May 2017 Newsletter - "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Healed" by Pastor Roni Burton

by Dr. Roni Burton, MD

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Thessalonians 5:23

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PSTD) is a highly complex disorder, which involves derangements in spirit, mind, and body characterized by “intrusive thoughts, nightmares and flashbacks of past traumatic events, avoidance of reminders of trauma, hypervigilance and sleep disturbance, all of which lead to considerable social, occupational and interpersonal dysfunction” [1].  A common approach to the management of this disorder is often pharmacotherapy (medications) with the aim of reducing symptoms of irritability, impulsivity, anger, depression etc. These medications (with their attendant, potential side effects) are often used with psychotherapy to manage PTSD. One of the more difficult components to treat is the sleep disturbance that can occur with PTSD. Polypharmacy (multiple medications) can occur as medication management and tend to be progressive based on the person’s clinical response to the medication.  Thus, medications for mood stabilization, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbance may be combined with careful observation for potential harmful interactions. Not uncommonly, persons with PTSD  ‘self medicate,’ meaning the use of other substances such as alcohol, illegal drugs, or other adaptive behaviors, e.g. excessive exercise, cleaning, etc. and are coping mechanisms often associated with PSTD.

The epidemiology (cause, incidence, and distribution of the disease) is extensive. Many persons are affected. Common traumas associated with PTSD includes sexual trauma (e.g. childhood sexual abuse, rape), unexpected death of a loved one, traumatic accidents, physical abuse as children (experienced or witnessed), exposure to organized violence such as refugees, kidnap victims, participation in organized violence (e.g. exposure to combat, recovering bodies, participation in causing death or injury), natural disasters, etc.

The above is a brief description of PTSD, and there is extensive information regarding assessment, manifestations, course, diagnosis, and co-morbidities (other secondary conditions) associated with PTSD.  However, the purpose of this writing is to bear witness to power of God to heal PTSD.  1 Peter 5:8 states, “Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour.” PTSD is among the manifestations of that devouring.

I had the privilege of interviewing Staff Sargent David Yim who is a combat veteran of military tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, who was recently healed from PTSD.  Sargent Yim was in the infantry in the US Army and in the performance of his duties was exposed to extensive trauma as described above. This included seeing body parts, smelling burning flesh, experiencing the psychological trauma of having to take life as well as being shot at.  After returning from his second tour in 2003, he noticed a change in his mentality. He could not sleep.  He had not slept for more than six to seven hours per week.  He had the typical therapies, including Ambien (a sleeping pill) with progressive dosing and psychiatric care but no significant change for fourteen years.

Per Sgt. Yim, a common advice was, “suck it up and carry on.”  He was advised by friends to “keep busy.”  So, “during those periods is when I would pick up my combat bible and read verses, after verses, after verses.  And sometimes I would just clean.  A lot of cleaning went on.”  Sgt. Yim said he would put on his head phones and listen to “water sounds or soothing music” in hopes that it would help.  He also exercised, running up 15 miles per day at times and states, “I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep. Eventually my body does give out, along with my mind, and I would sleep for maybe thirty minutes but within that thirty minutes I would have one or two flashbacks. Then I would wake up refreshed, and I would be up again for another 24 to 48 hours.” Sgt Yim also admitted that he thought of suicide but “talked to God about it” had asked God for a sign if he should end his life; but after a few days without a sign the message was to “push forward.”

Thus, pushing forward, Sgt. Yim became acquainted with Forerunner Ministries at the suggestion of his parents. Due to the life change seen in their pastor’s daughter who is a member of Forerunner, Stg Yim came. But he didn’t just come.  He asked to meet briefly with the pastor of Forerunner Ministries International, Michael Petro to get acquainted, “one on one… so I could get a character reading from him. At first we didn’t talk about religion, we just talked like normal people… it didn’t feel like he was talking to me. It felt like something higher was talking to me, and I felt great, I don’t know, like comfort. I don’t know the word to use, but it was like I was home or something. Then we start talking religion… I felt there was more to it, but no one could guide me.”  Sgt Yim stopped going to church because he recognized that what he was seeing was, as he puts it, a “business. I get it.  So I stopped going. But everything that was happening in my life kept bring me back to a higher calling, so I kept going from church to church seeing if I could actually find someone to teach me something.”

So after Pastor Mike Petro prayed for Sgt. Yim, for the “first time in a very long time I actually slept more than six hours. I slept for nine or ten hours. There was no grogginess, I felt more energized, more alive and it was a great feeling.”.That’s when he started looking up the Youtube videos and learning about Forerunner’s teaching. 

Stg. Yim stated he called his “brother in combat” who is now a colonel in the Army to tell him “I got sleep.” The colonel asks, how did you get “this sleep that was missing for so long?” Stg. Yim told him about Forerunner and about The Youtube channel. He says, “I’m telling you, it’s the real deal.  I know you are an atheist but you’re my brother in combat and I want you to have the same feeling I do.” So Sgt Yim invited his atheist buddy to check out the video and to text him back just let him know what he thought about it.  And if he didn’t like it he would understand. Not only did his atheist friend “fall asleep at work” for 4 hours, the other cohort of combatants are finding restful sleep due to the anointing from the Word being released from the teaching. It’s a testimony of the power of Yahweh to heal the human being (spirit, mind, and body) coming into alignment due to the prophetic healing word.

As a former medical officer in the Air Force and during my civilian practice as an internist, I have personally cared for active duty and retired service members as well as non-military persons who suffered with PTSD. The traditional therapies and referral to psychiatrist can have some efficacy in modifying undesirable symptoms, but responses to therapy tend to be transient with some symptoms persisting chronically, particularly sleep disturbance.

It’s been about four weeks since Sgt. Yim experienced the miraculous change in PTSD symptoms after receiving prayer by Pastor Mike Petro.  Sgt. Yim continues to sleep well per his report six to eight hours per night without medications. What is also amazing is that other combat veterans (cohorts of Sgt. Yim) not directly associated with Forerunner Ministries International are deriving benefits from watching the teachings by Pastor Michael Petro on Youtube.  In medicine, there is a measurable observation called the placebo effect; in essence the effect due to “chance.” Here at Forerunner, we believe in the power of God (Yahweh) to heal and restore, not in chance. Yehoshua (Jesus) said in John 14:12… “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also and greater than these shall he do…” The prophetic voice is crying out, we are at the end of biblical prophecy, and Yehoshua said in Matt 17:11 that Elijah will come and restore “all things” before He appears.  That restoration includes the restoration of the spirit, mind, and body of man - as God intended.  That time as begun!

Bible references:  King James Version

Medical references: UpToDate; Posttraumatic stress disorder in adults:  Epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, course, assessment and diagnosis.

Author: Jitender Sareen, MD, FRCPC

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