A “We Care About Sex Trafficking” Initiative parable, by anonymous guest writer

Pastor: We’re holding this meeting today to talk about ways that we as a community of believers are going to get involved and act as Jesus would to the world of sex trafficking.

Member #1: That’s great—I’ve been hoping we could get involved! Our community has been ripped apart by sexual abuse. It even occurs in our churches, Christian schools, mission programs, Christian universities, Christian camps, youth groups, etc. I have so many friends and neighbors whose lives have been shattered, and they’ve never encountered a church community willing to come alongside them, help them heal, and stand for justice in their oppression.

Member #2: Yes! There are actually some even in our very own church who are suffering the effects of abuse. They feel alone, unheard, and afraid to speak.

Elder: Wait! I think you’re misunderstanding. We want to help those who have no resources – young women and children in foreign lands whose lives have been devastated by poverty and abuse. We want to raise money to send to them.

Member #1 : This may seem unrelated, but since we’re talking about this, shouldn’t we consider how our own pastors, elders, and lay counselors address abuse issues? Isn’t it odd that we’re ready and willing to stand with strangers, but in our own community we’re more comfortable supporting some of the abusers?

I mean, I know we don’t officially support abusers. We preach against abuse and we host seminars.  But when it comes to actually being involved with individual families, we just don’t want to get involved. Should we look at modifying that?

Member #2: And are you all aware of the abuses many of our own members are still fighting to recover from? Many were victimized by those who make no claim to Christianity, but others accuse pastors and religious leaders. Others by men in our own church.

What should we do in those situations? We can’t set up a program for overseas victims but ignore our own–or could we?

Pastor: You don’t seem to understand. Some of the offenders here are our personal friends. Supporting those abusers isn’t the same as supporting abuse. We are just showing our loyalty to our personal friends. We’re also demonstrating hearts of forgiveness and our own humility as we might be the ones accused next.

So, are we all in favor of putting together this program for foreign abuse victims and survivors? There could be all sorts of benefits to pursuing this. Helping trafficking victims is a hot topic right now, and getting involved would place us on the cutting edge of creative church ministry. Our wives and others could benefit from developing a business that’s beneficial to all. Our families can have a cultural experience by traveling to some of the countries that struggle with these issues.

Elder #2: We could set up an international business that would provide a way for trafficking survivors to sell some of their arts and crafts. Our church community here would benefit from the beautiful artwork. Our church would be setting the precedent for creative assistance. We’d be an example to the other churches and pave the way for others to follow in our footsteps.

Member #2: I want to be involved in these international ministries. How about if we invite those in our community who’ve been victimized in similar ways to be a part of this. We could learn from their experiences so that we avoid inadvertently causing more harm through our ignorance.

Pastor, (chuckling benevolently): No, no. You’re misunderstanding. This meeting is about how to help those who are far away. Those who’ve been victimized here aren’t our concern. It would be gossip to intervene in abuse that is within our immediate community. The Bible says not to cause division in the body of Christ. The offenders you mention are part of our local body. We need to forgive them and remember that we’re just as great sinners as they are. We need to ensure that those they victimized are reconciled to them, that they’re living out forgiveness, and that they avoid gossiping about their abuse.

Member #1: But, how do we stop the pattern of abuse that is continuing here? Shouldn’t we do something?

Elder: Yes! You can urge the abuse survivors to trust that God has a purpose for their experiences. He never wastes suffering. You can encourage them to work through their bitterness. We have a class they can sign up for where they’ll be held accountable for their reactions.

Pastor: Yes, the survivors in our community simply won’t be satisfied, no matter what response they’re given. They love their roles as perpetual victims. They’re bitter and just won’t let it go. They’re simply choosing not to trust us to know better than they do and tell them how they should be reacting. Besides, they’re accusing well-respected leaders within our community. We need to stand with these leaders even when we disagree with them. They have good intentions and just messed up.

Member #2: But how can we truly help those who have been victimized in foreign lands when survivors within our own community are shunned?

Pastor: Oh, they aren’t shunned. They’re welcome. They just need to forgive and let go of their bitterness, and then they can join us. You know that people like “that” are exhausting to the church, right? We give and give to them and it is never enough. They want us to actually stand WITH them against abuse. They actually want us to speak up about the wolves in our midst that devour our sheep.

Elder: You have to understand that the local abuse survivors often have mental health diagnoses. They are messy and they don’t trust easily. We really don’t have time for that. So, all in favor of pouring our resources into this new proposal?

A majority vote in the affirmative.

A few days later, another member approaches the pastor:

Member #3: Pastor, I heard all that was discussed at the meeting. I realize you aren’t really interested in helping abuse survivors in our community, but I keep hearing of more and more situations where some of the pastors and elders here at our church are actually supporting abusers. Doesn’t that concern you?

