A “Spotlight”, the Police & the Church

~  Strong trees are felled, with patient, persistent chipping. Little by little…  ~

On my way to an appointment today, I mulled over in my head what a local police officer shared with me on Friday; a project he is working on to create awareness of sexual abuse, and also give victims and offenders resources to get the help and support they need. As I processed this, on my drive, I started choking up quite unexpectedly… then the tears fell… then they poured…
With only minutes to go before my meeting, I tried to pull myself together, wondering what was wrong with me to fall apart over that. As I analyzed what was going on in my heart and mind, to unravel me like that, it hit me: I met twice with the local police–once with only one constable, and once with a team including the director of an organization that helps victims–and the action started, people wanting to make a difference. By this past Friday, less than six weeks after that second meeting, the officer shared what action he is working on to make a difference in our community.
 Before parting ways, he told me to go home and watch “Spotlight” with Tim, and to make sure I have a box of Kleenex handy. He  didn’t tell me what it was about, but assured me I would be glad we watched it. So on Friday night that’s what we did. Tim found it on Google Play, rented it for 4.99 (that’s roughly 3.5o for my American friends), curled up on the couch and watched it. I shed a few tears throughout, but less than I had expected. To see a group of people rise up and say ‘enough is enough’ in regards to sexual abuse and religious cover up was touching, but the intensity was almost too much to take in; my mind could hardly absorb the fact that this was a true story, and these non-victims developed such a powerful sense of justice and compassion that they were compelled to act. The main story was far too familiar… (Every Christian should watch this, even those for whom it is against ‘the ordnung’. Repent after, if you must.)

spotlight

My weekend was too busy to absorb or analyze it all, but this morning when I came unraveled, I knew why…

“We are heard. Our suffering has been acknowledged.”

It took only a few meetings with the police to have them ‘rise up’. (Much like the employees at the Boston Globe, in Spotlight.) In my first meeting I felt truly heard about the need to do something. Anything. I’d rather do it wrong, trying to do it right, than to do nothing at all. So we sat there and brainstormed, the constable and I. And that started the ball rolling. The next meeting they asked for my story, and I sat there with an audience of four, and spilled it out, bit by painful bit, for two hours, asking questions, and answering questions. Speaking from my heart in a way that felt terrifying, yet safe. And then the commander and sergeant of the Major Case Unit each offered a heartfelt thank you, acknowledging the courage it must take to do that…

 Two meetings with the police, resulting in redemptive, informative and healing action. Only two meetings…

 canstockphoto14186527 (1)

 And that created a sense of thankfulness, but also a struggle. Because there was no resistance, no fighting against, only compassion and support, when in churches, there is still so much resistance….

****

 I sat in a pastor’s office and admitted that I wasn’t sure I could keep doing the whole ‘church thing’. Heck, I wasn’t even sure I could keep believing in God. If He and so many of His people–leaders in particular–apparently cared not one iota for the lost children, whose lives were wrecked by molestation in the church, then it seemed there was no place for me in His Kingdom.

 Pastor Gord Martin listened compassionately, and then encouraged me to connect with others who share a similar vision, if not the same one. If I didn’t find that support, he said, my fears would easily become a reality; I would turn my back on my faith, because the fight against abuse is intense, and having support critical. That was a few years ago.

 I now have a solid group of people praying for our ministry and a handful who offer support in various ways. It’s still mostly hard slogging, with a few leaders who really seem to ‘get it’ about the magnitude of the problem and the need to do more. But there are a few, and that’s worth a lot. It will take time for the silence of the church to lose its power, and for the broader church to take action in a meaningful way.  I pray the day will come, and believe it will.

On that bright note…

 In conversation with Pastor Blake from Westpointe Church Grand Rapids Michigan, he asked what I would share with their church, on Sunday March 20. I was thinking about ‘Radical love and Reckless Grace’, I said. There was a short pause before he said, “I thought you might talk about sexual abuse…” I told him I don’t do that on a Sunday morning unless specifically asked. Without skipping a beat he said he would like if I did. “It needs to be talked about,” he said. I was taken off guard, but encouraged that a pastor would not only welcome opening that can of worms in church, but actually ask for it.

To Pastor Blake, Pastor Gord, and other pastors  and leaders who have heard with compassion, and those who have fought for victims, Thank you.We have a ways to go, as the church, but we’re making progress. That death-grip of silence and shame is being shattered, little by little.

 We will keep chipping…

Love,

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

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

There is a cost associated with hiding corruption, or turning our heads the other way, and plugging our ears, so that we can say, We did not see, did not know. Not the least of the cost is the ongoing sacrifice of our children on the altars of Molech.

