UNSPOKEN HOPE

Hope rises.
Silence falls.
Hope shatters.
Her tongue cut out.
Pieces on the floor.
Pieces of her, of him… of me, of them
Strewn here and there

Walking here and there,
People stepping on
Pieces on the floor.
Tall people. strong people. Powerful.
Crushing flesh pieces on the floor.
Flesh, dragging here and there.
Red.
Dry blood on black shoes.

“Only trust Him… Only trust Him… Only trust Him now…
He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now…”

Songs.
Prayers.
Tears
Helpless children.
Raped.
Used.
Cast away.

“Only trust Him… Only trust Him… Only trust Him now…
He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now…”

Children weep.
Wail.
Hell licks their feet.

People walking.
Away.
Where has Jesus gone?
Why do angels weep dry tears?

Trust withers.
Silence falls.
Hope…

Dead.

Religion.

Hell wins.

;

Truth rises,
Tongue cut out
Oh hell be warned!
Death gives birth to unmatched power!
Wordless.
Silent.
Thunder shakes the strongest tower.

No more politics.
No flow’ry speech.
Truth will stand in ruthless silence,
Shouting without sound
Crying from the highest mountain
And all will hear
As, Truth, forced to silent grave,
Rises from the ground.

No white flags.

No powerless surrender.

Silence moves
Stealthy
Wise
Calculated.

Invisible hands,
Wrapped about my throat.
I cannot speak.

But I have my sword.

Truth.

;

Jesus walks into the room.

What will you say now?

Did silence pave His way?

Or was it the voice of those who cried against the norms:

Make a path in the place of death… the wilderness… where nothing of life has ever grown.
Where children’s souls are laid bare by reckless men!
Make way!
Behold! He comes! The Son of God! Make way
!”

He enters.
Holding no regard for rules.
Honouring no politics.
Crying louder for the lost
the wounded
the weak.
Standing silent only to accusation.
Crying out against their sin,
He eats of the forbidden grain.

I eat. 
With no regard for silence.
Breaking all the rules
of polite society.
Hearts are not healed
by
U
N
S
P
O
K
E
N
HOPE.

*************************************************************************************

 

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018

Communication breakdown with the Anabaptist Symposium on Sexual Abuse (ASAA) team

A week ago I was contacted by ASAA stating that “communications with Generations Unleashed, both individually(individual board members) and organizationally(ASAA) will be on hold”, but no further explanation. This was the first I heard from anyone since I turned evidence over to Diane Langberg, other than two brief exchanges related to giving her access. It came with the usual confidentiality notice, and I chose to honour that, sharing it only with my husband, two pastors (and their wives), and one mentor.

Needless to say, it was jolting to be contacted by someone from USA, almost a week later, asking if the rumours are true. This individual had encountered two separate acquaintances of an ASAA board member, and was told that this board member shared details about the situation. (The member was named, however, I am choosing not to name him here.) It is disturbing to me that they are all not allowed to speak with me, but can freely share details that I – as a key player in this, and the one who offered the evidence – am not allowed to hear from them. This board member also had some less than positive things to say about me to these various individuals. Things that, to date, he has not said to my face. (So much for Matthew 18… No one has come to me directly with concerns yet.) Frankly, I’d rather hear things directly than from behind my back, but that is between him and God. I then heard this evening from others about conversations with board members – both the main board and advisory board – about the situation.

Until today, I have honoured the request for confidentiality, but am posting this to clear the air about rumours they started. The best way to stop a rumour is to tell the truth, so there you have it. Yes, ASAA has cut off communication with me and Generations Unleashed. I have been given no reason for this. No explanation. I contacted their ‘outside investigator’ – to whom I gave access to evidence – who responded that she is not allowed to discuss the case with me or anyone else. If I wasn’t the person who handed over the evidence, that would make absolute sense to me. She is highly professional, highly regarded and – I am told – amazing at what she does. I can’t imagine she would ask for this without legitimate reason.