Pastor: Well, you have to understand that we’re all free to make our own decisions before God. None of us leaders are really accountable to any of the other leaders because we all trust each other. Besides, you know that most victims exaggerate about their abuse, right? I mean, when they’re in the middle of it, they say very little. Then, when they start to find some safety, they suddenly start sharing details of abuse that just aren’t believable. Also, even when there is abuse, pastors can’t take sides. Just remember that God sees the good deeds we’re doing overseas. You’d do well to take note of that. You’re so focused on the things within our own community. If you won’t be so self-focused, you’ll find that you’ll be much more content.

That time I tried to be transparent in a small group . . .

About 15 years ago I joined a certain group because everyone else was doing it and it seemed like the thing to do in order to be a better Christian, which of course I wanted very much.

The group followed a format that I found out later was typical, but it was all new to me at that time: We listened together to the respected speaker for the first hour, and then split up into small groups for the second hour.

This is where we would be transparent. Continue reading “That time I tried to be transparent in a small group . . .”

Blessings are not sweet little things (guest post by Deborah Brunt)

Deborah Brunt is an abuse survivor who blogs at Key Truths.


In the Deep South, you know you’re in trouble when someone says, “Bless your heart!” It means, by translation, “Wow! What a hopeless mess you’re in!” or, “Wow! What a hopeless fool you are!” or, “Wow, am I glad I’m not you!” 

The person who speaks the “blessing” may feel genuine sympathy for you. Often, though, they want  a “nice” way to say something belittling.

Those times when people might bless our hearts, God wants to bless our lives. For real.

But we will likely miss the blessing if we have a wrong idea of

What’s the best way for us to bring glory to God?

This is a burden on my heart (that I pulled from yesterday’s post because it deserved its own) because I believe this understanding is crucial to becoming the people of God He has called us to be. I pray it will help someone the way similar teachings helped me in the 1990s.

Spoiler alert: I believe the Bible teaches that the best way for His people to glorify God is to live in the New Covenant.

This isn’t just distant theory. For example, the harmful theology of what has been called “Biblical patriarchy” is based on living in the Old Covenant.

The power of living in the New Covenant (in which all our sanctification is found in Jesus Christ) has tremendous practical application for us right now.

I believe far too few Christians understand the crucial difference between the Covenants and what that difference means, even though it’s explained right there in the New Testament. Continue reading “What’s the best way for us to bring glory to God?”

Is God glorified through our suffering?

Recently I received a question from my friend Ana Harris. She said,

When people’s prayers for God to be glorified in my suffering are disconnected from his goodness and love, they start to sound rather cruel, almost like God is using me and taking pleasure in my pain. Does God cause my pain and suffering for his own glory? Why would he need our suffering to get glory for himself? Doesn’t he already possess glory because of who he is?

What is your answer to this? How do we truly glorify God? What is glory anyway?

Continue reading “Is God glorified through our suffering?”

Why the Jeffrey Epstein case matters to Christians

It may feel like voyeurism, reading about it, if you don’t know any of these people.

But as I’ve been saying for some time now, I can be pretty doggone certain that you do know or at least interact with a survivor of sex trafficking, even if you don’t think you do. Because they are all around you.

My primary work is with those who have been sex trafficked in the Christian world. And believe me, there are parallels.

One person or small group of people is/are the traffickers. They may be relatively obscure, as Epstein was.

Others, the wealthy and elites (in my experience, it’s primarily been the wealthy and elites in the Christian world) are the buyers who take advantage of the trafficker’s “services.” (Flying in to the trafficking location is not a problem for the Christian elite.)

There’s a lot to learn about how this all works by reading about the Jeffrey Epstein case. Continue reading “Why the Jeffrey Epstein case matters to Christians”

“The Return of the Daughters” meets Rachael Denhollander

In 2008, the movement calling itself “Biblical patriarchy” was in its heyday.

In 2008, the beautiful Botkin sisters, paragons of the visionary daughterhood espoused by “Biblical patriarchy,” were 20 and 22 years old. Three years earlier, at 17 and 19, they had published their book So Much More: The Remarkable Influence of Visionary Daughters on the Kingdom of God which went on to influence many impressionable teen girls that their highest calling was to fulfill their father’s every whim. Continue reading ““The Return of the Daughters” meets Rachael Denhollander”

Here’s what’s wrong with God looking through the “filter” of Jesus to see His children

It’s supposed to be encouraging when we hear that God the Father sees His children through the filter of His Son Jesus Christ. I’ve seen Christians almost come to tears when they talk about how God the Father is wearing “blood-colored glasses” to look at us, seeing the righteousness of His Son instead of our sinfulness.

christian3400 www.deviantart.com


So, we are told, He sees His blood-bought children as holy instead of the unrighteous, filthy, utterly degraded, deceitfully wicked, totally sinful vile creatures we actually are. Continue reading “Here’s what’s wrong with God looking through the “filter” of Jesus to see His children”