A ministry that supports persecuted churches has launched a new training program in Iraq to help the country's traumatized children.
"Many of these children and youth have known nothing but chaos and violence; some since birth," noted Carl Moeller, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, which supports and strengthens persecuted Christians in over 45 countries worldwide.
"Some have watched as loved ones have been killed or wounded. Trauma counseling is so important along with spiritual and physical help," he added.
As part of their new program, Open Doors is teaching those who already working with the ministry and interacting with children – such as teachers and church workers – how to listen to traumatized kids when they speak about their feelings and how to work with them to overcome their fears.
Open Doors' training program teaches about child and teenage development; emotional development; the need for children to express and manage emotions and feelings; how to understand child trauma ; art as therapy; how children respond to trauma, symptoms and effects of post traumatic stress disorder; the healthy grieving process; and forgiveness.
Most of the adults taking the training program have themselves experienced high levels of violence, including car bombings and war-related traumas, noted Open Doors. Adults who have taken the program include kindergarten teachers, orphanage workers, nuns, psychologists, social workers, and church youth workers.
"I feel more equipped on how to help children to verbalize problems, how to listen effectively and show love," said Dema, whose full name is withheld for security reasons.
Since 2003, Iraq has been ravaged by nearly continuous war and violence. In recent months, there seemed to be stability in Iraq. But the most recent series of devastating explosions in Baghdad shattered any perception that the country was safe.
One series of blasts was targeted at government buildings in Baghdad and wounded more than 500 people and killed 100.
Iraqi hospitals, meanwhile, are reportedly facing severe shortage of the most basic medical supplies, such as bandages. Many people have reportedly died not from the bomb blasts, but from the poor medial attention in hospitals.
Despite the increased violence in Iraq, Open doors said it is still committed to ministering in the country.
Aside from trauma counseling, the Christian ministry also serves by generating personal income for farmers with such projects as teaching them to grow fruit trees and bring the produce to market. Opens Doors also ssends biblical materials, food, medical equipment, sewing machines, tables and chairs for a Christian school and much more.