Friday, June 27, 2014

Christians are gunned down and slaughtered in Nigeria

Nigeria: Boko Haram Kill 17 Kids

More Attacks in Gwoza Target “Radicals for Jesus”
Dozens of Christians in the village of Attagara, Nigeria, were killed in two separate attacks carried out by Boko Haram militants on June 1 and 3. Militants dressing in army clothing shot and slashed people while bombing and burning homes. One of the assaults lasted for more than five hours.
Early Sunday morning on June 1, the church in Attagara, located in the Gwoza local government area, had already begun its regular worship service when more than 100 Islamic militants, some dressed in the combat fatigues worn by Nigeria’s army, stormed the church building. Chanting “Allahu Akbar!” (God is great), the Boko Haram militants shot over fifty people, killing 27. Those who tried to escape were chased down by the fighters.

Several Christians ran from the scene to a military checkpoint almost two miles down the road to ask for help. However, Nigerian army personnel were not able to respond. Meanwhile, the Boko Haram rebels were moving from home to home in the Attagara, burning down houses and killing anyone in their way, including small children.
A group of young men in the village took matters in their own hands, and armed with sticks, bows and arrows, they decided to fight back against the militants. Clergy and church elders tried to stop the vigilantes, who killed seven of the attackers.
Situated in Borno state, Attagara is a small village in Gwoza, a local government area (similar to a county). The Boko Haram movement is headquartered in Borno state. VOM contacts described Attagara as a unique Christian community with over 7,000 believers and a small percentage of non-Christians and Muslims. Another 3,500 Christians live in nearby villages. The Christians in the area were so faithful that area Muslims called them “Radicals for Christ.”
A Revenge Attack
On June 3, just two days after the first attack, Boko Haram drove through the village at 7:30 a.m. disguised as members of the army and called people to the church for a security briefing. Instead, the 45 people who gathered in the church were gunned down. None survived.
Immediately afterward, hundreds of insurgents came over the hills to raid the village. They killed anyone they saw, including pregnant women and small children. One witness saw a group of about 30 women and children being rounded up. As the women tried to shelter the children, the insurgents demanded that the children come forward. They slaughtered 17 boys.
The insurgents also raided surrounding villages, reducing them to ashes. Churches were bombed and explosive devices set to destroy Christian homes and public buildings. Dozens of Christians were killed as they tried to escape into the hills to try to hide in caves.
The attack lasted for over five hours. Afterward, it was uncertain how many people were killed, and how many were kidnapped. Though these attacks have been occurring with frightening frequency in Gwoza, this attack struck a deep nerve. VOM’s medical coordinator in Nigeria broke down in tears when he heard how the 17 children were killed. He and the team are working to provide medical attention for those that were injured in the attack.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Post Traumatic Stress, A personal look: The eruptions of grief, by Robyn Bloem

This is just an internet photo depicting how we feel
with PTSD in the article featured here.

Lindsay’s birthday was December 31---our little new year’s baby.  She was born around 7 pm.  We always joked that I wanted her to be the first baby of the year and get balloons and a picture in the local newspaper.  Steve said we needed the tax deduction, so my claim was that being the submissive wife that I am, I went for the tax deduction.

I had made it a thrifty tradition to shop for her birthday between Christmas and New Year’s when all the sales were in full force. It turned out to be her last birthday, (her nineteenth) and she was living with her boyfriend. I went birthday shopping for her at her favorite store.  We had just celebrated a much nicer Christmas than I had anticipated because of the situation.  I invited her over for her birthday dinner; she always chose lasagna.  As I shopped that day with my heart broken and my feet very heavy, I saw a little girl crying in the middle of the store. She had gotten separated from her mother.  I approached her, squatted down  and asked her what wrong.  She said in tears, “I can’t find my mommy.”  I said, “Well, I’m sure your mommy is looking for you just as much as you are looking for her.  We’ll go over to the lady at the front and she can call your mommy over the loud speaker, okay?”  She nodded.  As I was walking her over, I asked her name.  “Lindsay” she answered. She didn’t understand the tears on my face as I said, “I have a little girl named Lindsay-- and she’s lost, too.”
Eruptions suppressed and emotions erupted

