By Margaret Hill with Richard Gretsky
Fighting in the Central African Republic (CAR) has been intermittent for the past decade. The fighting has resulted in much death, rampant destruction of property, and countless other travesties. Many have suffered emotionally devastating wounds from being involved in, or witnessing, the fighting and its results. These wounds are often deeper than any physical ones and are much more difficult to heal.
In an effort to help some of the people affected by war in the CAR, a trauma healing team from Wycliffe and its primary partner SIL held a workshop at the Central African Association for Bible Translation and Literacy (ACATBA) Center. Five staff persons led twenty-nine participants from five different organizations in the five-day course.
The course consists of a series of Bible-based lessons that guide people in how to use good mental health principles to deal with deep emotional wounds in their lives. It gives verses from Scripture to meditate on and leads people to pray and communicate with others about those hurts, so that with God’s help—and the encouragement of their peers—they may find healing.
According to the staff, the class—which was a cross between a healing group and an equipping seminar—was a resounding success. They said that all of the participants seemed to receive a degree of healing, which should help them deal with the continuing problems in the country. In fact, a large number of course participants were enthusiastic about starting healing groups of their own, leading other people in the process toward health.
Beside those two major benefits, there were three other areas of the course that the staff was very excited about:
- A number of participants said that they were encouraged to know that people from outside the country cared about their plight enough to facilitate this seminar. Previously, they thought they had been forgotten.
- CAR has had problems in the past bringing different churches together. The workshop seemed to open the door for Christians to see the need to work together.
- The workshop gave the participants an oasis of calm for a week. They enjoyed each other, and had plenty of good food each day. The team could see them visibly relax as the week went on.
With the success of the workshop, the ACATBA staff is planning to host an advanced trauma healing seminar in June or July of this year.
This seminar has helped me be freed from my fear that was caused by the violence I experienced at the hands of the soldiers. It has also helped reinforce my confidence that God is hearing me, especially after I had written my lament. Now I have a great desire to share this with others in Bangui and Bossangoa as too many people are hurting. —Francis
Because of this workshop, finally my wife and I have started sleeping deeply at night. I’m spending time going over every lesson with my older children. I did this workshop before in 2004 and it was fine and helpful, but this time, because we are still in the crisis, it has really changed my thoughts and feelings for the better. —Elvis
This is the first time I have ever heard anyone teaching about these things. I didn’t know before you could discuss them and find answers. Now I am ready to help others. —Aristide
First, I have been healed of my own inner hurts. Now I feel very strongly that I have a special capacity to help others and I really want them to receive healing too. —Maturin
I was very traumatized when I came, but now I feel almost healed. During the seminar I learned lots of very new things and now I feel ready even to help my family prepare for bad things that might come. I’m also now conscious of my responsibility to help others. —Anon
After we had taken our pain and burdens to Jesus on the cross and burnt our papers, I felt healed. That night when I started again to think about the things I had written down, I found I couldn’t worry about them or feel hurt anymore! I really want to share this with others. —Jean-Noel
Prayer: Pray that people in the Central African Republic would continue to look to God, community, and workshops like this one to help them heal from the atrocities they’ve witnessed.