What to Do When Leaders Forbid Sexual Abuse Seminars?

On Sunday October 27 a local conservative Mennonite church made an announcement telling the congregation they should not attend our conference, specifically naming ‘Shattering the Silence’. This inspired me to write a blog, appropriately titled, ‘Local Preachers Forbid Attending Sexual Abuse Conference‘.

Even though I knew the day would come, it still punched me in the gut when it happened because of which congregation it was. I had already helped numerous of their congregants work through abuse, and had done so respectfully, with their leaders’ knowledge. As quickly as the punch came, I ruminated on what good it could possibly inspire.

I am a firm believer that out of everything intended for harm, God already has a plan for good in place if we will but ask Him and reach for that good. Sometimes it comes almost immediately, sometimes it takes years, and sometimes it takes weeks. This time it was barely days.

The thought that went through my mind that night, as I contemplated their announcement, was, “If we can’t get the people to the message, how do we get the message to the people?”

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I already write a blog, but many of the people I want to reach, locally, don’t have computers. I could write a book–which I have, and am working on a second one–but that takes a long time. After writing it, I have to publish it. If I self-publish, I have to raise the money first, and if I don’t self-publish, I have to find a publisher. That takes a very long time. And, furthermore, I believe the message God has given me is needed now. As in yesterday. Sure, the book will be good, when it’s ready, and it will be helpful. But in the meantime how do I get the message out there?

And then it occurred to me…

I sat down at my computer and I composed a message to a local paper…

“Does the Elmira Independent ever look for guest columns to be written? If so, I would be interested in doing this, from time to time, or regularly. [insert explanation about abuse and what I do]… I cannot sit back … without at least attempting to get a message of hope (to abuse victims), so I will nudge every door I can think of, to see which ones will open. And I will become bolder and bolder until those who desperately want help find it. If (writing a column) is not an option or an avenue of speaking into the issues of healthy family life, abuse etc, that’s okay. I am not afraid of closed doors. But they definitely won’t open if I don’t knock.”
I hit ‘send’ and waited. A day later I received an email asking me to write a sample column to see what I have in mind. Immediately I sat down at my computer and tapped the keys for an hour or so, before sending my sample column to the editor. And then I waited.
Several days passed. An email arrived. It was an apology. The editor was sorry she had not been able to find time to read the sample column, as she was sick. She would get to it as soon as possible and let me know.  Again I waited.
A week and several days passed, still I waited, until moments ago when an email arrived saying she had finally had time to read the article and, yes, it is definitely something their paper could use! Would I consider letting them use a headshot photo with it? And what about contact information and a little blurb about what I do, would I be okay with that? And could I have the columns to them a week in advance? And the first one will be printed the first week of December. As for restrictions on what I may say, or write about, how about ‘none’ to start?
Wow! How amazing is that?! I’ve dreamed for years of writing a column but never had the courage to put myself out there! One negative experience, forcing me to ask the question, “How do I get the message to the people?” took me to a place of pursuing another dream.
Over and over I am amazed by God. When I speak locally at conferences, I speak to an audience of under 200 several times a year. Now I will write monthly, for an audience of over 4000. And who knows what doors that will open?
More and more I am learning to trust God when it feels like those who oppose our work have an upper hand. It is impossible to get the upper hand on God, and it is impossible to stop His truth from spreading. When things seem to go against us, and that thing He has called us to do seems impossible, He will make a way if we are willing to listen, and step outside our comfort zone.
And so begins another great adventure with God, as a columnist for a local paper, taking the message of hope out to the community…
Maybe that ‘Christian radio program’, or that ‘Christian TV program’ dream lies just around the corner… Who knows? And it doesn’t really matter. For now I am going to embrace this phase with all that I am.

© Trudy Metzger

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Should Women be Silent… or Prophesy… or Both?

That one topic I was sure I would never address… now here I am, letting all these worms out of a tin, all because someone took the lid off…

Recently a man encouraged me to study the scripture on a woman’s place in the home and in the church. (Well, that was a less than subtle hint at his personal opinion!) He wasn’t being offensive or manipulative–at least I didn’t take it that way–and I didn’t take offense. It was, I believe, done with good intentions. A bit misguided, maybe, but no harm done.

A similar ‘concern’ was brought to my attention by another gentleman not long ago. He, too, was very kind.

And a minister mentioned it as well…

My husband, on the other hand, encourages me to do what I am doing. Oddly enough, he is the only one with the ‘authority’ to speak into my life. And he says ‘do it’. He is my leader. My spiritual protector. And I respect him. From the time God spoke to me and I shared that with Tim, on October 20, 2001, I waited until Tim gave me the blessing to  ‘go ahead’. And that took a long time.

When I first told Tim, he immediately blessed me and affirmed what God had spoken. But he also said, ‘Not now. The time is not right.’ A line he would continue to say for almost ten years.

A week or two after I told Tim what God had put on my heart, I received a phone call. It was Steve Masterson, a mentor, friend and spiritual-father figure in my life, and he asked me if I had ever considered going into ministry.

I stopped dead in my tracks, stunned. We talked about it. I shared my heart, and what God had showed me the previous weekend. He shared how God had laid on his heart a vision for ministry to the abused, as a call on my life.

The two most influential and most godly men and leaders in my life affirmed what God had already spoken. I knew then, without a doubt, that one day it would happen. I also knew that it wasn’t up to me to force those doors open.

It is ironic that I now have people with no authority or influence in my life, encouraging me to reevaluate God’s call. Some boldly declaring that what I do goes against scripture.

One woman, whose husband and two sons have all sexually abused children, gently told me that she fears for my children if their mother is out like that day after day.

Mostly I listen and file those comments. God has spoken, and I will obey. End of story. It will take more than human persuasion to convince me that God has not called me. And most likely if God was to ask me to leave ministry, He would speak through Tim and to me, not random people who have preconceived notions about what I do.

I can hear it already, the criticism: “But how can you say God asked you to do something that violates scripture? Didn’t He say women are to be silent?”

To answer that question, with absolutely no twisting of scripture, I will simply post what my Bible says, and then post a few thoughts and questions for you to contemplate. Too often we take what someone says, or follow what a church’s constitution says, and make it ‘Bible Truth to stand on’, without ever searching the scripture for ourselves. And sometimes the answer is there, in black and white, with no agenda to accompany it. Simply God’s truth, unadulterated by mankind, and with no personal agenda or human control.

