Sexual Assault, Death Threats & Terror: One Young Woman’s Redemption Story

INTRODUCTION
Tonight’s blog is the story of a teenager caught in a nightmare of sexual assault, death threats and terror in the Anabaptist community. It is also a story of hope, redemption and healing. I do not know this young women well. We’ve only met on Facebook. (I hope that changes one day). But I did engage at length with her and am blessed by her courage, compassion, transparency and resilience.

She made it very clear that her story is her own; it is not a pattern for everyone. God redeemed in ways that are not always possible because it is so rare for offenders to be allowed to get to the end of themselves. Too often people – church, family, friends – stand in the way of offenders coming to that end, and facing honestly their own crimes and evil.

I love a good redemption story. To see healing, that is what our hearts long for, above all. Sadly, in sexual abuse cases, the redemption stories are often used to beat other survivors over the head, or guilt-trip them for not choosing a similar path. This should not be. We need to give space for redemption to play out differently in different stories. We are not all the same, and God has not given us a ‘one-size-fits-all’ formula. He leads us gently, and remembers that we are human, and has compassion on us.

I am working on writing the redemption story of my life. How I went from being a teenager who prayed my father would get killed (because murder wasn’t an option), to sitting by his bed in the hospital, holding his hand as we talked, and giving him hugs. It is a story that needs to be told, when the time is right. As do many redemption stories. But with those stories there must always, always be space for other survivors to choose walk their own redemption story without any guilt or shame imposed on them if they cannot cope with relationship. There is only One Way to redemption, but the practical ways in which we walk that path varies.

Remember that as you read this story, and any other story.

***

SURVIVOR REDEMPTION STORY
My story has much in common with many of victims: Grooming, abuse, death threats, depression and PTSD, forgiveness (eventually!), and a remaining deep concern for other sex abuse victims.

Prose leaves more questions than straight-up story-telling. Nonetheless, I felt too ashamed and horrified to document in journal form the abuses and death threats as a teen; I wrote it in prose instead, after I had recovered enough to see it for the evil it was.

That prose was destroyed by an adult who knew and had allowed my abuser more opportunities. “I thought it would be too traumatic for you in the future.” Too traumatic for me to read my own writing?! I rewrote, saving the key phrases that most clearly stuck in memory, and adding pieces to reflect the story of reconciliation.

I do not believe that reconciliation should be the first goal in an abuse story. Nor do I believe that every story should end in reconciliation. Most will not. And that is OK! Reconciliation [in those situations where it is part of the story] hinges, not on the victim’s forgiveness (although that’s a piece of it) but on the abuser’s change of heart; this should be common sense!

My story ends well enough: I am at peace even in the presence of the abuser. But that is NOT due to HOW the reconciliation took place! Instead, it is due to the fact that he came to the end of his rope, and got desperate enough to go to extreme measures to address key factors that drove him towards abuse. I’ve watched him in a crowd since we reconciled; his eyes do not follow beautiful women. His speech is not fueled with hatred. His demeanor, once powerful and aggressive, has mellowed. It is on THIS change of character that reconciliation can be considered—and such a change is rare. Even then, it must be the victim’s choice.

How did the reconciling take place?

When I was an ordinary church member, I had a sad story and I needed to learn how to cope well and move forward. That was all. But when a desirable church position opened up, I was strongly urged to pursue reconciliation.

If reconciliation is not important enough to help an everyday member pursue, it is not important enough to help a candidate for a Sunday School class, youth ministry, regular ministry, or single mom’s ministry, or ANY other position, to pursue. This idea that ministry somehow makes a person eligible for the pursuit of God’s goodnesses such as reconciliation, is nothing more than arrogance; the most ordinary, every-day, unseen person should be the focus of equal care. Yes, ministry requires knowledge of reconciliation and conflict resolution. So does marriage, so does holding a job. People in ministry aren’t special.

I am keeping this anonymous, as the people behind this reconciliation are people I care for, people I have learned from, and, most importantly, people who get most of the things right when dealing with sex abuse. I have no desire to ‘call out’ anyone who is on the side of victims, and can extend grace to cover blunders. These are people who believe in being honest and cooperative with the courts; if they were humble enough to sit down and listen to my hindsight view of what happened, I would welcome that, because I think they would sincerely use it to do what’s right by the victim next time.

I was very uneasy about meeting the abuser due to previous death threats; these fears kept me up at night prior to the meeting.

My concerns were downplayed.

Just because he was penitent, and it did work out in my case, doesn’t make it healthy.

If “Avoid the presence of someone who threatened my life” is a boundary the victim wants, by all means, honor it. Find some way to pursue reconciliation without breaking that boundary. Helpers of victims—be it family, friends, a counselor, or a pastor—need to realize that while some threats are bluffs, some are real, and it adds to a victim’s sense of powerlessness to override those threat concerns. And even where the threats are a bluff, because the victim has already been assaulted sexually, they will be real to them.

My story is one of God providing tremendous grace in the face of great hardship; tremendous kindness towards a prodigal; wisdom for the helpers; grace to cover the helpers’ blunders; and the daily graces to walk well with others as I pursue ongoing healing.

