After Nik and Ruth had spent significant time in Somalia – witnessing horrific tragedies like war, abuse, and starvation – they learned and developed “best practices” for how to provide counseling and soul care to workers who had experienced the depths of human depravity. How can we apply these lessons to missionaries serving in the hardest places of the world?
Be sure to subscribe to the Witness & Persecution Podcast on your favorite platform.
How to Heal from Emotional Trauma
Emotional trauma can leave deep scars on our hearts and minds, making it challenging to find a path toward healing and recovery. While there are various therapeutic approaches and coping mechanisms available, Nik Ripken teaches us a unique perspective on healing from emotional trauma through a strong connection with one’s faith in Christ and drawing inspiration from the Old Testament.
Faith can be a powerful source of strength and comfort when dealing with emotional trauma. A strong walk with Jesus and a personal relationship with Him can provide solace, hope, and guidance during the darkest of times.
Biblical Narratives: Genesis through Acts
One key aspect of this faith-based approach is the choice of biblical stories to draw inspiration from. Rather than focusing solely on the New Testament (Romans through Revelation), we can gain valuable insights from the Old Testament (Genesis through Acts). The Old Testament narratives are full of stories featuring resilience, faith, and hope amidst adversity.
Genesis: Joseph’s Journey of Forgiveness
In Genesis, we find the story of Joseph, who endured betrayal and hardship but ultimately forgave his brothers. This narrative teaches us the power of forgiveness in healing emotional wounds. Letting go of anger and resentment can be a crucial step toward healing.
Exodus: The Israelites’ Redemption
The story of the Israelites’ redemption from slavery in Egypt is a powerful one. It reminds us that God can bring deliverance from even the most oppressive circumstances. This narrative instills hope that our own emotional bondage can be broken.
Job: Finding Purpose in Suffering
The Book of Job illustrates the concept of finding purpose in suffering. Through his trials, Job learned to trust God’s sovereignty even in the midst of pain. This teaches us that, in our own trauma, we can find purpose and meaning.
Psalms: Pouring Out Our Hearts
The Psalms provide a rich source of comfort and expression of emotions. They teach us the value of pouring out our hearts to God in times of distress, knowing that He listens and cares for us.
Acts: The Early Church’s Resilience
In the Book of Acts, we witness the early church’s resilience in the face of persecution and adversity. Their unwavering faith and commitment to their mission show us the importance of community and purpose in healing.
According to Nik, the Old Testament better reflects the hardships that missionaries often face when they go to challenging and dangerous places to spread the message of Christ.
Celebrate Missionary Departures and Returns
Hosting celebrations for missionary spouses when they leave for and return from the mission field is a wonderful idea. It’s something that Ruth Ripken has hosted for Nik many times over the years. These gatherings can serve multiple purposes, including boosting morale and aiding in the healing process for missionary workers who may have experienced trauma during their missions. Here’s why such celebrations are valuable.
Recognition and Appreciation: Hosting a celebration for departing missionaries is a way to recognize and appreciate their dedication and sacrifice. It shows that their work is valued, which can be especially important when they’ve faced challenges and hardships in the field.
Emotional Support: Leaving and returning from the mission field can be emotionally taxing. Celebrations provide a supportive environment where missionaries can connect with loved ones and fellow believers who understand their unique experiences and challenges.
Joyful Transition: Celebrations before departure can help ease the transition from home life to mission work. It allows missionaries to leave on a positive note, surrounded by love and encouragement.
Healing and Reintegration: For returning missionaries who may have encountered trauma or challenging situations, celebrations can be part of the healing and reintegration process. It helps them reconnect with their home culture and support system.
Morale Boost: Celebrations provide a morale boost for missionary couples and their families. Knowing that they have a network of friends and supporters cheering them on can be a source of strength during their mission and upon their return.
Shared Stories and Reflection: These gatherings offer a platform for missionaries to share their experiences and insights with others. It allows for reflection on the mission work and the impact it had, further contributing to the healing process.