Joel 2:25-29

New King James Version (NKJV)

25 “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
The crawling locust,
The consuming locust,
And the chewing locust,[a]
My great army which I sent among you.
26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the Lord your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame.
27 Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel:
am the Lord your God
And there is no other.
My people shall never be put to shame.
28 “And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

In the context of these verses, it is interesting to note that the prophetic word, stating that God’s sons and daughters will prophesy, is directly connected to God’s promise to bring healing and restoration…

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The same prophesy is given again in Acts, as this outpouring of the Holy Spirit begins.

Acts 2:17-18

New King James Version (NKJV)

17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.

I’ve heard arguments that God merely allowed women to speak, and be in places of leadership in the Old Testament, as though it was some hardship for Him. But on the heels of that is a quick explanation that in the New Testament this is strictly forbidden.

Irony of all ironies, the verses above are Old Testament verses speaking to end times–seems to me we’ve never been closer to the end than we are today. And tomorrow we will be even closer. So to say that the prophesy was not for today is, well, twisting the Word of God into human agenda.  Not to mention that these verses are quoted again after Jesus returned to heaven. Clearly they were not meant for a time prior to Christ. These verses speak prophetically to the role that men and women will have in the end times, proclaiming the truth of God, of Jesus Christ.

How can the idea that ‘women must be silent’ be enforced as a ‘biblical law’ in these last day, and the truth of scripture still stand, rock solid, when the Bible plainly prophesies that men and women will prophesy? Either the verses on end time prophesy must be cast aside, and it be determined that God’s word is not reliable, or we are missing something. The fact that there is room for God’s ‘daughters’ and ‘maidservants’ to prophesy, to speak, is in direct conflict with what many churches teach…

Acts 21:8-9

King James Version (KJV)

8 “And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.
9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.”

They ‘did’ prophesy, the author writes. They ‘did’, did they? One might almost understand this to mean that they actually did it. Actually spoke the truth of God with authority, out loud. As women. Females.

The word ‘prophesy’ says it all. The verb means “to speak out of divine inspiration; to give instruction on religious matters; to preach.” Prophesy refers to foretelling and forthtelling. Foretelling is what Jesus did when He warned of what would happen to Jerusalem. And it did happen. But more commonly prophesy refers to ‘forthtelling’, or speaking the truth in relation to present circumstances.

It is 100% impossible to be prophet or prophetess and be silent. Speaking is the key ingredient to prophesying. How do we reconcile this, that a prophetess must speak, and be female, and yet all women must be silent?

I believe that God has designed us with unique purpose in mind, and that purpose is His, not ours. He has left room in His own Word for us to function ‘outside the box’ of what is acceptable, or even enforced, by religion. (And there’s indication that Phoebe, in the early church, also had a role not in keeping with strong religious teaching.)

One of the references given me to consider, by several, was in 1 Timothy 2. So I read it. Again. I’m familiar with it. I embrace it. I believe it. I believe it as powerfully as I believe the verses I quoted previously in Joel and Acts.  To quote those verses, however, I’d like to back track a few verses to verse 8.

1 Timothy 2:8

King James Version (KJV)
8 “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.”

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I read that verse and realized that of the men who told me I should be quiet and not speak publicly, not one, to my knowledge or witness, has ever lived in obedience to verse 8. I have not seen one of them lift holy hands in prayer, without wrath or doubting. This is a direct command, if it’s commands we’re looking at, and it directly precedes the command that women in silence. And it even says ‘every where’, a detail missing in the verses addressing women and silence. That’s an interesting biblical fact… (Wonder what a message would sound like where all men are emotionally and spiritually ‘spanked’ for not walking in obedience to this visible, external evidence of obedience to God? But I digress…)

1 Timothy 2:11-12

King James Version (KJV)
11 “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

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In verse 11 Paul says women are to *learn* in silence.,(also interpreted as ‘don’t interrupt’ the speaker) and then goes on to say not to *usurp* authority over man, but be in silence. Within context, that’s pretty plain reading. I doubt a prophet or prophetess of God would interrupt honourable men of God while teaching. Only overbearing, and obnoxious behaviour would inspire that kind of rude response to godly teaching.

The word ‘usurp’ means to ‘take by illegal force’ and speaks again of being overbearing, and not functioning in submission to God-given leadership. Overpowering our leaders and demanding they let us have control, stands in stark contrast to releasing control while submitting our vision to the leaders God has placed in our lives. (And when our leaders are not following the Word of God, we best not stay, but run for our dear lives!)

I believe in living a life of submitted vision. I believe in functioning under the blessing of those whom God has given authority in my life. That means there are times that I am silent on topics Tim is not comfortable having me address. It means that I don’t always respond to people who attack or antagonize me. If Tim says, “Don’t do it,” then I don’t do it. He is my leader, my protector, spiritually and physically.

On a church level I have always done ministry under the blessing and leadership of my leaders, elders, pastors and mentors. I believe this is biblical, and if I force my way into what I want to do or fell called to do, without being released by my leaders, then I am in direct violation of scripture.

There have been times when the burden of this ministry has been overwhelming. There have been times when I cried in Tim’s arms and said, “Honey, I just want to quit… I can’t do this anymore…. I can’t take the attacks…” or some other struggle.

I have looked at Tim and said, “You speak the word, and I will turn and walk away from this ministry, and never look back.”  And I have done it at times when we struggled together because of the ministry, because it cost us more emotionally and financially than we felt we could handle. I expected him to say, “walk away”, on at least one occasion.

Instead, every time, he has held me and reminded me what God called me to do, and encouraged me to keep doing it. Only once did he even begin to release me to stop, but in the end we couldn’t. That support has made me stronger, more resilient, and more deeply committed to God and His call on my life than I have ever been.

I live in obedience to Joel and Acts, when I speak out the truth of Christ, prophesying the truth He asks me to speak. And I live in obedience to 1 Timothy when I am silent out of respect for my husband. And God is blessing us for it. We feel His spiritual covering over us. He provides when we don’t have it in us to keep going. And He is changing lives. We’re not doing it. We couldn’t’. He is. And we praise Him for it.

Whether I speak, or am silent, my life is God’s. I surrender myself to Him daily and desire only to lift Jesus high, because when He is lifted up, He draws all people to Himself. And therein lies healing.

© Trudy Metzger

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MENNO SIMONS… (Part 4): Excommunication, Love & Compassion

My intention is not to belabour Menno Simon’s teachings, but his views on Excommunication deserve further exploring, in my opinion.

The most outstanding, and maybe even astonishing, things I found was Menno’s views on how sin should be handled, when an individual comes forward in repentance. (The only exception to this, which he addresses first, and I will address after, is in a case of a criminal offence.)

