastor, his role is one of service to those who have been entrusted to his care.

But, where did it all start? I had the privilege of interviewing Pastor Nelson and he is a remarkable individual who possesses a humble spirit. At the age of nine, he moved with his mother and some siblings to Warsop in the parish of Trelawny. His decision to get saved was inspired by a picture in a book that depicted hell. That was enough to push him towards his Saviour because he so desperately wanted to go to heaven. At the age of fourteen, he gave his life to the Lord in the Warsop United Pentecostal Church. From that early age, his desire was to become a preacher and he craved the Word of God. He also fell in love with praying, which became a way of life and the source of his strength.

He attended Elim Agricultural (Boarding) School and remembers great financial challenges, but never lost sight of his goal and would often “preach” to the other boys. He laughed while bashfully recalling that he gave the other boys in his class little to no choice where listening to his messages was concerned. In his childlike zeal, he would restrain them with wisps of grass to force their attention! He was always a fighter and so the other boys feared being “disciplined”. If they did not focus on his every word. Pastor Nelson eventually became the President of the Christian Fellowship Group in his school and preached his first official message to this body of students. He remembers the anointing of God coming down in that meeting like a fog. His pastor, Laurrel Dawson, visited one of those meetings and was impressed by what he saw. When Pastor Nelson returned from boarding school, he was asked to preach in his church for the first time and the service was one with a difference. The desire to become a pastor was forever imprinted in his spirit.

When prompted to speak on how the Faith Tabernacle of Jesus Christ (Cayman) was started, he explained that his brother, Bishop Leonard Nathan constantly suggested the idea to him. Pastor Nelson tried playing a secondary role at other assemblies but eventually heeded God’s call to lead. He had nowhere to hold services at first and sought Bishop Nathan’s guidance. In February 2008 he hosted a service in the ballroom of the Marriott Hotel with five other persons. One week later the space at 3 Dorcy Place was leased, and the first of many subsequent services was held. Pastor Nelson was officially ordained on 30th November 2008 by Bishop Nathan and became an official team member of this worldwide ministry. Bishop Nathan visited the Cayman Islands to ensure that the church was on a firm footing; his support and assistance were invaluable.

Pastor Nelson’s aim is to go to heaven and everything he does is affected by this. He laughingly confessed that his weakness is sometimes being so heavenly-minded that he is of little earthly good. His favourite scripture is Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” This gives him the ability to express thanks to God even when facing an unpleasant challenge.

His greatest challenge in this fairly new role is learning how to balance work and church. He does not feel that justice is being done to either side because he has to split his attention between both. He firmly believes, however, that God will open doors according to His perfect timing, which will allow him to focus all his energies on the work of the Lord. Learning to deal with the various spiritual and temporal issues that arise in the body of Christ has been another challenge. He has learnt that people will portray themselves in a certain light, but at the end of the day, we are all flesh and prone to God.

He is a better person for his experiences and therefore no longer has unrealistic expectations of others. He however feels hurt when the work of the Lord is taken for granted and not carried out with the care and reverence that it deserves. The solution to every struggle he faces is found in prayer, as it enlarges his finite view to God’s broader perspective. He pensively stated his aspiration to become a friend of God like Abraham, whose blind trust allowed him to be led by God to a place he had not known.

His vision for this ministry is, as the church’s mission statement suggests, “Living God’s will, building His kingdom”. This is pertaining to the whole man: body, soul, and spirit. He envisions the church catering to the needs of the community through its own schools, counsellors, hospitals, law firms, banks, etc. The church should produce godly men and women who will nurture, teach, and inspire the next generation. He believes that the children of God should have access to and own the best, so they can in turn extend the love of God in not just a spiritual but temporal way also.

Pastor Nelson’s partner in life is Pastor Sonica Nelson and he proudly stated that they have a combined household of five children. Pastor Sonica Nelson brings perfect balance to his life and is his best friend. When asked what being his wife is like, Pastor Sonica Nelson declared it to be an exciting, but demanding and challenging role. It has motivated and pushed her to move to new levels in God. She was forced to come out of her comfort zone to ensure she will always be the kind of First Lady that Bishop Malachi Nelson can be proud of. When asked what she loves about the man of God, Pastor Sonica Nelson blushed and said her husband is awesome! She absolutely loves his smile, the gentle way that he has about him, his optimism that is not easily dampened, and his dedication to family. She thoroughly enjoys their conversations, which reveal both the playful and serious sides of his personality. She admires his tenacity, which makes him willing to die for the things he believes. She sees him as her perfect head, and loves the God in him that enables him to love her without reservations, despite all her flaws.

As the name Malachi suggests, Bishop Nelson is truly a messenger of God. I believe this is only the beginning of the great things that are in the mind of God for him. He has come this far by faith, and he will continue growing from strength to strength. This glimpse of his vision will never do justice to the glory that God already has and shall reveal in him.

Interview by Carren Lewis-La’Cruse