Guest Column

Sequestration: Opportunity for the church to step up

by Kenneth Koon, Armed Forces Mission

Editor's Note: This is a guest column by Kenneth Koon, Armed Forces Mission

The mandatory federal cutbacks of 2013 present churches with the opportunity to step up and fill the gap.

In addition to all the ways sequestration impacts upon individuals and communities, it should be noted that reports indicate “more than 350,000 suicide-related crisis calls will be negatively affected; 8,200 suicide-related calls from military members and their families will not be targeted for services; 1,500 at-risk youth will not be screened for suicide-related behaviors; and 11,000 fewer professionals will receive suicide prevention training.”

Sequestration presents churches with two options as I see it. We can talk about the added burden that is now placed upon us; or we can rise to the occasion and trust that the very God who ordained the times will also give us the wisdom, the strength and the resources to accomplish all He now calls us to do.

In suicide intervention one of the keys to helping those at risk is the ability to help them gain a new perspective. We want to connect with them, acknowledge their ambivalence about life and death and move them in a positive direction.

The same could be said of the church. What is our perspective? We can look at the times we find ourselves in and see it as a burden, or we can take hold of the incredible opportunity for great blessing and usefulness in the kingdom.

We can be ambivalent about who is responsible or we can see the need, acknowledge our responsibility and do something about it.

Armed Forces Mission chooses the later. Our goal is to train 300 caregivers in 2013 that are skilled in the ability to intervene for those who are considering suicide as an option. ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) is a two-day intensive training workshop for individuals from all walks of life who have made the commitment to be alert to the hurts of others and to intervene when needed. The only pre-requisite for the workshop is a caring heart.

While our primary mission is in serving the needs of troops and veterans we are also concerned with the health of all peoples in the communities we call home.

Consider this a rally cry to pastors, Christians and all people to come along side of us in support of this effort to train those who can then better serve the 15 million people in the U.S. who have suicidal thoughts each year.

Join us on March 25-26 in Fayetteville, Ga., for an ASIST workshop or send your people. To encourage greater participation, the cost of the workshop has been substantially reduced.

Learn more at www.iwillintervene.com .

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(Kenneth Koon is a resident of Sharpsburg.)


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