We are broken people. Most of us know that, but we have ignored or hidden our wounds for so long that we don’t realize the way that a festering wound affects the rest of the body. And how can we get healed if we don’t even realize that we have a wound? Last week we and our colleagues facilitated a workshop called “Healing the Wounds of Ethnic Conflict” in the rural village of Kabeya Kamuanga. Church leaders – pastors, elders, and deacons, came from five different presbyteries to gather for the three day workshop.
Pastor Mboyamba started by introducing God’s original intentions for humankind – His love for people and His desire that people reflect the love of God in their relationships with each other. Elder Kalambayi then talked about prejudice, and how the evil of prejudice poisons our thinking and relationships, and seeps out to poison others, including our children and grandchildren. We talked about the ways that we as people can be wounded emotionally – by our families, communities, or experiences. When we have been wounded, it is easy to blame others, and then become suspicious of them, especially when they are different from us in some way. Bob taught about God’s heart of love for us, even in the midst of our suffering and pain. And then we looked at God’s plan for redemption – that Christ died to pay the penalty for our sins, but also to bear our pain and bring healing (Isaiah 53:4). This is a truth that we often overlook.
Elder Kalambayi (right) picks up rocks and carries them in his backpack
in a skit that illustrates how we hold on to pain rather than giving it up to God.
Bob also taught about God’s vision for the church, and the way that the church often fails to be the salt and light of the world that God intended. In Christ, we can be made new and our minds transformed (2 Cor 5:17, Rom 12:2). But, that doesn’t happen automatically. On the second day of the workshop, each person was invited to share some of the deep wounds of their lives with one other person, and then pray for each other. Each person wrote these sources of pain on a piece of paper. People then came forward to nail the piece of paper to a large wooden cross – effectively giving the pain over to Christ. We took the cross outside, and burned all of the papers, encouraging each person to let Christ heal those wounds and replace them with life.
The following morning, people were invited to share if there were any specific ways that they had seen God provide or answer prayers in the midst of their struggles and pain. One woman shared that she had struggled with back pain for many years, but had noticed that morning that it was significantly reduced. Another man, Tatu Labai, shared that the struggle he had written on his paper was that he did not have good relationships with his sons-in-law. They did not respect him or talk to him or come to his house when he invited them. That very morning, Tatu Labai was preparing to leave home for the workshop when two of his sons-in-law showed up to talk to him. He was about to dismiss them so that he wouldn’t be late when he realized that their coming was an answer to his prayer – that God was bringing healing to this wound that he had given over the day before.
Tatu Labai shares his testimony of healing
We praise God for His promises and for meeting and healing His children in these ways. We were careful to explain that the action of nailing our wounds to the cross was not magic – just a symbol of our giving up those things to the cross of Christ rather than holding on to them. When we accept both the salvation and the freedom that Christ offers, God can use us to shed light for others and open the doors for healing.