Sunday, April 22, 2012

Why Should a Born Again Believer Minister to those with Mental Illness?


I have on numerous occasions used this blog to promote how difficult it is to be mentally ill in many societies. It does not matter if you live in the U.S.A., Australia, Japan,France, Burma (Myanmar) Pakistan, France, Kuwait etc. This blog is visited by many different countries. People are looking for answers.

A psychiatrist once said to me when I was in a deep and long depression, you should consider yourself blessed, you have one of the "lighter" mental illnesses. I was dumbfounded! Mental Illness is a great burden which many have to bear. You have to have a taste of it to really understand it. Scripture bears this out. Proverbs 14:10 says, The heart knows its own bitterness; And a stranger does not share its joy. It is very important that we give priority to helping those with Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Panic disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Major Depression Recurrent, Post Traumatic Stress disorder and more.  In this blog I want to explore God's view on ministering to the mentally ill. So then,

Why Should a Born Again Christian Minister to the Mentally Ill?

First, because mental illness is one of the most devastating diseases which are known to man and often results in poverty.

It often results in poverty. People lose houses, jobs, wives, husbands, and children because of a major mental illness. It is not their fault, it is the disease.  The Bible speaks of the poor having a special place in the heart of God. You should read the following Scripture: James 2:1-13; Proverbs 14:31 states, He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him. We can learn something from the words of our Lord Jesus about the Scripture which speaks of His judging of the nations of the world.

"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat ; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink ; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'
Matthew 25:32-40.

True Biblical love produced by the Holy Spirit is a love that is compassionate to the poor and oppressed and sick.  The mentally ill fit into these categories.

A Second Reason is because the mentally ill are a bruised reed and a smoldering wick.  The Lord Jesus Christ will not break them or allow their faith to be snuffed out.

Isaiah 42:1-4-Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom my soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street.  A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not be disheartened or crushed Until He has established justice in the earth; And the coast lands will wait expectantly for His law.

The Lord Jesus who is God is coequal with the Father and the Holy Spirit in all His attributes.
He was and is also a man. Here in Isaiah He is the suffering Servant, the Messiah, the God/ Man.
It was said of Him in Scripture that He had the Spirit of God without measure.

Suffering Christian you will not fail because this Savior who died and now lives is the One who assures you will never be without faith. This Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, has stooped to conquer and unlike man, He will not be disheartened in regards to insuring your victory in Him though you are almost crushed and have only a flicker of the flame of faith.

If you would be like Jesus Christ, if you would be an imitator of God, then do not blow hard ( on these weak, almost crushed Christians.

A Third Reason is because the mentally ill have a deep and pervasive pain which often results in suicide.

God recognizes the special nature of this pain. Proverbs 18:1-- The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, But as for a broken spirit who can bear it?

I remember reading a review about our book, Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It where the reviewer said that the book was rather violent. I am guessing he was talking about our honest treatment of suicide which is the largest chapter in the book.

As one who has stood at the coffin of my older sister who killed herself, violence to self can be a reaction to depression. Statistics tell us that 15% of people who have a major depression successfully commit suicide. As Christians we should do all we can to stop this violent, sinful, reaction. I know that when I am in a deep depressive episode, suicide becomes a temptation.  Why? It is because it is the final movement away from the intolerable psychic pain of  depression, mania and psychosis.

If you run rough shod over these people then you will have to answer for it before the bema seat of Christ.\ These are just a few reasons why every church and every pastor should be equipped to minister the the mentally ill.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jim Elliot, martyr to the Auca Indians

When I was doing my graduate study I got a hold of a copy of the book by Elisabeth Elliot who was Jim's wife and the name of the book was, In the Shadow of the Almighty.  He wrote the following while he was a college student.  He was heading for the Mission Field even then.

The night spread black and blossomed brilliantly with stars.  I walked out to the hill just now.  It is exalting, delicious to stand embraced by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at you coat tails and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and to give oneself again to God.  What more could a man ask?


Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth.  I care not if I ever raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him.  May hap in mercy He shall give me a host of children that I may lead through the vast star fields, to explore His delicacies, whose  finger-ends set them to burning.  But if not, if only I may see Him, touch His garments, and smile into my Lover's eyes--ah then, not stars, nor children shall matter-- only Himself.

