Larger Emotional, Spiritual Safety Net is Needed in Our Communities

It’s that time of year. We’re settling into the oft-dreary winter months after the hustle and bustle of December. "Home for the holidays" isn’t the happiest of experiences for some. We’ve heard the usual reminders that this is a time of increased stress and pain for the many people struggling with depressive and anxiety disorders. Suicides tend to go up.

I am saddened, but not surprised that local voices recently abdicated communal responsibility for area suicides and actually cast blame on the Rivermont Bridge — and by extension, the City Council. What began as a legitimate safety issue became a leap to the illogical: all suicides drop to practically nil when bridges are suicide-proofed. That’s news to me цветы Тамбов. Dare I suggest that loving support and legitimate healing are the real safety nets we are lacking in this and other communities? We are failing on the home front. We need help.

I appreciate the agencies and entities that provide support for Lynchburg area citizens seeking to overcome the ravages of depressive and other mental/emotional disorders, even when I don’t agree with their approaches. It can be a tough and confusing road, exacerbated by the lack of understanding. Those who speak out publicly do have a responsibility to know the facts, however.

Demographically, Lynchburgers are a largely Christian population. The unfortunate irony is that, in a city sometimes referred to as "the city of churches," so many pastors and lay people are ill-equipped to minister to the needs of the mentally, emotionally and spiritually ill people in their congregations.

During another far-away time of war and world unrest, Scottish preacher Oswald Chambers spoke these timely words: "What the world needs is not ‘a little bit of love,’ but a surgical operation." Churches were always intended to be the hospitals where these surgeons reside.

Thomas Road Baptist Church, to its credit, is attempting to make a difference in the Lynchburg area. I’m not overlooking the other churches and parachurch organizations that are providing excellent counseling services and lay support/recovery ministries for anyone who is in need of them. God bless you all. Lay ministries of this sort represent a return to the old connectedness that gradually fell by the wayside in the latter half of the 20th Century. What used to come naturally now seems to require an organized, scheduled effort.

Thomas Road’s new Life Support Ministry is an effort to provide a safe and confidential haven of acceptance and support within a biblical, accountable framework. It is not meant to replace the counsel and care of a qualified therapist or M.D., but rather to fill in the huge gap in care that exists in every community. Thomas Road has recovery/support groups in place for those struggling with grief, depression and anxiety, substance abuse, sexual abuse issues (women) and sexual and pornography addiction (men). Additional groups are planned. With a sizeable pool of lay workers to draw from, TRBC can effectively minister to the community-at-large, as other ministries spun out of Jerry Falwell’s congregation have done for decades.

My family and I have learned firsthand how overwhelmed and ineffective government-subsidized community services can be. I am equally appalled at the poor quality of psychiatric services rendered by some (not all) of the doctors in our community. Just how many of their patients are getting well? I know some sad stories. I turned to my church years ago when I needed this kind of healing and all else was failing me. Thank God someone was there for me.

If it is true that the events of September 11 have created a greater awareness for the need to help others, then it’s time to get busy. There are plenty of materials and training programs available to churches for starting lay counseling programs.

© 2002 Deborah M. Thurman