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Monday, August 10, 2015

Healing for the Abused


My wife recently got back from an international Christian conference in South Africa (which partly explains why the blogs have been sporadic of late!).   She has shared about the fellow believers she met from around the globe and the ministries she learned about through contact with them.  

Those ministries are something dear to my own heart, because I believe all too often that, at least our churches in the United States, become so consumed with our own little spheres that we fail to see the way God is moving or the needs that exist globally.  

God’s heart and work IS global.

My wife told me of divorce ministries she learned about that exist in Johannesburg and Australia, which reminded me that the struggles of divorce are also not merely an issue in North America, but are also global.  

Blogger gives me statistical data that confirms this statement.  On any given day I can look and see that where my readers are - and readers of this blog encircle the globe.  

In the world of divorce, none of us is really truly alone in our struggle…there are brothers and sisters wherever we are who share the same concerns.

One of the South African ministries my wife told me about breaks my heart, especially as a man.  It seems that in a certain area, women who come to report having been physically assaulted and abused by the men in their lives are able to make their police report, but then were left without any safe place to go afterwards.  

A woman of vision established a home to shelter these women and help them heal and to get on their feet.  Much like our battered women shelters in the United States  - these shelters give women the opportunity to heal and recover.

Unfortunately, this woman was called of God to serve in a different ministry for a few years, and then when it was complete, returned to find that the shelter had been stripped of all of its contents and even some of the structure damaged, because the person in charge had been terribly neglectful in their oversight.

What troubles me is that there is even a need for such a place in our world.  Men who choose to take their anger out physically on women are such a blight in our world, and such a garbage example of what masculinity is all about, that it sickens me every time I hear about it.  The abuse of men by their partners is also as sickening as well.  

Unfortunately, I have heard about it too many times in my life.  I wish I could say that these things only happen due to drunken and out of control men whose lives are such a mess but he truth is that even within churches this kind of behavior exists.   

It is not unknown that individuals who practice some of this kind of horrific behavior toward women and young girls served, currently serve or have been considered to serve in church leadership, both lay and pastoral.  I have no opposition to preventing leadership opportunities for these individuals and have done so in the past.   

 A number of years ago, I have been told there was a survey done by a woman’s magazine, seeking to learn what the primary concerns were for women around the world.  They expected to hear about lack of opportunity, concerns for the future of their children or things along that lines.  Instead, they discovered that a huge concern of women around the globe relates to the fear of abuse by the men in their lives.  

Actually, I should probably say the “males” in their lives, because I don’t believe that males who act that way are any way indicative of true manhood.   

I am sorry, women, that there are those of my gender who think they have the right to treat you that way.  And I am pleased when I hear of laws and efforts to help turn that tide.  And I am pleased at places like that shelter in South Africa - that seeks to be an effective refuge for women who have suffered this abuse.   

Frankly, this is one of the reasons I believe that, as long as the world is as sinful as it is, God knows there must be a place for divorce.  

I have known women crippled for life as they chose to stay in marriages and suffer time and again.  We hear news reports of women killed by their abusers.

I think God knew what he was doing when he made provision for divorce in the Bible, and though it isn’t spelled out precisely, I think God’s heart and compassion are with those who suffer in such marriages and desperately need to find a way out.  

Somehow, I am always reminded of the way Jesus responded to the woman taken in adultery.  A group of angry and self-righteous men were standing ready to bludgeon her to death with stones, and Jesus forced them to take a long hard look at themselves first.  (Point of thought - if she was caught in the act, why there wasn’t a man down there to be stoned along with her…?)

Ladies, pray for the men in your lives and in our world.  They need God.  They need the transforming power of God to swallow their pride, admit their wrongdoing and truly repent of their eggregious behavior.  Pray for our sisters who suffer and are so often trapped in such horrible and abusive circumstances.  

I will be praying, too, and do what I can to make a difference as opportunity arises.

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