You’ll notice that a few of the things on our list for 2018 involve trauma-healing. And it may give you pause. Isn’t that what professional counselors are for? Why would our Country Directors want their students to learn about trauma? If our goal is to strengthen communities, isn't teaching orphan care, education, healthcare, or a tangible intervention more vital?

All good and valid questions. But here’s why our local leaders choose this as a means of equipping their students to strengthen communities: Trauma-healing is healthcare. It is orphan care. It is education. It is tangible development. 

How is it all those things? Take our Congolese Country Director. In 2017, Denis taught a group of church leaders how to identify and address trauma in children. Then those leaders went back to their communities and implemented what they learned — one is a director at a primary school who began “healing clubs” for the kids in his school, one lives near an IDP camp and created a support group for traumatized children in the camp, one gathered a group of police and soldiers and taught them how to better identify and respond to the children they encounter in their jobs.

The children at that primary school now have access to mental and emotional healthcare that will be vital to their ability to develop and continue their education in a school environment. The children in that IDP camp may be orphans who have witnessed unimaginable violence and now have a “family” to support them. The children who come into contact with these members of the police force will benefit from someone in a position of authority who understands them and can see past their actions. 

All of these are necessary to strengthen a community — to grow a generation of children capable of flourishing despite their trauma and becoming compassionate adults actively rebuilding their communities, economically, spiritually, and emotionally. These church leaders, through their trauma-healing education, are growing a generation of disciples that will speak the Truth of their healing into the very fabric of their communities.

As a part of African Leadership, you are a force behind this process. When you support an African Leadership student, you reach far more than just that student — you reach children, entire communities, all the people that student comes into contact with. You yourself are growing disciples across the world through this process. And for only $29 a month, you can support another student through their training this year. Will you resolve to make that commitment in 2018?

(And don’t worry — part of training these local leaders is helping them recognize the limits of their abilities as lay leaders and know when to turn it over to professionals to avoid doing any harm.)