Blog

Jun 12

Because of Your Faithfulness, the Lives of Abuse Survivors Like Phyllis are Forever Changed

Author: Steve and Celestia Tracy

Dear Friends,

When I hear the words ‘Mending the Soul’ an overwhelming feeling of gratitude comes over me. It was my experience with the curriculum and the women I met in my [Mending the Soul] group that began to build my knowledge that the circumstances I experienced were abusive. I had somewhat been in denial. I had so many aha moments during those weeks of group that propelled me into a time and space of learning who God is and that He was just as sad about the things that happened to me as I was.
-Phyllis Assan
MTS Basic Participant

Phyllis’s story is just one of many we receive, claiming victory over the trauma and abuse they experienced in their past. We are emboldened by these stories and driven to do even more for other survivors out there like Phyllis.

That is why the last 12 months have seen explosive growth for Mending the Soul:

  • Launching our world-class Online Training for facilitators to equip global leaders
  • Training almost 1,000 pastors and leaders throughout North America & Africa
  • Onboarding our NEW Executive Director to lead Mending the Soul forward
  • The deployment of a NEW Resource Kit for group participants
  • Onboarding a NEW staff member to provide support to our facilitators throughout the world

We have a vision to equip people around the world with the tools, resources, and knowledge necessary to change lives forever. Though we fully recognize it is only through the provision of the Lord that anything will change, He is using Mending the Soul as a conduit for healing some of life’s deepest wounds.

As we near the end of our fiscal year this June we have a grand vision for expanding impact. However, the only way we will be able to achieve everything the Lord has laid out before us is if you will stand with us through prayer and financial support.

We have a need to raise $50,000 by June 30, 2018 to finish off the fiscal year-end in the positive, and we are asking you to support Mending the Soul through a tax-deductible gift today.

As an additional incentive, the board and a friend of Mending the Soul have come together to create a $25,000 match. Every dollar you give by June 30th will be matched dollar for dollar, doubling the impact of your generous gift, up to the $50,000 needed.

This means your gift of $500 becomes a $1,000 gift!

May I boldly ask you to give a special gift to help us finish well? Click here to partner with us financially today.

Thank you for standing with us in this time of need to make a visible difference!

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May 24

By His Wounds Sudanese Refugee Leaders Training Update: Arua (Bidi Bidi Camp)

Author: Steven R. Tracy, PhD

Our team arrived safely in Arua on Monday, May 14. We went to the bidi bidi refugee camp that day and saw the dire conditions of the refugees firsthand. The ground where they are living is very rocky with poor soil for growing crops. In addition they are in a drought so the crops they have planted are barely growing. One pastor told me that food in the camps is so inadequate now that wide spread hunger is leading many of the refugees to return to SouthSudan in spite of the great dangers which still exist there.

Training Day #1

We launched our conference with 51 very energetic church leaders, including 16 women along with one baby. These are among the most eager leaders we have taught. They jumped right in, hungry to experience and offer trauma healing. Their expressive art exercises have been very powerful, particularly their pictures and descriptions of their heart wounds as well as their pictures of God the Father’s love for them. Their perseverance in serving and following Christ under such severe trials is a great encouragement to us.

Today’s teaching was very challenging for them and us. We had so many questions after the lesson on Satan and trauma that they didn’t want to go to lunch until I answered more of their questions. We ended the day with me teaching on the value and dignity of women. In the introduction I let them describe how women are viewed in their culture. They said women are like donkeys and cooking pots-mere objects to be used up by men. It was a very painful session. They fired away with questions when I finished. A few became rather hostile. We could keenly feel satanic opposition along with some very helpful insights from several attenders. Addressing abuse trauma here really does puts one on the front lines of spiritual warfare.

Training Day #2

The start of the second day brought some sharing which showed that the men listened and learned by repeating back what had been taught. The women’s sharing showed that they had already started to incorporate the teaching into their thinking and processing. One woman spoke of placing the teaching not only in her head but also her heart. All participants expressed thankfulness that the MTS teachings on trauma are not only based on research but is grounded and stems from the Bible. Other comments expressed the high degree of spiritual abuse within churches.

Wounds of the heart were shared:

  • Loss property
  • Loss of education
  • Loss of husbands
  • War
  • Insecurity
  • Neglect
  • Insult
  • Gossip

Training Day #3

The men and women shared their views of the traditional role(s) of women in their culture. They were all in agreement that the woman is the home and child caregiver, keeper of the “garden” or planted crops, washer, and cook. A few men shared that they are “producing machines” or “donkeys,” beasts of burden. The women also run small businesses selling small crops or handcrafts.

Steve presented the biblical portrayal of women, so different than what has developed in cultures. Genesis 2:18 states the woman is the “helper,” but not meant to be laborer or slave or underling. Also, the helper was made to be suitable; different but complementary. The female form came from the side of the man, under the arm for protection and close to the heart. The woman was also made in the image of God and was the final creation; not secondary or of less value. This was accepted biblically, but countered what culture has taught. There was much struggling with this view from the men but they recognized the truth in the scriptures and the Word of God.

Further teaching on the role of women in the church and the New Testament scriptures portraying Jesus acceptance of women in His ministry and His uplifting treatment of them showed that culture has distorted Gods view of His creation. There was much discussion, questions, and angst amongst some men. Bible, culture, culture, Bible. The whole Scripture within its context, all agreed, is where Truth resides. It is the church that must change culture so as to untwist the lies that have distorted the role of women. Value. Dignity.

Training Day #4 & 5

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty. The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.
– Mother Teresa

God lives in perfect relationship within the Trinity, and He made us to be in relationship with Him and with others. On day four we learned that trauma and abuse brings on shame which separates us from relationships. Our fear of people discovering or talking about what we have done or what has been done to us keeps us from being with others. Lack of relationship brings on loneliness, insignificance, and isolation. Life becomes too much and overwhelming. Anger, resentment, anxiety, sadness, and depression spirals a person down into the depths.

We begin to feel rejected and of little or no value. We believe our isolation is now as a result of others. We see this not only today but in Scripture through Lamentations, Job, the Psalms, Habakkuk, and Jeremiah. “God has driven me away.” “Why do You always forget us?” “Why have you rejected me?” “Why do you hide your face?” We develop fear and doubts of others. Lack of trust. We see this in Scripture as well. Fear of family and friends, fear of God, and fear of self.

Rebuilding relationships and rebuilding healthy intimacy takes safe people, secure surroundings, and stable truths. We learned to hand the shame back to the abuser, that their actions upon us are not our fault and the guilt and shame is theirs to carry. We learned to allow others who are safe and trustworthy to walk alongside us. To share our struggles, to share our pain, to share our fears. Scripture asks us to do this with God, to walk with others, and outwardly express our sorrows and shame. “Rejoice with others, weep with others.” “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Intimacy is rebuilt relationally, not in isolation.

This was emotionally difficult for the refugees and required safe boundaries and solid truths to stand on. Our stories, our sharing, our continuing presentation of Scriptural truths allowed them to slowly open up. We gave them the opportunity to express their own cries of the heart, their own laments, in writing and in picture. Time was short after a long day, but they chose to stay longer so they could share with one another. They then separated into small groups; men with men and women with women. Shared pains in healthy trusting relationships is healing.

