Healed People, Heal People
(by Salwa Elias)
I’ve always believed that any crisis which doesn’t kill you, will make you stronger. This comes from personal experience, and may be debatable by someone who hasn’t trodden the path on which I have been exposed, and survived, for over six decades. Awareness of one’s destiny only comes with time, and much perseverance, Faith, and Hope. Each occasion that brings us to our knees, spontaneously arouses a cry to the Almighty, whether it be a cry of supplication, anger, despair, or surrender. We can be assured, always, that the Lord hears the cry of the poor.
It was the summer of 1998 when I reluctantly attended a seminar on ‘family brokenness’ led by a Catholic priest. He spoke about the value of suffering and the healing power of forgiveness, which to me was simply ironic! He went on to explain the meaning of ‘redemptive suffering’, which may be offered in union with Christ’s Passion, as an act of reparation for sin. By the end of the seminar, after shedding many tears, I just wanted to run away in fear. I didn’t want any more suffering than what I’d had to endure, and continued to endure.
Life was so difficult for me already. Why would I ask for more? All the pain and suffering I had lived with, since childhood, was more than I could bear. In fact, the reason I came to this seminar, albeit reluctantly, was to find relief from all the burdens and struggles in my life, not add to them! But, of course, God had another plan, and a better plan.
In the 25 years since that seminar, I have poured out my life experiences into helping others who need to find refuge and consolation, whether it be spiritual, legal, or otherwise. I have learned, in more ways than one: healed people, heal people; hurt people, hurt people. Through my spiritual journey, I came to understand that those who had hurt me from a tender young age right through to the present day, were themselves hurting deeply. This realisation was the beginning of my ongoing journey of healing and helping others as well.
Prior to attending this ‘life-changing’ seminar, my heart knew that God was with me, but still I felt alone and hopeless. In a difficult marriage, I trusted nobody, and was unable to express my concerns to anyone because of shame and guilt that had been instilled into me since childhood, through different forms of abuse. I continued to pray for miracles in my life, hoping that God would save me from the ‘hell on earth’ that I was living. The Lord heard my cries, but He chose to strengthen me in those daily battles rather than removing them from my path.
I’ve now been married 40 years, had 10 pregnancies with 6 miscarriages, and I thank God every day for allowing me to grow stronger with each battle that didn’t kill me, and for the courage to pursue helping others in their own struggles. I am a survivor sharing my own strategies so that others may survive.
In His Infinite Wisdom, God was training me in the art of ‘redemptive suffering’ since I could walk – the death of my father in a car accident when I was 2 years old; migrating from Lebanon to Australia and then living with an abusive step-father; neglected by a narcissistic mother who made me feel abandoned and rejected; experimenting with drugs to dull the pain of abuse, and battling with suicidal thoughts. All the drama in my young life culminated in running away to marry a man who appeared to be my ‘knight in shining armour’ only to find that the promised bed of roses was a cover-up for an endlessly painful field of thorns.
How did all this trauma lead me to the service of God and others? Again, I must repeat: healed people, heal people; hurt people, hurt people. I couldn’t bear to see anyone else going through the struggles I had overcome, having experienced almost every possible trauma in life, except death itself.
Pledging my unconditional love and service to God and neighbour didn’t change any of these ‘thorns’ in my life. In fact, the trials and burdens continued, but what did change, was my soul and my perception. I no longer cried out “Oh God, why have you forsaken me?” Instead, I prayed “Lord, help me to help others through their suffering.” Helping others made my pains easier to bear when I began to see the image of God in my neighbour.
In His Infinite Mercy, God showed me how sinful I had been in my life, and how much He had forgiven me. It was a reminder to me that no matter how terrible anyone had been to me, I must be prepared to forgive them as God has forgiven me and continues to forgive me. This was my first real lesson in redemptive suffering – forgiveness. When the seed of forgiveness is planted in our soul, the tree of love will grow and bear the fruits of interior peace and joy which cannot be compared to any earthly peace or joy.
Without sharing too much personal information here, my experience of escaping to a women’s refuge with my children, led me on a career path within welfare agencies such as the Domestic Violence Advocacy Service and Women’s Legal Resource Centre. Our gracious God helped my husband to change his ways and eventually allow our family to be reunited again, with hope and courage. With God’s help, I saw my husband converting slowly.
I have to say, if it were not for those trials that God allowed me to endure, I would not be where I am today. I am stronger because of that which didn’t kill me, and I thank God for empowering me with the desire and courage to turn my pain into compassion and empathy for others in pain. Today I continue to serve my neighbour and the wider community in a diversity of roles within the Church and Catholic media – teaching, counselling, formation, prayer, and wherever else God leads me.