Jim Elliot, Martyr to the Auca Indians

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Should You Take Fish Oil for Depression? John Hopkins

While many people are helped by prescription antidepressants, the idea of trying a "natural" approach to treat depression can be appealing. One option that's been gaining attention in recent years is fish oil containing omega-3 fatty acids. These supplements are already well known for their potential to protect the heart, but they're also garnering interest for their effects on the brain.  
The value of omega-3s. Also known as essential fatty acids, omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid and are one of three kinds of naturally occurring fats in the human diet. (The others are saturated and monounsaturated fats.)
Your body cannot manufacture omega-3s; they are found mainly in seafood but also in nuts, some oils and eggs, and to a small extent, red meat. Omega-3s contain large amounts of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which are believed to have numerous health benefits, such as maintaining proper functioning of the nervous system.
Omega-3s are a building block of cell membranes, and it's thought that increasing omega-3 levels makes it easier for serotonin (a chemical that relays impulses between nerve cells) to pass through cell walls. Consuming more omega-3s can also increase serotonin in the body; low levels of serotonin are linked with depression. In countries with high consumption of fish and omega-3s, there tend to be low depression rates. The opposite is true, as well, as is the case in the United States.
Some experts have blamed American eating patterns for the rise in depression.
  • As we have tried to adopt a heart-healthy diet, we have cut back on red meat and eggs -- two good nonseafood sources of omega-3s.
  • We use a lot of oils like corn, soybean and sunflower, which are low in omega-3s.
  • And we're now eating more omega-6 fatty acids than ever before in fast food and processed foods.
Historically, humans have eaten omega-3s and omega-6s in equal proportions. Now, most of us eat far more omega-6s, and the resultant rise in this type of fatty acid has paralleled the rise in depression rates.
However, the increase in the depression rate is almost certainly the result of many factors, with these dietary issues as one possible contributor.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

C.S.Lewis Giving to the poor

Some people nowadays say that charity ought to be unnecessary and that instead of giving to the poor we ought to be producing a society in which there were not poor to give to.  They may be quite right in saying that we ought to produce that kind of society. But if anyone thinks that, as a consequence, you can stop giving in the meantime, and then he has parted with all "Christian morality."  I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.  In otherwords, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we probably giving away too little.   If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small.  There ought to be things we should we would like to do because our charitable expenditures exclude them.  For many of us our great obstacle to charity lies not in our luxurious living or desire for money, but in our fear-fear of insecurity. ( C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity pp. 81,82).

Saturday, April 7, 2012

How Biblical Evidence helped a woman cope with depression.

Robyn and I have received many letters from people who have read our book, Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It.  Here is a letter from a Christian woman who was able to better understand mental illness and how she has tried to use her own experience to help others.

Dear Steve,
I have wanted to write to you for a long time, so here goes.  While I have struggled with depression since my teen age years, I wasn't diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder until the birth of my daughter almost three years ago.  I came across your book in the local Christian book store because I just couldn't piece together my spiritual life with my crazy life.  Your book is a source of comfort to to me at times when I don't feel like doing anything except thinking about death.  Tonight is one of those nights.

The guilt that I feel after leaving church is sometimes overwhelming.  I still cannot be open about the Bipolar stuff with most people.  I recently spoke with my Pastor about it and he was very encouraging, but I still feel the stigma of it all.   Reading your book (I've read it at least five times) helps put things into perspective.  I especially love the chapter about the mentally ill in the body of Christ (Benched, or Fit for the Ministry?).  Reading this chapter gives me hope and helps me to understand that I can use my disorder in my personal ministry.  I think that every pastoral staff should read this book. I plan on sharing my copy with my Pastor in hopes that it will shed some light on mental illness in today's church.
Thank you for the courage you have and for sharing your story.  I hope that someday I can have the courage that you do.  God bless you.!!!!!!!

After I responded to her email she had this to say:

Steve, Thank you for your response.   I hope that you can come to my church and speak.  I am intrigued by this CAMI group.  I would like to start one someday at my church.  Is it something that I could one day lead, or do I have to be a trained counselor? I am going to get the study and check it out and show it to my pastor.  We have many support groups at our church, but none like this.  Thanks so much and I will DEFINITELY be praying for you guys.  I forgot to tell you guys that I live in Florida. I hope you can come someday and speak.  Do you have a packet or something  that you give to churches to let them know about your ministry, Thanks.

Editor's Note - You don't have to be a trained counselor to lead a CAMI (Christians Afflicted with Mental Illness). You can learn more about it at

Monday, April 2, 2012

Today in my devotional Bible study, I read Luke 14:25 -26, where it tells us, Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them He said: if anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple.

