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Grieving, Yet Thanksgiving

Kingdom Pursuits / Robby Dilmore
The Truth Network Radio
November 26, 2022 4:09 pm

Grieving, Yet Thanksgiving

Kingdom Pursuits / Robby Dilmore

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November 26, 2022 4:09 pm

In this episode, Robby is joined by author Janet Johnson and Brad Phillips of Persecution Project. Janet talks about her book, "Surviving the Holidays While Grieving," and shares some tips for grieving listeners, and Brad discusses Persecution Project's mission of serving persecuted Christians in the Sudan and their current campaign and partnership with Truth Network, Emergency Christmas Airlift 2022.



We're partnering with the Persecution Project Foundation right now to help embattled Christians that are being attacked for their faith in the Sudan. Go to right now and give whatever you can to help these dear families in the Sudan. The Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few seconds. Enjoy it. Share it. But most of all, thank you for listening to the Truth Podcast Network.

Join men and women who take what they love and let God turn their passion into kingdom pursuits. Now, live from the Truth Booth, your host, Robbie Dilmore. What a Thanksgiving show we have for you today in so many different ways. We have a lot to be thankful for. And as we're entering into this holiday season, you know, some folks are dealing with grief. And as a result of that, we have a wonderful author with us, Janet Johnson, who's dealing with grief in the holidays. Janet, welcome to Kingdom Pursuits. Oh, it's such a joy to be with you today and with all of your listeners.

Yes. And tell us again the title of your book. Well, actually, I have four books, but the one that we're really going to talk about today is Surviving the Holidays While Grieving. And it talks about having really a toolbox of ideas and activities and ways to turn our sad times, our grief into sweet memories and how to transform the most difficult times in our lives into a celebration for the gift of our loved one who may or may not, you know, is not with us anymore. Wow. I know this is all something that we, well, not all of us deal with, but obviously a lot of folks do this time of year.

And for those of us who are older, there's lots of people that aren't at the table that used to be there. And so I'm looking forward to where we go with that. But also today, speaking of dealing with grief, we have Brad Phillips with the Persecution Project with us. And Brad is actually live in Kenya today, so we're on sort of a different kind of setup.

We're dealing with Signal's phone number, I mean, with phone system. And so Brad's on the phone as well and again in Kenya, but undoubtedly working in the Nuba Mountains and all with the Persecution Project. Welcome, Brad.

Yeah. Hi, Brad. So tell us a little bit about what you're doing today. Well, it's the evening time here. I'm at my home base in Nairobi, Kenya right now. And yeah, it's about dinner time here.

It's eight hours different, is that right? That's about right. And so when were you last over in and you're usually working right in the Sudan. So give us a little backdrop of what's going on right now. Yeah, well, we've been working in the Sudan now for about 25 years. And in the Nuba Mountains, we started to really focus, especially in the last 11 or 12 years when war came back in 2010 and 11.

And right now we are organizing an emergency Christmas airlift and people can go to to find out more about that. The Nuba Mountains is home to the largest community of Christians in an officially Islamic state of Sudan. Right. And from what I understand, there's a whole new outbreak of fighting up there that's come upon them, right?

Yes. Unfortunately, you have a regime there in Khartoum that is determined to wipe out the Christian community there. The largest Christian community is among the Nuba people. And in October, which is the beginning of the dry season here, they launched a big offensive in an area known as the Western Jebel region of the Nuba Mountains in a place called Ligawa. And it was a combined government forces along with some Islamic militias that they'd organized and they uprooted about 6000 families from their homes. Thousands of people were injured. Other people were affected by just losing their homes and their shelter and having to flee to a different region of the Nuba where it was safer. So as you can imagine, there's all kinds of needs related to shelter, food, medicine, water, all of those things for those people that are affected.