This kind of emotional break downs can be quiet tears or major eruptions among the grieving.  So many suppressed emotions unfortunately remain suppressed emotions. It reminds me of a house that looks completely normal from the front. A manicured lawn, fresh paint, porch swing, a bird bath all lend to beautiful curb appeal. Imagine going with a realtor to find a new home. As she drives you through the neighborhood to find the house you want to look at, you spot this house. "Wait! I like this one; can we see it?" The realtor has a story on this property. She says, "Well, let's drive around so you can see the back." As you turn the corner, there you see it.  The entire back of the house is blown off.  Burned curtains blow out of the gaping hole that was once the dining room.  Furniture is scorched and ruined. Water damage, fire , destruction is everywhere.   You now realize the house is anything but fine-or normal.
For the traumatized things will never be the same.
You learn that there was an explosion. That house will never be the same and everyone knows it. The family will collect their wits and go to work and live out of a rented motel until they can get their home restored or move to another. They will salvage what they can. Will they ever feel safe again? Will they forget the horrific fear they had that night; will  they return to life as if nothing had ever happened? What do you think?  Friends and family rally around them for a month. They are given boxes of food, meals, gift cards, love, hugs and prayers. It seems as if they will survive with God's grace and loving friends.

Pretty soon, everyone else seems to be over it. They're working, vacationing, meeting goals and laughing.  No one seems to remember anymore.  The family is still in the motel, their keepsakes are all still ruined, their innocence of safety and peace are still shattered. When the family sees a report of a tornado or some other disaster and the devastation left, they are traumatized and full of empathy.  They may even be the first to volunteer to help someone in distress, but then one day, they hear a popping noise, they smell gas, they see a fire, and they are right back where they started the fateful day of "the explosion." No one could ever guess the triggers or the brokenness they feel.  Otherwise normal occurrences for everyone else become a source of panic and  a sad sense of loneliness all at once for the traumatized, the grieving, the shocked and the disappointed who have experienced the unthinkable. 
Don't be fooled by what "our house" looks like.
Our “house” looks like that; nice and tidy and normal. We dress, we talk, we think, we laugh, we read, we work, we interact, we celebrate, we shop…but all the time, the remains of the explosion lurk within our hearts and minds. Sometimes one of those shards from that broken window in our house breaks off  and we are cut open all over again.  Sometimes someone notices we are bleeding and wants to help; sometimes, being uncomfortable, they keep going.  And sometimes we don't mind that we are alone with our sadness and questions. Why our house? Why did our family have to live through such an explosion? Why did I lose everything and why are my sons so changed by all of this? But there really is no answer. It could have been worse.  Yes, it could have been.  But it sure seems it could be better. 

 That is up to the God whose creation we are. He had a plan that included this explosion" when our daughter and granddaughter were killed in a car accident right in front of us. and we are better for having gone through it. We know that. But some time, I invite you to drive around the back of our house, step through the broken wall and over the piles of concrete and come in.  We are there, we are alive and we will offer you a cup of coffee, but just please remember that we may look okay from the front but we have lived though an explosion and we are changed.  Most of the debris has been moved and cleared away, but there are still gaping, unspoken, unexplainable holes where we used to live. 

 This blog is copyrighted, June, 2014 by Robyn Bloem
Did you know that Robyn and Steve have written a book which was published by Kregel Publications?  PTSD is one of the disorders they talk about. It is a personal, technical and biblical look at the Christian and mental illness.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Post Tramatic Stess disorder, part 2


Living With PTSD

google images

“I was raped when I was 25 years old. For a long time, I spoke about the rape as though it was something that happened to someone else. I was very aware that it had happened to me, but there was just no feeling.”

