An absolute must if you want to deeply help others in the church

Diane Langberg, preeminent Christian psychologist, counselor, and writer, has said many times, “Trauma is the mission field of the 21st century.” I’d change it slightly to say traumatized people are the mission field of the 21st century (since you can’t give the gospel to trauma, but you can give it to traumatized people), but I understand her point.

Why is it that one of the foremost evangelical Christian counselors of our day is saying this? Because especially in the complacent, comfortable Western world, trauma is increasing at exponential rates.

In the U.S., this would be in part because our government has been sending young men and women into combat without any letup for the past 15 years. Though I’d be up to a robust debate about the morality of this situation, that’s not the point here. The point here is that in the war environment they are being traumatized.

And also, especially in the last sixty years or so, with the exponential increase of pornography and other demeaning tools, sexual and domestic trauma have increased tremendously.

Are you asking the Lord for a field of ministry? If you’re willing to become informed about trauma, which in fact means being willing to become informed about great evil, you’ll find doors of opportunity for ministry opening all around you.

Those who have been traumatized need someone who will hear them and believe them. They long to be fully known.

And my heavens, they need someone who will not blame their post-trauma struggles on their sinful hearts.

I heard from a couple the other day . . . .

Thinking that they were meeting with a church elder to address their genuine grief over some issues they were facing, instead they heard the church leader tell them that the husband’s significant depression was caused by the wife. Because this wasn’t the case, the husband’s struggles worsened as he felt unheard, and the wife naturally became fearful.

When the grief increased as betrayal was manifest and former friends turned away and refused to speak with them, the husband’s struggles increased greatly while the wife began to experience depression too. “I became a shadow of my former self while my husband was still experiencing deep lows,” she wrote.

At some point along the way, a trauma-informed friend listened to their story. Because the husband referred to something that had happened to him in childhood that he was beginning to remember in small pieces (but still couldn’t remember fully), the friend mentioned that the trauma of betrayal they had experienced in their church could bring forward memories of childhood trauma.

Suddenly those seemingly unrelated sporadic seasons of pain and depression he had experienced throughout his life began to make more sense. The worsening of it at this point in his life also made more sense.

The friend’s “prayer and validation released him so much so that within a few days several clients commented to him on how peaceful he was. This friend had brought light into the darkness and exposed the lies.”

This couple lost their church, but they gained a measure of clarity and now want to help others too, as they continue to heal.

Becoming trauma informed? You could start with listening to and reading Diane Langberg, who has been working with trauma survivors of all kinds, one on one, for over 40 years. You could read The Body Keeps the Score, by a man who has been working with trauma survivors just as long. There are other excellent writers and speakers who have much to offer.

But primarily, you can listen to people who are struggling. Are you in a hurry to get them to stop talking so you can fix them? Don’t be. Listen to them and love them. As you do, you’ll find they want to hear what you have to say when you do speak about the Savior who loves them, who hates evil, and who bears healing in His wings.

The mission field is all around. The washing of feet is up to you.

*****

Read this post to get an idea of the incredibly stellar people you’ll have the privilege of getting to know when you take the time to become trauma informed.  And the song in this post . . . it’s about them.

 

“The unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the believer”? Examining 1 Corinthians 7:13-16 (Part Two)

Yesterday I posted Part One of this study of some Scriptures that can be hard to understand, in response to a heartfelt letter from a reader. The questions I said I wanted to address were:

  • If any unbelieving spouse wants to keep living in the house, does that mean the believing spouse has no choice but to let him stay?
  • Can the believer actually make the unbelieving spouse holy?
  • Does a believer staying with an unbelieving spouse mean the children will be born again?
  • Should the believer persevere with the unbelieving spouse in hopes that she will be the cause of his salvation?

Continue reading ““The unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the believer”? Examining 1 Corinthians 7:13-16 (Part Two)”

“The unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the believer”? Examining 1 Corinthians 7:13-16 (Part One)

Some time ago I received this letter from a reader:

The scripture that caused more pain, confusion and hopelessness in my two-decade bondage in an abusive marriage was this one from 1 Cor.7:13-16.  

“If you’re a woman married to an unbeliever and he wants to live with you, hold onto him. The unbelieving husband shares to an extent in the holiness of his wife…otherwise YOUR CHILDREN WOULD BE LEFT OUT; as it is, they also are included in the spiritual purposes of God. . . . For how do you know O wife whether YOU WILL SAVE your husband.” 

Ohhh, the pain, the staggering confounding pain these verses have caused.

Continue reading ““The unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the believer”? Examining 1 Corinthians 7:13-16 (Part One)”

Why we’re glad we considered an alternative to four-year college

Every year I take a writing retreat at The Evangelical Institute of Biblical Studies (link to website) in Greenville, SC. Affectionately called “EI,” it’s a tiny two-year Bible school (with an optional third year) that sits atop the highest mountain in Greenville County, with a lush campus and gorgeous views.

Click on this image to go to the school’s Facebook page

How tiny? Continue reading “Why we’re glad we considered an alternative to four-year college”

My dad in the 1960s: integrity vs “virtue signaling”

A few days ago, my husband, Tim, introduced me to a term I had missed somehow: “virtue signaling,” that is, letting others know via social media that you are more virtuous in your beliefs than they are regarding a certain social problem, without actually doing anything to address the problem.

Then Tim began to talk about his dad, who never did any purposeful “virtue signaling,” but was noticed simply because of his virtue in his interactions with others. In a turbulent time, he lived the kindness he taught, and it caused an uproar. Continue reading “My dad in the 1960s: integrity vs “virtue signaling””

The “slippery slope” of victimization

Growing up Independent Baptist, I got to hear a lot about slippery slopes.

Mainly I heard about them regarding music. “If you young people start listening to that Christian rock, before you know it you’ll start dancing around a devil fire.” Or something like that.

If you start listening to Christian music “with a beat,” you’ll proceed bit by incremental bit downhill into flagrant sin and degradation. Here’s a sermon about that. (link.) Continue reading “The “slippery slope” of victimization”

The SBC sexual offender database that isn’t: my inside peek

The Southern Baptist Convention meets this week in Dallas, after a  tumultuous spring with a whole lot of bad publicity having to do with domestic and sexual abuse.

Once again they’re looking at a resolution to develop a sexual offender database that will keep a public record of offenders who are not on the national database (who, for example, have confessed to their crimes but never been taken to court).

In the fall of 2014 Continue reading “The SBC sexual offender database that isn’t: my inside peek”

The most important time to stop going to your church – a response to the Gospel Coalition

It was a few weeks ago now that TGC posted the article “The Most Important Time to Go to Church.” The most important time to go to church, according to the TGC author, is when you don’t want to, because “covenant commitments” are made for the hard times, not the good times.

Here is the article. On Facebook it was Liked or Loved almost 2000 times and was shared almost 1000 times. So it appears that the conservative evangelical world thought well of it. Continue reading “The most important time to stop going to your church – a response to the Gospel Coalition”