The truth is many Christians may be “washed clean” by the blood of Jesus Christ, but still hurting from very painful past experiences.
For the past four weeks I’ve led an online study for women, taking them through my book, Journey to Heal: Seven Essential Steps of Recovery for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. Women from all walks of life, and from all over the world – mothers, teachers, wives, business owners, leaders in their communities, young adults, grandmothers, missionaries, authors, writers, bloggers, and ministry leaders…
It’s been a learning experience for them, and for me. Through hearing their stories and steps in recovery, I have come to realize more and more how important it is that the church become a safe place for victims of childhood abuse – of all kinds.
This past week I had a live radio interview with a popular Christian radio station and one of the questions was, “How well do you feel the church is responding to the issue of childhood sexual abuse in our country?”
I had to pause and think, because ten years ago when I began my journey of healing it was not a subject anyone in my local church seemed to be equipped to talk about, or even considered it as an important issue to bring to light. There was this idea that if you are saved you are by default set free from the pain of your past – any past.
Of course, this is not true in the life of an adult survivor. Not then, and not now.
Thankfully, in the last ten years there are many men and women who have come out with their stories of abuse in the headlines. There are mega churches beginning to talk about it and have begun to establish care ministries within their walls to help aid in the recovery of all sorts of painful issues – not just CSA.
There seems to be an awakening to the plight of victims and survivors, but it was apparent in this recent radio interview I had that the church in general still has a long way to go.
Childhood sexual abuse is a worldwide problem, a national problem, and a local problem. It is one of the best worst kept secrets in our society today. The truth is there are millions of adult survivors of CSA in America alone (over 50 million to be more exact), and the number grows by the thousands every year.
That equates to over a 3rd of the American population!
There is a great opportunity for the church to impact and reach generations of hurting men and women with the love of Jesus Christ…
- If we will educate ourselves to better understand the scope and impact of childhood abuse.
- If we will be a safe place for victims or survivors to tell their stories, without fear of judgement or rejection.
- If we will love unconditionally and not impose our opinions and timelines.
- If we will understand that healing is a journey not an event, and forgiveness happens in stages over time.
- If we as the body of Christ would be willing to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.
It is true, that when we are in Christ we are a “new creation.” We are cleansed and washed clean of our sin, and the sins of others against us. Yes! All true, and an important part of the recovery process for victims. But, making a decision for Christ is just the beginning of the journey to heal for a survivor of childhood abuse.
Yes, God can heal our wounds. He can work miracles in and through us, but typically healing from past abuse happens over time…
A long time.
Healing requires safe community. The kind of thriving Christian community that can be found in the body of Christ.
If you know or love someone who is recovering from childhood abuse, be it physical, mental, sexual or emotional abuse, I encourage you to do three things for yourself and for them:
- Learn more about the scope and impact of their particular experience with abuse, and the resources available for healing.
- Be a safe person for someone to share their story with, by listening in love – without passing judgment or personal opinions, rather patiently pointing to the love of Jesus Christ.
- Commit to be a source of encouragement and support, no matter how long the healing process may be.
Here are three helpful resources to get you started in this:
Darkness to Light – an online resource and active advocacy organization that raises awareness and provides education and current stats on the topic of CSA and sexual assault.
If you are a survivor of childhood sexual trauma, or know someone who is on the road to heal, I encourage you to seek out these resources to aid you in recovery:
Awareness is only the beginning. Gaining education will lead to better understanding and eventually healing. My hope is that we as the body of Christ, will become more aware of the scope and impact of child abuse so that we are better equipped to aid men, women, and children in our communities who are deeply hurting.
Friend, it is very common to be “washed clean” by the blood of Jesus and still hurt. As the church, or as a friend, we can become better equipped to help those who are hurting by learning more about this issue in our culture today and how to be a help.
You can read more about my story HERE, and check out my latest articles on the topic of healing from past sexual abuse in Charisma Magazine’s, the SpiritLed Woman below:
You can also read one of my recent interviews on this topic, where I talk about the importance of breaking the silence about sexual abuse HERE.