And we work alongside the church and the church, the local community there is trying to respond to a lot of people that are just arriving on their doorstep with nothing right now. Yeah, so as soon as you can see that surviving the holidays for that group is, it's just fascinating to me how God sends people into the situation, you know, Janet and her situation or somebody that are struggling with loss in this time of year, or the Nuba Mountains, you know, which by the way, you know, our good friend Mark with Lantern Rescue right now is in the Ukraine, you know, dealing with some situations, tough situations over there where they need our prayers desperately over there. God sends Brad into the Nuba Mountains for that and he's got Janet and so Janet, there was a lot of significant loss that you wrote your book on, right? So to give our listeners a little taste of kind of how you experienced grieving, could you? Yes, I experienced, our son was killed in a car accident when he was 26 and my brother was murdered.

We still don't know who killed him and my brother-in-law committed suicide. We had no inkling at all that that was going to take place and then I had the death of two very, very close friends. Another one had a stroke and has left her with some significant disabilities.

We also have an adult daughter who has disabilities. I experienced a traumatic brain injury which has affected some of my short-term memory and not all grief comes out of, as you all know, comes out of death. It can come out of many, many different things, losing a job, our finances, all different kinds of things, being in a war zone, being divorced or separated.

There's just so much grief and over the last several years, of course, many, many have lost loved ones but others have had significant losses in ways like disabilities in their health because COVID has left a lot of people with health problems that are lingering well beyond when they quote-unquote healed from COVID itself. So I've just had a lot of loss. And so one of the things that I find fascinating about grief in both Brad's situation and your situation is when I lost my father, I guess it was the first time that I ever had this happen. Like all of a sudden, I would be standing somewhere and it would hit me like, oh my gosh, I would break down and I could not stop. I mean, it was real grief and I didn't even realize, you know, that there would be something like that where I had no control over my emotions.

But that's what actually happens, right? And the holidays bring that on for some people, right, Janet? Yes, the holidays especially have a lot of what we call triggers.

I can give you an example of that. Our son who was killed loved to fish and hunt. And so whenever we would go into a store that had Christmas things and ornaments especially, there would be hunting ornaments or fishing ornaments. And I can remember standing there looking at the tree and just having that lump that you get in your throat first and then the tears that just come down and you cannot stop them. But that is part of the healing process, the triggers that we have. But they come unexpectedly. You are so right. We cannot predict them.

We think we can control them, but we really cannot. And so Brad, you know, for you as you go into that area, there's massive grief. And part of what's going on there is just people need to share their story. So Brad, I hate that the break's coming up.

We're going to have to come back to that question when we come back. So we've got so much more coming with Janet Johnson with her book, Surviving the Holidays While Grieving, as well as our good friend Brad Phillips with the Persecution Project, right, for the Sudan. So much more, Kingdom Pursuits coming up.

You're listening to the Truth Network and Well, welcome back to Kingdom Pursuits, where we hear how God takes your passion and uses it to build a kingdom, and we certainly have poster children for that today, Brad Phillips with the Persecution Project and Janet Johnson with her book, Surviving the Holidays While Grieving. And when we left our hero, Brad, he was talking about, you know, Brad dealing with that just massive grief as people are being pushed out of their houses and obviously dealing with loss of loved ones in a massive scale.

But these people have been unfortunately kind of hardened through war for all these years, right? Yeah, I think one of one of the big aha moments happened for me a few years back when we were doing when we were working in one of an area called Abulayla and I saw a young man standing in the middle of the market, crying out and just repeating his story over and over and over again. And the story was about how basically the John Dewey had come in and taken his wife and his daughter and stolen his property. And he just was standing there like a crazy person, repeating the story over and over and over and over again. And we invited him to sit down and take some tea with us.

And as we were sitting and talking, this guy sort of came into his right mind. But as I looked around, I noticed there were five or six other crazy people. We would call them crazy people sitting in the marketplace. And one of my colleagues said, yeah, this is this is what we do here in the Nuba Mountains. We don't have any sort of facility for these people.

