The purpose of the book is to point us toward a biblically based framework concerning the root causes of poverty and its alleviation. Early in my reading one quote stood out among the rest, “By showing low-income people through our words, our actions, and most importantly our ears that they are people with unique gifts and abilities, we can be part of helping them to recover their sense of dignity, even as we recover from our sense of pride.” (p.64)
Though the above sentence focuses on our work with the poor and marginalized it has also caused me to think about the importance of our care in the lives of all people and how this helps set a solid foundation for when the traumatic events arrive at our doorstep. As one who gives a lot of time in ministry to youth I have learned and tried to live out the value of showing teenagers through my words, actions and listening that they are “people with unique gifts and abilities.” Living this discipline in the good times makes it easier to continue it when they experience trauma and to lead them back to wholeness.
Numerous studies in trauma response point to the power of healing through relationships. A deeper and wider net of close, meaningful relationships offers the hurting individual a significant ingredient toward helping him or her feel more fully like his or herself and brings dignity. In this setting the person experiences the unconditional love as we listen and walk with him or her through the dark valley.
Every week I have made it a practice to take different high school guys to breakfast and listen to their lives. In the course of these conversations over the weeks I get to peer into their school, family, emotional, mental, physical, social and spiritual lives. As the meetings add up I have a deeper and deeper understanding of them and they get to know me as well. There is not a goal to be achieved or a project to be finished, there is a relationship to continue. Over the years this consistency has opened the door to walking with some of them through traumatic experiences and being a part of their healing.
After one such breakfast at a local restaurant this past week an older lady approached me and wanted to know more about the little meeting she could see was taking place. I explained our purpose and she simply said, “It is so good you are in their lives.”
Our post-trauma work with children and youth starts now. It is good to be in their lives.
Doug Ranck is associate pastor of youth and worship at Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara, CA. With three decades of youth ministry experience, he serves as ICTG Program Director for Youth Ministry, as well as a leading consultant, trainer and speaker with Ministry Architects, the Southern California Conference, and, nationally, with the Free Methodist Church. He has written numerous articles for youth ministry magazines and websites, and published the Creative Bible Lessons Series: Job (Zondervan, 2008). Doug is happily married to Nancy, proud father of Kelly, Landon and Elise, and never gets tired of looking at the Pacific ocean every day.