A Conference for Sex Abuse Victims With The Anabaptist, the Baptist, and Me

God willing and the crick don’t rise, on May 19 – 20 we plan to do a conference at Erb Mennonite church, Lititz PA, for survivors of sexual abuse, as well as those who offer support. This includes pastors, teachers, friends, family, mentors and anyone who wishes to offer understanding.

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Some years ago, when going through a particularly dark time in dealing with the abuses in my past – the sexual, physical and spiritual abuse – I cried out to God, as I have often done over the years. I don’t expect God to write on the wall, take away my grief or pain, or even say a whole lot in those moments. It’s mostly just a trusted place where I release my heart and know I will not be brushed aside, judged or disregarded; He always listens and always loves me just the same. But somewhere in that time He whispered something to me. And I just knew it was Him, and I just knew it would happen. Deeper healing would come from the place of my suffering, but the ‘how’ of it was not revealed. I shared it with Tim, a bit hesitantly. I didn’t know what it meant, but believed someone from ‘within’ would play a role in that healing and acknowledge that the problem is real. I didn’t hold my breath, but I held on to hope, knowing such a thing would have significant impact on many.

Being told it doesn’t happen or isn’t so bad, thus downplaying the impact of sexual violence, adds to trauma while also escalating the problem. And maybe it is the latter that makes it the denial so hard; we who were once victims know it continues and there’s no way to stop it from happening to other children. That thought torments us. So for someone within my culture to boldly acknowledge the problem, without excusing the offender, minimizing the trauma, or blaming victims, would have been enough. But what happened was so much better.

The note came at a difficult time. The challenge of helping victims is wearing, because exposing it disrupts people and systems, and anger is directed at those trying to help. And exposing the darkness is particularly exhausting when I’d rather be friends with everyone and believe there isn’t any evil in religious cultures. The fatigue of that resistance had set in when the note came from a conservative Anabaptist lay pastor; a simple apology for the attacks on our ministry, and on me as a person, simply for following God’s call, a thank you for daring to follow that call, and then speaking into that calling and affirming it.  I was overwhelmed.

Weeks earlier someone shared an incident where they heard a leader in our local community speak evil of me and our ministry. Because they are a couple I held in high regard, I contacted them and asked to meet and try to come to an understanding. They declined and till all was said and done, I felt inadequate and genuinely believed maybe God was telling me to walk away from my calling, that I was unqualified.  On the heels of this, I was astounded to receive the random note of encouragement, apology and blessing from the conservative Anabaptist leader. He even included the very verses God used many years ago to define my calling; verses which are documented and engraved in every phase of this ministry, and which always seem to resurface from random places when something is at stake.

That conservative Anabaptist leader was Kenny Kuhns.

Some time later, when I heard Kenny speak, I wept. Hearing a leader from ‘among my people’ speak such life and hope into the harsh reality of my past, and the past of every survivor of sexual violence in a religious setting, deeply moved me and gave me hope. For a second time, God used Kenny to bring deeper healing into my own experience. I’ve been in ministry a long time, and sometimes people ask if the past ever causes struggle. The answer? Of course it does. From time to time, something triggers the trauma. While this ever less frequent, the truth is that humans have moments when we are confronted with the past, and we must grieve, or run. I used to run. Where there is grief and pain, there is a need for healing, and that is something we need never be ashamed to admit, no matter how long we are in ministry, or how ‘healed’ we become. I believe with all my heart that Jesus is enough for me, and the power of the past is broken. I am not a victim. And I believe just as confidently that He sends representatives to unveil His love in new ways to bring deeper healing when needed.

After seeing Kenny’s heart, we invited him and Irma to join us at our upcoming conference at Erb Mennonite church in Lititz, to speak to the victims as a ‘voice from within’ who understands both the magnitude of sexual abuse in our culture and the cost to those who were victimized. Having worked with survivors for many years, he sees the damage done, but also sees the potential, the place for hope, and the power of Christ to restore and renew. His compassion for survivors serves as a life-line for those often misunderstood and unheard in churches, as he acknowledges the deep suffering. But he doesn’t leave us in our suffering; he honours the hard spiritual battles we fight and acknowledges speaks the life and hope of Jesus into that darkness.

We’ve also invited Pastor Dale and Faith Ingraham from New York to join us again. We’ve had the privilege of working with them numerous times in the past five years, and are always blessed and encouraged. Faith’s story of overcoming abuse at the hands of her father, also a Baptist pastor, while painful, is also a story of resilience, courage and faith. Their heart for the wounded is as genuine as any I’ve encountered, and the gentle message of hope God has given them, brings healing and life.

We are honoured to partner with Kenny and Irma Kuhns for the first time, and especially thankful for the long-term support and friendship of Dale and Faith Ingraham. We look forward to what God will do. It’s going to be good!

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All are welcome to attend. We acknowledge sexual abuse, however, what we focus on and talk about is God’s love, His grace and His redemption; that is something we all need. Registration is by donation until May 5. After May 5 it is $65. Refreshments and a noon meal will be provided on Saturday May 20, but attendees must preregister for this. This is to make meal planning possible, and avoid last minute stress for the organizing team. Register online: http://www.generationsunleashed.com/events or by snail mail to: Generations Unleashed 15 Coral Gables Crescent, Elmira Ontario N3B 3P4.

