PTSD

Helping Children Face Fears

Storms, darkness, snakes, and spiders are common childhood fears. Other kids may be afraid of starting a new school, failing a class, or losing a friend. A few children may face heartrending fears such as a serious medical diagnosis for themselves or a family member, the possibility of a parent being deployed, or parents getting a divorce. Whether real or imaginary, insignificant or life changing, it is important for leaders to take the fears of kids seriously. Here are four ways leaders can provide stability and truth for children in the midst of scary and uncertain situations.

Project HELP

Through an initiative called Project HELP, WMU identifies a social and moral issue and ties in national projects that help lead the church to address it.

Since the launch of Project HELP in 1994-1995, WMU has focused on a variety of universal problems over the years ranging from hunger and poverty to HIV/AIDS and racial injustice. With each issue, we seek to raise the level of awareness and provide practical approaches anyone can implement to open the door for meeting needs and sharing the gospel.


2014 - 2018
Project HELP: PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect anyone—veterans, first responders, victims of violence, natural disaster survivors, and others. 

One of the most healing resources for someone who suffers from PTSD is community, and being in community is one of the core functions of the body of Christ. Discover how you and your church can walk alongside them.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a diagnosable mental disorder as classified by the DSM-V.  Some key facts about PTSD include the following:

Caring for Families

Caring for families

A time of anxiety in a family comes when a family member has a serious or extended illness. When a parent, sibling, or grandparent has a serious illness, this can be traumatic for a preschooler as normal family routines are changed and the parents may not be present all the time. When a preschooler has an extended illness, there is the trauma of multiple doctor visits, hospital stays, needles, and treatments. If broken limbs are involved, there is the issue of keeping the preschooler immobile for a period of time. This would be traumatic on the entire family.

As a preschool teacher, you may have a preschooler or one of their family members who becomes ill for an extended period of time. Since you are a familiar person to the preschooler and his or her family, you serve in a position in which you can minister to this family. Consider ways in which to serve a family in which there is a serious illness. 

When a Preschooler Is Afraid

Frightened preschooler

A few times recently in Mission Friends®, we have had one child left for a while after the other preschoolers have been picked up by their parents. Most have been OK with this as we continued playing. But one time I could tell that the preschooler became anxious. She made comments like, “I’m the only one left,” and “Where is my mom?”

When we think of preschoolers’ fears, we tend to think of a traumatic event that has happened to cause them to be afraid. We think of events such as a tornado or car accident. Some preschoolers will also become fearful in situations that are less traumatic. I have been in a store and seen the frightened look on a preschooler’s face when he lost sight of his mother, even though she was only a few steps away and knew where he was. Some preschoolers also become fearful when a situation is out of the ordinary or out of their routine. In the case of my Mission Friend above, her train of thought may lead her to think, “If Mommy usually picks me up at the same time as the other children, what if this means she is not coming for me?” This is a scary thought for a preschooler.

Ministering to Military Families

military family

With Memorial Day, we remember with gratitude those who have given their lives for our country. On this day, we also turn our thoughts and prayers to those who currently serve in our military. We share this article with you again for ideas on ministering to military families.

You may be near a military base with many military personnel, have one military family in your church, or have a family with a member in the National Guard or Reserves. As a preschool leader in the church, this is an opportunity for you to serve these families in a special way. As they entrust their preschooler to you while at church, this may open doors for you to reach out to military families. There are also opportunities to minister to military families outside the church.

Each military family has its own strengths and needs. Use these ideas as possibilities for ministry to the needs of military families. Realize that these are ideas for ministry to any military family, not just to those with a family member who has PTSD. Following are ways to give care and support to all military families.

Thank you for Listening!

I am a Vietnam War veteran, U. S. Women’s Army Corps, stationed in Augsburg, Germany during my tenure. Over the years I have met veterans who were dealing with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). However, PTSD is not confined to those coming home from military service. It affects people from all walks of life who are dealing with traumatic situations. The good news is we’ve come a long way in being able to recognize this disorder and offer support. You and I may not be trained counselors, but we do have the same credentials—ears to listen.

Listen with your body language. Sometimes it is not about the talk, simply be willing to be there. Listen with your facial expressions. This means good eye contact, a smile, not sighing or rolling your eyes when the individual is sharing the same scenario or event repeatedly. Listen with your heart. Be patient, don’t push them to talk, be respectful and non-judgmental. Listen without expectations and remember you are not there to tell them what do or how to move on.

“Thank you for listening to my story,” may be the compliment which opens the door for you to share His story.

Ministering to Military Families

Project HELP logo

You may be near a military base with many military personnel, have one military family in your church, or have a family with a member in the National Guard or Reserves. As a preschool leader in the church, this is an opportunity for you to serve these families in a special way. As they entrust their preschooler to you while at church, this may open doors for you to reach out to military families. There are also opportunities to minister to military families outside the church.

 

Each military family has its own strengths and needs. Use these ideas as possibilities for ministry to the needs of military families. Realize that these are ideas for ministry to any military family, not just to those with a family member who has PTSD. Following are ways to give care and support to all military families.

  • Commit to pray daily for the families. Send a note or message to let them know, so they can draw strength from knowing of your prayers.

  • For multiple families, set up a prayer plan among preschool teachers at church.

  • Listen with a heart of compassion.

  • Make care packages for families.

The Art of Suffering

Suffering—is it a topic any of us are really comfortable with? I personally don’t like to think about it.

Jesus talked a lot about suffering and in Philippians 3:10, I am reminded “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and may share His sufferings” (ESV). Really? Participate in suffering? Yet in this verse, suffering speaks to me as an avenue to know Christ better and refine me to be more like Him.

We all experience suffering in varying degrees at one time or another. David Crosby reminds us in his book Your Pain Is Changing You that we can choose how we respond to it. 

On a personal level, my most challenging experience with pain and suffering was my diagnosis and battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It took 6 months to diagnose and a lot of physical pain was experienced. Through God’s grace, I am now in remission.  However, the spiritual battle to stay focused on Christ and relinquish my will to His during the adversity was equally challenging.

Networking Works

“My nephew has threatened suicide several times since returning from Afghanistan,” she said. “He seems so close to doing it. We’re constantly worried about him.” A total stranger from another town was telling me this when we were both getting our nails done. “I just wish I knew how to get him some help.”

Thanks to a group of churches (pastors and members), along with other interested community organizations in her town, I could direct her to a local pastor who was passionate about helping soldiers coming home with PTSD and suicide ideation. All over Arkansas communities and churches are coming together to be ready when the need arises.

In our state the local VA assists in forming these groups, but realistically, they can form without VA assistance. Representatives from churches, directors of non-profits, members of law enforcement, local business owners, and other interested parties meet monthly and discuss issues affecting returning veterans. They gather resources and put together guides to those resources.

Project HELP: PTSD Helping Families with Financial Stress

Financial difficulties

Though the song says it’s the most wonderful time of the year, for many families the Christmas season is the most stressful time of the year. This can be a particularly difficult time for parents who are under financial stress, as they struggle to provide for their family. The pressures of providing Christmas gifts for their children is great.

Financial stress for families can be caused by the loss of a job, an ongoing illness or hospitalization, divorce, or the death of a family member. Some families are in financial stress because of spending practices, credit card debt, or lack of budgeting. Be prepared to minister to families who are under financial stress.

  • Be sensitive to the needs of families who may be in situations of financial stress. Keep information confidential.

  • Be aware that financial stress is not just about money. Emotional and social issues may also be involved, such as pride, self-confidence, or loss of purpose.

  • Listen to the parent so you can determine opportunities in which you can be of help.

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