All posts by Angela's Heart

Samson and Delilah: Strength after betrayal

In the Book of Judges, chapter 16, Samson is betrayed by Delilah.

Delilah says to Samson, “I love you.”

Survivors of sexual abuse may have been told, “I love you.”

Or, “I am your doctor.”

Or, “I am your pastor.”

Or, “I am your father /mother /religious superior / spiritual director” or any number of other words implying that they could trust the person who went on to betray that trust.

Delilah sold out Samson for eleven hundred shekels of silver. She succeeded in getting Samson to reveal the most intimate secret of his heart – how he was vulnerable.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

Samson’s weakness being known was exploited and, as a result, he was physically abused – maimed for life by the rulers of the Philistines.

Not only maimed, but put on display in the temple of the Philistines who celebrated how Samson had been brought down so low.

Has the way you have been treated by the ‘rulers’ in your life – Church, educational, family or other ‘authorities’ made you feel like Samson did in the temple? Maimed, mocked, abandoned?

Then Samson prayed to the LORD, “Sovereign LORD, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more..” (Judges 16:28 NIV)

God answered that prayer, and Samson became stronger at that point than he had ever been before.

Samson thought his power was in his hair. His power came from prayer.

I pray that all survivors will one day again feel power, and use that power to pull down the pillars of denial and cover-up in the institutions in which they were abused.

I also pray that survivors and their supports will use their power to seek trustworthy help and to build new pillars of healing and truth in those same institutions.

The Prince of Peace and Division in the Church

In Luke Chapter 12:49-51, Jesus, the Prince of Peace, tells His disciples that He had not come to bring peace to earth but division.

Surprising to say the least.

After I joined a church community a number of years ago, the pastor told the new members that God had not called us to a love boat, but to a war ship.

In my efforts to bring to light abuse in the church, sadly, I have found this verse of Scripture and the pastor’s words to reflect my experience. Yet, I have hope.

Why would the Prince of Peace bring about division?

My hope is that the current conflicts between church leaders of various denominations and survivors of abuse are part of the birthing of a new maturity in the Body of Christ.

Instead of settling for the status quo, where we all politely gather together on Sundays, collectively in denial about the existence of the deep sin of sexual abuse affecting our lives, might Jesus be stirring up the voices of some survivors to raise up a sword of truth – not to harm anyone, but to dig us all out of the dark and into the light of Christ and true Christian living?

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13, NIV)

To enter the Promised Land, the Israelites had to fight battles.

Some survivors fight in court cases. Others fight ignorance through writing or speaking about abuse. Others are simply fighting to stay alive.

Our future ‘Promised Land’ will come directly from the Prince of Peace.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27, NIV)

May Our Lord bless our fight to bring truth and holiness to His church.

#ChurchToo: Online Discussions Launch

In my decade or so of looking for church-based ministries to clergy sexual abuse survivors, I have yet to find such a ministry. Not only has clergy sexual abuse directly harmed the abused, but it has also harmed their families, friends and other members of faith communities.

There are professional treatment centers for abusers who are in the clergy: there are none, to my knowledge, for their victims. Instead, churches of many denominations sadly leave survivors to secular therapists and anonymous support groups for help.

Some survivors have had their faith lives shattered and feel no desire to engage with others in a Christian setting. Others still have faith in God, Jesus, and the Bible, but don’t feel welcome in a church setting due to their exposure of wrong-doing on the part of the offending pastors.

Not all survivors are able to attend clergy sexual abuse survivor support groups in person – particularly if they live in remote areas.

There appear to be a number of survivors who feel called to help prevent abuse and to help support healing in other survivors, but struggle to launch a ministry solely using their own limited resources.

To help people of goodwill – survivors, their supporters, church members – to pool expertise, experience, and human as well as other resources to map out a path towards prevention of abuse and high-quality support for those directly and indirectly affected by abuse, I am inviting people of such goodwill to join online discussions on related topics, such as sharing:

  • Your own efforts to launch a ministry related to clergy sexual abuse
  • How you are moving forward after having experienced clergy sexual abuse (or having had a loved one experience it). These groups can be for general participation or restricted to persons abused as children, persons abused as adults, and so on). At the moment, these are informal peer-level meetings. At some point, perhaps some qualified therapists can host their own discussions.
  • How you as a religious leader have been affected by wrong-doing on the part of your peers
  • How the Bible, prayer or other spiritual discipline may be helping you to persevere

A draft ‘vision’ of the effort is outlined on http://www.listeningplace.ca (when I have some more $’s, I’ll invest in a fancier website ūüôā ).

If you are interested in being part of these discussions, please contact me through http://www.listeningplace.ca .

Reaching out may take you out of your comfort zone – offering this effort certainly takes me out of mine. If you feel ready to take a step in working with others in this effort, please consider being in touch.

Good Friday and Clergy Abuse Survivors

With a kiss, Judas betrayed Jesus.

With a kiss or other intimate touch, some priests, pastors, and others with spiritual authority have betrayed the trust placed in them by those in their care.

Jesus knows what it is like to be betrayed. And abandoned. And abused.

What comfort had he when hanging on the cross, being mocked from below, bleeding and in agony?

Did he remember the words spoken by the Father at his baptism: “You are my¬†Son, whom I love; with you I am¬†well pleased” (Mark 1:11) NIV?

Did he hold on to those words and replay them over in his mind to remember who he really was and not what a hostile crowd was telling him about his worthiness?

If you find yourself this Good Friday abandoned by a faith community, family, or some other person or group, because your wounds are too painful for them to look at, remember that Jesus is always available, through prayer, to listen to you.

You may be “struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:9) NIV

Let us live in hope that the power that raised Jesus from the dead will lift us all to remember¬†how lovable and valuable we truly are – that we, too, are God’s children, in whom God is well pleased.