Thank you for your commitment to the work done across the world and your continued prayer and support. God is truly moving in East Africa!

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May 12

By His Wounds Sudanese Refugee Leaders Training Update: Adjumani

Author: Kim and Kurt Brownsberger, Presenters & Team Support in Ajumani

This week, the MTS team has been in the South Sudanese Refugee Camp in Adjumani, Uganda, for the first of two, five-day By His Wounds trauma trainings to train 50 African refugee ministry leaders. Here is an update from the team.

Training Day #1

After introductions, we allowed the group to set their expectations for the conference. It is so important to give the participants a voice in what they hope to learn about and come away with from these trainings.

After Steve shared the MTS story and how it came to Africa, we launched into the material emphasizing the need to first heal yourself before you can truly help others. Jumah reminded the pastors attending the training that this week is for them, and to try to turn off needs of the people of the church.

Steve and Jumah set the foundation of that each of us is made in the image of God, and how the five types of trauma impacts the outcomes of the beauty of being created in his image. By focusing on the truths outlined in Psalm 139, the participants reviewed and wrote down how God created them; their strengths and how trauma impacts these truths.

  1. I am known and loved by God
  2. I’m love and never alone
  3. I’m loved and perfectly created.

In the afternoon, Steve launched into the “tame” topic of the value and dignity of women. As is often the case, this teaching opens up the voices and emotions of the trainees. It is the MTS way that each conference must include women, ideally at least 40%. Out of 50 leaders in attendance at this training, only 11 were women, but Pastor Moses explained that is difficult to find women educated enough to understand the material. Please be in prayer that these 11 women will go on to be a voice for and trainer of many more.

As is often the case in Africa, when asked to draw pictures of how women are viewed in their culture, both the men and women speak to the number burdens that women are expected to bear: weeding, childcare, cooking, and cleaning. And the men? They are portrayed drinking, going off for long periods of time, and expecting their meals on time and clothes cleaned each day.

Steve spoke very clearly from the Bible regarding God’s, Jesus’, and the early church’s positive view of women and the definition of “helper” from Gen 2; not as a servant/slave, but a term that means working together from our God-given, gender-based strengths – different yet complimentary. We also had the men write about times when they respected and loved women/wives, and asked the women to write about when they or others were treated with respect. This led to some lively and honest discussions back and forth between the men and women, which set the stage for future truths to be shared in the group.

Many of you might ask if everyone here speak English. The answer is yes and no. The reality is that most, if not all, know and can speak English at varying levels, but there are so many different languages, we would need 5+ translators. So it was decided that those who needed extra help should sit next to one who could translate as needed.

Training Day #2

This day is often the most difficult, as we begin telling our trauma stories, and participant exercises assist the attendees in facing their past trauma.

We began the day allowing participants to ask questions regarding what Steve had shared on the value and dignity women. Questions were asked about allowing women to pastor churches, and Steve answered using contextual scripture and referring to the scope of no longer living under the Mosaic law, but rather the new covenant of Christ.

Next, Kim taught about the biological and emotional impact of trauma. When the word trauma is not even known to the people, how does one go on to explain the impact of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? We use pictures, examples, and much repetition.

Kim shared from her own story what hyper-arousal, intrusion, emotional numbing, and powerless looked like for her. Modeling the sharing of stories and giving examples of the effects of trauma on our body helps others learn that trauma survivors with PTSD often suffer from similar outcomes due to the brain and body’s responses. We use a lot of exaggerated facial and body expressions to help explain these very difficult concepts.

After a short break comes the first of many difficult exercises. The evening before, we had them read “My Fathers Love Letter”, choose a verse that spoke to them personally, and then to draw a picture of God’s love for them. We have the participants refer back to these pictures as a means of anchoring their hearts and minds to God’s love. This is one of the many tools we give to teach them how to ground themselves when their trauma begins to feel overwhelming.

We use a feelings chart, with pictures of different facial expressions, to help them begin to identify how they felt during any traumatic event the has occurred in their life. Next they describe a person who harmed them and how they feel about him or her. The final exercise is always the most difficult. Because we explain the ongoing, internal impact of trauma to the heart is a wound that others cannot see, we ask them to draw a picture of their heart wounds. Then they share their pictures in small groups.

Each of them had experienced so much trauma. We heard many stories of losing everything, their home, their land, their livelihood. This is to be expected with refugees, but to see their tears and hear their anguish is very different from the academic thought of loss. We heard stories of childhood neglect and abuse from family members leading to a great sense of rejection and loss. Men and women shared honestly and courageously, some with tears running down their faces. All drew hearts filled with holes created by trauma, war, family violence, and betrayal. One shared that because he was a soldier fighting the rebels, he is now being hunted and has to hide in the camps.

Identifying past traumas and beginning to speak about its emotional and physical impact is one of the first steps of healing. We also give the participants tools to decrease the symptoms of trauma, using movement and worship to keep emotion moving. Mama Nora always blesses trainees with her story illustrated by her heart pictures. She shared how childhood trauma impacted her heart, breaking it while she struggled with the toxic shame of her abuse.

No African training would be complete without the topic of the spiritual impact of trauma. In the west, we often view the effects of trauma through a biological lens, but the Africans typically view it through a spiritual or demonic lens. In truth, this is a place where we can learn from each other, as it is not an either/or but a both/and. Steve taught very clearly on the biblical truth that a believer cannot be “possessed” by a demon, as this implies ownership, and believers in Christ have been adopted by Him, thus belong to Him and not satan

Jumah expounded on this, using examples of the pastors who continue to cast out demons week after week from the same people, who shake, cry, and even faint. In truth, they are responding this way physically due to hunger, extreme sadness, or from trauma symptoms. For many of these pastors this is a common practice, but now they have a greater understanding. One of the leaders asked, “How do we know if it is demonic, trauma, or another response?” We were able to encourage them to ask questions and actively listen to their members while in prayer, so that they can discern if the individual is impacted by demonic harassment (vs possession if they are believers) or by other physical or emotional needs. Many attendees found this part of the training very enlightening and helpful for their ministry.

Training Day #3

We began the morning with worship and a short devotional. A woman named Alice presented. She is one of the few women who preaches occasionally, though she has not attended church in the camps recently due to spiritual abuse. The final words of her devotion rang with such hope. She said, “Like they did at the cave where Jesus was buried, the angles will roll away the large heavy stones so that we can get to Jesus.” Yes! The angels will help move the large and heavy stones of abuse in their hearts so that they can get closer to Jesus. Beautiful!

We gave the participants the, “I will heal thy wounds” picture of Jesus embracing a child as homework, and asked them to write what they felt when they looked at the picture. Here are just a few of their comments:

“Even though I was neglected and abused by my family, Christ loves me and cares for me.”

“I am cared for even though I am lonely. I am protected during insecurity, and loved and cared for by Jesus in times of difficulty. I am encouraged in times of problems and torment.”

“This is how I felt when I was alone in a hospital bed and everyone believed I would die, and a man of God (a pastor) visited me and I gave my life to Jesus and lived.”