While I believe that I have largely healed from the sexual abuse, due to an accurate understanding of sexuality and an ability to participate in healthy relationships, I have NOT yet healed from the verbal abuse. If I am given a rebuke in a manner that seems powerful and condescending, it stirs up the darkest memories (kind rebukes don’t do this) and I will cut the powerful and condescending person out of my life in an attempt to maintain sanity. In addition, I still find myself irrationally paranoid of guns. So, like many of you, my story is an ongoing story of “Wow, look how far I’ve healed!” and “Wow, so much more to go!”

Without further ado, the prose—the only written remnant I have for the singular most life-changing story I’ve experienced to date.

The dungeon was musty, damp

With straw and rats

One small window in the wall opposite the door

Too small, and out of my reach,

No hope of escape

A passerby’s foot could shut out near all light–

And there were passersby,

Just none that ever saw the window

Or even seemed aware that they walked so near a prison

despite the immensity of the building itself.

They had potatoes to chop

I dreamed of being seen by one—just one—passerby

Someone who would go speak to someone

who would let me out

before hunger and loneliness and insanity and torture began.

I was too young.

I heard human footsteps.

Not from the ground above where the passersby hurried to and from market

Potatoes to chop, parsley to sell;

But from within the prison itself

Past the other dungeons,

 slowing down,

 and,

 could it be,

stopping at mine.

Keys jingled, hushed

I could not clearly see who this was

or why the form seemed to wish itself disguised,

as though we were not already in a dungeon

musty and damp,

precious little light,

with straw and rats.

But the voice was human!

I relaxed.

Perhaps I would not be tortured

But yet, I might.

A hand reached out, friendly

Wary, I shrunk further

Even the rats seemed unsure

Then I saw his eyes

Seeing me, not as a fully clothed girl,

 Just the body beneath.

The hand twisted

And I saw at the last moment, this was no human hand!!

Fingers fashioned as if, no, these are,

The hot red prongs of the Devil’s pitchfork.

Eyes now saw

Not my clothes

Not my body

My very soul.

His intentions were for the very core of my being.

With a gentle swipe,

The Devil Prong Fingers ripped me open and I

Fell off my bench

Into the pile of

Straw and rats.

The ripping continued.

I would not survive this.

The Monster left.

I lay dying in my own blood

Gargling screams for help.

I could not arise.

Time passed and barely conscious,

I became aware of light

Not from the window.

But how?

The purest, the kindest light

I had ever imagined.

Angels.

My very own angels

To take me out.

As if nobody had ever locked my dungeon

As if nobody guarded the prison

With hushed voices and gentle touch,

These angels caused me to stand and I saw

Jesus.

Not distant

Not angry

His presence invited truth, so

I asked Him where He was when

Devil Prongs touched my body,

Ripped my soul

He cried.

He’d been crying the whole time

When all I was aware of was my dungeon

Musty, damp,

With straw and rats,

And my near-lifeless form flooding blood.

He held me, and cried, and promised to be a

Counselor to me.

I healed.

I, too, became a passerby of the prison

The Devil runs.

I had potatoes to chop when

I was sent back in

But Jesus went with me.

There was a prisoner I must speak to—

The Monster Human with Devil Pronged Fingers

I shrank back

He told me to forgive and

In a moment borne of soul honesty,

Not rebellion,

I told Jesus I don’t forgive monsters.

“He saw you not as human, but as an object of his darkness;

You see him not as human but as an object to be despised.

I died for no mere object, but for humanity.

When you see him as human, you will find it in your heart to forgive.”

See him, no longer a monster?

Jesus, You’ll have to help me with that.

The earth shook

My heart’s guards fell over as

Morning broke

And the tremendous stone

Got pushed aside.

From deep inside, Jesus Himself rose up,

Extended forgiveness

And peace fell.

But I have not forgotten

The Devil’s Prong-Fingers

Jesus,

Compassionate when I wondered where He’d been

The passersby

Too high, too distant

Blocking the light

What with those potatoes to chop

The blood gargling from my throat as I screamed

A muffled,

Dying

Scream

 for help.

The prison still stands.

The Devil still runs it.

The young are still tortured.

~ anonymous ~

***

 

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

 

NOTE OF UPDATE RE: RAPE VICTIM
The survivor of rape at the hands of three men is now focusing on counseling. I will meet with her before long for the first time, God willing, and look at what are the right ‘next steps’. Based on preliminary conversations, is likely that she will need a lawyer to help navigate the process. When and if that time comes, will do an update and give you opportunity to contribute to those costs. For now we have funds to pay for about 20 sessions of counseling. If more funds are needed on this front, I will post a request. Until then, thank you all! God bless you for entering into her story of healing!

***

ONLY 1 MORE DAY TO REGISTER WITH LUNCH AND CONCERT INCLUDED!
(ENDS AUGUST 1, 2019)
THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

(More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERINGRegistration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)

EARLY CONCERT REGISTRATION FOR ALL SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE:
If you are a sex abuse survivor – Anabaptist or not – and are not a sex offender, who wishes to attend the ‘concert only’ portion of The Gathering, we will allow for early registration before tickets are released to the public, August 1, 2019. For link to register for the concert only, email AslanHasHeard@gmail.com. Subject line: “Concert link for survivors”.

***

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Podcast: Conversation on Sexual Abuse with Asher Witmer & Answering Questions

Last week I had the honour of chatting with Asher Witmer about sexual abuse in conservative Anabaptist settings. It was a delight to engage in such a meaningful and respectful manner. He has posted the link on his podcast:

Unfeigned Christianity: Episode 2

***

Today I will take a few moments to answer a few questions I’ve been asked many times, and especially recently in light of the shocking news of Jeriah Mast’s crimes in Haiti, and CAM leaders’ knowledge and failure to act responsibly:

  1. What are rates of victimization in Anabaptist communities?

    We know rates of victimization are high. Is it 10%, is it 90% or somewhere in between? We don’t know.

