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Contreras October Prayer Letter

Contreras October Prayer Letter

This summer, I went with my co-worker Karin Esselstrom to Philadelphia, PA, to attend a training to equip churches and organizations in trauma healing with youth. The teen training, Life Hurts, Love Heals, walks through ten Bible-based lessons designed to help teens find hope and healing as they navigate trauma happening in and around them.  

The week began with three days of intensive training with lay and ministry leaders from churches in Philly and Christian counselors who wrote and have used the curriculum in Latin America. After the facilitator training, teens joined us for a four-day camp. Most important were the facilitators from Philly. I had the privilege to work with Dawn who lives just around the corner from the hosting church, New Journey. Dawn’s life experiences in the community and relationship with the teens made it possible for the group to go deep and create safety quickly.  

Each lesson began with a story following the realistic lives of two teens navigating their own trauma. The teens in our group all commented that they could relate to the teens in the stories. Particularly powerful was the lament section where we looked at various Psalms written by David as he worked through his own anger, grief, and trauma. It is sacred work to participate with the Holy Spirit in this section. The pain of abuse, death of parents, racist incidents, foster care, family displacement, witnesses and victims of violence were just some of the experiences the teens in our group shared.  

They each found a Psalm they would relate to. One participant said, “It’s crazy to think that the same guy who beat Goliath felt all these things ‘cause I feel all these things today.” The invitation to bring their pain to the cross followed. The young men wrote out the pain they had been carrying and brought it to Jesus. One shared, “I really feel lighter...I didn’t know I was carrying all that.”

Dawn continues to be a place of safety for the teens as they live life together in the community and at church. During our group, Dawn told us how she had lost her parents as a teenager and how it had become all bad for her for many years. She was encouraged and her faith built as she watched the Lord healing work in the teens. She saw the Lord bring purpose from the pain in her own life and His ability to use her to comfort others living through similar experiences.  

Next steps? We are excited to partner and train facilitators like Dawn on the West Coast! Thank you for making it possible for our family to share the good news that Jesus is with us and brings healing to our wounded hearts. 

GrateFUL, 
Manuel, Kim, Ian and Sophia  


1 Comment

October 21, 2021 | Y

Reading about this trauma healing work through the Psalms was so life-giving and encouraging to read. Thank you very much for sharing and I am grateful for the work that you do.


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