Shelly's Testimony

of my life from the beginning. Even my earliest memories were filled with trouble, abuse, and intense difficulties beyond my understanding.

I lived at the fire’s edge. It was as if evil surrounded me; cruelty and neglect flourished where there should have been love and attention. Abusive—physical, emotional, sexual, and psychological—situations were common occurrences. There were, I admit, a few times when I came close to ending this pain, but for the most part I accepted things as they were—I knew no better. Perhaps what kept me going, despite all this, was an overriding sense of otherworldly protection; of a presence that would catch me before I fell headlong into the fire. Now, as an adult, I recognize what that was.

It is often said that one’s greatest contributions rise from the greatest pain. Like the mythical Phoenix who rose from the ashes to become reborn, I managed to survive, and then thrive. The loving presence—God—rescued me time and time again.

Little did I know he had a plan and purpose for me. I speak from experience when I say God is in the business of building things out of broken people and broken situations. The Holy Spirit loved me in a way that surpasses all understanding. I was protected in a way that prepared me for the present, and I can now truthfully express gratefulness for my life—every victory made me stronger and prepared me for what was to come.

I came to understand that I could withstand just about anything. God was in control when I stayed steadfast in his Word and his presence.

I began to use what I experienced. Extensive training enabled me to become a biblical lay counselor prepared myself to help others, using his Word in a way not possible before.

But I knew he wasn’t done with me; there was more to come. A wise woman told me that it’s not what God is doing in you, but what he is doing through you that makes the difference. That realization made a difference in me, and I went on a journey to discover a deeper meaning of God’s love and his calling on my life.

I became a trained volunteer for TIP (Trauma Intervention Program). TIP volunteers are called out by first responders to offer immediate emotional and practical support to trauma survivors and their families, often onsite of the most gruesome crime scenes. I walk alongside people during the most difficult times in their lives. That was only the start.

I served with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department as a Lead Chaplain and board member with the department’s wellness team, and currently hold global chaplain credentials through to provide services across the globe.

While serving as a chaplain, I felt a calling to help educate others on emotional pain. I began educating people to care for ourselves and others in a time of crisis. I’ve received extensive training and teaching accreditations with the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation.

To continue caring for those in crisis, I became a collaborating partner with the Institute on Violence Abuse and Trauma (IVAT), and a member of the global Think Tank with the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan (NPEIV).

While serving others in this manner is a great privilege, I knew this was not the end. I was called to combine this trauma intervention training with sound Christian doctrine to serve those experiencing physical, emotional, and often, spiritual turmoil. Serving as a roadmap, knowledge of sound Christian doctrine demonstrates how to act, nourishes holiness, and equips one to meet the needs of others.

Here is my calling and my role: to be there in times of crises from the beginning; to train crisis teams with appropriate policies and procedures, and to do so from a solid foundation of biblical truth and wisdom.

And thus my work, Seeking Hope, was born.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3)

Shelly's Story

So how did I get here? Why did I become a chaplain? Why did I get involved in trauma care in the first place? For me, we have to travel back to Christmas of 2011.

We get a phone call in the middle of the night. It says, “Your step-sister’s been shot. Can you come to the house?”

My response is “Of course, yes”. Hanged up the phone, dash out, get to my parents’ house. But only my mom is there, dad’s not there. Where is he? What’s going on? “We don’t know,” that’s what she says. “We don’t know where the boys are,” my nephews. My dad’s gone to the police station. We’re waiting.

The police said to wait, so we’re waiting. We’re confused, we have no idea what’s going on. Phone calls start to come in, going, “Why are you there? Why aren’t you here? What’s going on?” We don’t understand, people are screaming at us on the phone wanting to know what kind of parent you are, what are you doing? So we just get in the car and we go to the police station.

I guess I should have looked back on what was going on. But I was in trauma, we were in the middle of a crisis. You can’t think, you don’t understand, you don’t know, life is spinning out of control.

Seems like hours have gone by and yet it’s only been minutes and sometimes I think something just happened and it happened hours ago.


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We provide solutions to organizations who want to better take care of people.

Seeking Hope’s emotional crisis care training is perfect for business owners, churches, nonprofits, first-responders, counselors, and more! If your organization wants to learn to better care for people, Seeking Hope is your solution.

Founder, Shelly Pinomaki, is a speaker, trainer, certified and ordained chaplain, and has more than a dozen certifications in crisis response. You can host Shelly at your location and join the hundreds of others who are taking the steps to better care for their clients, customers, and co-workers.

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