*Names and countries are withheld or altered to protect Christian believers.
A lady from the Middle East, Dorcas, spoke at ANM recently. This was her first trip to the US. She had dreamed and prayed about coming for the last two years.
She radiated joy, peace, and love as she spoke in her quiet, gentle way. Dorcas came from a very wealthy family. She was saved at 16. She got her Masters in Theology and then realized the need for counseling as she worked with converts. She studied for her Masters in Counseling followed by 2 years’ training in Christian counseling. She shared how she uses both to minister to people in her country. Counseling is needed in her country because the physical and emotional wounds from persecution of Christians are overwhelming. She encourages the people she counsels to see themselves as survivors, not as victims. Her theology degree helps her to train and mentor young Christians.
Where Dorcas lives, people are killed, mutilated, raped, imprisoned, and ostracized for becoming Christian. Becoming a Christian changes their official status and puts them at risk. Yet change is what they are doing. God is moving in this country. Jesus is revealing Himself to people. Christians are sharing their faith at the risk of their lives. People are indeed changing!
Muslims are taught that they should not question their faith. They believe you must obey and do, but people are questioning. One woman asked questions about her faith. She did not ask about Christianity because one of her friends, who converted and was discovered to be a Christian by her husband, disappeared. So she was being very careful, but still she suffered, because she was questioning.
The desert places of persecution
One young man was shot and beaten by his father so severely for becoming a Christian that he was crippled. Then he was put in an asylum where he was tortured off and on for seven years. One day his mom came to bathe him and witnessed something remarkable: as she watched, Jesus walked into the bathroom and gave the young man His hand. He lifted the young man out of the wheel chair, and he was instantly healed. The young man can now walk, and he has been released from the asylum. However, he has to live under an assumed name and move every few months to protect his identity.
Dorcas showed us pictures of people who have suffered for their faith. Her job is to counsel people to help them heal. Additionally, her ministry is to disciple young Christians to grow in their faith. These two tasks work hand in hand to bring healing, faith, and joy to Christians in a land of persecution. As she shared pictures of people she has encountered in the past year, she gently whispered things like, “Oh, my dear.” This was said with such love and compassion. Then we would learn that this was a friend who was killed for becoming a Christian.
One woman was murdered by her husband and father in front of her young daughter. They did that in hopes of putting fear in the daughter’s heart so she would not convert to Christianity. The daughter is now mute and has remained so for the last two years. There were other examples of friends and acquaintances that were harmed or killed.
She continued saying that those who have suffered persecution, beatings, rape, isolation, rejection, and imprisonment, need help. They need shelter, love, counseling, support, protection, and discipling in the Christian walk. They have no family except the Christian family. They are very restricted. Attending church is almost impossible. There are many psychological problems such as stress, nightmares, and phobias.
Dorcas meets with the new converts in groups of one or two in public places. Larger groups are not safe. She disciples them either in public or over social media. It takes time and patience to help people share their hurts and problems with the restrictions she works under, but she is seeing people heal and grow in their faith.
As Dorcas kept sharing, she had such a look of joy on her face. It was not pretended or put on. Joy was evident even though she shared horrific stories. One staff member asked her to explain: “My blood is boiling. How can you have such joy?”
She replied, “My joy comes from the changes I see in people.” She went on to explain that she gets to see people coming to the Lord. She sees from the beginning, the change in thinking. She gets to see people grow and mature in the Lord under dire circumstances. “My great joy is to walk the journey with them,” she said. Dorcas is a woman who knows God is working through her to minister to these wounded, young Christians. She offers them hope, healing, love, and the truth of God’s word. She is satisfied with that. She is satisfied whether their journey is long or short. She finds peace and joy in serving the traumatized Christians in her country.
She told me that having someone share their trauma is like an atom splitting. When a person shares details of traumas they suffered, the pain is split. Half stays with the client and she takes the other half. So each time a person shares about their trauma, the pain decreases. Healing comes. Forgiveness comes. What a simple, beautiful explanation of how counseling helps a person who has suffered persecution. No wonder she has joy. God has given her wisdom, skills, and love to help persecuted Christians heal and grow in their faith.