    In two schools I am aware of (each during a very particular timespan) the rates of students were over 50%. This was circumstantial in one of those settings, where the teacher molested many of the students. The other case was a mix of various abusers; a mix of adult abusers and teenagers. In a third setting several minors (all under 14) abused many children.

    In contrast, I’ve been in communities that remain relatively free of abuse, by all appearances. People seem to speak freely enough about it, and there is a ‘sense’ that they really do have a protected community.

  2. Do I believe all conservative Anabaptists are sex offenders? (especially males?

    Not at all. I don’t know the rates. Statistically the number lands at 117 per offender, based on self-reporting by sex offenders in prison. In our Anabaptist communities, I do not see the rates that high very often, but I do see between a dozen and twenty victims far too frequently. More than that, I see ‘trails’. Uncle ‘so and so’ molests his niece. The niece later molests a male child she is babysitting, and so on. Multiply that by 5 victims per offender and you have an epidemic, if those patterns are replicated. I could draw many ‘maps’ of abuse that span 4 generations, simply because victims have come to me spanning across the years.

    Also, there are missionaries (not referring to Jeriah Mast), who are said to have many victims in several countries, as well as at home. But, again, the number of victims is unknown. And confirming that the details takes deep, deep investigation. (What made Haiti unique is that a few came forward, and several missionaries believed them, and soon realized it was a massive crime case.In other cases, while I do report to law enforcement as soon as I have reportable information (which has to be more than a rumour without names or location of offender), I often cannot report. There’s simply not enough information. All of the leads I have with even a hint of a trail that can be followed have been reported in 2019. Approximately half before the Jeriah Mast became public.

    As more and more cases come forward and are exposed, I think we will get a clearer picture of how widespread this is. And if we can respectfully also name those who have taken ownership, we might be able to get ahead of this thing.

  3. What about those who have apologized for past offences, and are now church leaders who never turned themselves in to the law? 

    My role is to work with what is known, and to take my queues from victims.

  4. Is there no place for redemption in the life of someone who has offended?

    Absolutely! I hold the grace of God in high regard. In light of the spiritual and eternal, the moment they genuinely repent they are free before God.

    The grace of God, however, does not let me avoid the consequences of stealing a million dollars without repaying or doing prison time. Who of you, if someone took all that you had, would begin an outcry for everyone to forgive?

    Are we really willing to say that a child’s life holds less value than money?

    When a child (or adult) is sexually assaulted, the core of all of who they are is impacted; emotionally, spiritually, psychologically. Many, many victims struggle deeply with faith in God. Many walk away from their faith.

    Are we really willing to say that a child’s soul is worth less than money?

***

These are a few of the questions I’ve been confronted with in recent days. There are more. Many more. And I am working towards either addressing them, or having someone address them.

Some take considerable work and research, which I don’t currently have time for.  I have asked Hope Anne Dueck of A Better Way to pull together a post to address what signs to watch for that might indicate a child or teen has suffered abuse. She kindly agreed to work on organizing this.

If you have questions you would like addressed, please send them to info@generationsunleashed.com with the subject line “Blog: Question”. If I am not able to answer, or the time factor is more than I can commit, I will do my best to find someone willing to write an article.

If you are in ministry for the victimized and would like to submit an article appropriate to the topics addressed here, please send your idea to info@generationsunleashed.com with the subject line “Blog Article Idea”.

If you have resources to recommend for churches or for victims, please send them to info@generationsunleashed.com with the subject line “Victim Resources.” (NOTE: these will be screened. Content must be sensitive to the suffering of victim. Furthermore, resources cannot be the product of organizations or leaders and authors who *are known* to be abusers or to enable offenders, cover for them in any way, or neglect to address abuse appropriately in their own sphere of influence.

***

By way of update on the young woman who was assaulted at age 7… Today was ‘search for a counselor day’. Two donations have come in so far with enough funds to cover the first few sessions. (We are still waiting to confirm the fee, so not sure just how many). Thank you for contributing. This is will require ongoing support. If you wish to contribute, you may do so via PayPal through: aslanhasheard@gmail.com.

She extends her thanks and appreciation. One day, when this all comes to light, I pray that you will continue to hold her in prayer and support. And I pray that you will see the powerful redemption God brings to the most horrific of places and stories.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

***

ONLY 2 MORE WEEKS TO REGISTER WITH LUNCH AND CONCERT INCLUDED!
(ENDS AUGUST 1, 2019)
THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at  THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

(More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)

***

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Response from Emanuel Lapp, a non-victim Anabaptist Male to CAM & Jeriah Mast Crimes

A deeply moving email landed in my inbox addressing the CAM and Jeriah Mast abuse case. Tears flowed as I read his message. As someone who had no experience with abuse – neither as victim nor as offender, and whose idyllic childhood left him with no understanding of it, he put into words something I, as a female, had never thought of or heard from anyone. He put to words the shame that he as a man feels after hearing of Jeriah’s crimes.

