Serita Jakes is on a mission to educate people about the widespread impact post-traumatic stress disorder has on society. She was in Charleston on Sunday to sign copies of her latest book, “The Crossing,” which addresses the issue head on.

“During my 30 years of biblical counseling, I’ve been seated across the desk from parents who bring me their children who have witnessed something traumatic, and from rape and domestic violence victims to people who have loved ones who never returned from war,” said Jakes, a native of Wyoming County.

Jakes, who is called “First Lady Jakes,” is the wife of Bishop T.D. Jakes, also a native of West Virginia. He is the senior pastor of The Potter’s House, a 30,000-member church in Dallas, Texas.

Her book is meant to teach people that it’s not only soldiers returning from war who suffer from PTSD but anyone who has witnessed or suffered through a traumatic event, she said.

“When I realized that one in four women have been assaulted or were a victim of domestic violence or rape, I started looking around the church, and that meant that someone in the choir, a greeter, or a member of the leadership team has been affected by an emotional disturbance,” she said.

“The Crossing” is a fictional story that describes how students’ lives are impacted after they see their teacher shot and killed on their school bus.

“The students witness a very tragic event at a railroad crossing,” Jakes said. “The story follows the cheerleader and the football player into their adult lives, trying to have successful relationships and marriages and raise children. They’re emotionally destroyed and can’t lead a very productive life.”

Jakes compares the circumstances in her book to the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado, where more than a dozen people were shot to death in 1999.

“The children, I call them ‘babies,’ who witness these things don’t walk away unscathed,” she said. “If they don’t get emotional treatment or the behavior isn’t addressed, there can be real harm done.”

At her church in Dallas, Jakes said, one of the services offered is a counseling center for behavior disorders. She said she hopes churches she visits will realize the need to reach out and help members of their congregations deal with emotional problems.

“Sometimes we ignore them, and then they just escalate until something very, very tragic happens. As a leader in the religious community, I wanted to take a stab at bringing it to light, because we have people sitting around us all the time who are suffering,” she said.

Wayne Crozier, pastor of Abundant Life Ministries, where Jakes spoke about her book Sunday, said having her at the church was a privilege.

“It’s an honor, not only that she came back to West Virginia, but to Abundant Life,” he said. “She’s on a national book tour and going coat to coast, and for her to come to Charleston is a big deal.”

Jakes’ husband is Crozier’s spiritual pastor and mentor, and Crozier said he tries to fly to Texas two or three times a year to attend their church service.

“As much as God has blessed them, they’ll still come to a church this size, even though they minister to thousands,” he said.

Crozier said he calls himself a copycat when it comes to Jakes’ teachings. He said he knows the importance of what she is stressing in her book.

“She uses the phrase, ‘hurts and traumas that don’t require a surgeon,'” he said. “They are inner wounds that still need to be healed.”

The next stop on Jakes’ book tour will be at the Fort Hood military base in Texas, where a gunman killed 13 people and wounded 29 others in 2009.

“Our society has to take a look at what’s happening,” Jakes said. “We can’t only leave it to secular means. We have to add ways to deal with it in our churches.”

Despite her busy schedule, Jakes said she’s enjoyed being home. “I’ve seen friends I hadn’t seen since elementary school — and had some good food.”

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