Archives For mental health

Editor’s note: One in five Americans report experiencing a mental illness, but an honest discussion of mental health has long been absent from many churches. Read the Sept. 30 issue of the Illinois Baptist for more on the issue, and how two Southern Baptist leaders – Frank Page and Rick Warren – are speaking out to fight the stigma associated with mental illness.

I’m glad it’s out in the open – at least a bit more than it used to be.

When I served as managing editor for a pastors’ magazine, it seemed that every few years we published an article about clergy depression. Every time we received a slough of e-mails, and a few phone calls. I took those calls. “At least I know I’m not the only one,” pastors would say.

And after some of the longer, darker calls, I responded with my own story.

My mother, the choir director, committed suicide.

I rarely talk about it, even now, and only with those who really need to hear the story. I’ve never typed it, until now. It looks odd on the screen.

Twenty years have passed, but I still wonder how a Christian who spent her whole life in the church, a woman of faith who led me to faith in Christ, could reach such a point of hopelessness. But it happened. After decades-long illness, sometimes physical, sometimes emotional, she lost hope in earthly life.

About three years afterward, I was serving a church as pastor. A deacon took his life. He couldn’t cope with the death of his wife of 50 years; antidepressants couldn’t ease his pain; a shotgun did.

I told his daughter, who had sat with her parents about eight rows from the back for most of those 50 years, my story. We cried. We hugged. We wondered to each other how Christians can lose hope. And we wondered if it could happen to us. God forbid.

I had to preach that dear old deacon’s funeral. I told how he took us seminary students under wing and drove us to nursing homes to preach on Sunday afternoons, how he shared the love of Jesus with lost souls in their last days, and rejoiced when octogenarians finally came to Jesus. But I also had to speak about his own death. That was the first time I dealt publically with the issue of Christians and suicide.

And yes, I do believe that Christians who commit suicide still go to heaven. The doctrine of eternal security is very comforting. “No one can snatch them out of my hand,” Jesus said (John 10:28). I shared that with my congregation. And I tried to offer help as we all asked the inevitable question: “What could I have done?”

Be more willing to talk mental illness. That’s what we all can do. I’m so sorry that prominent Southern Baptist families, the Warrens and the Pages, are suffering the tragic loss of loved ones. But if they can use their national platforms to rescue hurting people, then some good will come from it.

-DER

One in five Americans reported experiencing a mental illness in a single year; one in 10 takes an antidepressant.

One in five Americans reported experiencing a mental illness in a single year; one in 10 takes an antidepressant.

“…The day that I’d prayed would never happen, happened.”

In an interview last month with CNN’s Piers Morgan, Rick Warren recalled standing with his wife, Kay, in their son’s driveway in April, waiting for police to confirm their worst fears – Matthew, 27, had committed suicide after a long struggle with mental illness.

“We were sobbing. We were just sobbing,” Warren said.

The interview was the Warrens’ first since their son’s death, but the couple has been vocal on social media and from Saddleback’s pulpit about Matthew’s life and their grief. They’re also speaking out about the long-held stigma against mental illness in the church.

“It’s amazing to me that any other organ in your body can break down and there’s no shame and stigma to it,” Warren said in his first sermon back at Saddleback after a leave of absence. “But if your brain breaks down, you’re supposed to keep it a secret. …If your brain doesn’t work right, why should you be ashamed of that?”

Following Matthew Warren’s death, his parents created a fund in his name, in part to help develop resources for churches to use as they reach out to struggling families in the community and in the congregation.

There are many people in churches suffering from mental health issues, says Hal Trovillion, a former counselor and current pastor of First Baptist Church in Manteno, Ill. “The thing is that those people tend to feel as though others look at them badly, because of whatever their situation,” he says.

“The church needs to just turn that around. What many of them need is simply love and acceptance and a welcoming heart and help to deal with the issues at hand.”

Read the full cover story from latest issue of the Illinois Baptist and access the e-reader edition here.

Wife of Amish schoolhouse shooter shares hope in new book

Marie Monville’s quiet life crumbled violently in 2006, when her husband shot 10 young girls in an Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. Her new book, “One Light Still Shines,” tells her story since that day, with a focus on how God sustained her family.

