P. 8

parents struggling to balance work and homeschooling, while   the first to enter Rwanda. In the three years of our trauma
                                                                                                                                            under the stress and fear of losing their jobs; millions feeling   counseling program, we often faced the “why” question as
                                                                                                                                            the isolation of the lockdown and the anxiety that there is   we all tried to understand the genocide where in 100 days,
                                                                                                                                            no cure in view as yet. “How long?” we wonder. Covid-19 is   800,000 people were killed with machetes and rifles. In one
                                                                                                                                            not the only crisis. Many countries are spiraling downwards   of our meetings, a young woman asked, “Where was God
                                                                                                                                            economically, not only due to the pandemic, but also from   when my whole family and villagers died?” As the room
                                                                                                                                            corrupt leadership and self-centered political conniving,   rang with the silence that followed, an elderly man named
                                                                                                                                            leaving many wondering, “What next?”                     Bizimungu, translated “God sees me,” stood up and said,
                                                                                                                                                                                                     “I too have struggled for many days with that question. I
                                                                                                                                            Psychosocial impact of Covid-19                          have come to realize that God was always there—in each
                                                                                                                                                                                                     of our villages and situations, holding us and weeping with
                                                                                                                                            Traumatic incidents come suddenly and leave a trail of fear,   us.” Bizimungu’s words echoed African perspectives on
                                                                                                                                            death, and destruction. Covid-19 is a global pandemic that   theodicy—a theological perspective that tries to affirm divine
                                                                                                                                            threatens life and creates much uncertainty. The result is   justice despite the suffering in the world, suffering that so
                                                                                                                                            panic, fear, isolation, anxiety, stigmatization, “coronaphobia,”   often seems arbitrary and gratuitous. The word “theodicy” was
                                                                                                                                            hoarding and anger.  The impact is an escalation of mental   coined by the German philosopher Leibniz, and is based on
                                                                                                                                            health challenges and social breakdown, especially among   two Greek words, theos or “God” and dike or “justice.”
                                                                                                                                            the mentally and psychologically vulnerable—the poor,
                                                                                                                                            jobless, mentally-ill, depressed, and anyone already living with   In times of suffering and trauma during this Covid-19
                                                                                                                                            domestic violence and abuse.                             pandemic, God is with us as we mourn the departed and
                                                                                                                                                                                                     protect ourselves from the virus.
                                                Building Hope and Resilience                                                                Lockdown and quarantine have limited the freedom to      Self-care and other care in crisis

                                                                                                                                            socialize and curtailed social supportive networks, including
                                                Amidst Covid-19                                                                             church life. Helplessness, hopelessness, and isolation amplify   Biblical lament
                                                                                                                                            mental health and trauma challenges.  As some battle denial
                                                                                                                                            and anger, others are stressed and anxious facing massive job   In times of peril, since we know that God is with us, we can
                                                Lament, communities of care, and the new normal                                             losses as mega companies and industries collapse. A recent   practice the discipline of lament. In the book of Psalms, David
                                                                                                                                            meta-analysis of up to 36 heterogeneous studies covering   teaches us the secret of lament. For example, in Psalms 41 and
                                                BY DR. GLADYS MWITI                                                                         a population of 117,044 on Covid-19 mental health impact   42, we learn to openly pour our hearts to God who does not
                                                Langham Scholar, Kenya                                                                      indicates the prevalence of 29.6 percent stress, 31.9 percent    frown at our thoughts and does not expect a nicely packaged
                                                                                                                                            anxiety, and 33.7 percent depression. The current concern is   prayer from his hurting and confused children. When we
                                                                                                                                            that as nations concentrate on controlling the spread of the   know that God is with us, sees the storm we are in, and
          PHOTO: Pastors and lay                Like a mighty storm, Covid-19 has left the world reeling and rocking with the very          virus and medical treatment for the infected, mental health
          leaders in South Africa study         foundations of “normal” shaken. We shall never be the same again as we learn that           needs are not receiving the required urgency.            knows our pain, we can approach him with our tears, fears,
          and practice teaching God’s           pandemics are no respecter of persons—the royal or lowly, rich or poor, the aged                                                                     and doubts. Lamenting in God’s presence is the beginning of
          Word together.                        or babes. We have been equalized—white, black, and colored, Asian, European, and            Disorientation in times of trauma                        spiritual self-care in times of crisis. This spiritual discipline goes
                                                African. We have seen the underbelly of powerful nations and been reminded that                                                                      hand-in-hand with practicing the disciplines of prayer, Bible
                                                                                                                                                                                                     reading, and worship.
                                                we all are equal before our Creator God. We all cry with the same tears, our hearts         In my book Christian Counseling, I discuss the reality of
                                                are broken in the same way, and our worries and fears are as palpable as those near         disorientation in times of trauma—where, in a world that was   The practice of self-care and other care
                                                and far.                                                                                    orderly and predictable, things suddenly became disordered

                                                                                                                                            and erratic.  At such times, many are asking questions such as:   Other practices of self-care involve physical care—sleeping
                                                As nations face over 90 million Covid-19 infections (as of mid-January ’21) and             “Why has this happened?” and  “Why me?”                  well, exercise, drinking much water, eating balanced meals—
                                                the greatest economic recession, the whole world continues to grapple with                                                                           and mental care. Taking care of the mind involves adapting
                                                traumatic disruptions—increasing Covid-19 deaths; tweets of health workers                  Soon after the Rwanda genocide of 1994, our Oasis Africa   ourselves to the new reality, especially managing isolation
                                                holding hands of dying patients as they pass on far away from family and friends;           team of professional trauma psychologists were among     with thanksgiving for the simple joys that brighten our lives—

          8  CULTIVATE                                                                                                                                                                                                             9
   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13