Jumah moved us into the next section where we taught on the spiritual impact of trauma and how trauma impacts our relationship with ourselves, God, and others. It is here we begin to introduce the truth that it is okay to voice feeling rejected by God, to have the desire to hide from God, and to doubt God. We did some exercises that allowed the participants to write down and share these feelings with each other in small groups, allowing them to begin to drain the poison that trauma creates in one’s heart. It is also one way to assist them in beginning to rebuild their relationship with God.

Steve spent a lot of time discussing the biblical principle that it is okay to wrestle with God, like Job, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk did. We can wrestle with, pray to, wait on, and refuse to give up asking God to intervene. Steve also reminded the attendees that Jesus was also a refugee; he was betrayed and suffered all types of abuse so we can cling to him, because he knows and understands.

The participants shared letters of lament, and we heard so many cry out to the Lord while sharing their pain of losing everything when they fled South Sudan, their homes, and their businesses to live in the refugee camps. Many shared of abuse by their mother, father, or husband, of single parenting, and crying out to the Lord for school fees and food. Others had their land or church taken from them without cause, and a number of women shared the pain of their husbands taking on more wives. It was so difficult to hear their hearts of pain, and yet, like the psalmist and prophets, they lifted their troubles up to the Lord, asking how long while standing firm on God’s promises.

Steve covered the topic of toxic shame and guilt, such an important topic because toxic shame accompanies all abuse. It is also important for the participants to realize that in their own pain and shame they often are guilty of hurting others as well. In this section, we focus a lot on rejecting the lies and standing on the truth of God’s Word. A favorite activity of ours is the lies and truth exercise, where lies about God, others, and yourself are read aloud, followed by a countering truth from Scripture. When the lie is read, all shout out “Lie!” And when the truth is read all shout out “Amen!”

Training Day #4

As with other mornings, we start out with beautiful, joy-filled worship. We quickly transitioned into large group sharing where both men and women shared how their individual abuse and trauma had impacted their relationship with God and others. It was fantastic to see their understanding of the spiritual and relational impact of abuse and trauma as they applied the teachings from their homework assignments. It also became evident they are beginning to understand the importance of healthy community for healing.

Jumah shared beautifully from Psalm 78:70-72 how God chose David to be kind because as a shepherd he took good care of his flocks. He shepherded from a heart of integrity, and God asked him to do the same for His people, Israel. From these few verses and questions, Jumah challenged these leaders to do the same. He reminded them that our hearts control our attitudes, and our hands are to be skilled. From here, the leaders moved into a time of reflection on how well they were conducting their relationships in ministry, marriage, and as a parent.

Mama Nora followed up with a story of how she placed a veil over her heart as a result from abuse. The pain in the room was tangible. It was the perfect time for Steve to teach on the power of the cross. From his teachings the trainees were able to stand on the truths that Jesus sees and cares about our pain; He is present in the midst of our pain, and He suffers and understands when we suffer. And the participants drank it all in with great thirst.

After time to do some exercises and expressive art, we heard more stories about the great pain attendees had suffered and of pain they had caused others. One older “mama”shared that she was born during war, was married during war, and is now living in the Adjumani camps once again due to war. And yet, in the midst she is raising 7 children as a single mother, both her own and some orphans. It is a picture of strength to hear the number of single mothers due to war, suicide, and/or multiple marriages by the husbands, who are now raising so many children on their own. Many were professionals back in South Sudan, working hard to support their children and to send them to school, and now they struggle to find enough food and money to send their children to school in the camps.

The final teaching of the day focused on the transformation of our trauma that occurs when we are willing to courageously face our painful past. Kim shared examples from her own healing journey, and Jumah did an excellent job on leading the group in various bodily stabilization exercises that many found very helpful. As we brought the group through the four stages of trauma healing and transformation one could feel a shift in the mood of the room. I would call it “the tangible feeling of hope.” So amazing! So beautiful!

We ended this very long day with worship, singing “My God is good; I will lift Him higher!” Each round sung in a different language; five in all!

Training Day #5

The final day of training is almost impossible to describe; the life, the breaking joy, the faces that showed hope once again. The day began with Jumah on forgiveness. This is such an important topic as few in Africa or even here in the west really understand the steps in this biblically-commanded process of forgiveness. Jumah’s words were so powerful, interwoven with his own story surrounding the process of forgiveness of the man who murdered his father.

He stated, “Forgiveness is the central theme of the Christianity. A church that does not preach forgiveness dose not preach the central theme. Forgiveness must flow through our communities, but I know this is very difficult.”

Imagine that you are a pastor living in a refugee camp, surrounded by a multitude of tribes, including those who are leading the murders and desecration of your country. Imagine even further that people from this very same tribe are attending your church. How difficult would that be?

Jumah reminded us all that forgiveness is a supernatural process that only comes from God. He was very clear that forgiveness is very complicated but mandatory. It should follow healing of the victim, it should never be rushed, and it only requires one person, the victim. In short, forgiveness is for the victim, the releasing of the right to seek revenge and to release the offender to both man’s and God’s justice; to the consequences of his/her actions. As Jumah put it, “Hate is very costly. It is easy to invite in but is very hard to get out.”

Steve followed up with repentance and reconciliation. These are such important topics in Africa, because forgiveness of and reconciliation with the perpetrator is demanded almost immediately of all Christians, regardless of the offense. By using God’s word and stories therein, Steve made it clear that although forgiveness requires only one person, the victim, reconciliation (harmony in relationship) requires two. But before reconciliation can occur, repentance – true repentance of the offender – must occur.

Nora followed Steve with part five of her story. Her words truly summed up the whole conference:

Redemption (of my abuse and trauma) in my life did not fix the abusers. It did not take away what happened. But it brought healing to me, which overflowed into my family; my son, daughter, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. It restored the truth of His word which gave me the power to reach out to the hurting and the broken (she has shared her story with the 5 hearts over 100 times throughout the world). Pain from my trauma, healed and redeemed by Christ has brought healing to others.

The final hour was spent listening from the participants, hearing what they learned from the conference. Remember, many attending are lead pastors in their respective churches. Many stated that this training was unlike they had ever had before. That the depth of knowledge, the amount of biblical teaching, and the way it was

We were able to give each participant the following gifts:

  1. The five hearts, re-created and sewn on pieces of yellow felt, so each pastor/leader now has a copy of the cloth hearts that Nora had posted throughout the conference.
  2. A solar-powered light that can act as a phone charger, adjustable inside light and a flash light.
  3. A Bible in their own language.
  4. A second By His Wounds Book to train others.
  5. Certificate of Completion (very important in Africa).

Also, Kim and Kurt’s church in Phoenix sent 110 handmade cloth dolls and 150 wooden cars. These were given to the two primary pastors, Bishop Jumah and Pastor Moses (5 each) and 25 each were given to Pastor Leonard and Pastor Santos, from the two churches where Steve and Kim preached before the conference began. Both plan to use them in their children’s ministry.

Next week, a few members of the training team fly home and the rest fly to Arua, to visit the Bidi Bidi refugee camp. There, they will lead the second, five-day By His Wounds trauma trainings to train another 50 African refugee ministry leaders May 15-19 and give out more gifts.

