In my years of ministry as pastor and counselor, I have worked with people who have been abused, victimized, and traumatized in unspeakable ways. It is heart-breaking and I often find it difficult to understand how one human being can justify treating another human being badly in order to meet their own needs. I have cringed at the silence of the church universal in the wake of the #metoo movement and the exposure of predators within the Roman Catholic Church. Why are we being so quiet?
It is my belief that the Body of Christ is to be present in the places Jesus would be if he were physically here in this time and place. We are the hands and feet that are to go forth and spread the good news. The good news got hijacked by predators, abusers, and those who would cover it up. Our task is to recover the good news and the way to accomplish that task is to first be honest, then be authentic, and then be humble enough to stop judging victims and brave enough to stop covering for the predators.
Church is a siren song for predators as we often do not do background checks and have safe practices in place. We tend to be easily groomed by predators because we function so much on appearances and perfect presentation. It has caught up to us and we have had to stop and admit that we should not be so trusting; that we can no longer work from the assumption that all people are trustworthy and are present for noble reasons. We still need to change our practices and become better at protecting the vulnerable and the abused.
While many denominations and individual churches are making great strides at being safe places, we are still too quiet about what has happened and what is happening. There is one among us who has been brave enough to call us out and demand better of us. Diane Langberg, PhD, at the Rise Up American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference in Nashville (2019) gave a powerful speech about our responsibility to care for the vulnerable and the abused. Her use of the killing fields and killing tree in Cambodia is a chilling and heart-wrenching analogy that lays bare the skeletons in our closets. I pray we can rise to the challenge so that our “killing fields” may become places of refuge, healing, and safety.
Shauna Hyde is an Energion author. You can find out more about her on her author page. Her titles with Energion are shown below.