When an individual sins (privately, as Menno calls it, meaning a sin that is not known publicly) Menno urges the church to deal gently and privately with the sin. If the individual confesses a sin to a ‘brother’, it is not to be taken to the church for discipline, with the exception of a criminal act.

“I understand that […] brethren are of the opinion that if some brother should secretly have transgressed on something or other, and, in sorrow of heart should complain to one of his brethren that he had thus sinned against God, that hen this same brother should tell it unto the church; and if he should fail to do so, that he, then, should be punished with the transgressor. This opinion is not only absurd but it sounds in my ears as a terrible one. For it is clearly against all Scripture and love, Matt. 18: Jas. 5:19-20.

Excommunication was, in one respect, instituted for the purpose of repentance. Now if repentance is shown, namely, the contrite, sorrowing heart, how can excommunication, then, be pronounced against such. O, my brethren, do not put this doctrine in force, for it will lead to sin, and not to reformation.

If we were thus to deal with poor, repentant sinners, whose transgressions were done in secret, how many would keep from repentance, through shame. God forbid that I should ever agree with, or act upon such doctrine! Lastly, I understand, they hold, that if any one, in his weakness, transgresses, and openly acknowledges his transgression, that they should consider him, then, as a worldling.

This, again, is an absurd doctrine; for, if the transgression was done through weakness, then, let us not be arrogant and too hard on the poor soul, lest we commit a worse fault.

Not the weak, but the corrupt members are cut off, lest they corrupt others. Of such unscriptural doctrines and practices I want to be clear. I desire that excommunication be practiced in a sincere paternal spirit, in faithful love, according to the doctrine of Christ […]

My chosen brethren, guard against innovations for which you have no certain, scriptural grounds. Be not too severe, nor too lenient. Let a paternal, compassionate, prudent and discreet heart, and the Lord’s holy word, actuate you.” (Exceprt taken from the Third Letter by Menno, “An Epistle […] to the brethren at Frenekar.)

In a nutshell, Menno discourages running to the church with every sin confessed to us. In other writings he instructs that relational issues, where ‘brother sins against brother’, reconciliation and forgiveness is to be pursued according to Matthew 18. He distinguishes between a sin against God, and a sin against each other, in that we cannot forgive a sin against God. An individual must seek forgiveness from God, but we are to forgive a sin against us. Where these relational offences, sins, and hurts can be resolved without church involvement, and the offender takes ownership, it is not to be handled at a church or public level.

All public sin, however, in Menno’s teachings, needed to be confessed publicly, but, again, he distinguishes between sin and offences that are not sin, if I understand him accurately.

Where a crime is committed, Menno does not allow for warnings and second chances before discipline. He addresses this, in the same letter, in response to having heard that there is a ‘violent dispute’, between two opposing views on excommunication. One would like to see church members get three warnings before discipline, and the other insists on heavy-handed, no warning excommunication. He speaks against both views.

His advice, to the one looking for three warnings, is, “I cannot agree with this doctrine. For there are some sins […] which require summary punishment at the hands of the (law). If we were to admonish transgressor thrice, in such cases, before they were punished, then the sweet bread of the church would be changed into sour bread, before the whole world. Therefore, act with discretion, and do not treat criminal matters, especially if they are public, the same as you would other carnal works, which are not considered, by the world, as requiring disgraceful punishment.”

To the other man he writes, “That doctrine is, according to my humble understanding, erroneous and against the world or Christ, Paul, and James. For averice (or, greed/pursuit of wealth), pride, hatred, discord, defamation and quarreling are carnal things which work death, if not repented of, Gal. 5:19-20; James 3:16; notwithstanding, they are not punished until after having been thrice admonished as the Scriptures command. I wish that it were taken into consideration, that, as “the wages of sin is death,” so also, the repenting, converted heart brings for life…”

There is no indication, anywhere that I have found, that Menno Simon endorsed the careless and quick excommunication over things that having nothing, whatsoever, to do with sin. In most cases I have seen, apart from the ones involving sexual immorality, or drunkenness, excommunication has been exercised over issues of opinion and rules not being followed, or some label such as ‘bad attitude, which usually comes back to a rule that is in no way connected to the word of God, the ten commandments, or any other sin.

For many years I have found this troubling, and believed that this way of operating was based on Menno Simon’s teachings. It has been healing for me, though I disagree strongly with Menno’s view on shunning, to read his writings and see how strongly he sought to honour God. No where can I find any indication that he made decisions based on protecting church image, hiding sins of the prominent, or any other perverse and selfish control.

It seems he tries earnestly to follow God’s word, while exercising his understanding of it, with fatherly compassion, a heart to restore, and no desire to wound or control.

His prophetic word or questioning, that if repentant sinners are dealt with harshly, then how many will avoid repenting for fear of being shamed, has come to pass. Every adult with whom I meet as a coach and mentor, as we work through the aftermath of abuse, we also go through a time of confession and repentance for hidden sins. Most, if not all, share sins of which they cannot repent at church, for that very reason. Many have looked at me, tear flowing down their faces, as they tell me they wish they could have that kind of openness at church.

I sat with a young woman this week, not yet nineteen years old, who had told me she is looking fora church. I asked her what she is looking for, what it is her heart longs for and seeks.

Her answer took me off guard, coming from one so young. I might have expected, ‘no strict rules’ or ‘no man-made rules’, even ‘a lively church that is fun’. But she said she wants a place she can go and confess and repent when she has sinned, without fearing shame or judgement. She wants to live a life of purity and holiness, and have accountability, fellowship, and prayer support.

“A place where I can go and confess when I have sinned…” No shame. No harsh discipline, unless it is a matter of crime.

I think Menno would have applauded her. And I think he would have done his best to give her such a church home.

Menno does address the issue of a person repenting, but not producing ‘fruits unto repentance,’ and says there is a time to discipline when the follow-through is not there.

In such a case, my heart tells me to come alongside that person, struggle with them and understand them, disciple them, teach them, and they are far more likely to walk in victory. I know this because of the number of people I have discipled, who have overcome addictions after months, and years, of strongholds. 

While I don’t see eye-to-eye with Menno Simons, I have appreciated the wisdom in his writings, and can’t help but wonder where the church would be, if the passion for biblical truth, practice and understanding had remained as sincere as his writing portray….

He addresses numerous times, in his writings, the sin of materialism and the pursuit of riches, among other ‘sins’. As I read that, I thought of the church today. Almost any denomination. What has more power, more pull, more prestige, than materialism and riches?

