Sorry I have been so absent from my blog. As the CARE Retreat is getting closer we have been very busy people. I am getting excited to share what we have learned over the last 15 years of being in community with survivors and learning the healing process. I will share with you some of the observations I have had during my journey.
- When Jo and I began community we really didn’t know what “community” really was all about. We looked to our peers to glean information from them and the response was “huh?” They didn’t have a clue to what it was either nor how that would help survivors. God, as always, was gracious and brought men and materials to us to help define community. First we met Dr. Jim Wilder at a conference and told him what we were doing. We were expecting to hear him say “what are you doing?” But instead he was researching community life and how it would be extremely important to the healing for those who have never had healthy bonding. Out of his research he and his peers wrote “The Life Model” which gave us an understanding and language for developing our community. We are very grateful to him for helping us in our community infancy. Then we met a messianic jewish man of God who wrote a book called “True Fellowship.” He helped us understand the value and importance of community life for everyone in the body of Christ. “Art Katz from True Fellowship: “The powers of the world are increasing. There are things that captivate the souls of men, rooting them in time. There is a blocking out of any consideration for the things that are eternal. We cannot, however, come to freedom from this evil influence by ourselves. The separation is so painful and those powers are so pervasive and strong. And it is only through the support, the encouragement, the prayer, the wisdom, the counsel of others and the atmosphere that we generate together as the community of God’s people that we can live and maintain that freedom without again being sucked back into the power of the world. Community is not an option. It is GOD’S PROVISION TO RESIST AND TO OVERCOME THOSE POWERS. Sons and daughters of God are those who will overcome the world, the flesh and the devil, and I cannot see that we can be this people EXCEPT in community.” This had a powerful impact on our development of community life.
- Anyone working with a community of survivors needs SUPPORT, SUPPORT, SUPPORT. It is essential for maintaining your sanity. You need prayer support and people who will support you emotionally and are willing to do spiritual warfare for you and the community. At CARE we were lacking that support as well as workers who were willing to come alongside of us. It has been difficult for us and for the survivors.
- I don’t know what we would have done without the help of our board members. Finding healthy board members has not always been easy but God has always been faithful to bring people alongside of us who had a similar vision for CARE. They are our lifeline in so many circumstances.
- “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heave…” Matthew 44-45a I have learned a great deal about forgiveness through community life. It literally clears the air of animosity so that we can breath in the breath of Jesus’ grace and mercy.
- The scriptures came alive like they never had before community. Many words that came out of my mouth I knew were not mine but from the Lord. I learned to allow Him to use my thoughts and mouth to convey His love and mercy.
- In community you learn to suffer well. There is a great deal of backbiting, anger, withdrawal, holding injustices against each other without trying to work if through. There has been gut wrenching pain when you see people you love making decisions out of their anger or bitterness. But God has taught us how important it is to allow people make their own choices.
- In community with the wounded, there are many challenges to die to self; death of our own ambition, death of being understood, death death of being liked, death of reputation, death of getting avenged when you have been wronged and death to being justified.Jesus never returned evil for evil but overcame evil with good. God has not called us to be successful but to be faithful.
- I noticed that, as helpers, we model Jesus character to a wounded person who is afraid and is accusing us and we do not respond with fear, defensiveness or anger, we will have, in that moment, an opportunity to demonstrate something different than in their past. We send the message “I am still glad to be with you even when your complaint is about me!”
What do we get in return? An opportunity to introduce wounded people to a different existence, one that embodies the power of God. He has chosen us to do this work and I am humbled that He chose me to serve Him for His Kingdom.