For further information, call Dave Miller at: 519-669-3126.

Love,
~ T ~

Ps. Because of the unusual nature of this conference, in that we have invited a conservative Anabaptist leader to come speak, we are aware this may stir up questions, concerns and even fears for some who have suffered abuse at the hands of leaders within the culture, whether spiritually, sexually or otherwise. We acknowledge this risk and are open to questions, concerns and addressing those fears. Please feel free to contact any of our speaking team at:
Trudy: trudy@generationsunleashed.com
Kenny: kenkuhns@nls.net
Dale & Faith Ingraham: dfingraham@speakingtruthinlove.org

Shocking Note From Conservative Minister…

Even as I write this, I recognize that I have not fully absorbed the words in the note that arrived earlier this week. I shared it with a small handful of people, not offering the name of the author, and most responded with tears and emotion, amazed and encouraged. Of those with whom I shared the message, most–if not all, besides my husband– were also conservative Mennonites. And because it was so encouraging to them, I decided to share it in a blog….

I am accustomed to receiving letters, emails, text messages and Facebook messages from strangers. It’s pretty much a daily occurrence, so when I saw that note, I was mostly nonchalant about it. That is, until I started reading. And my eyes have this way of taking in an entire page all at once, but registering only a portion, so words popped out grabbing my attention. “…don’t know me… conservative… minister… negative connotation…” This can be a distressing thing, at times, when the wrong words grab me, and my heart rate increased ever so slightly as I read it.

The shock at what I read, compelled me to read it at least three times before it all registered. (All identifying information has been edited out:

Trudy, We have never met but I feel a fire inside to drop you a line this morning. I am a conservative Anabaptist …minister…. Recently …in the course of different conversations your name come up at least a half dozen times often with negative connotations but not always. For your name to come up that often you must be having a big impact … I want to do 2 things.
1. I want ask for forgiveness where “my” people have spoken evil of you for just following the call on your life.
2. I want to thank you for following that call and not giving up. We need you. Your call? Isaiah 61:1

By the third reading I felt like a dam was pushing against the inner walls of my heart, threatening to burst, but it would not give way. I wanted to weep, but only a lonely tear or two formed. A thousand thoughts flew through my mind and memory, of all this one message addresses in my heart, and the ‘history’ of my life among ‘his’ people… who are and always will also be ‘my’ people.

In an instant I realized how very healed my heart is in so many ways and places, and yet how there are small ‘brutally raw’ spots, waiting to heal. The words God had spoken, and words I shared with Tim and a few friends a few years ago, when my heart was particularly raw, returned, “Healing will come… and it will come from the very source of your pain.” At the time I tried to imagine just how my healing could or would ever come from ‘my people’, where so much pain had entered my life and broken trust with God. But I chose to believe it.

And little by little it came… A note from a friend still in the setting… and another… and another… An encouragement from one Conservative Mennonite pastor after my book came out in March… and then another… and another… and another, until there were six.

And then the unthinkable happened. Never in a million years would I have anticipated it or even dared to desire such a thing… but it came. I attended a funeral in my former church setting, and a leader I knew in ‘those years’ shook my hand. But he didn’t let go. He held my hand and his voice choked up as he thanked me for honouring them in my book. “We didn’t deserve it,” he said. I smiled and patted his hand–still holding mine–“I think you did,” I said. Tears formed then, as he continued, apologizing for not understanding me, for not being there and for failing me. “I wish we had done more to help you,” he said.  I thanked him, and immediately felt it; another moment of healing.

These moments have been representative of my Heavenly Father; Abba… Papa God, who cares personally and intimately about every wound in my heart. Even the ones I forgot I had, or never acknowledged. I expected nothing more in the way of healing. My heart was full.

And I think that is why the note this week was so overwhelming. It wasn’t just about the past. It was about the ongoing lies, evil-speaking and attacks on our ministry. (Which, thank God, I have learned to let run off as the oil of the Holy Spirit covers me and doesn’t allow it to penetrate.) But more than that, it was a blessing on our ministry.

Ultimately my affirmation comes first from my Heavenly Father, very directly, as He ministers to my heart. Secondly it comes from my husband who stands with me. Thirdly it comes from hearing and reading about others who are rising up to bring the healing of Jesus to the broken and wounded in the church. I seek nothing beyond that, in the way of endorsement or affirmation.

So when a moment like this drops out of the clear blue sky, my heart and spirit are almost overcome. I thank God for this minister’s encouragement, for his ministry to the wounded, and for a reminder that there are others ‘within’ in spiritual warfare for the children and offering the hope of Jesus to the wounded.

It is my prayer that this minister’s note will be encouraging for those of you who are also conservative Mennonite and feel alone and abandoned. If you are wondering if any of ‘our people’ and leaders in particular, will acknowledge what was done against you, and the need for your heart to find healing, now you know.