Changing the church, like any other transformation, begins with personal transformation. So my prayer to God is, “Give me a hear that loves You, more than anything else in the world. Give me a heart that understands your commands, and your desires, and the courage to live them. Create in me a heart that is clean, pure, true and tender, and fill that heart with compassion. And let that compassion flow to every person whose life I am blessed to impact, so that they will know You, through me.”

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©TrudyMetzger

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“God Told Me To…”; Sexual Abuse in the Name of God & a Million Bleeding Hearts

WARNING: This post contains sexual content, though not explicit, it may be triggering for survivors of sexual abuse. The purpose is to break the silence, create awareness, and offer hope to the Body of Christ …. Healing comes when silence is broken.

It’s mid-morning, and I’m in ‘my chair’, in the corner of the family room, listening to worship music, with tears literally pouring down my face.

It is the kindness of God, that ‘paces’ the things I am confronted with, and exposed to, so that I am not overwhelmed or consumed by darkness. Sure, there are moments I weep–I’ve had those off and on since I started into ministry–but I am never consumed. But every now and then, when I encounter abuse stories that leave the mind in shock, it takes me a bit of time to absorb and process. And that is what has happened recently…

In the last few weeks I have seen things, heard stories of things done in the name of Jesus that are absolutely crushing. As in, ‘squeeze the life right out of the chest’ kind of crushing. Things that, in all my days of ministry and talking with people since age 21, I have never encountered before, in my cultural background…

I’ve heard of things in the news that feel similar–like the Waco Texas case–when David Koresh, claiming to be a prophet, used and abused many women. The group went up in flames, on April 19, 1993 during an assault, at the end of a fifty-one day siege. Coincidentally, April 19, 2013–20 years later, to the day–the door began to open to the situation I currently am involved with, and continues to unfold.

And then there’s the Amish case, involving Sam Mullet, that comes closest to resembling the current case, because of the religious control and using that position to abuse. Somehow Sam managed to get women in the church to have sexual relationships with him, by playing the ‘women need to submit’ card. And they fell for it.

However, what I have encountered in the last few weeks is yet another twist of abuse and perversion.

Part of our purpose for a recent trip to Pennsylvania was to meet with a variety of people–ranging from therapists, to victims, to counsellors–to ask questions and learn more about this abuse. The things we learned were jolting and yet very helpful.

A Christian ‘therapist’ meets with clients and introduces ‘treatments’. It is a blend of various things, including massage, ‘counselling’, and some entirely unprofessional behaviour, disguised as ‘treatments’.

The various treatments are blended with ‘ministry’, creating a naive trust.  (Each case will have unique variations of how this plays out.) Part of the treatment releases memories and, with those memories,  intense emotions, making the client vulnerable. The therapist might pray (or prey, as the case may be) and speak in the name of Jesus, or God, as the treatment takes place. He or she may say ‘God has told me to do ____’–and then proceed to violate the person sexually. In some cases certain ‘techniques’ may be introduced as a beneficial part of releasing stress and ‘healing’…

And that stress release, in these cases, involves things such as internal massage–meaning vaginal massage and working in the genital area of the client. The release does not always involve sexual orgasm, but may well include it. I asked blunt questions of a few therapists and clients–with clients being more appropriately named victims– if the desired outcome or goal is sexual climax, and at least one was honest enough to admit that it that was the goal of the ‘treatment’.

The client is told that the treatment will bring release from stress etc., along with the ‘God told me to…’ manipulation. To which I responded, on several occasions, “Of course it will release stress, so does sex between husband and wife, the way God intended it to be.” Tragically, many marriages have lost that intimacy, making them even easier ‘prey’.

These treatments are taking place between male therapists and their female clients, and there are also female to female ‘treatments’. Some therapists maintain ‘pure intent’, and that they in no way intended to violate anyone, while others are very repentant, saying they didn’t recognize it at the time, but in hindsight it is very clear to them that they abused clients. Some try to downplay their sin, and place guilt on the victim for such vile and exaggerated accusations, while others are completely broken.

There seems to be an associated ‘blindness’ that prevents some victims  from seeing how violating this is, until we talk and ask a lot of hard questions. (Some ‘therapists’ claim similar ‘innocence’, which I will neither affirm nor deny, regardless of personal opinion. They stand accountable before God.) When I ask the victims bold questions, such as, “Was the outcome orgasm?” or “Did they touch your genitals?” and similar questions, they begin to see how inappropriate such ‘treatments’ are.

Only then, gradually, do some recognize to what extent they have been used and abused. (And how do they go home and tell their husbands that their therapist–whether male of female–brought them to sexual climax?) This leaves some victims trapped in denial, silence and secrecy, and others sharing only with a select few, not willing that the greater truth be exposed of the corruption taking place.

Some therapists eventually acknowledge or recognize that what they have done is actually sexual abuse. They have violated their clients, and have to take ownership for that, a process that takes time and what seems to be a ‘gradual awareness’, if for no other reason, then for the shock. Most will acknowledge, in hindsight, that they knew something was wrong, and yet they insist that it was not intentional sexual violation. Several have been honest about their sexual intent.

The result is that we have groups of women in various churches, gathering for worship on Sunday, and meeting for ‘treatments’ throughout the week, in what can only be called, accurately, group orgies. There are, at times, more than two individuals present, and the ‘technique’ is being practised by non-therapists as well. Or, in other cases there are those who worship on Sunday, where a therapist is present, and groups of women in the church have been ‘helped’ by the therapist, each failing to recognize that his ‘help’ is a violation of their very identity.

Another abuse, that is separate from those treatments, consists of counselling and using a ‘holding technique’ that has, in many cases led to adult women ‘breastfeeding’ each other. It is presented as a way of ‘healing’ early childhood rejection and abandonment, and representing God in that pain.

What I find in many of these abandonment, and rejection ‘revelations’–supposedly from God–there is no balance with God’s truth. The individuals receive the revelation of abandonment, rejection and countless other dark and depressing realities, but there is no balance with a revelation of God’s truth that they were loved by Him, accepted by Him, embraced by Him and even carry His DNA–their first identity.

These ‘revelations’ leave the counsellee empty, lonely, depressed and vulnerable. And that vulnerability, combined with the bond they develop with the counsellor, leaves them easily victimized. I can only presume that the ‘revelations’ are a lot of ‘half truths’ being used by the enemy for incredible destruction. When God reveals our brokenness, He also, simultaneously, reveals our worth and accepted-ness. Whatever dark thing He reveals, whether it is our victimization or our own sin, He also always reveals hope.