Please be praying for safe travels and protection from satanic attacks for all, and open, willing hearts in the leaders that are attending these trainings.

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May 10

South Sudanese Refugee Camp Trip Update & Prayer Requests

Author: Kim and Kurt Brownsberger, Presenters & Team Support in Ajumani

After a 1.5 hour flight last weekend, the team arrived in Adjumani. The refugee camps are only 18 miles away, but due to the road conditions it takes us one hour one way to drive there. Though we arrived road weary and jostled, our greetings by two local pastors made the trip worthwhile.

We first met pastor Santos and then pastor Lawrence. Both feel very blessed because they each have their own church buildings made of the UN tarps, poles, and metal roofing that had been donated by churches in Europe. Before they had their church buildings, both churches met outside under large mango trees for shelter from the sun and rain. When asked how we could pray for pastor Santos and his church, he simply asked to pray for more chairs; they only have 15 for a church of 100! And also for prayers that more in the camp would come to know Jesus.

Both of the pastors have been living in the refugee camp 2-3 years. People there struggle to obtain enough food, especially if they are not registered. Registration happens infrequently, and with few computers to process the newcomers pouring in daily. In truth, the families here are much better off with garden plots of corn, sweet potatoes, and other vegetable, compared to the BidiBidi camp where MTS will go next. However, what they grow is small in comparison to how much they need to eat properly.

They have access to clean water as well as plenty of proper outhouses at the Adjumani camp, but the mosquito nets supplied do not last long in the rain and mud that surrounds them. Many refugees have built small circular houses on their tiny plots to replace the tarpaulin tent they were first supplied upon arrival. Women must travel into the bush lands beyond the camp to gather grasses for the thatched roofs, which puts them in danger of assault, but without the thatching they have few options that will last through the winds, rains, and beating sun.

This last Sunday, we made the trip to the camp once again to join the pastors at their respective churches. Steve, Nora, and Jumah attended pastor Lawrence’s church (a church that pastor Moses and Bishop Jumah helped plant), and Kim, Kurt, and Kisiya, who is joining us from Tanzania, attended pastors Santos’s church. They asked for someone to preach at both churches, so Steve preached at one, and Kim at the other. They both were able to give the congregations a taste of the MTS model, and hopefully were able to leave the attendees with a bit more hope than they started the day with.

As always, worship was heartfelt, and included great dancing. Kim joined in with the dancing and clapping as well, but mostly because she had accidentally sat in a chair that had been placed on an ant’s nest, and they began crawling up and biting her legs! Momma Nora got to hold a small baby dedicated at their service, and Kim, Kurt, and Kisiya were able to pray for the people of the church they attended. Prayers for healing, for the ability to conceive, and for healthy children. As you can see, despite the difficulties in their lives, their prayer requests and church events are much like ours.

We were so thankful to be welcomed, and look forward to the amazing thing God will do at the conference this week!

Please pray for the team and attendees in the following ways:

  1. For the health of the team; both Steve and Kurt are struggling with a cough and chest cold which impacts their ability to speak and rest well.
  2. The first of two conference trainings going on right now; that the conference room works well, and that the electricity stays on so that the fans will work to keep us cool.
  3. For the pastors who will be attending; that they can all make it and feel the tug to come despite what might keep them at home.
  4. The trainings themselves. The men and women coming have faced so much trauma. Please pray that we are sensitive to each individual’s needs, and that we will bond well as a group.
  5. Please keep our families and the leader’s families in prayer, as we know Satan would love to disrupt this training in anyway possible.
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May 01

MTS Online Basic Facilitator Training: An Update

This spring has been a tremendous time of growth and celebration as Mending the Soul launched the first two Online Basic Facilitator Training courses. Since March, we have trained 140 new and existing facilitators in the new online course. It has been a delight to get to know our facilitators from around the world, provide them with more training, and connect them with the MTS community.

The goal of Mending the Soul’s Online Facilitator Training course is to train as many facilitators as possible on a global scale, and provide them with the high level of teaching, learning, and practical understanding needed to facilitate an MTS group.

The course content focuses around FOUR main areas:

  1. The theology of abuse and the MTS story
  2. The effects of abuse
  3. Creating safety and identifying defenses in an MTS group
  4. The “nuts and bolts” of running a MTS small group

 

The course contains phenomenal teaching from founders, Steve and Celestia Tracy, and several certified counselors. It also presents the opportunity to view “mock scenarios” of how to handle various difficult issues which could occur while running a group.

There are two optional, live-class sessions for trainees to gather during the week in real-time, and the rest of the course material can be done at each trainees convenience throughout the week. Weekly assignments during the four-week training allow for self-reflection and group discussion in order to get to know and learn from others in the course.

So far the feedback we have received from the course has been outstanding. Participants have rated their overall experience in the course a 4.83 out of 5! We are thrilled to be able to offer this course approximately every month, and hope more will join us! Register here today.

Our next course dates start:

  • May 7, 2018 (must register on or before May 4)
  • June 4, 2018 (must register on or before June 1)
  • July 16, 2018 (must register on or before July 13
  • August 27, 2018 (must register on or before August 24)
  • October 8, 2018 (must register on or before October 5)

Here’s what previous registrants are saying about our new, online Basic Training:

“I am happy that the MTS facilitator course was revamped. This training was very insightful and helpful. It made me even more confident in facilitating future groups.”

“As a non-tech lover, I was very hesitant about this class. The extra information, videos, and interaction with the other facilitators was well worth my discomfort with working in an online environment! This will really help prepare those who haven’t yet facilitated a group.”

“I’ve completed previous live-trainings, and they left me feeling ill-equipped and weary to run my own group. But, after taking this new, online course and having access to these materials, I feel like I am fully ready to grow into a position that fosters real healing. It is a wonderful approach to empowering the front lines!”

“I appreciated the various options to choose from for submitting work. The option to view additional resources enabled me to go more in-depth into the study. I’m thankful for the opportunity, and feel better equipped as a facilitator.”

“I especially appreciated the discussion posts. It was so helpful to hear and read how other facilitators tackle various situations, hear their stories, and glean from their experiences. It was a great way to ‘meet’ everyone! Thanks for all the hard work that went (and goes on) behind it.”

“It was a great training – well thought-out and thorough. There was additional “voluntary” audio talks where Dr. Tracy went further in depth on various topics. I would highly recommend listening to those. I really enjoyed the training!”

“This course exceeded any of my expectations by a landslide. It was so engaging and the materials were helpful. By far the best online course I’ve ever taken.”

“I am not tech-savvy, but I did just fine! I like that they give you options to submit assignments in video, PDF, or free-text format. The fresh content is great for both those who have facilitated a long time or newbies like me. It is well worth your time.”

“The most beneficial part for me was the explanation of the topic and the homework. It opened my eyes to new ways of handling certain people, personalities and situations.”

“It was all done very well and I especially appreciated the very clear instructions and allowing each participant to give their own take on everything.”

“I was pleasantly surprised how quickly I learned to navigate the online classroom. I highly recommend the training to all MTS facilitators. Well worth the time and effort. The valuable feedbacks from the MTS peers were priceless. I really felt welcomed and valued! I would love to do another online MTS training course. I really appreciate everyone involved in putting the training together!”

