TPM and SRA
If you are asking yourself, “What is SRA?” Then you probably have no reason or need to read this article. You will best be served by moving on to something that will have personal application. To read this section without an experience base may be confusing. You can always come back to it as needed. This is also a long discussion and will need to be read carefully and with much thought. What this discussion contains is the outcome of me, Ed Smith, investing nearly ten years, literally untold thousands of hours, in this area of concern. What I am offering here are my opinions and nothing more. I have passed through the jungle and back again learning, much that I believe has some value. My hope is that you will at least consider what I share here. One thing I learned the hard way is that naivety will not serve you well. You can blindly jump off the cliff and trust God all the way to the bottom, but you will still have a hard landing at the end of the fall.
About Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA)
SRA is defined and understood in different ways by different groups. Opinions fall over a wide spectrum. Some believe it is an unfounded hoax and others believe it is an underworld infrastructure of occult conspirators plotting to take over the world.
“Janet” was an emotionally troubled, middle-aged woman who came to me reporting flashbacks of unbelievably horrendous memories she could not explain, followed by great terror, panic attacks, and severe physical abreactions (strong physical response to remembering a traumatic memory). At that time, I had no experience ministering to a person reporting SRA memories. I did not know what to do and was honest with her about my ignorance as we both waded out into what soon became very deep and dark water. Since that experience, I have ministered to many people such as Janet and have had differing levels of success and outcomes. The potential for mishap is great in this area of ministry, and wisdom is needed if you are to succeed. I pray you will take what I am about to say seriously, learn from my mistakes, and choose to operate in waters that have already been charted, at least to some degree.
We can enter into the debate over the legitimacy of the reports, but we are still left with real people who are emotionally damaged. If we wait until the controversy is settled, they will continue to live in pain and turmoil, devoid of the peace God intends for them. Sadly, those who deny the reports of alleged SRA survivors and continue to debate and argue the subject offer little help to these survivors. After countless hours of ministry and years of both positive and negative experiences, I have come to several conclusions: There are people coming for help who report horrific memories. They believe they have endured torture and trauma from evil people, and some believe they are still enduring it in their current lives.
Although we have not been able to fully validate the reports, these people are manifesting what appears to be genuine emotional pain and symptoms of having been traumatized. These hurting people obviously need ministry, love, and encouragement no matter what has or has not happened to them. We cannot wait until the debate over the validity of SRA is settled before we do anything for them. Good ministry, as well as good counseling or therapy, refrains from telling people that what they believe has no merit or trying to talk them out of what they believe. Until we are certain beyond doubt that their stories are invalid, telling them otherwise risks propagating deception ourselves. Every person must be loved, supported, and allowed to come into the truth, whatever truth that may be.
In the midst of theories, conjecture, skepticism, and opinions, there are hurting people standing on the doorsteps of the Christian Church. They are seeking help and waiting for a response from the followers of the One who said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Because of this need, we must offer ministry, care and compassion.
People with SRA memory are in emotional pain for the same reasons as people who report other types of memory. Though the same ministry process is used with SRA as with anyone else, there are some specific precautions you will need to be aware of that are not typically needed when ministering with those outside this arena. Nevertheless, memory is still memory and what we feel is still rooted in what we believe.
When working with a person who reports SRA memory you must remember these things and choose not to get caught up in the magnitude of their story. Also, as with anyone else, what they report is what they report and nothing else. It is not your job to determine what is true or not, but only to ask the prescribed questions in the TPM Process. Since these questions do not ask for memory content, anything that the person reports should be coming solely from him or her and not from anything that you have suggested or implied. If you ever suggest or lead the person to move any direction concerning what may or may not have happened to them, then you are not doing TPM and are moving in the wrong direction.
ALWAYS remember that anything reported is what the victim remembers, but this does not mean that it is accurate. It has been my experience that much of what the victim reports as his or her memory appears to have been actually staged by their perpetrator to cover up their identity and to create false accusations of others who were not involved. By staging the trauma and convincing the victim that others where the perpetrators, what is being reported can be discredited and proven to be false. Never assume that what is reported is accurate, and assume that much of what is reported is probably at least tainted. Nevertheless, this does not change my opinion that something terrible happened to these people and they need our care, but we must handle what they report loosely until we have solid evidence to prove otherwise.
There is no question that SRA memories can be very complex and are often found in the context of some measure of dissociation in the person. The TPM principles applied are the same with all people. People are in emotional bondage due to their belief and choice. They find freedom when they choose to expose what they believe and receive the Lord’s truth.
There are skeptics and naysayers.
It is interesting that some people have difficulty believing what is being reported by people with SRA memory. They believe there is no way possible that such a pervasive level of systematic and widespread evil could exist. We live in an evil and violent world where people are hurt in unimaginable ways. Child abuse cases are being reported in unprecedented numbers, domestic violence is commonplace, and the random killings in our schools and other public places occur so frequently they are no longer “shocking.” Human trafficking and slave trade boasts greater numbers than during the days of slavery in the 1800s in this country. Almost every day, the media reports another unthinkable deed acted out on someone in some evil fashion.
It is no longer a surprise to hear about someone who has been abducted and held prisoner, forced to be a sex slave for years at a time, tortured, starved, or horribly mistreated. Just recently I read of a couple who had several foster children they kept in cages. If you choose to embrace this ministry, you may eventually sit face-to-face with someone who has suffered beyond your comprehension. The media only covers the reported cases. Many have suffered silently and kept their traumas hidden.
And yet there are people who find it necessary to discredit the accounts of untold numbers of people who report that they have been systematically tortured and traumatized by evil people in the arena of SRA.
Why this focus on SRA and not other forms of traumatic memory?
My reason for discussing this area of concern is that the other areas of human suffering are documented with “flesh and blood” evidence. The human slave trade, child pornography, and prostitution, pedophilia, and so forth are all well documented. This area, however, is still subject to question and denial, reports of the victims notwithstanding. The overwhelming number of similar reports and accusations, let alone the traumatized victims, make it hard to dismiss lightly. I do not have verifiable evidence that what has been reported by these people is true, but I cannot deny that they appear to have suffered trauma similar to those mentioned above.
Not only do some people say they strongly disbelieve the reports being given by SRA survivors, but these doubters also appear to be highly invested in completely discrediting the validity of SRA. Because I have been somewhat outspoken in this area, I have personally been slandered, and many attempts have been made to discredit what I say about SRA. There are people who apparently do not want me to publicly discuss SRA as being a possible reality. I am not sure how to interpret this, but there is a strange resistance to my speaking out about this.
I spent almost a decade and thousands of hours ministering to many different people who reported SRA to be true for them. Do I know if what they have reported is real? As I said, I do not have verifiable evidence. I do have an enormous amount of circumstantial evidence that does not allow me to dismiss SRA as easily as some do. Although I am not invested in proving its reality, I do believe, as a Christian and a child of God, that I have a responsibility to offer ministry to these people, whether others believe their stories or not.
Reporting of SRA Memory is Far Reaching
For decades there has been an increasing number of very emotionally troubled people reporting SRA memories coming to churches and counseling center for help. As I travel across the country doing seminars, I occasionally ask participants how many have encountered ministry recipients who reported SRA. The response is overwhelmingly affirmative. People reporting SRA memory are seeking help not only within the Christian community, but also through various public agencies. Through my international travels, I have found no significant difference in the magnitude of this problem in many other countries.
I did not go looking for the people who came to me with these issues. I had never even heard of SRA until it showed up in one of my ministry sessions. These ministry recipients never indicated that what they were reporting had been suggested to them by any outside source. They never said they had watched a movie or read a book that caused them to have these thoughts. Each reported experience in every session came solely from the person’s own thinking. What I find amazing is that these individuals each had a story with uncanny similarities, even though they had no previous relationship with each other. Their memories were undeniably similar.
I cannot explain what I have seen and heard, but I do know I have tried to be faithful in helping these people to the best of my ability. I have seen good progress with some and not-so-much with others. This area is very complex and I do not promote myself as an expert, nor do I know anyone who is an expert.
Attention Seekers and False Memory?
My intent in this article is not to try to convince you of the reality of the problem, but only to acknowledge that there are people who report these events. They bring with them what appear to be genuine symptoms of having been deeply traumatized. Many come with eating disorders, all manner of personality disorders, panic disorders, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, etc. Regardless of whether their reports are true, their symptoms appear to be valid. These are real people with real pain who need a real encounter with Jesus.
Some people have suggested that those who report SRA memories are just looking for attention or are reporting false memories implanted by unwary counselors. This may indeed be true in some of the cases, but to assume it is true for all is ludicrous. Even if we are not able to prove that all of what they are reporting is true, the fact is these people are deeply troubled and in need of care and ministry. If they are merely attention seekers, for them to go to such lengths to report they have been raped, traumatized, and tortured indicates a deep level of emotional trouble in and of itself. Never once in any of the cases with which I was involved did I ever suspect that the person was just seeking attention.
I honestly do not know if everything being reported by people who claim they have been sadistically and systematically traumatized by evil perpetrators is valid. I have ministered to many people who believe this is true for them, and I have witnessed symptoms consistent with trauma in their lives. I have been presented with so much circumstantial evidence that I cannot dismiss the possibility that evil things have happened.
I believe the essence of what is being reported by the people with SRA memory with whom I ministered is valid, even though many details may be misconstrued or distorted. I focused on helping the person who reported SRA memories to deal with their lie-based beliefs rather than trying to expose the perpetrator or prove a point. I do believe that it is just a matter of time before God exposes this evil at its roots. Until the Lord chooses to expose and judge, which He will do at His appointed time, I must do what I am called to do–minister to and equip the Body of Christ to minister. That is my prayer and intention.
Even though I may lack substantial evidence for the accuracy of all they have reported, I still believe something terribly wrong happened to these people. I believe it is possible to do ministry with people without knowing what is valid and what is not. Again, the focus of TPM is not validating memory but identifying the lie-based belief that was established in a life experience. Memory is what a person remembers having happened, but it is not necessarily what actually occurred. My experience with working with people reporting SRA memory is that the evil perpetrators were careful to convince the victim that certain things occurred when in fact they were staged deceptions. In my experience, it was common for a victim to report that their abuse came through the hands of a family member. However, this usually proved to be a falsehood that was instilled in the victim by the perpetrator to discredit what the victim reported. Because this is a possibility you should never ever assume that the details of the victims report are accurate, even though in reality, they very well may have suffered much.
Focusing on the lie-based thinking in a memory is never more important than when ministering to those who report they are survivors of SRA. The memory content of these people may be filled with a mixture of misinformation and intentional programming, as well as genuine horrific experiences.
Although total fabrications are possible, I believe that this is highly unlikely—based on my experience. To deny people ministry simply because their reports cannot be validated is unthinkable. People with whom I have ministered have surfaced enormous amounts of traumatic symptoms, including physical manifestations and anguish that accompanied the emerging details of their memories. I doubt any actor could produce such a convincing performance. Seeking to discredit their stories is unreasonable and could force them to live in denial. The people I have worked with are not just passively telling their stories. They are experiencing excruciating emotional and physical pain as they relive their trauma. These wounded individuals certainly need mind-renewal and restoration.
Some of those I have ministered to over the years have been personal friends for over 30 years. I know they are not intentionally making anything up. I have not planted any thoughts in their minds, and they are not in such need of attention that they would make up this level of display. They do not want these things to be true, but they cannot categorically deny what is surfacing, as hard as they sometimes try.
It is a legitimate concern that false accusations could be made as a result of these types of memories. Facilitators must operate with caution when these memories surface. They must never draw any conclusions based solely on what the person reports and should obtain corroboration when possible. The person’s memory content has to be viewed with uncertainty while the dysfunction, disorders, and crippling behaviors are addressed. Again, the focus of TPM is not the behavior or the memory, but the lie-based belief.
TPM is NOT focused upon the accuracy of memory.
TPM seeks to expose the lie-based belief of the person and not to determine whether the memory is accurate or not. It is not about making accusations, exacting revenge, pressing charges, or passing judgment. It is about finding the peace of Christ, expressing genuine forgiveness and compassion towards those who have hurt us and walking in truth and restoration.
This is a general guide based upon my own personal experience. It is not my intent to categorize people into broad generalities. If this does not apply to those to whom you currently minister, I suggest that you read this section carefully and keep it for future reference.
- Be certain it is God’s purpose for you to work with deeply wounded people. Not everyone is called to do ministry such as TPM, especially with people who report deep trauma. Over the years, I have consistently noticed a significant number of people at our training who are deeply wounded themselves, even though they seem to have little awareness of it. I encourage you to stop and seriously look inside to see what is driving your desire to minister to others in emotional pain. You may be motivated by pain rather than peace.
