Anha sat on the outskirts of the group, a mere shell of the woman she had once been. Every spark of life had been snuffed out by the traumas of living through years of civil war, enduring repeated raids of her village by some of the most notorious rebels in the world.
We had just arrived in Anha’s village of Zuba, bumping our way by motorcycle up the rocky hills and splashing through shallow streams along the way. The path was so narrow that at every turn we brushed up against the tall grass that had nearly overtaken the once-busy road. The area had become a wilderness. Few visitors dared to venture into this place where rebels with a reputation for committing unspeakable atrocities had attacked multiple times.
As I climbed off the motorcycle, I made a disheartening observation: the land itself was bursting with life, but the eyes of the people were empty. Lifeless. “How,” I wondered, “could a place teeming with flowers and fruit be the home of such desolate people?”
In that moment I began to understand the desperation I had seen in the leaders who had invited us to come here. My teammate and I had introduced some of our teachings to the local chief and a pastor from Zuba, explaining how God wanted to bring healing to hearts traumatized by war and offering to come for a few hours each week to work with their people.
“What if I didn’t know that God is for me, not against me? Who would I become if I didn’t have the hope of a God who heals and forgives?”
“Two hours is not enough!” they had pleaded. “Our people are lost and in such great suffering! Please, come for the whole day, every week. Please, please help us!”
Now as I stood in their village and looked into each person’s empty eyes, their leaders’ desperation became mine. My heart broke for these people whose families had been tortured and killed, and for the ongoing torment they endured in their hearts every single day. It broke because they did not know that God was with them, or that healing was even possible.
We began by telling stories of people whose sufferings paralleled their own. We prayed, and then we shared verses of Scripture. After that it was obvious that the Holy Spirit was at work. People tripped over each other in their eagerness to share their own stories. They were desperate to be heard, to begin the process that would bring healing.
But not Anha. Even as the others began to talk about what had happened to them, she remained withdrawn. “If I had been through all that she has experienced,” I wondered, “would I be any different? What if I didn’t know that God is for me, not against me? Who would I become if I didn’t have the hope of a God who heals and forgives?”
But God brings light into even the deepest darkness. On our third day in Zuba, Anha stood up and declared with conviction, “I cannot keep quiet any longer! This teaching—it fits me more than anything else I have ever heard! My heart has been in so much pain and my family has been through so much suffering, but I didn’t know what to do about it, or that things could ever be different. But in these days I have seen that God has not forgotten me. I can see that it is possible to have a life again. I can come to God in my grief and He will comfort me. I had no idea!”
We work with people who are desperate: for hope, for healing, for Life. We get to be instruments of God’s healing, sharing His Word with them and then watching as it speaks powerfully into the deepest recesses of their souls. We get to tell them that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). As they experience the truth of these words, as they begin to see the heart of the One True God, their lives are forever changed.
You Can Pray:
- for courage and protection for trauma healing teams
- for God’s Word to heal the wounds of trauma
- for the transformation of ravaged lives and communities