I don’t know if that response is common, but it made me realize again how victimizing children violates so many, even beyond those who are sexually abused. Certainly not int the same way, and the assault victims are and always should be prioritized, but the ripple effect creates trauma and suffering that extends far beyond the initial crime. I’ve been told that for this reason the crimes should not be publicized. I would propose that it is the reason we must speak out and make the crimes known so that accepting as ‘moral failure’ and a ‘slip during a weak moment’ is no longer acceptable. (And the Old Testament, which documents slaughterings of humans and sexual assaults, would give testimony to the need to speak out).

Thank you to Emanuel Lapp, the author of the following letter. And special thanks for permission to post the letter. I do not know him, or what group he is affiliated with, but appreciate the care and compassion shown in the letter.

***

Dear Trudy,

I suppose i’m sending this to an open forum, so if I am, then hello to all of you. I don’t know much about blogs, or whatever this is, not because it looks hard to learn, but because I’ve had so little time to invest in one more thing to take up more off the extra time that I don’t have. But I do at times use the computer at the local library, which is where I stopped in to get a news update on the Mast/Haiti/CAM situation.

I was aware that I had unanswered questions about homosexuality in the back of my m ind, but first, a disclaimer and then a little background about myself. In the following paragraphs, I use the umbrella term of “Anabaptists” loosely and do not wish to imply that “Anabaptists” of today would be accepted by original Anabaptists. They were recognized for their exemplary lives and for their firm stands against sin in the church. Now for my background in short form:

I was born at home, in a farmhouse on a peaceful dairy and crop farm in Lancaster County PA. Being Amish, I, as well as my ten siblings, were taught good work ethics and high morals from little up. Growing up, I knew nothing of immorality among our people, and would have been devastated had I found out. Mine was indeed an idyllic life and a protected childhood. I was never abused as a child, neither sexually nor otherwise, and have never been a perpetrator.

However, I was exposed to sexual sin at the young age of 10 or 11 when I overheard a 13 year old boy being a self-appointed teacher on human sexuality to a small group of his peers in a corner of the school playground, explaining it all, including masturbation, in graphic detail, only without exposing himself.

About a year later, as I was working a field in preparation for planting, I came upon a pornographic magazine lying in the roadside ditch. For years afterward I vacillated, never quite sure masturbation was wrong, but feeling dirty afterward.

As a teenager, I loved music. Gospel music. Then Country and Bluegrass. Then Rock & Roll. Then heavy metal Rock & Roll, and by that time, give over to the Rock & Roll rebellion of the 70’s, I indulged in drinking, dancing, and pot.

But perhaps because of the strict training of my Mom, or the warnings from Dad, coupled with their prayers, my first experience of having sex was at age 21 with my 19 years old bride. Now my wife of 37 years, going on 38, she is the only one I’ve ever had in that way. Which is a wonder that I ascribe to God and to praying parents, for during my “wild years” I had various girlfriends and many dates.

That is a little briefing on my background, now for the unanswered questions in the back of my mind.

One; How can men have sex with men?
Two; Or little boys?!?! Impossible! my mind screamed.
How could I not know? It’s 2019. I’ll be 59 years old this month.

The answer is that I have studiously avoided finding out. I’ve known sin.
I know natural temptation. And I knew how defiling sin can be to the mind. So I avoided perversion life the plague that it is. When the Scripture tells us “there hath no temptation taken you but that which is common to man,” it is referring to natural sin, not the perversions of Romans Chapter One. Those are in a class by themselves.

So then, the first reader response that I read to your blog was the one from Jay Voder. It was disturbing. Thank you for your level-headed response.

The next letter was the one from […] the experience of a victimized 12 year old boy. And I read….oral sex….anal sex…the pain of sitting in school the next day….I cried. And then I was filled with shame. “Anabaptist” shame, for though I’m no longer Amish, I’m still “Anabaptist” at heart and part of a church so identified. Masculine shame, almost ashamed to be a man. I don’t know that the above incident was “Anabaptist” nor do I know how far Jeriah fell, that is now up to the courts to discover, but to think that men can, and do, fall that low brings shame upon my gender. And no matter how far Jeriah fell or didn’t fall, we do know that little boys were defiled.

I had known of the Catholic scandal about their priests, knew it involved little boys, found the thought disgusting and shoved it aside. But now….it hits close to home and cannot be shoved aside.

Nor should it.

Then I got angry.

And discouraged.

And then sorry. For little boys. Especially in comparison to my idyllic childhood. Unprotected little boys. Exploited little boys. Defiled little boys.

And then I searched the news.
Sex abuse perpetrated here by a school teacher.
There by a coach.
Over here by a Pastor.
Over there by a Priest.
I read back over your response Jay.
And got mad.
Again.

And got over it. Maybe you’re just naive. I hope so. I hope Jeriah didn’t go as far as some do, but even if he didn’t, where is God in this unfortunate way of allowing a young man with a history of perverse sexual attraction to children, to have children in his care? Even at night. I understand the need for forgiveness and trusting God to change the hearts and lives of evil men, but even trustworthy men can fail by trusting people, including themselves, too far.

So now, as we pick up the pieces, let us also pick up those neglected pieces under the rug. So we can finish the puzzle and have the big picture, seeing where we must change. The puzzle pieces under the rug so often are the victims, or so I am told.

And so it seems.
They need a voice.
We need to allow them a voice.
We need to be a voice for them.
And as we hear them, may we say, as the Nations said of the Holocaust after WWII:
Never Again.

