Towards an integrated pastoral care model for bereavement healing among Abaluyia
Keya, Benjamin Shikwati
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The central premise of this dissertation is that a pastorally sympathetic assessment of cultural bereavement healing approaches in the light of a biblically informed understanding of death, bereavement and afterlife provide a basis for the bereaved to cope with the angst associated with bereavement through death and engenders pastoral care among the Abaluyia. It is noted that although many Abaluyia Christians consciously or otherwise lurch back to cultural approaches for consolation and healing during bereavement, there is a lack of meaningful engagement between the Abaluyia culture and the gospel. The result of this lack of engagement has not been syncretism as commonly assumed but rather parallelism whereby, on the one hand, the gospel is held as though it were alien and whimsical in contrast with traditional beliefs and practices which are perceived as practical and consequential. On the other hand, cultural approaches are dismissed as being part of ancestor worship or superstition and thus contrary to the gospel. In view of these extreme perceptions, Abaluyia Christians often feel guilty for either engaging in or shunning cultural approaches thus raising a pastoral concern in relation to caring for the bereaved. In response to the aforementioned pastoral concern, this dissertation firstly examines the role of cultural beliefs and practices in mediating healing for the bereaved among the Abaluyia. It is suggested that the persistence of cultural models is informed largely by their therapeutic value. Consequently, attention is put on the efficacious beliefs and practices employed by the Abaluyia which include community based approach to bereavement, rituals, systems of inheritance and care, conduct of the bereaved, procedures for forgiveness and reconciliation, hospitality, acts of benevolence and performances. Secondly, the identified cultural approaches are reflected upon in the light of the normative biblical teachings. The reflection is done in order to expose and isolate cultural beliefs and practices that are at odds with biblical teachings. The reflection follows a systematic analysis undertaken to establish the biblical understanding of death and the afterlife as well as a biblical hermeneutical analysis of pertinent biblical passages in order to draw paradigmatic biblical practices in bereavement. It is argued that the biblical ministry of healing in bereavement is rooted in the hope of resurrection and the conception of God as compassionate in his character. Lastly, an integrated pastoral care model, namely, Circle for Pastoral Concern, is proposed as a tool for bereavement healing among the Abaluyia. The proposed integrated model is cognisant of local cultural milieu in engaging in pastoral care for the bereaved. According to the Circle for Pastoral Concern model, the community of believers in their local setting, under the Triune God, form the context for healing.
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