Dr Carla Dunbar — Rebuilding Jamaica, one marriage at a time

By KIMBERLEY HIBBERT

Monday, January 01, 2018

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SHE is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, a down-to-earth, fun-loving person who is passionate about the ministry of Jesus Christ, wholesome relationships and serving the community.

In addition, she earned the moniker 'Professor Sex' from the late Ian Boyne, for her unorthodox position on sex in Christian relationships and the work she has done in sex therapy as well as marriage and family therapy.

Born in Kingston but raised in Yallahs, St Thomas, and Buff Bay, Portland, Reverend Dr Carla Dunbar, minister of religion, marriage officer, marriage, family and sex counselling therapist, author, motivational speaker and personal development coach at Carla Dunbar Ministries, spent her childhood days assisting in a grocery shop operated by her mother. At one time she even thought she might become a shop owner or an accountant.

But Carla Dunbar was entranced by the rhythmic spell of the drums in St Thomas, home of Kumina –a religion brought to Jamaica by enslaved Africans from the Congo region, which involved practices including secular ceremonies, dance and music accompanied by resonant drumming. Carla spent her young life dancing Kumina as often as she could. She even danced on 'Ring Ding', the children's talent programme hosted by the incomparable Louise Bennett.

Carla was only 12 years old when she met her future husband Nalo. He was four years her senior, but she went to live with him at that tender age. She dropped out of school because of her relationship with him, and had her first child at 13.

Undeterred, Carla Dunbar eventually became a Christian and was imbued with a burning passion for learning. Her spiritual life grew very quickly and her involvement in the church piqued her interest in other areas such as counselling.

“I had served in different areas of the Buff Bay Church of God of Prophecy from my second year as a Christian — from youth director, church clerk, pastoral aide, evangelism — I was really immersed in the church. Some community residents were coming to me with their problems, so after sitting six exams and reading my girls' CXC books, I decided to sit two subjects, got them, did two more, got them, and when my eldest daughter failed Human and Social Biology I resat the exam with her to motivate her, and I got that too. Based on my involvement in church I decided I wanted to be a guidance counsellor. I applied to Mico Teachers' College, was accepted but could not afford it, then one of my cousins, Sherry, told me about Jamaica Theological Seminary (JTS) and I applied, got in, but couldn't afford it. I deferred it to the following year, and Nalo saw me through school, as with everything else. He was, and still is, the best provider ever,” she admitted.

While at JTS, Dunbar was appointed associate pastor at her church, and through her time spent at the seminary she developed a keen interest in marriage, family and sex counselling therapy and was encouraged to pursue it further.

“Sex was just intriguing. No one on campus talked about sex and [I found that strange]. After all, people were doing it, in my opinion, but they remained silent. I saw it in the Bible and in the library books at the seminary, so I was just provocative and wrote about it in my term papers. I always found a way to write a paper about it, and whatever the theological assignment was, sex found a way in. My lecturers loved it and encouraged me to pursue it,” she shared.

From there Dunbar became a certified sex and family therapist at the Institute of Sexual Wholeness and a certified life purpose coach at the Hopelyn International and Fowler International academy.

This led her to pursue a career, which quickly took off among Christians who saw her teachings as a form of empowerment at a time when many churches thought it taboo to openly speak about sex to their congregations and to young people.

“The word of the Lord clearly states that “My people suffer because of a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6) I believe when people are empowered with correct information we make better and informed choices, so whether married, single or teenagers, armed with knowledge of healthy sexuality and proper usage of sex will lead to greater appreciation for the subject. Hence I teach, preach, instruct, and in my book Sexcription: A Prescription for Sex, I demonstrate,” she said, adding that she also devised a 10-step healing programme called Conquerors Recovery taken from Romans 8:13 to help people who have been sexually abused.

As part of her work, Dr Dunbar hosts three events each year to enhance and promote relationships and families. They are the Families Prayer Breakfast of the last Saturday of April each year, where she meets with participants to pray for marriage and families; the July 'Loving Without Limits' conference with a fashion show, which includes male and female lingerie and cabaret entertainment; and the last weekend in October is 'Sweet Escape' where participants are taken to a different resort each year for fun time.

Today Dr Dunbar has an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy in the Humane Letters, an award she received for her work with marriage and family, and a Fellow of the Most Excellent Order of International Experts (FOIE), which is given for recognition in the field of marriage and family counselling.

Dr Dunbar has also visited the White House, the US State Department, and represented the Caribbean as keynote speaker for the Caribbean African Leadership Conference at Howard University, and was the sole Caribbean panellist during the Congressional Black Caucus.

Outside of her professional work, Dr Dunbar engages in a number of community initiatives that include a dominoes crusade — a form of sports ministry she uses to reach men — and gives back through community projects, expos, and hosts a Christmas treat every year for the less fortunate.

Dr Dunbar believes that she can do all things through Christ who gives her strength, and that anyone can create an impression but not everyone can create an impact.

“I live to impact. I perform for an audience of one — God. Since He cannot be impressed I have no desire to impress anyone, I just give my best to all I do. My professional mantra for Carla Dunbar Ministries & Counselling Care is 'Rebuilding Jamaica, One Marriage at a Time.”

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