Tag Archives: adam lanza

Media is not alone in need to learn more about mental health

Published by:

By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

When the news that Newtown, Conn., school massacre shooter Adam Lanza had Asperger’s Syndrome, the media immediately began to spew false information about autism. Autism is a neurodevelopment disorder, not a mental illness. Since the Dec. 14 attack that left 20 children and six adults dead, professionals who work in mental health and parents of children with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome have taken a stand to educate the public.

“They (the media) are trying to connect some dots, because that is what they do,” said Aimee Colbert, a pastoral counselor in Fort Worth. “Without knowing the truth is irresponsible, it is bad on their part. This type of reaction is especially trying on the people who have to deal with it.”

The media is not the only institution that needs help understanding mental health and developmental disorders; the church does too.

For years, the mental health community has felt the church needs to step beyond reading scripture and prayer to help parents and children of their congregations.

In 2011, author Edward Rogers, and psychologist Matthew Stanford and social worker Diana Garland of Baylor University, found in their study, “The Effects of Mental Illness On Families With Faith Communities,” that “mental illness of a family member can destroy the family’s connection with the religious community, leading many affected families to leave the church and their faith behind.”

The study, which appeared in the online journal “Mental Health, Religion, and Culture,” interviewed 6,000 participants from 24 churches representing four Protestant denominations. Researchers examined the impact of mental illness in a family on church involvement and spiritual practices. Stanford told Dr. Steve Grcevich in a February 2012 interview that approximately a quarter of the families in the survey are struggling with caring for a loved one with mental illness and it has disrupted their connect with God.

“Sadly, these families appear virtually invisible to the congregation as a whole,” said Stanford, who is a professor of psychology, neuroscience, and biomedical studies at Baylor University.

Colbert’s thoughts echo of the article. She said churches should do more to address the mental and behavioral needs of their congregants, especially in the African American church.

“It is one of the things that has become a cancer, a virus. Now people are doing off-the-wall things. The church is about meeting needs, if your church has people with mental illness, it must be addressed. There are a lot of things outside of the Bible people need to know. The Bible is not against these things because the Bible doesn’t say it, Colbert said.

“I know of people who feel ashamed. They either feel isolated even stop going to church.”

Ready to make a change?

Is your congregation in need of additional sources to help the children and parents who are affected by mental health and behavioral disorders? Church Basement Press, publisher of titles that support the work of faith-based community organizations, recently published “Defying Mental Illness: Finding Recovery with Community Resources and Family Support” ($19.99 paperback and Nook; $7.99 Kindle, USD). The authors – Paul Komarek and Andrea Schroer – provide help on recovery. It is more than a source for support. The book educates readers on several topics, including childhood disorders, mental illness, suicide prevention, and mental illness in layman’s terms. The book is endorsed by a National Alliance on Mental Illness advocate, who said the book “provides what’s needed most.”

Learn more about Church Basement Press at www.churchbasement.net.

Could Connecticut school shooting wake up the church in New England?

Published by:

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

NEWTOWN, CT (ANS) — Clive Calver, the London-born senior pastor of Walnut Hill Community Church (www.walnuthillcc.org) in Bethel, Conn., and Walnut Hill, a network of five charismatic evangelical churches serving more than 3,500 people in western Connecticut, believes that the shocking shooting at Sandy Hook School, could wake up the Church in the New England state where he is now based.

Calver, who lives in Newtown, where the shooting took place Dec. 14, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza first killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their home, and then gunned down 26 people at the elementary school — 20 of which were children — has released comments on the tragedy.

Calver, for former head of the British Evangelical Alliance, and later president of US-based World Relief, writing in Charisma News (www.charismanews.com), explained his involvement in the terrible incident.

“There’s never any indication that a day that starts as mundanely as any other will turn out to be so unfathomably unlike any other. But, this day, it didn’t take too long before we knew it was not going to be business as usual,” he began.

“As soon as I pulled into Walnut Hill’s car park, I was greeted outside by Paul Cathcart, one of our Pastors of Care, who said he’d received a reverse 911 call that there’d been a school shooting in-the town where his 8-year-old son attends school.