I have since also contacted an ‘outside investigator’ – a lawyer/mediator who specializes in conflict and works with sexual abuse in churches – to see if he would be willing to get involved and look at the evidence, including the current handling of the investigation. My relationship with this individual holds less conflict of interest than ASAA’s relationship with Diane L, who reportedly advised in setting up ASAA and is also a prof where one of the board members studies. I am hoping this second outside investigator will be help guide through the lack of communication, and help me see if I have completely misunderstood the evidence. My intent is redemptive here, not adversarial.

With communication being cut off, and no explanation or conversation leading up to it, this is one of only two options I have. The other is to publicly post all evidence, on every aspect of this including all private conversations that took place in the process of addressing things with the pastor, originally. I am not ready to do the latter yet.

For now, I am simply confirming that, yes, communication has been completely cut off. I do not know what their plans are. I do know this is not the end.

And I also know that the day before this communication came through, I wrote what you see in the following screenshots. This was in response to a group who were hurt and frustrated that a meeting was cancelled by ASAA, which they had offered to hold. There was confusion and hurt feelings, and I was tagged in the comments even though I was not part of the group planning to attend or watch via livestream (or whatever their final plans were). Had I not been tagged, I probably would have missed the details, but as it stood, I felt I had no choice but to respond. (I was given permission by the couple with whom the meeting was arranged to reference that meeting in this blog.) This is what I wrote in response to the concern and frustration:

response-re-cancelled-meeting-with-asaa-1-e1534298231647.pngResponse RE: Cancelled meeting with ASAA 2Response RE: Cancelled meeting with ASAA 3response-re-cancelled-meeting-with-asaa-4-e1534297528971.pngResponse RE: Cancelled meeting with ASAA 5

After being contacted, I had a conversation with a limited audience of people today – and not those already frustrated by cancelled meetings – regarding this, sharing only the barest of details, sharing that communication is halted without explanation, and asked them to pray.

By this evening I was contacted again, and that is when I decided to address the rumours publicly. They are true. It could be for the best of reasons and intentions, as one pastor in today’s conversation said. I don’t know. I’d find that easier to believe if the board was respecting the process rather than cutting off communication and then spreading rumours directly traced back to them, not through some long grapevine. (And before you ask if I have confirmed with them, remember I am not allowed to contact them. I did call one board member to clarify a concern *not* related to the details of the case, thinking surely they can answer whether two logistical questions, and was thoroughly reprimanded. And I also sent several emails in the first 24 hours of shock and stress.) In any case, when communication is ‘paused’ – whether as a form of pressure or punishment, or to protect the integrity of the investigation – it would be wise for those imposing it to also hold to that same standard I am asked to honour. (Not to mention that if they can’t talk to me but can talk to others… well, that just makes no sense.)

canstockphoto427478

I break silence today because I learned ASAA is already talking. Just as, on June 8, when I had been asked to be silent, I honoured it until one of them was involved with constructing a confession, and they were not silent. So today I speak to tell the truth, os you know it is not rumour – you are getting it directly from me.

Regardless what happens next, I know where I stand. As I said in my Facebook status yesterday – before I knew any of the rumours circulating:

I will say it again, amid the storm and the crazy…

If I am wrong, I will do two things:
1. I will say I am sorry
2. I will repent

But I will not say it to appease the masses. And I will not say it for personal standing. And I will not say it because of a guilt trip. I will say it because God and people with an agenda for truth – not those looking to defend or protect power or abuse – have spoken and shown me that I am wrong. And no one can do that apart from having seen the full evidence *and* communicated with all involved parties, and lined up [what is said] with the evidence. Blindly trying to convince someone they have it wrong is not effective, and listening to it is not responsible.

I also maintain that the only thing I want now, and ever wanted, is to bring accountability, ownership and change going forward.

Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. She no less led her people to victory. Sometimes the end of a warrior is the necessary reality for change. We should not fear such an end.

