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FAQ

1. What is the Rapha Journey?

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Rapha is one of the Hebrew words for healing. It also means mending and repairing. It is one of the Names of God – the way He introduced Himself to the Israelites in the Old Testament when He delivered them from their slavery from the Egyptians (Ex 15.26)

The Rapha Journey is the name we give to a Biblically-based journey into greater healing and wholeness, and, if desired, a deeper relationship with Christ. It is based on a discipleship journey set out in Scripture and used in the Early Church as the norm for every Christian. (See the FAQ below titled “Is the Rapha Journey Biblical” for more information). It is also very effective journey for those who do not have a current relationship with God, but are seeking personal growth.

This psychologically-informed journey is unique for each person but is a step-by-step process of growth. It involves a mixture of undoing the damage in our histories and growing more of the people we are created to be. It can be pursued individually but we encourage conversation with others pursuing a similar journey, either in person or via an online community. (See the FAQ below titled “Why do you encourage Rapha small groups?” for more information).

For many of us the journey starts by focusing on specific areas from the past. We follow a clinical approach;

  • Looking for the ‘diagnosis’ of how that damage became part of our lives.
  • A time of ‘surgery’ where we let go of the damage and
  • A time of ‘rehabilitation’ where the change and healing becomes deeply embedded in our lives.

Some people start the journey seeking a deeper relationship with God and with little awareness of any damage that might need to be healed. The same principles apply:

  • You will look with precision at the obstacles to your deepening relationship with God,
  • Specifically undo that damage and then
  • Step intentionally into areas of growth and increased spiritual maturity.

To support this contemporary approach we have a range of resources that we have complied over the last 30 years. Most are either in audio form, or written up as a note for you to read and consider. We also have some DVDs. These resources are foundational to our work and set out the Biblical background to a wide variety of issues we discuss. We have 6 notes available here on our website:

  • Jehovah Rapha explores the place of healing in Scripture and God’s heart for wholeness
  • The Spiritual House introduces the Biblical framework for a journey of cleansing the damage from our spirit
  • Hearing God’s voice sets out the numerous ways that Scripture tells us God wants to communicate with us, and the place this has in our journey of healing
  • Feeling is Healing explores what the Bible tells us of the place of emotion in God’s nature and in our lives and its central role in helping our healing journey
  • Meditations on the Human Spirit focuses on a number of key passages of Scripture that help us understand our spiritual nature
  • Spiritual Surgery provides a Biblical perspective on the clinical process of identifying damage, letting it go, and possessing the healing.

Some of these notes are quite detailed and quote extensively from the Bible. Others focus more on the spiritual journey with Christ, with some Scriptural support. We have an extensive range of additional notes for those who would like more information or have questions about other aspects of the journey. They are available as part of our online community membership and will be available more widely soon.

In addition, we have 10 books that present differing aspects of the Christian life, like Becoming More Like Christ and Trinity in Human Community. Changed Lives  introduces the journey with a number of testimonies and Letting God Heal is an account of Susan Williams’ own journey from emotional illness to wholeness. You can get more information about our other books here.

We also have a wide range of CDs and DVDs  to provide support through various issues often encountered as part of the journey.

And finally we host an online community of people pursuing this journey, where there is the opportunity to get support from others who might have tackled a similar area of healing, growth, or discipleship. Some of the stories from people’s journey will appear here over the next few months.

 

2. Is the Rapha Journey Biblical?

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In the Rapha Journey we intentionally present Biblical ideas in contemporary language. This can cause some confusion, especially if someone has not encountered this approach before. So why do we do this?

Language is a tool for communication but often it can create a barrier instead. For example;

  • Few people, even in the church, have been theologically trained. So they might feel excluded by religious language.
  • People with an extensive church background can become over-familiar with religious terminology, so it loses its meaning and sense of significance
  • Someone who is not ready for relationship with God will turn away from the journey if it has too much Biblical language. We want to offer support to everyone who might want it.

So our approach is to borrow the language of psychology and sociology to present ideas that have a Biblical foundation. It is what Christ did – using everyday stories relevant to his audience to outline very important truths. Christ healed before He invited people into a relationship with Him. We like to do the same.

Ultimately Scripture must speak for itself to each of us, through the Holy Spirit. We seek to bring Christ and His Word in a way that offers the most support to contemporary people. But it is life with Christ that must help us find and learn the Word of Truth. Most of us don’t start with Scripture – we come to Scripture as a result of relationship with God.

