IFB Memories #9: Pain and sorrow

Yesterday was a very sad and disturbing day for me. As I’ve mentioned several timestina before, very shortly after accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior in 1983, my wife and I began attending an independent fundamentalist church in the area and we continued there for eight years. There were many good things about our stay at that church, but there were also many negatives. The pastor was a martial arts enthusiast who lorded over the church through intimidation – physical, psychological, and spiritual. His exaggerated macho swagger was caricaturish. In hindsight, I can say with confidence it was a spiritually toxic atmosphere. I’m ashamed we stayed as long as we did and I’m especially ashamed I allowed my increasing bitterness and our eventual exit from that church to draw me away from the Lord for many years. Men will always fail us but the Lord is our Rock.

Shortly after I returned to the Lord a couple of years ago, I was made aware of some terrible accusations against my former church via an internet report. Many years after we left, the pastor handed over the pastorate to his son who is also heavily involved in mixed martial arts fighting and the church was subsequently embroiled in multiple accusations of sexual abuse and cover-up spanning a couple of decades. None of this was surprising to me given the atmosphere at that church.

Yesterday I came across the blog of one of the victims and a post she wrote last year detailing some of the abuse. I knew this person when she was a pre-teen during the period she was abused at the church and I also knew her abusers (one of whom was around 40-years-old at the time and the other was an individual who was close to her in age and abused her as a child and later as an adult). Argh!!!! I was sickened, sickened, sickened as I read her accounts of repeated abuse. I was angered by the cover-up orchestrated by the church “leadership.” I’m grateful the former victim is now following the Lord after walking away from Him but my heart was very heavy about the sin that engulfed that church and the pain that was inflicted. The son continues as pastor with his father at his side as pastor emeritus although many of the members I knew have left.

We’re all aware of the abuse of children by pedophile Catholic priests but, unfortunately, there’s also been abuse within evangelical churches. Beware of churches in which the pastor is a spiritual bully and there is little if any credible oversight. Make sure checks and safeguards are in place in the children ministries at your church. I was a Sunday School teacher for six years at the church in question and there were ZERO protocols in place protecting children. In God we trust, all others have fallen natures.

I’m not a district attorney so all of this must be filed under “accusations” but as I said, the alleged crimes fit the circumstances as I remember them.

I pray for this woman and the others who were abused at my former church by those they trusted, that they give their pain and anger over to the Lord and draw ever closer to Him. I pray for the abusers, that they sincerely repent and beg the Lord for forgiveness.

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “IFB Memories #9: Pain and sorrow

  1. Abusers embrace darkness while trying to portray light. God doesn’t promote abuse but many abusers came as wolves in wheels clothing. Oh Lord, give us discernment! God, heals the broken hearted and binds their wounds.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What many might not realize is that in many such churches, the teachings that men have God-given authority over women, just sets up the right environment for such abuse to take place. People who believe that God requires them to submit, who are told that God wants them to bear with suffering, and that is what Jesus did for them and anything they’re put through pales in comparison to Jesus’ sacrifice – they can be stripped away of any agency, any power, any ability to say “no” without being afraid that they’re telling God “no” and they’ll put up with anything if it means that God wants it to happen for their ultimate good.

    Like

  3. Hi Tom,
    Thank you for your post. I pray for healing for the victims you mentioned as well as all victims of abuse. Church leaders are not exempt of the need to humble themselves before God. It’s sad but/ without that, we all can be prone to falling into the sin of being puffed up with pride.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot, Nathan! That was a tough message to write and I’m still a bit disturbed by the ex-victim’s post. It’s bad enough to hear about abuse of children (and adults) in general terms, but because the former victim is someone I knew personally, and I knew her abusers as well, it’s a whole nother matter. I could have shared much more detail in the post but my motives for doing so would not have been godly. The police were called in to investigate after the story broke on the internet but there was little they could do given the events happening so far in the past as well as other issues.

      Like

      1. Yes, the Lord will take care of this. And as you mentioned previously, we are grateful to the Lord for his patience and mercy regarding the sin in our own lives. I recently finished reading a sermon from Martyn Lloyd-Jones about being poor in spirit; we constantly must resist the sinful desire to sit on the throne of our own lives.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I just prayed for this woman. At my church I’ve been moving towards the direction of greater safeguard and reforms to ensure our children is even more better protected after ministering to individuals who were abused in other churches as kids. I can never understand people who can abuse children. I don’t ever want it to happen on our watch because kids are so precious in God’s eyes. Again I am praying for this woman and I’m so sad to hear this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot, Jim. I’m still a bit shaken by the details of her story. When I volunteered to teach Sunday School at that church, I was given a lesson plan and that’s it. No training. No guidelines. No precautions. This was back in the late-80s before abuse of children was in the headlines every day, but still.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A sad and disturbing story but it shows we can trust no label that a man or woman may assign to themselves. We are in days of greater transparency in our western democracies and now we can see no group , religion, or secular belief is free of contamination.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s