 

If I were to go back to the beginning, would I change some things? Absolutely! But I stand firm on what I saw and heard, and the writings and evidence I hold. It cannot be talked away. It can be addressed. It can be ‘owned up to’ and it can be forgiven. But it can’t be made to not exist. I pray it is addressed, so that healing can come.

As for this present pause, for the most part I am choosing to believe that good things still are and will be happening, all around, and that redemption will come.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018

Gaslighting & the Unraveling…

A promise made is a promise to be kept.
And God knows I’d rather forget.

It has been a few weeks since June 8… that fateful day in the present situation with attempting to expose an offender, and challenge the way the case was handled. Soon after that day, and after my ‘apology blog’, I pulled down the blogs I had written that opened up the crazy can of worms… or snakes… that led to that day in the first place.

I pulled all the blogs after discovering my apology was not warranted. I wrote it in sincerity, having been made to believe that I was wrong about the offender’s repentance and the way in which his public ‘confession’ came about. But I also wrote it in absolute confusion because the evidence I had didn’t line up with what I was made to believe. And I pulled them because I needed time to process the shock factor at discovering I had been tripped and gas-lighted.

I have yet to fully understand all the motives behind that day, but I made a promise to tell the truth that I know, after a bit of rest.

On June 4 an apology was posted by the man who sexually assaulted one young woman, and made sexually explicit phone calls to many others. I was told that it was a coached apology, written by a group of men – and that this information came from the leader I previously called into questions, who had been part of that process. On June 7, I called that out because of the incredible damage it was doing to the victims. The leader who knew about the sexual assault, and did nothing to protect other vulnerable individuals, had played a role in this ‘apology’, and had asked one of the leaders I was working with if it would ‘help’ if the abuser apologized. And then, as the attacks and poop-flinging ensued, he watched the destruction and attacks without the integrity to step in and intervene, but instead ‘liked’ abusive comments… on the bogus ‘confession’. (A pastor involved told me that he ‘is not repentant, but wants to be’.) Shortly after calling this out, a comment was posted attacking me. It was so vile and abusive it left me shocked. (And it takes a lot to shock me.)

In the wee hours of June 8, having spent a sleepless night processing what it all meant, another message came in…  I had spent the night struggling with the abusive comment, and the fact that this leader who works with sexual abuse victims would think such an apology was a good idea, (and then stand back and watch the destruction… as though that was ‘helping’), without the honour to stop it and admit what had been done.

And then I read the message that came in from one of the leaders I had worked with and trusted, “Trudy the misinformation coming from your public posts is staggering. It is truth with assigned motives that are very faulty. I also know about the editing. And why it was edited...” (There is a bigger piece to this that I am not free to tell, but will say that this leader did not agree with a half-baked confession, and if his advice had been taken, things would have shaken out very differently.)

I read it. Numb. Shock.

First, I understood ‘it is truth’ as meaning that the confession was true and sincere, and ‘with assigned motives’ as meaning that I was assigning faulty motives to the confession. And in that moment, I was a young teen, waiting to be excommunicated again. The allegations were not true, back then; I had not sinned the sins I was accused of. And in that moment, I was hurled into full blow flashback and PTSD. (It was not the first time in this experience of attempting to confront the abuser and bring an end to the abuse and hold leaders accountable that this happened. A previous time was when I was told that the leader (who appears to be) protecting the abuser, rates the man at a ‘3 out of 10’ for risk and/or perversion “because he gets no sexual pleasure from what he does”. Wait… Wha…?  I can’t even go there…)

In 27 years of working through my past, I recall a total of 6 … maybe 7 extreme PTSD/flashbacks. At least 3 have occurred in the past 3 months of dealing with this scenario and attempting to work with leaders, while watching as sexual abuse is downplayed, victims are re-victimized, and I am gaslighted. It is not an easy thing to deal with high level abuse. And hearing things like rating an offender a ‘3 out of 10’ because ‘he gets no sexual gratification from his crimes’ was horrifying on so many levels. That means many, if not most, child molesters are not a big deal because many touch the child without any form of penetration. This, again, effectively makes it all about the offender. God forbid we look too closely at the hell it brings into a child’s life.

