One of the highlights of February 2022 for Hope Haven was a Trauma Recovery presentation Helen Banner and I led for some of our Rwandan staff members.
Helen and I worked together in Nigeria in 2014, and my wife Kimberly made two trips to Nigeria with Helen. While there, they met with widows of Christians recently killed because of their faith. This ministry event organized by The Voice of the Martyrs, was powerful to witness!
Rwandans have experienced unimaginable trauma in the nearly 28 years since the Genocide against the Tutsis. One out of every seven Rwandans was killed during the span of 100 days—more than 1,000,000 people were slaughtered! It was an unfathomable season of evil.
Every time I read a book about the 1994 genocide, I am reminded of the darkness of human depravity, especially when motivated by powerful, manipulative forces with deep-seated contempt for other human beings.
Yet, in the midst of the ashes of horrible fires like this, hope somehow survives.
True healing begins when we acknowledge the pain and ask God to heal as only He can. In God’s economy nothing is wasted. He promises to use even our painful experiences to help others: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God“ (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Helen and I worked together to provide front-line encouragement to our Rwandan team. We started with my experience as a trauma “first responder” for many years in the military, including service at the Pentagon on 9/11, counseling survivors following a fatal aircraft disaster in Kuwait, training at a Level One Trauma center for one year, and working in a combat morgue in Iraq in 2006.
We identified some of the causes, symptoms, and effects of trauma, reminding our staff of their responsibility to be aware of what is happening in our student’s homes as much as appropriate. We offered resources and guidance on how to help when they encounter victims of trauma.