Father, I pray for clergy abuse survivors. I thank You that You love each one with an unfailing love.
Father, I ask You to make Yourself known to survivors in a way that leaves no doubt in our heart that You are here. Remind us that You know us by name. That Your thoughts for us outnumber the grains of sand on earth. (Psalm 139)
Father, we don't know why You, in Your sovereignty, allow some terrible things to happen. (Isaiah 55:8-9) Help us to trust You. Show us that you take what Satan and our abusers mean for evil and use it for Your good (Genesis 50:20).
God, thank You for listening when we cry out in grief, anger, and pain to You (Psalm 56). Please surround these precious survivors with people who will also listen and support without judgement. Please surround survivors with love.
Father, please keep us safe. I ask that you will give each of us the courage to do what we need to do to be safe. Again, Father, that You will surround each of us with people who will help keep us safe (Psalm 91).
And, Father, we plead for justice (Proverbs 21:15). We ask that truth will be known. That the truth will set all survivors free (John 8:32).
And Father, we ask You, beg You, to help free our churches from all types of abuse. Church should be safe. And, Father, we plead for justice (Proverbs 21:15). We ask that truth will be known. That the truth will set all survivors free (John 8:32).
And Father, we ask You, beg You, to help free our churches from all types of abuse. Church should be safe. tempted to cover up sin to "protect the church."
And Father, where our leaders lack courage, we ask that you give the congregation the courage to stand up to the leadership. We, the people, are your church.
Again, Father, I ask you to embrace each survivor and hold us close to Your heart throughout our journey to healing and wholeness.
Thank you that in Jesus, we are truly free (John 8:36)! In Jesus's Name. Amen
I’ve been thinking through all the conversations I’ve had with women who were groomed into what was sexual abuse by their pastor.
1. The grooming lasted for months, even years.
2. Every single woman told me they resisted, said no, called out the behavior in the beginning.
3. The women all had a level of fear of the pastor. Said he had bullying characteristics.
4. The pastor ignored their lack of consent, relentlessly persisted and pushed boundaries until they got compliance. Compliance is NOT consent. It became survival for the victim.
5. We, the women, had something going on that made us emotionally vulnerable. That does not make the abuse our fault. Everyone is vulnerable at some point. Pastors should always point to Christ and to therapy if needed, not seize the opportunity to abuse their power.
6. The abuse wasn’t about sexual activity. That was the trap into emotional and spiritual abuse. Torture for the pastor’s entertainment. The target is nothing but a challenge.
7. The pastor convinced the woman that the sexual activity was her fault. Upon discovery, she typically took the responsibility only to learn later that it was not an affair but it was sexual, emotional and spiritual abuse.
8. In almost every case, it cost the victim everything. All sympathy and support went to the abusive pastor.
9. In every case, the church elders blew it. They protected themselves, the abuser and the church image at the expense of the victim.
10. The congregation, the bystanders, didn’t support the victim out of ignorance, fear, or having been gaslighted by church leaders and didn’t know the truth. Many later learned the truth, but couldn’t handle it. Weren’t willing to do the uncomfortable thing and speak up.
11. These women are strong, brave and articulate. They’ve survived being led through hell by a wolf in shepherd’s clothing. They’re fighting like hell to heal. Many are also still fighting for truth & justice in their churches & denominations.
12. Even though wounded, they’re on the front lines fighting for truth, justice and safety because the church leaders, congregations and Christian influencers are silent about the fact that the vast majority of sexual abusers in the church are the pastors and evangelists.
Eighteen months after my abuse by my pastor boss was discovered and labeled an inappropriate relationship, Randy and I met with new Sr. Pastor hoping it would lead to an investigation and corrected narrative. I had learned the elders were untrustworthy by this time, so I recorded the meeting. I was refused both an investigation and correcting the narrative that was shared on a Sunday morning from the stage about me.
God continues to move, though. Recent discussions with some former staff prompted me to go back and listen to the recording of that meeting where I shared my story. I’m listening to me tell my story. It’s 2 1/2 hours long. I can only take it in short sessions because of triggers.
I cry as I listen to her. Her soul was crushed by a pastor’s abuse and then again by elders who preach truth but lie to her and to their congregation. Pastors and elders who cheapen grace and use the word “love” to manipulate her to protect themselves.
My heart hurts for all she’s been through, but, damn, she’s articulate and strong. She’s not mincing words. She’s confident in truth. She’s taken her power back. I still have an hour to listen to. Right now, she’s afraid to hope. She had asked God for a miracle thinking He would reveal truth, but instead the elders had sent a 2nd all church email about her blaming her for weak boundaries and accusing her husband of hurting the testimony of God and the church.
I know now that the miracle was God opening her eyes to see the truth about these elders and the effect on that church. Now, she sees truth and speaks truth. Other eyes are opening. While now I just watch instead of hoping, I’m proud of her, of me.
She's learned God is always present. He’s mysterious in His ways, but He’s trustworthy. Miracles happen but they might not look like we expect. She’s going to survive although she thought this might kill her. She’s lived through her greatest fears. She’s found her strength and her voice.
Most of all, her heart is still soft. She loves. Freedom looks good on her!
I’ve talked to a number of adult victims of clergy sexual abuse in the last year. Common to all