I learned about the Immanuel Approach when I was reading the Intentional Christian Communities Handbook. I was inspired to read that at Reba Place Fellowship, which is one of the first communities I contacted to visit when I decided to visit Christian communities, this model of emotional and spiritual healing was used very effectively. I believe that most of the problems caused in relationships and thus communities are caused by deep roots of hidden trauma that need to be resolved in some way.
I knew I was going to be learning about the Immanuel Approach at some point, and when I found a morning free in a very busy, often non-stop schedule of family, Christian fellowship, and work, I settled into a seat at Einstein’s Coffee Shop where one of the employees graciously allowed me to move a table so I could plug in my computer. Good thing–because I was there for the next four hours. My batteries would not have lasted:)
I was happy to find out that the Immanuel Approach website had an abundance of free material that was inspiring and fascinating. Because I have done work with a similar secular process called Co-counseling or Re-evaluation counseling, I knew the power of having a person being present to help facilitate the healing of memories. Only I learned later that the memories are not being healed, as I thought was true in Re-evaluation counseling. What happens is that the memories are processed in such a way so that a person can realize that Jesus was there loving him or her during the painful traumatic incident. By realizing this, a person’s relationship with Jesus is strengthened and becomes more real.
Jessica Handy, who teaches the Immanuel Approach, says this: “Immanuel (approach) helps people learn to hear God for themselves and become more aware of His presence in the daily moments of life,” she says. “It generates deep and lasting healing in the context of prayer, community, and the overarching focus of maturity in Christ.”
Jessica Handy and Leren Chamberlain were the very inspiring teachers in a series of free on line videos which I was glued to most of the time I was in the coffee shops–with ear buds of course. I felt like I had been looking for this approach for my whole Christian walk. If I had discovered it before I surrendered my life to Christ along with the beautiful people who are teaching and promoting it, I most likely would have been able to have given my life to Christ at that time.
I really wanted to try out the Immanuel Approach. I watched the videos at home whenever I was washing dishes or doing chores. I didn’t quite see all of them, but I was eager to experience this model. My previous experience with both co-counseling and Non-violent Communication gave me confidence that I could be a safe, loving facilitator for another person. Little did I know that my chance was coming sooner than I thought.
When a dear friend who I had not connected with four over four years was in my area, we got together to visit. I was actually a bit reluctant to spend my precious time with her because every minute I had extra I wanted to spend with my family or to do some writing which I rarely got to do. I was the main supporter of my family at that time and also did my share of the many chores including gardening.
I thought we no longer had much in common because she was more into spiritual teachings like Course in MIracles and Eckhardt Tolle’s book, “A New Earth” I respected and loved her. We had about fourteen years of history together. But I thought, “What do we really have to talk about?” I really like deep conversations. And if my life was not so intense and hectic, I would have been more willing to visit. Since she very much wanted to visit, and have my daughter spend time with her kids–so reluctantly I made time for her.
I actually enjoyed our conversation very much. We talked just a little about spiritual things, and she told me that she loves Jesus and has a close relationship with him. When we were saying our goodbyes, she said to me very vulnerably, “I want to confess something to you that is a burden on my heart.” I was surprised that she would use the words “confess” since she was not a Christian in the orthodox sort of way. But now I realize that she is following Jesus–and has been hurt or misguided by Christians so she is not so much into the whole Bible.
Even though I was super busy, I knew I needed to make time for my friend who I will call Vivian. When I called her to schedule a time to get together, she said, “I want to do the Immanuel Approach with you.” I was surprised. We had just talked about it briefly. I told her how inspired I was by the process. She also was reading the book, “Joy Starts Here” by Jim Wilder and friends which I had lent her and she liked it. I hesitated briefly and then said, “Ok. Let’s do it.” We set up a time. I was a bit nervous about making this commitment, but I had faith that it would work out. I prayed about it as well.
A few days before we were to meet I googled, “fast, easy, super simple ways to do the Immanuel Approach.” I was overjoyed to discover a document that was only two months old entitled, “Immanuel Approach: Super Extremely Simple Basic Exercise (One page summary) by Karl Lehman. A friend printed it out for me and I had it just in time to take to our meeting.
I had glanced at the “cheat sheet” and it did seem super simple. I am going to describe what happened in part two of this story here.