Any voice that does not reveal both sides of truth, any voice that does not offer hope, conviction, purpose, life, affirmation, invitation to something better, and a positive outcome, is not the voice of God. It is the enemy.

The enemy offers half-truths to take away our identity, our security. He’s always about condemnation, stealing hope, death of the spirit, beating us down, and guilt and shame.

That’s the difference between the voice of God and the voice of our enemy. It is critical that we recognize that difference.

At this time I am choosing not to identify the type of treatments being used, because I am doing in-depth research into it, and don’t want to speak impulsively. But if you recognize any part of this type of ‘treatment’, and carry the dark feelings of victimization, I welcome you to touch base. I have contact information for counsellors who are able to help, and some who are familiar with this specific abuse.

I am aware currently of approximately 30 victims, some of whom I have connected with directly, and I expect there are many, many more. I am willing to do whatever I can to connect both victims and perpetrators to appropriate help, and to mediate victims confronting their abusers.

To contact me privately, and share your experience or to request connections with counsellors, visit my ‘Contact Trudy’ page. The message goes to my private email address and will not be visible to the public.

It is my heart and my goal to help bring healing to victims and to expose this dreadful phenomenon taking place in the church.

Abuse is vile… an evil thing altogether. And adding a ‘God told me to…’ is disturbing, at best. It must break His heart. It breaks mine. Still, He offers grace, healing and forgiveness. Because that is Who God is. He is good.

And I wonder if that is why He created those little flowers that hang in clusters, called ‘bleeding hearts’. Is there one little flower for every heart that is broken in His name… And another for every one who breaks a heart in His name…

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And, in the end, do they all reflect His heart, bleeding for us all? Bleeding Love… Bleeding Hope… Bleeding Grace… Bleeding all over our wounds, so that we can heal, and be whole?

©TrudyMetzger

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Do You Know Who You Are?

NOTE: (Used by permission from client.)

She seated herself across from me, at the coffee shop. If walls could speak, everyone in the cozy little shop would have known her story. We had been there before. Her tears, her pain, her words, had all been spilled in this place, where coffee spills would be expected.

As her mentor, my goal is to help her find her voice, build confidence, and break free from the bondage that has had her trapped for many years.

It is humbling… even daunting, to mentor someone my senior. Some would say it’s inappropriate but I have had a mentor younger than myself, and it was good. Then, some time ago, when a nearly-seventy year old woman told me, “Today you became my mother,” I decided I would mentor people older than myself.

Sitting across from her at the coffee shop, I no longer concerned myself over age. She was stuck and insecure, and I was committed to walking her through that. Mostly we would explore her life story, and her faith journey. She is a believer, but struggling. In opening up her story to me, and by offering her grace, love and no judgement, we would work through the trauma of the past, establishing healthy identity. In her faith, we would explore her belief systems, and replace lies with truth.

“What does God think of you?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said, speaking with that, ‘haven’t a clue’ tone of voice. She said she had never really thought of it before. After some thought these words tumbled out…

“Irritating…. not worth the bother…. undisciplined… lazy…. weak… wimpy… ”

Since meeting her a few weeks ago, as a complete stranger, I have learned a few things about her. She has a heart of gold. She loves truth and justice, and has suffered extreme emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse. Though ‘religious’, by all outward appearances, her perception of God when we met was so scarred that I could visibly see her spirit close when I said the word ‘God’. She could not go there. But her spirit was not closed in the sense of wanting help. She desperately wanted to get ‘unstuck’, and have help in her faith journey, by working through the deep spiritual wounds.  I asked if Jesus was ‘safe’, and He was. We started there.

But in working through the journey, if we truly want to be free, there comes a time when we have to return to the place of deepest pain, and start healing, and uncovering the core lies. Lies about who God is. Lies about how He sees you. Lies about personal identity. And that is what I was pursing in my client when I asked the question.

Knowing this, it didn’t surprise me when her answers were mostly negative. The one positive she gave me was, “He’d say I’m honest.” Even that answer fit with the rest. She was honest enough to say what she really believes He thinks of her, rather than answering with all the ‘right’ answers. We were talking heart stuff, not trying to pass an exam, and her honesty was key.

I wrote down the list as she gave it. And then I did something I’ve ever only done a few times… I wrote her a note from God:

Dear Annette,

I think you are irritating. The way you persist, on and on… It’s just not worth the bother. You are undisciplined… lazy… weak… and wimpy. Why should I care about you, or help you?

~ GOD ~

When I completed it, I laid it in front of her and asked, “Do you really believe God would leave you a note like that? She read it. Shook her head.

“I don’t think so either,” I said. “I think it would look more like this,” I said, placing a new note in front of her.

DEAR ANNETTE,

I can’t stop thinking about you…. Long before you were born, I wrote a book about you. I recorded every day of your life in it… It’s going to be tough sometimes. (You already know that!) But I can’t wait for you to get to the end…. then it will all make sense. It’s such a beautiful story.

BTW, I have a son… He thinks you’re pretty amazing too! (Worth dying for, He said!) He asked me to adopt you… So I did!

~ Love, Your daddy ~

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Tears filled her eyes. A God she longs for. A God she desperately wants to believe exists. The God of the Bible, whom so many of us have misrepresented–including me, far too often–but the only true God. The loving Heavenly Papa who sees our struggle and, rather than judging us, visits our planet, in the form of a little baby, to experience our pain. All so that He can say, “I understand. I will die for you.”

Slowly… One painful baby step at a time, Annette is getting to know this God. The note didn’t quote scriptures verbatim, but every message in it came from the Word of God. All I did was make it personal, and help her grasp God’s love for her, without the ‘oppression’ of a religious tone.

Freedom comes when we know God. (That’s in the bible too!) When we understand who He really is, apart from religious guilt and obligation. Apart from performance. When all we are, and all we have, is all we give, and He looks on us with love. Because Jesus died for us.

Freedom is being who God created us to be. When we know God, we see ourselves as He sees us, and we are free to be that person. Through Jesus, God restores all things, including our identity.

That’s the journey Annette and I are on. Nothing brings me greater joy than to see God’s children free from oppression and lies, free to know who you really are.

Today I leave you with these questions… How does God see you? What does He think of you? Are there some lies, deep in your spirit, about who God is… or isn’t? Lies about who you are… or are not? Are you willing to get to know Him, to see Him as He really is, so you can see yourself, as you are in His eyes?

