Sunday, May 17, 2015

How Can Churches Minister to Mentally, Emotionally and Physically Distressed People?

Many people are writing about the need of churches to open their doors to people with severe medical, emotional, relational and mental issues.

I recently posted a paper I have used in many places to train and unleash Christian Lay Persons to carry out the call of Jesus as reported in Luke 4: to "Heal the broken hearted and set the captives free." (See Isaiah 61 as well.)It has five levels of need that we see among our families, friends and church members.

Level 1 and 2 indicate folks with few if any life interrupting problems. These people are the ones we seek to equip in Lifeskills so they can care for others. Our training processes are designed to accomplish that goal. It contains theory and skills on listening, renewing the mind, and prayer.

Level 3 are those persons with issues grief, sadness, conflict, anxiety, drinking, marital stress, etc., The problems are so severe they need care and counsel from the Trained Peers coming out of the Lifeskills' program.

Levels 4 and 5 need Clinical and Medical Treatment plus prayer, encouragement and support of Peer Helpers.

The Bible says a lot about growth and healing. It does not focus on Professional Clergy and/or Doctors to do this kind of work. However, the Bible encourages us to more get more knowledge about science, medication and learning so we can deal more effectively with human difficulties, but frankly, medical knowledge was extremely limited in biblical times.

Even today, over 90% of all educated Clergy, Doctors and Counselors are found in the Western Europe and America.  I am very encouraged to see so many people standing up for hurting children adults and families. I am also encouraged to read that researchers are discovering that Peer Helpers can do an awful lot of good by being available. The Ministry of Presence can bring substantial healing and growth.  (You can get our very inexpensive materials here!)

Here is a summary of one study with the organization Compeer which matches Companion Peers with people who have a serious mental/emotional illness.

Received: 24 January 2007 / Accepted: 8 April 2008  

Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Abstract We conducted a quasi-experimental study of Compeer, which matches community volunteers and people with SMI to increase social support. Seventy-five adults with SMI received community psychiatric treatments-usual (TAU) while 79 adults received Compeer services plus TAU. Compeer clients reported significant improvements in social support and a trend towards improved subjective well-being. After 6 months, social support increased [1 SD for 13%, increasing to 23% at 12 months, supporting qualitative research suggesting the ‘‘active ingredient’’ in intentional friendships often takes more than 1 year to develop. This subgroup of responders showed significant gains in subjective well-being and reductions in psychiatric symptoms.

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