Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Bad Girls, Bad Boys. Wait...What?

I recently read this article, Aggressive Girls, Clueless Boys, and I have to say, I totally disagree with this author....and from a Christian standpoint.

Here are some specifics:

1. The parents claim to have raised their son "in a good home." What does that mean? It doesn't mean a home without sin because all people are sinners. It might mean a home that does not participate in worldly activities, but who defines a worldly activity? When it comes to our homes, we have to remember that all our righteousness is as filthy rags, so a "good home" is not enough. A gospel-centered home is enough, however, because when we remember our daily need for the gospel of Christ and live as though it's relevant, we will be humbled enough to realize that it's the gospel that saves our kids, not a "good home." There is no such thing as a good home. There is none good, no not one.

2. The parents gave a 13-year-old boy - boy - a cell phone and only monitored it occasionally. I don't care how mature you think your 13-year-old is, they are not mature enough to have a cell phone without strict, very strict, limits. It's troubling to me to think a kid needs a phone at all.

3. There has been no shift in our culture. Teen girls have pursued teen boys for centuries, they simply hid it better. It was easier for parents to bury their heads in the sand about it because it wasn't on display on social media until more recent years. Now, parents can't hide from it and tell themselves only "bad" girls are so bold, so they decide there had to be shift in culture.

4. There is no "bad girl problem" because all girls are bad girls and all boys are bad boys because all people are sinners. A girl who gossips but keeps her purity is not better than a girl who is promiscuous. A boy who shoplifts but keeps his purity is not better than a boy who loses his virginity at 13. A girl who cheats on her homework but is a virgin is not better than a girl who is endlessly flirtatious. All girls are sinners in need of the Savior. All boys are sinners in need of the Savior. Your "good home" can't save them, and won't save them. Jesus Christ is the only One Who can transform their lives. It's not about being "good."

5. There is no more time. The parents in the article "thought they had more time." Time for what? This one baffles me the most. After their son fell into sexual sin, they put limits and restrictions on him. What did they do before? He was 13, yet he had a private room, downstairs, away from the rest of the family. He had a rarely-monitored cell phone. He had a Facebook page. He was set up for failure. Of course, he lost all that, and is being kept busy with sports and school so he has no "idle" time. Don't kid yourself, he does not need "idle" time in order to sin. (Neither do you; neither do I.) He's got this; he can sin while doing sports or homework or any other thing we think will distract him. Distractions won't work. He needs Jesus. Only Jesus can save him from his sin. What did the parents do about his lying? The article doesn't mention any consequences of lying, only consequences of his sexual sin.

6. These parents would be wise to not treat this particular sin in such a special way. We cannot emphasize sexual sin as worse than other sins. All sin is bad. All sin affects us for the rest of our lives. Sexual sins can have lasting consequences such as pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease, so that should be taught, but we can't lift sexual sin above other sins and treat it as though it's the ultimate sin.

7. God will certainly use this for good in that young man's life. He has promised, so He will. That young man has an uphill battle going on, though, and his parents would be wise to fall on Jesus about it, not on some Biblical principle their church or a counselor gave them. This article is a near-perfect example of Secular Humanism and how and why it does not work to save our kids.

8. Why did their son's sin take them by surprise? They said they were "dropped in the middle of a mine field" when their son's sin came to light. As parents, we have to remember that our kids are sinners and that means they are going to sin. Sexual sins. Lying. Cheating. Gossiping, Manipulating. Showing disrespect. Mouthing off. Violent outbursts. You name it; they are going to do it, or at least try to. Do we put our heads in the sand, thinking it's inevitable? No, of course not, but we need to treat all sin as sin. It all sent Jesus to the cross, not just sexual sin. When we emphasize sexual sin as worse than other sins, we're drawing undue attention to that sin, singling it out, making it special, creating more curiosity about it than about other sins. Even the fact that this kid initially lied about his sin when it came to light, continuing to try to cover it up, shows where his heart is. A confession made after being caught does not make for a contrite heart. This kid needs Jesus.

9. Remember the they "raised Josh in a good home," and taught him "Biblical principles" to live by. How has that turned out? Biblical principles couldn't save him, either.

Throw away your "Biblical principles" and throw yourself, and your family, on the mercy of an Almighty God Who has already overcome the world. Think of it! He has already overcome the world and its pits of sin. God is not surprised by our sin. He knew we could not "be good."  He knew we were doomed if we had to depend on ourselves. So, He sent Jesus, conquered sin once and for all and gave us the opportunity to live forever.

"Look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith." Hebrews 12;2. There is no hope in any other place. There is no hope in any other person. Stop treating some sins as good sins and others as bad sins and realize they are all covered by Amazing Grace.

This can save even you.

