Friday, August 24, 2012



I was an associate director of mental health for a urban ministry in Grand Rapids, MI.
Some of the most difficult clients were the ones who suffered from schizophrenia. There are many misconceptions about schizophrenia. One which has continued to be promoted for years is that schizophrenia is a spilt personality syndrome. This is not true at all.
It is a complex mental illness and one of the most difficult to treat.

I had the privilege to go with founder and director, Don Tack of Servant's Center (he was my Bible teacher at the Grand Rapids School of Bible and Music)  under bridges and various places away from the bustle of the city. One such place was known as the Village of the Damned. Its location was in the woods which provided plenty of fire wood to keep warm in the cold Michigan winters. Those who gathered and lived there were some of the most severe cases, with which I had ever seen. These people won't come into the city of treatment. Our job was to go out and befriend them and help them in any way we could. We tried to forge a bond with them and then bring them to a Community Mental Health Center which would offer them psychiatric treatment.
We were able to get more than a few help but it took along time.

We got them out of the state hospitals but we have had a terrible time of getting them into treatment and find housing etc. I would ask those who don't believe that mental illness is a biological disease talk to a person who has schizophrenia, who is floridly psychotic, having loss touch with reality. These poor people were deinstitutionalized in the late 1950's and 1960's (in the United States) but they have few places to go. I know for a fact that in Michigan the state prison officials would drop off the mentally ill on the county line rather than actively provide linkage to mental health services.
Many of our readers are from other countries all over the world. Please feel free to comment below and tell us what your country does or doesn't do with schizophrenics. . Please pray for those who have this dreaded disease and pray for their families.
What are the symptoms of schizophrenia? The symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three broad categories:
1. Positive symptoms are unusual thoughts or perceptions, including hallucinations , delusions, , and disorders of movement. An example of a delusion is depicted in the above picture one that people are stalking you.

2. Negative symptoms represent a loss or a decrease in the ability to initiate plans, speak, express emotion, or find pleasure in everyday life. These symptoms are harder to recognize as part of the disorder and can be mistaken for laziness or depression.

Cognitive symptoms (or cognitive deficits) are problems with attention, certain types of memory, and the executive functions that allow us to plan and organize.
Cognitive deficits can also be difficult to recognize as part of the disorder but are the most disabling in terms of leading a normal life.

For more on line go to:

For more about Robyn's and Steve's book, Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It, Kregel Publication.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pray with boldness for the Persecuted Church

Hello friends,
If you are a true believer in Christ, you have access to the throne of God.
  Ephesians 3:11 says,  in whom we have boldness and confident access
 through faith in Him. The Greek scholar Thayer says, the word
 boldness means freedom in speaking, unreservedness in speech, 
openly, frankly, i.e without concealment without ambiguity or a
need for many words. The word confident means to be persuaded
 that God will hear you, that you are certain of it. The word access
 means that our Lord Jesus has brought us into a relationship
 with God and we have twenty-four- hour a day access because
we are standing in grace. Please pray with boldness for your
 Christian brothers and sisters mentioned below.
VOM-USA Prayer Update for August 17, 2012
On Wed. Aug 15 2012 at 02:39 PM Moderator wrote:
Nigeria--Gunmen Kill 19 in Kogi State
Sources: Release International, BBC News

Philippians 4:19-20

Gunmen attacked an evangelical church in central Nigeria on
Monday, Aug. 6, killing at least 19 people, including the pastor
. The attackers cut off power to the Deeper Life Bible Church
 in Otite, near the town of Okene, Kogi state, and surrounded
 the building to block the congregation's escape. They then
 entered the building and fired at worshipers for about 20 minutes.
 At least 15 people died at the scene, four died later from
gunshot wounds and many others were wounded. No one
 has claimed responsibility for the attack, but many believe
 the Islamist group Boko Haram was involved. Kogi state,
 which is south of Abuja, had not previously suffered
attacks by Muslim extremists. Pray that Christians in
 Nigeria will respond to their persecutors in a way that glorifies
 God and that they will see God meet their needs.

Tanzania--Christian Teen Sentenced to Two Years in Prison
Source: VOM Contacts

2 Peter 1:2-4

A teenager in Tanzania was sentenced to two years in prison
recently after being accused of desecrating the Quran. Eva
Abdullah, 17, converted from Islam to Christianity three
 years ago. Her parents disowned her after her conversion,
  and a group of radicals in her hometown of Bagamoyo
 tried to persuade her to renounce her Christian faith.
When she refused, they falsely accused her of urinating on a
 Quran. Many Christian leaders were afraid to defend Eva
 because of Muslim dominance in the district. On July 26,
  Eva was sentenced to two years in prison by a judge who
 was allegedly bribed by the Islamic militants. Although
Tanzania is not on VOM's list of hostile and restricted areas,
 our contacts report increased hostility toward Christians
 because of radical Islamic influences. Pray that God will
 strengthen Eva's faith no matter the circumstances.

