Language and scripture - Trauma Healing
Updated: Mar 20
In Tim’s new role, he has the privilege of working alongside some of the most amazing people. Tim is working with SIL (sil.org) one of Wycliffe Bible Translators’ implementing partners. They do a huge variety of different things related to helping communities flourish using the languages they love. Some of it is Bible translation and some of it is linguistics. Some of it is project planning and some of it is Scripture engagement - helping people use the scripture to see their communities transformed.
This is Ommani, he is the director of the Global Scripture access services team. One of the many things he does is to come alongside communities who have been traumatised. He helps to train people in Trauma Healing, teaching them to run workshops using scripture and language to help people understand and receive God’s healing.
In 2019 Ethiopia struggled with a lot of conflicts in the north of the country. Several ministry partners working in Ethiopia came together to see if there was anything that could be done to reduce the long term impact of that conflict. SIL was contacted by the local church regarding trauma healing, they saw it as key to dealing with the impact. There was a good discussion with SIL about how the church could be equipped to help their communities. The ultimate goal was to have people in the church who have found healing, some folks who are trained to facilitate future healing groups and also some folks who are trained to train the facilitators of future groups.
The first step was for SIL trainers to facilitate some Trauma Healing groups. From within those groups facilitators who naturally rose up were then invited to receive training in facilitating their own Trauma Healing groups. As soon as those facilitators received the training, the very next week they facilitated healing groups mentored by the trainers.
After several rounds of training and leading, some of those group leaders were invited to be trained as certified master facilitators, able to train further group leaders. The program was set up for those people to then lead the next group facilitators training, helped by our SIL experts in the form of mentoring and coaching.
This model is beautifully self-sustaining and empowers the local church to meet the needs of those around them using language and scripture.
Some of these workshops have speakers of 8 or 9 different languages, in fact, the trauma healing materials have been translated into over 190 languages. The key within the workshops is that people should be using the materials in their own language. They should also be using the scripture in their own language because we know that when people use their own languages(s) they understand better, can process better, can articulate better and thus the workshop is more effective! Many different church denominations got involved in the Trauma Healing training. Several of the people involved are actually trained counsellors or church leaders who found healing for themselves and are now using the strategies from the workshops to help others.
Ommani recently returned from a trip to Ethiopia where he heard so many amazing stories. The church wants to continue the partnership to work with trauma healing in the military. They are also starting to use story-based trauma healing for those who cannot read yet. One lady had been sent by her church to work in the city, having participated in the workshops, she found healing and now wants to go back to her village where she knows there is much need for trauma healing groups.
One of the participants, Matthew, attended a workshop and headed back to his village. While processing with his community, Matthew realised that the biggest cause of trauma the community experiences is when famine comes. Matthew felt that finding spiritual healing was good, but maybe not the only thing his community needed. After discussing, praying and reading about God being the provider, they formed a cooperative community farming association. They grow food together, sell some to raise funds, eat some and distribute some. By doing this they set themselves up to be in a better economic situation.
“You see, when we find freedom from trauma, it gives our minds more capacity to think straight.”
From that position of healing, the community were able to start generating ideas to help deal with the underlying cause of their trauma. We have a great God! People engaging with scripture in their own languages enables people to flourish and helps to see communities transformed!
Malawi is another location where SIL has been facilitating trauma healing workshops and training. Just as the world was about to close down because of Covid-19, a couple of SIL staff went to Malawi to do a follow up visit to see how the trauma healing workshops were going. They found Grace, who had been through the trauma healing facilitators training.
Grace’s heart is for the refugee community in Malawi. She started running trauma healing sessions with small groups in her house and eventually she decided to form her own organisation in order to develop more capacity in the area for leading healing groups.
By trade, Grace is an excellent tailor and she decided she also wanted to help equip the trauma healing participants with skills so they can start to build a better life for themselves. When the review group went to find out what was happening, they found Grace’s organisation was doing trauma healing sessions with 700 people!
She runs a tailoring school and a catering school, which also provides food for others in the refugee camps. During Covid they helped people make liquid soap in order to meet the need for increased hand washing.
Other participants recognised that their refugee camps had a lot of less privileged old people that had no-one to help them. One person formed teams to help cook and clean for those people who have no help.
Another set of people in the healing sessions expressed their concern for the young children in the camp, a high percentage of whom are orphans. During one workshop there were two young girls who were very touched by the session around feelings and the grief journey. They shared that they lost their grandfather in the fighting and had no tools for processing their grief. As they processed their grief and found healing, they were able to share their story in the testimony time and found themselves surrounded by the other children in the session, hugging them and sharing in their joy of God’s healing. The Malawi churches have an annual interdenominational pastors conference. Because of the impact that pastors have seen of this trauma healing work, the conference has invited Ommani to take a day at their pastors’ conference to talk about trauma within pastors’ homes and ministries.
Wycliffe and SIL partners with many organisations to develop materials, workshops and resources for trauma healing. The best place to find out more about it is https://traumahealinginstitute.org/
We are involved in a ministry that revolves around helping to find language solutions for a better life!