“With his wife, Stacy, on the way to pick him up, we then learned that the shooting was at Sandy Hook Elementary, their son’s school. Clearly, letting them drive themselves would have been careless, so I jumped in the car and prayed them through the 10-minute drive up I-84 to Sandy Hook.

“On the way there, Stacy received a text from a friend that their son Alasdair was safe, having been ‘rushed to safety,’ as Paul would later post on Facebook, ‘by a very courageous teacher.’ But, of course, that took only a palpable edge off our drive. What else would we find there?

“When we arrived on scene-the mad chaotic logjam of emergency vehicles, first responders, mini vans and frantic parents-Paul simply jumped from the car, knowing his son was safe, and sprinted into the fray to see how he could be helpful.

“I called in reinforcements, and two of our youth pastors and another of our care pastors came. We soon found ourselves at the fire house, where parents and children were being reunited. We prayed with anxious parents-several who attend our church-as they waited to see a glimpse of their child, unscathed. We prayed for little kids. We just prayed.”

Calver continued by saying that soon, things started to calm down; the enormity of what we’d soon learn had yet to be disclosed.

“I made my way back to Sandy Hook’s downtown, which basically consists of an intersection with a few shops and restaurants and a liquor store. And that was where I saw it, directly outside the liquor store: an A-frame sandwich board, with a hand-written sign that said, simply and poignantly, ‘Say a prayer,’ to remember the God that New England has — for too long — largely forgotten,” he said.

“I have no idea whether that shop owner knows Jesus. I have no idea his denomination, his political bent, his views on anything else. I just know that he knew what we needed to do on this day. We needed, of course, to say a prayer.

“When it began to dawn on everyone that 20 sets of parents would never be reunited with 20 small innocent children, we had four pastors in the room where the parents waited. My wife, Ruth (our Pastor of Women), was one of them. She and the others described the gut-wrenching scene when Gov. Dannel Malloy told them their children were killed as ‘a moment we’ll never forget.’

“They came back to the church wrecked, heartbroken and exhausted. And yet, there was still ministering to do that night. In an emergency meeting of our pastors and directors, we made a decision to cancel a scheduled performance of our Christmas musical, and instead hold a community prayer service so people could come, stand together and pray for one another.

“In just a few hours-with the word spread like wildfire through Facebook, on our website and via text messages-we gathered, 500-strong, to pray, to weep, to share and to worship the God we know as Protector, Comforter, Healer and Lord.

“We prayed. We prayed for the families of those who perished-including two mothers who attend our weekday women’s ministry and lost children; we prayed for those who were in that school and saw horrible things; we prayed for the greater Newtown community; we prayed for first responders; we prayed for each other. And we prayed-we prayed powerfully and pointedly-against the evil one, casting him out of our community in the name of Jesus.”

Clive Calver then said, “Earlier in the day, in that fire station, a guy walked past muttering ‘Jesus.’ But he said it in such a way that I knew he wasn’t crying out to the Lord; it was a cry of disbelief, almost an epithet. He knew His name, but it was quite clear he’d lost the meaning of the Name. He, like so many others in this part of New England — where we calculate about 3 percent are evangelical Christian-is living in pretty much a godless state. It’s a place where people have little time for God, and it must perplex Him that — when tragedy of this magnitude strikes — the churches fill up … for a time.

“Our prayer is that this evil, this unspeakable horror, would be the turning point for what God is doing in New England. We’ve spent the last nearly eight years here, breaking up the land and laying seed for a harvest — or revival in New England.

“Maybe, just maybe, this is the wake-up call. Maybe, just maybe, this is when the church springs into action, being the hands and feet of Jesus and shining His light in this darkness. People here need Jesus and it’s our job to introduce Him to them.”

He said that Walnut Hill Community Church is mobilizing. “We’re lining up counselors to minister to the grieving. We’re collecting money, to be spent in a way that will bring long-term benefit to a broken community. We’re linking churches together, so that — together with God — we go forward from this horrible day and come away better.”