So the shopkeepers in the market take care of them. And but the aha moment for we me was just realizing that, of course, 100 percent of the people in this community that were serving called the Nuba Mountains have been traumatized because they've been under attack physically in every other way for decades. All of them have have either experienced it themselves or one of their loved ones, the parent, a sibling, a spouse. And you have people who are maybe you could say be functional, maybe 70 or 80 percent of them would be functional.

You wouldn't know that there's anything wrong with them. But then there might be a very high percentage like that man who have just basically lost their peace completely and gone crazy. So we started getting involved with trauma healing training and we just began to realize more and more what a huge need there is for that. And, you know, we talked about the peace of Christ and this is really what they need as a nation, as a people and everyone.

The response for these workshops has been great. And, you know, you find out, like I said, there's different degrees of impact from trauma might destroy a marriage, might destroy a business or might cause somebody to go totally crazy. But on the surface, maybe the large percentage of people look like they're OK. So it's in a place like Sudan, you can just see there's a real mental health crisis. And I know, of course, in America, we're starting to see that as well, that we have a real mental health crisis. And a lot of it is, I think, trauma related.

Right. It's amazing to me how, you know, God comforts us with the comfort that we can comfort then others with, which is, you know, Janet, of course, how you've read your book, wrote your book. But I was thinking about all the people that were going to help that man in the marketplace because, you know, obviously, as you have massive trauma, you have massive healing that Jesus has done along those lines. But in your case, obviously, you're walking people, Janet, through how you are healed, right? Yes, but also a lot of research.

And I do have the education in counseling in that. So it kind of all came together. You know, we never expect these traumatic experiences to come on us. They happen to everybody else, but they don't happen to us. And then all of a sudden, when they happen, it touches us in ways that we had no expectations. And so my journey has taught me so much, but we continue to learn all the time because grief is a process. You said, Robbie, about, you know, you weren't expecting to find yourself still grieving over your father. But grief is a process, and it never totally goes away.

It comes, it goes, it gets less, but it still comes back in different ways. And that's why we need tools and to be equipped to recognize when we are struggling with grief to be able to find ways to help us grieve well rather than just grieve. And that's kind of the point of the book and the point of all the books that I've written is just to learn how to grieve well because it is a process. So I'm curious, like, should we avoid triggers, right? If you know this is going to trigger you, the holidays, is there, or what is, in other words, what would be the tool that you would suggest on grieving well with that? Oh, there are so many, but no, I don't think we need to avoid triggers. To a point, for instance, if we know that we've been, let's say we've been invited to a party, okay, and we know that this could cause us an extreme amount of stress or we just are hurting too much, we have a choice to take care of ourselves and say we won't go or we drive ourselves or have a friend drive us who is willing to let us leave the party early if we find that we have, I'm going to say, been stimulated in our grief too much. So grief is going to come. It is that, like I said, it's that process, but how we handle it and to be prepared to know, like, for instance, when you go into a store, you're going to hear Christmas music playing and is that going to trigger you?

If it is, shop online. There's so many different ways that we can help ourselves, but no, I don't believe that we totally avoid triggers. We cannot avoid triggers. They're going to come. So we have an anonymous caller that wants to call in, or they have, I don't know whether it's a man or woman, they have a suicide topic that they want to discuss.

So, you know, caller, you're on the kingdom of pursuits. Good morning. How was it? Good morning. God bless you and happy Thanksgiving every day, every day. Yes. Thank you. So, um, I was like my brother and I was very, very close and, uh, I had a lot and just we were, and he was funny as probably when he was hilarious, extremely gifted. And I ended up, I was robbing him the same deal.

Um, yeah. So, that's been five years ago. He had a Lewy body dementia and my brother was like 6'4 and it just kind of, you know, transformed him a little bit, not in a good way. But he was already being transformed by God's mercy and grace for years. He did not...

I know where he is and I know I won't see him again. But I wasn't going to call, um, and I just felt like maybe I should, maybe, because, like Romans 8, 28, he knows that all things work towards good according to his purpose. And I didn't know that exactly right.

