DECATUR—Religion and science have intertwined in Father Jean Ikanga’s life and it began with a fearful mother.

The woman in his native Democratic Republic of the Congo desperately wanted help for her 9-year-old daughter, sick with “evil spirits.” Concerned by her story, he provided prayer and pastoral counseling but also asked the woman and her daughter to meet with a psychiatrist at the University of Kinshasa. Through this collaboration, the “spirits” that plagued the child were revealed to be post-traumatic stress from seeing the youngster’s father killed, witnessing and experiencing rape and other violence. It was Father Ikanga’s first exposure to the mystery of the brain and how it processes what goes on inside the body.

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