King James Version (KJV, with my thoughts interspersed)
4 (Corrupt leaders) bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. (They will not practice what they preach, condemning you for one thing, while they do something as bad or worse.) 5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men (…. to create a name or an image for themselves, and make people look up to them, to idolize them) 6 And love the (places of honour)… 13 But woe unto you… hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
I stepped away from my phone for a few hours earlier today. Yes, even on Sunday, like most everyone else, my phone is seldom far away. That’s the thing with this cell phone age.
I’ve learned to set boundaries with it, including that I have it turned off almost 24/7, so that I am not constantly interrupted and bombarded with emails, texts, phone calls and various other messages. It is my way of being the master of my phone, and keeping myself ‘in the present’ as much as possible. Still, I try to respond to all messages, in order of priority, when I have the time.
Every now and then, I simply put my phone away, and completely disregard it, so I don’t even get tempted to check it. That was what I did this afternoon for a while, and again this evening.
Sundays are especially quiet anyway. Seldom a text. Only the occasional Facebook message, or email, usually. And I only respond to crises or fun stuff. ‘Business’ waits.
So I was quite surprised to pick up my phone and see nearly a dozen, if not more than a dozen different notifications. There were phone calls, emails, texts and various other social media messages. I opened them in order, curious what all the ‘buzz’ was about.
The first message said, “You wouldn’t believe what got read over the church pulpit today”. So I wrote back and asked what it was.
Another message asked if I had heard what announcement was made at one of the Conservative Mennonite churches this morning. By the time I read the other messages, all my questions were answered before I ever heard back from the first one.
When I read that first message, the fleeting thought went through my mind that maybe the leaders had encouraged their people to attend the conference in November. Maybe they had finally seen the evidence that I was, indeed, helping sexual abuse victims overcome their addictions, break free from demonic attacks, overcome suicidal struggles. One of their ministers had personally thanked me and acknowledged he can see who I work with before anyone tells him.
Maybe, just maybe…
But even as that thought slipped through my mind, I knew that wouldn’t be it. Like distant thunder, warning of an impending storm, I had heard the rumblings and waited, knowing that sooner or later the winds of resistance would pick up force. I even said to a few of my friends, “You watch, it won’t be long now and they will begin to make announcements in the conservative churches, trying to control their congregations by telling them they are not to attend our conferences.” I knew the day would come, likely sooner than later. And it did. There had been subtle hints made over the pulpit in the past, but now it has become blatant announcements.
No doubt they would discourage under the guise of concern over worldly influences by this ‘apostate woman’, as one Bishop calls me. But they haven’t a leg to stand on with that ‘worldly influence’ accusation. Their people tend to stay in their churches, when I work with them. So far everyone who was plugged into a church, has stayed there while under my influence, because I have no need to pull them out. If God has something better for them, a place where they will heal and be encouraged in a way they are not now, He can lead them. The biggest change clients go through is that they suddenly see God as a Heavenly Papa, and find hope in Jesus, as they break free from the bondage of the past. While they continue to practice cultural rules and regulations, their hope is no longer found in that idol, but in Jesus Christ, and Him alone.
However, the one thing that must be most terrifying to those leaders who need ‘control’, is that most of these people are suddenly not afraid of their controls, nor are they afraid of the truth. They recognize that the prevalence of abuse is a problem, and they begin to stand firm on this, questioning the silence and cover ups. This is a problem. They begin to question other injustices and inconsistencies in preaching, like when I leader condemns only those ‘sports and entertainments’ that he personally doesn’t engage in. (For example, snowmobiles may be condemned, but four-wheelers not condemned, if that leader owns one. Or four-wheelers may be condemned if he doesn’t use or own one, but boats are not condemned if that is something he or his family does.)
Above all, I have good cause to believe that at least some of the leaders are concerned because of what all I know about hidden abuse…
I know what sin lies buried in many a church and many a family. I know how one preacher’s brother–who is also a preacher–abused him and another young man. And I know how another minister’s daughter abused a young girl. And another minister’s son abused a little boy, and that son was first abused by his older cousin. And most of these were never dealt with appropriately or reported. To my knowledge only one was. The sin was simply left like a rotting carcass under the church’s mat, while ordering victims to ‘forgive, forget and move on’, or in some cases making the victims confess to immorality.
