Monday, July 23

"Sanidad Interior"

Recently on the Church Planting Forum that I moderate, one of the 100+ participating missionaries asked what we thought about the whole "Sanidad Interior" (inner healing) movement sweeping Latin America and rest of the world. My response to the forum was:

"Sanidad Interior" peaked as a movement/fad a few years ago here in Ecuador. While still alive and well in many evangelical circles (including Baptist churches), it is not receiving the same attention and emphasis it once was.

While we are not into the whole sanidad interior movement, I do have respect for those who seek to minister to the inner healing needed in the badly damaged lives of those coming to faith in Christ. I see sanidad interior as the church's attempt to respond to the inner wounds found within the Body of Christ.

While the common Third Wave/RenovaciĆ³n methods often employed to achieve this inner healing seem to go a bit beyond what I see in Scripture, I do acknowledge that "inner healing" is an important part of making disciples. Jesus, himself, was into healing and I have no problem with understanding the need for healing wounds of the soul.

One of the things we discovered early on in working with lay leaders in church planting is that they often come into the faith with an enormous weight of past baggage. While "saved", they still have emotional, psychological, family, and spiritual issues in their life that are deeply implanted and need the healing touch of the Holy Spirit.

To ignore or try to hide from them is clearly more harmful than to deal with them in the Light of Christ. These things have a way of coming back to haunt once the honeymoon period of first love in Christ begins to fade. These lay servant-leaders have all the desire to win others to Christ, disciple, and plant new churches, but are overwhelmed by their own inner wounds that continue to bleed.

Here we are as missionaries pushing disciple-making and church planting, and yet have no clue to all the inner turmoil going on in their souls. It isn't enough to tell them, "read your Bible and pray". They need loving, understanding, non-judgmental brothers/sisters in Christ to help them deal with the repressed pain in their lives.

Helping our brothers and sisters through some of their issues is something too few of us are willing to invest our time and selves into. It is very messy and time consuming, and frankly, way over most of our heads. And yet if we don't dirty ourselves by being there for them, these new believers and leaders usually quickly fade back into the masses huddled in some church pew where they can hide their issues and not have to deal with them.

Other than the occasional one-on-one counseling, the way we seek to address this whole issue in people's lives is to encourage the "one another's" in Scripture. We teach that at least 1/3 of every meeting be spent ministering one to another. These are open times of sharing, of being transparent, of taking our masks off, and being "real."

Of course for this to work, those teaching/leading, must set the example. We M's must be transparent, real, take off our own masks, and allow the local believers to minister to us in our own needs and struggles. This is threatening and intimidating for many of us, but if we don't do it, how are they ever going to learn how it is done and the powerful ministry this can be in the life of a new church?

So, sanidad interior is something very real that needs to be on our "making disciples" plate. The "how to" is something I would welcome hearing from others. Let's not throw out sanidad interior unless we have something better to offer in its place.

1 comment:

GuyMuse said...

The following comment comes from Larry Lunceford who was unable to post so sent me his thoughts in an email. What Larry shares is very helpful and edifying. Please take a moment to read his thoughtful comment...

Couldn't get the "comment" thing to work on your blog spot (again) so just thought I'd drop a note and say thanks for bringing up the whole arena of personal ministry. In my humble opinion the "dark side" of our Baptist heritage, for all the talk we do about the [priesthood of the believer", is
that we still think the "minister" is the guy up front and the member's job is just to invite people to 1) hear him, 2) hopefully like him, 3) watch him
do all the work, and if you have a problem, 4) call him and make an
appointment (if he's still alive and not suffering from exhaustion). We have failed to a major extent to train, equip (and I don't mean shipping them off to seminary :-), empower and release the real ministers in the Body.

I'm not familiar with the particular movement you mention in your blog but I've had reason lately to look into the kind of personal ministry you describe - bringing healing to deep hurts within a person's heart and life.

The first was through a Lifeway resource, interestingly enough, dealing with adult children of dysfunctional families and how to lead them to healing from the abuse and hurts of the past. My wife is on staff with our Association's medical clinic and was encouraged to take the course for her own training, and when I saw the book I was excited to know that somebody in Nashville seemed to see the need for this type of ministry. The book
contents were helpful and the instructor had led the course several times before, but when my wife asked one day if there's ever a time during their meetings when they would pray for and minister to one another, the instructor just gave her a blank look and had no idea what she was talking about. It wasn't in the book, and she didn't know where to go from there. And as the class progressed, my wife could see that the instructor herself
still had areas that needed healing, but apparently it will take something beyond the textbook to reach her. But we were still glad to see the resource, and now the author has come out with a second book, also dealing with past hurts.

The second came as we've been looking hard at our responsibility to minister to the military community near us (we're right next to Fort Benning, home of the now-deployed 3rd Infantry division). I'd been looking for some Biblical answers to PTSD after reconnecting with a good friend from our Vietnam days who suffers from it, even though he's become a Christian a few years back.
In the process of trying to find answers for him I ran into a branch
ministry of Campus Crusade that is just starting to train churches to
properly care for our returning troops. Estimates are that as many as 20% of our Iraq veterans will ultimately suffer from PTSD symptoms, but beyond that over 50% will suffer from what they're calling COS - Combat Operatinal
Stress - what you get from living a pins and needles kind of existence for an extended period of time and seeing things a man should never have to see.

Anyway, these folks talk about training church members to become "bridges to healing" - helping the internally wounded veteran connect with the only Healer there is, and walking alongside him (or her) through the process. The idea of B.R.I.D.G.E.S. is:

B - Big Picture – Understanding what Combat Trauma is.
R - Relationships – Helping the wounded warrior work on his/her
relationships; working on your relationship with the wounded warrior.
I - Intercession – Praying for the wounded warrior; teaching the wounded warrior how to pray for himself/herself.
D - Dialog – How to interact with the wounded warrior; talking about his/her traumatic experiences; encouraging dialog with a Christian counselor trained in CT issues.
G - God-Focused – You and the wounded warrior looking primarily to God for direction and healing, rather than primarily to human aid.
E - Environment – Helping the wounded warrior construct a healing
environment which will include the Word, prayer, fellowship, exercise,
sleep, proper nutrition, dealing with triggers, etc.
S - Service – Serving the wounded warrior; involving him/her in service to others in need.

They still recognize the need for people with specialized training when you move to the PTSD end of the scale, but still much can be done to bring healing ministry to many others by our members being trained, encouraged and released.

Anyway, that’s what glimmers of personal ministry I see within the “friendly confines” of our Baptist circles back here in the world. From what I’ve seen with my contacts in East Asia, I think there’s great hope for you guys on
the field to do the real pioneering work in restoration to Biblical ministry – and then maybe you can send missionaries to US to teach us how to live the life…

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the Lord.”
Psalm 27:13-14