Photo: CAMI-(Christians Afflicted with Mental Illness) bracelets.
They read: "CAMI-No Shame." Support Heartfelt Counseling Ministries, those who have mental illness and declare to not be embarrassed because of a biological disease. $1.50 each.(if we ship to the U.S.) 1.00 if you are local. Ask for international shipping. This may sound funny to those not affected but for those of us who are, it is a way of speaking for the hurting and supporting our brothers and sisters. We want to see these teal bracelets everywhere.

CAMI-(Christians Afflicted with Mental Illness) bracelets.
They read: "CAMI-No Shame." Support Heartfelt Counseling Ministries, those who have mental illness and declare to not be embarrassed because of a biological disease. $1.50 each.(if ...we ship to the U.S.) 1.00 if you are local. Ask for international shipping. This may sound funny to those not affected but for those of us who are, it is a way of speaking for the hurting and supporting our brothers and sisters. We want to see these teal bracelets everywhere. See More


Friday, June 20, 2014

He said to his tortured mother, "Mother what should I do."

In the 1950s-"Tell us?" the officer shouted, as he brought the whip down again across the pastor's back.  "We must know who else is working with you."  Day after day, the Chinese Communists tortured Rev. Fang-Cheng, but no matter what they did to him, he steadfastly refused to give them the names of his fellow Christians.
One day Cheng was brought again before the examining officer.  In a corner of the room, he saw a heap of rags and heard a rattling of  chains. 

As the image became clearer, he realized it was his mother. 
Before she did not have white hair; now she had. The color of her face was like ashes.
He could see that she too had passed through heavy suffering.
The Communist spoke to Cheng: "I have heard that you Christians have Ten Commandments, supposedly given by God, which you strive to obey. I would be interested in knowing them. Would you be so kind as to recite the Ten Commandments?"

Cheng was in a terrible state of heart, but any opportunity to acquaint a Communist with God's law must not be neglected. He began to list the commandments. When he arrived at "Honor your father and mother," he was interrupted. The Communist told him. "Cheng, I wish to give you the opportunity to honor your mother.  Her she is, suffering in chains.  Tell us what you know about your brethren in the faith and I promise that tonight you and your mother will be free.  Let me see now whether you really believe in God and wish to fulfill His commandments."

It was not easy to make a decision.  Cheng turned to his mother: "Mother, what shall I do?"
The mother answered, "I have taught you from childhood to love Christ and His holy church.  Don't mind my suffering.  Seek to remain faithful to the Savior and His little brothers.  If you betray, you are no more my son." This was the last time Fang-Cheng saw his mother.  It was likely that she died under torture.

"No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He'll never let you be pushed past your limit; He'll always be there to help you to come through it."
Paul the Apostle Beheaded in Rome 65 AD ( I Corinthians 10:13),a paraphrase from the Message.

From: Jesus Freaks Story of Those Who Stood for Jesus and the Voice of the Martyrs: Honor Your Mother; Minneapolis: Bethany House, (1999)  pp.221-222.

Suffering for Christ in the 21st century

Pray for Christian Mother Sentenced to Death for Apostasy

The wedding photo of Meriam Ibrahim and Daniel Wani. (Photo credit: Gabriel Wani)

A 27-year-old Sudanese woman, Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, was sentenced to death in early May for apostasy. Eight months pregnant at the time of her sentencing, she gave birth to a baby girl on May 26. Ibrahim explained to the court that she had grown up as a Christian under her Christian mother's care, but the court convicted her of apostasy because her father is Muslim. In addition, she is to receive 100 lashes for a charge of adultery, relating to her 2011 marriage to a South Sudanese Christian man. Since Ibrahim's father is Muslim, the marriage is not recognized under Sharia law. Her own family filed the complaint about her marriage, resulting in the charges. The court gave her three days to recant her Christian faith, but she refused to do so. Ibrahim's 20-month old son, Martin, and newborn daughter the couple named Maya, will be held in prison with her until her execution.
For more on this story please go to:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Depression: As for my mind: I'm not half the man I used to be

It is my hope that the long days of my own depression and God's grace to me while enduring those days will encourage those who are suffering right now.
It was 1985 and I was in my first episode of a major depression.  I had been put on the antidepressant Norpramine (this is an old tricyclic)  and it was working partially.  I had gone through a horrible severe depression for months. It was so bad that I believe I began to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; I feared a relapse more than death itself. The  partial relief from the antidepressant was welcomed and in fact, I had almost become content to live moderately depressed.
No one was in a hurry to help me with my depression at this level. In those days there was no talk of poly-pharmacy and my psychiatrist had said that often the medications worked up to a certain point but then the other issues still had to be addressed.