Some of the leaders involved in these cases are ‘concerned’ about my influence, I presume as a distraction from the hideous reality, and definitely in the guise of protecting ‘the flock’ from my ‘deception’. In reality, I think they fear that the truth is too near being exposed, and if people trust me, they will believe that truth when it comes out. And I will be shocked if it does not come out. Victims are gaining courage, and that is the other thing they fear. I lead them to Jesus, and when they meet Jesus, courage rises up in them and they can no longer be held down. And they have plenty of ‘dark truth’ to fear.
One family that has several ordained church leaders has, at minimum, four perpetrators and several victims who are covering for each other, as well as victims outside the family. And one of the sons, who is a minister, is one of the guilty party, as well as several grandsons and a granddaughter. But they are well-respected by most–everyone but the few who know the truth, from what I know–and cover it with perfect religious image. I have known this for a long time and choose silence rather than exposing it, because I believe God is working and it will be revealed at the right time.
And still they deny it happens, and claim I make it seem more prevalent than it is. No my friends, I don’t need to fudge any numbers to make it as ugly and wicked as it is. And the cover up just makes it more wicked and gets blood on the hands of more leaders who silence victims. I fear for them on that day when they stand before God and give account for what happened to those little ones… The little ones that the church judged and punished when they grew up and hated God, and turned their lives over to sin. How can we stand vindicated before God, if we choose this?
And, because of silence and cover up, the chain just never seems to break. No. That chain lies buried deep under Achan’s tent, bringing more death, hell and damnation as innocent and unsuspecting people–especially children–fall prey to it. But in this story Achan isn’t sitting in his tent protecting the chain, he’s pretending to be Joshua, standing up behind the pulpit and proclaiming ‘as for me and my house’ and pretending like he has a better way to offer. That’s how he protects the thing he stole, and hid. But the corruption drowns out the noble proclamation, as the stench of hidden-and-smoothed-over sins rise up.
If only they could understand that I have no desire to destroy them. I know enough names and stories to do a lot of damage, and yet I don’t do it. Is that not enough to show that I am not out to destroy them? God has more than enough grace for the repentant sinner… if only they could grasp this! Instead they bury their sin and live in fear of being exposed, or tell themselves it isn’t there, it never happened, it wasn’t that bad, or it was mutual consent.
I cannot help but wonder what happens to the heart of God, as ‘worship, prayer and preaching’ rise up to heaven from that place, intermingled with the careless victimization of children and that crime covered up. And it makes my heart break. The hopeless eyes… The darkness of the demons they fight… The longing for death…
And I wonder, “How long, O Lord, how long before judgement will fall on Your people again because we have laid our children on the alters of Molech, to be used for sexual gratification?” I can hardly bear it.
But I know this, that God has not forgotten those who have a true heart. Not one has escaped His eye, and not one has escaped His compassion and redemption. Everyone who reaches beyond the confining grip of religious controls, and reaches for healing through Jesus, will find it, if they seek Him with all that they are and have. Everyone who is willing to follow God, and not man, will be brought to that place of freedom. He has promised it, and I believe it.
It is Jesus who heals and gives light and life. It is Jesus I present to these hurting hearts. And if one person, claiming to know Him at all, will deny that He is the answer and that in Him they will be made whole, then they deny Christ altogether. He is all I have to offer the people who come to be mentored. He is all we lift high and offer at conferences. Anyone who dares speak against His healing power, denies Him.
Still, I will offer Jesus with passion and purpose, with never an apology or regret. And any resistance we face I count as an honour, for the sake of the One who died for me, and made me whole…
….My beautiful Saviour, Jesus. “For You, my Friend, I will lay down my very life to bring just one soul to You for healing… Because I trust You and your promises with all that I am and have.”
NOTE: Special Offer
Anyone wishing to attend the Shattering the Silence Conference, November 22-23 at Woodside Bible Fellowship in Elmira, who reads this blog, may register at the Early Bird rate of $35. Simply send a cheque, with a note that says: “I saw a special offer on your blog” and make it out to Generations Unleashed 15 Coral Gables Crescent Elmira Ontario, N3B 3P4. I will accept registrations at that rate until November 13, 2013. Or call me at 519-590-4907 to register. We look forward to seeing you at the conference!
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