Life Hurts, Love Heals

Frank, Heather Evans (second from left, trained counselor who visits Rwanda annually), and the African women from the Trauma Healing session.

Frank, Heather Evans (second from left, trained counselor who visits Rwanda annually), and the African women from the Trauma Healing session.

by Frank Dimmock

Recently I was blessed to co-facilitate a trauma healing group session for eight Congolese and Rwandan women living in the Louisville, Kentucky area. (This session was made possible by The Outreach Foundation’s gracious support of my training as a trauma healing facilitator.) Training our partners in listening and recognizing trauma wounds and how to help and when to refer is critical. The African women in this session are survivors of the violence and genocide that have been taking place in their part of the Great Lakes region of Africa. They told stories of fleeing violence, being separated from family, and witnessing and enduring long periods of pain and suffering. Through a series of miracles, they have resettled in apartments within ten miles of my home. I was aware, through the news, books and movies, that refugees from conflict areas (most notably, the Lost Boys of Sudan and Syrian families) had been settled in U.S. communities, but I had not personally heard their testimonies or recognized them as my neighbors. 

Healing the pain of heart wounds requires time and courage. It is a process. Most importantly, it is reinforced through engagement with God's Word.

It requires an understanding of suffering, supported with scriptural references to God’s love, power and compassion (Romans 8:35-39) and God’s personal sacrifice (1 John 4:9-10).

It requires an identification of heart wounds and pain, and with time and courage, a remembrance of a traumatic experience. I was deeply affected by the horrific stories of these courageous African women.

Another important step in healing heart wounds is navigating the complex process of acknowledging, grieving, and lamenting loss. An essential step in the healing process is bringing heart wounds and pain to Jesus (Isaiah 53:4-6) by presenting them at the cross. This symbolic step is a release of pain and an opportunity to experience God’s healing.

As wounds of the heart are healed, forgiving others and receiving forgiveness becomes possible; repentance and reconciliation is facilitated. I was reminded, through the faith and resilience of these women, of the verses from 1 Peter 1:3-5: 
“What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven – and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all – life healed and whole.” (the Message)   

As the Chinese Christian leader who was imprisoned for his faith for 20 years, Watchman Nee, reminds us: 
“Our old history ends with the cross; our new history begins with the resurrection.”

Frank Dimmock
Africa Mission Specialist

The Outreach Foundation