4 Steps Along the Path of Trauma Healing
Trauma is all around us. People are becoming increasingly conscious of how trauma affects their lives— not just at the stage of the incident and recovery — but also in unresolved or suppressed trauma.
Take the collective trauma from the pandemic for instance. A crisis like this has a variety of effects on every one of us including job loss, food insecurity, and loneliness, all of which are damaging to our mental health. The comfort we experience through Facetime or Zoom meetings expires quickly.
And when our urban ministers are overwhelmed by trauma, their ministries suffer. When their neighbors are suffering trauma, leaders need to be equipped to provide basic trauma care so that every barrier to engaging with God is removed.
Leaders need a proven way to walk themselves and others through the steps of healing.
JASON AND MAYA’S STORY
When brother and sister Jason and Maya were in their senior and sophomore year of high school, respectively, they were met with some big surprises.
In addition to stress at school and within their family system, the siblings were starting to notice tension everywhere else: the world was abuzz with news of this new “flu” called COVID-19.
In a very short time, their father was laid off, school was shut down, and they began feeling the weight of their worries: What would happen to their elderly grandmother? How could they complete school? Will there be a graduation ceremony?
Everything was on hold.
NORMAL REACTIONS TO TRAUMA
Jason and Maya were starting to experience trauma from the pandemic and its impact. It was having a very tangible effect on their lives and made their future uncertain.
Here are some normal reactions to trauma:
- Physical: People may find that their heart pounds and they breathe quickly, have headaches, stomach aches, lack of appetite, and sleepless nights.
- Mental: Those impacted might be confused and unable to concentrate or to make good decisions.
- Emotional: They may be anxious, depressed, or overwhelmed, blaming themselves for what happened. Other normal reactions include angry or violent outbursts.
- Behavioral: As a result of trauma, people might want to be alone, or they might start using drugs, alcohol, or other unhealthy coping methods.
What’s worse, trauma can make it difficult for people to engage with the Bible.
Even faithful individuals who normally turn to church friends or the Scriptures for encouragement and direction find themselves at a crossroads when experiencing trauma. Anger and bitterness harden hearts, and the seed falls on this hard ground without taking root. Understandably, people may read the Bible, but they may not be able to hear what God is saying to them.
Prior to the pandemic, World Impact was well aware of trauma’s impact on the lives of individuals, families, churches, and communities.
Trauma Healing research began in 2001 in response to the needs of church leaders in African war zones. It has spread to all the continents and has been translated into many languages. Trauma healing helps us to fulfill the gospel of Jesus Christ, setting the captives free (Is. 61:1-4).
To make gains in this deeply impactful area, the program provides basic mental health and biblical principles to church leaders so they can better react to people who are suffering.
The training teaches leaders how to better respond to pain — others’ and their own. Facilitators lead trauma recovery groups in their congregations and communities after they have been trained and accredited.
As profound as trauma can be, the powerful impact of a person experiencing healing is infinitely more powerful.
The following is a testimony from Jimmy Ndeshibire Bwenge, who was part of the pilot program for story-based healing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He says:
“Soon after our last seminar on trauma healing, I was given the opportunity to tell a story during the evening service in my church. I told the story of Pastor Yuh, who was orphaned at an early age, mistreated by his uncle and then traumatized by war.
As I told the story, a woman named Naomi began to cry. After the service, I asked her what was happening in her life. She said that Pastor Yuh’s story was her story.
She was orphaned at an early age and brought up by a cruel uncle. She asked herself, ‘Why did God kill my parents? He must be a bad God.’
As she talked she cried for a long time. Finally, she asked forgiveness for thinking God was bad. She also forgave her uncle.
We prayed together and believed in the love and power of God.”
When a person shares their healing experience, it sparks hope in others, often illuminating a healing path.
Learn about one woman’s profound experience healing from trauma.
BIBLICAL ACCOUNTS OF TRAUMA HEALING
While attending a trauma healing session designed to introduce hope to teens, many were quickly moved and related to the creative training techniques.
During the lament section, where participants are encouraged to read the writings of David in the Psalms and learn about his struggles, one teen said:
“It’s crazy to think that the same guy who beat Goliath felt all these things ‘cause I feel all these things today.”
And when the teens were asked to bring their pain to the cross, one young man wrote out the pain they had been carrying and brought it to Jesus.
Another shared, “I really feel lighter...I didn’t know I was carrying all that.”
Healing from trauma will help these teens navigate life better, bring them closer to God, and even lead better when and if they are called to do so.
When more of our urban church leaders are certified to lead trauma healing groups, the more our present and future generations will be able to find and engage with God.
THI has developed a unique method of trauma healing that unites proven mental health practices and engagement with God through the Bible. The four steps are outlined below.
4 Steps Along the Path of Trauma Healing
1. Tell your story of pain and grief and bring your laments to God.
Read David’s lamentations in the Psalms and follow his lead, crying out to God. Consider writing your own lamentation, bringing your pain to the Father.
“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13)
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2. Experience the love of Christ by taking your pain to the cross.
Like David, confess your struggle and admit your pain. Hand it to Him.
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
Our prayer is that you would be able to experience His mercy and grace during your time of need.
3. Experience healing, restoration, and reconciliation with God, self, and neighbor.
With a sense of newfound peace, seek to redeem what has been lost.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)
In His strength, you can restore and experience peace within your relationships.
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4. Help the church become a place of healing for others.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Ask God, in His infinite wisdom, to use this pain for His glory.
Through the work of trauma healing training, pastors and church leaders are gathering the tools to lovingly walk with their congregants and community through the healing journey.
As one pastor said,
“This training and the book really gives the Church some tools to help people who are hurting or grieving.”
Will you take steps today to heal the trauma in your life? Use the tools above to get started. And check out our Trauma Healing page for more information on training and helpful resources.
Want to join the movement and partner with us in our work to bring peace and healing to individuals suffering from trauma? Make a secure donation online today: