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Taking Our Pain to the Cross

Text messages flooded Xin Chen’s mobile phone from members of her team, warning her that the ministry’s data and strategic plan had been compromised. The Public Security Bureau (PSB) in three different provinces called her staff in to “have tea” to learn more about the activities of the organization. It became clear to the staff after each conversation with the authorities that the PSB was looking for Xin Chen,1 and they were moving fast. She immediately cut off all online communication and jumped into a car to drive 2,660 kilometers to a safe house where she lived for eight months. In the safe house, Xin Chen was cut off from family, friends, information, and her church. She was lonely, afraid, confused, desperate, and exhausted. This is trauma.

Some experiences in life cause deep suffering and pain beyond the normal challenges of grief and circumstances we face daily. This is called “trauma.” The Trauma Healing Institute defines trauma as a deep wound of the heart and mind that takes a long time to heal. Trauma can affect many parts of our lives from how we relate to others, how our body feels, our thoughts, and whether we can trust God. In fact, after a traumatic event, we may no longer be the same person we used to be. Trauma overwhelms us with deep fear, helplessness, and anxiety.

Xin Chen experienced trauma, but she was not alone! The local church members ministered to her—safely and carefully. She experienced God’s presence in a new and deeper way. Initially, she was most concerned about the safety of her family and team. But after she learned they were fine, she settled into her safe house to be still before God and wait out the intense search for her by the security bureau.

In childlike abandonment, Xin Chen learned to surrender all to God. She thought she had already done so when she came to faith three decades before. But her deep fear and anxiety sent her to a new level of facing her fears while trusting God through it all.

She could hear her heavenly Father say to her: “I am strengthening you today. I know just what you need and how to give it to you. There’s no need to worry, for I am your strength. Shake off the heaviness and come as a child, in complete trust and abandonment. Find your freedom from the trauma you experienced in my ever-present grace. I am more than enough. I am the joy of your salvation.”

After many months of isolation Xin Chen departed from her safe house, yet she still felt exhausted and shaken from her time in hiding. Thankfully, she met a friend who introduced her to tools and resources to help Xin Chen heal from her trauma. Some of the tools include:

  • Join a healing group. Through small-group conversation and activities, participants begin to express their pain instead of remaining stuck.

  • Bring their pain to the cross of Christ. Participants write down their pain and then kneel before a cross to pray, weep, and process their trauma. Then, if possible, they can take the paper with the written description of their pain to a campfire and burn it up.
  • Write a lament. Lament is a significant theme in the Bible. A lament often includes seven parts: Address to God, review of God’s faithfulness, a complaint, a confession of sin or confession of innocence, a request for help, God’s response, and a vow to praise God or a statement of trust in God.

Bringing our pain to God is an act of profound faith. Believers in China who experience trauma can be encouraged by the truth that God will never leave them or forsake them. He is with them in their pain, and they can trust him through their sorrow. Once healed of their trauma, victims are often able to forgive and eventually to be reconciled with those who have inflicted their pain.


  1. Not her real name.
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Image credit: Patrick Hendry via UnSplash.

Laura Yang

Laura Yang (pseudonym) holds a master’s degree in Asian studies and international business. She has been working in ministry in Asia for over 30 years. She speaks at women’s conferences and retreats globally, and has served with many international ministries including COM, Campus Alpha, and the leadership team of the …View Full Bio

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