Because these young victims have their own personal Holocaust to live through. And as our Never Agains upset failed methods, may our faith be ignited with personal Pentecostal fire.

May the perpetrator, his family, and victims alike, find the grace of God to face life as it is now and be made whole, again or for the first time, through the power and love of Jesus.

Thank you Trudy, for being a “voice crying in the wilderness.” A voice for the victims of sex abuse.

And to my fellow “Anabaptists,” how can we ever trust again? Must we eye each other from here on with suspicion? Or may we call for a deeper level of transparency? Indeed, I believe I hear the Word of the Lord, through the Voice of Exposure and through His Word calling us to a deeper level of transparency.

To a deeper love and kinder help for abuse victims.
To tougher love for perpetrators.
No matter how close the emotional or relative ties.
God is calling us back to the Bible.
May we, together, heed the call.

The call to finding Exposure Redemptive.

Because Jesus Lives,
Emanuel Lapp

 

***

I am so grateful for men and women who are rising up to stand with victims. To see such a broad positive response, and encouraging the community to see exposure as redemptive, this is an answer to prayer. And to hear men – even those who have not been victimized or victimizers – rise up and call for the victims to be remembered and heard… this is healing for many!

Remember the victims! Remember Haiti!

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

 

***

THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at  THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

(More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)

***

 

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

© Trudy Metzger 2019

On becoming a grandma and God interrupting a prayer for our unborn grand-baby…

There I was, praying for our family. I had just started a prayer for our unborn grand-baby, when God interrupted. And He seemed quite off-topic, at that. I mean, I’m praying blessing over the next generation, and asking Him to keep His hand on this child, and all kinds of good things, and He says, “You keep taking your eyes off of Jesus”.

Wait… what?

It took me off guard. “You keep taking your eyes off of Jesus,” He said again.

Let me tell you, when God interrupts a prayer for a grand baby, you listen. Because it must be important. After all, He knows all about how we grandparents get on about grandchildren, from the day you find out about the first one being on the way, until the great-grand-babies and great-great-grand-babies show up. He wired us that way. (And you never interrupt a first-time grandparent prattling on about the baby, and how the mama is doing, and “he’s going to be such a good daddy”…. You just don’t. You let them chatter and you celebrate with them.

God knows this. And He still interrupted me. Funny thing, I didn’t have to shift from grand-baby chatter to ask, “What are you talking about?” I knew. But to make sense of it, let me tell the backstory…

****

It all began few months ago, toward the end of ‘the crazy’ of things with the ASAA, and the other two guys, whom I shall not name. (And if you don’t know the story, just settle for knowing there was some conflict surrounding a young woman who was molested, which intertwined with a lot of other insane stuff, and I was involved. I had hard evidence — and still do — of things that needed addressing. And still do. But, alas, male power and religious dominance shall prevent such things. As for the law, some of the details could go either way at this point, form my understanding).

But it began there, when I realized the darkness of the way things were handled was getting to me, and I decided “I’m out”. I intended never to address it again, publicly, and respond in private to people by offering evidence and letting them deal with that, rather than taking my word for it. And that is what I did. Until this week. Over the weeks and months emails, phone calls and facebook messages trickled in. One of the two ‘other guys’ involved was saying “…..” and is it true? Or “From what (the one guy said), you [….]”

Other messages were kind-hearted souls wanting us to ‘kiss and make up’ and play nice in the church sandbox again. The pain of us leaders not being in relationship was/is almost too much. And some shared what they had been told were the issues. Peripheral things… I was just trying to destroy the one guy. I was jealous of his ministry, some said. Whatever trickled in, trickled out my left ear about as pick as it slipped in the right. When tempted to tackle it, I reminded myself, “I’m out”. Until this week.

I’ll confess up front that when I first heard it, I laughed. It was, in my mind, the most absurd accusation to date. I don’t recall when someone first said it, but it was some weeks ago, and I ignored it. Until I learned more details (which would require half a dozen blogs to explain, and it isn’t relevant, so I’ll not bother about that), and the story behind it. I forgot completely that “I’m out”, and I addressed it.

The story was pulled out of thin air that I wanted to be on the ASAA board, and being offended, I started spreading lies about the aforementioned group and people. In January I was asked by the then-vice-chair of the ASAA board if I had any advice for them. Not other than one thing, I said, and that was to vet their board, interview each one personally and make sure there is no history of abuse or molestation that is not taken care of. With so many ministries associated through board members (Life Ministries, Strait Paths, Kenny K. – as a pastor and counsellor, the Reed brothers, and others) I urged them to be thorough so it would not damage those ministries. He let me know that the board was fully in place and nothing could be done about it, and if that were to take place, he would also be disqualified. I said that since it has nothing to do with me (by extension not Generations Unleashed), it was merely advice and up to them. However, Tim and I talked and decided that if they did not vet their board members thoroughly, we would not have anything to do with any formal or informal involvement, beyond attending.

Based on that interaction, he decided I wanted to be on the board, or so he said when I confronted him about spreading the lie that I wanted to be on the board. That’s how he took our interaction, he said, and he was sorry *if* he had misunderstood. There was exactly three days between that conversation and our falling out, which happened about the time I asked him to explain what he meant when he said he would be disqualified from ASAA leadership if they vetted those with unresolved abuse/molestation history. ( I won’t get into those details.) From that point forward, things in our relationship deteriorated, with some attempts to work through things.

