Recovering from Traumatic Stress: A Guide for Missionaries

by Stephanie Laite Lanham and Joyce Pelletier

William Carey Library, 1605 E. Elizabeth St., Pasadena, CA 91104, 120 pages, 2010, $12.99.

Reviewed by David A. Diaso, Mission to the World, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Recovering from Traumatic Stress is a great resource for missionaries. I’m not aware of any other books that tackle traumatic stress which are written specifically for missionaries. Missionaries often encounter trauma like that described in this book, yet they don’t know what to do with it. For example, when my wife and I served in Mexico City, I was kidnapped. We didn’t know how to deal with the trauma (although we thought we were managing it in a healthy manner). It wasn’t until we came off the field two years later that we began therapy to start peeling back the emotional onion. A book like this could have helped us identify some of the symptoms we were experiencing, and possibly enabled us to be more proactive in treating them.

This book is meant to be a primer on traumatic symptoms missionaries run into. It is written with field missionaries in mind. It does not exhaustively deal with each symptom, but it does give an introduction to what the symptoms are, and some helpful suggestions on what missionaries can do to effectively deal with them.

Joyce Pelletier and Stephanie Laite Lanham define more than twenty-eight symptoms (including anger, anxiety, chronic pain, and depression) to help missionaries understand and identify the particular symptom. Each section starts with a short story that relates to the symptom being described. After a symptom is defined, the authors explain how it might affect missionaries, and what situations typically cause it. Then the authors briefly explain what missionaries can do to cope with that issue, including prayer, therapy, prescription medication, etc. There are also some great resources in the appendices, including a list of therapist and counseling centers that minister to missionaries.

My one critique is that the authors do not discuss spiritual warfare and how it relates to traumatic stress. I would suggest a follow-up guide which addresses spiritual warfare, since it is often intertwined with stress missionaries face. Unfortunately, this is area often ignored by Western missionaries.

The authors have a wealth of experience in dealing with traumatic stress missionaries often face. Overall, for what they set out to do, they did with excellence.


EMQ, Vol. 47, No. 2, pp. 250, 252. Copyright  © 2011 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS).  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.


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