Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused

September 11, 2020

As many of you know, I am now in the third year of my doctoral program at Fuller Seminary in “Recovery Ministry”.  When I saw this degree program being offered I jumped at the opportunity to apply for it because I saw the relevance to our own church’s ministry (the context of who and where we serve).  The program has been awesome and the books, classes, and interaction with fellow students and professors very informative.

Here at the start of year three I find myself with the task of completing another 4500 pages of reading by January 6.  It would be quite intimidating and a little bit depressing if the books weren’t so darn good!!! 

This week I started reading a book titled Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused.  In this book I am learning that people who have suffered abuse at the hands of family members or trusted authority figures (coaches, pastors, teachers, doctors, etc.) lose the concepts needed to understand the Gospel—things like love, trust, and sacrifice.  Rachael Denhollander describes how those concepts have often been redefined by the abusers as weapons for great evil.  It is important that we who would present the Gospel (meaning ALL OF US) understand how to apply the Gospel to this damage in a way that makes it truly “good news”.

Co-author Darby Strickland writes, “We need to remember that God delivers HIs people not just from their own sin but also from injustices.  When God speaks to Moses out of the burning bush, He says “I am the God of your fathers, I have observed the misery of my people, I have heard their cry on account of their oppressors.  I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them.’ God introduces Himself to His people as their deliverer and protector.  God asks His people repeatedly in Scripture to work for justice and righteousness.  This is who we, as worshippers of God, are told to be—people who do justice.  God calls us to confront oppression but also to provide protection and care for the vulnerable.  We see Jesus doing these things.  He identifies with the powerless, takes up their cause, and stands against those who do harm to the vulnerable.  This is who we are to be, deliverers and protectors.”

May we be a church for all people, but especially for the hurting, lonely, and abused.  Amen.

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