And, having done so, we are shocked, confused and horrified when our children abandon God. We fall on our knees and cry out, heartbroken, that they would leave their faith–not to be mistaken with leaving their cultural upbringing–and worship other gods.

Many turn from the living God because we have corporately misrepresented Him in leaving them willingly vulnerable by not exposing sin and protecting them. We have hidden the evil done against them, while judging harshly their failures, regardless of their efforts. Failures that are often born out of struggles resulting from the very sins committed against them. And until we acknowledge that we have sinned against them in this, our prayers will continue to echo from the walls of our homes and our churches, empty and meaningless.

But if we repent, and cry out to God for forgiveness for our sins, and if we stop hiding behind cloaks of righteousness that have holes exposing our own evil, then, the God of heaven will hear our prayers for our children and our nation. Only then will we see revival of spirit and soul.

2 Chronicles 7:14

New King James Version (NKJV)

14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

I urge us to repent and stop stuffing our filthy laundry in a corner, in pretence that it does not exist. It stinks to high heaven, creating a stench before the very presence of God.

Isaiah 65:1-9

New Living Translation (NLT)

Judgment and Final Salvation

65 The Lord says,

“I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help.
I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me.
I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’
to a nation that did not call on my name.[a]
All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people.[b]
But they follow their own evil paths
and their own crooked schemes.
All day long they insult me to my face
by worshiping idols (of greed, religion, image, lust and pride) in their sacred gardens.
They burn incense on pagan altars.
(…)
Yet they say to each other,
‘Don’t come too close or you will defile me!
I am holier than you!’
These people are a stench in my nostrils,
an acrid smell that never goes away.

“Look, my decree is written out[c] in front of me:
I will not stand silent;
I will repay them in full!
Yes, I will repay them—
7 both for their own sins
and for those of their ancestors,”
says the Lord.
“For they also burned incense on the mountains
and insulted me on the hills.
I will pay them back in full!

But I will not destroy them all,”
says the Lord.
“For just as good grapes are found among a cluster of bad ones
(and someone will say, ‘Don’t throw them all away—
some of those grapes are good!’),
so I will not destroy all Israel.
For I still have true servants there.
I will preserve a remnant of the people of Israel[d]
and of Judah to possess my land.
Those I choose will inherit it,
and my servants will live there.

On behalf of ourselves, our fathers and mothers, and the generations past, we must repent. And for the sake of the generations to come, we must stand and break the silence of corruption, and pray that God will have mercy on us. Not only on those who have committed these heinous acts, but on us for our silence, and not fighting to the death for the little children. For this evil, I pray that God will have mercy.

The next generation is already paying the price with the prevalence of sexual immorality, in the guise of abstinence, and abortions, and homosexuality, and more sexual abuse. All this, and more, is happening right under the noses of leaders who chose to look the other way. That blindness has empowered evil. And, were they to discover it, the sword would fall swiftly.

But that is not the biblical response of leaders. A true leader does not judge harshly and quickly the sins of those he or she leads, while shouting, “You have sinned!” A true leader falls to his knees and asks God, “Where have I sinned that your people are doing this under my leadership?”

We see in Ezra 9, when sin is revealed in the congregation, how he responds by taking personal ownership, as though he was the one who committed the sins. Only after personal repentance does he call for public, corporate accountability for those sins. Oh how such leadership would change the Body of Christ!

Ezra 9:3-8

King James Version (KJV–with edits)

And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.

Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice.

And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God,

And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to you, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.

Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we… been delivered into … confusion of face, as it is this day.

And now for a little space grace has been showed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.

© Trudy Metzger

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Allegory of the Silent Woods

I find myself now, in a dark woods. Having wandered deep enough to be caught at nightfall, unable to see the path clearly. The stillness more frightening than the foreboding growls and the threat of creatures unknown to me. The creatures warn me, the stillness does not.

I want to turn, to run back from where I have come and never look into the woods again. Never to see again, or even remember what I have seen here. If only I could tell you, you wouldn’t believe it. The stories, whispered here, by the dying, the wounded, the lost. But I cannot tell, for they are not my stories to share, save a few who have asked me to speak on their behalf. But I cannot tell them now, it is not yet time.

It was beautiful when I set out into the woods, the flowers at the edge of the woods. The path clear and predictable. Birds chirping cheerfully, as if to encourage me. Furry little creatures, darting about, as if daring me to follow. How naively I wandered deeper.

I cannot say that I was truly naive. For I had heard of the tragedy that had befallen many in the woods. I, myself, had lived there, years ago, one of the fallen. Dying. But I had not seen the others then. Not most of them. Because I was so wounded.I could not comprehend the pain around me, or discern their cries. I could not see, so wounded that my sight was dim.

