Pastoral support for Invisible Illness Awareness Week could change the face of your church.
Nearly 1 in 2 people in the US have a chronic condition–and this includes people sitting in pews too! But the pastoral support is not always there for those who live with invisible illnesses. Invisible Illness Week is sponsored by Rest Ministries which is the largest Christian organization that specifically serves the chronically ill. So, we hope to increase awareness among church leadership and add some pastoral support to those who are hurting.
Pastors don’t have many hours in seminary that specifically teach them how to reach out to the chronically ill. Pastoral support for those with chronic illness may include some counseling, prayer, and specific prayers for healing, but 6 weeks later–when the person has not been healed– pastoral support may disappear. Why? It can be confusing as to what to say and do then, and other needs take over.
If you attend a church, now is a great time to introduce Rest Ministries to your pastoral staff. There are some simple ways to increase awareness, by just emailing your pastor about the event. (A description is below that can be edited.)
If you need something to include on a resource table Beyond Casseroles bookmarks and Rest Ministries brochures are perfect give-aways. If your church will approve it, you may wish to get up and share a bit about chronic illness, Rest Ministries, or your testimony.
We are here to answer any questions! And if your pastor does not seem enthused. . . that’s okay. Don’t take it personally if your church lacks pastoral support when it comes to chronic illness ministry. You are not alone.
If you are considering starting a HopeKeepers group or some kind of chronic illness ministry, “How to Start a Chronic Illness Small Group Ministry” a new book by our founder, Lisa Copen, has some great tips regarding the emotions of it all, as well as the practical tips.
We recommend sending off a short email to your pastor and let him know that you will follow up with a phone call in a couple days. And then call him! If the pastor is very busy or oversees a huge church, you may wish to choose a pastoral staff member that oversees those who are ill, caregivers, the women’s ministry director, etc. Connect with the person who you believe will most connect with your passion of chronic illness ministry.
September 10-16, 2012 is National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. This annual event began in 2002 by Lisa Copen, founder of Rest Ministries, a national Christian organization that serves the chronically ill and an affiliate of Joni and Friends, the ministry of Joni Eareckson Tada. The week has a variety of ways to get involved including a virtual conference September 10-14 online for free with speakers each day.
For participants, there is a Meme “30 Things You May Not Know About My Invisible Illness”, you can sign up to blog for the cause, read guest bloggers’ posts, and get involved in the campaign on Facebook. There is even a free 80-page ebook when you sign up for email updates, with 263 tips!
With nearly 1 in 2 people living with a chronic condition, about 96% of those people are suffering silently with invisible illnesses. See InvisibleIllnessWeek.com .
I know that every church has passions in certain areas of ministry, and those with chronic invisible illness may or may not be a part of that, but there are a couple of articles I think, as a pastor, you would find interesting.
Personal sentence with why this is important to you with your name
We hope this may just increase some of the pastoral support you receive in your own church and that others who are suffering silently will know someone cares.
Popularity: 3% [?]
“I can’t even go to church anymore now that perfumes make me break out and start itching so badly.”
“I never thought I would end up so simply because I decided to get my carpets cleaned. That started it all and life has never been the same.”
“Everyone thinks I am exaggerating the amount of pain I am in. When I say I have a migraine… I mean I am ‘out’ for at least 3 days.”
By: Meredith Lee
Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is a little understood illness that has arrived on the medical horizon in the late ’60′s but became increasingly known after hundreds of veterans complained of associated symptoms after their stint in the Persian Gulf War. The medical community has yet to officially name the illness as a viable syndrome and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not provided an official diagnosis as of yet.
However, many people around the world still suffer with common symptoms such as loss of memory, poor cognitive functions, nervous system interference, body aches, allergy symptoms and a plethora of other problems that appear after either a short term exposure to high levels of a chemical or long term exposure to low levels of various chemicals. It is believed that the syndrome did not significantly appear until after the 1950′s when various new chemicals were introduced to building materials, food sources, and general manufacturing processes.
Since the AMA has yet to pronounce their belief that this syndrome actually exists, medical treatment and research studies have been slow to evolve. However, as more and more physicians are seeing a growing number of patients who complain of serious and many times debilitating symptoms, there has been a number of medical doctors who believe that multiple chemical sensitivities syndrome actually exists. There are other names given to MCS syndrome such as 20th century disease, chemical sensitivities, and environmental illness (EI) probably because of the broad symptomology that exists from patient to patient. While MCS sufferers may react to traditional allergens such as foods, mold and pollens, the primary symptoms that set this illness apart are associated with various chemical exposures in day to day life.