I recently received a message from an abuse victim, asking if every conservative Mennonite victim of sexual abuse gets the urge to strangle anyone they see wearing a plain suit coat. And in another email this note arrived not so long ago, from a victim of extreme sexual violence, in a religious home with this question:
“why is it that the people who ‘look the most christian’ are the ones that are the least understanding and the most hurtful? Even the ones who don’t place much stock in a host of church rules etc. The people who have shown me a clear picture of who God really is are people who my friends and family would call wordly. (…) It’s been drilled into us since we were kids that if they don’t wear a Menno dress they probably aren’t Christian and yet look at what all goes on in the life of people who wear the ‘right’ clothes. When it comes to some of these people it feels like the only thing you accomplish is beating your head on a brick wall.”

 

My prayer is that the gentleman/minister who wrote the note of encouragement and apology, who also wears a plain suit coat and is conservative Anabaptist, will be representative of the Father’s heart to you as he was to me, and a reminder that good and evil dwell in every culture. And I pray that healing will come to each of you also–even from the very ‘source’ of your pain–as it has for me, as Jesus is represented will by those who love Him above all else, including image and religion.

Those of us who love Him, will love you also, and we will tear down the dividing walls between brothers and sisters in Christ, with no regard for self preservation. We will put ourselves on the line for your well-being, because that is the way of Jesus.

Last but not least, I want to bless this minister of the healing Gospel of Jesus. I pray that God will enlarge his sphere of influence, so that many of ‘his people’ will know the healing touch of Jesus Christ, through him, his wife, his family and his church.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

 

 

Excerpt (Chapter 18): Between 2 Gods

The following is an excerpt taken from Chapter 18, Between 2 Gods; a Memoir of Abuse in the Mennonite Community. This portion takes place in my ‘rebel years’, shortly after my 17th birthday, as I try to navigate living arrangements and party life, running from God, evening denying Him, yet finding myself, face to face with the reality of His love. 

EXCERPT:

[…] And so it was that only weeks after I moved in with Cheri and Annette, I moved out again and settled into my new home with Kyle and Amy. We had arranged one quick meeting for me to check out the bedroom and agree on rent, and it was a done deal.

I arrived at their door with my belongings and was greeted by a large black dog, barking furiously. Dogs are wonderful pets, when they like you, and you are familiar with them. Large, strange black dogs, who bark like you’re their lunch, are not so nice for pets.

Fido was gated in the kitchen, so that he could not come to my room, but every day I had to step over that gate, dodge through the kitchen, jump over the other gate, and go downstairs to shower before work.

I refused to admit it, but that dog terrified me. “No, no, I’m fine,” I said, when Kyle or Amy asked, but every time I faced that dog when they were gone, my heart first stopped when the dog barked or growled at me, then restarted with furious energy as I braved the kitchen. For several weeks I silently endured that dragon-sized beast. Daily I imagined my remains on the floor, for Kyle and Amy to clean up when they returned home. But each day I survived the mad dash, and landed on the other side of the gate laughing from the adrenaline rush.

Needless to say I didn’t eat much when Kyle and Amy were away, as I never lasted long enough in the kitchen to scrounge together a meal. Gradually I accepted these inconveniences as part of my new environment, and stored food in my room.

Then, suddenly, everything changed. Kyle and Amy decided they wanted to parent me. They set a curfew. I would need to tell them who I was with, where I was going, and how long I planned to be gone. And any other detail they would like to know, I would be required to tell them. I had been on my own for a year, with no one demanding those things, and I was not about to play that role in a tenant relationship. I came and went as I pleased. I was responsible for my own meals and groceries, except the occasional dinner in the evening, so there was no need for them to know my plans. I was renting a room. Nothing more.

[…]

About that time I met up with my past party friends again. In conversation I told them about my living conditions—the dog, the “babysitting” and curfew—and they offered me a room in their apartment. I accepted immediately

We drove to Kyle and Amy’s to collect some basic items, and I informed them of my decision to move out. I made arrangements to return for the rest of my belongings the next day. […]

So began the adventures, in early December 1986, of living with my party friends. They were “responsible” party friends, and great roommates.

[…]

It wasn’t much of a life, really, working and partying, but it kept reality at bay, and prevented me from facing memories of home and childhood. And it effectively drowned out the voice of God, so that I didn’t need to contend with Him, or the reality of my sin and rebellion. Most of the time…

Every now and then, when I watched 100 Huntley Street, and listened to the testimonies and stories of Jesus, or when I was alone at night, and sober, His voice would whisper, and I would find myself contemplating God, and my eternal destiny. When friends or roommates were present, I boldly cursed Him, even dropping the “f-bomb” when we stumbled upon Christian TV programs. But in the absence of company, I listened and wept. On one occasion, I even called in for prayer, after listening to Reverend David Maines, and a sweet Grandma prayed for me and encouraged me. Still, had someone asked me, I would have said God didn’t exist, that I didn’t believe in Him and, at best, I was an agnostic. Probably atheist. There was no way, in my mind, that a loving God could exist, given the life I had known up until that time, and with my experiences in church. But in those moments, alone, when I heard His voice, and felt Him move deep in my fragmented spirit, I was compelled to believe.

