March 15, 2023
One thing I love about biblical counseling is its inherent conviction that God’s Word speaks to the most difficult and personal troubles we face. Whether that’s a teenager facing relentless depression, a marriage on the brink of divorce, or the church in war-torn Ukraine, we begin with the assumption that our God knows us enough to speak into our lives and provide words of life and comfort. And as opportunities to apply the Scriptures and equip the church come up, we want you to know that your partnership in this work is making a difference around the world.
In 2021, Alasdair Groves and Ed Welch taught a biblical counseling virtual conference with well over 1,000 Ukrainian people. When war broke out last year, our friends there asked if we could provide training and encouragement to church leaders in Ukraine. We recently finished a four-session online series that addressed trauma, family and children in war, and sexual violence led by Julie Lowe, Darby Strickland, and Jill Butler. Below is a reflection on that time by Jill, a counselor and the Director of Operations at CCEF.
Our time with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters was a sobering reminder of what is true in the world. We will have trouble, yet our great hope is that Jesus has overcome the world. For us, seeing God’s provision of loving shepherds for his suffering people in Ukraine reminded us of the truth that God never leaves nor forsakes his people, even in our darkest moments.
In our first session, Darby summarized the seven effects of trauma. She used Psalm 121 to describe how the Lord is present—he does not slumber, even amid war. While these pastors and those they’re ministering to may come to the end of themselves emotionally and physically, the Lord will not. Darby continued by unpacking the book of Job, showing that God is not surprised by trauma.
Then I talked about how the Lord organizes the chaos of our lives with his presence, his Word, and his people. We unpacked practical helps that direct people to the Lord as they deal with the realities of war.
Julie began her session with the hope that God himself is a good Father who keeps his promises, though the world may not. Many of these church leaders shared about separated families and how many children fear they will never see their parents again. Julie encouraged them to share with these children the hope that God is with them and that we trust that he will take care of them. She concluded by offering several activities for helpers and parents to draw their children out.
It was eye-opening to hear about the trauma these people are facing, the ways they live without safety every day. We were asked questions about soldiers raping women, husbands or wives leaving their spouses, children who are angry at God, and suicide. God’s Word has something good to say to those in the hardest of circumstances, and God never speaks trite words to those who are hurting. It was our privilege to have the opportunity to serve these people and to remember with them that the fullness of God’s presence, the comfort of his Word, and the care of God’s people will be the sufferer’s ever-present help in their time of need. In the end, we had to take our own advice and entrust our dear brothers and sisters in Ukraine to the same God we encouraged them to trust.
Thank you for making relationships and online meetings like this possible. Your generosity has brought thoughtful and personal application of the Scriptures to people in need all over the world. It enabled us to offer this time to our Ukrainian brothers and sisters free of charge. Thank you. And please join us in praying for church leaders in Ukraine—that God would strengthen and encourage them to persevere in ministry, that he would bring comfort and safety to those in need, and that their ministry in a time of war would be a light in the darkness that draws others to the saving grace of Jesus.
Director of Advancement