“Within the eye of the storm, the presence of God came and settled upon me,” Monville writes on her blog, whisperandwonder.wordpress.com. “Although I ‘knew’ God all my life, this moment of desperation propelled me to now KNOW him like never before.”

“One Light Still Shines” was released Monday, September 30, by Zondervan. Read more about on CNN’s Belief blog.

Missionary family trapped in Kenyan mall during terrorist attack

When terrorists seized a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, on September 21, a Southern Baptist missionary couple and their five children were inside. Baptist Press reports International Mission Board missionaries Chris and Jamie Suel and their kids had walked into Westgate Shopping Mall shortly before the terrorists. The Suels separated to shop before the attack began, and were reunited after five harrowing hours. The seige lasted three days and resulted in as many as 200 deaths. Read more at BPNews.net.

Jewish prayer book believed to be oldest ever found

The Green Collection, a biblical archive headed by Hobby Lobby president Steve Green, has identified what their scholars say is likely “the oldest Jewish prayer book ever found.” The manuscript is dated circa 840 C.E. and is in its original binding, the Green Collection reported in a press release. The prayer book will eventually be displayed at a Bible museum in Washington, D.C., scheduled to open in 2017. Read more at ChristianityToday.com.

 

Are you religious, spiritual or secular? College students weigh in

A new study found college students are pretty evenly divided on how they describe themselves spiritually, ChristianPost.com reports. The email survey was conducted by the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College (Hartford, Conn.), whose researchers asked: “In general, would you describe yourself more as a religious, spiritual or secular person?” 32.4% answered “spiritual;” 31.8% said “religious;” and 28.2% identified themselves as “secular.”

The research is based on the responses of 1,873 students representing 27 states and 38 colleges. Read the full story at ChristianPost.com.

Tuesday_BriefingTHE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Florida pastor Jay Dennis is issuing a wake-up call to churches who are fighting an enemy of which they may be unaware.

“Churches are facing a spiritual battle against a hidden plague that is keeping many believers from fulfilling their part of God’s mission,” said Dennis, pastor of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla. That hidden plague is pornography. Dennis and other SBC leaders are fighting it by launching the national “Join 1 Million Men in the War Against Pornography” campaign at this summer’s Southern Baptist Convention in Houston, Texas.

A 2011 LifeWay Research survey of 1,000 pastors found 62% of them believe less than 10% of men in their churches viewed pornography on a weekly basis. Dennis believes the figure is more like 80 percent.

Most churches, he said, respond to the problem of pornography by denying its reality, while others are aware of the problem but are not specifically dealing with it. Instead, pastors must “admit there is a problem and urgently address” pornography by helping men overcome it.

The “Join 1 Million Men” campaign started as a ministry in Dennis’ church. He wrote the initial materials – based on a pursuit of purity rather than pleasure – and taught them in six Wednesday evening sessions for men. To date, 1,300 men in the church have committed to live pornography-free lives by affirming 14 statements on a commitment card. The cards are displayed prominently at the church.

Dennis is taking the campaign to a national level with the help of Southern Baptist Woman’s Missionary Union and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Both entities will help promote the campaign at this year’s SBC annual meeting in Houston, and WMU’s New Hope Publishers has produced resources to support the movement. The goal is for one million men to take a public stand against pornography, and for one million women to commit to pray for them.

Read more at www.BPNews.net.

Other news:

Faith may aid psychiatric treatment
A study of patients at Massachusetts’ McLean Hospital found those that believed in a higher power “do significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those without, regardless of their religious affiliation,” said hospital clinician David H. Rosmarin. “Given the prevalence of religious belief in the United States – over 90 percent of the population – these findings are important in that they highlight the clinical implications of spiritual life.” Read more at www.BPNews.net.

SBC site blocked by U.S. military
FoxNews reported earlier this month the official website of the Southern Baptist Convention (www.SBC.net) was blocked on some U.S. military bases due to “hostile content.” Roger S. Oldham, a vice president for the SBC’s Executive Committee, urged Christians not to jump to conclusions.

“Though there have been several instances recently in which evangelical Christians have been marginalized by the broader culture, we think that a rush to judgment that the United States Military has targeted the Southern Baptist Convention as a hostile religious group would be premature.”

A military official later said software filters detected malware and blocked the website. The malware since has been removed and http://www.SBC.net is unblocked. Read more here.