Andyouinvitedmein’s Weblog

Archive for September 2009

I wanted to add this little bit of personal information. I’m part of that group of 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 5 boys who are molested. There were no books in those days to help ease the pain, since it happened when I was a youth and now I’m 55. I was the victim of countless nightmares and would come almost nightly until I told the secret. My violater never was punished and I never got a financial reward. As well, when I reported it I was told “if we do something then it will upset so many people.”

About 15 years after it happened I visited my doctor who was also a church fellow. I explained that for each of the last 15 years the season when I was molested was black and I felt lifeless, depressed and dead for a span of three months. He did pray for me and then he told me this: You have no choice but to forgive. Whether you ‘feel it’ or not, you have to start speaking it out forgiveness.

I can remember leaving his office and looking into the clouds saying: I forgive you (I saw looking up there to tell God I forgave the perp). Just a little note here: there were no registered sex offenders back then. There was no group to sit around and discuss it, and no going back to get my day in court. It was simply God and me.

Realize now I had already been praying for at least five years about getting emotional healing from this, and it would take another seven more years….actually the Sunday before I got married…when our church had a time when people were asking forgiveness of things in their heart. I later fictionalized and wrote that service into my book And You Invited Me In.

It seemed that everyone was confessing hurt and pain and asking forgiveness during that extra long Sunday morning service. If you come from a tradition of three hymns, prayer and a 20-minute sermon, then this spontaneous service might seem a bit odd. Yet in a flash that can only be God, I knew my hurt and pain was gone, and I had truly forgiven the person who had violated me.

For over 20 years I had lived in deep emotional pain and suffering—not only from the abuse, but the lack of help from those who couldn’t help me when I asked. There were moments during those years when I had wished I could open my skin and let out the pain because it was so deep. I knew I’d done  nothing wrong, but I felt all messed up because of this physical assault and wondered by God had permitted it to happen. However, there in that Sunday service after seven years of speaking forgiveness each time I didn’t feel like forgiving—in a flash it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. It was no longer scar tissue over my heart and mind, but just another event I lived through like breaking my leg.

Therefore, the following post entitled WW(y)CD and registered sex offenders operating with the church is more than blog-lite. I’ve been there, and I know that no amount of money or prison would have done what God did for me when forgiveness for this man became real. I had to embrace forgiveness before it ‘felt okay’; I had to speak forgiveness each time the waves of darkness rolled over me in the day and night.

My doctor said: you will never be the same, but God can make you better. And it happened. Grace works…it’s the only thing that heals. Forgiveness is difficult but it is imperative.

What would your church do?

There seems to be a firestorm of press going on about City of Refuge in Louisville, KY concerning the ordination of a registered sex offender. You can find details about this on most newsfeeds.  As well you can find out the stats about people who are abused. The numbers are staggering—I know because I teach young people about unwanted touches.

However as Christians who believe that God can redeem and make new, this may just be the beginning of something we will need to consider in our churches. What happens when a registered sex offender comes to church? What happens when they want….(and you fill in the blanks).

I know of a church that believed they could not refuse them, but established strict guidelines that if (s)he was to be at church, (s)he was to be in the company of the elders. I have read in the Christian Post that Rev. Randy’s church has set down strict guidelines as part of the ordination.

At one time 20+ years ago I had a preacher tell me that he would not allow a person with AIDS in his congregation and I was to not “bring that plague” into his church. To me it was crazy that someone could be refused entrance into a church…therefore, what about this situation? What do we say? How do we respond as Christians who have been forgiven?

It is time to consider the road to be taken if this happens in your church. Can this person participate in worship? Socials? Sunday school? Certainly they will truly learn what grace is by how you respond. There should be reasonable conditions asked of this person, but the overall question is: how can you lovingly embrace this person so that you display Christ?

Not every registered sex offender is like the man in California who held Jaycee captive for 18 years. We have friends whose son is a registered sex offender, and I’ve seen him participate in church. This isn’t a blog to convince you of the degrees of offense, but it’s one to make you think about what might happen, and ask how would you respond? How difficult is grace at this point—especially if you have been molested?

Here’s a fairly recent stat: only 4 out of every 100 sex offenders are ever caught. I got that figure from a training video from the YMCA. Therefore if that information is correct, then you’re probably going to church right now with someone who has at least acted improperly with a person under 18. However, that isn’t the point of the blog either. Blog point is this: would this push us all to our grace limit, and can we do it?

In closing this situation in Louisville is an opportunity for us to forget what unsaved newspersons are thinking, and begin to listen to God. While there won’t be a great number of churches that ordain a registered sex offender, there are many who might become home churches to these offenders, and in this situation: What would your church do?