Trauma is defined as a wound or shock produced by a sudden injury, as from violence. It can also be a psychological event that results from a painful experience. I think we can all relate to a personal experience like this at one time or another. Depending on the intensity of that experience, it can stay with us a long time and conjure up strong emotional feelings. Sometimes, these scars still affect us years later and prevent us from enjoying the abundant life God intended us to live.
I serve at Water Mission, a Christian engineering firm focused on bringing safe water, sanitation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ to developing countries around the world. Recently, a humanitarian crisis in South Sudan has incited a huge need for basic services that we can provide in refugee settlements. Safe water systems and latrines are improving the quality of living in these camps, but the wounds carried by these people requires a different approach.
As our team interacted with refugees in the settlements, we learned of their horrific experiences during the war in South Sudan that had left them traumatized and depressed, as well as angry at their oppressors. They had no outlet to share their pain, which left them with emotional baggage that weighed them down. In response, we hosted a four-day trauma healing program that focused on Biblical-based forgiveness and reconciliation. Participants received their own Bibles and many came to know the Lord, once they were touched by the reality of His love for them.
One of our pastors, Reverend James Ddembe Izimba (Water Mission Uganda), put it this way: “The role of the Church in refugee settlements is critical because it fills a gap only the Church can fill. Different agencies in the settlement [provide safe water]. However, this doesn’t offer a solution for the troubled and desperate soul. The Church is really a hospital for the soul.”
As I consider the trauma I have encountered in my life, it pales in comparison to the stories we hear in Africa. No one should have to endure tragedy like that. However, I’m grateful that we serve a God who has the power to work in and through tragedy in order to achieve triumph. The very image that embodies my faith — the cross of Calvary — is the ultimate trauma healing. My Savior comes to me in every type of pain imaginable and ministers to me, because He went through unimaginable pain Himself. And He did it for me. That is the message that has the power to heal the broken hearted.
I would encourage you to find healing for your soul in the words of our Jehovah Rapha — the God who heals. Let Him speak to you and give you peace that will deliver you from pain, restore your joy, and give you hope for the future.
“But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” — Isaiah 53:5
— Scott Linebrink, former MLB pitcher
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