Friday, October 14, 2022

Recommended Reading: Church Trauma Program Spreads Across Countries and Cultures

United Methodist News Service reported this week on the spread of a church-related program to help trauma survivors. The program has its roots in work carried out collaboratively by Congolese women and Harper Hill Global, a US-based non-profit led by Rev. Neelley Hicks. Hicks and Congolese women have been collaborating through the Mama Lynn Center to bring healing to Congolese women affected by rape.

From her awareness that work, Nigerian United Methodist leader Doris Adamu Jenis requested Hicks expand her work to Nigeria. Hicks collaborated with Joan Gillece, director of the Center for Innovation in Health Policy and Practice, to develop an online course that Jenis led in Nigeria and Uganda.

The program was so successful that Gillece asked Hicks to bring it to the United States. Hicks agreed, and developed several different versions of the curriculum, including a Native American one written by United Methodist clergy Rev. Carol Lakota Eastin “Morning Skyhawk” and the Rev. Michelle Oberwise Lacock “Morning Star Spirit.”

Thus, this curriculum spread from the Congo to Nigeria to Uganda to the United States and to Native communities within the United States. At every step of that way, women led the work.

This story is important because it shows a model of mission that spread from Africa to the United States and is not just about exporting "spiritual vitality" from Africa. There is a trope that reciprocal mission between the United States and Africa should involve Americans sharing financial resources and Africans sharing their spiritual resources. This example is significant because it points to other possibilities.

African leaders and African societies (and other leaders and societies around the world) are innovating missional approaches to problems including mental health, public health, climate change, poverty relief, and more. Missional efforts in the United States can and should look to countries around the world for best practices in mission and not just for spiritual vitality.

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