“Beauty for Ashes”: Wycliffe Seeks to Help Women Traumatized by Sexual Violence in the DRC

Link to Wycliffe Global Alliance article: "Beauty for Ashes"
Link to Wycliffe Global Alliance article: “Beauty for Ashes”

 

Excerpt from Doug Lockhart’s “Beauty for Ashes”:

While few Congolese adults have been untouched by past and continuing atrocities, women especially have had to endure mind-numbing violence. More often than not, it includes sexual assault—often multiple times, by multiple perpetrators. Some are forced into sexual slavery.

If women and young girls survive an encounter with one of the country’s numerous military groups still vying for power or profit, they are frequently left battered and bleeding from having limbs hacked off or private body parts mutilated by bullets, knives or other weapons.

Untold thousands are also left pregnant and infected with HIV.

The emotional fallout from such encounters is unfathomable. Bloodied, traumatized and afraid, many of these victims suddenly find themselves with few resources. Because of the stigma attached to rape, wives and daughters who have been sexually assaulted frequently find themselves rejected by husbands and fathers. With no resources and no support, many such women turn to prostitution.

Furthermore, these victims may be left homeless because their houses—and entire villages—have been burned to the ground and their relatives have disappeared.

Congolese churches are filled with traumatized believers who need more than a prayer and a pat on the back to recover from the paralyzing trauma they have experienced. But sadly, most pastors and elders lack the training they need to help believers and non-believers alike find deep healing.

Margaret first saw the need to train Congolese pastors back in the ’90s, after she was forced to leave DRC twice because of the violence.

“When I came back at one point, I realized the church leaders needed to be more aware . . . because they just hadn’t realized why people were angry and depressed, and why there was an increase in suicide and mental illness and all these things.”

Margaret began talking with colleagues—including Harriet—about what she was seeing. Those discussions led them to write, with help from a psychologist and a counsellor, a book entitled Healing the Wounds of Trauma; How the Church Can Help.

But even before the book was published in 2004, Margaret, Harriet and other colleagues had begun using what they’d learned to conduct trauma healing workshops in Kenya, for pastors from six war-torn countries in Africa.The workshops, which typically run up to two weeks, equip pastors and others to help trauma victims express their pain, bring it to the Cross and find grace to forgive their tormentors.

A Lament for Healing

Why this suffering?
Why these wars?
Where do divisions come from?
Where do all these ethnic conflicts come from?

What does the good God do?
Is He asleep? Is He deaf?
Or is He expressly causing all this?

In my distress and sufferings
Your little voice says:
“My grace is sufficient for you,
Because my Son took all this to the cross.”

Praise, honour, glory,
Give them to our God, our Counsellor.

 —Max

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