A Second Compelling Invitation To Faith Leadership

A Second Compelling Invitation To Faith Leadership

Wow! I just returned from England.  While jet lag is still hanging around, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to go with Road’s Scholar and learn about the Lake District; Beatrix Potter and the poet Wordsworth land, as I call it. Then, to Northumberland to stand and touch Hadrian’s wall.  I was with absolutely wonderful people.  I have wanted to go to these places most of my life and I thank God for the opportunity.

Somehow it happens.  It is a God thing in my mind.  A lovely woman shared with me about her adult daughter who had been raped in college.  I was so blessed by her.  The family support and help they got for this much loved daughter is a joy to my heart.  We wept together.  This is an example of joy in the midst of pain. Family and community support increase exponentially the prognosis for healing.

In 1982 when I was raped, I attended a 6,000-member church.  I did not receive the support and love the above family gave, nor from my church.  The infamous Code of Silence was well at work.  I did not keep silent after the rape.  I was active in my church.  Many people knew about it, including the major leadership.  This situation is one of the worst that can happen to a survivor.  It seriously lowers the prognosis of healing.  God had given me an unusual gift though.  I knew it was not my fault.  Little did I know how very rare that belief is, especially while still in acute PTSD.  I was able to speak up about it, so it was well known.  Again, to be able to do so is rare.  Usually survivors keep silent.

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Are we willing to peek out of the sand?  Is ignorance an excuse?  Do we choose to believe such a thing can’t happen (especially to a Christian) as an excuse?  There are numerous reasons people keep their heads in the sand about such issues as sexual assault.  Are any an excuse?  How afraid is our faith leadership?  Will fear control us?

My position is that generally the Bride of Christ is great need to serve the needy in this area.  I hope you understand that it isn’t just the survivor who is affected.  What happened to him/her affected family, friends, and the whole faith community.  It can either have a positive or negative affect.  The choice is up to our faith leadership.

One thing leadership can choose to do is face the facts.  At least 50% of the congregation has been affected by sexual violations.  So there is a hidden disease.  Pastoral staff has a pivotal role but cannot provide most of what is needed to help.  That is okay.  The pivotal role is to provide leadership.  You can pray for help to find God’s creative plan for your people to begin to heal, create the plan bringing outside resources as needed, setting personal boundaries, providing ways for the community to be educated, and so much creativity can be brought into the process.  Your job is lead, not do all the work!  There will be such joy vs fear about this subject and you have the power to change it!!

Just bringing up the subject from the pulpit will create safety for survivors to come forward.  Unless you are willing to be prepared for likely ‘onslaught’ please wait until there is preparation for them.

Remember, even a little bit of education provided by a qualified person can go a long way to launching growth, healing, and finding Joy together.  We are all weak and all have strengths.  When the weak and strong join together Joy grows.  Together let’s bring our heads out of the sand.

Comments

  1. JIM COFFARO says:

    Sherrill,

    Thanks for sharing. Joy in the midst of pain is indeed a God thing. Your courage to share your story is inspirational, and testimony of God’s grace.

    Blessings …
    Jim Coffaro

  2. Thanks Jim.

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