Since depression had foiled my pastoral career; I had to devise a plan to work and support Robyn and our three children. As I tell  it in Broken Minds, Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It, we had to move to Pennsylvania and live in our relatives' basement. A couple in the church was opening a new an ice cream shop and they offered me a job. My psychiatrist had encouraged me to work if at all possible, so I was experimenting. I had major issues with separation anxiety even though our temporary basement home was not more than five miles a way.  It was humbling and embarrassing to me as a man to be afraid for no apparent reason.   I faced many obstacles to working as a soda jerk in a newly opened ice cream shop.

One day the well-meaning entrepreneur said to me, "Do you think that you could smile sometimes?"  My concentration was still bad and I was focusing on trying to put the right kind of sprinkles on the customer's ice cream. I understood why he said it and what he wanted me to do, but he didn't realize how horribly depressed I was, how fearful, how many obsessive thoughts I was dealing with; basically how sick I really was.  Asking me to smile and present his ice cream shop as a happy and welcoming place was just about impossible for me. My illness came upon me less than a year after completing a pastoral internship and getting ordained to the ministry. I had completed college and was on my way to my first church when I became suicidally depressed. Here I was with my wife and three kids, living in my brother's basement, unable to remember the color sprinkles a customer wanted, panicking over nothing external and basically incapacitated with sickness. Smile? Uh, no, not really. I managed to endure that job for a month or two and I got another job being a photographer in a portrait studio. I was still depressed but I was taking pictures of singles, families and couples. The job was very competitive (the sales aspect) and there were a large volume of pictures to be taken. Ironically it was my job to get the subjects (often children) to smile. I functioned there and all the time I felt like I was dragging a heavy weight on my mind and soul. I could not escape that psychic pain because wherever I went, I had to carry my brain with me.
 persevered despite my depression.

Off to the psychiatric hospital for three weeks
The psychiatrist did not change my medication but when I had a memory lapse one day, he decided to put me in a psychiatric hospital in Southern Pennsylvania.  My wife and kids and I had moved into our own home after four months at my brother's and now we lived in a neighboring city. The hospital where I was to go was a three-hour drive from our house and it was January of 1986. My wife, Robyn, is from Florida, had never driven in snow and she and the kids visited me twice a week for the three-week stay. The roads got very bad a few times and here I was stuck in the hospital, creating another issue for her trying to be there for me.
In the hospital, which was a Christian facility, they sought to rid me of my depression in many different ways. Once I was part of a psychodrama group. Their efforts in this group were to get me to break down and be helped by the exercise. I did cry and felt better for about ten minutes, then that awful depression returned. But during the session, I asked the psychologist who was running the group if we could talk about the medications the members were on and about the success of their treatment. He sat there with his crisp shirt and tie, took a sip of his coffee and said, "Well, let's leave that to another group." However, there was no such a group and yes, I remained depressed.

I was discharged from the hospital after three weeks and I realized that I needed  to get another job.  I was reading the classifieds (no surfing the net at this time) in the Scranton Times when I noticed there were a number of ads that said  "MSW required."  I had been reading a book at the time, called: What Color is Your Parachute?   It is a classic treatment of matching jobs with one's passion and skill set.  I looked up MSW and realized it stood for Master of Social Work.  I decided to enroll at Marywood School of Social Work, in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  Then, at the same time, I applied for a children's therapist job and told them that my major in college was in human services  and that I was enrolled in an MSW program. I got the job.  I also added a part-time job at a place called the Rap House in downtown Scranton where I functioned as a counselor with chronically mentally ill people who dropped in to talk and have coffee. My classes were all day on Saturday.  I was a very exhausted and still a very young, otherwise healthy but horribly depressed man. I remembered thinking over and over again that I was only half the man I used to be. I often thought of this old Beatles song:
Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they're here to stay
Oh, I believe in yesterday
Suddenly, I'm not half the man I used to be
There's a shadow hanging over me.
Oh,  yesterday came suddenly