What was more, in those moments He was not condemning or harsh. When that Grandma, in her shaky, aged voice, told me of God’s love and prayed for me, it was as if God Himself reached down. And the voice I heard in the stillness, alone in my room, was one of love and invitation. Standing at my window, looking up into the night sky, I felt as though my chest might burst and the tears would fall, unashamedly, as my heart cried out to this Being, whoever He was. And, if just for a moment, my spirit would come alive, and life would breathe into my soul. And then the moment would pass, and life, with all its harshness, returned.

On the harsher days, when God was far away, I scoffed and mocked the very God who breathed that life into me. On one such day, walking down King Street just outside King Centre Shopping Plaza, a group of Beachy Amish Mennonites congregated, handing out religious tracts.

I resented my cultural background and wanted to be rude, but I recognized the man reaching out his hand with the tract. Elroy Wagler. He didn’t recognize me, but my older sister had worked for him and his wife, Dianne, and I had visited their home and played with their children, Anita, Lynette, Loretta, Nathanial, and Timothy. Suddenly it was personal and I didn’t have the heart to decline or be rude. I didn’t identify myself, but I smiled and graciously accepted the pamphlet.

As I walked away, I shredded the pamphlet and tossed it in the garbage can on the sidewalk. Why did the people seem so nice when, in my reality, so much of the culture had been harsh? Were they all pretending? Was any of it real?

[…]

I was forced to see good and evil, so that I could not simply write religion off as a curse or a fantasy. And always I would find some chaos, drama, or party to push that reality far away, and leave God lost in the shadows of the past, the shadows of religion and time.

Had I known how to look past both—good and evil—to see only God’s pure love, and His desire for relationship, then I might have believed and been transformed.

–Conclusion of excerpt: Chapter 18 Between 2 Gods; a Memoir of Abuse in the Mennonite Community 

BETWEEN 2 GODS is currently on sale (paperback) on Amazon USA, for only $13.61 (04/27/2015) I have no influence on how long it will be on sale.  

On the roller-coaster of those teen years, there were highs–literally–and there were lows. Reconnecting with my friends was a high, but only weeks later in that very apartment, I would experience an all-time low. I would be raped by a friend, triggering a flashback, and derailing my roller-coaster completely and leaving me lost and wandering. But each tragedy, over time, became a pathway that would lead me back to the love I had searched for so desperately; a love that had been there all along, lost behind the shadows of my broken story.

I pray that you, too, find love, acceptance and hope if you have not yet. And if you have, I pray that my story encourages you to continue clinging for dear life to the One who gives that love freely.

Love,

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

The day Heaven Knelt in the Sand…

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(….)
I was confronted with love, so pure and unadulterated, I almost couldn’t absorb it. Deep love, for me. The God of heaven, kneeling before me—positioning Himself as my servant—and writing in the sand to scatter my accusers. The God of heaven, looking up at me to say, “I have no condemnation to offer you. Go, you are free from the sin that had you bound.”

The God of heaven who disregarded the law—even broke it in the eyes of those religious ones—to show me love, asked for nothing in return. No money. No sexual favours. No strict adherence to any law, for this freedom to be mine.

Love: a gentle offer, a quiet invitation. Yet, a bold confrontation of all I had believed, demanding a response; bold, only because of its stark contrast to my beliefs and experience. It defied almost everything I knew, and to accept it required trust; a thing that was destroyed in me, almost immediately after my birth. How was I to trust Him, a strange God? And would it last? …

To read entire blogpost: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/2015/03/26/2-gods/#ixzz3VV5g1528

Love

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Between 2 Gods Facebook Page

To Donate: Generations Unleashed (Help Victims of Sexual Abuse Churches
(Tax Receipts will automatically be issued for all donations over $20)

One Day Giveaway: World Book Day (Contest Closed)

The Contest is Now Closed and the winners are: Sara Reimer (paperback) and Talitha Lepp (Kindle). Thank you to all who entered!

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This morning I discovered that today is World Book Day, so I did a quick search to see what it’s all about. In short, it’s a celebration of all things ‘books and reading’, and if you want to do more I suggest a Google search of ‘What is world book day’, which gives you better results for today than simply using ‘World Book Day’ for your search.

To celebrate the reader–that’s you–I am doing a giveaway of a Kindle version of Between 2 Gods, and one hard copy. Simply send an email to (Contest Closed: Email has been removed) with ‘World Book Day Giveaway’ in the subject line, and all your contact info in the body, with a short ‘blurb’ about why you should win.

That’s all there is to it, there’s nothing more….