Ready to get trained?
Click HERE to register for the next training, starting May 7!

Upcoming Events

  • The MTS Facilitator Facebook Group will have our second FaceTime Live on May 2nd at 6:30 – 7:30 (PST/MST). This is a great opportunity to connect with MTS Facilitator Support, ask questions and receive answers and share your experiences in real-time!
  • Any Male Facilitators from Portland or surrounding areas are encouraged to connect. Mike Stines is organizing meeting for this group and I would love to connect you to him! Please email Shanell here.

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Apr 26

South Sudanese Refugee Camp Trip Prayer Requests

Author: Steven R. Tracy, PhD

Dear friends,

God has given Mending the Soul an amazing opportunity to train 100 African refugee ministry leaders in May. South Sudan, the newest country in the world, is on the brink of collapse. Country-wide conflict has displaced over a third of South Sudan’s population. Entire regions of the country are now uninhabitable due to military conflict. Over a million of these refugees now live in deplorable conditions in refugee camps in northern Uganda.

Virtually all of these refugees have witnessed and experienced unimaginable atrocities. They have lost their homes, possessions, and communities. They have no prospect of being able to return home in the near future. Humanly, they have little hope. But in the midst of this pain and loss, God is at work. MTS has built relationships with several amazing South Sudanese leaders who are faithfully serving their needy brothers and sisters in the camps. By God’s grace, they are having a great impact. They have enthusiastically asked MTS to come to two of the largest South Sudanese refugee camps in Adjumani and Arua (the Bidi Bidi camp) in North Uganda to conduct trauma conferences.

As we have been doing elsewhere in Africa for eleven years, we will first and foremost help these leaders with their own trauma healing. Secondly, we will give them tools to help their traumatized congregations and communities. We will be spending approximately one week in each community, visiting the refugee camps, attending church in the camps, and conducting two five-day By His Wounds trauma trainings. BHW is the trauma curriculum we wrote specifically for African church leaders. As you can imagine, these will be very challenging trainings. We are in great need of your faithful prayers. Only God can heal ravaged, traumatized families and communities. And he does! We greatly appreciate your prayer support.

Our Team Members Are:

  • Kim and Kurt Brownsberger (presenters and team support in Ajumani)
  • Ethie Gebeyehu (team and conference prayer director in Arua)
  • Jumah Patrick (MTS African director, trip coordinator, and presenter at both conferences)
  • Nora Poling (daily sharing her own story at both conferences)
  • Steve Tracy (team leader, presenter at both conferences)

Our Trip Schedule is:

  • April 26-May 3 Steve leaves and has six days with daughter Abby, son-in-law David, and their children, Shalom and Tashia
  • April 28 Kurt and Kim leave for Uganda
  • May 2 Nora leaves US
  • May 4 Team prep day in Uganda
  • May 5 Fly to Adjumani; visit refugee camp
  • May 6 Visit refugee church
  • May 7-11 By His Wounds conference for 50 South Sudanese refugee leaders
  • May 11 Dr. Ethie flies to Uganda
  • May 12 Team 1 flies from Adjumani to Kampala; Kurt and Kim fly back to US
  • May 12 Dr. Ethie arrives in Kampala
  • May 13 Team 2 conference prep day
  • May 14 Team 2 flies to Arua; visit Bidi Bidi refugee camp
  • May 15-19 By His Wounds conference for 50 South Sudanese refugee leaders
  • May 20 Visit refugee church; team debrief
  • May 21 AM Fly back to Kampala; PM Steve, Nora, and Ethie travel back to US

Please Pray:

  1. That God will give our team physical and emotional stamina, good health, and great sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Pray that the great suffering we will experience all around us will drive us to deeper reliance on Christ. Pray that God will give us great wisdom in knowing how to best respond to overwhelming physical needs with very limited resources.
  2. For the South Sudanese refugee leaders we will be serving; that the Spirit will prepare their hearts for the conferences, and He will speak to them and encourage them during the conference. Pray especially that the Lord will bring great trauma healing and renewed hope to the attendees. Pray that tribal hostilities will not hinder the conferences, and God will bring reconciliation where it is needed. (Virtually all of the attendees will have lost loved ones, most having been killed by people of other tribes.)
  3. That God will lead each of us who will be teaching and sharing at these two By His Wounds conferences. Pray that there will be a great sense of freedom and courage for the attendees to share with each other. Pray that the women will have courage to share honestly, and that the men will have the courage and humility to listen to the women’s experiences. (Our hosts have asked us to give extensive teaching on the value and dignity of women as South Sudanese women experience incredible levels of physical and sexual abuse.)
  4. For protection from Satan’s attacks and disruptions. We have learned that teaching trauma healing in African settings like this is deep in Satan’s home turf. He will attempt to attack our team and the attendees in a myriad of ways, physically and emotionally. He loves to use things such as nightmares, shame triggers, sudden illness, family crises, and accidents while traveling to attack and disrupt our team and the attendees. Pray with us against Satan’s attacks.
  5. That I (Steve) can be a great encouragement to Abby and David Kakeeto, and our two granddaughters, Shalom and Tashia. Pray also that I can be of encouragement and assistance to them as they are in the midst of relocating their ministry to street children (API) from Kampala to a new location on 400 rural acres, several hours west of Kampala.
  6. Finally, please pray for Celestia during this time. She will be traveling to Houston on Sunday, April 29 to receive a new pain treatment that will last at least a week. Her two diseases (a rare connective tissue disorder and CRPS, a neurological pain disorder) have gotten progressively worse, resulting in debilitating pain. Please pray with us that God would use this new treatment to give her significant pain relief. Thankfully, God has opened the door for Celestia to take a four month sabbatical, starting April 28, so she can focus on physical and emotional/spiritual renewal. Celestia has been doing trauma care full-time for over twenty-six years, and is in great need of a time to rejuvenate and prepare for the next season of ministry.

 

 

We are very grateful for your prayers. We will send trip updates as often as possible so you can hear what God is doing and how to keep praying. Please subscribe here so you can receive these updates directly to your email inbox. In Christ,

“On him we have set our hope…as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”
2 Corinthians 1:10-11

Feel led to help even more? MTS needs financial partners to come alongside us, and help provide more healing resources to train even more leaders. Will you partner with us in serving these hurting refugees? Click here to donate today!

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Apr 20

A Letter from Our Congolese Ministry Partners

Last week, in the middle of the night, Steve and Celestia received an urgent email from our close friend, Katavo, in East Africa. He asked for prayer because armed intruders broke into his father’s home near Beni, Congo, and kidnapped his father. They held him for a huge ransom of $150,000 that the family had no hope to pay.

Katavo and his wife Daphrose are our dear Congolese ministry colleagues who named their youngest daughter after Celestia. They are among our most trusted and influential Congolese partners. Their faithful ministry for Christ is absolutely incredible. Because Katavo is a highly respected church leader, the kidnapping was well-know in the community. In fact, the local police and the UN wanted to try to free his father, but the family asked them not to as that would have most likely resulted in his death.