So the language we teach in is more reflective of psychology and sociology. However our Bible notes provide extensive Biblical background, as do our various books. Peter’s PhD was in the field of theology, as well as psychology. His published dissertation is ‘Becoming More Human’ and includes extensive theological background. Our framework is evangelical and post-evangelical, within a Wesleyan tradition.

 

3. How do you use Scripture as part of your journey?

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For some of us Scripture plays a very beneficial part in our journey from the start. It is one of the ways God talks to us about where He wants us to focus and how to engage with Him in deeper healing and deeper obedience. We encourage people to pursue their journey by giving regular time to ‘homework’ (See the FAQ below titled “What is homework and how do I do it?” for more information) (e.g. 30-60 minutes a day). If they want to, this can include letting God talk about His perspective on their lives. Scripture can play a central role in that conversation.

However many of those who pursue this journey are either not in a current relationship with God, or Scripture has very sadly become entangled with the damage in their lives. For these people, a renewed love of Scripture may be part of the fruit of their journey, but it is unlikely to be where they start.

When pursuing a journey of healing or a journey of discipleship, we do so from a place of damage and sin. Few of us would dig deep into a spiritual journey into greater holiness and sanctification if we did not need feel a need to. The damage in our lives and its resulting hunger for growth and change is a major incentive to seek healing. But sometimes too much Scripture can feel like an obstacle in the early stages of this journey.

So we encourage each person to choose how they want to use Scripture as part of their own journey. By hearing about the Bible and its ideas and exploring it through fellowship, personal stories, and relationship, more initial healing can sometimes happen than jumping in the deep end to study Scripture by learning Greek and Hebrew or focusing on specific texts.

For some people, the very reason they begin their journey is to deepen their relationship with Christ. They may be struggling with their devotional life or want to know the Lord’s will on how to serve Him better. In these instances we have a range of Biblical tools and teaching that will feed their spirit, inform their minds, and enrich their spiritual life. All of these tools have a Biblical foundation, and some have study aids.

As a principle when it comes to the Bible, and studying Scripture, we begin at the place a person is at, like Jesus did. Then gently and with honour, they can engage with a journey to meet Christ and be filled with the knowledge of Christ through His Word as they want to.

 

4. How does this journey work for people who are not looking for a relationship with God?

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In Rapha we welcome and offer support to everyone, whether they have a current relationship with God or not. Our goal is to support a journey of healing and wholeness in every area of life and, if the person chooses, a journey into a deeper relationship with God. We use a Biblical framework, but tell people to take up whatever feels most relevant to them. So how does this journey work if you are not in a current relationship with God?

Many of those who came to Christ for help were not looking for a relationship with Him, but more often seeking something else, perhaps;

  • Healing (e.g. the paralytic, the blind and the lame, the demoniac)
  • Answers for hard questions (e.g. who sinned – this man or his parents?)
  • Resolution for some tragedy in their lives (e.g. a child who was dying, falling into prostitution)

Christ almost always began His relationship by meeting them in their need. We seek to do the same.

As people continue on a journey into greater wholeness with the love and support of others, they may find they will meet Christ personally, even though they may not be looking – “Hey Pete, I met your mate on Saturday, He asked me to kneel at His feet, so I did. Then the peace flooded in”. But this does not happen with everyone who asks for His help, because not everyone wants Christ, or wants to make peace with Him. We respect these choices.

There are a myriad reasons why you may not want to explore a relationship with God at the moment. Perhaps;

  • You have already been deeply hurt by the church or a religious group in the past
  • You come from a Christian family and background and it has not all been good
  • You may have had dark spiritual experiences and now cannot find God even though you may have tried
  • You feel too hurt and vulnerable to think about a relationship with God at the moment

Our approach, like that of Christ, is to tell you to take your time, to get on with your journey with the support of friends, and in time you can explore a relationship with Christ if you want too. It is always an honour to support people in this way too. God will support your journey and all the principles we teach work in the same way. It will simply be that you ignore the issues related to a relationship with God.

Many of those who came to Christ in the Gospels received their healing and left – to live life to the full but without Christ. And we respect that choice too. There is no evidence in the New Testament writings that everyone came back and surrendered or followed Him. People must be given the freedom to choose for Christ in their own way. We must leave everyone in the gentle hands of the work of the Holy Spirit, to find Christ whenever they are ready. This is sacred ground between each person and the Lord. Our role is to love and serve.

 

5. In what way is the Rapha journey discipleship?

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The Command of the Great Commission (Mt 28: 18-20) is not to get people converted, but to grow young Christians to spiritual maturity, to have them honed in the image of Christ, to be Christ-like. In churches it is too easy to place the emphasis on the size of our congregation or the amount of mission work being done, or how we are planning the next revival. Yet none of these really seem to count from God’s perspective, when compared with the command to make disciples.

