From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Taiwan's Women in Ministry Consider the Mentally Ill
Thu, 27 May 2004 16:01:26 +0800
Taiwan Church News 2726, 24 through 30 May 2004
Reported by: Yang Shu-hao. Translated and Rewritten by David Alexander
The Women In Ministry Alliance of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT)
recently held a retreat and considered the topic of "Pastoral Care of the
Emotionally Disturbed". Speakers called on those gathered to recognize the
legitimate condition and needs of the mentally ill in our society. Those that
should be medically treated should not be misdirected into refusing therapy.
Among those invited to address the women were Sr. Teresa Tsou, from the
Sisters of Social Service, Rev. Wang Jong-yi, a chaplain at the Tam-sui
of Mackay Memorial Hospital and Ju Li-chuan, the pastor of Chung-ming
Presbyterian Church in Taichung. Sr. Tsou is a member of the Catholic
Concerns Organization, The Sprout Group.
Ms. Ju said that current social pressures induce many who suffer emotional
disturbances to seek help from churches. Pastors need to be clear about the
nature of emotional disturbances to be able to offer the best care possible.
She said that many church groups are ignorant about mental illness and
attribute its manifestations to idolatrous practices and a need for exorcism.
This oversimplification relegates the sufferers, their condition and their
pain to the category of a "spiritual" problem and does not lead to legitimate
medical therapy. The result is a double injury for believers who are
She asserts the need for true understanding and recognition of mental illness
on a par with the recognition of such conditions as high blood pressure and
diabetes. These medical conditions are treated with drugs and therapy.
illness should not be disregarded or attributed to "spiritual forces".
After a believer has undergone mental illness therapy, a strengthening of
faith should follow. The combination of medical and pastoral care within the
context of the fellowship of the church is the best way to demonstrate
Rev. Wang spoke from his hospital experience with the mentally ill. He spoke
especially about dealing with people suffering depression. When dialogue and
even prayer are not being heard, the thing needed is encouragement and
companionship in making contact with a doctor. Only after some degree of
equilibrium is recovered should there be faith counseling.
He calls for churches that deal with the depressed to seek out training for
their members so as not to put on an unfeeling face. Parents must watch for
signs of depression among the young. They must not misdiagnose "teenage
melancholy" and dismiss the possible need for medical treatment. The early
stages of depression are the time when it is most treatable. This is a chance
that should not be missed.
He said that, apart from medical therapy, the Christian faith is a helpful
tool. Self-awareness and the willingness to "turn things over to the Lord"
liberating to patients. He also suggests that pastors spending time with the
mentally ill must not make faith based promises of early recovery. It is best
if the counselor has some experience and allows time for healing through the
love of God. In that way a pastor can be a companion through the person's
suffering and healing. The mentally ill person discovers himself/herself as a
person seen by God as valuable. This can help in the processes of emotional
and spiritual healing.
For More Information: Ju Li-chuan email@example.com
Sprout Group firstname.lastname@example.org
Wang Jong-yi email@example.com
Taiwan Church News is published weekly in Taiwan's local languages.
Visit our web site: www.pctpress.com.tw
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