Emerging Realities In Mental Health

November 23, 2016

I just returned from an exciting conference.   Yes, a conference CAN be exciting.  It was the 37th Annual Mental Health and Missions Conference in Angola, Indiana.  Psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors, over 240 of us, from all over the county come together to discuss how we can use our talents to support those who work in cross-cultural settings.  These are people who know what it’s like to get outside their own comfort zone and connect with people who do life differently.  The theme is on the sign . . . 

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So, what are the emerging realities?

  • Safer technology.  Many commonly-used video connections like Skype are not as confidential as many think.
  • Positive Psychology.  Mental health practices traditionally have aimed at healing the sick.  This approach is looks more at the characteristics that allow a person to function with maximum happiness and effectiveness.  Health is more than the absence of sickness.
  • Secure Attachment.  Adopted children require special care after being uprooted from their birth homes.  Also, children of missionaries (and others whose work takes them around the globe) require extra kinds of attention to reassure them of their safety.   
  • Trauma Healing.  Life-threatening experiences are not uncommon these days.  Think of those struggling with PTSD.  Traumatic experiences are rooted deeply and do not diffuse with the passing of time. 

So that’s the technical part.  Aside from all that, I got to connect with some outstanding people in the field.  What a thrill to experience being part of something far bigger than just me and being able to make a small contribution.  Now, to follow up with several new friends.

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What Do You Talk About when . . .

November 6, 2016

It’s not very of2016_11_04-mamadou-at-gloriasten that you have an opportunity to host an African church leader to dinner.  But Sonia and I had that pleasure last Friday night.  We were rife with curiosity and questions that made it easy to converse.  Here’s some of how it went.

How much rain did they get in their region of West Africa?  You see, they are mostly farmers there, living off the land and depending on the rain for their crops.  Our group left this year just as the rains were coming.  Turns out that they had a wonderful rain in their region this year and will have a full crop of maize.  That’s the good news.  The sad news is that they lose half of their crop to the rodents after they store it in wooden bins.
Here’s a picture of how they store their grain today.  What an opportunity for some outside businessmen to provide metal storage bins that are sealed from critters and the weather!  As it stands, they just storage-bindon’t have the money to build them.

More personally, how does a young man raised as a Muslim come to surrender his life to the person of Christ and become a church leader?  Speak of transitions!  What a story it was.  Fast forward to today . . . what’s it like to be a man in a poor Muslim-dominated country trying to carve out a niche to provide a foothold for the expansion and strengthening of Christianity?  And how can those Christians, poor as they are, make significant positive contributions to the communities in which they live?  How can they build businesses that will provide for their self-reliance? 

Leave it to Sonia to ask some stimulating questions:  What’s the best part of your life in West Africa these days?  “My wife.”  What’s the worst? “Persecution.”

We talked about those things and a lot more which made the evening fly by quickly and left us inspired and full of admiration for this man.  And we learned a lot about opportunities for their growth and development, about what life is like in a place very different than Dallas, and about how God blesses those who are faithful in following Him. 

By the way, he’s seven feet tall.