Dr. Steve Tracy, Professor of Theology and Ethics, and his wife, Celestia will be taking a team to Africa this April for their Trauma and Abuse training conferences. The trip will consist of five training conferences during which African pastors and caretakers will be trained in trauma healing so that they, and those they serve, can heal from the atrocities of the recent past. In fact, this spring will mark the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, making trauma a very real and impactful experience for many Africans. Dr. Tracy recently came across the following sentiments in a compelling book by a French journalist, who conducted interviews with Rwandan genocide survivors in Bugesera,
“Before the war, I was fond of school, and had decided to turn away from village life. If the genocide had not overrun us, I might have passed the national exam. I would have gotten my law degree and worn a lawyer’s robes in a private practice in Kigali. But now I am twenty-five. I see only obstacles in my life, marshlands around my memories, and the hoe reaching its handle out to me. I no longer know where to turn to find a husband…I have forgotten the fantasy of love. I see no one anymore who could provide me with tenderness.”
“The genocide pushes into isolation those it could not push into death. Some people have lost their taste for kindness. The woman who has given birth and seen her children killed, the man who has built his house and watched it burn, how can you imagine then getting up empty handed each morning from now on?”
Dr. Tracy notes, “When I read painful accounts like these, I’m reminded of the words the German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from a Nazi prison cell shortly before his death, ‘only the suffering God can help.’ Apart from Christ, our suffering Savior, we would have little to offer these brothers and sisters—praise God we are able to bring the hope of Christ who understands pain, abuse, and evil because he experienced it fully from the very ones he came to save.”
It is the Tracys’ desire to bring this hope to the wounded that has kept them diligently working on their newest resource, By His Wounds. Currently there are no other resources quite like this available to the African people and the Tracys are very excited to see its completion, “God has been providing, like morning manna, the provision and help we’ve needed to complete the book and resource, By His Wounds—Mending the Soul for East Africa in time for our Spring Conferences. For the last several months, we’ve had trainers, international partners, translators, professional artists, and editors call or email and offer their assistance in order to complete the project! God’s provided just what we needed right when we needed it!” The materials will be translated into French, Swahili, and Kinyarwanda and distributed at all five conferences.
The ministry team will consist of seven members, including: Steve and Celestia Tracy; Nora Poling; Pastor Christopher Coffman; Shanell Bender; Nicole Larson; and Dr. Karen Fancher, a Multnomah Biblical Seminary professor and Dean of Students, who did her doctoral research on trauma in South Sudan. They will be presenting a biblical and theological framework for healing ministry using the By His Wounds materials. The trip will begin in Juba, Sudan with a training conference for ALARM (African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries) leaders. This will be followed by a 4-day Mending the Soul Training for the 27 staff, interns, and volunteers at A Perfect Injustice in Kampala, Uganda. This ministry to street boys was founded by the Tracy’s daughter, Abby and is now overseen by Abby and her Ugandan husband, David Kakeeto. Following this conference, the team will travel to Kigali, Rwanda for a 3-day MTS Intensive Healing conference. This will be for African New Life faculty and staff members. There will also be a 3-day training for the women in Esther House, an African New Life home for collegiate girls attending school on scholarships. Finally, they will head to Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo for a follow-up conference with the caregivers and counselors who were trained last year at the Princess Lost & Found Congo conferences. They will specifically work with the chaplains at Gratia Counseling Centers, a counseling ministry begun by Daphrose Muteho in North Kivu. The counseling centers serve over 10,000 youth a year, leading many to Christ and counseling and discipling youth and families. They deal with juvenile prostitution, abuse, suicide, and other issues every day and see many amazing miracles.
As they prepare for this trip and the several trainings, the Tracys’ prayer is for the “leaders who will be participating in the conferences—that their hearts will be prepared and made ready by the Spirit for the healing work that’s most needed. That these trauma intensives will be both a significant part of their own personal healing but also equip them for the teaching/caregiving they offer to others. ”