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Strength For His People, A Ministry for the Families of the Mentally Ill
Strength For His People was written by a minister, Dr. Steven Waterhouse, who has a brother with schizophrenia. The book has helped more than 30,000 families, and has endorsements from Dr. E. Fuller Torrey and Focus on the Family.
Strength For His People offers a Biblical perspective on schizophrenia which will be of interest to counselors, ministers, religious leaders, family members, and chaplains. Topics include an explanation of the differences between schizophrenia and demon possession, the failure of churches in responding to mental illness; evidence that schizophrenia is primarily a medical not moral problem; a theological treatment as to why God permits suffering; the argument for intrinsic human worth not being based on achievement; and studies on how to handle family emotions such as, depression, guilt, anger at God, fears, isolation, denial, and family conflict.
The following expands on the topics covered in Strength For His People
Schizophrenia runs in family lines
Mental Illness is not a myth
Divine chastisement or demonic influence - (see rebuttal, below). There
may be cases of
Mental Illness and the Bible
Note that all items in these verses are medical problems (boils, tumors,
If "madness" is one way of chastisement, then the conclusion
that an individual
No given medical problem is ever a universal sign of God's chastisement.
Mental Illness and Demons - Are mentally ill people demon-possessed?
It is certainly possible that some who are demon-possessed have been misdiagnosed as mentally ill and placed in mental hospitals, but the classic symptoms of schizophrenia are different from New Testament demon possession. (For symptoms of New Testament demon possession see Waterhouse, Steven. Demons or Mental Illness Amarillo, TX: Westcliff Press, 2003).
Mental Illness and Society
Mental Illness overlaps with the work of an astounding number of leaders (politicians, judges, attorneys, police, teachers, doctors and other medical professionals, chaplains of all kinds [military, hospital, prison], social workers, college professors, and millions of families. Four out of ten long-term hospital beds are taken by schizophrenia alone! The fact that A Beautiful Mind won the movie of the year shows society's interest in this problem. Opportunities to evangelize and give attention to the Bible's counsel are great.
Even if medicine is necessary, it is not sufficient for the abundant life. The non-Christian would often realize this. A psychiatrist once said, "I can tune the piano, but only God can teach a mentally ill person to make music again."
The Bible gives answers for pastoral counseling, nevertheless, misdiagnosis of a problem can lead to misapplication of the Bible in pastoral counseling. The point may be true, but it will not help if it addresses a problem the person does not have. We must understand mental illness and its impact upon families before giving counsel. Even if a pastor cannot immediately help the person in a crisis, the family remains within the domain of pastoral care at all times. This is true of a one in a coma after a car accident or a psychiatric breakdown. The relationship must be preserved from the beginning, and the mentally ill person must be helped after medical treatment has improved thinking. Families of people with schizophrenia (2,000,000) have by and large been overlooked by the ministry. The Bible teaches about the emotional needs and philosophical questions faced by families of the mentally ill. Christianity could make a great ministry contribution. When we finally understand the problem, it is not hard to apply the Bible. This is especially true if we do not overlook the families. Even the mentally ill person might benefit from pastoral care after medicine has improved thinking.
Problems and Spiritual Questions Among Families of the Mentally Ill
The Bible prescribes answers, but Christian leaders must first describe the exact nature of the problem. Pastors might not be able to help a mentally ill person in a crisis mode, but they can preserve the relationship until stabilization. At all times the families are the church's responsibility. Once the problem is understood, the Bible has great relevance to the needs and questions among families of the mentally ill. These families comprise a huge, overlooked target group for evangelism, and helping them also brings interaction and ministry with unsaved leaders in many diverse professions. Evangelicals lose opportunities from failing to address this need through awkwardness, ignorance, and withdrawal. In reality, there is a wide open door for potential ministry.