A woman in pastoral ministry found new hope and healing through Clergy Care
Andrea* has served in various pastoral ministry roles for 20 years in churches across Canada. Currently she is in itinerant ministry and pursuing post-graduate theological studies.
However, there was a time when she found herself overwhelmed and under spiritual attack, having made certain decisions that had left her traumatized.
“I got knocked off the path God had set before me, even though I knew in my spirit I wasn’t to take that road,” she admits. “I was under spiritual attack which affected my spirit, soul and body.”
Andrea knew the attacks were coming from many sides, emotional and personal as well as spiritual. “Those arrows and blows that are flung at us can be overwhelming and destructive,” she explains.
Her husband, who works full-time in an academic setting, did his best to shield her from the attacks. Even so, Andrea didn’t have anywhere to turn for vocational support. “Although I have a ministry leader I am accountable to, there isn’t a place for ‘professional’ or ‘pastoral care’ for ministers in our denomination,” she reveals.
Then one day, Andrea received a letter from Focus on the Family Canada, which she at first took to be a fundraising appeal.
“Something told me to read it,” she recalls. “It was a letter stating there was confidential help available for pastors who were experiencing difficult times. I reached to the Clergy Care Network for help within the hour. That letter was an answer to prayer.”
Upon contacting the Clergy Care team, Andrea was immediately struck by the depth of spiritual insights and practical wisdom she received. “I never felt judged or condemned,” she says. “It felt like God was looking at me through the eyes of my counsellor and as a result, I was given both the spiritual and practical tools necessary to take the steps towards healing.”
Since she is also a writer and musician, images are a key part of Andrea’s spiritual formation. “The counsellor picked up on this almost immediately and recognized the importance of reminding me of the stories of biblical characters who experienced difficult times – like Joshua, Nehemiah.” She adds, “The counsellor’s knowledge and use of Scripture felt like healing balm to my spirit and my soul.”
Andrea pictures her road to healing and recovery as a pilgrimage. “Pilgrimage is an important spiritual tradition in my ancestral family history, whether it is travelling near or far, outwardly or inwardly,” she explains. “At times we travel alone, but we don’t heal alone. We need various companions on the road of life. From the very first day I called, I immediately felt the Clergy Care Network prayers of intercession for me. I still feel those prayers for my husband and me today.”
“They also helped me understand that guilt and condemnation weren’t part of what was in the healing suitcase from God for me,” she continues.
Equipped with what she describes as “a new suitcase of wisdom and advice from my counsellor,” Andrea has adopted a number of practices for her spiritual and emotional health: spending time alone with God each morning; sharing quality time with her husband apart from ministry; exercising regularly; reading good books; meeting with others in ministry who need encouragement; slowing down in step with God’s timing; and reflecting and writing about her times of rest along the journey.
“Lastly,” she says, “surrendering to the love of God, my husband, my loved ones and those who care for me is both a wonderful start and arrival. I travel lighter weighted with faith, hope and love.”
As she reflects on the impact of Focus’ Clergy Care on her life and ministry, Andrea brims with gratitude. “You helped save my life. You have wept with those who have wept and rejoice now with those who rejoice. You are part of my journey,” she concludes. “You have given me hope for the future. Thank you from the bottom of my renewed heart.”
*Name changed to protect privacy
**Image shown above is a stock photo
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