Thursday, May 20, 2010

Time For Change

It has been a long time since I have posted anything new. I thought that it would be best for my family and myself to take a break and knew that when any news of Gilyard's release came I would pick this back up. There is no news of that, but my soul cannot rest.

I am grieved. Not for myself in any way - but for us as a church body, for people that are survivors of church abuses. For all of those who are still crying themselves to sleep every night, who are unable to hold down jobs and provide for their families, for broken marriages and failed relationships, those who have turned their back on any reminder of a religious institution that failed them. These things result from carrying a terrible secret and being trapped in a vacuum of silence. After being abused reaching out for help only to be told that you need to keep this a secret, being shamed and believing that if they ever told they would be responsible for weakening the cause of Christ. While they sit and watch the perpetrator move to another church, knowing that nothing is being done to protect the next person.

It happens more than we care to know, really it is a burden knowing how often this happens. The grief can be overwhelming. Just ask Christa Brown, she has carried not only her own story but now years of others pain within. It is so hard to know that there are so many people that have carried such a huge burden, that have been abused sexually by someone they should be able to trust and then abused again by the leadership that should step in and defend them. They are kicked and shamed instead. While the perpetrator is lifted up and put on a pedestal, transferred to another church and not one other person knows the terrible deeds they are getting away from.

I recently spoke with a law enforcement officer who shared that this crime happens more than we care to know. That our children are definitely not safe anywhere and especially not churches, until this changes.

These perpetrators should not move on to another church with no warning - period! This should simply never be allowed to happen. Yet it does, almost daily. We do not have to become judge and jury, but something has to change.

Do we really believe that this is what God would want to happen? Do you really think that it is best to let a Pastor get away with hurting a child in this way? Do you realize that you actually become a part of this by washing your hands of the knowledge of it? Are you really able to sleep at night knowing that he/she will abuse again and you have warned no one? I dare say that many leaders wrestle with this, have no idea what to do about their findings and at the cost of the innocent, they do nothing. You assume it is better to keep it a secret and "hope" they find healing, but God's word will not be mocked. These are His children and He cares for them, they are the tiny sparrows that are so precious to Him. Yes, God cares for the sinner perpetrating the crime also, but He does not condone their behavior, He is grieved by it and they will be put to shame. His word promise those things done in the dark will be exposed and pride comes before the fall. None of these things are done with the Father's approval or blessing - do not be fooled by the title of "Pastor" or "deacon" or "youth leader" - this does not mean all of their behaviors are right before the Lord. They are still but mere human men. We wish for healing for all, redemption and restoring of their minds and hearts - but FIRST comes repentance and turning away from the sin.

The big question is, "What will we do about this?"
Will we just be angry and outraged by it, talk about it, blog about it, feel the pain and carry the hurt, and is that all? What will we do to make changes? Obviously our leaders are not going to step up. They have excuses as to how impossible it is to govern churches. Really? So we do nothing?

We all know that nearly everything we touch in our daily lives was at one time seen as "impossible."
It took people with vision and that were willing to take risks to discover new lands, to fly for the first time, to invent the light bulb, the telegraph, modern communication - plenty of people stand by and say "it can't be done". If they had stuck with that mentality we would have never walked on the moon, had modern day communication, cars, planes, electricity and the list goes on. What man sees as impossible, God sees as possible.
If we all come together, surely God has planned a way for us. Do you not think that He wants us to rise up and do something to protect His sheep? We need to pray about it and ask what our role might be. We need to do more than just hear a sad story and go on about our day, only thinking about it from time to time. This is an epedemic crime that is leaving the church very wounded and unprotected. We have become a laughing stock as the media presents yet another story of a preacher pedophile getting caught. We need to step up and protect our people and not allow them to continue to prey on our trust and abuse their title.

There are those of us with resources and connections to make this happen - let's all pray and ask God to show us the way. How can we protect our children and families against predators within our churches? I am on board, how about you?

I have no idea what my role in this may be, there may be a plan for someone else to do this and they just need encouragement - I surely don't know God's plan. I know that many have lain the foundation and have done all that they know to do - Christa Brown has a database started, others are sounding the alarm and have given calls to action. Let's continue to lay this railway and make a way.

I have recently taught my children about the Underground Railroad and about The Civil War and all of the obstacles people faced trying to fight for what is right, how people pulled together to make things happen and help slaves find their way to freedom. We have modern day slaves to secrecy and shame right now in our churches.

I know there were many that risked it all historically- let's lay the foundation to have the "above ground railroad". We want to live above this hypocrisy, living honorably and transparently in our churches. This needs to be done right and responsibly, but it needs to be done.

We can trust that God will surely provide the way. This is blasphemous to Him to allow this in His Holy places and to "the least of these". Those in positions of leadership that have done nothing, will one day answer for all of this. But we cannot count on them to do this and we cannot judge them for their choices. But we can be different.

We must pray individually about our roles and God will move. He will lay out a path.