Days after the kidnapping, we received news that Katavo’s father was just released by the rebels. The ransom was lowered to $50,000, then $3,500, which the family was able to scrape together and borrow (a fortune for them). A brave young man named Charles took the money deep into the forest at dusk. He could easily have been murdered himself.

What bold love!

Katavo’s father is now home. He is not in good health, so your continued prayers for him would be appreciated. Pray also that God would miraculously use this situation for a greater good. We believe God directly answered our prayers. Here is a thank you letter with an update from Katavo for MTS support and prayer:

How wonderful and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in harmony!
For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
that was poured over Aaron’s head,
that ran down his beard
and onto the border of his robe.
Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
that falls on the mountains of Zion.
And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing,
even life everlasting.

Dearest Dr Steve,

Let our prayer supporters know how we are pleased and grateful to hear how much they have loved us! Praise the precious Name of Jesus Christ!

What happened to my father was a great wrong, of course. He was ill, under a strong treatment for typhoid. He was forced to spend 3 days in the forest, under heavy rains without a shelter, exposed to wild insects and cold, and fast. They were wandering in the forest, even in the dark, fearing being caught. However each day there has been conversations and prayers for my father. We thank God now that he is safe; he are grateful for answered prayers.

We also thank the Lord for the opportunity my father had to exercise his gift of evangelist with boldness over there in the deep forest. Let us pray for the conversion of the aggressors. This week is a day dedicated to community school evangelism at Himbi Institute. Both the students and teachers will be taught the Gospel truths and be challenged to accept the saving grace. Kindly consider uplifting us before the throne of grace.

We covet your prayers also for the deliverance of Daphrose’s 10 students who are harassed by demons. Meanwhile, Daphrose continues to receive short messages from the devils’servants seeking to intimidate her. One of them from a witch doctor says they have been asked to harm Daphrose. So her image is already in their mirror. If she does not want to die she needs to call back and not tell it to anybody. Daphrose needs the Lord’s cover.

On next Saturday, 7 Goma chaplains will meet for training; they will also prepare a 1-week program of teachings for our 1000 local churches and another one for students’s parents’presidents and principals. Let’s pray for receptivity and wisdom.

From June 18 to 23, we have a 6 day training seminar for 80 chaplains in Butembo. Our team of trainers will be led by Jean-Pasteur Katavo. We need spiritual stamina and the Lord’s provision to pass on the vision.

In Christ,

Jean-Pasteur (Katavo)

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Mar 14

The Journeys Counseling Center and Mending the Soul Connection

Author: Roxane Thorstad, PsyD Clinical Psychologist and Co-Founder, Journeys Counseling Center

In the spring of 2006, I met Celestia Tracy at a Starbucks for a job interview. Her passion for healing, the twinkle in her eyes, and the warmth of her hug (yes, a hug at the end of an interview!) struck me immediately. As Celestia often says, “God tricks us into the big stuff.” My husband and I were relocating back to Mesa, Arizona as our family continued to grow. I was also ending my four-year commitment as a clinical psychologist with the United States Navy where I had been treating Marines returning from the Iraq war.

I began working with Celestia in a small counseling office and by February 2007, I had attended one of the first Mending the Soul trainings at First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix. I left that conference knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that my experiences, both personally and professionally, had led me to that training for a much larger purpose.

Over the next several years, Mending the Soul began expanding in the Phoenix area and Celestia transitioned into a full-time ministry role, leaving clinical practice. Around that same time, my husband, also a therapist, and I decided to take a leap of faith and start our own counseling practice in the area. With humble beginnings, Journeys Counseling Center opened in January 2009.  

As Journeys grew, several of us enjoyed teaching for Mending the Soul in both Phoenix and Portland, as live trainings were our primary mode of equipping new small group facilitators. We recognized that the partnership between local counselors and Mending the Soul ministry was extremely valuable and necessary. Counselors could continue to infuse the ministry with the latest information on trauma and abuse recovery and provide a safety net of professional support for facilitators, participants, and church leaders. We could also connect individuals to free Mending the Soul groups where they could continue to explore their own healing journey outside of the context of professional counseling.  

During this transitional period, Journeys Counseling Center served Mending the Soul as the professional arm of the ministry, and we began training counselors in both Arizona and Oregon who wanted to serve the ministry in some capacity and be listed as a resource on the MTS website. This was an exciting time of growth for both Mending the Soul and Journeys Counseling Center as we continued to reach for new ways to create bridges between lay ministry leaders and counseling professionals. We saw God open doors and orchestrate a history that has become foundational to our current vision.

Today, Journeys is a thriving practice in Tempe, Arizona with fourteen staff members. We are expanding this summer to a larger space and are excited to continue partnering with Mending the Soul. We love sponsoring the MTS annual, “Inspiring” fundraiser in Phoenix, and Tanya Harris, one of our long-time counselors, and I have loved training together over the years. You will see us in several of the online modules of the brand new online basic training for facilitators. Once this endeavor has been rolled out, Mending the Soul and Journeys Counseling Center will partner together again to develop online training for professionals.

We look forward to sharing with you the collaboration between Journeys and MTS in the years to come, and encourage you to never underestimate the power of a divine connection, even if it starts simply over a cup of coffee!


Roxane is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Arizona and Co-Founder of Journeys Counseling Center. She and her husband, Terry, have been married nearly 20 years and enjoy raising their three active children. She has been working in the mental health field since 1996 and has served on the Mending the Soul board of directors for 9 years.

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Feb 28

Register NOW for the Online Basic Training Course

Mending the Soul is excited to announce that the Beta Group for the Online Basic Training is officially underway! This first test group consists of sixty current facilitators who will help us fine-tune the new online course, so we are ready to launch our first official training for all new, prospective facilitators on March 26, 2018!

In preparation for that, we are now accepting registrations for the March 26th training. Those wanting to be trained to become a certified MTS facilitator must have already gone through the MTS small group model as a participant, and will be required to pass a background check before admittance into the course.

Click HERE to register, but don’t wait too long! Registration closes the Friday before training (March 23rd), and anyone registering after that day will be placed in the next training, scheduled for May 7th.

The cost for this valuable, four-week Online Basic Facilitator Training course is $135*, and includes the background check. This suggested donation provides care and trauma resources for global, underserved communities. To participate in the online class you will need:

Those who complete the online course will be certified as a MTS Facilitator and empowered with many support tools, along with updated and expanded content such as the new MTS Participant Connect Program! Facilitators can also choose to be listed on the MTS website’s “Find a Group” locator, so even more people all over the country, and even around the world can join a MTS small group!

We hope to see you in a MTS online basic training class soon!

*Scholarships are available if there is a financial need. Please email onlineinstructor@mendingthesoul.org to apply for an Online Basic Training Scholarship.

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Feb 07

Uganda Trip Update

Author: Steve and Celestia Tracy

Our team has been so blessed to connect with various ministries who are being shaped by Mending the Soul in East Africa. On the team’s next to last day in Kampala we went to a ministry for at-risk children and youth. The founder is a former street kid, and the ministry is twenty years old, well developed, and funded. The founder thanked us profusely for MTS and our resources. He said that they have been feeding, clothing, and paying school fees for hundreds of children, but overall “the kids weren’t getting any better.”

