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Offering healing in Uganda


Aziz* is a 10-year-old South Sudanese boy who recently fled to a refugee camp in Uganda. With the war between Sudan and South Sudan escalating, millions of people have left their homes, family members, and farmland to try to find safety across the border.

Aziz is mentally disabled and the son of a South Sudanese pastor. Having to leave everything familiar and live in a refugee camp traumatized the young boy. Due to Aziz’s difficulty in communicating, he could not express to his parents how he was feeling. He acted out, and his mother neglected and beat him, which only caused Aziz to further regress.

Carolyn Goodwin is a TMS Global cross-cultural worker who was serving in South Sudan when the war broke out. After several months, her team decided to evacuate and crossed into Uganda an hour before the border was closed. The TMS Global team now resides in Uganda and ministers in the refugee camps, which houses more than one million South Sudanese.

“South Sudanese are being forced out of their motherland, leaving everything behind,” said Carolyn. “If they decide to stay, they risk being raped, tortured, or murdered. I knew I had to help, but I wasn’t sure what to do. A friend introduced me to trauma counseling, and I knew that is what my South Sudanese friends needed.”

After receiving trauma counseling training and preparing her own curriculum, Carolyn began offering trauma healing workshops to refugees. Each Saturday, she welcomes anywhere from 75 to 150 people from the refugee camps. She also offers workshops to children, who have experienced much in their young lives.

“The workshop is based on the promise in Psalm 46:1, NIV, ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble,’” said Carolyn. “I believe true healing can only come from Jesus. He can mend our broken hearts.”

The training teaches what trauma is, how it makes people feel, and the effects it can have on victims. Attendees also discuss questions about why God allows suffering, and how to help others suffering from trauma. “Ultimately, people can choose whether to express hate, unforgiveness, and hopelessness in response to their situations; or they can choose love, forgiveness, and peace.”

Carolyn explains how Jesus can heal brokenness, as well as how He enables people to forgive. She offers for people to accept Jesus as Lord, and dozens have prayed to do so. “Many South Sudanese believe in Jesus very strongly, but they have never heard that He can be Lord of their lives.”

Aziz’s father attended one of Carolyn’s workshops. “Many people here tend to think that children are resilient and things do not bother them. In the workshop, we cover the topic of children who have been through trauma. Aziz’s father was amazed to discover that children are effected by their circumstances, especially if they have been abused, neglected, or are in an unstable environment. If a child is suffering from trauma, he or she needs to be dealt with love and patience, just as our Heavenly Father treats us.”

Aziz’s father returned to his family determined to treat his son differently. Instead of caning Aziz or yelling at him, the father was patient with Aziz, showing care and concern for him. The father saw an immediate difference in his son’s behavior. Aziz began following his father around and making an effort to communicate with him. Their relationship has improved dramatically.

“This father, who serves as a pastor, was so moved by what his family experienced that he arranged for five other pastors to host the workshop. He has attended six workshops himself, and updates me on how his family is progressing.

“Life in the refugee camp is difficult, and nearly everyone has family members still in South Sudan who are in danger. Yet, God has brought us safely here, and He will see us through. He has a plan and a purpose for everyone.”

Because of your support, TMS Global can mobilize, train, and support cross-cultural workers, like Carolyn, to engage in ministry in difficult places. People are finding healing in Jesus, the only One who can provide healing and peace in the midst of terrible circumstances.

*Pseudonym used for privacy.