By June 9 two things happened. I was informed that, in fact, what I had written in my status updates was truth. It was a group effort apology, and was intended to calm the chaos. (I am no longer convinced I was ‘off’ in what I assigned to it. It was to protect the offender, as I understand/see it, by calming the chaos. And such apologies always serve only to further victimize the victims and make the offender look good. It’s wicked, in my opinion and is often mentioned by victims as being one of the most damaging things in they have suffered in religious context related to the handling of abuse they suffered. “Let your yay be yay…” Don’t say an apology that isn’t true. That’s not appropriate. And if the man *wants* to be repentant, for heaven’s sake, help him face the consequences and stop lying to himself so he *can* be repentant!)

The other thing that happened by June 9, is that several people (unrelated to each other, and still unknown to each other) called me to tell me to watch my back. One said the leader close to the abuser had said I’m a Jezebel (more than once, over a period of months since January). And another said the leader called me a matriarchal woman and called one of the victims is a matriarchal witch. They commented on his hatred for Jezebel and his determination to destroy ‘Jezebel’. (Based on this, they were concerned that the leader was assigning his hatred for Jezebel to me, since that is who/what I represent to him.) Rather than ‘throw me’ or upset me, it brought clarity and understanding, and helped put all the ‘crazy’ in context.

I draw a line in the sand. I stand against abuse, and this is spiritual abuse to which I will not subject myself, and against which I will take a firm stand, not only for my sake but also for the sake of every woman and man subjected to this kind of abuse while Christian leaders rise up to protect each other. Until full ownership is taken (by him) for this abuse, and other abusive behaviours (by this leader), I am taking a firm stand to endorse nothing and partner with nothing in ministry that involves this leader. And ownership includes acknowledging the careless handling of the situation, disregarding those who approached him before me (at least 5 godly men and women – info that was forwarded to me via someone the leader’s wife shared it with), and apologizing for the name-calling and spiritual abuse.

I am choosing a path of forgiveness, but not a path of silence. And forgiveness also does not mean I won’t have firm boundaries, because forgiveness does not include letting abuse go unchallenged. And if we cannot hold each other accountable as leaders for abusive behaviours and putting others at risk then shame on us all. If we fear the blood-bath at our feet, when it involves leaders and ministries, and don’t recognize that the bloodbath has been going on for victims for many generations, with no one to intervene for them…. If we protect leaders and/or from consequences for abuse, and don’t protect victims from such individuals., then we have failed…. and God have mercy on us all.

I do not know where things stand with this whole situation, as far as what other leaders are doing with it. But I do know I am taking a stand against abuse, and I stand firm on the evidence and the account I have given of this situation.

If you have questions, send me an email. If it’s out of curiosity with no higher purpose, I’m not interested in engaging. If it’s to destroy people – whether ‘them’ or me – I’m not interested. If it’s for the sake of truth and for the good of your community, the actors involved here or some positive end, I’m more than willing to interact.

as always

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018

A “Spotlight”, the Police & the Church

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

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

spotlight

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

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

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

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

 canstockphoto14186527 (1)

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

****

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

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

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

On that bright note…

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

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

 We will keep chipping…

Love,

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Interview with Boz Tchividjian, Founder of Grace

The horrors of child abuse not only extinguishes the innocence of childhood, but so often defines survivors who spend a lifetime struggling to process such devastating childhood trauma. When abuse is perpetrated in faith communities and is rationalized with scripture and distorted theology, most victims come to understand God as the ultimate abuser. All too often, these precious souls get weary of processing what seems to be a forever dark journey and simply give up hope.

Last year, I was privileged to come into contact with an amazing individual who is walking that journey and has given up hope more than once. The life of Trudy Metzger is one that is both deeply tragic and remarkably hopeful. She was the one beaten and left to die on the side of the road in the parable of the Good Samaritan. She is also the one pursued, embraced, and loved by the ultimate Good Samaritan. Trudy’s journey is not unlike the painful journey of so many others who are weary and who have or are giving up hope.   Her life is a declaration that there is hope.  

