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  • Writer's picturetimothy martiny

Learning to Heal

Updated: 2 days ago

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

We live in a broken world, and we have been through some form of pain, suffering, and heartache.

This is especially true for the families we serve through the Cadaniño ministry. Death, abandonment, poverty, abuse, and trauma are all more prevalent in the places where God has called us to work.

But it’s not just the families we serve who have suffered. The staff we hire from the local community are generally just a few steps removed from the hardships faced by those they serve.

This means they understand what they are going through, but they often have unhealed wounds of their own weighing them down.

One thing I have learned in 20 years of being a missionary it’s that to truly care for others, we must first care for ourselves. No one can continue to pour out when their cup is empty.

Finding a way for our staff to receive an opportunity to learn and grow in how to process the challenges in their own lives, so they can better serve the students and families in our care has been a priority for us for some time.

Thankfully, through our partnership with Orphan Outreach, our entire team could participate in a counseling retreat last month held here in Guatemala. Joy FM Radio in St. Louis raised funds to bring professional counselors on board to plan and prepare workshops and lead trainings on grief, suffering, trauma, and counseling that gave our staff a chance to work through some of the difficult things they have faced and tools with which to help those we serve through the hardships they have been through.

Through workshops, worship, prayer, and small group sessions, our team members had the opportunity to share what they had been through; hear from others who were walking the same path, learning that they were not alone in what they had been through.

Here are some of their summarized reactions:

By a Cadaniño Teacher: "I am proud to have been working at Cadaniño for four years. I recently had the privilege of attending the Learning to Heal Counseling Retreat. It was my first time at such an event, yet, from the onset, I felt a profound sense that I was on the brink of a transformative experience.

The retreat was enlightening, delving deep into healing tools and processes I could integrate into both my personal and professional life. The emphasis on how personal healing is necessary for me to better assist the children and young adults I work with, and the understanding that so many of them yearn to be understood and accepted was particularly resonant.

The intimate group sessions with counselors also offered an invaluable space for connectivity, sharing personal narratives, and the solace of being genuinely listened to. It brought to light our collective role – as instruments of divine love – dedicated to supporting families in need.

This retreat was nothing short of a blessing. The wealth of knowledge I've acquired empowers me to strengthen the families we passionately serve. Each day was unique and meaningful, filled with an array of emotions, shared stories, and profound connections, all underpinned by the placing of God at the center of every initiative.

Recognizing our limitations, yet understanding that we are equipped to contribute meaningfully to the healing process, has been revelatory. The retreat also allowed me to connect with my colleagues on a deeper, more personal level outside our typical professional setting. I am profoundly grateful for this experience."

By a Cadaniño Coordinator: "I had been looking forward to the retreat since the beginning of the year, but I couldn't have foreseen its profound impact.

Before attending, I read a book written by two of the speakers called "Healing Out Loud," and it helped set the stage for what was to come.

The retreat's focus on "seeing children through the eyes of God" resonated deeply, emphasizing our sacred duty to guide and nurture the children in our care.

Drawing from Jeremiah 17:8, we were reminded of their potential to be bearers of change and influence in their environments.

The comprehensive teachings enriched my understanding and equipped me to better help the children and youth grappling with grief and trauma. It showed me how to better be a pillar of support for them, help them feel valued, and how to remind them of their divine purpose.

This retreat was transformative for all attendees. We departed with renewed spirits, bolstered by the knowledge that a benevolent Father always supports us, providing ceaseless comfort and compassion.

I'm incredibly grateful for the gift of this retreat, and it was amazing to see people from different ministries and nations come together to learn how to serve others with unparalleled love and excellence."

By a Cadaniño Teacher: "The teaching at the retreat resonated deeply with me, offering insights that have been instrumental to my personal and professional development. Collaborating with other team members as we learned about grief was especially meaningful and helpful.

I learned how suffering manifests in many forms. Some experience the pain of losing a loved one, and others feel deprived of love due to familial estrangement. Yet, others face rejection from friends or workplace undervaluation. There are many ways in which grief manifests itself, yet the key to its healing lies in how we approach it. If we let God guide us, healing can come quicker, but it's hard to do as we often want to cling to our wounds which prevent us from giving or receiving love, including God's love.

Additionally, the conference imparted valuable techniques, especially concerning empathy, grief, and trauma, that were tailored to helping the children and youth I work with."

By a Cadaniño Bible Teacher: "Throughout the retreat, I acquired invaluable insights, particularly ways to empathize with and support children, youth, and adults who are grieving or facing trauma and how to help them through their healing journeys. By God's grace, I am better equipped to help my students find restoration through Christ and walk hand in hand with Him.

The conference also served as a poignant reminder of God's enduring faithfulness in my life. Reflecting on His work in my life is awe-inspiring and empowers me to share my personal story with others more. I can see that sharing the testimony of what God has done in our lives is a pathway to healing.

Sadly, many of us internalize falsehoods that hamper our growth and freedom, such as being told we are at fault for what happened to us, that we are unattractive, worthless, or failures. Yet, the truth is that we are God's perfect creations, destined for greatness, so His glory can shine through us."

Ultimately the retreat was transformative for our team. Everyone walked away with refreshed spirits and renewed strength, having progressed in their personal healing journeys and a deeper sense of God's infinite compassion and support and being equipped to walk alongside those we serve as they, too, discover the healing that only God can bring.


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