Crisis response preparedness is not just for natural disasters. Disasters leave more than physical destruction behind. The unseen damage is the emotional, psychological, and spiritual trauma to those in the disaster. Daily events like fatal auto accidents, fires, armed robberies, murders, and workplace and home violence also leave people spiritually and emotionally traumatized.
The Church is uniquely called to meet the practical and spiritual needs of people in crisis. This year New Hope Christian College initiated training students and lay leaders in the emerging field of crisis intervention. The training involved courses developed by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF). These critical incident stress management (CISM) courses are the standard for crisis response training recognized by FEMA, Homeland Security, law enforcement and fire and safety agencies. Seven CISM courses qualify a lay person to earn a Specialty Certificate in Spiritual Crisis Intervention. The two-day courses were opened to the public. Three CISM courses were offered this Spring semester in Individual Crisis Intervention, Group Crisis Intervention, and Pastoral Crisis Intervention. Four more will be offered next year.
Eighteen different NHCC faculty, support staff, and students plus six community pastors and lay leaders participated in the CISM courses. The foundation for a cadre of spiritually trained, emotionally prepared, and physically able crisis responders has been laid for NHCC to deploy teams that will bring God’s love and hope to people in the midst of crisis and disaster.
NHCC’s vision includes the formation of crisis response teams in local churches. These teams will provide a structure for ongoing training and rehearsal in crisis care. The team network is the context for responders, churches and ministries to respond to crisis and disaster in local communities. A critical component is the creation of places of refuge in times of crisis.
NHCC welcomes the challenge to provide leadership and training in this emerging area of ministry.