God, pizza, & a ‘reunion’ of strangers; A place where victims meet Jesus and worship together…

Who knew that God could use pizza for ministry. A woman in USA who has a heart for God to heal the broken, took it upon herself to do a pizza fundraiser for them. Phone calls, knocking on doors and reaching out to her community, she was able to raise over $2000 for the event being planned for November 2, 2019. But, what’s far more valuable than the funds raised, is that she connected with many in her area and heard their stories, their broken hearts…  How fascinating! God gently invaded our world through a baby, to show His love… and He invaded the community through pizza, and the love of one compassionate woman, to show that their pain, their stories, their suffering matters! 

Together with a group of 10 people (and another 15 volunteers lined up, plus a dozen prayer warriors), we are organizing the event for November 2, 2019 that, God willing and based on current registrations, will bring together  a host of survivors of sexual abuse. We opened up registration early for those on the email list at a discounted price, and already we have over 50 people registered to attend at 10.5 months out. Emails from others are coming in saying they plan to register in the new years… The response has been astounding!

The encouragement, the emails saying they (the survivors) wept when they saw/heard this is happening… the prophetic words of healing spoken… the sense of a radical ‘something beautiful’ coming as we gather… It has been an incredible experience, just the beginning stages of planning it. I can’t imagine what God has in store for the day. 

We will gather to heal, to encourage, to stand together and to move into a new empowerment through the Holy Spirit. 

It was a difficult decision to restrict the event to sex abuse survivors (and their *spouse/partner or support person), but in the end we felt this would make it the safest for survivors for a first attempt at such a public gathering. 

We will have a time of acknowledgement and lament, a time of grieving what was lost, a time of inviting Jesus into our suffering as we also remember His suffering for us, a time of worshiping with our talents and artistic expression of suffering and healing, a time of reclaiming what has been stolen, and a time of worship… deep worship. Symbolically, we bring back both the wailing wall and the King David’s dance, as we seek God, and allow ourselves to be sought after by Him…

A kind God who sees the evil committed and feels compassion for the abused, and offers understanding. No harsh words. Just a gentle invitation to be held, to be loved, to be accepted. … To discover we have been held, loved and accepted all along. We may have felt abandoned, alone, neglected, outcast, but that is not the truth of who we are, or our position in God’ Kingdom. And the position we have, is what we intend to embrace and celebrate. 

All survivors from the Mennonite and Anabaptist churches are invited to attend, regardless of current faith and beliefs (excluding those who as adults abused, molested children, and/or assaulted other peers or adults sexually). But all should know in advance that this is a profoundly spiritual event, with a focus on two things: being together and Jesus being among us. We have requested an extra room or two, for those who do not wish to participate or be present for a particular session  – or those who simply need a place to retreat.

Speaking practically, the early registration fee *for survivors only, and their support people* is $35, including lunch and snacks, as well as no additional cost for the evening concert. (If you have questions or wish to receive registration links, we are sending them out via the email list at AslanHasHeard@gmail.com. This is for survivors and their support people only). Those who cannot afford the $35, may request to go on a sponsorship list which will be on a ‘first come’ basis, and will require those attendees to pay only $10. We really want to make this feasible for all, so that no one feels left out or unable to attend due to finances. God forbid that money stand in the way of healing and support! But sadly, too often it prevents access. We do not wish for that to be the case

To make up for event expenses above $35 registration fees, we are doing a fundraiser to sell pizza in Lancaster/Lebanon Pennsylvania area. Pick up for pizza orders will be January 5, 2019 in Ephrata, when I plan to be in the area. The price is $22 for a cheese pizza kit (2 per kit) and $24 for pepperoni (2 per kit). Pizza must be ordered in advanace. To do so, email with subject line ‘pizza’ via our Contact page.  If you would like a copy of my memoir, we will also have them available as well for $20. To pre-order the book and pizza, use subject line ‘pizza and book’, or purchase on site while supplies last. Please include phone number and address when placing order. (EDIT: In response to requests/orders… Yes! I will be at the pick up location, God willing! And I’m happy to sign the books! I look forward to meeting you!) 

