I love being in a room where I’m meeting women in our IBSA family. As I talk to them and learn more about their stories, I start to get a sense of their scars—those things that have cut deeply, caused trauma, and left a mark.
We all have multiple scars, and in those rooms, I can also sense the different stages of healing that women are in, and the areas of scarring they share. Our scars can be a valuable tool as Christ works in us, and in others.
I use the term “scar ministry” a lot. It’s the idea that people who know Jesus will have scars, certainly. But as he heals and restores, those scars can be used to point other people to him. I’ve developed a mental rolodex of scars, so that I know what struggles women have walked through before. When I see a woman in the middle of trauma, there is nothing better than for someone who is wearing that exact scar to walk alongside her.
Someone with the same scar knows how to stop the bleeding. They speak into the situation from experience. Their scar is such a picture of hope for the person whose trauma is fresh.
I desperately sought that kind of match in my own life after my husband died. No matter the scar—a prodigal child, divorce, addiction, financial hardship—God can redeem and restore, and give us opportunities to leverage it for his glory.
One potential pitfall of scar ministry is that we would exploit a powerful testimony simply for the sake of a good story. If someone has walked through trauma and bear the scars, may we be mindful of their personal stage of grief and healing. It’s critical that we focus on Jesus as healer in chief, who binds up our wounds and restores our souls.
Trauma can shake our faith. Throughout this journey, I have found myself praying like the desperate father in Mark 9:24. “I believe; help my unbelief!” In that struggle, the shield of faith has been such an important visual for me. It’s meant to defend against the arrows of our enemy, but sometimes we don’t feel strong enough to lift it.
God has been showing me the shield of faith hasn’t gone anywhere. And when I’m weak, my brothers and sisters in Christ can lift their shields next to mine. I still have my shield of faith, they’re just bringing theirs too.
In this season of ministry, I’m determined to leave it all on the table. That includes leveraging my scars for the glory of God.
Carmen Halsey is director of leadership development for IBSA.