This is a testimony written by one of our participants. The purpose of sharing this is to give you insight into the level of trauma we have seen as well as show how the Equipping Sessions for Trauma Healing is having an impact on the lives of those who are participating and offering them hope.
I am so grateful and blessed to be a part of this trauma training. I believe it was made for me because it was exactly what I wanted and needed to hear in this season of my life. Truly my heart was hurt and broken. I was carrying a lot of stress and luggage that my body could not handle. I did not know I was suffering until I attended this training. Now I know I was having a lot of trauma and heart wounds going through my life.
I had never been comforted and encouraged like this before. I always felt lonely, distanced, blamed, condemned, shamed, and I always felt guilty for everything I do. This training impacted my life in so many ways I view myself now and even in handling situations in my life.
I was a child soldier, abducted by rebel group of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) at the age of 9. Afterwards I served in different military in Uganda and South Sudan, as that was all I knew.
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has been one of central Africa’s cruelest and most enduring armed groups over the past 30 years. The LRA has abducted over 67,000 youth, including 30,000 children, for use as child soldiers, sex slaves, and porters, and has brutalized communities since its inception in 1987. It was designated as a terrorist group by the United States and prompted the first ever set of arrest warrants by the International Criminal Court against the LRA’s leader, Joseph Kony, and other top commanders.
Rather than focusing on military targets, the LRA usually targeted the very citizens it claimed to be fighting for, raiding villages for supplies and forcing children to carry the goods into the bush. In northern Uganda, the LRA became increasingly brutal. Civilians suspected of supporting the government or forming self-defense forces had their ears, lips and noses cut off. During attacks on villages, rebels carried out mass abductions of children who in turn were forced to carry out future attacks - making them both victims of the conflict and perpetrators.
Around Gulu and Kitgum, two of the bigger towns in northern Uganda, the threat of abduction became so great that tens of thousands of children from nearby villages marched into the town centres each night to sleep in schools, hospitals and on pavements – anywhere they could find safety in numbers. The plight of these so-called "night commuters" helped to focus world attention on the crisis.
During my time in the community I experienced a lot of challenges and judgment, which led me to close my heart and feelings to people around me. It is very hard for me to trust anyone and even God with my life. I became deceitful and hopeless in life. Most of the people I met in life would tell me soldiers do not belong or enter the kingdom of God because they work and do things against the law and commandments of God.
I personally killed and did so many dirty things during my time in the LRA and the military. I started believing in what the lies of people and what they said about me. I always tried to dodge and distance myself from seeking the truth about what God says about me.
This training led me to opening my heart more and I was able to extend grace and forgiveness to people who have wronged me and also I asked forgiveness to myself. I always looked before unto what people did wrong to me but now I am learning to take responsibility of my own mistakes during this training.
I feel so comforted and encouraged to allow God into my life. I am also moving into a new direction with hope and also trusting and gaining back trust from other people.
My greatest thanks goes to all of the founders of this program. To the organizers and the facilitators, may the Lord God continue to lead you as you reach in and through the different ways people have wounded hearts. This has made such an impact on my life and for the first time, I am now experiencing healing from what I have faced.
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Thank you so much! And may God bless you richly with His presence!
Misty Bodkins has a Master's degree in clinical psychology. She has worked both stateside and internationally doing counseling, training, teaching, and research. Her passion is working with people who are in crisis.