It was their final night in the city of Goma, collecting stories and photos for this Word Alive issue on trauma healing workshops, developed with help from Wycliffe.
Writer Doug Lockhart and photographer Alan Hood were introduced to Conso, a 20-year-old woman who lives in an orphanage for children (see the article “Beauty for Ashes”) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Alan set up his tripod and prepared to take photos of Conso in her dark, cramped sleeping quarters behind the main building. As he did, an orphanage staff member told Doug that a group of men sexually assaulted Conso three years ago.
Looking at the beautiful young woman before him, and thinking of his own two daughters and granddaughters, any “journalistic objectivity” Doug had tried to maintain to that point began to crumble.
“I slipped outside and found a place to be alone,” recalls Doug. “There, in the darkness, I wept for Conso, and for all who have been sexually assaulted, beaten and killed in the DRC over the past 20 years.”
For several weeks after returning to Canada, Doug struggled with mild depression because of what he had seen and heard in the Central African country. Over time, he was able to overcome his emotional distress—thanks in part to the pastors he and Alan met at the trauma healing workshop in Goma.
“By reading and applying God’s Word to their tragic circumstances, they have been an example to me,” explains Doug. “Following in their Saviour’s footsteps, they have chosen to forgive those who have mutilated, violated and even killed their friends and loved ones.
“They have also grasped the fundamental truth that they, too, are sinners in need of forgiveness.”
Doug discovered that the victims of trauma in the DRC don’t fully understand why God allows such pain and suffering in the world. But they know He is good.
And their steadfast faith, which has been tested far beyond ours, can help us to process our own jumbled thoughts and feelings when hearing the stories of others’ trauma.
In the end, the real issue is not why trauma hits others so hard, but rather doing something—in Jesus’ name—to help those experiencing it.
Thank the Lord that this is the case in the DRC and in a growing list of other countries, through Bible-based workshops that bring healing in the heart-penetrating languages of local people.