- If you have any unresolved traumatic experiences, especially SRA memory, do not attempt to do this ministry with others until you have arrived at perfect peace in your own traumatic memory. It is critically important to continue receiving ministry on a regular basis. If you are not aware of your ongoing need for mind-renewal, you are deceiving yourself. You may think it is unfair that you are strongly cautioned not to do this ministry just because you have unresolved trauma in your past. The truth is, it will only be a matter of time before your own lie-based pain will show up right in the middle of someone else’s session. You cannot keep your own lie-based pain hidden—it WILL be triggered. Some might say it is unfair that a person who wears glasses cannot be a jet fighter pilot, but there are multiple safety reasons for putting these limits in place.Doing ministry with SRA victims may very quickly expose your own lie-based pain in ways you have not experienced before. The danger is that some people never recognize their own need for mind-renewal and thus operate out of pain, frustration, fear, stress, and anxiety, all the while blaming it on others or the situation. Unfortunate and unnecessary things tend to occur with emotionally wounded facilitators who are not seeking ministry and are not accountable to others.
- Before you enter into this area of ministry, seek the opinion of your pastor or other spiritual leader. Ask them to give you an honest appraisal as to whether you should seek to be a minister in this arena. Work under the umbrella of a church or an established ministry structure so there is some accountability. Only spiritually mature and emotionally healthy people should offer this ministry with people reporting SRA memory. This area of ministry should not be done by the new Christian or the spiritually or emotionally immature. I encourage all church leaders to take care in selecting those who will do this ministry. Sometimes the most eager volunteers are the least prepared for this type of ministry. Set up your church ministry policy so you can release people from being TPM facilitators if they do not work out. Interview your potential prayer ministers and make your selections with care. Develop clear guidelines that must be followed and high standards that must be met.However, all people—no matter their spiritual maturity or their traumatic history—should learn as much as they are able about TPM. It is more important they learn about the principles and purpose of TPM rather than learning the process itself. As people understand what God is doing in their lives in refining their faith and renewing their minds, they will be more likely to seek ministry. The more they understand the principles and purpose of TPM, the more they will flow with the process and be less distracted or confused by what is going on. When they understand the BOXES and questions, they can better work in tandem with their mentoring facilitator.If people cannot operate within them, be willing to quickly deal with them in a loving but firm manner. It is better not to have a ministry to wounded people than to have ill-equipped people doing this ministry. Allow only those who are knowledgeable about this to do this ministry. Train, retrain, and then supervise them. Hold every member accountable to strictly follow the TPM Session Guidelines.
- Equip yourself well. Do not limit your training to TPM alone. Seek out other avenues of training that can make you more balanced and equipped. At the same time, be wary of questionable training resources. Avoid extreme views and exercise wisdom about what you hear.
- I am skeptical about the “global conspiracy” theory that purports to be about spiritual warfare, especially the mystical perspective. People are not held captive by the devil but rather by their own belief and choice. There may be demons involved, but every demon is connected to the person’s own belief and free will. The bottom line when working with highly-dissociated and traumatized people is to remember that what they know and believe has its roots in a real-life situation that is now stored in memory. By using these memories, the person can identify his or her current beliefs that are keeping all dissociation, programming, and behavior in place. As people are able to embrace what is contained in their memory, identify the belief they are currently holding, and offer it all up to the Lord, they will find release. This is a long-term process only the Lord can accomplish.Do not allow yourself to be caught up in conspiracy theories that others may promote. Many are reported in this area with no tangible evidence to support them. Do not get carried away by reported “global conspiracies” or a high-ranking position someone might believe he holds in the occult. Just because he says he is a member of the Illuminati, a One World Order Secret Society, or the high priest over a region of the world does not mean it is so. Even it were true, what does it matter?When this sort of information surfaces, it is usually a defense protecting him from something he does not want to embrace. Grandiose beliefs may be part of the deception, so encourage him to approach the places of pain and make the discoveries needed for freedom. Asking the De-solution questions can be helpful here, “If you were to consider letting go of your high ranking position, do you sense any hesitation or resistance?” etc. It is very possible that their “position” is a solution. Truth and confession are the way out, while secrecy and denial maintain the bondage. People move forward when they come clean before God about what they have kept hidden.