The typical chemical offenders for those who suffer with multiple chemical sensitivities include formaldehyde, phenol, benzine and petroleum based chemicals. Most people are surprised to discover that even the most common items may be laced with toxic chemicals. From food to clothes and building materials to cleaning products, there is almost no way to escape everyday exposures to various chemicals that have been applied to these products.
Did you know that a teflon coated frying pan has small amounts of formaldehyde in the teflon material used to produce a non-stick cooking utensil? In fact, a heavily coated teflon pan can be heated sufficiently to emit enough formaldehyde fumes to kill a nearby pet bird in the home.
While the acceptance of MCI from the traditional medical community has been slow to develop, there are some medical doctors who have seen enough patients to convince them that there is a viable health problem that cannot be explained away. Some doctors, in fact, have begun to add environmental medicine treatment as an additional specialty so that they can meed the needs of these particular patients. There are clinics, support groups, medical personnel, and even non-traditional housing available for those who have special needs because of this illness.
Multiple chemical sensitivities is considered one of the invisible illnesses that plague many sufferers who find themselves virtually disabled. If you or a loved are suffering from MCS, there are many online sources that can help provide more information and support in dealing with the difficulties of multiple chemical sensitivity.
Meredith Lee writes about a variety of interesting topics for online readers. Come visit the newest website at Bed with Drawers which can help people find their best deals on a trundle bed with drawers and more info about quality storage beds for everyone.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Resources We Like
The Clean Indoor Air Campaign The CIA Campaign strives to educate medical facilities, businesses and churches on how to create a less threatening environment for this growing number of people. True, we may not be able to protect them from every possible harm, nor can we guarantee that our actions will provide a fool-proof environment when out in public. However, if we all do our part, we can make a huge difference by making our facilities a more favorable haven.
BOOK: Comfort in the Storm: Devotions for those with Chemical Sensitivity People describe the challenges of living with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) in a variety of ways. People describe the challenges of living with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) in a variety of ways. To some, it feels like being locked in prison. To others it is like being in a nightmare they wish they could wake up from. In the midst of the various trials associated with MCS, many are in desperate need of encouragement. Whether you have furniture chemical sensitivites, multiple chemical sensitivities and asthma, or every a breath of someone’s perfume leaves you gasping for air, this book will bring comfort to your soul. In this collection of devotionals, Comfort in the Storm: Devotions for those with Chemically Sensitivities, Janine Ridings candidly shares anecdotes about her journey through the storms of MCS, and how she has found comfort through her relationship with Christ.
Share Care and Prayer, Inc. a Christian-based ministry for sufferers of EI/MCS and related illnesses. Many articles, books, tapes, and tape/video lending library available. Contact: Share Care and Prayer, Inc., P.O. Box 2080, Frazier Park, California 93225-9987.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Chronic-illness group voices call for national diagnostic clinic (canada.com)
- Can woman with chemical sensitivities be helped? (healthzone.ca)
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivities Are Real (prnewswire.com)
Popularity: 6% [?]
I have lost many friends since developing Fibromyalgia. I don’t know why they have chosen to abandon me in my time of need, because they did not tell me. I can only assume it was because being a friend to a chronically ill person is difficult. But it doesn’t have to be! I don’t ask for much; just your love, understanding, and support.
It’s ok to ask me how I’m doing. However, I’m not going to lie and say I feel “fine” just to make you feel better. I’m not fine. I don’t feel fine. I’m not doing fine. I hurt everywhere, I can’t sleep, and it depresses me. But it’s still ok to ask me, because it shows me that you care.
Please, please don’t ask me if I’m getting better. Once I figure out how to manage my pain and other symptoms, the entire world will be the second to know. Until then, everything changes from day to day, minute to minute, even second to second. It’s all about learning how to manage the pain and other symptoms when outside stressors, the weather, and sometimes nothing at all can change where it hurts, how it hurts, and how much it hurts.