Christ called us to make disciples whereas many of us have a background of preferring to make converts! Bringing people to Christ is often much easier than the challenge of forming Christ in people.

Christ told us what was really important: To Love Him with all of our hearts, obey the Commandments, hear His voice, and make every convert into a mature Christ-centered adult. This last goal is the core intent of being a disciple of Christ. Discipleship is seeking to be more like Christ, by being His apprentice – a learner of Him and with Him.

The way Scripture talks about discipleship is to see us all as choosing to become understudies to Christ, He being the Master. We are the clay, and He is the potter. Only when the clay surrenders can it be truly reshaped by the potter. Clay that tells the potter what to do is not much use to Him! So we use the healing promise of Rapha (Ex 15.26) to describe this process of having Christ formed in us.

This discipleship journey, which we see in three blended stages, follows the model of the Early Church:

  • The first stage is to rid our selves, with the Lord’s help, of the sin, darkness, and damage that He reveals to us and that He sees standing in the path of our deepening relationship with Christ. Much of this we are aware of, although God is always more keen to go deeper than we would.
  • The second step is to begin to discover who Christ has made us to be – who we are created to be – and begin exploring both the spiritual world and our own spiritual gifting.
  • This is followed by the third step – when we become useful to the Lord and effective in the Kingdom of God, where we can consistently fulfill His purposes, and have all the gifting and anointing to help hasten the return of Christ.

As with most of the saints of Scripture, like Paul for instance, progress through these three steps takes the rest of our life – it does not happen overnight! God will often switch between the steps, giving us seasons of serving Him between seasons of exposing our sin.

For more resources on this topic, see the weekend workshops Finding Christ, Finding Me and Moving Toward Wholeness: Tools for the Rapha Journey (both are introductory workshops) or our weekend workshop on Daily Discipleship, as well as the book, Becoming More Like Christ.

 

6. If I am a new creation in Christ, how come I still have a journey to do?

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Scripture is clear that from God’s perspective we are all a new creation from the moment we surrender to Christ (2 Cor 5:17). Our salvation has been won by Christ and it is not any ‘work’ on our part that achieves this. Jesus’ blood covers our sin.

However Scripture is also clear that there is a part God expects us to play as a result of coming to Christ. We are called to ‘put off’ the old ways of living (Eph 4:22-24), to lay aside ‘the weight that clings so closely’ (Heb 12:1) and to ‘dig deep’ to make sure our house is built on rock (Luke 6:48). We are expected to do what is necessary to grow in maturity in Christ (Heb 5:13-14).

God has made us new. That part is finished. But for us to take up that new way of life and to live in the freedom that Christ has won, we all have a discipleship journey to walk. What Christ has done is still only potential in our experience until we begin to make it real in our lives by our actions in seeking Christ.

So once we surrender to Him we begin to find the saving grace of Christ toward us. But we all also have a range of areas of our lives that are not yet fully cleansed. What is still needed is our initiative in our confession. Then Christ taking our sin becomes a tangible experience of increasing freedom. This journey in Scripture is called sanctification, and is the task of every one of us working with Christ by the Holy Spirit. It’s so real that others around us will notice the healing.

If we die the day after we surrender to Christ and confess Him as Lord, then we will stand before Him in pure robes, with no mark of the sin we have not yet confessed. Christ’s work is complete. However, if we were to live 40 years after our conversion to Christ He will expect much progress and maturity from us, and our capacity to show Christ in our lives, both in our actions and its fruit. This is the dichotomy of being a new creature already because of Christ’s work, but also knowing that much of it simply remains potential in our lives, until we are willing to pursue maturity in Christ.

 

7. What is Rapha’s view of emotion?

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Over the last 25 years, research into the importance of human emotion has been extensive. In the field of psychology, emotion was traditionally viewed as an inconvenience, an aspect of our human make-up that was a distraction, an obstacle to a fuller richer life. However with the growing technological capacity to scan the living brain this view has been changing. Now it is possible to study the living brain as it moves through all its feelings and its cognition. It is now widely accepted scientifically that, for instance, none of us can learn well without emotion, nor can we understand all that is going on around us without the gift of feelings.

Scripture has much to say about emotion. It features on almost every page. This alone should be enough to tell us its significance. There is a far more important aspect to emotion that is unrecognized in psychology – the record of Scripture tells us that God is more emotional than any of us. In fact Scripture has more references to God and His feelings than it has to human feelings. The simple conclusion is that we are emotional simply because we are Imago Dei – made in His image.

