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Stephen Ministers come alongside people during a challenging time in their lives. We all face issues at some point in our life, whether it is grief brought on by the death of a loved one, the loneliness of aging, or the battle of a life shortening illness. As Stephen Ministers, we recognize the growing number of people struggling with depression.

Depression is much more than the temporary sadness many people feel. Depression is more persistent and can be overwhelming. Depressed people lose interest in all their normal activities. Everything, including getting out of bed in the morning, takes a huge effort. They are tired because it is difficult to achieve a restful sleep. They can be quite irritable and not pleasant to be with and so the depression encourages isolation.

Fortunately, there is also an increasing awareness that like other illnesses, if left untreated, depression can have serious consequences. Severe depression can lead to psychotic behaviour and suicide. Like most serious illnesses, depression requires the support of medical professionals that can prescribe medication. However, Stephen Ministers can be a part of the team that supports the person struggling with depression.

We are well trained to develop relationships with our Care Receivers that allow us to be companions on the journey to wellness. We listen more than speak, we accept the person as they are rather than judge them for past behaviour. We provide distinctively Christian care by sharing scripture and praying with our Care Receiver. We know God is in control and through His grace, a person can be restored.

A gentleman in Tsawwassen referred himself to Stephen Ministry last summer. He recognized that his behaviour had changed. After years of living on his own, loneliness led to depression and depression allowed evil thoughts to overwhelm him. Even after visits to medical professionals, including visits to hospital for psychiatric evaluation, he recognized the need for more support. As a Christian he knew God was in control of his life and he relied on God's Word for hope. His Stephen Minister came alongside him to listen to his story as the two walked around Tsawwassen. They prayed together and God intervened. With the help of medication prescribed by doctors the suicidal thoughts diminished. But the journey is not over. This is only one story of how God is working through our ministry to impact the lives of people in our community.

We invite you to contact Stephen Ministry if God is calling you to learn how to share a burden that a neighbour is now carrying on their own. We plan to visit groups within our church community to share skills and attitudes that have helped us over the last ten years.

Or, if depression, triggered by the stress of a loved one dying, or the stress caused by uncontrollable anxiety, or the stress of postpartum, or the stress of life in 2019, is overwhelming you, please contact Stephen Ministry. God will bless your courage to reach out for help.

Posted by Doug Thomson