Dr. Foley and I traveled to Cameroon in December to conduct an emergency Christian trauma recovery training event for pastors from the western region of the country.
Persecution caught these pastors by surprise.
There is a civil war happening now in Western Cameroon between a secessionist rebel group and the regular army. The pastors there are determined to stay out of politics; to simply preach the gospel and care for their churches and families. But that has caused the rebels and the government troops to be suspicious of the pastors. Both sides treat them as spies. As a result, life has become extremely difficult for the pastors. As villages are burned down, pastors’ churches and homes are destroyed. The pastors move their families to the capital city, but they themselves stay in the war zone, without the support of their denominations. They live in tents in the jungle without a salary and minister to the people on both sides of the conflict. Gunfire is a daily occurrence. They are frequently interrogated by both sides. Sometimes they are kidnapped. This has gone on for almost two years. The result is an unimaginably high level of trauma for the pastors of Western Cameroon.
We received an urgent summons from a VOM sister mission late last year for Dr. Foley to come and teach Christian trauma recovery to the pastors. Trauma recovery for persecuted Christians is an extremely rare specialty. Our sister VOM knew that Dr. Foley had taught trauma recovery in similar circumstances to persecuted Christians from North Korea, China, Eritrea, and Sri Lanka.
It was a huge help to the 15 pastors in attendance, and it will be a huge help to the hundreds of church members these pastors will now be able to help.
“You saw us weeping,” wrote the pastors in a statement of appreciation presented to Dr Foley at the completion of the four-day intensive training, “but by the promises in God’s Word through your ministration has brought us hope to continue with the Word of God.”
Dr. Foley received her master’s degree in clinical counseling with a specialization in trauma care from Colorado Christian University in the United States. The program was started by Dr. Larry Crabb with an emphasis on biblical counseling but was further developed to meet the requirements for clinical licensing. In addition to teaching trauma recovery directly to persecuted Christians, Dr Foley has also trained individuals to counsel persecuted Christians at international events in Belgium and Thailand.
Dr. Foley says that both biblical counseling and clinical counseling are needed to meet the needs of persecuted Christians like the pastors of Western Cameroon. “These pastors are unarmed materially, emotionally, and spiritually. We must help them (and their families) recover in each of these areas of their life. and We must also train them to be able to help the families in their churches to recover.”
Dr Foley and I believe that the global church must treat trauma recovery as a foundational mission to countries where Christians are persecuted. Until pastors and church members in these countries recover from trauma, they cannot effectively use the humanitarian aid or church building assistance that is usually provided by the global church to places like this.
We are scheduled to travel to Africa again later this month to lead a trauma recovery session for Eritrean Christians, widely regarded as among the world’s most persecuted. Dr Foley will then lead a similar session at an undisclosed location in March for traumatized Chinese Christians.
If you’re interested in making a donation to VOMK’s trauma recovery ministry for persecuted Christians can do so at www.vomkorea.com/en/donation (select “Families of Martyrs and Prisoners” from the donation option menu) or via electronic transfer to
Please include the phrase “FOM” (for “Families of Martyrs”) on the transfer.