Date: April 17, 2015
International (MNN) — The Islamic State continues its aggression in the Middle East. IS has its sights set on Syria, Iraq, and has a presence in Pakistan and other countries, too. Boko Haram has pledged its allegiance to IS and continues its attacks on soft targets in Nigeria. These are just two groups leaving traumatized victims in its wake.
Emily Fuentes of Open Doors USA says they’ve started trauma counseling to help a felt need. “Our trauma counseling programs are in areas where it’s happening a lot, such as Nigeria or Iraq and Syria. We’re working with local churches to get a feeling for the need and what specifically people have been going through.”
The trauma has been profound. Fuentes says Nigeria is just one example. “People have experienced seeing their loved ones die before them in church when churches are attacked, or when Boko Haram attacks historically-Christian villages.”
Is it needed more now than ever? According to Fuentes, yes. “The type of persecution that’s happening to the broad scale is absolutely horrific,” she says. “In past years, we might see people thrown in jail for meeting together in a secret church. Now, we’re seeing extreme acts of violence.”
Fuentes says Boko harm has killed entire villages in Nigeria where hundreds of Christians were killed. IS has burned Christians live, crucified them, and had mass executions.”
She says this kind of trauma is hard to handle without help. “We work with certified counselors to help these individuals process everything they have seen, especially in countries where it’s happening almost on a daily basis.”
Open Doors works with local churches in these countries. Fuentes says, “They know their people best. They know the needs, and they have a good feeling for the situation. But what’s wonderful about our partners, too, is they’re reaching out to non-believers, especially in Iraq and Syria.”
She explains that “many people have been displaced by ISIS as well as Syria, with the civil war, including Muslims. So, it’s a time to reach out to them, to offer them care and get a good feel of how we can share Christ with them.”
The program has been successful, says Fuentes. “Churches have been able to reach out to those who don’t know Christ yet, and we’ve heard amazing stories of people coming to Christ as a result.”
Open Doors USA would like you to support their trauma counseling program. You can support their work here.