PTSD has taken its toll on many of our nation’s military men and women.
Tragically, America is losing 22 combat veterans every day to suicide.
But Christians are stepping up to help these veterans and their families find a place spiritually healing in an inspiring way.
Here’s how one ministry in particular is making a difference.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can manifest with symptoms that are not only physical and psychological, but also spiritual.
Doctors can and do help with the physical and psychological aspects of the disorder, but the Christian church is uniquely equipped to deal with the third need of spiritual restoration.
The innovative ways that churches and other faith organizations are finding to help those with PTSD and other trauma-related disorders are producing positive and tangible results.
As with most successful ministries, it is not just those who are ministered to who are blessed.
The volunteers who give of themselves to serve also find blessing and spiritual growth.
As one volunteer who wishes to remain anonymous put it, “What could be a greater privilege than to be given the honor of serving those who gave so much serving for me?”
Trauma often leads to a spiritual crisis as survivors wrestle with questions like “why did God let this happen” and “where was God during this ordeal?”
And CRU Military is one of the leading Christian ministries focusing on the spiritual aspect of healing.
In 2007, they launched the Bridges to Healing initiative to train churches on how to minister to those suffering from combat-related trauma and PTSD.
They have since partnered with the American Association of Christian Counselors to create Care and Counseling of Combat Trauma as a video training series.
Through these training videos, churches are given a great foundation of knowledge and then the latitude to create the ministry that will best serve the needs of their congregation.
Some churches choose to incorporate Bridges to Healing as part of a ministry serving all types of needs of military families while other churches use it to help trauma survivors from all walks of life.
These different ministries all look and function differently, but they share the same goal of helping those suffering from trauma heal spiritually.
These ministries are having an impact on those they serve and their families. When a combat veteran comes home with PTSD, their family is deeply impacted as well.
The children and spouses of those suffering from a trauma-related disorder live under an incredible amount of pressure.
Creating a space within congregations where they can openly talk about the impact PTSD is having on their family and having a program in place to offer spiritual support and guidance often makes a lasting impact.
The more spiritually healthy the family is, the better equipped they are to support the person who is suffering.
Unfortunately, the constant relocation of active duty military personnel makes it harder for them to truly connect with local churches.
CRU Military recognizes this and strives to make its program accessible online and through churches close to active duty bases around the United States.
No matter how seriously the United States government takes the problem of PTSD, they are simply not equipped to deal with the spiritual aspect of PTSD. This is why building ministries in local churches to serve this population is so important.
Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
If your church is not yet ministering to those with PTSD, here are some things you can find out to get started:
Identify the need. How many military members, past and present, does your church serve?
Are there other programs in your area? Can your church partner with them?
What type of ministry does your church envision?
Who will oversee the ministry?
In addition, visit the Bridges to Healing website for additional resources.
Each faith body is implementing its specific ministries based on the needs of those they serve.
The important thing is that the effects of PTSD is being de-stigmatized and brought into the light.
The more churches that step forward to start their own programs and serve those with trauma- related disorders, the more lives will be saved.
There is a snowball effect when helping those with trauma-related disorders.
You then start to see the healing and restoration in marriages and families. There is also the positive impact of those involved in the ministry who find their own lives transformed through these acts of service.
A ministry to help those suffering from trauma-related disorders is another step toward de-stigmatizing mental health issues. Confronting shame around mental health disorders makes it easier for those who most need help to ask for it.
John 12:26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
If you’re interested in serving those suffering with mental health issues, you may also be interested in our recent article 4 Ways Christians Can Help Those Suffering from Mental Health Issues.