Thursday, October 6, 2011
I have researched the websites of many churches and have found it a rare occurrence to unearth a mental illness support group. Churches have grief share, divorce recovery, celebrate recovery, and many other support groups.
Many church leaders are like the proverbial ostrich with his head in the ground. It is almost a don't ask, don't tell, situation
Robyn and I have started a support group at our own church, Rockford Baptist Church in Rockford Michigan. The support group is part of a grass roots movement which we call CAMI (Christians Afflicted with Mental Illness). We have written our own study guide material.
If only pastors knew how many of their sheep feel alone and misunderstood by their church. These storm tossed afflicted persons are very important to God, The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit, Psalm 34:18.
Mental illness is a whole body disease and it has a devastating effect to those who suffer from it. The vegetative functionings of the body fail in major depression. They are sleep, appetite, and sex drive. The will is broken. The depressed person finds it very difficult to accomplish even little tasks. A depressed person's concentration makes it difficult for him to read. His memory is affected. God seems a million miles away.
The devil like a roaring lion seeks to isolate depressed people from God and church and make them think God has abandoned them. Then he presents suicide as a viable option to escape from the horrific psychic pain. The church of Jesus Christ should not neglect this people group. She will have to answer to her Chief Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ for her treatment or non-treatment of the mentally ill.
Robyn and I have written a starter/study guide for launching this CAMI program in your church. We have a seminar which introduces the material and then goes on to explain every part of it. If members of the church attend the seminar then we will provide consultation for your church leaders, we will instruct them on how to start a CAMI group, and how to maintain it. Our group format includes eight guiding principles for Christians who suffer from a mental illness and/or their caregivers. We have a Leader’s Manual which spells out treatment goals for every lesson.
In the Leader's manual we have provided the answers to the discussion questions which are in the student guide. The Guides help the sufferer think through various issues and to see them in the context of suffering as a Christian. It has also been reported to be helpful for the caregivers who come to the groups. This is a very important concept for today’s Christian with mental health issues. Mental Illness begs for understanding, community and compassion. Are you with us?