Monday, September 26, 2016

8 Ways Church Leaders Can Learn to Take No for an Answer

Julia* was overwhelmed at home. She works a full-time job, then cares for her ailing father once home. She also has a husband, kids and grandkids. Julia loves the Lord Jesus Christ and has served in her church in different capacities for decades. But, right now, she's just too overwhelmed to do many of the things she has done in the past.

It was with great sorrow that Julia declined an invitation from the Children's Ministry Pastor to help with the children's ministry for the upcoming year. She just knew she couldn't do it. Her father was getting worse and was nearly to the point where he couldn't be left alone. She didn't give the pastor all her reasons; he was new and she didn't know him well. She simply said, "I'm sorry, but I really can't right now."

She thought that was enough, but the pastor was not satisfied. He went on to tell her how important the children's ministry was, how she was losing an opportunity to make a difference in their lives, how she was making it more difficult to fill teaching roles, etc. He had a whole list of reasons why her decision to sit out this session was wrong. He attempted to make her feel guilty, which he hoped would make her change her mind.

Julia was not untouched by his reasons and he ended up pleading, but she knew her situation and stuck to her decision, much to his dismay.

The Pastor of Children's Ministry needs to learn to take "No" for an answer.
Here are 8 things that might help him or her in this situation:

1. "No." is a complete sentence. 

2. A person saying "No" does not have to give an explanation. They might give one, but he or she cannot demand or require one. An explanation is a courtesy, not a requirement. It might be hard for someone to give an explanation. When we approach people for ministry opportunities, we need to respect their situation and realize we don't know everything about them.

3. Guilt should not be a reason for someone to work in any ministry. Do we really want teachers who are only there because they feel guilty? I don't.

4. Realize that people know their lives and limitations better than you. Julia knew every aspect of her life and what prevented her from being able to commit to a teaching role at the time. Since he was new, the pastor did not know her at all. He had no idea what she was facing and taking care of. He needed a teacher and since she had taught in the past, he thought she should be teaching again. He made no attempt to get to know her, either. He needed a teacher; that's all that mattered to him.

5. Arguing with someone who has already said, "No" is spiritual abuse. No need to really elaborate on this one. No means no.

6. Use prayer, not tactics. Instead of using guilt-inducing tactics, use prayer to guide you to people you should recruit for ministry. Early in our ministry, Christy*, a grandmother who had raised several children, came to me and said, "Do not ever put me in the nursery. I am not interested in serving in there at all." So, we didn't put her in the nursery. Many of us moms took turns and, as the church grew, we did ask several others to help out, but we did not ask Christy. My husband and I prayed for her. One day, out of the blue, she came to me and said, "You might as well put me on the nursery schedule." The church had grown, the nursery was bursting at its seams and she saw the need. Christy ended up being in the nursery for the next 12 years, every Sunday during the Sunday School hour. She read to the kids and they all loved her and looked forward to their time with her. Her ministry was Christ-born, not guilt-born, and it was a powerful, long-lasting ministry of which she did not grow weary. Even when some of us tried to give her a break, she would have none of it.

7. Accept "No" as if from God, not from the person saying "No." We tend to think we can convince people to do what we think we need them to do because we've seen a need and think they can fulfill that need. Perhaps their "No" is given as from the Lord. Perhaps the Lord is keeping a ministry open for just the right person to step into. When one person has to say, "No," it paves the way for another person to step up. You, as a leader, don't get to decide who that person is.

8. "No" does not have to be repeated. Once a person says, "No" we are free to move on. They do not have to repeat themselves. A teen was asked to perform a piano solo in a Christmas program, but she felt shy and intimidated and was not really ready to perform in public. The program chairwoman would not take "No" for an answer and kept hounding the teen. After five different conversations, the teen went to her mother in tears, causing the mother to have to confront the situation and stand up for the daughter. The program chairwoman was irate when the mother reminded her that her daughter had already said "No" five times. The chairwoman said, "I needed her to say 'No' one more time!"  then hang up on the mother. Um, no. No one, especially in Christian ministry, should have to say "No" more than once. This woman was requiring this teen to say "No" six times!

Imagine the abuse that could be stopped if leaders learned to take "No" for an answer.

I'm sure you can think of more things that will help leaders learn to take "No" for an answer. If you're a leader in your local church, learn to take "No" for an answer.

Your ministry will be better for it.Your ministry might thrive.

*Real people, not their real names.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

How to Make Me Stop Blogging about ABWE

Abuse is never isolated. If someone abuses one person, they will likely abuse another. No pedophile has been found to have only one victim. There are always multiple victims. Some of those victims are too hurt to tell anyone about the abuse. Other victims wait until a good number of other victims have spoken out, then they find strength to do the same. Others are first to speak out and pave the way for more.