 

© Trudy Metzger

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Letter to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

It feels odd to write You a letter… Odd, yet appropriate. It’s different than prayer, or ‘just chatting’ about life stuff…. Strangely more personal, more vulnerable. Makes me wonder if it’s how King David felt when his prayer were written out for others to read.

There is so much in my heart. So much that I feel, but cannot say easily. I feel like You truly have prepared a table for me, in the presence of my enemies. They wave their swords all around, but their threats and rants fade into background noise, as I eat the spread before me, and gaze into Your eyes. How beautiful, and filled with love, those eyes are. I could gaze eternally…

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How different from the days before I knew You… When I thought of God as a harsh and distant ruler. One who judges quickly, irrationally, and rejects those who fall. The one who allows men and women to use, abuse and violate little children. How different from the days when I thought He loved me less for what I had been through, that He had even allowed it because He loved me less.

God. The very word made me cringe.

And then I met you, Jesus. You told me that you are God, that if I know and love You, then I know and love the Father. That You, Jesus, and Your Father, and the Holy Spirit are God. That You came to be ‘God among us’. And then I understood. You are kind, loving and healing. You loved sinners and even let harlots cling to your feet, weeping. No disdain. No rejection. And you invited children to come to You, to be near you. Safe.

That’s when I saw the real God. The God I longed for. I understood, then, that those who had represented God, as a harsh taskmaster, had misrepresented Him terribly. That those who used, abuse and violated children, also violated God. And those who covered for them, were no less innocent of the evil. And I knew that God must hate that violation.

When I saw Your healing touch, in Your loving hands, and heard His voice when You spoke… then I knew I had fallen in love with my Abba Father–my Papa–for the very first time. All those years of distant mistrust fled, and I fell into His arms, safe, for the first time, in His presence.

Oh, I know…. I’ve thrown my fits. I’ve had my tantrums. I’ve yelled into the night. I’ve screamed at the pain, and wondered why He would let me suffer…. why He would let others suffer so much more than me… I’ve raged against the corruption and injustices, committed in His name, by His children… I’ve all but shaken my fists at Him in that blackest of nights…

I’ve not been the ‘princess’ at His side, all dressed in frilly dresses, neat and tidy and proper….

No, it’s often been more like sitting down in mud puddles, while throwing tantrums, and staining that pretty dress….

But still I know that am accepted. Still my Papa loves me and delights in me. He looks at me, and, as if missing the stains on my dress, He lifts me into His arms and begins to sing.

Love…

Pure…

Sweet…

Love…

And He begins to dance, spinning me round, and round. There is no one else in the world, nothing else that matters… I am held and loved…

So, Jesus, my letter is a simple thank you. Thank you for showing me what love is. That it is kind, redemptive, healing and forgiving. That it lays down even life itself, for another–even those who don’t deserve it.

Thank you that You did not come to condemn, but to save. And thank you, thank you, for showing me who Your Father really is, by showing me who You really are. You bridged the gap between my heart, and His. I love Him more than life, and the fear is gone. In it’s place is reverence and awe, that He–so Holy and Just–would love me. I come reverently, yet boldly, to Him, knowing His sceptre of blessing is already extended, just waiting for me to receive it. He was a stumbling block in my life, but You made Him my friend.

In knowing You, I have met and known my Papa. And in knowing Him, I have found myself. All the lies that life–with it’s pain, abuse and violence–screamed so vehemently at me, are gone. They have lost their power. Because now I know that God is good, and I am loved. Those truths have made all the difference.

Thank you, Jesus. I love you!

~ one healed little girl ~

“You dance over me… while I am unaware… You sing all around…”
~ Lincoln Brewster, ‘Amazed’

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© Trudy Metzger

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Letter to The Preacher

Dear Preacher,

This letter may come as a surprise to you, since our paths have gone separate ways and I have no ongoing relationship or connections with you. (No doubt we both remember well how that went down.)

I hardly know where to begin… My thoughts may be best expressed with splashes of ink, representing the tears I have cried. How to unravel those thoughts and share with you what is on my heart?

If you have forgotten who I am, I was the teenager, who was bound, bent and determined to defy you, and all leadership. At least that is how you saw it. In reality, and not to justify rebellion, but to help you understand other teenagers like me, I was confused. I knew that breaking your rules would get me in trouble. And it did. But I also knew that then you would see me, that you would know how angry I felt. Maybe, just maybe, then you would reach out and help me.

I was angry for so many reasons that I cannot tell them all. But there are a few very important reasons I would like to share with you. First, I was angry because I was always criticized. My dresses were too ‘edgy’, always pushing the standard, always ‘riding the fence’, as we were often told. My hair was never pulled back quite tight enough. My heels were a bit too high–even the ones I was given by your daughter. I talked to freely, and wasn’t ‘meek and quiet’, the way a woman should be.

I looked around too much when I entered a room. (This was said to be flirtatious, attention seeking. But if you had grown up in my home, where at any turn you could get hit, where your father threatened to kill you, then you too would learn to always be aware of your environment. And you’d pretend to be confident too, to make yourself feel less vulnerable.)

Alone in my room at night, I would sit on my deep window sill, sometimes for hours into the night, just looking at the sky, and crying. Fearful. Any sound in the night made my heart freeze.

What if it was Jesus coming back and He too found me unacceptable? I so desperately wanted to know God, back then. Wanted so much to know I was in His family. Accepted. Saved. Loved. But for all my prayers and crying, I felt as though I was never good enough. Almost every revival meetings I stood to my feet, fighting guilt, shame and rejection. Maybe this time would be the magic moment. It never came.

The church sang “Almost Persuaded”, and I was that… Almost Persuaded that I would never make it. They sang, “Just as I am…” but I knew that ‘as I was’ would never be good enough for God. They sang, “Softly and Tenderly, Jesus is calling…” and somehow my heart knew it was true, but all I could really hear was the loud screams of judgement… that I was a failure, destined to never know peace.

Meetings, after meetings, I fought this battle. Always ending with the same desperate hopelessness. Little did I realize that my guilt was false guilt. The result of memories deeply buried in my subconscious, that would surface many years later. And only after coming to terms with the sexual abuse and violence of early childhood, and the abuse that later happened in the church, would that guilt and shame finally leave me.

Only then would I sit through revival meetings in peace, with the confidence that I am a part of God’s family. I don’t need to measure up. Yes, I give Him the best that I can, because I love Him, but my salvation does not rise and fall, on false guilt, or when I fall into sin. He loves me. Accepts me. I am His. And when He shows me that I have sinned, I repent quickly, because I love Him.