And then they rescued me. The strangers who heard of my fate and wandered into the woods, offering to carry me out, to dress my wounds, to feed me. Slowly my health was restored.

Then the memory of the cries around me, deep in the woods, returned to haunt me, begging me to return into the woods. A dream was born. I made a vow. I would return. Like those brave enough to rescue me, I would go back into the woods….

I imagined how brave I would be. How many wounded I would find in the woods, and how I would carry them out, one by one, fighting off demons, and monsters, and dragons. Fearlessly. At least so I would tell myself. Inside, where no one could see but me and God, the fear would be there. But that fear would be my driving force, to keep me going, fighting, bringing salvation to the wounded. On the surface I would be brave, and strong…. That is what others would see….

As the night gets darker, the fear is no longer in my heart, hidden. Now it is bold. I feel it, choking me. Threatening to make me freeze. Stealing my strength, causing me to drop the wounded, without even the strength to stand.

It is not the demons and monsters that frighten me so, that make me want to run. No, it is the familiar faces. It is those I see, and recognize, in the woods who stand there, beside the wounded, covering their eyes, as they pray. As they pray for themselves and their own ambitions. Closing their eyes so they cannot see those wounded, and bleeding out on the ground. The blood so near them, it is on their feet, their hands. Praying so loud that they cannot hear the weeping, the cries, the final gasps as the wounded draw their last breath. The blood drips from their hands as they cover their eyes. Still they pray.

The demons and the monsters and the dragons, these I was prepared for. I was ready to slay them, to command them to leave, to chase them. To do whatever I had to do. But now I am in shock. Not shocked that these familiar faces exist. I expected a few. I planned to work around them, to even win them over and encourage them to help.

But nothing could have prepared me for the vast numbers of them, except for experience. And experience is a cruel teacher. A heartless lecturer, forcing one to sit and listen, to contemplate things one might never have known, without experience.

No, I did not come prepared to have them stand there, watching me drag body, after body–if they dared to stop their praying and open their eyes long enough to see–while they stood there silently, or worse, stepped into my path.

This is what is most frightening in the dark. Because I do not know if they caused the wounds, if they would hesitate to slay me. Or if they too, like me, merely wandered into the woods with good intentions, and were seized by fear that consumed their will to fight.

But I have taken a vow, and I cannot break it. I will keep my sword at my left side, carry the wounded on my left shoulder. My right hand is free, always, to reach out to God. It is free to lend a hand to those I meet. It is free to rest on my heart and remember to Whom I have vowed my allegiance. It is free to take hold of that sword, when I need it, and fight for freedom.

I have taken a vow, and I will keep it.

My sword is the truth. My vow is to stand by it, and be faithful to it. For Truth cannot fall. It prevails. Always. And with that vow comes strength, courage and hope.

The woods are darker now. And lonely.

It is a long dark night ahead. But morning will come again, and with it, victory.

© Trudy Metzger

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Blowing the Whistle on Prairie Bible Institute…

Sadly, the story reblogged here is not the first victim’s story I’ve heard coming from Prairie Bible Institute… Silence and cover up are not the answer. If we stand silently by, while this abuse is covered up, then God help us all, if we dare to raise our voice against homosexuality, same-sex marriage and any sexual activity involving consenting adults. We have lost our right to speak, if we fail to act on victimization in our Christian cultures.

If we are going to stand for truth and purity, we have to start in our homes, our churches and our Christian educational facilities.

Forget shaking your heads and clucking your tongues. It’s closer to home than you think. It’s in your church, in your school and, God forbid, even in some of your homes. Our silence has been the breeding ground for the multiplication of evil.

I dare you to first fall on your face before God and repent if you have not already done so, and then rise to your feet, find your voice, and stand up and shout, “Enough is enough! As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord! We will expose the lies!”

2 Chronicles 7:14

New International Version (NIV)

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Blowing the Whistle on Prairie Bible Institute

Reblogged from: http://pbisurvivors.com/)

After many months of feeling conflicted and agonizing over the ramifications of my decision, I am blowing the whistle on an egregious case of cover-up and collusion on the part of the administration of Prairie Bible Institute in regards to the physical and sexual abuse of a child.

Last fall I was contacted by former Prairie staff and informed about a young woman who had experienced years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her mother, father and brother.  The story was particularly disturbing given the fact that all three of these individuals were employed by Prairie: two of them as contract workers in recent facility work and one of them as a current full-time employee in a prominent position with the school….

(Continue reading here: and be sure to visit other pages on their site.)