That’s the backstory, but the reason I laughed when I heard it was two-fold. First, I tried to picture me working with a team of conservative Mennonite men that closely. Somehow, as much as I’ve learned to respect many of them in healthy relationship,  including leaders, the picture makes me giggle. Knowing me and my story… Nope… I just can’t see any formal ties like that working well for either side. And I’ve never had any such ambitions. I’m happy to help them in any way possible, and support them, but a partnership?

While I wasn’t so much ‘put off’ as humoured, it was that tie to the organization (ASAA) that bothered me.

In fairness, I had taken information that was brought to me and I believed to be true, and shared it publicly (regarding the break and enter). Immediately upon discovering it could not be proven with evidence, I apologized both publicly and privately to him.

 

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I was content to leave it at that, assuming he really had nothing to do with it, and feeling badly for ever having brought it up with no evidence.

And all I was hoping for from him when I approached him about the unfounded rumours of me wanting to be on the board, was to own up that pulling such an assumption out of the context of our January conversation — when our conversation was really only focused on addressing vetting board members and his comment — was neither right nor justifiable. No such apology was forthcoming.

****

Truth is, I’ve hardly thought about any of this since starting school apart from tending to the messages and questions that come in, as I was able. Somehow PhD work is not easier than the Masters was, and leaves little time for worrying about past kerfluffles. But, having confronted the source of the rumours/lies, and receiving no acknowledgement, it is hard not to shift at the waves.

So here I am, now, having spent several days looking back at the mess of this past year once again. Nothing resolved or appropriately addressed. The man who was sending inappropriate texts over the past few years and who molested one young woman, as recently as October still offered massages to someone via text and voice mail. (To his church’s credit, they have finally acted on the allegations and put him out of membership). The leader with whom I had a falling out … well, that remains as it was. And ASAA… besides my alleged disappointment at being excluded, it all sits as it was, and so shall it remain by all appearances.

And that is where that interruption came in… Having spent a day with our daughter, shopping all things young mama for her birthday, seeing her round tummy, hearing her tell about the kicking and the changes, and loving life. And suddenly finding myself back in the muddle of things gone by that stand no chance of resolution, no hope of relational redemption… And the only good having come so far being that, while fluffy popularity dropped this past year (thank you Jesus! I don’t do fluff and bandwagon), the truth is we have become surrounded by countless warriors and hundreds of new people we never knew before have stepped up to support us in so many ways. I’ve never had such a thing before. Total strangers, over and over and over again, writing to say they are praying. Some also contributing to the costs of all the travel this past year, and all saying we are in this together. (Thirteen out of country trips in a year add up… So, again, thank you to those who contributed).

Those are beautiful and meaningful things, for which I am so grateful! And I value each new friend and partner in this war against sexual violence with deep appreciation. But none of those things replace loss of trust and loss of relationships that have fallen by the wayside as a result of this past year. They do not replace the loss that comes when things are not handled in an open and forthright manner; when politics and polite society is more important than truth. These things are huge losses I grieve from this past year, and the zero-hope-of any future redemption, saddens me. But I embrace the redemptions that have come out of it, and accept that those may well have been some of the purpose in the first place.

But the losses… They are the things that, when the waves start to rise — sometimes because someone dropped a giant boulder in the water, sometimes for other reasons — and the waters get unsteady, those things distract me. And I struggle to see Jesus in the chaos. The waves of discouragement at how things unfolded. The waves of lost trust. The waves of my own failures and mistakes in it — especially getting it wrong and speaking out about the break-in with no evidence, and the harm and injustice toward so many of the wounded out there..

These waves rise and fall….

And through the waves, in the middle of that prayer for our grand-baby, where the heart is quiet and tender and undistracted by the ills and evils of life and the world….

There God whispered. And I am now deliberately, determinedly, yet humbly turning my eyes away from the waves, once again, to the Master of the waves; the Creator of the Universe, the One who made the heaven and the earth….

And our sweet grand-baby.

Because I want my heart to be quiet and tender, undistracted by the ills and evils of this world. And God and grand-babies, even unborn ones, they offer that.

As always…  with another shift in focus…

Love,
~ T ~

Psalm 23 English Standard Version (ESV)

    The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

 

Setting Back Time (literally), Cake Batter Disasters, and Other Mother’s Day Musings

How soon it was, after we moved to Canada, that my parents bought that old daisy clock for our kitchen, I don’t recall, but I was enthralled by it. In my little mind it was the prettiest thing on earth, just like the real daisies outside. I would have one just like it when I was all grown up. Mom liked it too. So much so that when it stopped working, sometime around my late preteens, she set out to fix it.  There was also the little issue of not having money for frivolous things so what Red Green’a duct tape couldn’t fix, my parents found a way to redeem. Whether it was lack of finances or love for the clock, now useless, mom took it upon herself to fix it.  She pulled it apart, every little piece, and put it back together again. And, sure enough, it ran again.  Backwards. We kids laughed and joked about that for a long time.

Now, at 47, I look at the picture of that daisy clock and think to myself, if but for a moment, how I’d like to take the ‘clock of my life’ apart and put it back together differently. Maybe go back and do some things differently with a second shot at it. Especially as a mom. That’s me and almost every other mom, with presumably a few exceptions.