- A person’s reported memory is only what it is: what they report and not necessarily the truth. You only know what you know and nothing more. DO NOT make any assumptions about what is true or what is false. This is not your role or responsibility. The memory is not the problem anyway. Belief is the root of all their trouble.If they report inner world imagery, let it be what it is and do not EVER assume that it is literal or valid. Abundant imagery is often found in the SRA victim’s inner world. They may “see” demons, “booby traps,” mazes, and all manner of visual inner barriers. They may “see” heavenly visions, or hell’s fire. None of this matters in what you do or how you do TPM. Follow protocol and do not get caught up in what is being reported concerning their inner world. All inner barriers, obstacles, and roadblocks are “Solutions” that can be addressed as such. More importantly, you must never get caught up in what the person reports as his inner reality. You have NO way of knowing what is valid or not. Let it be what it is, their inner world and not your own.
- Network with others who are trained and skilled in dealing with mental health issues. There are good Christian mental health providers who can deal with some of the symptoms that accompany this issue. They can provide traditional care for managing the eating disorders, panic and phobias, compulsions, etc. They may not be able to help with the prayer side of things, but they can provide very good support in other areas. Network with the mental and medical health community as much as possible. It is wise to require those reporting SRA memory to contact a local psychologist or counselor. Let the mental health professional be first in line to offer help to the person. Take the role of support prayer person. At some point, you and your church may need these professionals as a layer of protection.
- Connect with your local law enforcement agency to ascertain what they want you to do about reporting crimes, identities of potential perpetrators, etc. Know the laws of your area concerning ongoing abuse that may need to be reported. Again, keepig in mind that what is being reported is probably tainted and misconstrued.
- Build a good support structure first. When developing your infrastructure, make sure each member of the team is doing only what they need to be doing. Avoid expecting any one member to be the person’s friend and relational support as well as doing ministry. The facilitator needs to be emotionally separate so he can provide effective ministry and not be torn and distracted if the person makes poor choices, such as deceiving the facilitator, going back to the occult, betraying trust, etc..
- The person providing day-to-day encouragement, prayer times, and Bible studies is likely to bond emotionally with the ministry recipient. While this is good and necessary in the Body of Christ, it could cause difficulty if mixed with doing in-depth ministry. In the world of psychology this is called “avoiding having a dual relationship.” In the past, I taught differently but have learned the hard way that spreading the ministry around is a better option. When I first began ministering with a person reporting SRA memory, I felt I had no other option but to do it all because I could not find others willing to help. Today, better options are available.
- Do all that you do in ministry within the arena of tangible truth. Live in your world of tangible truth and not in what the person reports. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not place your trust in the person with whom you are doing ministry. Without discrediting their beliefs, never assume the accuracy of information surfacing in their memory. Regard what they say as possible, but very likely a tainted reality or you may be betrayed.As you are given information by the one reporting the SRA memory, ask yourself, “Do I know without a doubt, based on concrete physical evidence, that what has been told to me is a fact?” Avoid accepting the reports as fact without having verifiable evidence, or you may find yourself governed by half truth. Whatever you accept as fact will impact your emotional state, since you feel what you believe. You do not want your feelings dictated by what may be true but not validated. This principle holds true for all ministry sessions, but is especially needed in this area of work.
- If the person identifies others as victims, do not seek to expose, rescue, or inform them. People move toward freedom by choice. If you run ahead, you may create major problems. It is not your job to convince anyone of anything, for in doing so, you may very well get caught up in falsehood yourself.
- Do not share information outside the support circle. This principle is vital. Every person has at least one trusted friend who would never tell anyone else … but that friend has one too…and so on. Never discuss what has been revealed in a session with anyone who is not a part of the ministry team working specifically with the person or who is not a part of the support circle, and certainly not without the permission of the ministry recipient. If you have unwisely shared confidential information, ask forgiveness of the person who heard the information and request his commitment to contain the information. If you fail to keep the information that surfaces well-contained, you and your ministry may eventually be discredited. Anyone who cannot maintain confidentiality should not be on your ministry team. The only exception to confidentiality would be when the recipient poses a real danger to himself or others. When there is actual evidence of ongoing abuse, this should be reported according to the requirements of the law. You cannot “stand guard” and stop their possible choice to return to the perpetrators.
- Never make accusations about anyone without verifiable evidence. You will have to provide court-proof evidence to back up any accusation you make. If your evidence is solely the report of the ministry recipient, you may find yourself and that person being discredited. Adopt a wait-and-see attitude. The Lord can expose what He chooses, as He chooses. Remember, horrific as it is, the person’s suffering is temporary, and evil will be punished for all eternity. It is possible the evil people would like you to come forward with seemingly bizarre and far-fetched accusations in order to discredit you. If you have genuine evidence of crimes committed, do what is legally required of you.
