A Word of Encouragement For Those Who Are Hurt.
by Calvin Arnt
I couldn't post a web site of this nature without adding a word of encouragement to those who have been hurt by YWAM or other abusive groups. In all honesty, I am totally unskilled to deal with counselling needs. I (almost) have degrees in History and English, not Psychology or Sociology. Nonetheless, I want to help as much as I can. Foremost, I recommend that you talk with your local pastor about your negative experience. If your pastor is the abuser, obviously, don't go to him, but I would encourage you to find another pastor or friend in town to talk to so that they may direct you to agencies and ministries that are helpful in this area. For those with deeper counselling needs, I strongly encourage you contact one or more of the ministries that deal with spiritual abuse that I have linked to on my links page. I also highly recommend reading all or some of the books I have listed at the end of this page.
When I had to deal with my abuse situation, there was no one around to
help. Even worse, some christians would say insensitive things like "Maybe
you were the problem," or "You just need to forgive and get over
it." These people had no idea of what I went through or the devastation
spiritual abuse brings. For two or three years after I was spiritually abused
I could not participate fully in a Sunday morning service, I had no desire
to read God's word, I did not want to attend a home group, and I questioned
everyone who was presented as a "leader" in a church or religious
setting (questioning is not a bad thing to a certain extent). Luckily, my
private life escaped all major moral deviations from typical christian standards.
(This sometimes is a response spiritual abuse victims have, however. I understand
why, and those helping these people should focus more on the abuse issues
than the moral deviance. If one can recover from abuse, the moral deviations
usually clear up as well. Moreover, the last thing this person needs is
another christian condemning him/her).
I did not reject God, but I barely refrained from rejecting His church, and it was not easy. I held on to the truth that God cares and did not and does not condone the actions of the abuser(s). You may not be fully vindicated of what happens until you are in heaven, but know that God cares about you and He probably protected you from more abuse than you think. Moreover, even though christians have hurt you, God is true. Other christians' actions do not negate the fact that God is real and that the gospel is true. I had to learn to separate christians and their actions from God, because I did not want to start viewing God the same way I viewed christians. I did not want to become a bitter person, so I made a wilful choice to separate God from my experience. I made this choice, and held on to a few important truths that helped me overcome my abuse experience and restored me to normal emotional and spiritual levels. I'll share them with you.
1. As stated, God cares and did not and does not condone the actions of the abuser(s). Even though christians have hurt you, God is true. I recommend reading Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell as a starting point for knowing that God is real. If a person can establish a solid foundation of faith in one's life, that person will be less likely to reject God when troublesome times come, and they will have more faith in trusting God through the ordeal.
2. Your negative experience was real, and it was not your fault.* It was the abuser's fault, and that abuser(s) should be reprimanded. You did not imagine things.
3. You are not alone. I have, in general, experienced what you have and so I understand the pain you went through or are going through. There are other people who have been abused too. You are not alone!
4. You need to make a daily choice to forgive and get over your experience. It will happen with time, and if you work at it a little bit every day, you will eventually be restored to normalcy.
5. Keep in mind that you will likely not get any vindication from what happened to you until heaven. Most abusers have many connections, lots of money, and most people would not doubt their integrity. That is the obstacle we face and may never conquer. You must have peace about this fact, however, or you will exhaust your emotional resources, trying to prove your viewpoint (often to a christian world that doesn't care).
6. As an author on spiritual abuse says, keep telling the truth! This is the only way to put the abusers out of business, and the public needs to know the truth about your abuser(s). By telling the truth, you are helping to prevent other christians from falling into the same trap you did.
7. Remember to pray, read the Bible, and remain in fellowship with other believers. Although christians have hurt you, the vast majority of them are not like your abuser(s). You need the encouragement and fellowship of those christians to help you through your ordeal. We are the body of Christ, and an arm needs an ear so very much!
As I've stated, I'm not trained in counselling at all, but I've tried to help with the message I have written above. If I can be of any further assistance, feel free to Email me, or for professional help, please go to a pastor, a friend, or to my links page for further direction on where to get help from. I care about you sincerely, and take if from someone who has been abused and has now recovered - it does get better!
The following books are related to spiritual abuse and I highly recommend them: Churches That Abuse, and Recovering From Churches That Abuse, by Ron Enroth, and Healing Spiritual Abuse, by Ken Blue. I have also heard that the following books are good, but have not had the opportunity to read them yet: A Tale of Two Kings by Gene Edwards, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by Jeff Van Vonderan & David Johnson; When Your Leaders Let You Down by Jeff Van Vonderan, and Boundaries by Henry Cloud & Jim Townsend.
* I mean that in most cases it is not the accuser's fault. Obviously, there are some accusations of abuse that, in the end, turn out to be unfounded. Sometimes an accuser has other motives for bringing accusations against a person, and if that is the case, then there may be real problems with the accuser. In my experience however, I find that most people tend to discount the accuser's story and believe in the integrity of the person(s) accused. That is wrong, because many people naturally portray an image of themselves that is not true, when behind the mask a totally different person exists. I feel that if any accusation of abuse comes up, it should be treated with true seriousness, no matter who the accusation is concerned with. Moreover, the people who investigate the concerns should not have any connections to the person(s) or group accused, or else it is a conflict of interest situation.
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