Many of you have expressed to Robyn and to me the isolation and loneliness you feel while trying to cope with your “brain storms.” In many places the evangelical church does little to shed light on depression, bipolar disorder, etc. and in other places it actually belittles and mocks those who are mentally ill. Heartfelt Counseling Ministries has an answer to this lack of community and offers solidarity.
It is called CAMI, which stands for Christians Afflicted with Mental Illness. It is for those of us who are true believers in Christ and have a burden for the afflicted or are afflicted ourselves with a mental illness. We have copyrighted the name but it needs explanation.
CAMI Purpose Statement-- - CAMI exists to strengthen those who are spiritually, psychologically and physically impacted by mental illness. We will create a sense of cohesion and community among born again Christians who are affected by depression, bi-polar, schizophrenia, panic and other disorders of mind and mood.
What is CAMI?
God led Robyn and me to start Heartfelt Counseling Ministries in 2003. Since then our book, Broken Minds was published (Kregel, 2005) and through that medium, we have met and spoken to many Christians who are sensing the need for a Christian community to aid and support them as they deal with their own broken minds. We conduct seminars, provide counseling, advocate and educate for the evangelical, biblical and clinical treatment of persons suffering from mental illness. We offer a safe environment, a listening ear and practical help for treatment all the while offering the hope of Christ. There should be no shame or embarrassment; these illnesses are the result of faulty brain chemistry and those who suffer from them are not weak people! We have extended a new helping hand to the global community to aid in our passion for the mentally afflicted Christian. It is a concept and movement called CAMI.
Why Does CAMI Exist?
1. Because Secular alliances of mentally ill people, though they do some good, cannot meet the spiritual needs of Christians who have mental illness, nor minister to their caregivers.
2. CAMI provides a visible, tangible fellowship in local settings; and also makes
possible real interaction in real time in this global village, our world.
3. CAMI provides substantial help and support in training others to start
and conduct CAMI mental illness support groups and evangelistic outreach groups.
4. CAMI will help mentally ill Christians who are often misunderstood to stand tall for Christ and work together in stomping out the stigma that surrounds this type of illness.
What will CAMI look like?
CAMI will be embraced by local evangelical churches in both national and international settings.
CAMI will have regional speaking engagements and have an annual conference including speakers and workshop leaders. This includes fund raisers. CAMI will train pastors and lay leaders to start and carry on mercy ministries which will include ministering effectively to the mentally ill population in their churches.
CAMI will have a substantial ministry of prayer for those who are having problems, needs and concerns with their own symptoms of mental ilness. We will also pray for others who consent to have their prayer requests made known. There will be means of stimulating and faciliting these very important prayer requests. These will include prayer chains by phone, email,facebook, skype, twitter or by postal mail. The level of saturation by prayer will be determined by the parties involved.These prayer requests will be prayed for in an international setting.
CAMI has eight guiding principles which are found in the CAMI Starter/Leader and Study Guides. They can be emailed to you or sent by postal mail.
Are you interested in starting a local chapter of a CAMI support group?
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call us at 616-447-9064
What Should You Do Now?
You should become a member of CAMI. You do not have to be mentally ill to do so.
Pastors, lay leaders and caregivers are also encouraged to become members.