Several months ago he asked Jumah to come do a By His Wounds trauma training for their staff. Due to pressure from their secular European funders, they had previously removed all faith components from their program. The founder told us that he wishes he had found out about MTS ten years ago because they would be a very different organization if they had. He said Jumah’s training has revolutionized their staff (eight of whom came to faith in Christ at the end of the training!) He said they now understand trauma, and he concluded by saying that the most important thing he learned from MTS is that you must include a strong, spiritual component to effectively care for at-risk youth.

Jumah told me the sequel to this story. When he came and trained this staff, their primary European funder was in town. She heard some of the training and was very angry that Jumah used Scripture and spoke of Jesus’ healing love. She confronted Jumah and declared that this was unacceptable. But Jumah refused to be intimidated, and told her that while MTS will gladly help anyone regardless of their religious beliefs, we will never hide Jesus; He is the healer of souls. Jumah suggested that if she couldn’t respect the Christian faith of Africans then African ministries didn’t need her funds. Jumah then encouraged the founder to trust God to provide, and not accept this disrespectful secular demand. Sure enough, God soon provided a new funding source from American churches.

We went away from this meeting praising God for allowing us to help other ministries not just give food and clothing (as important as they are) but offer healing for wounded souls.

Last week we completed our last training at the National Rehabilitation Centre, the juvenile detention center for non-capital offenders for all of Uganda. They have up to 300 youth there at a time. This is an incredible opportunity to train key government workers who serve a most vulnerable population.

Jumah trained a few of these workers three months ago. The director was so pleased with the tangible fruit in her staff that she asked us to come train more staff. We only had two days to train 35 people, but we went full-throttle and God potently guided us.

They were (understandably) skeptical the first morning, but soon loosened up and really began to engage. We fixated on addressing our own trauma before we can help youth with their trauma. Steve taught on the nature and effects of trauma and on Gods original design. Kelsey taught on the biology of trauma and on strategies for trauma reduction. Jumah led application exercises. The staff was so hungry for the practical strategies that they refused to let Kelsey stop teaching!

Jeffry, the assistant director, told me at one of the breaks that until Jumah came and taught, their only strategy with the youth was to cane (beat) them. He said now that they are starting to understand trauma, they are no longer using this force treatment, but are instead helping the youth using ministry tools they have received. He said they are so encouraged with the results of this new strategy!

Many of the staff told us how much they appreciate our encouragement and our understanding that they as staff members have also experienced great trauma. It is amazing how deeply God puts the need to be respected and understood into the human heart. By your prayers we believe we were able to do this strongly with this staff. Praise God for this amazing opportunity. Please continue to pray that Jumah will be able to do a full training for them soon.

God is on the move in East Africa!

Finally, before we headed back home to the States, we spent some time with our daughter, Abby, her husband David, and their children. In partnership with API (Abby and David’s ministry in Kampala) the ladies of Hope House were able to go through Mending the Soul and Princess Lost curricula over five years ago, and they are still doing well. They are now employed by MTS making the Ugandan signature paper beads, and are able to put their children through school with the income. Princess Lost saved their lives, and they’re SO thankful for their healing!

When this program started, Abby thought she would have three ladies come to Hope House. Instead over 18 came and finished the two year program! That first year was so overwhelming to Abby, that she said, “God always tricks us into the big stuff.”

It was great spending time with these beautiful women.

Steve & Celestia

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Jan 26

MTS Partner Summit in Uganda Recap

Author: Steve and Celestia Tracy

Thank you to all our prayer partners during the conference this week. We could truly feel the reality of your prayers! Here’s a summary of how we spent out time with the African leaders at this conference.

Summit Day One

Pastor Moses gave us a report from South Sudan. It was heart wrenching but inspiring at the same time. God is alive and well and is doing a miraculous work here. MTS now has a key denominational partnership through Bishop Jumah and Pastor Moses, the evangelical free church. Just last year this denomination planted 32 new churches in South Sudan alone! They’re waiting on our MTS training teams to come this May. Please be in prayer for the key trainers God is prompting to serve Him there.

Today there are 3,000,000 refugees in northern Uganda and these compassionate leaders are moving forward to bring them trauma care through the peace and hope of Christ’s love. Please pray for these courageous, compassionate men as they move forward in faith.

From Bishop Jumah:

In Rwanda we were invited to come and taste and test. We are wanting the whole MTS model for our churches and refugee camps because:

  • People are divided around tribal lines
  • Families are divided because of poverty
  • Children stand in line all day for one meal
  • Women are raped while waiting in line for water
  • There are 3,000 children in one classroom
  • Men are shot and killed right in the street

MTS is helping us know God as the One to help us recover. We have lost everything, but God is still on the throne. We Christians must act love and not just talk it.

We will form training teams that can then move around and train others. This will move trauma care through our churches and camps. We will organize the trainers into departments. People are dying of cancer in the camps because it is not caught early. MTS is our solution and will equip our people and we’ll find hope and help. God is the God of the miraculous and we’ll trust Him for the saving work He is preparing us to do.

God’s time for us is now. We’re not beginning we’re continuing!

What other African leaders shared at the conference…

“I first attended By His Wounds Training in Rwanda, and was like a butterfly drinking from water from the Nile. Where to start? I decided to start with my family. I realized that I was an abuser as a father and husband. My child was failing in school and I was the problem. Then I began confessing, first in my family, then in our churches. Then Jumah came to do the MTS training for our leaders. I was learning how to listen and to know how to facilitate healing for them. We was more! MTS will be coming in spring 2018 to our refugee camps in northern Uganda. MTS brings peace and healing and begins with me.”

“In 2013 I found myself in a refugee camp. What am I? Am I Ugandan or Sudanese? Why? Where do I get medicine for my heart and mind? MTS… they are bringing us medicine.”

“We have now taken in 18 children from the camps. MTS helped heal my temper and has given me capacity to care for my extended family and ministry. MTS is helping me solve my problems personally and in ministry. The Holy Spirit’s presence is there.”

“I’ve now incorporated MTS resources into our ministry for children and adults. People who don’t know the gospel are burning up.”

Summit Day Two

Thanks so much for your prayers. It’s incredibly humbling serving these East African caregivers. There are four countries represented: Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

We begin each day with worship. Here is a short clip of worship so you can get a glimpse of the joy and passion in this room.

Most of the participants needed armed escort to get to the conference center on day one. Bishop Jumah, from South Sudan shared how he passed just minutes after ten soldiers were killed beside the road. Most of the leaders at this summit have lost multiple family members due to war and violence, and yet they still stand in faith, declaring the goodness of God. They’re compassionate caregivers who put their lives on the line to offer trauma care in the name of Jesus.

Bishop Jumah is also a denominational officer for the evangelical free church. He describes MTS  and By His Wounds as the gospel of healing.

“I’ve tried and tested it and am thankful MTS has helped me. Now I want it for my teams, my pastors and then for my churches. I thank you for coming!”

Thank you for helping us serve them. Because of your support MTS can offer these 25 top tier MTS trainers who have come to this conference compassionate care, good food, beautiful lodging, pastoral and clinical support, and advanced training. How right this is!