Not because of Mother’s Day, but just because of mothering and humanity, this topic has toyed with my mind more than enough lately. My failures stare me in the eye, time and time again, and more so with age. I see who my children have become and are becoming and I am amazed by God’s goodness in spite of my failures, but the awareness of generational sins, cycles and dysfunction are pretty glaring at this stage. So, yes, if I could pull down the old daisy clock, reset it, and go back with all that I’ve learned and…

Truth told, Adam and Eve would eat the apple again, and I would fail as a parent again. And we mothers would look back with regrets, losses, and wonder how God will ever redeem the impact of our generation, and the generation before us. Somehow he just would. Because God is amazing that way.

So that old daisy clock, which looks much less appealing today than it did then, can keep moving forward and I will choose to trust God to be enough for this generation and the next, even as He continues to redeem our generation and the ones before us.

And I’ll take a step back and look at the messy parts with new hope. More like that cake mom made when I was around 8 years old. The old yellow bowl was filled with batter and mom stirred enthusiastically, trying to beat out every lump. (So help us God if cake should ever have a lump in it…) And just like that, having been a bit too enthusiastic, she sent the bowl flying and chocolate batter spread everywhere on the counter, running down the counter and onto the floor. The bulk of it stayed on the counter, fortunately. We were not wealthy by any means, and wasting a cake would never do! So, after much fussing and gasping and exclaiming – while her children watched in humour – mom scraped the batter from the counter back into the bowl, cleaned up the rest of the mess, and baked a lovely cake for us. We kids who witnessed it, and those who heard the story, laughed many times over that moment.

Life is hard. Really hard, sometimes. And we moms have a habit of beating ourselves up pretty good. We look at our failures and see only the batter running down the cupboard and the mess on the floor. We forget that the bowl with batter running down it’s sides still has much in it to give, and what is spilled on the counter, God will redeem and make something beautiful out of it. The spills, He will wipe up.

Mother’s Day is the hardest for me to blog about, or write about, and I pretty much never speak publicly about my mom. There are so many unanswered questions, so many pains left in limbo, so much loss that I must give to God constantly, that it would be easier to look the other way. That is true in my relationship with my mom, and it is true in my own journey as a mom. And I’m not alone. I hear story, after story after story. I’ve chosen to forgive even where the story has never been acknowledged. When I see mom I hug her and tell her I love her, but my arms feel empty even as they are wrapped around her, knowing some things have never been and will likely never be.  Mom is old now, and because she is still living, I carry the story quietly within me out of respect. It’s something I did for dad, and it’s something I will do for mom. And when she is gone, I will speak, but I will speak respectfully as I have about dad. I bless her as she lives out her remaining days, months, years, and possibly decades (in fact probably decades… she’s pretty stubborn, or determined, depending on point of view). And I trust she has made peace with her God. I hear it in her, and bless her. But there are scars that cannot be addressed. So I trust God to wipe up the spills, scrape up the batter that remains, and make something beautiful.

This Mother’s Day, if you grieve for whatever reason, I pray for you. If you are the mom who failed and feels beyond redemption… If you are the mom who never had babies, or lost them all, or lost any… If you are the mom who is unappreciated, abandoned, or used and abused… If you are the mom who is in the thick of the mess of those early years, or struggling through difficult teen years (not all are, but some are)… If you are daughter or son who is estranged, rejected, or manipulated and repeatedly wounded… This day you are worth being celebrated.

And, this Mother’s Day,  if you are the mom whose life is idyllic, beautiful and ‘perfect’…. You are worth being celebrated.

Motherhood is a beautiful thing, made up of more joy and more pain than any human can possibly imagine exists in this world. Nothing has made the miracle of God and the wonder of spiritual life more real than motherhood. Nothing has broken my heart in deeper places. And nothing has caused me to reach out to Someone greater and say, “I need You. We need You!” And I trust that Someone with my life, my children, my mother and our intertwined stories, to bring something beautiful out of all things.

Happy Mother’s Day!

With Love, 
Trudy

 

© Trudy Metzger 2017

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.

poster

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!

red brochure front

red brochure inside

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

Dear Victim: You are an overcomer!

As I thought about nearing the end of this commitment, I thought of how victims of abuse don’t have an ‘end’ to reach for; it’s a lifetime kind of thing, dealing with memories, forgiveness, flashbacks, tears, more forgiveness, and a blend of victory and struggle. I’ve talked with enough elderly victims to know that, while healing comes, there are aspects of what happened that never leave us.

The past cannot be undone. The story cannot be done away with. The pages are written, and they cannot be edited. The steps taken, cannot be backtracked. And the scars etched on our spirits and psyche are a testament to that harsh reality.

Truth is, the road looks long, many days. There are seasons in the healing journey that feel like there is no hope of ever reaching that place of purpose, redemption and being an ‘overcomer’. It seems far away… and we move at what seems a snail’s pace toward it…. And in those moments hope has a way of escaping us.

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But there is a sweeter truth; an overriding reality; our title isn’t an earned one. It is a gift, given to us by the One who already overcame on our behalf; the One who took upon Himself the curse of what was done against us.

In school, when we played ball, if we had an injured student who couldn’t run, they were allowed to have a ‘runner’. They would hit the ball, and the runner would take off the instant that ball connected with the bat, and when the runner made it to home plate, the diamond symbol we used for score keeping was drawn next to the batter’s name, just as if they had ran the bases.

Jesus was our ‘runner’. He ran the diamond, landed on the home plate, and gave us the title ‘overcomer’. On our worst days and in our lowest moments we are overcomers and have purpose because of Him. And in those moments He is our hope. When we feel nothing, He is our hope. When we crush beneath the pain and cannot breathe, He is our hope.

