The plague is silent— the ministry hidden

Bible class topic: how to help those who are abused.

The statistics stagger the mind… abuse is around us (no matter the community, city, state, country). Official, public records show the problem in our communities… and they typically only show about 10% of what is actually happening. This is a silent plague, that no one wants to talk about. But we must, because God does.

In the Old Testament God’s compassion is often described in terms of His care for the widows and orphans, those without a voice.

Psalm 146:9 The LORD protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow,

When God confronts His people with their failure to live as His people, His exhortation to them is how they treat the widow and orphan

Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.

Abuse

Abuse (Photo credit: Ex-InTransit)

Those who are abused are often ones without a voice, even worse than widows and orphans, because no one wants to admit to a problem. “Who will believe me?” “Where can I go?” The plague is silent, the ministry is hidden. But their silent voices call out to us. As Christians we can listen, we can help. We can be God’s voice of care and concern… Is abuse close to you?

One group in New York City reports this:

Safe Horizon is the largest victims’ services agency in the United States, with 57 locations serving more than 250,000 children, adults, and families affected by crime and abuse throughout New York City each year.

Notice: This agency by itself serves ¼ of a million people each year, just in NYC! What about in our own communities?

It is generally held that a woman who is abused will leave seven times before she will leave permanently—if she lives that long. That is the lonely existence for those who are abused. Isn’t it interesting that there seem to be more TV ads for abused animals than women and children who are abused? Where is the concern for humans who are abused? Where are we as Christians in this silent plague?

One person can make a difference, one community of Christians can make a difference. As people who are learning what it means to be “in Christ” we are one of those communities. The ministry is hidden, in that our concern is for the one being abused… there is no public show, no media coverage, but a caring heart taking one step, quietly away from attention, to help one who is abused.

There is help: 

There are some helpful resources for your county, state, or nation. Here are just a few examples of guides and information.

Elder Abuse

Signs of Abuse

Canadian Help Sheet

bandbacktogether (thanks, Jen, for this)

This post only skims the surface on the problem of abuse. In compassion let’s address this silent plague as we work in the hidden ministry to those who are abused.

A follow-on post: …especially for men in the church

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About exegete77

disciple of Jesus Christ, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, and theologian
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9 Responses to The plague is silent— the ministry hidden

  1. Pingback: … especially for men in the church | "believe, teach, and confess"

  2. Angie Raddatz says:

    I’m not sure where to start with this subject. I had nowhere to go as a child growing up with an abusive father. I sure never thought about going to my church for help – and my mother pretended nothing was happening to my brother and me. To this day I am affected by what happened to me. I have been diagnosed with PTSD. The abuse changed who I am. The difficult thing about abuse within the family is that you spend your whole life seeing and being in contact with the perpetrator…something that does not happen if you are, let’s say, robbed and beaten by a stranger. How can the church help? I’m not sure. I was brought up in a very religious family. I think we need to understand that this does go on in church going, Christian homes. I look forward to more on this discussion.

  3. Emily Cook says:

    “The ministry is hidden, in that our concern is for the one being abused… there is no public show, no media coverage, but a caring heart taking one step, quietly away from attention, to help one who is abused.”

    So good to remember the importance of confidentiality and quiet concern…

    • exegete77 says:

      Unless this is uppermost in the minds of those helping, those seeking help will not even consider it, for fear that it will come back onto the one being abused. A vicious cycle.

      So, yes, confidentiality is critical.

  4. Emily Cook says:

    Angie (and Rich)
    I have heard others in that kind of situation say that they never thought of going to the church for help. Why is this? How can we change this? Surely the people of God ought to provide help and healing.. and a safe place for those who are hurting in this way.

  5. Angie Raddatz says:

    Emily – I think as a child, you go to church seeing your father joking around with the pastor and being friends with the elders etc….and never think these folks would believe you or want to help a little kid. I felt I would be the cause of disgrace to my family.

    • exegete77 says:

      Angie, you have hit on exactly one of the problems I address on my personal blog: abuse within the church itself. I have had offline discussions with a few women who are working in this area. One of the major problems is that men frame the issue in such a way that they are oblivious to the abuse. We have to stop, rethink, and begin a ministry of compassion based not on our preconceived notions, but a framework that God Himself presents.

      One step is awareness. Another step is to realize that most often it can NOT be a man who provides care, not even the pastor. It is for good reasons that even pastors cannot know where the safe houses are. ”The good old boy network” even if good for some things, can fail at exactly this point that you present.

      My heart goes out to you, Angie.

      Lord God, in mercy look upon all who are or have struggled with abuse and its aftermath. Grant to them your peace, strength, courage to address this. Open the eyes of our hearts to the real, deep hurts, of our people. Grant men sensitive hearts to overlook or dismiss abuse. Give us all Your heart of compassion; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen

  6. Lynda Elmendorf says:

    I am sensing God’s direction in that discussion on abuse in our Sunday class – as we enter the Lenten season of repentance beginning with Ash Wed. . . In my mind Is. 58:5-7 ties these two things together: abuse and ash wed. – ” Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes ? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? 6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

    • exegete77 says:

      Very good connection, Lynda. I hadn’t thought of it in those terms, but that is exactly what God calls for in the fast.

      Thank you!

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