Summit Day Three

Mama Abia has been one of our partners for the last decade, and has attended every training we’ve offered in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2007. She is the founder of CEPIMA which runs five mental health rehabilitation clinics in Butembo, Beni, Oicha, and Bunia, all within the “triangle of death” in the DRC.

She is full of joy and overcomes fear daily as she offers trauma care in the context of war and violence. On day one of the conference, she described the relief she felt crossing the Congo border into Uganda; it was the first time she felt physically safe in years.

Mama Abia thanked us repeatedly for investing in her and her staff, who are now trained in MTS and By His Wounds, so they can care for and treat 3000 patients in CEPIMA’s five clinics each year.

On day three of the conference, she shared about the significant difference MTS trainings and resources have made in her in-patient population. In the last two years, the average inpatient stay has decreased from three months to two weeks!

Mama Abia is now one of our MTS trainers and facilitates trainings in hospitals, churches, and nongovernment organizations. She asked us to come to Bunia, the corrupt border city of the DRC, next year and train the pastors, doctors, and nurses in that area. Of course, we told her in faith, that YES, we will come. God will make a way.

What a joy it has been to offer these heroes of faith refuge, healthy food, beautiful clean beds, and advanced training. Half of the participants have been MTS partners for eleven years, and the other half are new since bringing Jumah on full time as our African director.

Jumah now has a small team of trainers, and they continually train leaders of faith and government organizations in both By His Wounds and Vulnerable Child (VC). The demand for VC is very high in Africa, since 60% of Congo’s population are children. Being at this conference and hearing these stories drives us forward to finish the Vulnerable Child curriculum as quickly as we can. We are currently piloting it in Uganda and Congo, which will help us to finish the final contextualization for all of Africa once we have published VC in Spanish and city and faith versions next November, Lord willing.

Who would have dreamed that MTS would be chosen by God to provide trauma training and biblical resources for God’s choice leaders? Thank you for your support and for helping us help them.

He himself bore our sins on His body on the tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed
(Peter 2:24)

Summit Day Four

The South Sudanese pastors, Jumah and Moses, led worship to begin the day. It was quite an experience having two pastors who have literally lost everything they own and live in impoverished refugee camps, sing of Jesus’ goodness. They were both ecstatic about the conference, saying it has given them training they’ve never received to help them heal from trauma they’ve carried their whole lives.

Pastor Jumah oversees dozens of churches. He was so grateful to get the reference books we gave him. He told me he lost his entire library when he fled South Sudan, and has so missed having books to prepare his sermons and lessons.

Jumah and Moses can’t wait for us to come back and train their pastors in the camps this May. Jumah had to leave early to travel back to South Sudan to help with some severe church needs. This is an incredibly dangerous trip, and many have told him not to go, but he says Jesus said he must go so he will. We so admire their faith, and we are honored to assist them in every way we can!

Summit Day Five

We finished our five-day Africa summit with 24 attendees from four countries, representing 16 different ministries! Collectively these organizations minister directly to thousands of people each month. Thanks so much for your prayers for the attendees’  safety as they traveled to and from the conference, and for your financial support. It was off-the-charts successful!

Dr. Gerry Breshears taught each day on the Psalms, and Kelsey Hawk taught on trauma, and the front-line workers in attendance ate up the teaching. As one of our Congo partners put it “we will scoop out all of this MTS training and use it for our people.”

The timing was perfect for them. Congo and South Sudan keep getting worse, and they so needed the encouragement and training. David who came from Beni, Congo missed a fatal rebel attack on the road near the Ugandan border by mere hours. Please pray for them as the travel back home.

Over and over all who attended thanked us, and said they felt so loved by God that we would come give them this training. Every single person shared how MTS curriculum has miraculously helped them heal, and so many spoke of the amazing fruit they are seeing in their ministries, attributed it directly to your prayers. Thanks for standing with us.

Thank you for supporting this summit with prayer and financial investment. God is rapidly expanding MTS borders. The fruit of our investment in East Africa in the last ten years is increasingly evident. May God direct us in the days ahead to know how best to support these MTS teams.

Celebrating a faithful and compassionate God!

With gratitude and love,

Steve & Celestia

Would you like to partner with us financially to help the work Mending the Soul is doing in East Africa? Please consider a donation today!

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Jan 23

Register Now for the Princess Lost & Found Virtual Training in February

Author: Bekah Stines, MSPC, LPC Intern

 

Through God’s provision, MTS has equipped local and global leaders from California to Virginia and Asia to Africa!

If you are a church or organizational leader who is serving individuals with complex trauma such as human trafficking this training is for you. It is experiential, practical, and interactive. In only ten weeks you will be certified in MTS’s Princess Lost & Found model to respond to complex and co-morbid issues in a healing way within community contexts.

After completing our training, you will be:

  1. Equipped to implement MTS’s Princess Lost & Found curricula for use in group or individual settings
  2. Connected to a support community of certified Princess Lost & Found caregivers.

These weekly trainings are done virtually through your computer. For more information and to register, click here. But hurry; space is limited to only 25 participants!

The Princess Lost & Found training utilizes the beautifully crafted curricula written by Steve and Celestia Tracy, authors of Mending the Soul. Addressing the needs of sex-trafficked survivors and their advocates, this training provides psycho education on the devastating effects of exploitation and complex trauma and provides practical exercises to connect with survivors.

This research-driven training, rooted in real-life experience provides a pathway for mentors, social workers, therapists, and leaders to anticipate and respond to the needs of survivors. Through safe relationships, advocates offer hope for healing and redemption from the horrific effects of abuse specific to sex-trafficked individuals. MTS instructors bring both professional and mentoring experience with sexually abused and exploited men and women.

What others are saying about PL&F:

This training has been a blessing both for my organization and me personally. Bekah makes things practical and applicable. I also loved learning from all the participants – it truly feels like a support community. I highly recommend this training for anyone working with survivors.
—Community Advocate

Topics like re-exploitation and using a survivor’s story are so important! Thank you for addressing these and providing a safe place to process.
—Nonprofit Director and Survivor

As a survivor myself, and as our house mom is also a survivor, she and I are MOST grateful that we started with PL and NOT MTS…Something that is not in the book but that you have done so well in the training is giving concrete examples and giving us the words to say in situations. Your examples have been life savers for my staff! God obviously guided this process, and it has been amazing.”
—Survivor, advocate, and Non-Profit Leader

Our program is endorsed by:

  • Rejuvenating Women, Omaha, NE
  • International Justice Mission
  • Free Ever After, Tucson, AZ
  • Adorned in Grace, Tacoma, WA
  • Grace Matters, Vancouver WA
  • North County Abolitionists
  • DV Shelters, Phoenix, AZ, CA, WA, OR
  • YWAM
  • Compassion First
  • Mentor Support Collaborative, OR
  • Free Ever After Int’l
  • Blue Water Mission, HI
  • Free at Last, Dallas, TX
  • Church Organizations in CA, AZ, WA, VA, TX, LA, OR, NE, Thailand, Russia, Asia, Africa, and India
  • Non-Profits in OR, WA, CA, AZ, PA, LA, and TX

Please contact Bekah Stines to add your organization to our growing list for 2018!

Please join us this February! For more information and to register, click here.
But hurry; space is limited to only 25 participants!

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