I recently had the privilege of learning about the ministry of the St. Paul-based Center for Victims of Torture (CVT), one of 32 Minnesota Conference Advance projects. Each year, this organization provides direct services to more than 3,000 men, women, and children. Tens of thousands of family and community members receive support through home visits, community events, and referrals to appropriate counseling, legal, medical or social services.
Started in 1985, CVT has expanded its work over time to include those in Bosnia, Croatia, Ethiopia, Guinea, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Myanmar, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Turkey.
There are more than 30,000 torture survivors in Minnesota. Torture is a deliberate and systematic dismantling of a person’s identity and humanity through physical and psychological pain and suffering. Its purpose is to destroy a sense of community and create a climate of fear. Torture can lead to multiple disabling conditions that interfere with even the most basic functions of life. After-effects can include chronic pain, severe depression, post-traumatic stress, and thoughts of suicide. Torture is not an effective means of interrogation and does not yield useful or truthful information. However, it does affect the basic human needs to feel safe, to trust, to feel valued, to feel close to others, and to feel control over one’s life.
CVT rebuilds the lives and restores the hope of people who survive torture and war atrocities. Recently, many clients have come from Africa and Burma. Many are well-educated and were leaders in their home countries. In some cases, survivors seeking care were tortured for their political or religious affiliation.
CVT professionals train local mental health staff in the countries they serve. They provide counseling and physical therapy. They tutor those of all ages. They befriend people who sometimes feel like they don’t have anyone. They engage in public policy and public education initiatives. Theirs is a “front-line” ministry. Many survivors hear about CVT through word-of-mouth.
Fortunately, we have the opportunity to learn first-hand about CVT’s ministry. Each month, the organization offers one-hour informational tours of its St. Paul healing center. This is great opportunity for a “road trip” for youth and adults from our conference. It’s an experience that’s guaranteed to open people’s eyes and hearts. You can also invite CVT to your church to provide a compelling overview of the organization’s work, including stories about the men and women it cares for. Contact Steve Hall (612-436-4820) for more information.
Thanks for all you do. It is a pleasure to work with you to heal a broken world in Jesus’ name.
Rev. Lyndy Zabel is director of missional impact for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church