In Rapha therefore, we see emotion as playing a key role in both our sicknesses and in our life in Christ. For instance many of the areas of sin in our lives carry emotion, such as anger, hate and sin. Without facing these areas emotionally, the damage remains. Conversely all the fruit of the Spirit that Paul mentions (Gal 5: 22) are feelings, except a sound mind, and maybe even this! The first commandment starts with a feeling – Love. Feelings are unapologetically central to a discipleship journey.

We draw a Hebrew distinction between the righteous (healthy) and unrighteous (unhealthy) feelings, suggesting that the righteous should grow as part of our discipleship journey and the unrighteous are the feelings that God wants to cleanse in our healing. Our brain is a balance of cognition and emotion, and with this balance all of us should seek to live.

So in disdaining the importance of our feelings, and our need to have them healed to fully serve Him, we could be resisting the Spirit? If the Enemy wants to really hurt us, injuring our potential ministry for Christ, then one of the ways he is able to do so is to damage us emotionally, so we are impaired in moving in spiritual gifting, hearing God’s voice and loving God, others and ourselves.

For more resources on this topic see our Bible note on Feeling is Healing and our weekend workshop titled Moving Toward Wholeness: Tools for the Rapha Journey.

 

8. What is homework and how do I do it?

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In Rapha we place a strong emphasis on each person’s capacity and responsibility to dig into their own journey in an intentional way. Rather than waiting for God to change something in our lives, there are numerous steps we can take to help bring that about. Homework is the phrase we use for the self-initiated time we take to pursue healing and growth.

If you are in the midst of a time of need, the usual suggestion is that homework is a regular thing, often daily. It can be any length but most commonly 30-60 minutes. Its a time when you focus on the specific issue you are tackling, pursuing whatever stage of spiritual surgery (See the FAQ above titled “What is the Rapha Journey?” for more information) that might be most relevant.

Sometimes homework is more intense. Its possible to devote several hours at a time, if you have a specific area to focus on that you want to engage with in a more extended way. This can be helpful if its a time of trauma, or a particularly painful issue.

If your journey is more about an ongoing deepening discipleship, then homework might be less regular. It may mingle with or be the result of a time of bible study, or may be a response to a sermon or talk. God often intends that we follow-up what He stirs in our spirit, perhaps with repentance, or a change of habit or attitude. Sometimes we just need to take time out to let Him speak to us in an extended way. Doing these things is another form of homework.

Every person’s homework journey is unique. The shape it takes depends on the practicalities of our life, the kind of issue we are tackling, our own strengths and our personal histories. It is also guided by God’s priorities in our life and our own choices.

For more information about how to start homework, check out ‘how to start your journey’ and our Bible note on Spiritual Surgery. You could also listen to Fireside Chat #8 titled ‘How to do Homework & Spiritual Surgery’.

 

9. What is the ‘empty chair’ and how is it helpful?

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The ‘empty chair’ is a psychological tool which some people find helpful as part of their journey. We use it in a Biblically-informed way to help unlock a greater authenticity of emotion in the healing process.

You imagine a person in the ‘empty’ chair in front of you. Perhaps it is someone who died suddenly and you didn’t have the chance to say goodbye. Perhaps it is someone who you have hurt and you need to say sorry but it is not appropriate to say it yet to their face. Most commonly it is someone who has betrayed or abused you or your family, who you are carrying some anger against, someone you need to address in order to settle matters.

Frequently we have unspoken conversations and pent-up feelings that contribute significantly to the damage in our life. We may pray for God to cleanse us, but the moment of letting go of those feelings requires our active co-operation. Using the empty chair gives you a practical opportunity to let go of all that you are carrying from that relationship or event, as part of the cleansing process.

We encourage folk to always include the Cross as an explicit part of the process if they are pursuing a discipleship journey. Some people imagine the Cross behind the empty chair, so that all the thoughts and feelings they express are taken into the Cross. Others see the Cross in front of them and between them and the empty chair, and every word they say, every thought they express, every feeling they engage is all being taken into the Cross, taken forever. Some have the Cross next to them, so that Christ is alongside them whilst they let out the truth of what they have to say. The Cross is covering the process of release and cleansing.

There are no direct references in Scripture to this modern technique of the empty chair. However it is not dissimilar to the imagery used by many of the Early Church mystics in their journey to a deeper knowing of Christ and, for example, in Pilgrim’s Progress where John Bunyan’s Pilgrim had a great weight that he needed to lay down at the Cross. The imagery of the empty chair and the Cross are a very tangible way to help us confront our fears, the trauma buried in our history, the deep-seated anger and hate, and sometimes just the journey of saying goodbye to someone who has died.