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Available in Canada, USA, Mexico, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Must be 18 years or older to qualify. No purchase necessary. Duty fees may apply if shipped internationally; these are the sole responsibility of the recipient

Love

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Between 2 Gods Facebook Page

To Donate: Generations Unleashed (Help Victims of Sexual Abuse Churches

(Tax Receipts will automatically be issued for all donations over $20)

When Sex, Abuse Scandal & Religion Meet Jesus…

When sin collides with grace, redemption is the inevitable outcome. When Jesus met the woman at the well… when He had a woman, whom we believe to be a prostitute, wash His feet with her tears… a prostitute, draped all over Him… When a woman was brought to Him for stoning–caught ‘in the very act’ of adultery (how much more embarrassing and shameful can it get?)… And when the Samaritan woman, who believed herself to be nothing more than a dog, because that was what society taught and believed, begged for her daughter’s healing… Even Nicodemus, the ‘uber-religious’, cream of the crop law-keeper, a Pharisee, when he humbled himself…

In each case, when the broken, discarded, and sinful encountered the Messiah, something beautiful happened. And when the religious came, with humility–the Pharisee calling Jesus ‘Rabbi’, or teacher–even then, sin met grace, resulting in redemption. Only the arrogant missed out, like the rich young ruler came, having kept the law to perfection, but having missed the heart of God’s religion…  And even he, I suspect, was transformed in ways that only showed later; the part of the story never written for us know.

And that is what happened to me, when my sins, and the sins committed against me, met Jesus. I had an encounter with grace, in that moment, that changed the trajectory of my life, and the lives of the generations to come. I didn’t know, immediately, that it also impacted the sins committed against me; I would learn that over time.

In my memoir, Between 2 Gods, I tell that story, boldly, unapologetically. The things that were done against me, and the things I did, should never appear in black and white for the world to read, many would say. Yet the Bible is full of scandalous stories that, if the ‘forgive and forget’ teachings were biblical, could not be told. So I tell my story, knowing Peter cursed Jesus and Jesus’ only response was, “Do you love me? I have a ministry for you to do”; no condemnation. I write it knowing King David, a man after God’s own heart, had sex with Bath Sheba while her husband was murdered at his hands. And I write it knowing Dinah was vindicated when her rapist was brutally murdered by God’s people.

I should not be able to meet those who have read my story and be able to lift my eyes, without shame or the desire to run and never look back. But I tell it. And men and women alike have read it, and I’ve faced them, without shame. But they were friends, mentors, and publishing contacts. Now I have told that story, in black and white, for the whole world to read, and I still feel no shame. The reason I feel no shame is because, in that moment, when I met Jesus and collided with grace, I lost my footing and He caught me. My identity, in that instant was restored , as He took my sins upon Himself and did the walk of shame for me, up that hill to Golgatha: the place of the skull, or ‘death’. He died for my shame and paid in full.

Because of that redemption, and because He removed my shame and restored my identity, I tell the story of sex, abuse ‘scandal’–as we would call it–and religion, and that one amazing encounter with Jesus, with Grace. And I tell it for you, who are struggling with your own story, your own sin, or those committed against you–which was never your shame in the first place–so that you will know you can be free. Your story can be your friend. You can be free.

I write from my Mennonite experience, sharing the beautiful and the broken openly, knowing full well abuse and violence are present in all cultures, some more and some less. My book is written for every culture, but exposes only my own. It is written for the broken, who cry without a voice. It is written for the religious, in every culture, who love Jesus and celebrate His redemption. It is written for those who have never experienced trauma but wish to understand and support those who are wounded. It is not written for the religiously arrogant who have no compassion and only wish to cover up and hide sins; it will do nothing but feed their arrogance.

 

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tim & trudy 1994

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Between 2 Gods is now available for pre-order, Kindle, on Amazon. To pre-order (USA) click Here and for Canada click Here

It is also available for pre-order, Paperback, at eLectio Publishing: Here

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Between 2 Gods: a Quest for Hope & Truth, in the midst of Abuse & Violence

Announcement: For those interested, the cover of my book, Between 2 Gods, just came out this week. Last night I set up a Facebook page where you can join, and be part of prizes and giveaways that will be announced after the book is released, March 3, 2015. I am going to try to be creative about prizes, and go beyond giving out free books… so don’t miss out! On the BETWEEN 2 GODS page you can also get updates and share your thoughts and comments, or ask questions. (Click on the photo or the red link to visit the page.)

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It’s happening! It is really, truly happening! The dream I dragged around, from place to place, at age twelve– in the form of lined-paper-leftover-school-books, hoping one day to publish my very own book–has become a reality, at long last.

I mentioned it casually, a time or two, in past blogs, I believe, but now we are doing the countdown. I’ve spent much of this past year writing my book, and now, here we are, only 45 days from the release date. That’s six weeks and three days. I’m sure I could find the minutes and hours if I wanted to do a Google search. But, hey, who’s counting? There are so many things I need to do, between now and then, that sitting here ‘counting the time’ isn’t really an option. Every now and then, however, it hits me in the gut, that feeling of anticipation, fear and everything else in the mix: It’s almost here!

And I am most definitely excited. One doesn’t have dreams at twelve, that come to life at forty-five without feeling that excitement. The part of the dream that I would never have imagined at twelve, is the content in my book: my life story… the stuff I was living, right then. I tell it as it was: raw. Though i have tried to  buff up the edges a bit, and withhold a bit of the harshness without altering the accuracy. Of the people who have read it, the response has been positive and encouraging, but feedback has consistently come back with the truth that it’s a lot to take in. Captivating, they tell me, yes, but jolting.