In order to share this hope with others, Trudy recently wrote a book about her journey entitled,Between 2 Gods.   This amazingly honest memoir doesn’t hide the truth about the deep physical, emotional, and spiritual pains caused by childhood trauma. It also doesn’t hide the truth about a loving God who crosses the road and gets down into the dirt with the hurting and brutalized.

I hope that we can all find some comfort in Trudy’s words that have been formed out of a life that for all intensive purposes should have ended long ago. I’m so grateful God had other plan. – Boz

Boz: Can you tell us a little bit about your family background?
Trudy: I was the 12th living child, of what would eventually be 16, born into an Old Colony Russian Mennonite home. With a history of unaddressed abuse and violence in my father’s family, and murder and unacknowledged sexual abuse in my mother’s family, we didn’t stand much of a chance at escaping abuse. Intertwined with this were deeply rooted religious beliefs that presented God as volatile and harsh, rather than a kind ‘Abba Father’—or ‘Papa’—who loves us and understands our humanity.

Boz: What was it about the culture you grew up in that you believe contributed to an abusive environment?
Trudy: This topic would produce at least a chapter, but more likely a book, if covered with any kind of thoroughness. Certainly male dominance was a problem—and I say that as someone who believes all are created equal, with something of value to contribute in every situation—and this robbed women and children of any voice. Contributing to this was the ‘elders are to be respected view’ that required younger children to submit to older siblings, giving older siblings almost the same authority as parents. While these older siblings were not necessarily the abusers, the mentality very much affirmed ‘voicelessness’ and demanded submission and surrender to the wishes of anyone older. This is a set up for abuse throughout life.

I want to add that our communities in Mexico were infested with sexual abuse on every level, and it was not only the girls who were victimized by fathers, brothers and men in general. Male to male violations were a tragic reality, leaving young boys devastated by the impact of rape, often from older boys or fathers. Teen boys raped teen girls and older girls seduced younger boys, and mothers molested their children. I wouldn’t have known all of this in childhood, and didn’t address its brutality in my book but it goes without saying that such depravity is the result of multiple issues, not only male dominance.

Another piece was little teaching about sex, and what was communicated was presented more in strict warnings to ‘not sin’, and warnings to protect against ‘evil boys’. This made sex an altogether horrid thing, feeding the unhealthy lifestyles and resulting in much sexual promiscuity on besides abuse.

Continue reading interview here: Rhymes with Religions

Love

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Between 2 Gods Facebook Page

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

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Of Guilt & Protecting People from Truth

Having been granted permission by the local Independent, for whom I write a monthly column, I am now posting my columns here, on my blog, rather than having the editor upload them on their site and me directing readers there. It’s easier for everyone, all around. That said, the following is my July column, published Thursday, July 3, in the Elmira Independent.

****

There is no end to barriers for healing in victims of sexual abuse. The layers seem endless to someone caught in the apparent time warp of trauma and past pain. No amount of ‘appealing to logic’ and pulling victims back to the present makes that trauma disappear, or convinces him or her, that ‘that’s the past’. It is in peeling back layers, revealing truth, and correcting faulty belief systems that freedom is brought within grasp of these tormented souls.

To go through the many layers, and try to expound on each one, would produce somewhat of a text book of information that would take years to write and no one would read. So I will touch only on guilt and the need to protect people we love from truth.

A wise man—one considered to be a great prophet by some, a rebel by others, but better known to me as the Son of God—Jesus, once said, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” We misquote it frequently as ‘set you free’, but He says, ‘make you free’. Inevitably we humans look for ways to be set free from burdens so that we can released from them and not face or carry them. But to ‘make free’, is a different thing entirely. Freedom becomes a thing that you ‘are’ in spite of burdens…

That in mind, I see many victims of abuse carrying the burden of protecting loved ones from the truth.  The fear that ‘it’s all too much and they won’t be able to handle the knowing’ or ‘it would be devastating for my family’, is a powerful guilt these victims carry when they think about telling family—especially parents—of the crimes committed against them in childhood.

