God brings healing - Ministry in earthquake affected area
One year after the devastating Earthquake hit Ecuador, houses are still being rebuilt. But deep wounds remain from the trauma which is why SIM Ecuador is focusing on trauma healing in our continued relief efforts.

By Karine Woldhuis, Ecuador in South America

One of the first things our pastor in Loja said after the earthquake hit Ecuador’s coast last year, was to think about how we can help long term and not just for immediate relief. And so SIM Ecuador developed a project working with local churches in Loja that would address the needs in coastal areas significantly impacted by the earthquake.

At the end of May in 2017, one year after the disaster, we took our fourth trip to the coast, this time focusing on providing a trauma healing course for a church we have been partnering with in a town called Pedernales. We desired to provide a way for this church to continue to heal from the trauma of the quake and to give them tools to be able to minister to others in their families and community.

Stacey Conard, SIM’s Trauma Healing Coordinator, explains that  ‘Trauma Healing is a ministry which equips people and churches around the world to care for those suffering from severe wounds of the heart and spirit. Often these are survivors of conflict, disaster or abuse.

Sometimes Christians do not know what to do with the pain and grief of others. Instead of listening and walking alongside them, well-meaning believers may avoid or push a traumatised person to “move on”.  Even church members and pastors may confuse anger, denial, anxiety or doubt as sin. Trauma often carries its own brand of shame, and shame pressures a person to hide from others and from God. But Trauma Healing works together with churches in communities, equipping them to become sanctuaries of hope and healing.

SIM’s vision is to see a witness to Christ’s love where He is least known, disciples of Jesus expressing God’s love in their communities, and Christ-centred churches among all peoples. As SIM Ecuador, in partnership with the local church expresses God’s love and compassion whether through the construction of a houses, the offering of hope through trauma healing ministry, or simply by listening and caring, we are a witness to Christ’s love. We show people that the Jesus we find in the gospel cares about our whole lives, including our physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

In the lead up to the trip myself and two teammates, Michael and Kelly Reeves, took a group of about 13 people from our church through the "Healing the Wounds of the Heart" course. Having completed the training, we then asked them to present this material to the church in Pedernales. During the course we offered a programm for the kids.

About 50 people, along with 50 kids attended the first afternoon and 40 people and 70 kids for the second afternoon’s program. One lady, Paola, came along at the invitation of her neighbour who attends the church. She participated and afterwards, as she was chatting with Vicente from our team, talked of how she felt that each word was said specifically for her, that it was just what she needed. Her experience of the church was positive and she expressed a desire to return. What a joy to hear how the Lord used this team in such a way to reach someone in their need for healing the wounds of their heart.

PRAY

Thank God for the opportunity to share His heart with the people in Pedernales! Pray that God would continue healing the people who were involved in trauma healing. Pray for Pastor Jesus and his wife Veronica, for Paola’s salvation and a continued desire to get involved with this church community.

Pray for the small community, Playita de Coaque, where we have previously constructed several houses as it remains in need for more permanent housing for the many families still in temporary shelters.