On February 12, 2023, the Guam-Micronesia Mission Women’s Ministries Department hosted a very special training workshop for WM leaders and co-leaders, along with several other women in ministry from their churches. The hybrid meetings were conducted on Guam with local leaders and their teams participating face-to-face and others “Zoom”-ing in from all around Micronesia, totaling almost 100 participants.
Dr. Lorna Lawrence, a 35-year counseling veteran who happens to be certified in crisis, trauma, and critical incidence, led an intensely reflective workshop that helped WM team participants “identify multiple areas of possible childhood wounds, clearly recognize patterns in their lives,” and “identify weaknesses and strengths established during childhood,” among other topics. Julie Warren, Pohnpei WM Leader (Kolonia), expressed her appreciation for the “eye-opening lesson about how we can better understand and deal with what has happened in our [lives] and most especially, for the importance of forgiveness.”
The program walked them through their history as children and into young adulthood, touching on the first twenty-five years. It dealt with life’s difficult realities - disappointment, anger, depression, bitterness, and even abuse of all forms - compassionately sifting through the trauma and emotional turmoil to unearth our real value as God’s unique creations, fearfully and wonderfully made. Dr. Lawrence shared this nugget: “We belong to God. Through Creatorship, He made us. Through redemption, He bought us. We are twice His.” She encouraged her audience to internally review their lives, touching on interpersonal relationships, formative experiences, and even painful memories -exposing the roots of shame, followed by practical, evidence-based solutions.
The women in attendance were touched. They commented that the training was not only personal but essential to ministry. Desibeth Jordan, Chuuk WM Leader, said, “It can be a very big help to share with people who are violated, abused, rejected, unfortunate in some ways, to families who are discouraged with rebellious children, [and] shame[d] because of an abusive relationship in the family… to let them know that life doesn’t end there.” Dee Libian, Yap WM Leader, noted that the topics centered around sensitive issues that were not normally discussed in island culture due to shame and the challenge of sharing one’s story and background when they instead wish to save face. She stated, “It is very important for us [WM] ladies to receive training like this so we can share and help others who go through it themselves. As women in ministry, we not only share the word of God to those around us, but we need to touch [their] hearts and help them to heal emotionally as well.” She, along with many of the women in attendance, felt that this workshop truly equipped one with the tools needed to step into the healing process with assurance that it will work.
In keeping with WM’s efforts to promote outreach and in-reach for ladies in ministry, mountains of resource materials were made available to take home. This mass distribution of resources enables our women to offer training and small group Bible studies in their respective local churches and communities. The women likened this dissemination to a ministry resource fair. They were excited, and the hope was that the women would be inspired and motivated to share as much as they could. Not only was literature in abundance, there were also how-to manuals, small group start-up guides, and craft materials liberally sprinkled throughout to encourage our women to get creative with their outreach methods.
The WM training program truly was an uplifting and restorative experience for all in attendance that day. It guided the women towards a fuller understanding of themselves, reaching deeper and farther back into their personal history to trace the paths that God has led them through to reach today. Taking an active part in a training program designed to lead one through such a delicate yet rigorous process was a profound experience and blessing.
GMM WM will continue launching more programs that deal with mental health awareness, prevention, and healing throughout this year and the next. In addition to mentorship courses and seminars for young ladies, GMM WM leadership continues to develop programs to support, motivate, and train not only women in our island communities, but families as well.