More importantly, He loves me. He thinks I’m so special that He sings over me with delight. (Zephaniah 3:17) He has even written a book about me! Having discovered that love, I have learned to love Him, and love others.

And one of the things that His forgiving love has taught me, is to forgive others. Because of that love, I forgive you.

I learned many years later that you knew of the abuse I suffered, and did nothing. You covered it, to protect your family name… because the perpetrator was your son. All the while you excommunicated congregants for bad attitudes, for listening to the radio, for not wearing the right clothes, among other things that you labelled sin. But the sins of your sons, and other church members, you kept carefully hidden for the sake of image. How that wounded my heart!

This taught me that God does not care about my pain and suffering, but cares very much that I look right and act religious. And it affirmed the belief that God loves other people more than He loves me. How desperately I wanted His love and acceptance.

I spent years trying to earn His favour before I finally fell to my knees and begged Him to remove every lying voice, and show me who He really is. I wept for days, as I read the stories of Jesus and the church in rest of the New Testament, as though I was reading them for the first time. And then I felt secure.

I knew other preachers who did not do what you did, and I thank God for their kinder examples. But you had the greater influence, and somehow I couldn’t see past the confusion you brought into my life, to see that Jesus is more like them…

So I forgive you. I forgive you for turning a blind eye to the abuse I suffered. I forgive you for judging me harshly, while protecting sin in your own family and household. I forgive you for spiritual rape… by using God’s name for personal agenda, and telling me that what you do is God-blessed.

And each time I remember what you did, I will choose to forgive you, again, and again, and again.

I pray that you will repent, find mercy and get to know intimately the true God… the God of love, justice and mercy.

Sincerely,
~ one broken teen ~

© Trudy Metzger

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Dirty Laundry that Stinks to High Heaven: Sexual Abuse in Christian Cultures (Part 1 of 2)

What inspired me to share the information in yesterday’s blog, Age of Consent & Sexual Assault, and the links I will provide over the next several posts, is several sexual abuse cases that took place in my cultural background.

Two in particular have my attention. One is more recent, the other a bit longer ago, but less than fifteen years ago. They appear to be linked through generational chains. I have not pursued information on this case (yet), nor have I spoken to any of the victims directly… what I know has recently come to me.

It is very likely that some of my readers will recognize the story, and if you find yourself feeling responsible to report the case, because you know too much…. Well, follow your conscience…

The case most influencing me is that of a 14-year-old having sexual relations with an adult Mennonite teacher, who also molested other children. (Of this type of scenario, I have been made aware of several separate cases, in Ontario, and in USA. I will write here only based on Canadian laws, as I am not familiar with USA laws, or state laws.)

The problem here was that, since the relationship with the teen was consensual, so the church treated it as fornication and a mutual consent affair. This allowed them, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to quickly treat it as sin for both parties, and apply church laws to ‘take care of it’. (To my knowledge the teacher who abused the children and engaged in inappropriate sexual relations with the student has not been reported or brought to legal justice That is a matter I still need to confirm. Those who have spoken with me about it, did not know for certain. But that is not really the point I am trying to make, it is about putting responsibility on the student, when the teacher has the power.)

Under no circumstances is it appropriate to put this on a 14-yr-old child, nor would it stand up in court. It would not stand in defense of the teacher, who is in a position of authority and would be held accountable even if it was an older student, because it is an abuse of power. Nor would the law accept that church leaders and others in positions of authority, who were aware of the inappropriate sexual relations, are innocent.

I am still in the process of determining my own moral/legal obligations, having recently been made aware of these details. When I know what I am required to do, I will do it. And in the event that it has already been reported and dealt with, my understanding is that I am not required to do anything further. However, because of the situation with the teen, there may still be a legal obligation on my part, and, again, I will do it if that is the case.

It is a tragedy that numerous similar scenarios are coming to light, and, even with multiple victims, it appears as though it has been quietly swept under the carpet of the church. It is important, and it cannot be stressed enough, that a perpetrator of sexual abuse be reported. To apply church discipline is a matter completely separate from the law, and in no way overrides the laws of our land, especially when it comes to protecting innocent children.

There are questions surrounding consequences for children who abuse children. According to the information I posted yesterday, children, ages 13 and under, are not charged unless they are in a position of authority and trust. My understanding is that if they are 12 or 13, they still need to be reported, so that they can get appropriate help, and it is just common sense to find help for all children who display obsession with sexualized behaviour.

In the case of 14 to 17 yr olds, they are typically charged as juveniles, and those 18 and over are charged and tried as adults.

Religious leaders, principals, school teachers, Sunday school teachers, and all those in a position of authority and trust, can be held to account for not reporting. However, all adults are required to report.

In a recent case (USA) a spouse who knew of abuse was also arrested, and in another case a priest was charged for knowingly covering abuse. More and more, I anticipate seeing this type of consequence for silence and turning a blind eye.

In Australia, Prime Minister Julia Gillard had recommended a Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse in all institutions, to determine how much cover up is happening. This includes, but is not limited to churches. If this were to happen in Canada, I am confident that what would come to light in the church would shock the world, and our communities, and it would cost the church. (Though it might also do some unexpected house cleaning.) I am saddened that this is the case.

I pray that we do some serious house cleaning before it comes to this. It would result in serious, and justified, attacks on Christianity.  And, undoubtedly, we would cry ‘Persecution’, but it would not be that at all.

Persecution is when we suffer for the sake of Christ, not for the sake of evil, corruption and iniquity hidden in the walls of the church, while declaring our own righteousness. That kind of attack is the result of our own godlessness.

1 Peter 3:13-18

New King James Version (NKJV)

Suffering for Right and Wrong

13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.”[a] 15 But sanctify the Lord God[b] in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

Christ’s Suffering and Ours

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us[c] to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

God forbid that we would continue to hide our sin and crimes, while judging the world for their ungodliness, and then pretending to suffer for the name of Christ when they judge our lies and abominations. That is blasphemous, at best.

If we continue to do this, we will stand in judgement for such pretences, I believe, far more than the ungodly who have never known Christ. We have known Him, and willingly defiled His name and His church–the body of Christ–to protect our pride.

And to those leaders who declare, “I didn’t know”, my question is, “Why? Why did you not know? What door are you afraid to open, for fear of the consequences?”

Ask God to show you the true state of things, and then be prepared to act on that, both biblically, and according to the laws of our land. God isn’t much for turning a blind eye, so He will show you if you are willing to know.