He demands nothing in the way of performance or proving ourselves; He invites into a place of resting and being held. There’s no ‘washing up’ to be presentable. He invites us stained and bruised.

And there, held in His grace, stained, bleeding and wounded, He whispers peace and reminds us of the only thing that really matters, “You are loved, eternally and completely…. just as you are. You are mine. You are an overcomer.”

Ah, yes… You are loved, completely and eternally. I am loved… We are are loved. And together we can press forward, some days at a snail’s pace, but never abandoned, never alone. We’re in this together.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Pastor Tullian (Billy Graham’s Grandson) ‘Caught in Adultery’; What headlines don’t tell you…

The headlines of Pastor Tullian Tchividjian committing adultery kind of hit me in the gut. If it was Joel Osteen, it would have far less impact. I am probably about 350 degrees removed from Joel; I don’t know anyone who knows him personally. If it was Joyce Meyer, that gap would close somewhat for reasons I won’t get into. And, while Pastor Tullian is less known than both, it had greater impact; he is one degree removed, and the ‘man in between’ is someone I deeply respect.

My first thought when I read it wasn’t, “Hmmm… another mega-pastor has fallen…” or some such resigned rhetoric. My heart squeezed a bit tighter in my chest, and I choked up a little. Not because of personal disappointment, but because of what sin has cost him; what it costs every one of us. Relationships take a hard hit, when ‘spiritual giants’ fall. Faltering Christians are confused and feel lost when heroes and mentors ‘betray’ what they teach. Husbands and wives struggle and ache. And the children… they always hurt like hell. Every time. When leaders fall, their children and young Christians under their leadership pay a high price. And that price is even greater depending on our responses… and the responses of believers at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.

I will never forget that feeling… In my early twenties several women in our church took me under their wings, so to speak, spiritually and emotionally. I had started working through the aftermath of sexual abuse when they stepped in and mentored me. One on one, I talked as openly as I knew how then. Several years went by, and our connections had weakened, by the time it happened, but after all I had shared, it still felt very personal. Tim and I were dating, and the husband of one of these women was his Sunday School teacher at the time….

It was a Wednesday evening when our bishop rose to make the announcement, disclosing that this couple had fallen into sexual sin. How much detail was shared there, and how much was shared with me after I am not sure, but I knew more than I needed to know. I was crushed. Tim was stunned. And after church we sat on the grass, under the stars–a young couple wanting to save sex for marriage–and had a numb conversation, our minds reeling. It was a moment of grief at having trusted so deeply. “I talked with her about my struggles… the abuse… I had coffee with her… I trusted her…”  It all spilled out like a cup of tipped coffee, hot and scalding, as I absorbed what it all meant.

Hard as it was, those were not the defining moments of that event. Thank God. The defining moments came when I heard the couple sought counselling. The defining moments came when someone believed in grace enough to say, “It’s not over. God will redeem this mess.” My heart still felt hesitant, granted. It still needed time to heal from the shock of it, but the greater message was in the redemption. And I watched as God turned that evil into good, and now uses the woman to bring healing to others.

Pastor Tullian and I never met for coffee. He never sat and patiently listened to my broken story, reassuring me. And he was never Tim’s Sunday School teacher. But I have been blessed by his wisdom and words of grace, ‘from afar’. (A grace I pray he and Kim will hold onto most tightly, in this time.) But, more than that, he is a brother to the man who wrote the foreword to my book, BETWEEN 2 GODS. And, if Pastor Tullian was one to do book reviews, I would have had him do one of my book in instant. (I checked into it.) Because he believes in grace and redemption, I would have trusted him with my story.

pastor tullian

I, too, believe in grace and redemption. And I believe it for Pastor Tullian and Kim Tchividjian. Yes, it is sad, I won’t downplay that; looking at King David’s life there are and will be devastating consequences for such sin… But I hold the atonement of Christ in high regard. The only Gospel I offer is that Jesus is more than enough. I will not judge, but I will pray. I will not condemn. I believe that the Jesus of John 8 is the Jesus of today, and if Pastor Tullian and Kim were brought to Him for judgement, He would again kneel in the sand and begin to write… And in that humble moment, accusers would scatter, leaving only Jesus and the bystanders to witness and hear what the headlines don’t tell you; divine grace, flowing from tender eyes, and lips speaking with Heaven’s affection, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

And I believe that the God of King David–a very broken man whom God called ‘a man after His own heart’–is still God today. Like King David, Pastor Tullian and Kim, and the woman ‘caught in the very act’ of adultery, I too needed grace. And I need grace still; we all do.

I only hope that men and women of God who fall into adultery and sin, rise up again, like King David, to serve God with greater vision and passion… and broken. Because broken men and women are of far greater service to the Kingdom of God than great, strong, unbroken leaders. Our sins do not disqualify us from serving God, if we repent and fall harder on grace than we ever fell into sin. The grace of God is enough, whether alcoholism, gossip, adultery, gluttony, homosexuality, arrogance, or any other sin….

Because Jesus didn’t die for nothing. 

Love,
~ T ~

TO REGISTER for Lancaster Pennsylvania Conference,  July 10-11, 2015 visit: GenerationsUnleashed.com
full brochureLancaster County 2015_C


© Trudy Metzger

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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