Yeah. So Janet, I'm just... I didn't know who it was that as far as trivia, but when I went to this home yesterday, I'd been putting it off.

I did not hear the question. And Thanksgiving with my sister-in-law and, uh, it was okay. But that's an excellent book from what I'm composed of with excellence while I'm shopping online. You know, but we all... And so, are you struggling right now or I assume you're having a hard time with the time of year?

Well, my relationship will not be much in the past, because each and every day I realize that I have an actual, personal relationship with our Creator. That keeps me blown away with joy. So I'm able to... I'm able to... I'm alright. I'm sad and it's poignant and all that, but I'm okay.

And it just did not happen. How could I help other people? How could I tell them it's going to be okay, you know, when they're sad? So it was your brother that committed suicide? Yeah. And interestingly, my wife's brother did the same thing.

And the struggle for her has been, you know, all the guilt of, I thought I should have done something I would have should have if you struggled with that? No, but that's dissipating. I mean, my other brother lives inside me and there's no shadow of a doubt that my brother and my Savior, my Redeemer, lives inside me. Right. And he's given me incredible strength. I wanted somebody's service. No, man, I can't handle that. That Redeemer kid is a marvel, because he's been so gentle with me.

I've never failed in my life now. Yeah. So it's alright if we pray with you real quick? A peace that balances all understanding. Is it okay if I pray with you real quick as we leave?

Yeah, that'd be nice. Oh, thank you. So, Lord, thank you for this call, and I thank you for her courage to call in and share. And, Lord, we know her heart is hurting and that she's feeling this loss. I pray that you would comfort her as only you do and as you promised in your Word.

And I thank you so much for her call and her heart for you. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen. You're listening to the Truth Network and Welcome back to Kingdom Pursuits, where we hear how God takes your passion and uses it to build the Kingdom, and we're so blessed today to have Janet Johnson with her book, Surviving the Holidays. And our friend and good friend of Stu Epperson's, because he's actually been to the Nuba Mountains with Brad, with the Persecution Project, that something's been near and dear to the Truth Network's heart for years and years and years is the persecution that's going on in the Sudan. And so, Brad, you know, this time of year in particular, right, there's a lot going on, and it's a real opportunity for people to get in on this Operation Airlift. Can you explain that a little bit? Sure. You know, it's hard to cover all the bases in a short interview.

There's a lot of information. I would encourage anyone who's interested to go to to find out about our efforts to respond this Christmas with compassion and hope for some of these families who've lost everything in the Nuba Mountains. This time of year is a challenging time of year because in Sudan, it's transitioning from the rainy season to the dry season. And even without war, it's a challenging time because the rainy season, people are affected by all kinds of illnesses and things, waterborne diseases that come with the rainy season.

And in the dry season, that's usually when the enemy, the Islamist regime, plan their military offensives because they're able to move vehicles like they just did in October. They moved 30 armored vehicles into this area called Lagoa, and they killed a lot of people. There were women were raped. A lot of people were injured. A lot of people lost their homes, and many of those people were forced to flee from this government controlled area of Lagoa into rebel areas. They call them rebels, but it's really the Nuba people control those areas.

And this has been going on for the lifetime of most of these people. In the last 11 years especially, the regime, this Islamist regime, has dropped 6,000 bombs on churches, schools, hospitals, and marketplaces. And so the intent of that regime is to wipe out those people, and they've targeted them because of not only their skin color, their ethnicity, but also because of their identification with Jesus Christ, their faith.

It's the largest community of Christians in Sudan, which is still an officially Islamic state. So it is a challenging time of the year, but it's also a great opportunity of need, presents great opportunity for the gospel, and there is a very active church there in the Nuba Mountains that Persecution Project is working with to try to respond to some of these physical and spiritual needs. Darrell Bock Wow, that's absolutely huge, and what an opportunity God has given all of us, right, to ask our hearts? What can we do here? We obviously can pray, and how can we give? Again, it's, did you say, Bryce?