I’ve been honest in my telling of it.  Most readers will go through a whole gamut of emotions. One person, who does not come from a background of abuse, wrote about the anger she felt. She raged at abuse, done in God’s name. It was the fist such response and it shocked me, and scared me a bit.  Some wrote how they couldn’t stop laughing at certain places, in spite of harshness in other places. Yet others expressed grief and sadness. But all found the thread of hope intertwined with what could be a very dark story.  And then my heart was happy!

I would also caution that my memoir is not ideal for a young audience. While I have written discreetly enough to  disguise particularly heavy scenes, relating to sexual abuse, it is still too much for the young reader. If I had my way about it, no one under eighteen would get their hands on it without supervision, if at all, But, then, the Bible is full of some pretty difficult reading too, so I will leave this in God’s hands. I know I read things in the Bible, knowing good and well it was x-rated information and, in hindsight, I only wish I would have had someone safe to talk to about it. So, more than withholding my book from those under eighteen, my prayer is that they will find someone safe to talk to, particularly readers  who identify with my story, and work through their own pain.  And, given statistics, that identification will be the higher percent of the population, either from personal experience or a loved one close to them.

The previous paragraph, that’s a ‘warning’ that some of my readers will almost certainly be offended by some of the content in my book. To be honest, it was a battle for me too, to tell it as it really was. So much so that one day I said to Tim, “That’s it! I can’t do it! The book is off!” Tim calmly supported me, and gave me some time to reconsider. When I ‘recovered’, I spent some time asking God to help me say it in a way that is not destructive… to tell the truth, but not harm or destroy anyone in its wake.  And then I found peace. The verse, in Titus 1:15, plays in my mind: ‘to the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled”, and I realize it is not all on me.

If you find yourself offended by the content, I’m glad. You should be. I am too. And when it makes you feel sick to your stomach, imagine the little toddler who lives it, whose very spirit is offended by the darkness, and who has no voice to fight back, and no one to tell about it. Never mind words to express it. (If I had told someone safe at three, the things I saw and experienced, I might well have had a different story! But God had a redemption plan!)  Unlike you and I, who get to make adult choices, these toddlers and children simply absorb that offense, deep into their spirits, and carry it with them through life. I plead with you to be offended for their sake, and educate yourself for their sake. And please don’t tell me, or others like me, to not tell the truth.  Don’t silence us, because it silences the voices of others like us–babies, toddlers, children and teens–who today suffer what we suffered back then. And then fight for them. You can yell at me, if you need to , to express your frustration with my bold telling of my story. I’ll work through that pain. But they have no words, no voice and none who will hear them. Many, if not most, lack the gifts I have–people who care and listen, and a way to form words, in black and white–to get the darkness out of their spirits.

Instead, it tangles itself, like untamed tentacles, around and into the very fiber of their spirits and identity, forcing them to believe that ‘this is who I am’.. that ‘this thing done to me, defines me’… ‘this is all I have to offer’… and so they remain in bondage to that pain. Not long ago, again, a young woman looked at me and said, “I start to feel as though I was made to be used”. That’s the darkness speaking! You were made for so much more! We were made for so much more! I was made for so much more! That truth has to become personal, for freedom to come!

And that’s the darkness against which I cry in my memoir. That’s the voice I try to share–the unheard toddler, the lost teen, the wandering adult–because they cannot speak. And with their cry, told through the eyes of my own experience, I tell my journey vulnerably, offering Hope. I share with the world the wonder of the One who never lost sight of who He created me to be, even when I had lost all sense of connection to Him, or the child He created.

It has not been easy, telling the truth and reliving it, but I’d do it again, no matter what lies ahead, knowing it will bring hope and freedom to even one person. Just one. If a million strip me for it, and one writes a ‘thank you for helping me’ note–and someone will–then I am committed to thanking God for this incredible opportunity.

You, my friends, have been a source of encouragement through 2014, as I plodded through the ‘muck’ of that writing process. You carried me through your notes, your prayers, your love. And, speaking of prayers, a few of you wrote to say you pray for me every single day!! Can I tell you how much that shocked me and blessed me?! To pray, now and then, is truly a blessing! To pray every day… every day!… That’s breathtaking.  Thank you!

My prayer for each of you is that God will bless you in ways beyond your wildest imaginations and expectations in 2015. For many  of us 2014 was a difficult and painful year, for various reasons. Some of us it was the emotional strain of life–in my case ministry and writing–for some it was the loss of jobs, and finances, and for quite a few it was loss of family and loved ones. I could list a lot of friends who suffered such loss in 2014, and whose grief spills generously into 2015. Yes, it was a hard year…

My prayer is for blessing, peace, healing and restoration in the midst of the ‘stuff of life’, for each one of you! Thank you for blessing my life! My prayer is that in 2015, more than ever, I will be a blessing to you!

