Friday, July 13, 2012

Staff Training: Adrenal Christians or Coronary Christians

As I am sitting in one of the staff offices here at the RAP home, in the room next to me our staff are singing a Khmer worship song. This past week they have been meeting with one of our trainers Wendy who has been a missionary here for 21 years. Wendy speaks fluent Khmer and her passion is to invest in the Khmer people and equip those she trains to be trainers for the next generation.

Over these past few weeks she has been teaching spiritual foundations to our staff helping them to learn about how to listen to God's voice, how to meditate upon the word of God and allow Him to speak to them through reflective journalling. All of this is to facilitate hopefully  a greater intimacy with Christ.   For as they deepen their relationship with Him, they become more effective witnesses of His love, His joy, His hope and His peace to those who God is entrusting to our care. We believe it is important for our staff to learn to abide in Him, for scripture reminds us that ''apart from Christ, we can do nothing.'' It is He who will give us the daily strength to face the daily challenges that come upon us. It is He who is the Vine and we are the branches and unless we draw wisdom, strength, energy and power from Him, we will often find ourselves working in an ''adrenaline mode'' where we get these short spurts of energy but quickly fade out. It was John Piper who coined the phrase ''adrenal Christians' and ''Coronary Christians.''

Adrenal Christians are like adrenaline – a spurt of energy and then fatigue. What we need in the cause of ''justice'' is coronary Christians. Marathoners, not just sprinters. People who find the pace to finish the (life-long) race. We just have to look at the life of William Wilberforce who demonstrated a ''never say die Christian commitment in the cause of racial justice. He was deeply Christian, vibrantly evangelical, and passionately political in the House of Commons over the long haul in the fight against the African Slave Trade. On October 28, 1787 he wrote in his diary at the age of 28, "God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the Slave Trade and the Reformation of [Morals]." Battle after battle in Parliament he was defeated, because "The Trade" was so much woven into the financial interests of the nation. But he never gave up and never sat down. He was coronary, not adrenal.The coronary Christian, William Wilberforce, never gave up. There were keys to his relentlessness. The greatness and the certainty of the rightness of the cause sustained him. Abolishing the slave trade was "the grand object of my Parliamentary existence." "Before this great cause," he wrote in 1796, "all others dwindle in my eyes, and I must say that the certainty that I am right here, adds greatly to the complacency with which I exert myself in asserting it. If it please God to honor me so far, may I be the instrument of stopping such a course of wickedness and cruelty as never before disgraced a Christian country" (Pollock, p. 143).He saw that adrenal spurts would never prevail: "I daily become more sensible that my work must be affected by constant and regular exertions rather than by sudden and violent ones." (Pollock, 116). He had learned the secret of being strengthened, not stopped, by opposition. One of his adversaries said, "He is blessed with a very sufficient quantity of that Enthusiastic spirit, which is so far from yielding that it grows more vigorous from blows" (Pollock, p. 105). Most of all, the secret of his coronary commitment to the great Cause was his radical allegiance to Jesus Christ. He prayed – and may this prayer rouse many coronary lovers of Christ to fight racism with unwavering perseverance – "[May God] enable me to have a single eye and a simple heart, desiring to please God, to do good to my fellow creatures and to testify my gratitude to my adorable Redeemer" (Pollock, p. 210).

In ministering to survivors of trafficking, one of the observations made has been the high stress levels and burnout rates of staff as they take on secondary trauma from the survivors. For us at Ratanak, our desire is to equip our staff in such a way that they will be coronary Christians, believers of God who are first and foremost lovers of Christ, for unless the passion of Christ reigns in us, unless He empowers us, unless He sustains us, unless He strengthens us, we will be laboring out of our own strength and are more apt to grow tired, weary and discouraged especially during those dark hours of this ministry when we are faced with many challenges and difficulties surrounding our clients trauma.

So often I hear comments that we should ''leave our Christianity'' outside the door when we are ministering to our clients. But those who think they can do this kind of ministry without God are only fooling themselves and worse yet short changing their clients. We believe providing holistic care, resilience and well being in a client  involves using all the tools available to us which includes both trauma informed care and therapies and introducing  the One who has formed us and shaped us into the healing process. This is not an either/or process but a both/and process. After all, it is God who created and formed our bodies even before one day has come to past. Psalm 139:13-16 says: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. It is He who knows how to complete the healing in us when medical techniques have been exhausted and their limitations have been reached. We know this to be true as we have been inspired and encouraged to see these truths having a transforming effect on the lives of the young women we have come to know. The Lord is able to truly do more than we can ask or imagine as we integrate all the available resources and tools that He equips us with.

So as you think of our staff, do continue to pray that the Lord will continue to pour into their hearts a deep passion for Him and in so doing, He will cultivate in them the spirit of a Coronary Christian so that they will run the race He has set before them with a full commitment to His purposes and His plans, according to His ways!

1 comment:

  1. Such an encouragement reading William Wilberforce's own words! I pray for all of us, here and in Cambodia, that we be "coronary Christians" with our hearts and minds guarded in Christ, able to do all things through Christ who strengthens us.