Yes, let me explain a little bit about that. You know, we are trying, our goal in this airlift is to try to assist 2,000 families, and the average family has about seven people. If you include children and spouses, husband and wife, there's about seven people, and we can, with about $75, provide life saving help to one family. So our goal is to raise enough money to assist 2,000 families this Christmas.

So if you want more information about that, about some of the things that go in the kit, mosquito nets, cooking pots, audio scripture, shelter tarps, things like that, you can go to, and if you want to partner with us through prayer or by helping one or more families in the mountains, this is a great time of the year to do that. That's so awesome, Brad. I'm so grateful for that. And getting back to Janet, as we had that anonymous caller call, I know that as you bring up just the term grief and the holidays, it hurts for a lot of folks, and so I'm so glad that you're there with some more of those tools.

And I know our listeners would love to know one or more of those tools that you are excited about people reading about in your book, Janet. Well, I think it's important to, as I said before, to be prepared. People are going to wish us Merry Christmas and things like that, and when we are hurting ourselves, sometimes just to be prepared and know how we want to respond to people.

Like instead of saying Merry Christmas because we really don't feel that, we could say we hope your holidays are filled with peace, or we know that Jesus loves us all, or just some comment other than something that would just be a trite response. And also, I think it's so important to prioritize our self-care. Often when we're grieving, we can't sleep.

Rest is very important in the healing process, and oftentimes we'll just comfort eat instead of eating sensibly, which just adds to all kinds of other problems. And it's important to understand that we need a supportive friend. We need someone that we can talk with.

Now that can be a counselor, but we may or may not need a counselor. It's important to have that trusted friend that you can just go and sit at their kitchen table and cry and they'll accept it and not judge you or not try to tell you really what to do because, as I said, grief is a process. But there's also other things we can do so that we grieve well, and that is to decide, for instance, how we can handle certain things. Can we or can we not handle them emotionally, like a family gathering like we just probably all went through during Thanksgiving. If we normally had the Thanksgiving dinner at our house and we don't feel up to it, it's okay to say to the family, this year we need to have somebody else host it. And this was for Christmas too or for a New Year's party or any other gathering throughout the year, even a birthday party for someone. If you don't feel like you can handle it, don't put that pressure on yourself.

Allow somebody else to take it this year. And do you need to decorate the way you always did? Some decorations may be okay, but do you need to do everything? In other words, what's going to cause you the most stress?

Try to eliminate stress so that you then can focus on healing yourself and just enjoying a few things during the holidays rather than it being such a stressful time, as we all know it can be anyway. So I think we have to be honest with ourselves and make lists. That's one of the important things, make lists, because we forget things. We forget things normally, but when we're grieving, we really can forget things. And so it's important to make lists and then we don't get frustrated because we forgot something. Or it's also important to keep things in one place, like always put your keys in one place, always put your purse or your glasses or the TV remote.

I can't tell you how frustrating it is to want to sit down and watch a TV program and not be able to find the remote. And we do these things not consciously because we're grieving and we're not thinking clearly. And that's what happens to our brain. It kind of becomes like, I want to say mush in a way. I don't know if you experienced that after the death of your dad, but we just have a way of our brain just doesn't work the way it normally would. I experienced that during COVID. We don't have the clarity that we normally would.

I don't know if other people had COVID head, but I mean... Oh, COVID head too, yeah. That's when my brain went to mush. But anyway, we're going to be back with one more segment of Kingdom Resuits. Thank you so much for listening. We're looking forward to share some more on surviving the holidays while grieving. And of course, our good friend, Bad, with Persecution Project. They're on location in Kenya, so it's really fun to have him with us today, and we can be praying about how we can help out the Sudan. Welcome back to Kingdom Pursuits, where we hear how God takes your passion and uses it to build the kingdom.

And wow, I love getting to do this this time of year. There's so many amazing ministries. God is always seems to be on the spot when people are hurting.

