The Guam-Micronesia Mission (GMM) women’s ministries department hosted a special training workshop for leaders and co-leaders, along with other women in ministry from local churches, on February 12. The hybrid meetings were conducted on Guam, with local leaders and their teams participating face-to-face and others through Zoom from all around Micronesia, totaling almost 100 participants.
Lorna Lawrence, a 35-year counseling veteran who is certified in crisis, trauma, and critical incidence, led an intensely reflective workshop that helped women’s ministries team participants “identify multiple areas of possible childhood wounds, clearly recognize patterns in their lives,” and “identify weaknesses and strengths established during childhood,” among other topics.
Pohnpei women’s ministries leader Julie Warren in Kolonia expressed her appreciation for the “eye-opening lesson about how we can better understand and deal with what has happened in our [lives] and most especially, for the importance of forgiveness.”
The program walked the women through their history from childhood and into young adulthood, touching on the first 25 years. It dealt with life’s difficult realities — disappointment, anger, depression, bitterness, and abuse of all forms — compassionately sifting through the trauma and emotional turmoil to unearth a person’s real value as God’s unique creation, fearfully and wonderfully made.
“We belong to God,” Lawrence reminded participants. “Through Creatorship, He made us. Through redemption, He bought us. We are twice His.” She encouraged her audience to internally review their lives, touching on interpersonal relationships, formative experiences, and even painful memories, exposing the roots of shame, followed by practical, evidence-based solutions.
The women in attendance were touched. They commented that the training was not only personal but essential to ministry. Desibeth Jordan, Chuuk women ministries leader, said, “It can be a very big help to share with people who are violated, abused, rejected, unfortunate in some ways, to families who are discouraged with rebellious children, [and] shame[d] because of an abusive relationship in the family… to let them know that life doesn’t end there.”
Overcoming the Barrier of Shame
Dee Libian, Yap women’s ministries leader, noted that the topics centered around sensitive issues that are not normally discussed in island culture due to shame and the challenge of sharing one’s story and background when they instead wish to save face. “It is very important for us ladies to receive training like this so we can share and help others who go through it themselves,” she said. “As women in ministry, we not only share the word of God to those around us, but we need to touch [their] hearts and help them to heal emotionally as well.” She, along with many of the women in attendance, said they felt that the workshop equipped them with the tools needed to step into the healing process with assurance that it will work.
In keeping with women’s ministries efforts to promote both outreach and in-reach for women in ministry, a large number of resource materials were made available to take home. This mass distribution of resources enables women across the region to offer training and small group Bible studies in their respective local churches and communities. The women likened this dissemination to a ministry resource fair. They were excited, and the hope was expressed that the women would be inspired and motivated to share as much as they could. Not only was literature in abundance; there were also how-to manuals, small group start-up guides, and craft materials liberally sprinkled throughout to encourage women to get creative with their outreach methods.
The women’s ministries training program was an uplifting and restorative experience for all in attendance that day, several participants said. According to ministry leaders, “it guided the women toward a fuller understanding of themselves, reaching deeper and farther back into their personal history to trace the paths that God has led them through to reach today. Taking an active part in a training program designed to lead one through such a delicate yet rigorous process was a profound experience and blessing,” they said.
GMM women’s ministries will continue launching more programs that deal with mental health awareness, prevention, and healing throughout this year and the next, leaders said. In addition to mentorship courses and seminars for young women, they continue to develop programs to support, motivate, and train not only women in the region’s island communities but families as well.
The original version of this story was posted on the Guam Micronesia Mission news site.