With God in our hearts, filling our souls every day with His Infinite Flame of Love, we cannot help but burn and be consumed by His Love, warming others with that same Fire of Love.
To love Him is to desire all that He desires – the salvation of souls. To love Him is to know that when my cross becomes unbearably heavy, He is there beside me, and we carry this cross together. In fact, I am only leaning on the cross which Christ carries for me, and with me. I am never alone. He enters into the depths of my pain and sorrow. Even when I feel abandoned, He is there in the midst of my pain and sorrow, beckoning me to cling to Him as He hangs on the Tree of Life for my sake. To love Him is to know how much He first loved me.
I cannot give what I do not have – my greatest possession is the Love of God in my life, and this is all I have to give to others. I pray that all souls will find their way in the darkest of nights, to the healing Light of Christ our Redeemer.
PRAYER OF ABANDONMENT
(by St. Charles de Foucauld)
Father, I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.
Faith-Based Investing: Preparing for Your Future Without Compromising Your Values
(by Marc Fleischer)
We all have values. These values affect our actions and decisions. Our values determine how we spend our time, how we raise our children, the entertainment we consume, and how we spend our money. But are your values reflected in your investments?
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I seriously examined this question and realized that my values were not reflected in my investments. However, as I discovered, it didn’t have to be that way. There is a growing community of faith-based investors seeking to align their investments with their values and deeply held beliefs.
The heart behind faith-based (or values-based) investing stems from a couple of basic ideas. The first is that God is the owner of all we possess and we are just stewards of what he has entrusted to us during our time on earth. As Psalm 24:1 says “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Because we are not owners and are just stewards, it matters how we invest God’s money.
Second, humans are created in the image of God with intrinsic dignity, value, and worth. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) Because each person is an image bearer of God, we should strive to invest in and profit from companies that promote human flourishing and do good for people and the world. We should attempt to avoid investing in and profiting from companies that make money in a way that does not lead to human flourishing.
With those ideas in mind, there are three components to faith-based investing.
The first component is the AVOID piece which is choosing to not own companies that do not align with your values. This is where we ask ourselves what kinds of companies do I not want to own, and what are the things I simply cannot in good conscience take part in? Companies operating in the following industries are commonly excluded from faith-based or values-based funds: abortion, alcohol, gambling, pornography, and tobacco. I think the ‘love of neighbor’ at least begins with ‘do no harm’. As John Wesley said, “Gain all you can, but without hurting your neighbor in body or soul.”
The second component is the EMBRACE piece which is seeking to own companies that align with your values, or stated another way, it is allocating capital to companies that promote the common good. This is where we ask ourselves what kind of companies would I feel proud to own, what kinds of businesses are truly seeking to serve society and promote human flourishing? Companies operating in the following industries may be sought out to be included in the fund: low-income financial services, family-friendly entertainment production, safe water provision, affordable housing, and clean energy.
The third component is the ENGAGE piece which is engaging with companies to advocate for positive change. This is where we ask ourselves how can I use my power as a shareholder to partner with companies to treat all of their stakeholders better? This can be done through proxy voting, company engagement, and shareholder proposals. In an example of shareholder advocacy, faith-oriented investment firms had a dialogue with The Hershey Company about the child labor involved in the production of cocoa used in the company’s chocolate. This resulted in more cocoa being produced without the use of child labor.
Investing is another area of life where we can intentionally love our neighbor and glorify God. As Christians, I think we often get it right in terms of how we spend, save, and give our money. However, when it comes to investing and wealth management, our practices look very similar to that of the world.
My own journey to faith-based investing moved from skepticism to curiosity to becoming convinced I should be investing that way.
Marc Fleischer Bio
Marc Fleischer, JD, CFP®, CKA®, AIF® is a financial advisor with a passion to help people be good stewards of all the Lord has entrusted to them. He does this through faith-based financial planning and investment management. Marc and his wife Jennifer live in Oklahoma City with their children Calvin and Grace. He is an active participant and volunteer at Crossings Community Church, and also a board member of Recovering Oklahomans After Disaster (ROAD).
Pray for Charity and Not for Profit Welfare
(by Bjorn Schmid)
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good and His mercy endures forever. Intercede before the throne of grace of our Lord – the Giver of Life, the Lord of the Harvest.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17 NIV)
Suggestions to find charities and NFPs for directed prayer :
- Check your church bulletin board, newsletter or website for charitable groups and projects.
- Research for local charities and welfare groups in your suburb or local government area.
- Research for charities and welfare groups in your community, town or city, and in surrounding communities and population centres.
- Research for charities and welfare groups that operate across your nation.
- Research for charities and welfare groups based in your nation that operate overseas.
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as your search and worship Him – He will reveal who needs your prayers, and the incense of it will rise to the throne of God (Psalm 141:2, Revelation 5:8). Amen!