The Healing Power of Debriefing

Three weeks ago the aviation campus staff were still struggling significantly with post crash stress.  Also students and staff from the local Adventist school were also showing signs of trauma.   Many were not sleeping, eating, etc.  Dr. Ann Hamel, a Psychologist from America, had just arrived.  Darron had made lists of all those who needed help.  He has been in full pastoral mode since the crash.  His gifting of years in pastoral care was much appreciated as so many needed comfort.  Yet, the amount of people who needed help was overwhelming.  So many were so effected by what they saw, heard, smelt, touched and had to do. 

We were not alone.

Wycliffe Bible Translators have many individuals who have been trained in peer debriefing, specifically to help in traumatic situations.  They were ready to come as soon as we gave word.  It was decided that the young children who were near the crash scene would be debriefed at school, Tuesday a.m..  The Aviation staff would be debriefed on Wednesday a.m., the Aviation wives on Wednesday afternoon, and the older school boys and school staff who did so much of the physical hands on post crash rescue stuff would be debriefed Wednesday afternoon also.  All of this was done in Indonesian.  Encouraging the people to share their stories, their memories.  Helping them to know that their feelings were normal.  Their symptoms were normal.  And then hand outs were given on activities that would help them heal. 

Getting back into a routine.


Eating healthy.

Enough rest.

We were not alone.

It was beautiful to watch….missionaries minister to those who were so devastated by the loss of Bob.  They gave their time.  They gave their hearts.  They were used by God.

The kids told stories and drew pictures.  The adults told stories and cried.  The missionaries listened.  The missionaries hugged and prayed for these precious people who loved and lost not just their boss, but to many of them Bob was like a father, and a grandfather.

We were not alone.

Then Dr. Ann met with those who needed more time.  Including all the immediate family and us.  Her ministry to all of us was beautiful.  She had complete empathy as 30 years ago her husband was tragically killed while they were serving in Rwanda. 



The transformation from Wednesday (major debrief day) to Thursday was physically visible.  Staff told us they slept.  They were smiling.  And even some joking was going on.

We were not alone.

The Body of Christ has been a beautiful thing to witness in this tragedy.   We have been ministered to, blessed and healing has begun.  Watching the power of debriefing work in a country where Psychologists and counselors are not used, was intriguing.  Sometimes we have to be told when it is ok to laugh, cry, tell our stories and let go.  As the pain of the loss of Bob lives on we continue to cling to the hope of heaven.

Thank you one and all who served so well.  Please continue to pray for the Roberts family and all of us who serve along with them at aviation….as we continue to miss….Bob.





  1. Glad the healing is progressing. Blessings on you all! Di

  2. Hello dear Ruth, I cannot imagine the emotions that you have felt during these last weeks. Praying with you and for you. I sure would love a Skype visit sometime soon. When might work for you?


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