 

10. I’ve heard that some people might strong language while doing homework. Why is this allowed?

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This is a highly sensitive area for some and has caused some disquiet over the years, but we do encourage both men and women to express themselves emotionally in any way that they need in order to let go of the damage in their lives.

Imagine spending years repressing some deeply painful feelings, being unable to speak out how you really feel, and then someone befriends you and begins to teach you the need to let your feelings flood you, and to give them to Christ so that you can experience His cleansing. You have never done this before in your life, but the idea begins to grow on you.

Then the moment comes when you speak out spontaneously and authentically as part of engaging the feelings. Perhaps you are imagining the person who has deeply betrayed or abused you or your family, sitting on the ‘empty chair’ (See the FAQ above titled “What is the ’empty chair’ and how is it helpful?” for more information) opposite. You overcome the fear of doing this, and once you have pressed through the emotion of feeling stupid doing such a thing, the feelings begin to flood you.

In such powerful moments some people find themselves shouting, desperately reaching for a way of expressing what they are feeling. They struggle for the words, and in their search for what to say, they find may themselves shouting oaths and perhaps swearing as part of letting out the feelings.

What we must do with these areas of damage in our lives is to get rid of the darkness, to rid ourselves of the accursed dark feelings and their control of us. We might be offended at the language that erupts, but God is not surprised. He has been more familiar with the darkness that is in us than we are. Once He has taken our pain and anger, the strong language is also gone and the relief is often tangible.

After the pain has gone, the person is able to say sorry to the Lord and ask forgiveness for anything that might have been said inappropriately. Christ is quick to forgive. It is more important that the deep and profound pain is healed, than that we seek to be polite and bury the offense inside us again. For what we cannot let out and confess often becomes damage that we carry around throughout our life…

The one caveat we maintain is that we do not allow people to blaspheme in any way. This part of the journey is undertaken with Christ’s support, not against Him.
It is also important to note that any use of strong language should be specifically restricted to moments where the depth of the feelings are engaged, or where we are teaching others to do the same. This journey is not a license to treat others badly or make the use of strong language a common practice.

 

11. How long does it take to get healed?

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How many times have we been asked this question! Well, the simple answer is that we do not know – it will be unique for everyone. The biggest variable in the process is you.

Your response is most likely to be that you will make this the very highest priority in your life, and will do it fast track! This is good thinking, and we commend it, but it is not the whole story. It is not even the most helpful. What most folk find is that when dealing with a big issue or area of damage in their life they will then have to rest, take a break of a month or three, before engaging and cleaning out the next big room of their ‘spiritual house’. We have no medicine to help you do the journey fast track. You and Christ set your own pace.

Some people may find themselves waiting on the Lord, rather than being able to push ahead – because He sets the agenda. This can feel both frustrating and very necessary. If God does not go ahead of us, then we will falter and fail. Only He can see what needs to be done next. For many of us, doing the journey is like defusing a bomb, and putting the steps in place is God’s task, not ours.

We also have to integrate this journey into the responsibilities of our daily life, e.g. work, family, other commitments. Perhaps our emotional health is too fragile to do an intense journey at the moment. Any of these may require that we adopt a more measured approach.

It is important to bear in mind that discipleship is a lifelong journey. So even when we have found freedom from the most pressing areas of damage, God is not going to stop. He is our companion on the journey, rather than just waiting for us when we arrive

 

12. Do you do deliverance?

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Deliverance is a term that can be used in a number of different ways. Most people use it to refer to a form of prayer that directly confronts the authority of the Enemy in a person’s life.

In the early days of the Rapha Journey we did deliverance with some people who came to us, if they had a strong faith and were aware of the choices they were making to separate themselves from darkness. But our work developed a whole new emphasis as more and more people came with emotional or mental illness. It is neither wise nor helpful to do traditional deliverance on people with these kinds of illnesses, as they are often already deeply troubled emotionally. Praying for them in a manner that emphasises the power of darkness can increase their disturbed state and be most unhelpful.

So we have developed a type of deliverance that is far more appropriate for people that are emotionally troubled. Instead of us doing deliverance on or at them, we teach them how to make their own choices that take the authority to harm and weaken them away from the Enemy.

Our theological perspective is that the Enemy takes advantage of the damage in our life, but he does so by exploiting our own human will, our decisions, our habits, our attitudes. Damage from others, including our forebears, also becomes a playground that he takes advantage of. His authority to harm us is as a direct result of sin of some sort. On occasions it will be the combination of more than one of these areas.

