Saturday, November 23, 2013

Disturbed Minds

 “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32 (truth encounter)
“…but they were frightened when they saw the man who had been demon possessed, for he was sitting there fully clothed and perfectly sane.”  Mark 5:15b (power encounter)

Naseema abruptly left the Bible study. Immediately afterwards I went to her house to find her. She was about to light a match and burn herself to death. Then there was the time I visited Halima when I found her on the floor, mute, and in terrible distress. Suddenly I was introduced to a world of strange behavior which I had not previously encountered. I couldn’t figure out what was mental illness, spiritual oppression, result of occult or demonic activity, overload of stress or a combination of those afflictions. I felt like I was in no man’s land with no one to guide me through it. Before becoming a missionary in 1978 I never took a course on mental health nor did I read any books about it. Since those two incidents which took place in Pakistan I have walked alongside other Muslims and believers from Muslim background who have manifested unhealthy responses, toxic thought patterns, and strange behavior.
   
I am not a counselor, therapist, mental health worker, or a psychiatrist. When I encounter something not considered “normal” in my Muslim friends or in believers from Muslim background I first pray for discernment. It is freeing to realize I don’t need to analyze or fix things. I ask the Spirit to reveal to me as much as I need to know, how I should respond, and what my part should be.  I urge disturbed Muslims and believer friends to see counselors or doctors but unfortunately most of the time that proves to be futile. Frequently they deny or justify their behavior or feel shame to make it known and get help. This is especially true of people who come from honor/shame cultures. If all help is refused then I personally need to know from God what I should do about my relationship with Muslim or believer friends. Sometimes He tells me to walk patiently beside her in her need and pray for her healing or to speak directly into her behavior and toxic thought patterns using the Word of God; especially in matters of excessive fear, victim mentality, or self-condemnation. If she can read the internet can educate her about some debilitating disturbances such as panic attacks so at least she understands what is happening to her. If she is suicidal I urge her to go to Emergency Room at the hospital and offer to accompany her. There are other times when the Spirit makes it clear I need to be removed from her. When she starts dumping anger on me, flinging accusations my way, or telling lies repeatedly I know it’s best to step out of the direct firing line.  There have been well meaning Christians who have attempted to exorcize demons from some of my friends only for me to have to pick up the pieces after they have left. Instead of healing more trauma has happened. Power encounters do happen but generally speaking most need truth encounters.

Dear heavenly Father, Thank you that you can bring peace and healing to our minds. In Jesus’ name, Amen.