Called: Grief, scorpions and healing
By Mercy Kambura
I was struggling. Like frying popcorn in an open pot, my unexpressed emotions flew everywhere. I seethed silently in resentment and stewed in my depressive thoughts.
My relationship with fellow missionaries teetered on irreparable damages. Naturally introverted, I avoided sharing my opinions in team meetings; I felt they weren’t valued.
Our team worked among a hostile people group. Several times while collecting wood with community members, they threatened to beat me up just because they could. This was no bluff; I had seen others beaten. Consequently, I was overly friendly and politically correct around them.
We also lived in perpetual fear of vipers and scorpions, both for ourselves and our kids. Children have been known to die from stings or bites. One day, like Job of old, what I feared came – a scorpion stung me! I was swollen for days, almost unable to swallow food.
Despite the stresses and turmoil, I endeavoured to keep the vision alive. I loved spreading the Gospel. I still do. From the moment I was born again, I told anyone about Christ. Those sitting next to me on a bus would be preached to. I had given myself to missions and had registered years of fruitful ministry. Why, then, was I struggling so much?
We decided to move to a new field to ease our mental and emotional burdens. We even transported our belongings to the new site ahead of our move, but before arriving, someone broke into our storage unit and stole our things.
I was stretched to my elastic limit. Taking a break was imperative. We left the field to recharge, re-strategize, and ask God if we had heard Him rightly.
Detour to the past
During this break, we heard about Ellel Ministries. They focused on inner healing and restoration from past experiences, present struggles, and future expectations. Ellel provided us a safe place and people to talk with honestly about our experiences. Here, I came face-to-face with … myself. We processed traumatic experiences from both the recent mission field and from our distant pasts. I saw the effect of trauma on my emotions, mind, and spirit.
My struggles stemmed from unhealed heartaches, the greatest being unresolved grief. Years before, I lost my elder sister in a tragic road accident. She was my best friend and closest family member.
I never got to mourn her. We just laid her to rest, and I returned to university. Once a straight-A student, my grades plummeted. Only by my mother’s prayers did I complete my degree in engineering.
I felt abandoned. Why was my closest confidante plucked away from me, yet everyone’s life went on? The sun still rose and the earth orbited the sun with no care that my life had been upended.
A healed missionary can minister effectively to the unreached!
The broken man became a broken missionary; the Christian who reached out passionately, mourned internally. I was bleeding on those around me, leaving a trail of hurting hearts. I became aloof and I fit into the team like an elephant in a hummingbird’s nest.
But I began to see how my reactions were sinful. I had grown fearful, judgemental, isolated, and resentful. I owned up to my part, and God bound up my brokenness.
Now, we work with Ellel Ministries, helping others find healing like we did.
No one is exempt from traumatic experiences. Missionary preparation should include facing past trauma. If you go to the field still broken from the past, you may struggle in the ministry and your walk. You may be tempted to quietly move to a different field, ministry, or type of service. It is better to seek help. Holistic healing is possible from God—a healed missionary can minister effectively to the unreached!