And so we have that situation today with Janet Johnson with her book, Surviving the Holidays While Grieving. And of course, our good friend, Brad Phillips, who's on location in Kenya, actually, you know, that's where their operations are to move into the Sudan. And so few people get a chance to go in there.

But Brad and his group have for years and years and years. And you might know Stu Epperson, the head of Truth Broadcasting, actually went one time over there with what an exciting adventure that was and way to help some people that were really hurting. So Brad, what else did you want to get said today that you didn't have a chance to for our listeners this time of year? Well, let me just say, I want to say thank you to you, Robbie. It's great to hear your voice and I appreciate being on the show. I'm so grateful for the Truth Network for supporting us all these years in this ministry. The reason I'm here in Kenya is Kenya is the staging area of logistics of all the work that we do up in Sudan.

But I do get up there every month for a few days. I guess what I would like to say by way of background and what we were talking about is one of the reasons why this is a particularly challenging time in the Nuba Mountains is because throughout Sudan there has been a popular uprising that's been going on now for about four years of pushback against the Islamic regime. This regime that's been in power for more than 30 years has led to people going to the streets and there's been a serious crackdown in government controlled areas by Islamic forces with a lot of killing, a lot of extrajudicial killing, raping, imprisonment, torture, all kinds of things. And the result has been that really millions of people have been displaced in that country of Sudan. And in the Nuba Mountains, which has become, even though it's targeted, it's become a safe haven, it's sort of an oasis within that Islamic regime. And when the war started in Nuba in 2011, 2010, there were about a million people in southern Kordofan and now that population has tripled. And it hasn't tripled because of birth rates, it's tripled because people have been voting with their feet. They've been forced to flee because they don't want to be under Sharia Islamic law and they'd rather be the subject of aerial bombardment and periodic seasonal attacks than live in government controlled areas where they don't have freedom of worship. So what that means is that the needs have increased exponentially and a place where there's already a lack of infrastructure and things like that.

So these attacks that happened in October are sort of a signal of more attacks to come as we get into the dry season. So I really ask the listeners of this show to pray for the people of all of Sudan, but especially in the Nuba Mountains as we get more into the dry season, that God will protect them from physical attacks, but also that God would work through the church to encourage and empower his people to witness to those who are in need, who are suffering right now as a result of this regime and just to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ. So if you want more information about this ministry or about this particular campaign, please go to and again, we wish you a happy Thanksgiving and we thank all of the listeners of Kuk Talk Live. Oh, thank you, Brad. Thank you so much. God bless and Godspeed. So Janet, in just the few minutes we have left, I want to give you a chance to speak about anything you wanted to get said today and we just have a couple of minutes left in the show.

Okay. Well, I think it's important and one of the things that I would like everyone to understand is that our losses do not need to determine our future and they don't prevent our hearts from enjoying the life of those who are presently around us. Sometimes when we're grieving, we forget that life is going on all around us with our children, with other friends and different things like that and I think it's just important to allow others to join in that grief with us, but to also understand that our loved ones would not want us to sit at home and just be sad throughout the holiday.

After all, Christmas is really, I mean it's about the birth of Jesus and about the resurrection. It's about everything that God has done for us and even amid our grief, we still can celebrate because of what the season is all about and so one of the things that I really cherish is that, and this would be a hint for everybody, if you're grieving, ask everybody to do a random act of kindness in honor of your loved one and then to tell you what they did because that helps others and it helps you to celebrate your loved one. And also, always remember that the joy of the Lord can be your strength because God wants to give you His strength and His joy. Oh, thank you so much for being with us today, Janet, as we head out. I thank you for listening to Kingdom Pursuits and stay tuned. We've got so much truth coming at you. Encouraging prayer followed by the masculine journey starts here and then Nikita Koloff. He's going to be at Pinedale, by the way, coming up this Sunday. You don't want to miss that.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-26 18:09:53 / 2022-11-26 18:23:10 / 13

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