So rather than confronting the presence of the Enemy in any direct way we teach someone to let the Lord show them by what authority the damage is remaining in their life. As the Lord brings this understanding, it becomes evident to the person that with Christ they have the hope and the power to confess the sin, to let go of the damage and to be free from its pain and shame. This removes any authority that the Enemy may have had.

For most people, following such confession and surrender to Christ in a specific area of their life, the authority of the Enemy quietly goes. There is no dramatic moment of prayer in which the Enemy’s power is expressed. Instead, the whole process is completed often without the person ever knowing how or what has happened. We do not even tell them that it is deliverance – they do not need to know.

For more resources on this question, the book Christ Walks Where Evil Reigned explores how much authority the Enemy had in the Rwandan genocide and sets out a theology of evil. We also have a note called Deliverance Through Gentleness, which describes our approach to deliverance.

 

13. Why do you have a different model of the journey for men and women?

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The simple answer to this is because Scripture does! Male and female are complimentary and very different. From the earliest times in the first few chapters of Genesis both male and female are separate creations, and given differing tasks. At no point in Scripture is man considered a good substitute for woman, and neither is woman a good representative of manhood. We did not invent this idea – God did!

This however is not the main reason why we have two distinct models. During our many years of ministry, men and women have both consistently indicated that the way they choose to pursue a therapeutic discipleship journey is different. It is our wish to honour this. Two ways of journeying is what men and women have been most comfortable with.

For many years in psychology there was a presumption that studying men was a good enough way of also understanding women. Sociologically some women’s movements also resisted being treated differently to men, assuming this meant being of less importance. Our view is that both male and female are in the image of God. Both are important, but they are different and those differences should be respected.

We do not deal in stereotypes. We treat each person as unique. But we do recognize some general patterns most commonly amongst each gender and distinct from one another. So our experience is that most men and women do the majority of their journey within a range of gender distinctives. We use a concept called ‘the gender continuum’ to help each person discover their own unique personhood, including their expression of their gender.

For more resources on this topic see the our Bible Note, Male & Female are Different.

 

14. Should husbands and wives tell each other about their journey?

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There is a pattern in the church and also in some counseling, that husbands and wives should be totally open about their own journey, either therapeutically or with the Lord. Sometimes this is indeed a mutual blessing.

However in our experience, there are times when this is not helpful, for one or both of the couple. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • A marriage is often one of the most damaged areas in a person’s life. So it can sometimes make a journey feel very unsafe if there is the expectation that every detail will be subject to the scrutiny of the spouse, when that relationship lacks trust.
  • It is almost always the case that a person has unfinished business from before they came into the marriage. Some of this is deeply traumatic and perhaps the spouse would also find it deeply traumatic. In many cases the person finding healing will want to share what happened with their spouse. But it often feels safer to do so after the healing is completed, rather than whilst they are so vulnerable.
  • Although both of the couple will have their own damage, it is often only one that is pursuing the journey at a time. Once the healing is achieved this will often not be a problem. But during the journey, if only one person is digging deep into their damage, it can be unhelpful for both if the details of the journey are talked about. It is likely that the partner who is not pursuing the journey at the time will be unable to respond in a way that is helpful for the other person.
  • Often one of the couple will want to talk in more detail about a situation than the other will be comfortable with. It is usually (although not always) the woman who wants to talk more. For this conversation to contribute positively to their relationship, the couple will need to be able to talk about how to communicate when one of them wishes to slow down the discussion.
  • It is very easy for one partner in a marriage to feel a sense of ‘superiority’ over the other in matters related to emotion or spirituality. Often a conversation about this kind of journey can increase this damage, which is not what God intends. So the couple will need to be able to take shared responsibility for ensuring this doesn’t happen.

These are just some of the difficulties that couples can face. We usually suggest that it is by a person’s actions that the healing speaks, rather than by their words. Change will become visible if it is authentic.

The exception to this if one person’s silence becomes very difficult for the other person. There shouldn’t be a sense of unhelpful secrecy – that can be just as much a form of manipulation as talking too much. So there will be times, ideally when both feel ready, when they can share in a more mutual way, as long as they stop if either begins to find it unhelpful. Having some ground rules in advance can feel a supportive way to begin.

 

15. There are other ministries called Rapha.  What is your connection with them?

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The Hebrew word Rapha is used a number of times in the Old Testament, and describes things that need attention, or are being healed or mended. So many Christians use the word to talk about their own ministry or work. We have used the term for the last 30+ years in our own teaching, and have given it a very specific Biblical meaning (see our Bible Note, Jehovah Rapha), but we do not have any association or connection with any other ministry that has this word or idea in their title or ministry.

In the USA, for instance, the word is being used to describe ministry among the elderly and infirm, those in hospice care, or helping those who have emotional or mental illness, while other ministries speak of forms of aid work in the Middle East and Africa. The word Rapha is also in common usage in Aramaic and Arabic, where you will often see it over a storefront that repairs torn clothes or makes new tailored clothing.

 

16. What is a therapeutic community?

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We have several aspects of our work that are reflected and practiced outside the church. Therapeutic community is one of them. A therapeutic community (TC) is a group of people who are committed to using the therapeutic potential of relationships to create increased healing and wholeness. TCs are found across the world to support a wide variety of need including diagnosed ‘personality disorder’, trauma, victims of abuse, offenders, children and young people with emotional or behavioural difficulties.

There are many different expressions of TC. As part of Peter Holmes’ and Susan Williams’ doctoral research programs, they discovered that their home church in UK, Christ Church Deal, had a number of similarities to a TC. They made contact with other TCs and with the TC quality improvement program within the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Today Christ Church Deal is a registered TC as well as a local church. Dr Holmes and Dr Williams work closely with both the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ therapeutic community program and their wider Enabling Environments program. They also help to lead an international network of therapeutic communities.

There are a number of features of TCs which mirror Biblical principles. These include:

  • A significant commitment that all members make to all other members
  • A commitment to honesty and authenticity, speaking the truth in love
  • The value placed on the potential of all other members to make a significant contribution to each other, rather than a reliance on a limited number of experts.
  • Shared responsibility and decision-making
  • The value of being human and of being in relationship.

Rapha Journey uses a number of TC concepts to enhance the therapeutic dynamic of its ministry.

To learn more about TCs visit the website of The Consortium for Therapeutic Communities

To see how TC values and standards operate in other environments, visit the website for the Enabling Environment program

To read about how TC principles are used in Christ Church Deal, download this article that Dr. Peter Holmes & Dr. Susan Williams published.  In addition, Peter and Susan have written a few books incorporating the TC principles.  Trinity in Human Community teaches how TC principles are used in Christ Church Deal and Meeting Jesus Together describes how TC principles can be used more broadly in churches and small groups.

 

17. Why do you encourage Rapha small groups?

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God is a community of three persons, now often described as a Divine or Trinity Community. God lives in relationship within the Trinity as a unity of three divine persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So we believe the example of the Godhead as relationship must remain at the heart of all we do. Because human beings are made in His image, God intends that we also make relationship central to who we are.

This centrality of relationship is a key part of a journey into healing and wholeness. None of us heal alone. For most of us it is other people that make us sick, so it must be other people that help heal us. Being isolated, as if on an island, without authentic connection with others, is never the best formula for our growth. The example of the Divine community sets the scene for the setting for our healing.

The problem for many of us is that relationships have already wounded us, so we have a fear of exposing ourselves to further relationships. Here is where the importance of Rapha small groups steps in. For both men and women one of the most helpful environments for coming back from woundedness is the relational network formed within Rapha small groups of like-minded people.

In such a group we are able to take our first cautious minor steps, by learning to trust again. For some this can take many months, but in due time we begin to trust and reach out. For men this often takes less time than for women, but varies according to a person’s background and baggage. The group also offers an opportunity for shared learning and mutual support, as each person discusses the progress they are making on their own journey. Groups also offer an opportunity to provide mutual support in stepping into a new future perhaps career, spiritual gifting, etc.

To explore the reality of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in more detail, look at our book, Trinity in Human Community

To explore how Rapha small groups work as part of a therapeutic and discipleship journey, see our book Meeting Jesus Together

If you would like to listen to a CD introducing how Rapha small groups work in Rapha, contact us.

 

18. How do Rapha small groups work?

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There is no strict model of how a Rapha small group works, although broadly they follow therapeutic community principles (See the FAQ above titled “What is a therapeutic community?” for more information). They are usually gender exclusive, either male or female, for the reasons noted above (See the FAQ about titled “Why do you have a different model of the journey for men and women?” for more information). They typically vary in size from 4 – 8 people. They meet weekly for 2-3 hours. Some groups will go on for several years, while others last only a few months in dealing with key baggage and its damage. Each group is unique to the people in it.

The focus of the group is for each member to share their own current journey, whatever that might be. Members listen to and support each other. They may share personal experience or suggestions but they do not offer advice. Each person remains fully responsible for their own journey.

