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: