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  • Christopher Thompson

Trauma and the Gospel

Everyone experiences stress. Some stress is positive. Some stress is tolerable. Some stress is extreme and toxic. However, it’s sustained exposure to extreme stress in the absence of protective and healthy relationships that result in adverse effects to the brain and body. It’s these and numerous other biblical, psychological, and sociological concepts were on display in Health: Trauma and Its Effects on Our Health. The Monday morning seminar session in Harrell Center featured the first of a series of lectures on Trauma; issues, effects, and solutions by Dr. David Sedlacek, senior research professor at Andrews University. Dr. Sedlacek shared the various ways in which trauma affects us, as well as ways that we can get on the path toward healing. Attendees saw brain scans from a healthy brain and one that has experienced trauma. The scans show that the traumatized brain is less active due to the stress.


One key measurement tool to determine the risk level that a person faces is widely known as Adverse

Childhood Experience assessment (ACE). The ACE lists traumatic experiences such as abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and drub abuse in the home. After years of research in the field, Dr. Sedlacek has expanded the list to include experiences such as spiritual abuse, racial trauma, rearing in dangerous neighborhoods, etc. Attendees were asked to self-assess and to share with the group the number of risk factors that they have experienced (if they felt comfortable). The session closed with a sort of cliffhanger, and an invite to talk more about solutions on Tuesday. Nevertheless, there were a few examples of healing strategies.


Dr. Sedlacek challenged attendees that Bible principles are being verified by science, and that we can allow biblical truth to be our guide. Using “A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones,” Dr. Sedlacek cited research conducted on dogs that had been isolated which showed decreased red and white blood cell counts. This is evidence that loving relationships are essential to a healthy life.


Attendees were also challenged to create safe spaces in local churches. People who have experienced trauma need loving spaces and loving relationships. According to Dr. Sedlacek, “This is the true gospel.” Jesus heals the brokenhearted. Now the task lies with us to help with the process of healing as well.


—CHRISTOPHER THOMPSON

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