Our Lord Jesus Christ never tried to see people saved without them realizing the cost.
In all cultures and all nations, when a person gets saved they are renouncing ownership of their own lives. They become, by faith, united with Christ in His death and His resurrection.

To be united with Him in His death, means persecution, it is suffering for Christ, as He died to destroy sin, and sacrificed his life by shedding His blood, so we by His Spirit put to death the deeds of the flesh, which involves renouncing self love and self preservation. Paul exhorts persecuted believers in Phillipi, Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved--and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
The Greek word for the above word struggle is agon, from which our English word, agony, comes.
So we should realize that suffering also precedes glory. The agony and the ecstasy.

I close with this,
2 Timothy 2:8-13 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. It is a trustworthy statement: for if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. .

VOM-USA Prayer Update for March 23, 20127
On Thu. Mar 22 2012 at 03:06 PM Moderator wrote:
Pakistan--Pastor Discusses Christianity with Pakistani Teacher
VOM Contacts

Mark 5:36

An Arabic-language teacher at a government school in Pakistan has been meeting with a VOM-supported pastor to learn more about Christianity. The encounters began after the teacher learned that one of his students was a Christian. "I've never met a Christian in my life," he told the young man. "How do you Christians pray?" The student invited him to speak with his pastor. At first the discussions were difficult because the teacher didn't feel he could speak openly. But last month, the pastor visited the teacher's school and brought pencils and notebooks for the students. That day, the pastor and the teacher spoke for two hours, and the teacher requested a Bible so he could look up some of the verses the pastor cited. The Pakistani teacher suggested they discuss the topic of whether Jesus is the Son of God the next time they meet. The pastor asks for our prayers. "Please pray for me, when I have this meeting, that God will protect me and the Holy Spirit will guide me and save the soul of [this teacher], so he can accept Jesus Christ as his personal savior."

Azerbaijan--Church Sued Under Religion Law
Forum 18 News

Matthew 22:20-22

Azerbaijani authorities are suing the Greater Grace Church in Baku, in what is thought to be the first attempt to close a religious community under the nation's religion jaw. The 2009 law requires that all religious groups re-register with the government. If the state committee suing Greater Grace Church succeeds, the church will lose its right to exist. Greater Grace, which first registered with the government in 1993, says it was unaware that it needed to re-register and that authorities gave no warning before filing the liquidation suit against them. In the past, authorities have acted secretly to shut down churches, but it now appears they will operate openly, with the backing of the law. Several hundred churches waiting for official registration fear that if Greater Grace is closed, many others will be closed as well. The first hearing was held on Thursday, March 15, and court proceedings are expected to resume on March 29.

Nigeria--Church Bombings Continue
Compass Direct News, VOM Contacts

Ephesians 6:13

At least nine Christians were killed in Jos, Nigeria, on March 11 in the second church bombing within two weeks. In this most recent attack, Boko Haram terrorists targeted the 3,000-member St. Finbar's Catholic Church, in an affluent Jos neighborhood. Security personnel forced the attackers to detonate their bomb before their car reached the sanctuary. Among the victims were two women in their 50s and two boys, aged 8 and 16. Reprisal attacks by Christians reportedly occurred after the bombing, and witnesses reported additional deaths of Christians at the hands of military personnel. The husband of one victim told Compass Direct, "What is happening in Nigeria today is a war against the Church. We need to fight back spiritually, as this is the only way we as Christians can survive it."
Yemen--Al-Qaida Claims Responsibility for Death of Development WorkerSources:,, The Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era

Psalm 116:15

A 32-year-old American English teacher was gunned down in the central Yemeni city of Taiz on March 18, and al-Qaida members have claimed responsibility. A Pennsylvania newspaper identified the victim as Joel Wesley Shrum, a former high school football star who moved to Yemen in 2010 to work for International Training Development Centre, a nonprofit organization. Two men on a motorcycle approached Shrum's car and opened fire as he was on his way to his job as an English teacher at the center. Text messages later circulated saying "holy warriors" had killed a "senior missionary." The school has denied that Shrum was a missionary. He leaves behind a wife, Janelle, and two young sons.

VOM Program

Pray for the family of "Matthew," who was martyred for his faith, and especially for 19-year-old Roger, who received an auto rickshaw to help support the family.