But all the while, as they struggle to protect their superiors, this dreadful role reversal—of a child protecting parents–creates a sense of distance and isolation, pushing the victim further into despair. At the time of the event, a child may have been a toddler, a teen, or somewhere in between. A time when parents protect their children from harm. Or try to. Yet, somehow these children, at that young age, find themselves carrying experiences they think their parents, or other trusted adults, cannot handle knowing.

Set the Chidlren Free

This message is reinforced when victims of abuse are emotionally, spiritually or psychologically ‘punished’ for coming forward. The bullying that goes on, at times, when a victim speaks up, is shameful. It is tempting to encourage the silence out of a desire to protect victims from further abuse and victimization. But to remain trapped in one darkness to avoid another is merely empowering the darkness.

So when a victim asks me what he or she should do, I fall back on the words of that wise man, ‘The truth will make you free’. And the truth will make the people around you free too, if they will receive it. The rest will keep wrestling to prevent light from shining into the place of hidden things. They will wrestle against the truth for personal agenda, one place or another, whether a particular victim speaks up or not. The only thing that changes is that speaking up draws the wrestling into the light.

I warn that it could get messy. Really messy. And encourage using discretion and wisdom in the process, but I never encourage silence. It is only fair that they know the cost for one level of freedom could potentially cause as much fresh pain as the old pain they release. Still, the healing from the past is empowering and strengthening in the present, as victims find their voice and establish boundaries.

A victim of abuse, while exercising sensitivity in what is said, and how, should not carry the burden of protecting adults from trauma they’ve carried since childhood. That is simply not appropriate. Someone said recently that ‘these things are not appropriate to discuss and should not be talked about’…

My response to that dysfunctional belief is this: Are we actually willing to say that we, as adults, cannot bear the reality that our children, as young as two.. four… six-years-olds, carry through life? How is that?

If children must suffer the mental, psychological and spiritual consequences for these crimes, we adults better be willing to give them permission to talk, and someone be available to hear the gory details. To forbid it is the most selfish, abusive and irresponsible act, next to the original abuse.

In a nutshell, it’s time we adults grow up to the strength and resilience of toddlers, so that victims are not isolated, and forced to carry the horrific memories alone.

Truth makes people free. And truth protects the next generation.

Should Women be Silent… or Prophesy… or Both?

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

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

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

And a minister mentioned it as well…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joel 2:25-29

New King James Version (NKJV)

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

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

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

Acts 2:17-18

New King James Version (NKJV)

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

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

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

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

Acts 21:8-9

King James Version (KJV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Timothy 2:8

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

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

1 Timothy 2:11-12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Trudy Metzger

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Local Preachers Forbid Attending Sexual Abuse Conference

Matthew 23:4-13

King James Version (KJV, with my thoughts interspersed)

4 (Corrupt leaders) bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. (They will not practice what they preach, condemning you for one thing, while they do something as bad or worse.) 5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men (…. to create a name or an image for themselves, and make people look up to them, to idolize them) 6 And love the (places of honour)… 13 But woe unto you… hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

***

I stepped away from my phone for a few hours earlier today. Yes, even on Sunday, like most everyone else, my phone is seldom far away. That’s the thing with this cell phone age.

I’ve learned to set boundaries with it, including that I have it turned off almost 24/7, so that I am not constantly interrupted and bombarded with emails, texts, phone calls and various other messages. It is my way of being the master of my phone, and keeping myself ‘in the present’ as much as possible. Still, I try to respond to all messages, in order of priority, when I have the time.

Every now and then, I simply put my phone away, and completely disregard it, so I don’t even get tempted to check it. That was what I did this afternoon for a while, and again this evening.

