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Enter the Dungeons of the Heart

Trauma is the greatest mission field of the 21st century.

Pictured are the dungeons of the Cape Coast Castle in West Africa, the place where nearly 1,500 male and female slaves were locked up before being shipped abroad.

Diane Langberg is an expert on trauma healing. As a practicing psychologist for 35 years, she's seen the effects of sexual and domestic abuse, gendercide, rape, addictions, war—you name the atrocity—on the human heart.

The effects are devastating. And this is precisely why the Church needs to look at trauma as one of the greatest mission fields of the 21st century, Langberg said in her presentation at the Q conference held in mid-April in Washington, D.C.

Langberg began by talking about her visit to Cape Coast Castle in West Africa, the place where nearly 1,500 male and female slaves were locked up in dungeons—sometimes for up to three months—before being shipped abroad. The dungeons were unbearable; hundreds of men and women were crammed together with no toilet facilities and only a few windows to let in fresh air.

Yet, directly above the dungeon was a chapel. Heaven hovered just above hell, and the two are inextricably linked.

Langberg explored the realities of the dungeon, both on the victims and on us. The victims “want to flee because it's too terrible to remember,” Langberg said. “They fully attempt to forget the unspeakable.”

And what do we do? We want to forget it too, she said. “We have witnessed families, churches and nations deny the existence of trauma in the world. When we see an atrocity, we look for a way to make ourselves feel better. We turn away or render judgment by saying, ‘If they made better moral choices, they wouldn't be suffering.'”

But what did Jesus do? The incarnation is the simple—and complicated—answer to this question. “Heaven left heaven and came down. God came to lift us up … and to become like us so we could become like him. He enters the dungeons of our hearts and transforms them.”

Which is precisely why She's My Sister™, an American Bible Society initiative, seeks to imitate this model in their trauma healing program. Providing a safe platform for people to share their stories and to release emotional pain is the first step. The second step uses unique Scripture passages that provide them with the opportunity to take their pain to the cross of the Christ for healing.

As members of the Church, you are called to do the same, Langberg said. She urged participants to use their positions of “power and influence” to help those who desperately need the healing that only Scripture can provide.

But are you prepared to leave your chapels—those clean places of comfort—and enter the dungeons of the heart? Langberg asked.

If you do, the first face you might see is that of Jesus.


For more information about the She's My Sister™ initiative, check out their website at sister.americanbible.org

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