A few weeks ago in church, a prophecy was given about an influx of people coming in from “the hollows” (this is WV, people). We were instructed to “get ready” multiple times. When I left the service, the phrase was echoing in my head, get ready, get ready, get ready. Why aren’t we ready? More importantly, why don’t we stay ready? Or why do people come and check out church and promptly turn away.
These are some hefty, thought provoking questions that I don’t know all the answers to. After some thought, prayer and conversations with God and whoever else would listen, I came up with three simple things we regular folk could do. Here’s the first:
1.Become Trauma Trained.
I copied this scripture and recited/prayed it over and over when my newbies came home through adoption.
The SPIRIT of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of prisons and the eyes to those who are bound. Is. 61:1
My newbies were brokenhearted. Their wounds were fresh. They didn’t speak the same language of family that I did. Their expectation was they would experience lack, slavery of circumstances and bad tidings.
We often mistakenly treat visitors at church like they are whole, healed and connected individuals. It’s similar to the way we treat foster/adoptive children. Once they walk through the doors of our homes, we expect these kiddos to feel safe and secure and attach immediately. They can’t, not won’t. Just as new converts (or just visitors) come into the church with their prisons and blind eyes intact. We must be trauma trained. Jesus tells us, he didn’t come for those who are well.
And Jesus replied to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but [only] those who are sick.- Luke 5:31
Jesus is referred to as the great physician. He came to heal the broken hearted, to bind up their wounds.I looked up the definition of a trauma physician:
ER physicians sometimes treat patients with traumatic injuries. Trauma surgeons specialize in it. Trauma surgeons evaluate, diagnose and operate on severely injured patients. … Trauma is often life-threatening, so the surgeons get used to working fast.
Wow. How many times are we practicing evaluating and diagnosing? I’m not talking about exterior injuries or saying inappropriate things to people. I’m talking about assuming that everyone who walks through the door of the church is a trauma patient and treating them with tender loving care. Not sure what trauma is? Or what the six risk factors that make someone a victim of trauma or a person from a hard place?
- Prenatal stress and harm
- Difficult labor or birth
- Early medical trauma Hospital stay, surgery, etc.
- Trauma- house fire, death of a loved one, divorce, etc.
- Neglect which instills the belief-You don’t exist
- Abuse which instills the belief-You don’t matter
You can read more about the six risk factors and listen to a podcast about them here.
The main point is you can’t treat everyone who comes through the door as a well visit. You must treat them as a trauma patient. The church must be trauma trained. How do we get trauma trained? We study what trauma does to a human- the five Bs affected:
Brain- Our experiences shape the connections in our brain. Hebbian principle- what fires together wires together.
Biology- Neurochemistry is altered.
Body- Although not all scars as visible, trauma leaves it mark on the body.
Beliefs-What’s one firmly held belief that you have? What would it take you to change that belief? People from hard places may not believe what you do. Their beliefs are just as firm as yours.
Behavior- People from hard places may not behave the way that you want them to. Their culture is not “church” culture. It is wherever they came from. It may mean that they believe the “F” word is a part of everyone’s vocabulary. This it itself doesn’t make them evil, it’s just a word. We have all fallen short of the glory of God, whether we use the word “Durn” and have evil intent or any other word.
Each one of us needs to know how to make an initial assessment and treat each person who comes through the door with love and respect, no matter what the “sickness” is.