Twenty-eight women from 7 areas in the Philippines attended the Trauma Healing Initial Equipping Session on Nov. 2-5, 2016 facilitated by Robin Downs and Bryan Varenkamp of the American Bible Society. In 2017, the Women’s World Day of Prayer will focus its prayer for the Philippines and the Trauma Healing program culminates at the said event in March 2017.
The program targets to train a total of 6,360 facilitators who will lead trauma healing sessions for 77,760 women by the end of 2019.
During the initial equipping sessions, the 28 women were divided into 6 groups as they actively shared their personal experiences related to trauma, taking turns as they practiced their listening skills. The women read stories from the book, Healing the Wounds of Trauma, that clearly depicted sufferings caused by war, death, illnesses, physical abuse, how people naturally respond, and the impact of such suffering in their future lives. Every story of trauma is matched with corresponding passages in the bible that shows God’s loving character, his mercy and healing power, and suffering is viewed in the light of God’s word. New friendships were forged as many of these women can relate to the testimonies being shared during the workshop. The convergence of these women during the Trauma Healing was no less than miraculous.
Strong women as they may seem, each one carries a traumatic experience, a cause for grief, a wound in their hearts. One participant tearfully related that she felt hopeless for her son who was addicted to drugs and was thankful she was able to join the seminar just in time. A 58-year-old widow recounted her difficulties of raising 6 young children that she did not have time to grieve the loss of her husband. Another lonely wife from the uplands who was married for many years shared her loneliness because her in-laws still do not accept her as their daughter-in-law because of her indigenous background.
While being enthusiastically engaged, the women were further encouraged to find healing and comfort through the lament and art exercises. These were followed by practice facilitation exercises and the Pain to the Cross ceremony.
A teacher from Kidapawan was greatly encouraged to continue her mission school with her husband because the Trauma Healing workshop gave her renewed strength to help alleviate feelings of hopelessness in children and parents brought about by extreme poverty in their area. Moreover, a pastor’s wife found comfort in the bible verses that she read even as she continues to deal with the betrayal of a close friend. A young professional woman from Manila says it is very timely to learn about how to help disaster victims since she is preparing to counsel those who were victims of a recent fire.
Years will pass but some traumas linger on and do not heal easily into scars. Many admit they get tired, worn out and feel helpless at times during life’s battles. But through the Trauma Healing workshop, an experienced American trauma nurse from Tacloban was deeply inspired to help more displaced people in the province to recover emotionally from the disaster of Yolanda (Haiyan) that ravaged their province more than three years ago.
Participants to the healing sessions will be prayed for on March 3, 2017 during the World Day of Prayer and each of them will receive a Bible.