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Why COVID-19 Is the Time for Spiritual First Aid

Join NT Wright, Danielle Strickland, Efrem Smith, and others at the Spiritual First Aid Summit.

Why COVID-19 Is the Time for Spiritual First Aid

Join NT Wright, Danielle Strickland, Efrem Smith, and others at the Spiritual First Aid Summit.

In the weeks since stay-at-home orders necessitated by the coronavirus outbreak first went into place, churches have successfully navigated the complexities of moving services, ministries, small groups, and even discipleship online. But while technology provides solutions for many of these practical challenges, another ongoing challenge persists: how can we live hope and provide care to those who are struggling during COVID-19 and beyond?

Now is the time for the church to step up and lead the conversation around mental health. As we are spread apart and physically isolated from those we are used to seeing in person, it’s more important than ever that each of us is prepared with basic helping skills that can be employed virtually to provide spiritual and emotional care to our neighbors, churches, communities, and world. This is why we’re presenting the Spiritual First Aid Summit this Thursday, April 30th, alongside Food for the Hungry, NavPress, and Outreach, Inc. As an attendee of this online event, you will get biblical wisdom and research-informed ideas for meeting the most critical needs of your church and community right now.

Our years of studying disaster mental health at the Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI) have shown us over and over again the importance of faith and faith communities in responding to spiritual and emotional needs created by trauma in the context of disasters and crises. It is out of this research that we developed Spiritual First Aid, the first disaster spiritual and emotional care intervention to have been built from the ground up using both biblical wisdom and evidence-informed psychological insights gained from years of scientific study. And it is for this reason, as well, that we are helping organize this event to inspire and equip Christians around the globe to provide this kind of care we are uniquely equipped—and called—to provide.

Video sessions from speakers like NT Wright, Danielle Strickland, Dr. Efrem Smith, and more, will cover topics involving the five core needs we identified as critical in the wake of a disaster based on our decades of research:

  • Belonging Needs (relationships)
  • Livelihood Needs (health, finances, resources, employment)
  • Emotional Needs (mental health)
  • Safety Needs (suicide, harm to self, threat to others, domestic violence)
  • Spiritual Needs (faith, spiritual struggles, meaning-making, purpose)

For more about how to use the BLESS method to identify and address these needs, see our previous article on Spiritual First Aid.

The time is now for Spiritual First Aid. Whether it’s because of isolation from loved ones and community, loss of employment or financial security, grief over loss of life or loss of something of value, or increased risk of physical harm, many people are experiencing heightened emotional and spiritual need. The time is now for the church to step up and think creatively about how to be the hands and feets of Jesus. The ways we respond today will have an impact far beyond this season of COVID-19, and will prepare us to better love and serve our neighbors and communities for whatever is to come.

Want to be inspired and equipped with a vision of how to love and care for others during and after COVID-19? Join us this Thursday, April 30th, for a FREE Spiritual First Aid Online Summit on how to address spiritual and emotional needs in our churches, communities, and world, presented by Food for the Hungry, Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, NavPress and Outreach. Learn more and register at spiritualfirstaidsummit.com .

Jamie Aten, Ph.D., is founder and executive director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College. Follow on Twitter at @drjamieaten or visit jamieaten.com .

Kent Annan, M.Div., is director of Humanitarian & Disaster Leadership at Wheaton College. Follow on Twitter at @kentannan or visit kentannan.com .

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