- Do not try to stand between the person and their reported abusers. Attempts to protect ministry recipients from ongoing abuse may only cause you to be discredited at some point. You cannot protect them from their own choices. If they continue to return to the people they have reported as being perpetrators, you cannot stop this. You may have to decide to what extent you are willing to continue ministry. In a normal counselling practice, counselling is not discontinued simply because a person continues to make poor choices. Know that as long as the behavior continues, this is an indication that the person is hiding something he is unwilling to expose. When enough mind-renewal has occurred, he will make appropriate choices. People can be controlled by intimidation and blackmail, but when they stand in truth and perfect peace, the offenders will retreat. Some people get caught up in the panic of trying to keep the ministry recipients safe from evil people; however, this is futile. If what they report is true, it is very sad indeed, but again, there is really nothing you can or should do to protect them from their own choices.
- Never assume that people are everything they present themselves to be. Some people reporting SRA memories that I came to trust, later turned out to be completely untrustworthy. I have been lied to, betrayed, and disappointed by some. The reality of working with some people who report such trauma is that they may be highly invested in protecting themselves from exposure. They may even be willing to betray you to keep things secret. You can still choose to love them and minister to them to the degree that you are willing.
- I do not believe that those reporting SRA memories are evil, even though they may report they have been involved in evil. It is likely their minds have been greatly damaged and manipulated by those who are indeed evil. I am not seeking to make an all-inclusive statement here about all people reporting SRA memory, since I only have my own experience to go on. Guard yourself carefully because there may be more happening than you know.Even Jesus did not trust everyone. According to the Gospel of John, after Jesus did ministry and healed many people, he still held a cautious distance. “When He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25). Jesus was selective about whom He trusted. As I serve Him in this ministry, I have learned to do the same. I strongly advise you to be very careful not to extend your trust too far concerning those who are reporting the atrocities of SRA.Here again, I do not want to cause you to view all people who report SRA memory through the grid of my experience. However, the deepest heartache and disappointment for me in ministry, by far, has been in this arena. I gave many years of diligent ministry to several people who completely betrayed me. These people lived in what appeared to be a great double mind bind. I believe they genuinely wanted freedom and had many glorious sessions with the Lord. They were also unwilling to come clean about what they had hidden. When it came down to it, rather than moving forward, they chose to betray those who had genuinely tried to love them. Be careful.
- If the person is not a believer it is important that they come into a saving knowledge of Jesus as soon as possible. This will expedite their journey. If they confess Christ and are genuinely born again, then there is NEVER any need to evangelize their “alternate personalities” that may come out saying that they hate God and deny Christ and even “blaspheme the Holy Spirit.” There is no such thing as a partly saved person, but there are people who doubt their salvation and who are still saved. If the person himself is saved, then any ‘alter’ that comes forth saying otherwise is misinformed and has a assurance of salvation issue. Rather than trying to evangelize the saved, approach this as a solution to some perceived problem. Being “lost” is serving some purpose.
- Do not assume that all that the person reports concerning his inner world during a ministry session is the truth. People will report all manner of visions and inner imagery. Take it for what it is, their imagination. Just because they say they see Jesus blowing up demons, angels coming down from heaven and carrying their “little ones” to Jesus, or anything else does not mean that the person has received the truth from the Spirit. As with anyone else, the only test for transformation is, “does the lie they believed still feel true?” (Read the articles that pertain to the Transformation Box question.
- Be very cautious about allowing those with whom you minister to become involved in your personal life. It is not wise to take them into your home or offer them a place in your inner circle. Others who are not actually providing ministry may choose to provide this level of support. Keep the roles separate.
- Keep good records of what happens in each session. This area of ministry has its own unique risks and pitfalls, so keeping thorough notes is essential. Always have a prayer partner present and have the partner sign all documents as a witness to what occurred. This third person should not be related to the ministry recipient and should be connected to the ministry team. Be sure the ministry recipient signs the Evaluation of Ministry Received Form after each session. Keep this file private, inaccessible to outsiders.
- Do not be the only one who knows what is going on. Without violating confidentiality, report only to others who are directly involved, that is, those who are involved with helping the person in some manner. The content of your sessions should be shared with the mental health professionals who are also working with these people.