Love,

~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger

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Dear Anonymous Mennonite Friend

IMG_2128IMG_2129Dear Anonymous ,

I’m sorry for whatever happened in your life to make you this bitter and hateful. The letter speaks for itself, and for you–as all anonymous hate letters do–but I will let the readers make of it what they wish. I see no need to respond to most of it.

I will, however, address (with evidence) one item of misinformation regarding the ‘lie’ you claim I told. Evidence, for the second item I will address, would be documented at Family & Children Services (F&CS).

The minister I spoke to is from local church, along with another staff member as a witness.   (If you are involved in this case and would like to have their names/contact information, please email me using the Contact Trudy page and I will connect you with them.)I shared the details of what transpired the night your friend fled home in terror, leaving a child in the care of a man she feared, and I was encouraged to call F&CS, even months later.  (You will note in the text screen shot below that I never hinted at it being a Mennonite minister. I have the other texts as well, and there is no harassment.)
text to friends of anonymous letter

At some point, after speaking with them, I called F&CS using a hypothetical situation, to find out what my obligations are for reporting, months after the fact. They said they have to investigate and determine the danger/risk, it is not up to me. (I told them I hesitate to answer because I am concerned about backlash from the Mennonite community–see letter above for evidence/reason for such concern) They questioned me until they got enough information to make a house call, but even looked up the address themselves and guessed at the child’s age, because I did not know. (This, I presume, would all be documented at F&CS and is the extent of my ‘harassment’, as you and your police officer friend call it.)

I’m sorry that your friend cannot face the truth of what happened that night. Abuse only ends when confronted, regardless of what tragic past experiences trigger the abuse. And I hope she and her husband go for counselling and get the support and healing they both need.

Having said all that, your letter begs one question–what truth are you afraid of having exposed, to react this strongly to something that has nothing to do with you?  (And to which you clearly do not have facts. Harassment charges never come from a citizen doing their duty and calling F&CS, especially when advised by a church leader to do so. )

I offer my forgiveness for calling me a ‘BEAST’ and a ‘loser’. And, again, I am truly sorry for whatever it is that causes such darkness to spill from your soul onto paper.  I pray you will discover just how incredibly much Jesus loves you, and find peace.  I have nothing but love and compassion in my heart for you, and for your friend.

Sincerely,

Trudy

Ps. Mark, Stuart, Glen, Kenny and other pastor/minister in your church(es) are welcome to contact me about this or any other Mennonite abuse cases. I respect the three that I know and have heard many good things about Glen.  I’ve already met with other Midwest leaders and, in all but one situation, everything has been handled with grace and integrity. When one leader got angry, he later apologized, in front of two fellow ministers, his wife (I believe was there) and one other individual, and then thanked me. That takes humility.

© Trudy Metzger

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Is the Answer to Become a Conservative Mennonite Again?

It started in pleasant conversation, with a friend from my former denomination–CMCO Mennonite–and turned into an ‘as-pleasant-as-an-abuse-conversation-can-be’ interaction. We’re on the same side of this battle, her and I–both standing firmly against the wickedness of abuse–and in agreement that the silence must be broken, and help offered to victims, and perpetrators helped and held accountable.

Photo Credit: Toronto Grand Prix Tourist (A Toronto Blog)

I don’t know how it came about, exactly… I carry in my ‘knowledge compartment’ many ‘secrets’ for countless people, and about countless people. Now, they’re not really ‘secrets’ any more, if they are the stories and experiences of my clients, because as we work together, I walk them through the process of repentance, confession and bringing to light the hidden darkness. (Ephesians 5:13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever is made manifest is light.) Having exposed these things, the darkness is dis-empowered, the secret is broken, and the power is gone.

Still, they are ‘secrets’ in the sense that I am one of very few people whom they choose to tell, besides the people they have wronged or been wronged by, and whatever trusted friends they choose. These stories I carry, without a word to anyone, in my ‘knowing’. I don’t carry the burden of them, because Jesus has taken that burden.

The other kind of secrets, however, are a very different thing. The kind where I know horrible things and the person, or persons, involved have covered up and maybe even lied about it. These still are not mine to carry, but they do offer a different burden. It is troubling to know that ‘good Christians’, including leaders, would not take ownership for sins that have brought great spiritual destruction to others. It bewilders me. (And I don’t care if it happened before church membership, or before accepting Christ. That excuse is nonsense. Take ownership! )

And that is what popped out of my mouth…. The thing I said out loud is a ‘secret’ that I have known for several years, involving several church leaders. It was not told to me in confidence but still I cannot talk about it carelessly, and I don’t. Mostly I don’t tell details at all, unless I am conversing with someone who I think might be able to help, or influence change. I have watched as the aftermath unfolds and chains pass on, but there is nothing can be done on the legal front. (There has been some effort, by some people within the church, but things are managed quite carefully. And they are such ‘nice’ people, some of those with hidden things, that the wool is quickly pulled over the eyes of other leaders.)

Lest anyone think I ought to first go speak to my ‘erring brother’, I agree. And I have. I sat right in his house and asked him if he made the past right, and he said yes.  And with one victim he did–at least he said his piece in church about having become involved in immorality. But when another case was revealed, and another man told me what this leader had done to him, I asked that man, “Didn’t he come back to you and ask for forgiveness?” (Because he had already told me he made things right.)