Whilst the group may have a facilitator with a co-ordinating role, there is no traditional leadership function. All members of the group are involved in their own journey and participate mutually. If the group needs extra experience, they will contact the Rapha team.

Some groups focus their time on talking together. Some will include prayer together if all members are comfortable with that. Some groups also engage in ‘homework’ together, to help each other let go of damage from their pasts and welcome the redemption of the future.

Rapha provides an audio recording for anyone thinking of joining a group.  You can download a copy of this recording for free or purchase a CD that we will ship to you.

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There are also guidelines for a group to read together the first time they meet and as often thereafter as needed.

In addition, the book Meeting Jesus Together includes a description of how a Rapha small group works and the benefit it can bring.

 

19. Can I do my journey without being in a Rapha small group?

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There are many people in regions where they do not know anyone else who is pursuing a similar therapeutic or discipleship journey. Meeting regularly with a Rpaha small group of like-minded people is not a possibility for them. There are others whose circumstances do not allow them regular participation in a Rapha small group. If you are one of these people we can confidently say that God will provide you other resources to ensure that your journey is not obstructed because you have a lack of relationships.

We have formed an online community for people who would like to be able to ask questions or discuss their journey with others, but don’t have a group available. In addition to a very tangible form of support it is a helpful way of being able to learn from others. It ensures that no-one need be isolated whilst exploring this journey.

We have also created a number of written and audio resources to support this journey. They are available from our website. New resources are added on a regular basis.

Many of us have a natural reticence to be part of a group. We cannot imagine what others might be able to teach us. We fear the vulnerability. Perhaps we don’t want to ‘waste time’ supporting others who we regard as ‘weak’, slow learners, or in some way deficient.

Men tend to be more solitary and more focused on their journey. Being part of a group is often for a period of time or in order to tackle specific issues. What often confuses us is that we think Scripture (and society) gives the impression of the pre-eminence of the solitary male. So it is easy to conclude that all men must do the journey alone with Christ. As a result, many men seek to live this way as a ‘solitary saint’, fixed on Christ and with no one else.

Women often find the ongoing relationship of a group or online community more instinctively helpful, albeit challenging.

If you choose to pursue your journey alone for a time, then you can download any resources you need without discussing your journey with anyone. We can all do some of the journey alone. None of us need be in Rapha small groups. But if we are to mirror Christ and the way He trained the disciples, and learn many of the short cuts to dealing with issues in our lives, then the Rapha small group or an online community should become our home.

 

20. Can you help me do my journey if I can’t get to a workshop?

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The way we have structured our ministry, you can do the journey almost any way that you wish. You can use any combination of the following:

  • We have a wide selection of live workshop recordings available on audio and some on DVD. Some are a full weekend workshop, tackling a subject in some depth. Others are ½ day workshops with a specific theme. They are often accompanied by a pack of notes. View the list of resources here. If you are new to the journey, there are a couple of workshops we would recommend, Finding Christ, Finding Me (an introductory workshop) and Daily Discipleship.
  • We have an extensive range of supplementary audios that cover specific topics. These are just 80-90 minutes and have been recorded specifically to help support a journey into greater wholeness and a deeper relationship with the Lord. They often include stories from others’ journeys. There is a fireside series here and a new monthly Rapha Journeying series here.
  • If you have a specific question about your journey or want some support we would suggest you join our online community. This gives you access to a group of people who have been engaged with the Rapha Journey. We share experiences and ideas and offer support through the more demanding or vulnerable areas of our journeying. Details of our online community membership can be found here.
  • We would also encourage you to see if there are several others who you could meet with who might be interested in exploring a similar journey, so that you can form your own Rapha small group. We encourage Rapha small groups everywhere we work.
  • We have 10 books in print covering various aspects of the journey. Changed Lives is our introductory book, together with Susan Williams’ testimony, Letting God Heal. All of our other books focus on a specific theme. Many of them are suitable to use as a thought-provoking introduction to a specific topic.
  • If you are a reader, we also have an extensive range of notes, written from a Biblical perspective, that explore a wide variety of topics. They are intended to be an additional resource to help you explore God’s perspective on a particular area of your life.

The Lord has many unique and original ways of helping people, and He would like to help you. Ask Him for help in finding the best way forward, and be sure to give Him permission to cover your situation with His love and wisdom. Allow Him to be all-sufficient in your life, and learn to learn at His pace, regardless of your circumstances. But always be open to others coming into your life to stand with you and help you.

 

If you have any other questions, please contact us.

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