by Harriet Hill, Margaret Hill, Richard Bagge, Pat Miersma
This concise and well-written book is intended to help Christians understand and work through trauma. Developed primarily for African believers, Healing the Wounds is filled with composite accounts of troubling/traumatic experiences for many on this continent.
2nd edition. Paulines Publications Africa, P.O. Box 49026, 00100 Nairobi, Kenya. Publications@paulinesafrica.org,, 2005, 120 pages, $10.99.
—Reviewed by Kelly O’Donnell, coordinator of Global Member Care Resources (MemCa), WEA Mission Commission.
This concise and well-written book is intended to help Christians understand and work through trauma. Developed primarily for African believers, Healing the Wounds is filled with composite accounts of troubling/traumatic experiences for many on this continent. Some examples include: an uncle of an orphaned boy who beats the latter regularly and withholds food from him; rebel soldiers who invade a village, set fire to the houses and mutilate people with machetes; refugees who flee on foot to a neighboring country and face illness, danger and ongoing grief; drunk soldiers who rape local women; and Christians who contract AIDS from their spouses and other sources. Christians from other regions who minister in similar situations will find the material very relevant.
The book is designed to accompany a seminar on trauma. Church leaders who know and want to help their people and contexts are encouraged to facilitate these seminars. The authors thoroughly ground each chapter with scriptural references and include short Bible studies. There are also core concepts from various healthcare fields and exercises for personal reflection and group discussion. It is most beneficial to journey through this book slowly, deliberately and in a group context. The material continues to be field-tested via workshops (offered in English, French and some tribal languages) that the authors and others offer. To date the book has been translated into thirty-seven languages used in Africa.
The book is easy to read and easy to apply. The eleven chapters, or lessons, deal with areas such as: evil and suffering, heart wounds, grief, children’s and women’s trauma, AIDS, care for the caregiver, the cross, forgiveness, living in conflict zones and contingency planning.
The authors provide basic and accurate information; however, the deeper material is covered in group discussions that result from the reading. Although this is helpful, I would have liked to see some additional areas in writing. These areas would include: more reminders on the importance of communication boundaries and confidentiality; some mention of legal and complicating issues in reporting rape; additional health guidelines, such as drinking fluids and malaria prevention, for caregivers; and inclusion of the possibility of defending oneself, family and community in the face of ongoing threat as an alternative to a “God is sovereign/remain peaceful” approach.
Healing is presented as a process rather than as something we go through quickly. Slow growth is sure growth. The central role of forgiveness in healing that connects us to Christ and others is also emphasized. The authors are to be commended for assembling both this timely, redemptive book and their thoughtful, restorative seminars.
Check these titles:
Bracken, Patrick and Celia Petty, eds. 1998. Rethinking the Trauma of War. London/New York: Free Association/Save the Children.
Fawcett, John, ed. 2003. Stress and Trauma Handbook: Strategies for Flourishing in Demanding Environments. Monrovia, Calif.: World Vision.
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