Sundays are especially quiet anyway. Seldom a text. Only the occasional Facebook message, or email, usually. And I only respond to crises or fun stuff. ‘Business’ waits.

So I was quite surprised to pick up my phone and see nearly a dozen, if not more than a dozen different notifications. There were phone calls, emails, texts and various other social media messages. I opened them in order, curious what all the ‘buzz’ was about.

The first message said, “You wouldn’t believe what got read over the church pulpit today”. So I wrote back and asked what it was.

Another message asked if I had heard what announcement was made at one of the Conservative Mennonite churches this morning. By the time I read the other messages, all my questions were answered before I ever heard back from the first one.

When I read that first message, the fleeting thought went through my mind that maybe the leaders had encouraged their people to attend the conference in November. Maybe they had finally seen the evidence that I was, indeed, helping sexual abuse victims overcome their addictions, break free from demonic attacks, overcome suicidal struggles. One of their ministers had personally thanked me and acknowledged he can see who I work with before anyone tells him.

Maybe, just maybe…

But even as that thought slipped through my mind, I knew that wouldn’t be it. Like distant thunder, warning of an impending storm, I had heard the rumblings and waited, knowing that sooner or later the winds of resistance would pick up force. I even said to a few of my friends, “You watch, it won’t be long now and they will begin to make announcements in the conservative churches, trying to control their congregations by telling them they are not to attend our conferences.” I knew the day would come, likely sooner than later. And it did. There had been subtle hints made over the pulpit in the past, but now it has become blatant announcements.

No doubt they would discourage under the guise of concern over worldly influences by this ‘apostate woman’, as one Bishop calls me. But they haven’t a leg to stand on with that ‘worldly influence’ accusation. Their people tend to stay in their churches, when I work with them. So far everyone who was plugged into a church, has stayed there while under my influence, because I have no need to pull them out. If God has something better for them, a place where they will heal and be encouraged in a way they are not now, He can lead them. The biggest change clients go through is that they suddenly see God as a Heavenly Papa, and find hope in Jesus, as they break free from the bondage of the past. While they continue to practice cultural rules and regulations, their hope is no longer found in that idol, but in Jesus Christ, and Him alone.

However, the one thing that must be most terrifying to those leaders who need ‘control’, is that most of these people are suddenly not afraid of their controls, nor are they afraid of the truth. They recognize that the prevalence of abuse is a problem, and they begin to stand firm on this, questioning the silence and cover ups. This is a problem. They begin to question other injustices and inconsistencies in preaching, like when I leader condemns only those ‘sports and entertainments’ that he personally doesn’t engage in. (For example, snowmobiles may be condemned, but four-wheelers not condemned, if that leader owns one. Or four-wheelers may be condemned if he doesn’t use or own one, but boats are not condemned if that is something he or his family does.)

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Above all, I have good cause to believe that at least some of the leaders are concerned because of what all I know about hidden abuse…

I know what sin lies buried in many a church and many a family. I know how one preacher’s brother–who is also a preacher–abused him and another young man. And I know how another minister’s daughter abused a young girl. And another minister’s son abused a little boy, and that son was first abused by his older cousin. And most of these were never dealt with appropriately or reported. To my knowledge only one was. The sin was simply left like a rotting carcass under the church’s mat, while ordering victims to ‘forgive, forget and move on’, or in some cases making the victims confess to immorality.

Some of the leaders involved in these cases are ‘concerned’ about my influence, I presume as a distraction from the hideous reality, and definitely in the guise of protecting ‘the flock’ from my ‘deception’. In reality, I think they fear that the truth is too near being exposed, and if people trust me, they will believe that truth when it comes out. And I will be shocked if it does not come out. Victims are gaining courage, and that is the other thing they fear. I lead them to Jesus, and when they meet Jesus, courage rises up in them and they can no longer be held down. And they have plenty of ‘dark truth’ to fear.

