About six years ago, a devastating earthquake caused the loss of tens of thousands of lives in this region. Post-traumatic stress was widespread, and many suicided because they had lost everything, except despair. However, numerous Christian counseling centres were created, and some existing centres helped train local volunteers in debriefing and counseling. That year approximately 50 indigenous and expatriate counselors discussed the possibility of developing a National Christian Counseling Association. Eventually they met in an old run-down hotel on the outskirts of the city and shared their vision.
Just recently some of those present in 2008 conducted the 6th (enormously successful) National Christian Counseling Conference. One of them was Chen*. This is her story…
“I am 38 years old, married for the last 10 years. Recently I attended a Christian counseling conference. During a workshop on ’The Healing Journey for the Abused’ I experienced deep sadness because, throughout my married life, I have experienced significant bodily and mental abuse by my husband.
“Tears came to my eyes again and again but, because it was just a small group, I dared not cry out in front of my classmates. From my chest to my throat, the sad emotion stuck there like a big stone. I could hardly breathe.
“During that night, I woke and went for a walk around the lake at the conference centre. My mood was so terrible that the next day I had no energy for the conference. So I booked a time for healing prayer.
“As two intercessors prayed for me, Jesus and merciful Father came to my side. He listened to me yielding from the bottom of my heart, and during the prayer session I could feel that my broken heart was being re-connected one piece to another by Jesus. A huge image in front of me looked like Jesus. After praying for about an hour, my sadness was taken away. Those evil things in my heart which had bound me for over 10 years were taken away. My body and heart had never been so relaxed!
“That night, I slept for seven hours. Thanks to the almighty Father, He brought Jesus to my side to heal my broken heart. I would like to live my life totally according to God’s will. Thank you God! Thank you Jesus!”
And many, like Chen, experienced the gift of specific, deep inner transformation during workshops, prayer times and safe small groups.
During the conference we also received invitations to come and teach, train trainers and help set up new centres – from north, south, east and west. Next year we will run a conference in the east, the first of many to establish of regional networks. We believe that, because of the strength of the church in that area, we will be able to run the whole conference entirely on in-country funding.
This year we established a National Office, staffed by an indigenous volunteer whom the Father has been preparing for this job. I have also been called to the role of leading, mentoring and facilitating indigenous leadership in order to develop this influential profession, to which I will devote one day a week. In February we published the first edition of a National Journal of Christian Counseling.
Now we can assist people all year round, strengthen and grow regional and national networks, and provide an increasingly effective program of training and supervising emerging counselors and regional leaders. And we look to the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1–4 – to comfort and care for the lost and broken, the devastated cities and the ruined communities. What a gift from such a tragedy.
The author is an Interserve Partner in East Asia.
*Names have been changed.