Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear has set forth counsel to victims of sexual abuse who have not yet sought help.
An article coauthored with biblical counselor Brad Hambrick has been posted at Greear’s website, jdgreear.com, and is printed in full below.
Greear is pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., and Hambrick is the church’s pastor of counseling and an instructor of biblical counseling at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.
“Realize you did nothing wrong,” Greear and Hambrick write. “Abuse is never the fault of the abused.”
They acknowledge, “It is understandable to be afraid,” in providing encouragement to utilize channels to speak with someone “who can help you process the abuse and resulting trauma.”
Following is the full text of the article by Greear and Hambrick, titled “700 is not the total number: How to get help.”
Yesterday (Feb. 10) the Houston Chronicle published an article titled, “Abuse of Faith: 20 Years, 700 Victims: Southern Baptist Sexual Abuse Spreads as Leaders Resist Reforms.” As I (J.D.) mentioned yesterday, what this article describes is heinous. There can simply be no ambiguity about the church’s responsibility to protect the abused and be a safe place for the vulnerable.
We completely agree with the words of ERLC President Russell Moore:
“Jesus does not cover up sin within the temple of his presence. He brings everything hidden to light. We should too. When we downplay or cover over what has happened in the name of Jesus to those he loves we are not ‘protecting’ Jesus’ reputation. We are instead fighting Jesus himself. No church should be frustrated by the Houston Chronicle’s reporting, but should thank God for it. The Judgment Seat of Christ will be far less reticent than a newspaper series to uncover what should never have been hidden.”
But anger and grief, while appropriate responses, are not sufficient to protect victims. What can easily be lost in the size of these numbers, which are grievously large, is the tragic fact that they cannot be the whole story.
More must be said and done in the coming days. But today, we want to provide some initial guidance to victims who have not yet come forward on how they can receive care.
If you have been victimized by a church leader (or anyone else for that matter) and the Houston Chronicle story rekindled fear and doubt about how you could receive care, please hear us: we are profoundly sorry. It is an unjust tragedy that you experienced abuse in the past. And it is unjust and tragic that you feel fear in the present.
We, the church, have failed you, but we do not want you to forgo care or counsel. To that end, here are some options to consider:
1. Realize you did nothing wrong. Abuse is never the fault of the abused. The appropriate response of anyone who is representing Jesus to you should be care and compassion.
2. It is understandable to be afraid. When people who should be trusted (like church leaders) violate that trust, it can make an already fearful situation (like abuse) even more disorienting.
3. Speak with someone who can help you process the abuse and resulting trauma.
— For immediate guidance, here are three numbers where you can reach trained professionals who are available 24/7:
* The National Hotline for Domestic Violence, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
* The National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-422-4453.
* The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
— For ongoing care, identify a counselor near you who is experienced in working with abuse and trauma. If you need help finding a counselor, here is guidance on finding a trusted Christian counselor near you with experience in your area of need:
* How to Find a Good Counselor in [Name of City]? — http://bradhambrick.com/findacounselor.
* Christian Care Connect – https://connect.aacc.net/?search_type=distance.
If you are not ready to speak with someone yet, consider reading “On the Threshold of Hope” by Diane Langberg or “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage” by Leslie Vernick. Both of these books do an excellent job of describing the healing process after abuse and would provide a taste of the benefits you would receive from working with a Christian counselor.
Click here to read more.
Source: Baptist Press