Church Abuse, Spiritual Triage, and Victim’s Advocacy Ministries

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You may have noticed a brief blog break.  Thursday I went out of town to a meeting and Friday I drove back home and later had a 3-hour interview regarding the bad side of Christian homeschooling and so I was tied up a bit.

I’d like to share a little bit about the meeting.  Thursday, at the last minute, I decided to take a trip to Portland area to meet with a group of people connected with abuse ministries.  The coordinator has been traveling around the country organizing meetings with people who are connected with abuse advocacy and our meeting was only one of many meetings in his travels. So what he did in this stop was and is being replicated other places as well.  That’s exciting!

I met the coordinator via e-mail after reaching out for help when I was sued in March 2012. There were only two others that I knew only through e-mail at the meeting.  It was so great to meet these folks face to face after exchanging e-mails for some time. There were 10 people in total at our meeting, 3 of whom were pastors.

What I saw Thursday blessed the socks off me.  I arrived a bit late and missed some of the introductions, but what I saw represented was the heart of Christ.  It was beautiful.  Everybody shared a little bit about themselves and the ministries they were involved in.  Many relayed personal stories of abuse.  Others mentioned stories that they were familiar with and how they assisted in getting to resolution.  There was laughter and tears.

Sometimes this blog can be filled with a lot of negativity because I expose pastors who turn a blind eye when it comes to abuse.  So it was refreshing to hear from pastors who shared passionately and from their heart about defending and protecting victims of abuse.  These men were tough on abuse, tough on perpetrators, but very compassionate and strong on defending the oppressed/abused.  They were fired up about that.  I wish you all could have seen it.

These are not pastors who care about the size of their church and church programs, they care about souls and the oppressed.  Another thing really touched me – – one pastor brought up the subject of those Christians who are so hurt that they no longer go to church – the “nones.” I am aware of many readers who do not go to a church building anymore.

There was a bit of discussion about that and another pastor said he used to be concerned about people not going to church, but not anymore.  They weren’t concerned in that they wanted people back in a church “building.”  They were concerned that there were unresolved hurts which led them away, may have caused them to abandon their faith and simply wanted a way to reach out to them and love them.  Once again, these men were modeling true shepherding – – it was not about them or their ministry.  The focus was where it needed to be, on the people, and specifically hurting people.

Aside from pastors Ken and Craig who have been commenting here on the blog for a year now, here are three more who are equally compassionate for hurting souls. There really are pastors out there who are being godly shepherds and do care for your souls.  You can find them.  Trust me, there are more than 5 🙂

Ok, going back to the meeting.  I think one of the goals of the meeting was first of all to have the opportunity to meet in person, and secondly, to see if we could connect our resources. This aspect was important to me and I’d like to share why from my perspective as a blogger who supports victims.

The visible side of blogging is of course the blog itself.  I love blogging.  I enjoy the interactions in the comments.  That is the life of a blog.  It can become like a community where people connect and support one another.    Sometimes I can just sit back and you all can run this ship by encouraging one another, sharing your insights, challenge others.  I love that.

There is also a behind-the-scenes part of blogging that happens here and with quite a few other bloggers with whom I work.  In connecting with other bloggers and comparing notes,  it seems that blogs focusing on abuse issues have a similar pattern:  there is probably just as much time spent behind the scenes interacting privately with individuals as actual blogging/researching for blog posts and commenting.

Some of these people who contact bloggers like me are in a crisis.  I was that person last year when I was sued by my former pastor.  I was desperate, not knowing what to do, where to go for help.  I reached out to blogger, Dee, of The Wartburg Watch blog and also found Dr. Barb Orlowski (spiritual abuse author).  They were a tremendous help to me.  Dee gave me ideas of what to do, gave me some contacts, and a whole lot of encouragement.  Barb is networking queen extraordinaire.  She put me in touch with a bunch of people who in turn shared ideas with me, prayed for me, encouraged me.  Now I get to do the same for others in their crises and it is a privilege to do so because I will never forget those scary days.

In our meeting, we discussed pooling together our resources.  It’s funny because I was talking to a couple of people about this very thing quite a few months ago when realizing there must be a lot of overlap and wasted man-power with so many of us doing similar things.  I was thrilled that others have seen that same need and are willing to do something about it.  It would be great to get key  resources/ministries tied in together so that we can get real and practical help to people immediately.

So, as I was thinking about it, a lot of us who are victim advocate bloggers do a kind of “spiritual triage.”  We may the first people who hear of a particular crisis.  We can assess the problem, provide whatever help we are able to provide and then, if needed, we are able to refer to others who may be able to help in more practical ways.  Having key resources available to share with people in crises is going to be such a big help.

I am so encouraged by the people I see working on the sidelines without fanfare, praying, contending, and wanting to make a difference in the lives of hurting sheep.  Please pray for these silent contenders who are trying to coordinate efforts so that we can effectively meet the needs of so many hurting people.

