My name is Rajiya which means “hope.” I live in the Middle East and am a Chaldean Christian. In the course of the last two years I lost hope. A militant group has been wreaking havoc across our land. They have kidnapped my people, driven us from our villages, and killed us. Many have fled, risking their lives and livelihoods to escape the terror. I stayed, along with thousands of others who had been uprooted. My body was still intact, but internally I was torn apart. My spirit wept, but I could not find tears.
I made contact with the Assyrian Aid Society who put me in touch with a trauma healing group. The purpose of this group was to help restore hope in people like me and to help us help others. There were many surprises in this group. First, the group leader – Mirah – used the Bible as her main textbook. We Chaldeans generally didn’t read the Bible, but Mirah took the Bible seriously. Now I do too. A second was that we were divided into small groups to talk to one another. I found this very difficult at first, especially when men were present.
The healing group combined psychology with Scripture. On the first day we looked at the question, ‘If God loves us why do we suffer?’ We were each given a copy of the Bible in Arabic and looked for stories to help us answer this question. We looked at Jesus’ compassion and how the ‘wounds of our hearts’ can be healed. As we looked at these passages and discussed them with one another, I began to feel more comfortable.
In one session we took our pains to the cross of Jesus. We reflected and prayed about the pains and problems we were carrying. We wrote some of them down on paper and when we were ready, we tore them up. This was a moving and significant experience for me. Another activity that stood out was when we Arabic-speaking women talked together. We talked about rape and domestic violence. Some of us had suffered both. Our conversation was animated and I engaged fully in the discussion. We used verses from the Bible, mainly from the Psalms, and as a result wrote a list of things we wanted to share with the men in our lives.
At the end, we received a certificate to host healing groups for others. As I interacted with other people, uprooted like me, I could see in them the pain and scars that I had had before the healing group. Now I am gathering a group of women together for a healing group. I pray that they will find healing too. I realize I am once again becoming Rajiya — my hope is returning.