Every Child
6/24/15 at 05:01 PM 0 Comments

Sharing Hope, Healing and Christ

text size A A A

For nearly 40 years, Mercy Ships has been providing medical care in developing nations aboard a fleet of ships—essentially floating hospitals—sharing hope, healing, and Christ in 581 ports in 57 nations to date. The services their medical volunteers provide are valued at more than $1 billion, impacting more than 2.48 million of the world’s most desperate people.

Dr. Lyn Westman joined Mercy Ships in 1996 serving in a variety of roles, including chaplain for many years. In 2006, she started the organization’s mental health program. On the ships, her team provides counseling and pastoral care. On the ground, they train health care workers, church leaders, first responders, military personnel, orphanage workers, social workers, and traditional healers to effectively work with people who have experienced trauma.

“Grief, loss, and trauma are so common in the third world—the mortality rate is so high,” said Dr. Westman. “In many countries, 50 percent or more of the population is under 15 years of age. Poverty, diseases like Ebola, war, and tribal conflicts compound the problem, creating a whole other level of trauma.”

Dr. Westman’s mental health program provides mental health services for those who provide care for children and adults who have experienced trauma.

“Many of these healers have experienced trauma themselves,” Dr. Westman said. “As they hear the stories of those they serve, their own trauma can be compounded. Unless they learn how to manage this, they can start having severe symptoms including flashbacks and depression. Issues from their past can resurface and incapacitate them personally and professionally.”

Dr. Westman spoke with Brian DeVos, Bethany Christian Services’ Senior Vice President for Child and Family Services, about training service providers to effectively serve clients who have experienced trauma. Her ministry is applicable for parents who have adopted children with trauma in their past. “Parents, believing God has led them to adopt, don’t always realize how much their world will be shaken,” she said. “Sometimes the reality of adoption can be harder than they thought.” Listen here.

Listen to Bethany's Every Child audio podcast. Bethany's leadership engages leading voices from ministries, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and the arts to discuss issues relevant to children and families. Learn more and hear about topics such as child welfare, family preservation, social justice, and culturally appropriate social services in developing countries.

Bethany Christian Services is a leading nonprofit adoption and child welfare agency helping to bring children and families together and keep families together.

CP Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).