We are thankful for those who have donated to fundraiser’s the past few weeks, and are happy to report we are within a few hundred dollars of our goal for initial costs to secure the venue, the musician — currently waiting to hear back regarding the contract with Jason Gray — and several other upfront costs. 

God has shown incredible favour on this event already. Frankly, I’ve never seen anything like it in my years of ministry, with so many people rising up together — with those who are not victims giving so generously for the cause. And for registrations to start coming in so quickly and so many in less than a week. The sense of excitement and hope is palatable, and the Spirit is moving and bringing us together.

We are thankful! And this is just the beginning! 

As always, and with much thanks, 

Love,
~ T ~ 

© Trudy Metzger 2018 

50 years… almost…and a dream..

Some time ago, I said to Tim, “I hope we die together, holding hands in our sleep, when we’re in our early 80’s.” 

“Speak for yourself,” he said, “I want to live into my 90’s”. 

I laughed. “Well, I hope your last years aren’t too lonely!” And then I instructed him, as I do from time to time, that if I should die before him, he should get married again soon so he’s not too lonely. 

I am about to start my 50th year. It’s reasonable to believe that this means over half of my life is gone. (Is it okay to say, “I hope so!”? I have no ambitions of living to 100. None. Yes, yes, I know. God ordains my days and I get no say. I’m good with that. I’m just saying I don’t get it about people who want to make it to 100. It baffles me.

We were never ones to celebrate birthdays much, at home. I had one party at age 10, with three friends over, and Mrs. Frank Roth, my one friend’s mother, had sewn me an apron in white with lime green frills around it, and flowers painted on the white centre panel. I think I still have it tucked away in a box of treasures somewhere. It was pretty special. Not because I cooked a lot — I was more likely found in the barn than in the house — but it was from my friend, and her mom had taken time to make it.

With the start of my 50th year being just a jog away (I turn 49 on Friday November 23), I started thinking about what I want that year to be…

And the only thing I long for is a breakthrough year for survivors of sexual abuse in our conservative Mennonite/Anabaptist communities. We are planning an event, and  limiting it to various conservative Mennonites and Anabaptists because we are a unique culture. We have suffered in unique ways, and process abuse with mindsets shaped in very specific ways within the culture, not easily understood by those who were not raised like us. (This includes everyone from conservative Mennonites, Amish, Old Order, Hutterite, Markham, Old Colony, Mid-West, Mid-Atlantic, Mid-West, Eastern, NorthEastern, SouthEastern, Pilgrim, Nationwide, Fellowship, River Brethren, German Baptist and everyone in between and beyond. And if you don’t have a clue what any of those mean or are… I’m guessing you are not from a conservative Anabaptist community.) And it is for both male and female survivors of abuse, but excludes those who went on to victimize and abuse others as adults. 

We’ve had conferences and seminars, and they’ve been good. More recently we’ve done training days, offering sessions for those wishing to support victims. These have been very well received, and I’ve enjoyed doing them. (Tentatively we plan to do a two-day even here in Ontario, April 2019, followed up with a Friday evening to Saturday conference.)

But this year I want to do something special for the survivors who are often neglected among us. Rather than a teaching conference, I’ve long dreamed of bringing survivors together to acknowledge and grieve/mourn the suffering, and also celebrating purpose and hope and experiencing God with us… the God who enters in and suffers with us and among us… who weeps with us and gives us permission to enter raw places in our hearts, without pretence. (Jesus wept. King David sat in sackcloth and ashes. Job… the prophets… These heroes of faith grieved. It’s time to shatter the politeness that denies suffering, and let God visit our sorrow. Only then will healing come. No amount of teaching, training and ‘fixing’ will change the course of history until God has dwelt among us in our suffering, and that suffering is acknowledged.)

We will have compassionate leaders speak life and hope over the audience. No preaching…. let along long preaching or ‘advice’. No telling them how to get over it or do better. Just life. Spoken in the present. Purpose, declared. In the present. Love offered, without judgement. In the present. Just as we are. Because it is that ‘present hope’ that transforms us, not the pressure of trying to attain.