Because victimization is so personal, each victim has to find their own way and work in whatever time frame they can in their process of healing.

Because many of us know this, either through surviving victimization ourselves or by working with those who are healing, we know that each victim takes their own, very private, very personalized path to healing. But, we also know that many need a boost. They need an outlet for their voice. They need a safe place to voice their experience.

That's why my blogging about ABWE continues, and will continue. We, my husband and I, have received many messages from people who want to tell their stories but are still too afraid to be known by name.

Victimization can take different formats. While the direct victims of Donn Ketcham's pedophilia are dealing with healing from sexual abuse, there are other victims, too.

There's the ABWE missionary on another field who saw the way ABWE handled Donn Ketcham's abuse in 1989 and realized they were handling "problems" and "potential problems" on other fields in the same, wrong way and he spoke up. And ABWE administration told him to "Shut up" about these problems.....and he did.....and he carried the weight of this alone....and he had a heart attack.

Another hard-working missionary realized he could not stay with ABWE in good conscience not only because it was his friend and co-laborer who was hushed, but he also saw how wrong they were, so he actually left ABWE. His conscience could not allow him to continue. He could not work with a mission board that was covering up sin on "various mission fields." The problems were not isolated to Bangladesh. They were/are widespread. They continue. I wonder how long before victims from other mission fields will come forward.

The culture of abuse within ABWE has to be recognized before any real changes are going to take place. Some current ABWE missionaries are treating this like it needs to go away now. They are weary of the continuation of blogs like this one and comments on Facebook groups and other social media sites.

I'll tell you what. Just as soon as we stop getting private messages from various victims and just as soon as those victims are properly vindicated and just as soon as ABWE recognizes the culture of abuse they continue to operate in and fix it to our satisfaction, we will stop. Until then, I will blog in hopes of giving more and more victims the courage to come forward and break out of their silence.

To the victims: You are not alone. We are praying for you. We are here for you. We are aware of your pain. You are the reason I'm blogging and continuing to speak out against abuse. Your private messages are empowering.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Oops! They Did it Again! (Not ABWE......But...)

Again, just like ABWE (The Association of Baptist for World Evangelism, the abuse report found here), a Baptist organization,  this time a church, has violated a young girl and tried to make her apologize to the youth pastor's wife for what they call "her part" in the act of her youth pastor raping her.

Read the article here.

Sound familiar? Following the same path as ABWE, decades later, Columbia Road Baptist Church in North Olmsted, Ohio, not only turned a blind eye to a youth pastor who was exhibiting pedophile-consistent behavior, but they enabled him to do more and more. This horrific rape of this young girl could have been prevented. According to the article, the youth pastor, Brian Mitchell, started out by "constantly texting" this young girl and "complaining about his wife." When church officials found out about the texts, they "temporarily stopped," but picked up again and Mitchell's behavior escalated into full-blown rape.

I wonder if any of those "church officials" are women.

And now, church officials want that abused young girl to apologize to Mitchell's wife.

She could say, "I'm sorry your husband is a rapist."
She could say, "I'm sorry you go to a church that not only enabled a pedophile to serve as a pastor, but tries to take his victim down with him."

I have one word for Columbia Road Baptist Church in North Olmsted, Ohio: ICHABOD

Surely the glory of the Lord has departed.

The writer of the article I linked above, Stephen D. Foster, Jr., said, "Quite frankly, I think the church should be slapped with a lawsuit for not reporting Mitchell's harassment of the teen in the first place." I totally agree.

What does this have to do with ABWE? A lot. ABWE followed that same pattern and are following it to a degree even now. Yes, even now. I know people who are trying to get answers from ABWE and they have been ignored again and again. Some of us who want answers to some valid, hard questions, were told to "go to the town hall meetings in MI." Trouble is, not everyone with questions can travel. Why can't they just answer our questions? Why can they only answer questions in Michigan?

They are done. ABWE and its currently serving missionaries seem to think it's a done deal and that we should move on and support them as we always have. Huh? Uh, no. I, personally, will no longer support any missionary who serves with ABWE. They not only circled their wagons, they've shut out anyone who does not serve their purpose, and their purpose is not the gospel of Christ. Their purpose is to look out for the organization.

As for Brian Mitchell, I'm so, so glad he's in prison now, sentenced to 10 years. I will be praying for his victim(s) and her family.

It's not too late for Donn Ketcham to go to prison.

Shame on ABWE for not answering questions.

Look around your church. How many young girls are being harassed? How many have been raped by church leadership? It's more than you think.

PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT the Brian Mitchell, a BBC grad who is programming pastor at Spring Creek Church near Milwaukee, WI. Please do not confuse the two.