One family that has several ordained church leaders has, at minimum, four perpetrators and several victims who are covering for each other, as well as victims outside the family. And one of the sons, who is a minister, is one of the guilty party, as well as several grandsons and a granddaughter. But they are well-respected by most–everyone but the few who know the truth, from what I know–and cover it with perfect religious image. I have known this for a long time and choose silence rather than exposing it, because I believe God is working and it will be revealed at the right time.

And still they deny it happens, and claim I make it seem more prevalent than it is. No my friends, I don’t need to fudge any numbers to make it as ugly and wicked as it is. And the cover up just makes it more wicked and gets blood on the hands of more leaders who silence victims. I fear for them on that day when they stand before God and give account for what happened to those little ones… The little ones that the church judged and punished when they grew up and hated God, and turned their lives over to sin. How can we stand vindicated before God, if we choose this?

And, because of silence and cover up, the chain just never seems to break. No. That chain lies buried deep under Achan’s tent, bringing more death, hell and damnation as innocent and unsuspecting people–especially children–fall prey to it. But in this story Achan isn’t sitting in his tent protecting the chain, he’s pretending to be Joshua, standing up behind the pulpit and proclaiming ‘as for me and my house’ and pretending like he has a better way to offer. That’s how he protects the thing he stole, and hid. But the corruption drowns out the noble proclamation, as the stench of hidden-and-smoothed-over sins rise up.

If only they could understand that I have no desire to destroy them. I know enough names and stories to do a lot of damage, and yet I don’t do it. Is that not enough to show that I am not out to destroy them? God has more than enough grace for the repentant sinner… if only they could grasp this! Instead they bury their sin and live in fear of being exposed, or tell themselves it isn’t there, it never happened, it wasn’t that bad, or it was mutual consent.

I cannot help but wonder what happens to the heart of God, as ‘worship, prayer and preaching’ rise up to heaven from that place, intermingled with the careless victimization of children and that crime covered up. And it makes my heart break. The hopeless eyes… The darkness of the demons they fight… The longing for death…

And I wonder, “How long, O Lord, how long before judgement will fall on Your people again because we have laid our children on the alters of Molech, to be used for sexual gratification?” I can hardly bear it.

But I know this, that God has not forgotten those who have a true heart. Not one has escaped His eye, and not one has escaped His compassion and redemption. Everyone who reaches beyond the confining grip of religious controls, and reaches for healing through Jesus, will find it, if they seek Him with all that they are and have. Everyone who is willing to follow God, and not man, will be brought to that place of freedom. He has promised it, and I believe it.

It is Jesus who heals and gives light and life. It is Jesus I present to these hurting hearts. And if one person, claiming to know Him at all, will deny that He is the answer and that in Him they will be made whole, then they deny Christ altogether. He is all I have to offer the people who come to be mentored. He is all we lift high and offer at conferences. Anyone who dares speak against His healing power, denies Him.

Still, I will offer Jesus with passion and purpose, with never an apology or regret. And any resistance we face I count as an honour, for the sake of the One who died for me, and made me whole…

….My beautiful Saviour, Jesus. “For You, my Friend, I will lay down my very life to bring just one soul to You for healing… Because I trust You and your promises with all that I am and have.”

NOTE: Special Offer

Anyone wishing to attend the Shattering the Silence Conference, November 22-23 at Woodside Bible Fellowship in Elmira, who reads this blog, may register at the Early Bird rate of $35. Simply send a cheque, with a note that says: “I saw a special offer on your blog” and make it out to Generations Unleashed 15 Coral Gables Crescent Elmira Ontario, N3B 3P4. I will accept registrations at that rate until November 13, 2013. Or call me at 519-590-4907 to register. We look forward to seeing you at the conference!

©TrudyMetzger

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

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

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

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

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

2 Chronicles 7:14

New King James Version (NKJV)

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

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

Isaiah 65:1-9

New Living Translation (NLT)

Judgment and Final Salvation

65 The Lord says,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ezra 9:3-8

King James Version (KJV–with edits)

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Trudy Metzger

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