I beg of you not to tell me that I need to exercise more or to just “walk it off.” I do what I can – light stretching, moving around, and now even water aerobics. It’s excruciatingly painful. Unless you can feel my pain and understand exactly how my body reacts to every movement, unless you have Fibromyalgia as well as the myriad of spinal conditions from which I suffer, unless you are me, you have no idea what will make me feel better. My son does the best he can in this area, but he doesn’t tell me what I should do to feel better. He asks if there is anything that will help – “Will a bath help?” “Will an ice pack help?” “Will your heating pad help?” “Will your TENS unit help?”
I’m not asking for your pity. I’m asking for your understanding and compassion. If you really want to help me, just talk to me, make me laugh, focus on my abilities instead of my disabilities. If I need to vent, just listen (and it helps to validate my ventings). There is no right thing to say. In fact, more often than not there is nothing that can be said to make things right, make me feel better physically, or change my life or perspective. But one happy or funny moment could change my day. However, saying nothing at all, not even trying, can hurt me deeply. I am, after all, human.
If I’m crying, it’s still okay to talk to me. I don’t cry (much) from the pain. I mostly cry because I’m stressed out, exhausted, overwhelmed, angry, feeling emotional, or just plain frustrated. Sometimes it’s just one remark that sends me over the edge. At any rate, I cannot control this any more than I can control the weather. Again, I only ask for your understanding and compassion.
In short, don’t avoid me because you don’t want to deal with my issues. I won’t force them on you and, for the most part, won’t even mention them until you ask. Unless you’re my Momma. I seem to unload all my pain and symptoms onto my Momma because she’ll actually listen to me and not judge.
Which brings me to my final rant: don’t judge me. I don’t have control over my symptoms, which includes my inability to remember what I need to do as well as function as a normal person.
Keep in mind that Fibromyalgia it is incurable. And ask anybody who suffers from FMS and they will tell you that it is, for the most part, resistant to medications. If I had to list the number of medications I have to take in order to function (and I use that term lightly), you would be shocked. But, please, don’t tell me that I take too much medication. I have ONE doctor prescribing this medication to me, we review my prescriptions every time I see him, and, as he spent years in medical school to become a doctor, I trust his opinion. Leave my medications to him, as he knows what he’s doing and has my best interests at heart.
I can understand that maybe some feel FMS is not such a big deal. After all, it’s not cancer. It’s not heart disease. So, it’s not considered fatal by those standards. However, there are people who suffer from FMS who consider suicide as their only option for relief. Dr. Jack Kavorkian assisted suicide in Fibromyalgia patients. People who suffer from Fibromyalgia feel helpless, hopeless, and unable to obtain any relief from pain and the myriad of other debilitating symptoms associated with FMS (which stands for FibroMyalgia Syndrome). So, it is not life-threatening by the classic definition, but don’t say this to fibro sufferers. This is not a harmless disease.
While people who do not suffer from Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, scoliosis, or any other invisible chronic illness may have a lot of advice for those of who do, we ask that you, unless you are a doctor or pain management specialist in the treatment of these diseases and disorders, please keep it to yourself. We are doing the best we can to manage with what we are given. We don’t want your advice; we don’t want your pity. We want your love, your understanding, your company, and your support.
National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week is essential to help those who do not suffer to understand; and crucial to those who do suffer to find camaraderie.
Jessica Barto has suffered from symptoms of FMS and CFS since she was a teenager. Was diagnosed with Spondylolisthesis in 1993, and FMS in 2007. She invites you to visit her blog, Fibro Blog.
Popularity: 11% [?]
It’s invisible, right? While we would like to expand our resources for those living with mental illness, we do have few. Please feel free to email us more or articles you may have.
HOW DOES “THE CHURCH” ADDRESS MENTAL ILLNESS?
Since NICIAW is sponsored by Rest Ministries a Christian organization, we want to also take a look at how mental illness is addressed by churches. Living with a mental illness, whether it’s bi-polar, schizophrenia, depression or one of the many other mental illnesses, it is a frustrating, experience that can leave one feeling somewhere between annoyed with themselves and life, to being suicidal.
Imagine turning to the church for encouragement and understanding and being told that if you “just prayed harder,” it would go away.
As our population continues to age, the faith community has become more proactive in finding ways to meet the growing needs of those who suffer from chronic conditions cause by aging and the body’s degeneration.