I could name numerous leaders who have been approached by victims, who have been told how bad it is, but have not gotten their hands bloody to ‘know’ the truth. They have chosen not to believe, and each time they hear it again, they do the same thing.

But God is calling some, including some who have done this in the past, to rise up, hear hearts, face the truth and be the channels for God’s grace and forgiveness to flow out to His people. It is a call to all Christian leaders who will hear and respond, not only those in my cultural background, but every denomination.

God is not pleased with what has been done. He is giving us this opportunity, as believers, to deal with our sins appropriately and according  to the Bible and the laws of the land. (None of the laws of the land, regarding Child Sexual Abuse, violate our biblical call to repentance and God’s justice, therefore we are bound biblically, to live in submission to those laws.)

If we do not obey those laws and repent, God will expose our sins and the cost will be far greater than anything we can imagine.

We can pretend that we are ever so holy, that we have it together and our life is a picture of true holiness, but as long as we hide sin in our churches, and refuse to protect our children, we are nothing more than a spiritual slum…

(c) Can Stock Photo

…To Be Continued…

© Trudy Metzger

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Musings of a Weary Warrior

In a recent post, wherein I revealed what dreadful secrets lie buried in my cultural background, I made the comment that sometime soon I would need to think about posting a blog about all the things I love about my Mennonite heritage. And a host of things floated through my mind, of what I might, and ought to share.

Since then I have heard quiet murmurings, here and there, some spoken, some written, that my blog seems to exist mostly to express my hate for my cultural heritage. (Thank God I prayed for a thick skin and a tender heart, else I might well be standing beside Pontius Pilate washing my hands of the truth I know, hoping that some other fair judge will fight for it.)

So the sweetness of that intended blog, and the romantic musings of one enthralled by an idyllic setting, known to the more fortunate in that culture, and shared with me through stories and observation, will be less so than originally intended.

Not because I don’t believe it exists. I do. And I have been so fortunate as to have experienced it, and known it through visiting some of my dear friends, like the Weavers, whom I have written about in the past. And others.

But, unfortunately the romance is tainted by fatigue, and simply not having any desire to convince anyone of anything right now. Not the beauty and serenity that I saw in a few homes–including my time with Peter and Rita Steckle, at Lakeview–nor the evil that lurks in many other homes, hidden behind the pretences of ‘all is well’.

No. I don’t wish to defend either truth in my writing. Because it occurred to me, as I contemplated the accusations against me–of being hateful towards Mennonites–that neither truth needs a defense. Each truth stands unwavering, with or without my support, my applause, or my proclamation. And each truth is very well known by those who live in it. And those who most furiously rise to defend the ‘good’, and declare me the enemy, are most likely to know better of the hidden things than any one else. Because if there is one thing I cannot be fairly accused of, it is hate.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not upset by it. Discouraged? Barely. Exhausted? For a time, yes. Because I feel as though I shovel constantly, and still the heap never grows smaller. I recall, as a young girl, who was more a tomboy than a lady, how I loved to spend time in the barn with the animals. Their warmth in the winter was kinder than the smells they produced, and I endured one, for the other. I loved the animals. But the manure pile seemed never to shrink, no matter how much we shovelled.

That, quite frankly, is how I feel in all of this. I love my cultural background. I love the people there. And I love how some are sold out for Jesus. But, more and more, I feel as though the manure pile grows faster than I can shovel it. And it’s not the abuse I’m speaking of. I have yet to find one victim, who is in the Mennonite culture and interacting with me, who does not serve as my cheerleader. I get many messages from those dear, wounded souls, who have not been heard. Those who have been silenced by leaders for wanting to be free. Those who have tried to establish some help for their own, only to discover they will be shut down by those same leaders. Those who have been told, “We don’t want them (the abuse victims) here’, and ‘it’s not our problem. Those who have been told not to speak of it outside of their families. And those who have cried out and been told, “you don’t need help”, and then are counselled to read their Bibles and pray more.

It has never been my wish or desire to fight against a culture. My heart, my goal, my passion and my desire have been to help people within their culture. Not to remove them and ‘fix them’, but to walk them through to healing within that culture. But the resistance is strong from some. And when all else fails, and the truth gets too dangerously close, we human beings have a habit of resorting to judging motive, regardless what lies we must conjure up to do so.

So my words are less sweet than intended, because I am not one to slather on pretences or niceties to tickle the ears and polish image–neither mine nor yours. I am forthright, yet try always to be gentle. I love deeply and compassionately. But flattery I try to avoid.

But I will say this. There are some, even in leadership, who represent God well, and reflect Him well, with a heart that is true. My prayer is that they will see…. truly see… the plight of the countless victims. My prayer is that they will open doors for true healing, without judgement and the hypocrisy of ‘secrets’ that force the victims of abuse to carry shame.

Other leaders have buried themselves in their own sin and shame so long, that their only agenda is to keep the hidden thing down, at any cost, and always with a religious guise. To you I say, May God have mercy on your souls and devilish conniving.

And to every victim of abuse, who has never had a safe place to go, I simply say, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you have suffered. I’m sorry you have not been heard. I’m sorry you are forced to carry in secret, your burden of pain and shame. I’m sorry that you have been made to feel guilty for disclosing what your fathers, brothers, uncles, friends and even leaders have done. I’m sorry that you have not been believed. And I pray that someone, somewhere will offer you a heart that is true. A heart that will listen, acknowledge your grief, and not judge you for the crimes committed against you. I pray that someone will exemplify Jesus in your life, and thereby lead you to Him for that ultimate healing.

One day, maybe soon, I intend to write that post that tells of all the wonderful things I know and love about my Mennonite heritage…. but for today, suffice it to say that I wouldn’t get my hands this ‘bloody’ for anything but love. If I wanted revenge, there are countless damaging ways to get it, and they would include  court cases, lawsuits and vile public exposure, not ministry, and certainly not the painful truth intertwined with forgiveness, whether publicly or privately.

The Apostle Paul exposed sexual immorality–incest being one of them–in the Corinthian church. He did so publicly, having published the letter in a book more read than any other. He was forthright. I presume he, too, was accused of many things. And a few nights ago I spent some time reading the writings of Menno Simons. It stood out to me how much of his writing was responses to attacks. One might expect these things, I suppose, and if they can publicly respond to those accusations, I will do likewise.

…these are the musings of a weary warrior. But to my adversaries, don’t get your hopes up… I’m not going to lay down and die, or abandon my passion.

© Trudy Metzger

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