Trauma's Wounds

By Mark Ventrella

If you like to read the news, you notice that with every day that passes, more and more people are traumatized by incidents like war, conflict, natural disasters, domestic violence, and human trafficking. In the midst of all this suffering, knowing that Christ took our suffering on himself on the cross is truly good news. In response to this suffering, many have developed an interest in how to help people heal from their suffering, especially as we see how this suffering often blocks their relationship with God.
 

Trauma’s Global Reach

Trauma affects everyone, regardless of geography, social class, race, age, or gender. Trauma knows no boundaries - “all creation is groaning” (Rom 8.18ff). Trauma often destroys relationship, voice, power, and safety. It’s the felt experience of God’s absence and healing has to restore those things. In this context, it is important to see how the Gospel speaks directly to the issue of trauma healing. In the Scriptures we read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted… (Luke 4:18-19)
 

Our Response

That is why The Well has sought out ways to partner with Thai ministries and churches to help survivors of trauma engage with Scripture and experience the healing of their heart wounds.

In January, The Well International is partnering with Cornerstone Counseling Foundation to offer an Initial Equipping session for those who would like to learn more about how to use the book “Healing the Wounds of Trauma: How the church can help.”* This material is designed specifically to train people in basic trauma care. This book originated from interactions with pastors and lay leaders in Africa. As the 1990s drew to a close, more and more countries in Africa were experiencing war and civil unrest. Pastors came to a group of Wycliffe cross-cultural workers saying, “Our people are acting strangely since the attacks: we don’t know what to do!” So, in 2001, a small group met to write lessons regarding what the Bible offers people in times of prolonged, unjust suffering. The group included mental health professionals, Bible translators, Scripture engagement consultants and African church leaders. The lessons were then tested with suffering people and subsequently, first published in 2004.

This program fuses fundamental concepts from mental health and from the Word of God. Both are crucial in healing. The method of instruction in this program is participatory and experiential. It uses the insights of adult learning theory - that people must participate in order to learn. So, it uses things like stories, exercises, art, reflection, role-play, practice, and personal application.  It is also created to be accessible to all people. It’s aimed at early middle school reading level as a way to help all participate and for none to be shamed/embarrassed by not understanding. However, simple vocabulary does not mean we’re dealing with simple issues. These are the deepest issues that all humans deal with. In this way, we are working to train lay and ministry people in a new way (participatory) about faith and trauma and new ways of thinking about how to engage the community in a dialogue that has benefits hurting people.

* Hill, H., Hill, M., Bagge, R., and Miersma, P. (2016). Healing the wounds of trauma: How the church
    can help (expanded international edition with supplemental lessons). The American Bible Society,
    Philadelphia, PA.
* For more information, please visit the Trauma Healing Institute at the American Bible Society:
    http://thi.americanbible.org