WUHAN, China - “It’s easy to tell a person who is going through adversities or challenges in life that ‘You can do it!’ or ‘Trust in the Lord!’, but that may not be the most helpful,” said Rev Lei Yingjian, 45. This was one of the key takeaways for Rev Lei who attended a Trauma Healing workshop organised by a local Christian Council/TSPM church with the support of the United Bible Societies (UBS).
Combining truth from the Bible and best practices in mental health, the three-day workshop aims to train and equip lay leaders to help people who are going through emotional and psychological distress.
Going Beyond Platitudes
For Rev Lei who has been involved in end-of-life care and bereavement ministry at his church, the Trauma Healing workshop has proven to be both timely and useful. “Too often, we offer simple platitudes without paying attention to the emotions of the person who is going through the pain,” he shared. “Now, through the workshop, I’ve learned the importance of addressing the deeper layers of emotions that people grapple with.”
“Only when we learn to attend to the emotions of people will they begin to have authentic healing and growth...”
Rev Lei revealed that due to insufficient resources in the past and the lack of training, some church workers tended to have a limited perspective on bereavement ministry, focusing on sharing the gospel to the family of the deceased and unwittingly neglecting their grief. “Some of us have been too caught up with numbers and results, at the expense of caring for the inner life of people.”
Hence, Rev Lei valued the practical handles he learned from the workshop on how to encourage people to face and process their grief. He also appreciated the insights and perspectives that have helped him to reflect on how to care for people who are going through loss, hurt and trauma. “Only when we learn to attend to the emotions of people will they begin to have authentic healing and growth,” shared Rev Lei who now attempts to explore deeper spiritual and emotional issues in his bereavement ministry. “When we do not help others to face their grief and loss, we are actually truncating the process and misleading them on a ‘false bridge’ which is a short cut and does not lead to true healing and restoration.”
Going Beyond Surface Knowledge
Another key insight Rev Lei gained from the workshop is the importance of going beyond a surface knowledge of the Bible, and reflecting deeper on the issues presented in the Scriptures.
Giving an example, he said, “During the workshop, there was an analysis of human weakness and flaws by looking at biblical characters such as Joseph, Moses and Saul. The session helped us to understand human nature better and help Christians who face crises in life to deal with them in a more holistic manner, incorporating biblical counselling in the process.”
"The session helped us to understand human nature better and help Christians who face crises in life to deal with them in a more holistic manner, incorporating biblical counselling in the process.”
Rev Lei shared that there is a tendency to assume that once people receive Christ into their lives, they will be fine. Or, once people go through some church discipleship programs, they will be good and healthy Christians. “But the truth is people will still have their weaknesses and problems. So the counseling skills we learn at this workshop are very useful in helping people explore these deeper issues,” said Rev Lei who also serves in the family ministry.
Indeed, Rev Lei is grateful for what he has learned at the workshop. When in his mid 30s, Rev Lei was called into full-time ministry through the “watchman passages” found in the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel in the Bible. Over the years, Rev Lei saw that it was God's call for him to be “a watchman of human souls'' and the workshop has proven to be helpful to this end.
“My heart overflows with gratitude to God and also to the support given by UBS. The workshop has been truly enriching, providing many insights for our ministry and encouraging a deeper reflection on our own lives.” said Rev Lei.
When asked what his prayer needs are, Rev Lei said he hopes that more pastors and church leaders can learn to glean treasures from the Scriptures and incorporate biblical counselling when ministering to believers. “It is my desire that churches might recalibrate their focus, directing more attention toward nurturing the inner lives of our brothers- and sisters-in-Christ.”
Photos: UBS CP
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