Azerbaijan--Update: Church's Appeal Rejected
Source: Forum 18 News

John 14:27

The Baku Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court's decision
 to liquidate the Greater Grace Protestant Church and ban its
 activity. A panel of three judges rejected the church's appeal
 on July 31, and church members are already preparing an
 appeal to Azerbaijan's Supreme Court. Although Greater
 Grace has been registered with the Justice Ministry since
 1993, the State Committee lodged a liquidation suit against
 the church in December 2011, arguing that the church
 had failed to re-register after changes to the religionlaw in 2009.
Only six registration applications have been approved by the State
 Committee in Baku in 2012 Inaddition, Azerbaijan's parliament
 has passed an amendmentrequiring religious materials to have
a state-issued verificationmark before the  materialscan be sold.
Those selling religiousmaterials- whether electronic or hard copy
print, audio orvideo products -- without the verification mark
 may face finesand confiscation of the materials. Pray that the members of
Greater Grace will find a way to worship no matter what the court decides.

Myanmar (Burma)
VOM Project

Pray for those involved in training a group of indigenous missionaries who are working in difficult tribal areas. The missionaries will be trained in evangelism, church planting and discipleship.

If you want to learn about our book, Broken Minds Hope for healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It, go to

Saturday, August 18, 2012

CAMI (Christians Afflicted with Mental Ilness) Support Group.

The Purpose of Study Guide

What it is not

This study guide is not intended to replace the services of a psychiatrist or a primary physician. We believe that anyone who suffers from a serious disturbance of mind and mood should be under the supervision of mental health professionals.  In our experience, there is a dreadful need in the local church for groups or ministries that target the mentally ill.

One of the chief reasons the church has neglected this area of ministry is that
those in church leadership have assigned mental illness and its treatment to mental health professionals.   From the onset of our study, we must proclaim that a mental illness support group in the local church is not for treating the mentally ill.  Nevertheless the
Evangelical church has much to offer mentally ill people.

What it is

This starter/study guide is intended to help local churches start support groups for the mentally ill. This type of group is for the mutual encouragement of those who suffer from mental illness in the local church.  It would also be useful in other settings such as small groups (fellowship), Adult Bible Studies, Recovery Groups and the like.

A Scriptural Foundation

People who have a mental illness often describe it as a “darkening of the mind.”  Some have likened it to being in a pit {Ps 40:2}. King David said “He (God) brought me up also out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings” (NASB).

One of the helpful  admonitions to people who are mentally ill is found in Isaiah 50:10, “Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of His servant, That walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God” (Is. 50:10 (NASB).

You can be in “soul darkness” but still fear the LORD.  In this case the prophet tells us that the one “in the dark” needs to trust in the name of LORD (Jehovah) God, (see Exodus 3:13-16). A person’s name stands for one’s character, honor and person hood. 

Who is Involved?
A CAMI support group will have a facilitator who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is a born again Christian.  Others in the group who have come out of the darkness of depression/mental illness will be able to share stories of God’s faithfulness with those who are suffering what they have suffered.
This encouraging of tottering, trembling believers is very biblical.  It is commanded by the Apostle Paul who in  I Thessalonians 5:14, states, “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (NASB).

CAMI and CAMI Online are a division of Heartfelt Counseling Ministries.  All rights reserved.
CAMI which stands for Christians Afflicted with Mental Illness involves talking to others via a lap top computer that has a camera and microphone. It is no different than any other CAMI group except you can do it while in your own room at home. We have five to six people who go on their computer on Monday nights at 7:30 p.m.  . We also have persons from Florida and people from other states who are interested. I am a member of this group. We use CAMI support group material that I have written. I can send you a copy of the material. It sells for six dollars.  Please let me know if and when you want to start. The group is anywhere from an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half.  I am refreshed by hearing from others in the group and by the biblical discussion. We also talk about mental health issues. Do you know anyone who might want to do this?

Plagiarism is not only the reproduction of CAMI Online Materials but also the idea and expression of CAMI support groups.

Why Have a Mental Illness Support Group?
      The word “encourage” (para-mutheomai) in the above text of Scripture, in the original language (Greek) is a compound word which means, “to get close to a person in a very friendly manner and offer them consolation, using narratives of Scripture to provide healing of the soul.“  The word fainthearted in the New American Translation is the Greek word, oligos-psuchos, which literally means “small souled.” The minds of mentally ill people are subject to great weakness.  They possess a fractured mind and the result is very little inner resource.  This is reflected in Proverbs 18:14, “The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, but a broken spirit who can bear” (NASB)?