Be a Voice for Those Who Have Been Silenced

Other Articles:
On Covering the Dead Elephant in the Busiest Intersection in Town
RCMP & PBI Acknowledge Abuses, Police Not Laying Charges

And the flip side:
PBI Responds: Unconventional Leadership in the Midst of Abuse Allegations

© Trudy Metzger

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Sexual Abuse & Violence: A Pastor’s Honest Confession

Some years ago an advert in the Elmira Independent announced a one-day seminar about abuse, with a special focus on plain cultures. It was put on by a licensed counselor, who is also a Born Again Christian, and works closely with Amish, Old Order and various ‘brands’ of Mennonites across Ontario, as well as parts of United States. I decided to attend.

The counselor kindly but forthrightly addressed the ‘higher than average’ rates of sexual abuse in the plain cultures, and stated that the more ‘closed’ a culture, the higher the rates of sexual abuse. With sin and abuse covered and hidden in silence to protect image, it is the perfect hideout for a perpetrator, he explained. What was more, in many of the cases he was involved with the victims suffered severe discipline at the hands of the church, when they exposed the abuse. They were accused of anything from ‘causing discord’, to lying, to receiving the blame for the immorality of the perpetrator. To silence the victims, churches excommunicated them or put them on probation.

Having heard this, a Mennonite preacher stood to his feet during the Q & A session, to contest the ‘misrepresentation’ of the severity of the problem. Wearing plain suit and all, he defended the Mennonite church, calling it an ‘unjust accusation’.

The counselor calmly stood his ground, saying he could only present the facts as he knows and sees them, and that it is not intended to harm or hurt the culture. He was there to offer help.

The preacher proceeded to ask the counselor to change his statistics, and say that, “they are as bad as other cultures” and drop the ‘higher than average’ statement.

The counselor was gracious and said, “Ok, for the sake of argument, we’ll say they are as bad, and we won’t say they are worse.”

With it being an open forum, I rose to my feet and shared my story, the 3-minute version. I was abused, first at home in early childhood, and again, later, in the Mennonite church by a leader’s son. The same young man also violated other young people. This too was covered up.  I told how, after I opened up about my story, about sixty of my friends in the Mennonite church admitted they were sexually abused or raped from within the church. I shared, without graphic detail, this tragic reality and the frustration we, as victims experience at not being able to find help easily. I was not harsh or accusing, but I was honest.

When it was over, I walked over to the Mennonite preacher—who happens to be an acquaintance of mine—and sat down beside him. I told him that my intent was not to hurt him or his church, and I pled with him to stop living in denial about what is covered up in the church.

The preacher sat there quietly for a while. I presumed he was loading his spiritual gun to attack me and put me in my place. I had, after all, abandoned their denomination and was viewed, by some, as someone who had abandoned my faith.

Instead, when he finally looked at me, his eyes were filled with shame and sadness. “I am a perpetrator,” he said.

Shell-shocked is the best way to describe what I felt at that moment. He, a perpetrator, was openly defending the culture. And I knew that his wife was one of the many victims in the culture, who had struggled for many years, never quite able to find freedom.

In an instant my role transitioned from ‘the exposer’ to ‘the mentor’. It was the first time I engaged with a perpetrator of abuse for any other reason than to confront and offer forgiveness. This was new and, that it would be a Mennonite preacher from my background, was ironic. Maybe it was God’s grace, because I felt only compassion for him.  It was within a closed culture that I had been most violated, first at home and then someone from church, and to be able to care for this man in that moment taught me something.  We are all human beings with stories, secrets, and sins. We all need grace and forgiveness.

Seeing his grief, and still shocked that he would share this with me, I asked him, “Have you gone back and made things right? Have you confessed it?”

He said that he had, and went on to share how he was privately trying to help other men in the area of sexuality and accountability.

When that preacher stood to his feet and defended the culture, I thought he did it out of sheer ignorance and the genuine belief that abuse is virtually non-existent in the culture. I quickly discovered that it was a desperate attempt to protect what he wanted sincerely to believe about the culture, against better knowledge. He was overwhelmed at the thought that countless others like him, carried this secret, that countless other victims carried the damaging impact for life. He didn’t want to believe it could happen. Willed himself to believe it.

If he was the only one, he could ‘manage’ the problem. If there were a few others, he could make an impact. But if countless perpetrators filled the seats of churches, and countless victims sat interspersed with the perpetrators, it changed things dramatically.

We parted ways, blessing one another, each determined to make a difference in our sphere of influence. I’ve only run into him a few times since then, but usually at funeral visitations and never in an environment where it would be appropriate to ask how that ministry is going.

At the end of that meeting, I met a group of women from the community, representing a variety of Mennonite churches, and spent some time with them. Those connections opened doors for the future.

© Trudy Metzger 2012

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