- Have the recipient sign a statement that discloses what type of ministry they have received following every session. You could use the Ministry Session Guidelines as a model statement that the person can sign after each session. Have them sign some form of a Hold Harmless Agreement before the first session begins. Have a statement somewhere on your intake form that declares what you are legally required to report.
- Do not put yourself in a position where it might come down to “your word against theirs.” Always have legitimate reason and third-party witness to everything you do in relation to the person receiving ministry. Never minister to SRA survivors alone. Always have someone on your team present.
- Avoid becoming the recipient’s lifeline. You cannot rescue these people from anything. They must rely on the Lord and continually seek Him, just as you do. They are captives to their own beliefs and choices. If you become convinced you are their hope, their way out, or their protection, you have been deceived and are in a perpetual double bind—a situation in which a person is confronted with two irreconcilable demands or a choice between two undesirable courses of action. They may either knowingly or unknowingly use this excuse to keep from being responsible and looking at what they do not want to see.Instead of being rescued, they need to come clean before God and reveal what they are choosing to hide. Their dissociation, fears, and bondage are held in place by their unwillingness to reveal what has been hidden. In the same way that each of us must expose the pain and false beliefs in our lives to find freedom, so also must people reporting SRA memory.
- If the person surfaces self-incriminating information, inform them of the disclosure you are legally required to follow. The exception to this may be if you are an ordained minister and have verified “clergy-penitent” privileges that does not require you to file a report. You do not need to know the details of their memories or deeds committed. Help them to look at what they need to know without giving you incriminating information. Should they start to reveal this sort of information during a session, simply ask them to stop. Have them use phrases such as “This person said this, did this …,” “This man …,” “This woman …,” “He did …,” “She did ….” Provide a disclaimer on your ministry intake forms and remind them of this when necessary.A disclaimer might be: “Should you reveal information that leads me to believe children or the elderly have been hurt or other crimes have been committed, I am required by law to report this to the proper authorities.” Different states and countries have different laws and requirements. Some do not require a licensed and/or ordained minister to report, while others do. Know your local requirements. Remind the people at each session about your obligation to report self-incriminating statements.
- If someone threatens suicide, shows evidence of physical abuse or self-mutilation, or signs of current trauma inflicted upon him or herself, report it to the proper authorities. Inform your ministry recipients that you will report such things should they occur. Do not take on the role of covering or hiding information. Secrecy has led them to where they are now, and what is hidden must be brought into the light.
- Keep the person’s ministry demands within reasonable limits. As you are ministering to deeply wounded people, prevent them from demanding exorbitant amounts of your time. This may be hard to do, but it is necessary to keep the ministry in balance.
- Never, EVER place ministry recipients or the ministry before your marriage or family relationships. Know that God may use the situation to expose, test, and help your marriage grow, but Satan seeks to destroy it. If you have given your ministry priority over your marriage, you are putting yourself in a very dangerous position. Also, guard yourself from becoming enmeshed with the person with whom you are ministering. Any time you are drawn into a relationship with the ministry recipient which is inappropriate or creates discord in your family, you are being deceived.
- Limit the number of people to whom you minister who have SRA concerns. It is best to schedule each person to a designated time and date that does not infringe on your personal schedule. Even if you can maintain strong boundaries, I would not advise ministering to more than two. You need to attend to issues other than SRA or your view of the world and the people around you could become distorted.Spending untold hours in the SRA world will have a negative effect on your thinking and disposition. Keep it balanced. Not everyone is a victim of SRA, and you do not have to become paranoid, always wondering who is a perpetrator and who is not. Trust your friends and associates to bring it to your attention if you are getting out of balance. Be involved in “normal” activities with “normal” people who have never heard of SRA and then be careful not to tell them about it.
DO NOT assume that God will protect you if you walk blindly and headlong into this arena. You would not expect God to “keep your feet from dashing upon the rocks” if you were to jump from a cliff. Use this information to protect yourself from unnecessary heartache. Do not naively believe that you know what you are doing. You probably do not. Many who have journeyed down this same path were pierced with unnecessary heartache.
Never walk alone. Surround yourself with spiritually-minded people who will boldly tell you the truth about what you are doing anywhere along the way. Listen to them if they sound any alarm. They will probably be more aware than you, should you veer off the path.
Trust the Lord, trust the Lord, and then trust the Lord.