However, there is still a large attempt to educate the church about those who live with invisible illnesses, such as lupus or fibromyalgia, as well as the millions who live with mental illness.
Unfortunately, our churches are ill-equipped to reach out to this community of people because they basically don’t know how. But churches do not need to know everything about mental illness in order to create comforting and accepting place.
In a speech entitled, “Stigma of Mental Illness: The Role of the Faith Community,” Gunnar Christiansen, M.D. presented at the 2003 NAMI Oregon Convention, he said, “Spiritual strength will diminish, however, unless it is constantly nurtured through giving and receiving loving care in our relationships with others. Thus it is of major importance that each of us attempt to develop a welcome and spiritually nourishing environment for those affected by mental illness in our own place of worship.”*
A variety of resources are available for those who live with mental illness and are looking for Christian support. We recommend the following:
Participate in National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. Mental illness is an invisible illness and we are looking for more representatives to join us in spreading the word and educating others.
|NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill)|
|National Mental Health Association is the country’s oldest
and largest nonprofit organization addressing all aspects of mental health and mental illness
|NARSAD The Mental Health Research Association by National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression,|
|The National Network of Adult and Adolescent children who have a Mentally Ill parent/s. Australian- but still great resources.|
|National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI)”Faith Net” The
“religious” department of this organization which seeks to bring awareness to religious communities about mental illness facts.
|Pathways to Promise is an interfaith technical assistance and resource center which offers liturgical and educational materials, program models, and networking information to promote a caring ministry with people with mental illness
and their families. These resources are used by people at all levels of faith group structures from local congregations to regional and national staff.
|Mental Health Ministry Resources Books, tapes, resources, wonderful!|
|Mental Illness and Faith Communities Helping faith communities become caring congregations – excellent. Be sure to read the articles/brochures/inserts available.|
|*Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – National Mental Health Information Center – Article: Building Bridges: Mental Health Consumers and Members of Faith-Based and Community Organizations in Dialogue|
Popularity: 21% [?]
Majority of Doctors Say Faith Helps Patients – A survey finds that 85 percent of U.S. doctors believe religious faith can help patients have a good outcome. Researchers polled 1,144 doctors for the study, which was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, The Los Angeles Times reported. Only 1 percent said they believe religious faith and spirituality have a negative effect, while 2 percent said it has no effect and 12 percent said they think the positive and negative effects are balanced.
Doctor shares viewpoint on praying with patients – (Excerpt) “After a few moments, the parents turned to me and asked for my hand. Uncertain, I extended my fingers to touch the mother’s. “Please pray with us” was the request, and, following their suit, I bowed my head. Their moving prayers sought God’s help in curing the boy and pledged their acceptance of his decision…”
ASIA: Scientists find religion good for health – “While meditation is known to reduce stress, blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety, Dr Jantos says prayer is far less accepted as having a place in the secular medical arsenal. But he says it can be of equal benefit to patients — even if doctors don’t think it will work.”
Physicians View Religiosity as Factor in Patients’ Health – A majority of physicians in a large survey declared that religion and spirituality, including divine intervention, affect their patients’ health. The survey of more than a thousand practicing physicians found that 56% believe religion and spirituality have a significant effect on health, researchers reported in the April 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Spirituality, religion helps lower BP – A study of more than 5,000 African Americans has found that being involved with or participating in religious activities can significantly lower blood pressure, even in those people who are likely to be classified as hypertensive, having higher levels of body mass index (BMI), and lower levels of medication adherence
Popularity: 20% [?]
Did you know National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week is sponsored by Rest Ministries, the largest Christian organization that serves the chronically ill? Rest Ministries is also an affiliate of Joni and Friends.
We have tools specifically to help your church remember the many people who are suffering silently.
- Order a high-resolution copy of this year’s video to play in your church service.
- Set up a table with resources such as brochures about Rest Ministries and rack cards about Invisible Illness Week or tracts. Some of our other favorite goodies are silicone bracelets and JOY cards (Just Giving You… cards that you give to a friend who is hurting.) Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend is also a great book to have available or as a giveaway if your church is willing to buy some.
Popularity: 6% [?]
Popularity: 5% [?]
Popularity: 5% [?]
Popularity: 5% [?]
more info coming soon
Popularity: 3% [?]