“Can I come back where everyone loves me?” This was the plaintive cry of a young mother, traumatized and displaced by the war in Ukraine.
In the safe harbor of a neighboring country, Nadia (name changed) met TEAM global workers who provided temporary shelter and cared for her and her children. She soon left for another European country, prepared to make a new life there. In this new location, however, Nadia felt disturbingly unwelcome – a stranger in a strange land. In desperation, she called TEAM workers weeks later crying, and asked “Can I come back where everyone loves me?”
Nadia’s search for a safe place to heal from trauma is repeated in millions of lives and in many places in our broken world. The scale of trauma is unimaginable but real. Anxiety and fear are the constant companions of war victims, trafficking victims, and many others affected in one way or another by the effects of living in a fallen world. TEAM global workers working with displaced populations, justice ministries, and other types of ministries regularly encounter lives that have been shredded by trauma.
There are multiple aspects to trauma
- The trauma event(s) that precipitated the crisis. These may include armed conflict, bombing, night attacks, days and nights in air raid shelters, natural and human-made disasters, physical attacks, abuse, and sexual assault. These events are often unforeseen, unpredicted, and wholly traumatizing. Trauma events are beyond the victim’s control.
- The persisting aftermath of the traumatic events. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is real. It welds itself to the souls of the traumatized causing night terrors, panic attacks, fearfulness, flashbacks, and hyper-vigilance. Add to this the lingering effects of physical injury, hunger, economic catastrophe, isolation, lack of access to basic needs and hygiene, and the risk of further victimization. The difficulties of trauma are compounded by the domino effect that follows.
- The spiritual bewilderment of trauma. The victim of trauma is left wondering if there is purpose to be found on the other side of their pain. They ask, “Does anyone care?” “Do I matter to anyone?” “How can I manage life?” Bereft of hope, they seek peace and desperately need someone to show them Who can provide it.
How can you and I help? How do I manage the overwhelming scale of the need? For this month’s Prayer Focus, we invite you to pray for trauma recovery ministries in these ways:
- PRAY for the global Church to have eyes to see those in need of healing around us. God has not called us individually to rescue everyone – but He does expect us, like the Good Samaritan, to demonstrate love to the neighbor, who may be from across the street or the other side of the world.
- PRAY for those working in trauma recovery. Just like secondhand smoke damages the lungs of people in proximity to smokers, those who help the traumatized often experience secondhand trauma. Pray for the caregivers. Their work is emotionally and physically exhausting and can disable their ability to serve. Pray for TEAM’s Member Care personnel to have ongoing wisdom and resources to care for our global workers.
- PRAY for those still in the midst of trauma events. Jesus instructed us to pray, “deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13) As the body of Christ, we have the privilege to be on our knees imploring the Lord to intervene and deliver those experiencing trauma that most of us cannot fathom.
- PRAY for the work of the Gospel. Helping in practical ways gives voice to the Gospel to reach those who otherwise may never have listened. Today the traumatized victims of the war in Ukraine are finding peace and rest in coming to faith in Christ. A spiritual awakening is happening. Light is being called out of darkness by our powerful and redeeming God.
- PRAY for long-term disciple-making opportunities. Those who have become strangers in a strange land need to find friendship, comfort, and peace with the people of God in the Church of Jesus Christ. Pray for your own church to reach out to your “neighbors,” and for our global workers who touch lives daily.
Let us not just say to these hurting souls “be warmed and be filled” and then go on with our lives, unconcerned with their suffering and pain. We must be doers of the Word and not just hearers only (James 1:22). It is in times of darkness that the Light of our glorious Savior, the Good Shepherd, the Healer of our souls, shines brightest.
When the traumatized ask, “Can I come back where everyone loves me?” Our answer must be, “Yes!”
Doug Batchelder serves as TEAM Advancement Officer and Ministry Advancement Ukraine Relief Coordinator.
Another way you can make a difference is to resource those helping trauma victims. TEAM is actively providing shelter, clothing, food, medicine, translation services, transportation, and a host of practical demonstrations of the love of Christ to refugee trauma victims in various parts of the world. To give to Refugee Relief, or to create a crowdfunding fundraiser of your own, visit the TEAM Refugee Relief page.
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