San Diego, CA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 09/10/2012 -- Lisa Copen began Rest Ministries in 1996 following a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 24. "I immediately began feeling isolated from most people my age. I believed that by connecting with others who were chronically ill, and who had Christ at the center of their lives, we would all be encouraged. I tried some support groups, but I needed a place where I could talk about my faith."
The result was a non-profit Christian ministry, RestMinistries.com, that serves those with chronic illness or any kind of chronic pain, such as back pain or migraines. And within a few years, Lisa saw how many people were struggling with bitterness because they felt "no one understands the pain I am in."
This prompted Copen to begin National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, where authors and speakers come together for a virtual conference to share how those with chronic illness can find hope.
This year speakers include best-selling author Pam Farrel, Christian authors Georgia Shaffer, Leslie Vernick, Dena Dyer, Arlene Pellicane, Naomi Kingery, Renee Johnson Fisher, and Jill Hart, founder of Christian Work at Home Moms.
National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week is a way to be able to validate the pain people are feeling, and create more awareness overall, including in the faith communities.
Rest Ministries is also the home of HopeKeepers (R), a small group, Bible study program for churches. It provides a small group setting for those who needed Biblical support and guidance on living with illness--especially when they weren't healed in the expected timely manner.
Invisible Illness Week offers many other ways to get involved including blogging for the cause, sharing invisible illness week facts on Twitter or Facebook, a Pinterest page, and the 2012 campaign includes posting your favorite photos that represent your "visible images of hope." Some of the photos will be featured on CNN.com Health.
When you sign up for daily updates from InvisibleIllnessWeek.com you receive a free 80-page ebook written by Copen and other illness experts, "Chronic Illness Tips: 263 Ways to do More Than Just Get By."
Rest Ministries provides a variety of resources and programs such as online daily devotionals one can receive via email. Copen has authored a dozen books for the ministry such as "Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend" and "Why Can't I Make People Understand? Discovering The Validation Those with Chronic Illness Seek and Why."
With nearly 1 in 2 people living with a chronic condition, about 96% of those people are suffering silently with invisible illnesses where their pain cannot be seen. Through Invisible Illness Week Rest Ministries hopes to let people know they are not alone and that someone does understand and care about their struggles.
Rest Ministries is an affiliate of Joni and Friends International Disability Center, the ministry of Joni Eareckson Tada. Copen is a popular speaker who has been a guest on TV programs such as "Heroes Among Us" and "Peace in The Storm," and radio programs Family Radio, Joni and Friends, and Billy Graham's Decision Today.
For information see InvisibleIllnessWeek.com or RestMinistries.com