My next blog will deal with Scriptural truths that helped me endure depression.
I would like to recommend  our book, Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel
Like You're Losing It.  Here are some reviews.'re-Losing/dp/0825421187

If you would like to read my blog about antixidants and depression, please go to

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Vietnamese and Chinese Christians need prayer

This Hmong family lives in Vietnam, where Hmong believers frequently face persecution from family members and village authorities.
Jun. 12, 2014 | Vietnam

Pray for Qhua Ha, a Hmong believer

On April 14, a family of Hmong believers in Vietnam were beaten and forced from their home. For months, local authorities and villagers had pressured Qhua Ha, 37, his wife and their four children to renounce their faith, but they refused. After beating the couple and their 9-year-old son, authorities forced the family to leave, seizing their home and property, including 10 bags of rice and 125 chickens. Qhua Ha and his wife became Christians in February 2013 and were the only Christians in the village. VOM contacts ask for prayer for Qhua, his wife and their four children, ages 9, 6, 4 and 1.

Jun. 12, 2014 | China

Pray for Prisoner Alimujiang Yimiti and family
The wife of Uyghur Christian Alimujiang Yimiti reports that her husband, who is being held in a prison in China, has lost a lot of weight since her last visit to the prison and that he looks pale. However, she said he is still doing well spiritually. She asks that we continue to pray for Alimujiang's strength to overcome the difficulties he faces in prison, such as unkind guards. Gulimar and her two children are allowed to visit Alimujiang for only 15 minutes every three months. The couple's oldest son, who is 15, is sad and discouraged about his father's continued imprisonment, and their 8-year-old son misses his dad and remains anxious for his return. Alimujiang was arrested in 2008 and sentenced to 15 years for "illegally providing state secrets to foreign nationals."

Announcement - Steve and Robyn Bloem will be 
conducting a seminar at Solid Rock Bible Church
in Plymouth, Michigan.  The date will be  October 18, 2014. The Pastor of the church is Brad Cannon.
This seminar will be a clinical and biblical look at the Christian and Mental illness.
Gulimar and her two sons, now ages 15 and 8, need prayer and are awaiting the return of husband and father Alimujiang Ymiti, who is serving 15 years in a Chinese prison for his faith.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Elijah the demoralized, depressed prophet, a champion of God

Copy right all rights reserved
This is a modified re-post.
Have you ever been hurting so much that you can hardly move? Elijah came to the end of himself, as he contemplated what he felt were of the frowns of Heaven. He asks the Giver of all life to kill him!

For a closer look

Scripture - We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone, I. Thessalonians 5:14. 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 and comfort using narratives of Scripture.

The word "fainthearted" in the NASB is the Greek word, oligopsuchos, which literally means “small souled.”  The mentally ill comes under the rubric of oligopsuchos,The minds of mentally ill people are subject to great weakness. They possess a fractured mind and the result is they have very little inner resources to cope with their sorrow and depression. 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 word encourage, para-mutheomai indicates that comfort for the fainthearted is God’s comfort through the Christian community (Kittel,Gerhard. TDNT (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 edifying of the mentally ill and their families.

There are in the church of Jesus Christ, those who feel their job description in regard to the mentally ill  is that of sanctified obstructionists. They won't hear of Christians being depressed, they say  it is against the whole tenor of Scripture for a person to be depressed, and we are told in the Bible to have unceasing joy in the LORD.