We will have some survivors share poetry, art, and will all worship God in the midst of suffering. There is something powerful that happens in worship, and there is something powerful that happens when pain is acknowledged and we discover we are not alone. People care. We are in this together…. Bring together the acknowledgement of suffering with the presence and worship of God… Ah… yes please!

And the beauty of how God has wired us! In trauma we tend to lock up and lose our words. Yet, through art He gives us expression that cannot come out any other way, and though it He invites us to healing. And in that expression, we connect with others and it opens up their spirits to hope and healing. This is true of music, painting, poetry, dance, mime and so many avenues. We are not all the same. A painting may do nothing for one of us, yet move the heart of another to tears. The same with poetry. But when expression pours from the heart of the other, we enter into their story and find permission to enter ours. When I studied this in trauma class, I spent several weeks on a project, and in 12 weeks of that course, the healing that came to locked up places was almost surreal.  Yet, when I return to the project I did — a poem set to dramatic background music — I still weep because it still unlocks a place in my soul, connected to childhood, that only art can touch. And it is beautiful. Because the pain means I survived, I overcame. I am alive! And that connection with fellow survivors is what my heart longs to create, with the help of many.

I shared it with a handful of people, and the response was exceptionally positive. I posted an email address to sign up for updates, and within minutes the emails came in. Updates have been well received, with many taking time to give feedback in response to ideas. Voting on things like location — with Lancaster PA by far in the lead — and whether to have a concert at the end of the day, or with what musician…. Jason Gray took a strong lead here, as many have already found his music to be very healing and uplifting. So we put in a request to have him come, and are waiting to hear back.

Over the years I’ve used his music (as well as Matthew West, 10th Avenue North, and others, but especially Jason Gray’s) to minister to the brokenhearted, to give them a safe space after sexual assault or other abuse, when down and out or struggling with suicidal ideation. In one of my earlier blogs I shared a young woman’s story – with permission – and the night of breakthrough God used Jason Gray’s song Nothing is Wasted to open her heart, and set her on a journey of freedom. Another young woman asked me to take her to the location where she had suffered deep trauma, and we played Remind me Who I Am, as she faced her trauma and wept. Many of my early clients could tell stories of finding permission to grieve and struggle through chaos of their stories, inviting God to speak through the avenue of music, when the spirit cannot hear Him for the pain.

To make it all happen is going to require a ton of organizing and planning. Which I love, fortunately! And I’ve recruited the help of a handful of other individuals, with yet others messaging to offer their assistance! (We are so thankful for each of you!) A few of us are already talking food prep, because… well, it’s our culture and we love good food! (We’ll try to feed you well, though we may not compete with a traditional Mennonite Sunday dinner.) One enthusiastic volunteer spent the night after a conversation dreaming we were making food together, so she’s all in! I will be donating hundreds of hours throughout the year, and many volunteers will also be giving of their time and resources, for which we are thankful. If you want to be updated, please send an email to AslanHasHeard@gmail.com.

I’ve set up a fundraiser on FB – which has generated almost $2000 since Saturday.  (However, the majority of donors have given through our website at Generations Unleashed since this is an American event, and the FB fundraiser only allows Canadians to give). All funds are specifically allocated for this event expenses, with the hopes that it will allow hundreds of victims to attend at minimal cost to them. (We ask for a non-refundable $15 to $20 contribution, as it creates a sense of ownership and commitment.) 

In the next few months we will need to raise around $15,000 for this event, to cover venue rental, the fee for bringing in a musician, and food costs. The minimal registration fee will go towards these costs as well, as we anticipate more than $15,000 in expenses.  If you wish to contribute, please visit our website by clicking HERE

I have one wish for my 50th year… that victims will be heard like never before, their suffering be acknowledged, and that they will become survivors, and then move from being survivors to being warriors for truth and justice, willing to lay down their lives for the next generation. This is my birthday prayer this week,  and my prayer for the event next November.

That is how I want to celebrate 50 years on this planet, (if God grants me one more year), by gathering with hundreds who, like me, thought they are/were the only ones molested and abused. And for every celebration between now and then — birthday, Christmas, anniversary and my 50th next November — the only gift I long for is making this event possible for survivors of sexual violence. 

Love, 

~ T ~ 

© Trudy Metzger 2018