A God of Hope | Wycliffe Bible Translators

A God of Hope

  • April 30, 2019
Central African Republic woman praying with hands raised

Larry and Cami Robbins know the healing power of Scripture personally.

After they endured a traumatic experience while overseas, the Robbins received counseling, which made them ache for the people who didn’t have that option.

“Our hearts were so concerned for our African colleagues who didn’t have this blessing that we had,” Cami shared. As soon as they could, the Robbins helped lead a trauma healing workshop in the city where they endured that suffering.

The couple saw how critical it was to combine the power of Scripture with the hope of trauma healing workshops. Today Larry and Cami work throughout Africa and the United States leading these workshops.

WORKSHOPS IN THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Violence in the Central African Republic over the last few years has resulted in more than one million people (a quarter of the population) being displaced, and many deaths.

As a result of this hostility, many people carry deep-seated wounds from the trauma they’ve experienced. Over the last five years, the Robbins have run classic trauma healing workshops at different levels. With the help of a mentor and training from Seed Company and ACATBA (Association Centrafricaine pour la Traduction de la Bible et l’Alphabétisation), the Robbins also learned how to run story-based trauma healing workshops.

Many men and women who attended the first workshop came from communities where there was no Scripture available in their language. Some spoke languages that had never even been written down. As a result, the workshop focused on sharing Scripture orally through stories and songs.

Not only did the attendees have access to Scripture for the first time, but they also began to experience healing in their lives and hope for their communities.

A TYPICAL WORKSHOP DAY

“Each lesson has a different Bible story. The facilitator tells the story, usually twice … and then goes around the room and, bit by bit, has the participants retell it,” Cami explained. “We ask questions about the story [such as], ‘What did you like?’ and ‘What did you find difficult?’ Since [in one workshop] we were focusing on the story where Jesus wept, we asked cultural questions like, ‘What does your culture say about men crying?’”

Trauma healing workshop - the facilitator tells the story

After initial questions are asked, participants divide the Bible story into sections, put together a skit about the story and then perform it. Skits help participants remember the story and then share it more effectively in their villages.

Next the workshop participants discuss difficult words to translate such as “resurrection” and “believe.” Cami explained the process: “In groups, they translate the story by telling it aloud in their own language. Then we record it. We then ask them to translate it back into the national language that we all know so a consultant can check it to make sure they have translated accurately.”

Trauma healing group translating a story

Each lesson is paired with a Bible verse. For the story of Lazarus, When participants studied the story of Lazarus, the accompanying verse was Ecclesiastes 3:4: “[There is] a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (NLT).

After translating the verse, participants also compose a song to go with it. “It was wonderful to see their joy in translating and singing Scripture in their own languages,” Cami said. In addition to translation, participants work through healing exercises to help process the trauma they’ve experienced.

RESTORING HOPE

One young man in the Central African Republic had been experiencing terrible nightmares because of things he’d seen and heard. The night he attended the workshop, he had a peaceful dream in which one of the team members was leading a group in a song of praise to God. The young man slept well that night and for the rest of the workshop. Praise God!

Trauma can make people feel hopeless and worthless. But as Cami shared, the best experience in the trauma healing workshop was “people understanding through the story of the creation that God loves us and that we are made in his image. We are not worthless. … God is restoring hope through these stories in the native tongue.”

Learn more about trauma healing by watching this webinar.