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Healing Hearts training heals emotional wounds in Eastern Congo’s children

Easing trauma for those most affected by violence and brutality

by Debbie Braaksma | Special to Presbyterian News Service

As part of the trauma healing workshop, the children made crafts that related to the theme of healing the wounds of their hearts. (Photo by Debbie Braaksma)

As part of the trauma healing workshop, the children make crafts that related to the theme of healing the wounds of their hearts. (Photo by Debbie Braaksma)

LOUISVILLE – This week, Presbyterian World Mission co-worker, Christi Boyd is helping to facilitate the Church of Christ’s (ECC) Women’s Department’s first Healing Hearts training event in Goma, North Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Healing Hearts is a Bible-based curriculum for trauma-healing in children, developed by the Trauma Healing Institute of the American Bible Society. Women leaders in Eastern Congo have identified 27 candidates to receive the training enabling the churches in Eastern Congo to care for children with the deep emotional and spiritual wounds caused by war, rape, and other traumatic experiences in this region of Congo, considered “the most dangerous place in the world to be a woman”.

For three days these women and some teachers, social workers and civil leaders with whom they work will be reviewing the Healing Hearts training material. Then, some 50 children will join the group for the next five days to work with the trainees as they apply the newly learned insights.

Combining biblical and mental health resources with intervention, the trainees will incorporate the Healing Hearts methodology as they work with trauma-affected children in their respective communities to help “heal their hearts, build their confidence, and restore their relationship with others and with God.”

The current situation on the ground demonstrates how desperately this training is needed, according to Christi Boyd, mission co-worker in the Democratic Republic of Congo. There is extreme violence in Beni, which is North of Goma where the training is happening. “Last Saturday, over 50 people have reportedly been killed by machetes,” writes Boyd. “Since October 2014, Beni has been experiencing sprees of brutal killings by a militia that started as a Ugandan rebel movement, but has since moved into Congo and is said to have been recruiting many new members there”

Boyd said the killings around Beni are particularly repetitive, extremely brutal and increasing in frequency and numbers of victims. The death toll has risen to at least 700 people in Beni territory, with a significant number of those in the last several months.

Besides the Congo, Boyd works in three other French-speaking African countries, Madagascar, Niger, and Rwanda, and one non-French-speaking country, South Sudan. She accompanies global partners as they seek to remedy the marginalization of women and children in their communities, and engages with Presbyterian constituencies in the U.S. that want to come alongside and promote those efforts.

Boyd and Mama Bertha Nzeba, the director of the Church of Christ in Congo’s Department of Women and Families ask PCUSA members to pray for the people of Beni, as well as for this trauma healing training event.

Blessing for the Children in Eastern Congo
Healing Hearts Project

Spirit of the Living God,
Creator and Compassionate One,
We humbly come to You to ask for your Blessing upon
the Congolese children living in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

May your blessings be upon those children who
have lost their parents and family. Grant that through the Healing Hearts Project,
their grief will be transformed into personal strength and courage.

May your blessings be upon those girls and boys who have been injured
in body, mind and spirit during difficult years of turmoil. Grant that
through Healing Hearts, they will be made whole again.

May your blessings be upon those children who believe that they are unwanted
and unlovable. Grant that through Healing Hearts, their hearts and minds
will mend and new pathways of happiness will open for them.

May your blessings be upon the people who wrote the Healing Hearts curriculum
for the children, using a scripture-based message of hope

May your blessings be upon the master facilitator leading the training
and the 30 facilitators chosen to work with the children.
Give them all the fortitude and inspiration to do this difficult work with unconditional love,
encouraging the children to find new hope for themselves and for the future.

 May your blessings be upon the mission co-workers and local leaders who are
invested in making the Healing Hearts Project a success for the children.
Grant that their efforts will bring healing and wholeness to these precious children.

May your blessings be upon those adults in eastern Congo
who already provide good role models for a society that is founded on
loving-kindness and compassion.

“…May Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven….”
In Jesus’ Name, we pray.   Amen

This blessing comes from the hearts of all the people who donated to the Healing Hearts Project from Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church and the Bay Area of California.
LOPC Congo Mission Team – April 2016

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