The Book Stop Blog is featuring excerpts from The TIME Approach to Grief Support by Edmund Ng and WinePress Publishing.
God has His ways of putting us within His constraints to test and prepare us so that we will know that our faith and calling are authentic. The sudden and untimely death of our spouses can be considered one of His most intense ways. This is not to suggest that we should seek after such painful episodes in life, but when suffering is unavoidable, we should face and endure it by trusting that God has a larger purpose for us. In hindsight, I know that His larger purpose in my life was the birth of a ministry of compassion so neglected by our churches today.
Our vision is to see that all who grieve and mourn over a loss—whether it be the death of a loved one; a failed marriage; or the loss of health, property, investment, or employment—are ministered to by Christians. This can be on a one-on-one basis, through support groups operating in local churches, or from individual homes in every community. In this way, not only are we committed to attending to those in the body of Christ who are hurting, but also we are reaching out to grieving unbelievers in our communities. When such people are in the darkest hours of their lives, they are most open to the love, compassion, and good news of God.
Across every continent, more and more people are dying from accidents, cancer, heart attack, AIDS, and other diseases. Many bereaved people in grief are crying out for support in the most difficult times of their lives. Wars, famines; natural disasters such as earthquakes, cyclones, and tsunamis; and epidemics like bird flu and H1N1, cause numerous deaths and much misery. While government, international agencies, disaster relief, and crisis intervention services may provide physical and financial aid at the organizational level, there is limited emotional support for individuals who mourn and grieve over losses after these types of traumatic events. Local churches are best placed to fill this role and be relevant to our society. Christians also must be equipped and ready to meet the opportunity and demand for such emotional and practical support services, even on a large scale, should the need arise.
Furthermore, in times of financial and economic uncertainty, more people will lose their jobs. Jobless people can get depressed easily. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the suicide rate dramatically increased. In the difficult times that we are now in, more and more people will need emotional support from us.
Although this book deals primarily with how to reach out to and comfort people who are grieving over the loss of a loved one, the same grief counseling principles will apply whether it is a death, a relational loss (like separation or divorce), or a material loss (wealth, job, possessions, health, etc.). Hence, this book is written for a number of reasons:
- God commanded all Christians (not just ministers, pastors, and leaders) to comfort those who mourn and to visit widows and the fatherless. The body of Christ today is not doing it.
- Most Christians are not reaching out to grieving people, not because they lack the compassion or concern for them, but because they lack the understanding, knowledge, and skills as to what to say and do.
- Most Christian books on grief are written to help people who are grieving. They are not written to address how an ordinary Christian, as a fairly long-term commitment, can reach out and offer support to those who are grieving.
- There are very few Christian books that are written from a first-hand account of an individual’s struggle with grief that combine personal experience, extensive professional counseling knowledge and skills, and the truth of God’s principles and promises. This book offers such a combination in one integrated and easy-to-apply approach that can teach and motivate the body of Christ to comfort those who mourn.
Even the Scriptures emphasize the importance of knowing what to say and how to comfort those who mourn; although, this is put to us in an indirect way. The passages in the book of Job tell us that his three friends made a mess of it when they tried to reach out to him after his great losses. They had good intentions, but they did a bad job because they had no access to such a book as this, and hence, they did not have the proper understanding, knowledge, and skills needed to help their friend. In the end, Job called them miserable comforters. We do not want anyone close to us to call us miserable comforters.
In churches these days, even the most conscientious ministers and pastors will not be able to meet the ongoing needs of the bereaved and grieving for comfort and support. Hence, this book is written for both the clergy and the laymen who want to learn how to comfort those who grieve. People who are grieving also will benefit much from reading this book, as they will learn how to grieve properly and more completely.
In addition, it should be noted that this book does not teach the reader how to pray for the bereaved or administer inner healing. I mention this because I am amazed to learn that some pastors send grieving people places for “inner healing” where they are asked to confess their sins and release forgiveness, and then they are prayed over to cut off generational curses. In grief, there are no quick fixes through deliverance! It is not something we cast out in Jesus’ Name.
The bereaved need comfort and support in their season of grief. What this book does do is teach us how to walk alongside them in their journey of grief with understanding, knowledge, and skills to help them recover healthily and completely. At the same time, we must point them to our God as the only source of lasting comfort and hope. Spiritual language in the book is minimized as much as possible so that the same principles can be applied, with some discretion, when reaching out to the nonbelievers in our communities.
Personally, I do not believe in doing any ministry unless I am specifically called by God and it is for His sole purpose. There must be no other agenda, and all glory belongs to God! I am blessed that Pauline is gifted not only in prayer and intercession but also in encouraging others. We complement each other perfectly in this work. Our three children, Colin, Pearly, and Yong Shen, stand by us completely. They are among the first to give out of their own pocket money to the Widows’ Fund, which was set up by GGP Outreach to help widows in financial difficulty.
I wish to thank GGP’s spiritual oversight team, Pastor Dr. Chew Weng Chee, Pastor Dr. Rosy Leong, and Pastor David Goh, for their encouragement, guidance, and prayers. Also, my special thanks go to the Anglican Archbishop of South East Asia, Yong Ping Chung (retired), for writing the Foreword. He sat through one of our teaching seminars and later told me that he caught the vision of our ministry.
To Continue Reading
The first book excerpt in the series:
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