I’m very grateful to Light Magazine for publishing my article, Following a Radical Jesus: Addressing the Effects of Stigma. I hope you will have some time to read it.

You might be moved to ask, “But what does it all mean to me as a follower of Christ?”

To answer questions this article might pose, I have prepared the following:

What is God calling us to do?
  • I don’t believe he’s asking us to start another organization.
  • He does not ask for donations of funds.
  • But he does ask for individuals who have a compassionate heart to follow Christ’s example when opportunities arise.
What does healing the effects of stigma entail?
  • It is NOT the same as reducing stigma.
  • It is NOT the same as healing the pain cause by poor mental health.
  • Healing becomes possible when we address the following sources of emotional pain felt by those living with mental health challenges:
      • They feel looked down on,
      • They don’t feel understood,
      • Their truths are not believed,
      • They are shunned, rejected, excluded,
      • They are made to feel ashamed,
      • Their abilities are often underrated,
      • Their opinions are not respected,
      • They are not taken seriously.
How can we help them overcome that pain?

We can help by following Jesus’ examples in the Gospels.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we learn that Jesus traveled to many towns and villages, preaching the good news of God’s kingdom, and “healing every kind of disease and sickness (Matt 4:23).”

The gospel stories show how Jesus brought his Father’s love to those the world wanted nothing to do with. One overriding feature was present in all those Jesus came to heal, whether they suffered physically or emotionally. All were rejected in some way by the world they lived in—the sick, the disabled, prostitutes, tax collectors, sinners of all kinds.

Jesus came for those who were rejected and he calls us to be there for those who are being rejected in our world today. He did not only heal them physically, but he also healed them spiritually by assuring them of his Father’s love and their worth in his Kingdom. We, as Jesus’ followers, can best help the rejected of our day by supporting them spiritually as he did.

At its most basic, good support involves acceptance, being kind, and taking the time to listen, learning to understand their needs. Listening by itself alone can work wonders. It will help them feel cared for. It will help them feel they matter.

Positive outcome from spiritually inspired support:

When we encourage stigmatized individuals spiritually by assuring them of God’s love through words and action, they will begin to see themselves as the worthy human beings they are. They will grow in confidence—able to develop lives that are more complete and whole. They will start feeling like they belong.

My 48-page booklet, Healing the Effects of Stigma: How Can We Help? contains some clear suggestions on how to help friends who are affected by stigma. It will soon be available as a free PDF downloadable from my website at https://marjabergen.com/books