The man shook his head, weeping and said he never heard from him. “For three years he used me…” he said, tears flowing down his face.

And that is the troubling truth I spilled out a few days ago. “What do I do with this?” I asked. I laid out the picture, how the leader used the man, when they were teens, and how the leader had been used by his older brother–who is also a leader–who had a sexual relationship with his cousin, and all three of their children having continued to abuse others.  And nothing can be done because everyone is past sixteen and those who know don’t want a kerfuffle in church, and those not in church have no proof. Just their tears, scars and struggles…

There was a pause.

“What am I supposed to do with all that? What is the right thing to do?” I asked again, earnestly. Her response completely blind-sided me. She is very thoughtful. Calculated.

“Now…” she paused, as if collecting her thoughts and arranging her words, just right. That, or she was’t sure how I would take what she had to say. “I think you are very balanced in what you have to say. You really know about how to work with this stuff…”

She paused again and came in with a most stunning question. “Have you ever thought about coming back to the church, and pulling with us?” She said some more things about that, but it all blurred together as I processed. No one had ever invited me to come back before.

“It would never work,” I said. I didn’t need time to think about it much. Because I already have. Probably a thousand times or more. “I would never be received back into any Mennonite church.” How to explain what I have seen play out in the lives of others…

“Why wouldn’t it work?” she asked ask sincerely, and innocently, as if not able to imagine the rejection that would be inevitable..

To write all that flashed through my mind at that moment would make a fine little book. To condense it, difficult.

“It just wouldn’t,” I said. “I wouldn’t be received.”

“What do you mean by that?”

I explained something she might have known, having watched me all those years ago, struggling to fit in. But it seemed to have evaded her. I think she just accepts me as I am, and doesn’t quite understand the fires I dance through, still, and did since childhood, for the things I say and do. For simply being who I am.

“I never fit in, even back then, before I had experienced another world, another culture. I don’t fit the mould; I’m not quiet, reserved… and could never go back to trying. I’m more of a Deborah… a Jael… I’ll put a nail through the head (figuratively speaking) if that is what it takes to do God’s work. I’m different… And I spent my whole childhood, a misfit, not able to line up. I couldn’t do that again. And, even if I did, I would be silenced so fast…”

Again she needed me to explain it. Her sweet innocence really believed that I could come back, follow the rules, and be a real asset to the healing and redemption in the church. To the ending of sexual abuse.

Oh how I wish! Would I be willing to go back if I knew I could change the lives of hundreds of children? Absolutely! Hated or not, and rejected or not, I could and I would! But, alas, as others have tried and I have watched them be put out of their churches for everything from ‘sewing discord’ to ‘bad attitudes’ to ‘lack of submission’. And, looking at the lies and rumours I have had to bear for my work, even being ‘outside’ the church–and I mean blatant lies, that someone conjured out of thin air, coming from leadership (I just heard of another deacon’s wife spreading lies this week)–I cannot imagine I would make it more than a day, or two.

Oh, sure, I said, there are some who I think would receive me well. Even leaders. And I mentioned one couple, not far from here, who I think really would try. Genuinely. They wouldn’t understand me, but they would love and accept me if I came back. I know it. But I would be a thorn in the flesh of the church, and the emotional, psychological and spiritual angst it would stir up, to experience on the inside what I have experienced from a distance, would throw the strongest of souls into deep depression.

Even at a distance that is a demon I have fought, almost daily, in working with ‘my people’, and dealing with sexual abuse in my cultural background. Almost daily, before my feet ever hit the floor, I lecture myself about God’s love and goodness, reminding myself that He has my back, that He knows the truth, that He is on my side. Because I know when I start moving my feet, and the rumours trickle in, I will need that ‘helmet of truth’ firmly in place.  I know that if I am not grounded with Him, I will be a bleeding soldier at the end of the day, with no hope left. With Him, I am a bleeding soldier, but His blood gives me life, even as I seem to bleed out on the ground.

Would I go back to the church of my childhood? No. Because I know better than to believe that dealing with the sexual abuse within, would work any better as ‘one of them’ than it has from a distance.

Really, what she said was very sweet. It seemed sincere in every way. Not some manipulation to get me back inside the walls. Not at all. But a genuine belief that we could work together.  And that was quite an honour, to be sure.

My prayer is that God will raise up godly men and women within, who have influence at a leadership level, to tackle this darkness head-on. My prayer is that walls crumble. That there is help for victims and perpetrators alike. It is the only way to bring an end to this violence, crime and evil.

So, while I may don the attire for a purpose, and though I will always have love and compassion for ‘my people’ in my heart,  I think that question is settled, deep in my heart…

But to imagine it, for just a moment in my head,  was fun. If I were to return, the bigger question would be ‘which kind of Mennonites?’ and I have already narrowed that down to two options…

It would be Amish or Old Order Mennonite, without question…

July 7 2012--2 Wagler family 158b

 

 

© Trudy Metzger

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