The encouragement of the fainthearted, in this text, as is in almost all the New Testament texts with para-mutheomai indicates that comfort for the fainthearted is God’s comfort through the Christian community (Kittel, Gerhard. TDNT C.1967). Grand Rapids: William Eerdmans, pp 816-823.  It cannot be emphasized enough that support groups for the mentally ill done in the right fashion will help accomplish the strengthening and edification of the mentally ill and their families.  

Would you like to join us? For more about our support group, please go to:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pray for those who are bound, as though it were you.

VOM-USA Prayer Update for August 10, 2012
On Thu. Aug 09 2012 at 03:37 PM Moderator wrote:
Laos--Officials Harass Two Hmong Churches
Source: VOM Contacts
Exodus 10:27-28

Officials in Laos have threatened members of two Hmong churches with

 expulsion from their villages and seizure of their property if they don't
 stop worshiping God. But a Hmong pastor in the area is encouraging
the believers to stand firm in their faith. The church leader's own 
 church has dwindled from 10 families to only five after officials   
  revoked the Christians' residency permits in 2008.
Without the permits, the Christians can't prove their Lao citizenship
 and their children can't attend school. When the pastor
heard that a nearby church was facing similar threats, he immediately
 went to encourage the church members; other pastors had
stayed away out of fear. The Christians are very sad and
worried, and they aren't sure what will happen next
. Pray for the members of these two churches and for the pastor
who is encouraging them. Pray also that the officials'
 hearts will be softened toward God's people.

Syria--Prayers and Bread Needed
Source: VOM Contacts

Psalm 69

A Syrian pastor wrote to tell us how encouraged he was to learn

 that many people are praying for Syria. He said his city stil
l has electricity and water despite the continued fighting there
. "The city is still closed, and hills of rubbish are spread
everywhere," he wrote. "As for bakeries, few are open, but
hundreds of people are waiting their turn and fighting for
 bread." It takes between five and 10 hours to get bread.
The pastor wrote that one of his church members gave
 him several loaves as a gift. "You can imagine the gifts
 we are giving each other these days!" he wrote. His
church has been meeting regularly, spending the
entire service in prayer. "One of the very tragic situations
 is seeing people with some of their stuff on the sidewalks                                                   ... wondering what to do or where to go because they lost their
 houses or ran away because of the fights," he wrote
 "Please keep praying for us."

Pakistan--Christian Nurses Poisoned for Allegedly Breaking Fast
Sources: VOM Contacts, Hindustan Times, Pakistan Today,

Matthew 9:35-36

Eleven nurses were poisoned on Sunday, July 29, apparently for

 breaking the Ramadan fast. At least five of the nurses were reported
 to be in serious condition. Local Christians said the nurses were
 poisoned for drinking tea during the month of Ramadan, which
 Muslims set aside for fasting. The eleven trainee nurses,
  who live together at a hostel near the Civil Hospital in Karachi,
  were studying on the evening of July 29, when one of the
 women decided to make tea for the group in a common kitchen.
 After drinking the tea, all of them began to vomit and were
 rushed to the emergency room. According to VOM contacts, 
someone had been observing the nurses for the previous
 four days and poisoned them for breaking the Ramadan fast.
Christian leaders in Pakistan are calling for a full investigation, 
while several hospital officials have denied that the poisonings
 could have anything to do with Ramadan.

Middle East--VOM Project

Pray for an imprisoned house church leader in one of the world's most restricted countries. VOM is helping provide him medical aid in prison.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A letter and a card from Lindsay and the family

If you have ever been in a psychiatric hospital you know how lonely it is.  Their visiting hours are  not very long.  I remember in 1998 when I was in the hospital because I needed ECT (Electro/Convulsive Therapy).  I asked the young charge nurse if I could see my wife and she said, "only for ten minutes." So Robyn drove about twenty five miles round trip. She saw me and prayed with me.  The rest of the day  (it was on a Saturday), there  was very little to do. I paced around in a panic all day. Now what good could come out of those type of restrictions?    I was too depressed to argue.  It is horrible enough to be severely depressed but yo prevent family from seeing you that is downright cruel. But the good is You realize with the psalmist who said,

 Because of all my adversaries, I have become a reproach, Especially to my neighbors, And an object of dread to my acquaintances ; Those who see me in the street flee from me.  I am forgotten as a dead man, out of mind ; I am like a broken vessel.  For I have heard the slander of many, Terror is on every side ; While they took counsel together against me, They schemed to take away my life.       But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD, I say, "You are my God." My times are in Your hand ; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me," Psalm 31:11-15.

Someone from my church  had given me a beautiful poster which had the Scripture,  Ecclesiastes 3:11a, "He has made everything beautiful in its time." And though I could not trace His hand, even in that very lonely place, God was leading me through the storm.

God also used my family during this time of great distress.  They had made a card and on the front with the Scripture,   " Behold, Jehovah's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear,"Isaiah 59:1a, (ASV).

