Trauma is a part of life. This truth may be even more apparent in the hostile and restricted nations where VOM ministers. These are very difficult places to live—especially for a Christian.
As I travel around the world to meet face-to-face with those who have experienced persecution, I continue to be amazed at the miracles that happen at the intersection of trauma and faith.
One miracle that we see often at this intersection is the miracle of forgiveness. Earlier this year, I was in Nigeria. I met with widows who still live in the same villages where their husband’s murderers live. I interviewed amputation victims who are learning to forgive, and I prayed with girls who’d been kidnapped and abused by Boko Haram and forced to marry Muslim men at the tender ages of 16 and 19.
In many of these encounters, the theme of forgiveness surfaced. It is difficult to imagine forgiving someone who has wounded you so deeply. Without Divine help, it is impossible to forgive like this—that is why it is miraculous!
And God frequently uses forgiveness as a path to healing.
In one part of Nigeria, I interviewed a boy named Nankpak, who was orphaned by Muslim extremists. His mother, his pastor father and his two younger siblings were killed, some of them in his presence.
But what an incredible transformation has taken place in this young man! He is learning to forgive and I witnessed firsthand how God is using this boy as a leader among his peers. Miraculous!
In a city in Northern Nigeria, I met with Israel, the victim of a radical, traumatic AKA (Above-Knee Amputation). This young man worked at his mother’s Kerosene shop and was taught by her to be loving and kind to everyone—Christians and Muslims alike.
One day, a Muslim man came by. Many Muslims in this market are called “hawkers” as they carry wares on their heads and try to sell them. This man asked Israel to watch a box for him, and Israel agreed. The box contained a bomb and Israel’s leg was blown off.
As he adjusts to his new prosthetic leg, Israel said that he has forgiven his attacker. He said, “Actually, based on Christianity, I can forgive them. It is only because Christ died for everybody. That is the only reason…just because of Christ, I can forgive.” Miraculous!
As Psalm 34:18 reminds us, God is near to us at our point of deepest pain: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” It is often in this place of darkness, this apparent cul-de-sac of pain, that we witness miraculous interventions.
May God grant us the grace to be able to stand with those who are suffering and may we keep our eyes open for the miracles that happen at that intersection!
Click below to watch and listen as Nankpak tells his story in his own words.
Dr. Jason Peters serves in VOM’s International Ministries department, traveling frequently to meet with our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. He has ministered in 35 countries, as diverse as Cuba, India, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Burma, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia and Nigeria. Before joining VOM’s team, Jason was a faculty member of the Air Force Chaplain Corps College, where he directed Crisis and Trauma training. He also completed a one-year residency at a Level I Trauma Center and has utilized his experience as a trauma responder to offer practical and spiritual assistance to those who are suffering. Jason and his wife, Kimberly, along with their five children, consider it a great honor to serve alongside the persecuted church.