My response is, look at Elijah in 1 Kings :17-19, He was extremely disappointed. He was also heart sick. Proverbs 13:12 says, Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life. The nation Israel had no spiritual revival following the, Jehovah/Baal Encounter.on Mount Carmel.  Ungodly King  Ahab had seen the fire of God come down after Elijah prayed and he did not believe. Jezebel boycotted Mt.Carmel;  She was willfully ignorant of the LORD's power and she swore to Elijah that she would have him dead by the morning. What does he do? He resigns from the ministry to which the LORD had called him and goes on the lamb.

Elijah could have taken solace in Judah, who at that time had a godly king, but he went beyond Judah into the wilderness, defeated, depressed, demoralized and probably dehydrated, It is there the mighty prophet in despair pleads that the LORD would end his life.

As a loving father, the LORD let him sleep and by His angel gave him food and drink. The angel  told him he needed to walk to the mountain of God (Horeb). Why was the LORD, telling Elijah to go to Horeb?  I believe that it was so that His ministry might be refined and revived and restored. He did not throw buckets of water on Elijah. He did not call him a loser and tell him to buck up. He did not strike him in the side and then tell him to gird up his loins, and stop acting like a wimp. . God was gentle towards him and later he would be dealt with by the gentle Holy Spirit, teaching him vital truths about Israel, the prophets and his future.

Keil and Delitzsch summarize the meaning of the the text which explains, God's loving correction of the miserable prophet's  journey:
It was that he might know that the LORD was still the same God who had nourished and sustained His whole nation in the desert with manna from Heaven for forty years. And just as the forty years sojourn in the desert had been to Moses a time for the trial of faith and an exercise in humility and meekness (Numbers 12:3), so was the strength of Elijah's faith to be tried by the forty days wandering in the same desert and to be purified from all carnal zeal for the further fulfillment of his calling, in accordance with the divine will, Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 3 I Kings. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing House, reprinted, 1983, page 255.

We are now studying Elijah in our CAMI support group.  We meet every Thursday night at Boca Glades Baptist Church from 7:00 p.m to 8:25 p.m. Deserts and coffee are provided. For directions, please go to this link:
Our group is informative and caring. You will feel right at home.
Steve Bloem

If you would like to read about Elijah in our book Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It, please to

Monday, June 2, 2014

Back From the Edge

Marsha Linehan Acknowledges Her Own Struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder

Marsha Linehan Acknowledges Her Own Struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder

The patient wanted to know, and her therapist — Marsha M. Linehan of the University of Washington, creator of a treatment used worldwide for severely suicidal people — had a ready answer. It was the one she always used to cut the question short, whether a patient asked it hopefully, accusingly or knowingly, having glimpsed the macrame of faded burns, cuts and welts on Dr. Linehan’s arms: “You mean, have I suffered?” “No, Marsha,” the patient replied, in an encounter last spring. “I mean one of us. Like us. Because if you were, it would give all of us so much hope.”
“That did it,” said Dr. Linehan, 68, who told her story in public for the first time last week before an audience of friends, family and doctors at the Institute of Living, the Hartford clinic where she was first treated for extreme social withdrawal at age 17. “So many people have begged me to come forward, and I just thought — we
 The patient wanted to know, and her therapist — Marsha Linehan said, "I have to do this. I owe it to them. I cannot die a coward.”
If you would like to read the rest of this article and/or a fascinating article in the New York Times please go to the link below.


For a great video treatment on borderline personality disorder which includes Linehan, patients and other experts please go to Back to Edge at the link below.

 The author of this blog, Steve Bloem trained under Dr. Linehan during the years 1996 and 1997. The very useful training took place at the Unviversity of Washington in Seattle. Steve and his team started a DBT program in Grand Rapids, Michigan; in fact, started the first DBT program in the world for case-management.
Steve does DBTtherapy by Skype, phone or in person. Please go to:!financial-fact-sheet/cy4s

Steve Bloem and his wife Robyn wrote Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It. It is their testimony of the grace of God shown to them during episodes of dark depression.  It is a personal, technincal and biblical treatment of mental illness. It was nominated for the best nonfiction of the year 2005 by Foreword Magazine.