Then Dear Dad,
We all love you and hope you will get home soon. P.S. I am looking forward to watching that movie again. Brant
Dad, I am praying for you and know that you will come through this on top.  I love you, Steve Get Well Soon  with hearts around this, Tyler.
Dad, We're all praying for you and I  hope you feel a change really soon and get better. I love you.

A letter from Lindsay was attached, She was sixteen at the time.

Dear Dad, I hope that somehow this will help you.  I know that you may feel like God is ignoring you. But I can honestly tell you for sure; He is NOT! And He loves you very much. I know that you will get better and I pray it  will be soon.  Please feel like you can talk to me, if mom's not around or something. 
I remember how much you helped me and I wish that somehow help you.
(I had helped Lindsay by taking her to a psychiatrist when she was in the fourth grade, in Topeka, KS.  She had separation anxiety and Robyn and  I also were able to come up with a cognitive behavioral treatment plan and implement it  with her school.), Later when she had panic attacks, we continued to help her get psychiatric treatment that worked.
I love you,
Lindsay (with a heart)

Lindsay then gave me a sheet of paper where she had written out Psalm 6.

   " O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger, Nor chasten me in Your wrath. Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am pining away ; Heal me, O LORD, for my bones are dismayedAnd my soul is greatly dismayed ; But You, O LORD -how long?   Return, O LORD, rescue my soul ; Save me because of Your lovingkindness.    For there is no mention of You in death ; In Sheol who will give You thanks  I am weary with my sighing ; Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears. My eye has wasted away with grief ; It has become old because of all my adversariesDepart from me, all you who do iniquity, For the LORD has heard the voice of my weepingThe LORD has heard my supplication, The LORD receives my prayer.   All my enemies will be ashamed and greatly dismayed ; They shall turn back, they will suddenly be ashamed. "

But what if you have no family?  Many have had to go through hospitalization alone.
Two things,  First,  I hope that you have a church family.  People in the church need to come to the hospital and meet with you and love you and pray for you.
Secondly, If you know the LORD, He knows your loneliness. He can come to you in your darkest hour.  Every hair on your head is numbered, In all your afflictions, He is very present help in the time of trouble.  Depression is very ugly but He will make all things beautiful in His time.
I have been there more than once.  Persevere in Tribulation. 
Steve Bloem

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Persecuted Church

An Assemblies of God church on Zanzibar island continues to meet for worship and reach out to the community after suffering two attacks this year. In May, a mob of 300 broke into the church and burned musical instruments, chairs and the pulpit. The church's leader hid in his office, just off the sanctuary, during the attack. Just months earlier, radical Muslims threw a large homemade bomb into the church as 500 believers celebrated the New Year. The bomb did not detonate, but police experts said it could have destroyed the entire building and killed most of those inside if it had exploded. Despite these repeated attacks, the church continues to function effectively and would like to expand its training activities. Pray for the church's pastor, and pray that the congregation will remain faithful as they endure persecution.

Iran--House Church Leader Released from Prison

Mohabat News

An Iranian house church leader arrested more than a year and a half ago was released on July 16, 2012. Noorollah Qabitizade, 48, was interrogated repeatedly and spent time in solitary confinement during his imprisonment. Qabitizade was arrested Dec. 24, 2010, along with 10 other Christian converts who had gathered for a Christmas Eve celebration at a home in Dezful. More than 60 Christians were arrested during the 2010 Christmas season. Officials tried to persuade Qabitizade to abandon his Christian faith, subjecting him to continual interrogation and torture. He was asked to sign a document stating that he would stop evangelizing and was asked to write a letter denouncing Christianity, but Qabitizade refused. During his trial in September 2011, he was again given an opportunity to renounce his faith. Thank the Lord that Noorollah Qabitizade was released, and pray for him and his family as he recovers.

North Korea--Gospel Balloons Released into North Korea
VOM Contacts


On July 5, four North Korean defectors now living in South Korea joined a VOM partner to release 10 gospel balloons into North Korea. The North Korean believers hope the balloons and their cargo will reach their hometowns in North Korea and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ there. Launching these balloons is a tangible way for North Koreans now living in South Korea to reach out to their homeland. The four North Korean Christians wrote their testimonies and included them among the 45,000 flyers delivered by the balloons. This was the fifth balloon launch by the VOM partner this year. Pray that the gospel messages carried by the balloons will bring hope to those who read them. Also pray that North Korea's new leader will bring about positive reform and grant more freedom to North Korean Christians.

Turkey--VOM Project

Pray for a church that authorities have tried to shut down in a hostile part of Turkey. The church has suffered three firebomb attacks, and the pastor has received death threats. VOM supports the church and its pastor, who evangelizes in the city and surrounding areas.

 Please visit our web site -  For the voice of martyrs