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Update:  I swapped out the video with another version because of a reference to a church with a known case of abuse.  😦

20 comments on “Church Abuse, Spiritual Triage, and Victim’s Advocacy Ministries

  1. Julie Anne: It is amazing to me, your growth and healing in the past year. When Dee and Deb began WW a few years ago, who would have thought the people it would help and the lives changed. You are now reaching out to people and those people will then reach out to other abused people. I am amazed.

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  2. Julie Anne, I am so encouraged by this. As you know, three and a half years ago, my situation also involved attorneys. I could have used some help at the time. I was so emotionally beaten down that I didn’t know what to do and/or how to do it. And as I reached out to other pastors, they wouldn’t or didn’t want to get involved. I didn’t know at the time that they were all part of an unhealthy church group who believe their apostles/pastors etc. are always right and everyone else is wrong, no matter what the situation.

    You have been a great encouragement for me. I wouldn’t want what happened to you and me and others to happen to anyone else. But it continues. I am also encouraged that there are 5 (or more) pastors who do want to help. smile… And I am always available to help anyone I can. Thanks!

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  3. Debbie – Thank you for your kind words. It’s interesting, but understandable, that some of the loudest voices in victim’s advocacy were either victims themselves or closely connected to a victim and that compels them into action. I think becoming a victim’s advocate helps to make peace. I’ve been pretty honest that not only have I been a victim, but I’ve been an abuser in the sense that I drank the Kool-Aid and parented/homeschooled my children in ways that were not healthy.

    I know a guy who was in a cult for 25 years and now is working on his psychology degree with a specialty in spiritual abuse. Lliberty for Captives blogger, Steve Smith, was in a cult and writes beautifully on spiritual abuse in an effort to educate and give hope to others. I can never make up for the pain I have been dealt or incurred onto others, but I can put my story out there in the hopes that it prevents more abuse. That is my biggest hope.

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  4. Ang – Thanks so much.

    When you said you are available to help – – in what capacity? I’d like to see if I can help with that.

    In fact, if there are others who would like to help, please let me know. As a side note, I could also use some help with admin-stuff on the blog (ie, moderating, proofreading, etc.). If that is of interest, please send me a note. spiritualsb@ gmail dot com

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  5. Julie Anne, will the “coordinator” be in my area for a meeting? Can I get an invite?

    Love what God has done through all this, through you, through everyone coming together.

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  6. Katie – I think – not sure – that he is wrapping up the trip. Not positive. Let me see what I can find. Please send me a note and tell me where you are. I forgot. Thanks 🙂

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  7. i need about 8 weeks for my wrist to heal. after that, i can do any proofreading or other background work for you.

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  8. I think your next meeting should be in Colorado. All the cool people live here! hee hee! 😉 All joking aside, sometimes I can help, other times I NEED help. :-/

    Oh, and LOVE what you said about Barb. “Barb is networking queen extraordinaire.” So true!

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  9. I know it’s true about Barb, TLC. haha

    I really want to go to Colorado sometime. Pictures look gorgeous. I’ve only stopped at Denver airport a few times and that’s no fun.

    I think we all need help from time to time. You are in good company.

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  10. Dear Julie Anne,

    Is there any way these Pastors could issue a written statement specifically denouncing the statements put out by Mohler’s group and the Gospel Coalition group in support of C.J. Mahaney as the statements did a lot more than just defend Mahaney personally?

    That and/or declare that SGM’s argument that the First Amendment and an ordination certificate give Christian Pastors the right to cover-up abuse and/or alleged abuse is appalling and not aligned with their stated Christian beliefs pertaining to preventing and addressing child abuse.

    The problem with Pastor’s statements about SGM or abuse in general, to date, has been that they’re so vague that they don’t inspire action, in my opinion.

    By contrast, Peter Lumpkins non-binding resolution at the Southern Baptist Convention advising SBC Pastors to specifically avoid contact with SGM (I think the reference to SGM was taken out in the end) or other organizations poor histories of preventing child abuse in their Churches seemed to galvanize SBC Pastors who were likely already disgusted by the love fest between Mohler, Dever, Carson, and Mahaney but didn’t have a plan for taking action against it.

    I know that C.J. Mahaney claimed he voluntarily withdrew from the TG4G conference but others said that he was forced off the marquee because a critical number of SBC Pastors refused to attend the event if it featured him.

    That may have happened without Peter Lumpkin’s resolution but his successful attempt to stand up to Mohler, Dever, Carson, and other SBC luminaries seemed to inspire SBC Pastors to take a specific stand against someone with a history of spreading spiritual abuse.

    Just a thought.

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  11. Even us Colorado peeps? I will just need guidance, but I believe somehow I can help. I can pray. I can listen. I don’t know. I can just wait and get your input/guidance. BTW, thanks for the dialogue. 🙂

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  12. Pingback: Restoring What the Locust Has Eaten: Two Years of Blogging Milestone Today and Gratefulness | Spiritual Sounding Board

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