An abuse survivor speaks to the church

Religion News Service – Rhymes with Religion

As I prepare to return to the blog next week, I wanted to end these series of guest posts with the powerful words of a dear friend I met this past year. David Linwah is a survivor of horrific child sexual abuse. David Linwah is also a survivor of being failed by the church over and over again. Through all the hurt and failings, David somehow still finds beauty and hope in Jesus. A Jesus who gave up everything in order to demonstrate His immeasurable love for David. A Jesus who values David more than life itself. A Jesus who is all too often not recognized by the very people and institutions that profess to know and follow Him. Amazingly, David still has hope that the church will one day actually reflect Jesus. The One who never fails pursuing the hurting and valuing the marginalized. The One who loves unconditionally. Perhaps, David’s words will shine Jesus into the very soul of the church and help it once again to be known for its immeasurable love. Let’s hope and pray that the church is listening. I am so grateful for David Linwah. – Boz

In our modern age the church has made a reputation for being an unsafe place. Not only do unbelievers feel unsafe when misjudged or scrutinized by the church, but many believers in Christ have left the church because of the issue of safety. As a survivor of sexual child abuse myself and a believer, I have found it very disheartening and alarming to witness the naivete of the church in response to a victim of abuse. I personally believe that the majority of the church in our nation does not understand how to respond to abuse because there is a lack of knowledge pertaining to the subject of abuse. Being made aware that there are still victims of abuse who may belong in your own ministry is crucial in the equipping of the church to become the safest place that God intended the church to be.

I am personally sharing with you from a place of having experienced the mistreatment of being a victim while growing up in a Christian family with parents who had served the Lord both as missionaries and as pastors. When I was only a child I was abducted on the missions field by my perpetrators. Tragically, my abduction was not a one time event but a recurring imprisonment of sexual manipulation and abuse. In the midst of my on-going abuse, my parents as well as the church community where oblivious to the reality of the systematic ritual abuse that I was trapped in. Nobody found me.

Speak up, make your voice heard – courtesy of Howard Lake via Flickr (Image source)
My perpetrators were not naive in the process of my abductions. They were very intentional about appearing harmless to the church community, gaining trust and making sure that there was a very good reason why they needed to spend some special time with me. In those “ special times” I would be introduced to evil that was beyond my comprehension and capability of understanding. The agonizing truth is the absent mindedness of my parents and the church community while I was being sexually taken advantage of. In God’s great mercy I was saved and preserved to share my story with others today but the lack of understanding and knowledge that the church has in regards to responding to a victim is still extremely evident to me.

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