The Night We Were Persecuted

the_tree_of_life_movie_04“The body of Christ on this campus is under assault tonight,” said Tyler Deaton. “And I’ve called on God to summon a legion of angels, but I also know that the most effective prayers come from God’s people in unity.”

November 2008. It was almost the end of my last semester at Southwestern. Within a few weeks Tyler and Bethany and I would be graduating.

We were three of the key leaders in the prayer group that God had started on campus the year before, and right now the big question on each of our minds was whether this group would survive once we had left. No one doubted the zeal and sincerity of the twenty-five students who met every night in the Chapel for prayer and worship; but as the semester sped towards its ghastly conclusion, our ministry was under attack like never before. Continue reading

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The World I Dream Of

LesMis-2

[ Cross posted on No Longer Quivering, a member of the Spiritual Abuse Survivor’s Network ]

I dream of a world…

– where women are not shamed because of their bodies, where men can take responsibility for their own sins rather than trying to oppress and control others.

– where those who are bravely trying to expose abuse and injustice within an organization are no longer accused of slander and publicly shamed by those who claim to speak on behalf of God.

where the protection of people is a greater priority than the protection of a ministry.

– where “spiritual leaders” can no longer cloak their hatred and arrogance in biblical language, so that everyone thinks them to be great men of God.

– where victims of spiritual, emotional, and sexual abuse are celebrated for their bravery in coming forward rather than being told that what happened to them was their own fault.

where no one ever says, “If you speak up about this, you are aiding the enemies of God and dividing Christ’s body in two.”

– where the Bible is not used to try to force abuse victims into confronting their abusers in private, where no one has to protest injustice within limits set by the oppressor, where “that which was spoken in the inner room is proclaimed upon the housetop.”

where whole communities don’t rush to support the perpetrators of abuse as victims who need to be protected from the people they’ve abused.

– where victims don’t encounter the second betrayal of disbelief and character assassination, where the community doesn’t believe them to be crazy or wicked or deceitful or malicious just because someone standing in a pulpit, carrying a Bible, says they are.

– where the oppressors are not shielded by a coterie of rich and powerful friends who continue to support them just because it would be financially or politically inconvenient to do otherwise.

– where the “tone” of a person’s words is not used as a way of invalidating everything they have to say, where victims are not more condemned for the way they respond to abuse than their abusers are for abusing them.

– where the prophetic resisters who are grieved, broken and, yes, angry about a culture of systemic violence and oppression are not told to “calm down,” “just quit being angry,” “forgive and move on” when there are wrongs to be righted and thousands of people cry out in the darkness with no one to plead on their behalf.

A world where church is a refuge rather than a manufacturer of nightmares.

A world that is safe.

A world where people are loved and supported.

This is the world that I dream of.