Before we get into today’s article, we’ve passed an important milestone here. Today, I noticed in my Facebook’s “On This Day” feature, that it is the 4th year anniversary date of the judge’s decision on the defamation lawsuit brought on by my former pastor, Chuck O’Neal of Beaverton Grace Bible Church (BGBC) vs. me and 4 others. Our attorney filed an anti-SLAPP counter suit which meant that O’Neal and BGBC had to prove that our case met the legal definition of defamation. It did not. Not even one phrase that I used (or anyone else used) met even the first tier of the defamation definition (that we had intentionally lied). In order Chuck O’Neal to have won, he had to prove that we knowingly lied about him, AND, we lied with the intent to harm. Judge Fun dismissed the entire case.
When I think back on four years, the amount of information I have learned is remarkable. So much of that has been because of you. Thank you. God has restored what the locust has eaten. Through my pain and now the information I’ve learned along the way, SSB has been a safe and a growing place for me and for others. Yea God.
Here’s the note that appeared on my timeline 4 years ago by a friend:
Would your church be able to help someone in the midst of a crisis? How equipped are they?
In February, I got involved in a situation in which a mom of many children discovered that her husband was sexually abusing their children. The world as she knew it had stopped. Everything. Not only did she need to deal with her own emotions and grief, and care for her children, but she also had to make plans for her family’s future. This was quite an undertaking and I’m sure it will take months of adjustment trying to find their new normal.
This situation was local for me, so it gave me the opportunity to see what help is available to people in this type of crisis.
A while ago, I went a choral concert which was held at a local church. When I went into the ladies restroom, I noticed this on the wall:
It occurred to me that we don’t have anything like that posted in our ladies’ restroom. What a perfect place to post something on domestic violence – a place where a woman’s abuser won’t see her getting this helpful information.
But, then, in the main hallway, I found many more resources. Check this out:
Part of the behind the scenes ministry work at SSB is what I call “triage.” People will contact me privately with immediate needs. I listen to them and see how I can support them so that not only their immediate need is met, but there is a plan for future needs to be met. Kathi, by the way, has been so helpful with this.
A few times, I have been able to shoot Kathi a message while I’m on the phone or messaging with someone in a crisis. Kathi has then been able look up resources in that person’s area so I can give them immediate resources. Having someone who cares and can give resources is so important in a crisis.
What I have come to realize, through hearing these stories, is that many – and perhaps most – churches are ill-equipped to handle a crisis.
This church I visited is capable of sending a woman in a crisis to local organizations so she can get the immediate help she needs. Notice they are referring OUT of the church – referring to those who are trained to deal with these types of issues. That’s important.
As it turns out, the woman I mentioned above now attends my church (You can read an update on her situation here, or feel free to contact me if you would like to help Grace). The first church she went to for help did not give her much assistance. Additionally, there was very little follow-up care. This is a case which will require long-term care. I am hoping my own church can do better. I’ve never been active in my own church in the same capacity that I help people who reach out to me here at the blog. I hope the tools I have learned here can benefit people at my own church.
I know a situation of domestic violence at BGBC. Allegedly, my former pastor did not allow a battered wife to attend support group meetings for survivors of domestic violence. He told her that she must meet with him at church. But he never met with her because it meant he was alone with her. She, too, did not get the help she needed as far as counseling. She also did not get the financial and transportation help she needed to get back on her feet. She was abandoned spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
We have willing and able bodies at my church, but in speaking with my pastor after church on Sunday, there are no real plans in place in the event that another mom in a crisis comes to the church needing help. I’m going to try to work on this as my August project for my church, along with another project for the blog that Kathi and another SSB elf has been working on related to domestic violence. (I will fill you in on that soon.)
So, I’m very curious. I’d like to get an idea of what a typical church looks like when it comes to helping those in the midst of a crisis. Can you give me an idea of what you’ve seen in your local churches?
The following are the types of questions I’m interested in hearing about. I want to know how well (or not well) local churches are able to meet the needs of people in crises. Any response along the following lines would be helpful.
If you are a regular church attender, does your church have a plan to help people in a crisis?
If a mother and children came to your church’s office needing food, money, lodging, would your church be able to meet those needs?
Do you have someone at your church who knows what is available in the community and can help her as she connects with agencies who can give her ongoing financial, medial, mental health, or housing support?
Do you have someone designated to make meals for people in need, someone designated to oversee financial assistance, childcare, or ongoing support (each area might require a different person or a group of people).
Does your church refer out to licensed therapists?
How would your church handle a domestic violence situation?
Also, if you have personal experience with a church and how they met your needs in a crisis, I’d love to hear your story, too. You can post in the comments or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a story, I’d like to know the kind of crisis and how the church assisted you. Is there anything they did that you did not like? Is there something that could have been done better?
The more feedback I get on this post, the more information I will be able to share with my pastor, and thus, be a better help for those in a crisis, so thank you in advance for your participation. ~ja