February 2, 2018
A man once cried out in agony and suffering. He said, “The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed. (Lamentations 3:20-21, GNT)” This man was a man of God, and yet for some reason experienced tragic loss in his nation and community.
“I have taken on the ministry of helping suffering people. And yet, I myself was not spared from pain,” says Miriam del Rosario, a church worker from Laguna. “I never knew I had much pain in my past and had to deal with them personally. I learned that I had to forgive people and that was my way to true healing.”
Miriam and plenty of other individuals have recently benefited from Bible-based Trauma Healing, a program by Philippine Bible Society in partnership with the American Bible Society. Miriam was one of the individuals who underwent equipping for healing group facilitators, and came out as an Apprentice Facilitator last November. Having gained more skill in ministering to traumatized people, she started her own healing group in San Pedro, Laguna—catering specifically to women who used to scavenge the old dumpsites and regularly saw crime and violence in their community.
Since its beginning in 2016, the Trauma Healing Program in the Philippines has gained dozens of new Apprentice Facilitators like Miriam, the most recent of which were trained last November 2017 in Initial Equipping Sessions held in Manila and Iloilo. On top of 4 certified Healing Group Facilitators, 4 certified Training Facilitators, this is indeed a huge leap from the time the program began.
Having more healing group facilitators means greater opportunity to initiate healing groups in different areas. After being equipped, each of the facilitators has the unique advantage of bringing Bible-based trauma healing right in their very own communities.
Rather than leave traumatized individuals to their own unguided coping, the Trauma Healing groups offer a better way to deal with pain, grief, and suffering. The groups provide an alternative to living with resentment, negative outlook on life, or intense fear of rejection or pain, by leading an individual to read and reflect on Bible verses and lessons.
Miriam’s group met once a week for almost two months. It was a small group where they could feel at ease with each other and share stories.
One of Miriam’s attendees named Lorie said, “I realized that I am not alone who had a trauma in my life; I am a survivor and God made me experience those things so I could advise others. Now, I am not ashamed of my trauma.” Looking forward to full recovery, Lorie adds, “I also want to encourage others, to comfort and advice people as God comforted me.”
In a healing group like Miriam’s, participants like Lorie were enabled to share their story through pieces of artwork or other expressive activities. In explaining their output they were given a platform to speak up and the hearers would not hurt them, judge them, nor even divulge their story to anyone else. Each of them found an atmosphere of safety and refuge in the healing group, and there they began to sense God meeting them in their pain and opening a door for recovery.
Looking back at the sessions, Miriam observed that everyone expressed their hearts becoming lighter, as though heavy loads were lifted off them after sharing with the group. What’s even more amazing is that women like Lorie took home not just comfort from one healing group session, but having their very own copies of the Bible, they now have daily access to comfort and strength from God’s Word.
Even while this small group of women echoes praises to God for the healing group they joined, Miriam shares that other women have already lined up to join the next batch of healing group sessions.
“This is really vital, and we need to do this. Only the Word of God can comfort and heal people. So many people are suffering now around us,” says Miriam thoughtfully. “Because of the existing trainings by PBS there will be a multiplying effect. More mothers and teenagers will be helped in our ministry.”
As the healing groups in local communities progress in the coming weeks, there is much reason to hope that complete healing will soon manifest in lives like that of Lorie. They may soon testify, like the writer of Lamentations, an unwavering source of strength and hope despite traumatic experiences:
“The Lord's unfailing love and mercy still continue,
fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.
The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.”
(Lamentations 3:22-24 GNT)
And as these individuals live on this newfound hope in God through His Word, you can experience it too. All it might take for you is the step of faith: Ask your local church how you can join a trauma healing group today. Should you be interested to start a Trauma Healing Program in your church, organization, or community, please contact us at (02) 526-7777. You may also click here to know how you can support the program.