United States (MNN) — Last month, we talked about an overlooked problem: the mental and emotional baggage people like first responders and military veterans face after a tragic event.
Warriors Set Free of Set Free Ministries focuses on counseling veterans dealing with emotional troubles because of combat-based trauma. They do this with a biblical-focus and understanding of spiritual warfare. They have a lot of experience dealing with issues like PTSD, guilt, depression, and more. But they want to also help first responders who deal with many of these same things.
That’s why, next month, Warriors Set Free is teaming up with Sheepdog Seminars to provide a seminar for first responders, veterans, their families, and anyone else interested in helping to bring healing to those whose job it is or has been to protect us.
Sheepdog Seminars is an organization primarily focused on church security training. A while back, Steve Prince of Warriors Set Free attended one of their security seminars. Leading the seminar was retired Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman, someone Prince had met previously during his military career.
Prince says, “I told them what we were doing to help veterans and they were excited—they made an announcement right there and then that they wanted to partner up with us.”
Sheepdog Seminars are for people who feel drawn to protect others. Prince explains, “The sheepdog mentality covers military, law enforcement, first responders, firefighters, veterans, people who carry concealed weapons.”
And while these seminars are very practical, Grossman has also touched upon the emotional and mental trials common to first responders through a couple of his books, and so he is well versed in some practical strategies to meet those challenges head-on.
What to expect
Prince says, “We’re going to talk about the best tools—both practical that anybody can use as well as the spiritual aspect of using faith and using Scripture and forgiveness and confiding truth to dispel lies to help process those kinds of events.”
He gives an example of what kind of event might trouble someone long after it happens and what it means to combat these struggles biblically.
“One of the vets that we worked with, they were on a mission. And they were supposed to clear the road to the end of the road, and they could see the end of the road, but they didn’t walk to the end of the road. And my guy told his leadership, ‘Hey, we need to walk to the end of the road.’
“So they got back out of their vehicles, walked to the end of the road, and one of the guys hit an explosive and died. So, my guy blames himself over and over and over again.”
Many first responders, as well as veterans, deal with heavy burdens like this. They can be told over and over again that it’s not their fault, but giving up that guilt is not that easy. How can they be set free?
Prince says there are two principles to consider: “One is, even if you did something wrong– which this guy didn’t do anything wrong– you can be forgiven for everything. The other is God’s ultimate sovereignty of what was supposed to happen that day, happened that day. And God doesn’t have a ‘plan b.’ Even when trauma happens to us, God’s got a greater purpose for why those things happen.”
This hearkens to the biblical principle that God uses tragedy and trials for good. But the other side of what Set Free Ministries and Warriors Set Free does is to help their counselees recognize that there is someone intending to use these tragedies for evil.
“These guys carry the pain. And they think it’s their fault even though it’s not. And they’re being tormented by the enemy mentally and spiritually. And if they don’t know how to fight then they’re going to lose the fight.”
These are the type of spiritual topics Warriors Set Free will be talking about. Sheepdog Seminars’ Grossmen will be focusing on some more practical techniques.
Prince says, “He actually studied warfare, police shootings—what happens to your body. In ‘On Combat’ he’s got a chapter called ‘The Price of Combat.’ And he talks about the aftermath and how to practically evaluate and deal with what went down. And he talks in great depth about debriefing and having a meeting and sitting down and hearing everybody’s perspective about what happened. And you’re actually seeking truth.”
This technique is important, Prince says, because often after something bad happens, our recollection of an even is skewed or incorrect. By hearing several viewpoints, people are able to come to a better understanding of what really took place.
Goal of “Sheepdog Spirit Seminar”
Overall, Prince says, “It’s all about helping people and helping that specific population deal with the trauma of what they’ve been through. And with my military experience, I understand that really well.
“But from a law enforcement aspect—I mean, think in your own life about the times you’ve had interactions with police and they’re all bad days. They’re some of your worst days. And for those police officers, that’s every day. That’s every hour. That’s especially for out on the road. It’s bad event, after bad event, after bad event. And you can’t carry that without it affecting you spiritually.
“And so, locally, we want the West Michigan area to know that we’re available to help them deal with whatever they’re carrying.”
And in the future, Prince says they hope this will turn into another branch of ministry made more readily available around the nation.
“Lt. Colonel Grossmen’s main mission from his life has been … about preparing people before they go into the fight. And after the fight is just as important to be able to not become a casualty after the trauma,” Prince says.
And while this is targeted directly at the “sheepdog” persons, everyone is invited to attend this seminar.
“If you’re a family member or you’re a best friend, or you’re like ‘Hey, I don’t understand my uncle because he went through Vietnam and he won’t talk to me,’ you’ll learn something that day to be able to help to bridge the gap.”
Even if you’re not intending to go to this seminar, will you pray? Ask God to bring the right people to this seminar, and that the attendees will be blessed in a huge way. Pray for the Gospel to have an impact on those who attend who don’t know Jesus. For more information on Warriors Set Free and Set Free Ministries, click here.