I saw the following tweet first thing this morning and it brought me to tears (read: I was ugly crying ya’ll):
Feeling heavy hearted at the moment for the many abuse survivors who are home tonight feeling alone and isolated as they continue to suffer in silence, losing hope that the nightmare has an end. We will never give up you…
— Boz Tchividjian (@BozT) March 10, 2018
I am so grateful for everything this man and the organization he founded is doing to help those who have experienced sexual abuse within the christian organization!
And, if I’m going to be completely transparent, I am also emotionally exhausted, and becoming increasingly hard-hearted despite the few really good, fruit producing seeds.
For the past nine months, I have been on my knees, open-handed, and begging God to help me undo the brainwashing and navigate the feelings associated with reliving trauma, related to the 30+ years of abuse that I survived at Victory Church, in Henrietta, NY. Thanks to additional victims coming forward, and the media coverage in 2014 and again in 2017 that surrounded these new abuse allegations, the unhealed parts of me continue to bubble up and resurface.
I just can’t anymore. The silence of the pain is deafening.
After meeting with five of these amazing girls last month, and hearing their heartbreaking and all too familiar stories, it eventually broke me. I jumped in my Jeep and drove Wednesday night. I drove and drove until I finally “came to” and found myself two states away (typical Jonah move, I realize this now in my newfound clarity).
I always do this. I always run when this specific emotional trigger gets lit with the metaphorical fire poker. Ugh!!!
(God forgive me and my itty bitty faith. Thank you for remaining faithful even when I am faithless (2 Timothy 2:13))!
So, I slept in my Jeep with my hundred and forty pound Great Dane, Athena, on a twenty eight degree night, and then drove another twelve (absent minded, tear filled) hours back home on Friday. I can barely remember the journey or what transpired in between. When I eventually returned home, I cried and started fights with my family and cried some more. I finally swallowed my pride, broke down, popped an Ativan (for such the times as these), and eventually passed out until this morning.
I know You are holy, and good, and just (Psalm 99:8-9, Psalm 136:1, Deuteronomy 32:4).
Your word tells me that You are close to the broken hearted (Psalm 34:18). And, that You collect all my tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8).
You see. You know (Hebrews 4:13).
You promise to never leave nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).
You loved me so much You sent Your only begotten son to die in my place (John 3:16, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Acts 3:19, Romans 10:13).
You give the elect Your gift of unconditional love and eternal grace (Romans 8:28-29).
Lord, I believe these things (help my unbelief (Mark 9:24))!
The church body, and even unbelievers, are slowly becoming sick of hearing all these stories of abuse. Have we become desensitized already? Because of…
…of finger pointing, twisting scripture, coverering over, and mishandling situations surrounding allegations of abuse. Don’t let your hearts grow cold. Let them burn with righteous anger. Let that righteous anger be your fuel to act!
Abuse survivors, including myself, are watching and waiting for the church to stand up and do what is right. To do what Jesus would do. Stand up to your institution if abuse has taken place and leadership has failed to properly act!
Do not return to the building.
Do not tithe.
Quit your volunteer position.
Quit your paid staff position.
God is bigger than all of this!! Those still voluntarily involved with Victory Church: Why are you more worried about attending your big programs, maintaining your position, or job? Aren’t you more valuable to God than a sparrow? Doesn’t he provide for even the least of these? The message you send when you stay in an abusive institution parading around as a church is that this abuse taking place and being explained away or covered up is ok!! IT’S NOT OK!!!!!!
Make a stand! Stand boldly (Hebrews 13:6)!!!
Encourage others, in truth and love, to do the same!
Abuse survivors need to know we are not alone. We need to know that these abusive tactics being used to shame and silence us is not how a true church body should behave. In the bible, those who loved like Jesus would immediately stop what they were doing to minister and counsel and tend to the wounds of the hurting and broken. The world needs to see you make a stand and set this example. The world needs to see the false gospels and preachers being pointed out and pushed back. The Gospel mesaage is being added to in order to protect church leaders, the institution, and tithe income. This needs to stop! There are souls at stake here!!!😩
So I will ask you, Victory Church: How much is your daughter or son worth?
We need to be more worried about protecting the most vulnerable in our church body than we are about saving a church reputation. Our sovereign God does not need His holy church or infallible word defended!
Choose you this day whom you will serve (and whom you will defend).
Lord, give us the strength to do what is right and the discernment to know what that is. IJN, amen🙏🏽
*NOTE: If church leadership does not immediately report abuse to the police (NOT just any police guy or lawyer contact they’re friends with or who happen to go to the same church), they are not properly acting or responding to abuse allegations. If this is the case, it is imperative a third party be brought in to do a proper investigation of said allegations. You need to demand this type of investigation take place!
One such organization I would HIGHLY recommend is G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). GRACE was founded by former child abuse prosecutor, Basyle “Boz” Tchividjian. Boz currently works as a law professor, and is an acting member of the board of directors for GRACE. He also happens to be the grandson to Billy Graham.
As per the GRACE website…
The mission of GRACE is to empower the Christian community through education and training to recognize, prevent, and respond to child abuse.
Protecting individuals and educating churches and other faith based organizations how to protect the vulnerable.
Helping churches love and serve survivors of abuse who are in their midst.
GRACE’s team includes former prosecutors and top Christian psychologists with a background in dealing with child predators.
Understanding the Church
GRACE has a strong theological background and practical experience in organizational leadership.
With over 60 million child abuse survivors nationwide, we are a country riddled with abuse and the effects of it. Too often, those within the Church have been uninformed about the complexities of child abuse. This has compounded its damaging effects on individuals, families, and faith communities with inappropriate and even negligent responses to signs and disclosures of abuse. Our collective failure as Christians to properly care for the most innocent and vulnerable among us has often been staggering.
As followers of Jesus Christ, the GRACE team seeks to be faithful and obedient to his teaching and the teachings of the whole of Scripture, which we believe put great value in the compassionate care and advocacy for children.
He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
-Mark 9:36-37 (NIV)
We believe that our care of children—our “welcoming” of them among us—is a direct reflection of our love for and obedience to God. Whatever we do for children, is done for him.
We hope to equip others with a vision for authentic responsibility, accountability, and compassion in the care for children and adult survivors of abuse. Though the history of the Church can make this approach seem radical, we believe it is nothing more and nothing less than the fulfillment of Jesus’ teaching.
We believe with proper education and training every church and ministry organization can navigate its responsibility to appropriately care for those who have been impacted by abuse.
GRACE exists to equip and assist faith communities to mirror God’s justice, mercy, and compassion for children and survivors of all ages
- GRACE assists Christian organizations with educational programs and effective child abuse prevention policies.
- GRACE assists organizations to deal with with abuse cases and develop appropriate response protocols
- At a church or organization’s request, GRACE’s team of experts and former prosecutors conduct a thorough and objective investigation of abuse allegations.
- A wealth of resources can educate and assist churches in being prepared to avoid problems, and to address the offense of child abuse if it occurs.
CONNECT WITH GRACE:
EMAIL: [email protected]
RESOURCES FOR VICTIMS OF ABUSE:
MARY DEMUTH: http://www.marydemuth.com/sexual-abuse-resources/
NSAH: The National Sexual Assault Hotline has free, confidential, secure support available. Call 1-800-656-HOPE to speak to someone.