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A written response in support of Pastor Dan’s five part series. http://danledwith.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/walking-in-the-valley-of-the-shadow-part-5/ Since Pastor Dan is Christian this will be slanted entirely toward a Christian response. I am going to use things from the bible to support my position.

I would fully agree that not trying to “fix” the victim but instead “loving” is the best way to help a victim. Any victim or addict. Your example of love and grace (presence in a caring manner) will spur them to healing. Knowing someone actually cares, there is a safe place free of judgment and free to feel and heal is so vastly important.

The victim feels violated, let down, hopeless. The need to connect in the hours following and duing the process of healing is the key as I’ve learned to the path of healing. The need to know it’s ok to hurt and cry. You are safe now let it out, everyone here loves you, I love you. Of course I don’t mean love like a husband or wife. I mean love like a brother or sister.

If you aren’t an only kid you know how it was. No one could pick on your sibling because you had each other’s backs. Yeah as a brother or sister we had our moments and we knew how to get on each other’s last nerves. We knew the buttons to push to hurt them but we also knew when they were really hurting and when they hurt so did we. I know I was very hurt to see my siblings hurt and I wanted to protect them. If you remember that from your childhood then dig deep and want to protect the victims. Your brothers and sisters under gods kingdom.

From John 8 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

What did Jesus do when he found the woman being stoned? The bible commanded her to be stoned but he was a good brother and he protected his sister. He provided her a place of safety and hope. He did it with kindness and action and the words he used were in support of the actions shown. This is what the victims need from us. Safety by action, free of judgment. Did Jesus judge this woman? No. He said he without sin may cast stones. No stones were thrown after that.

Note how Jesus handled this victim. Jesus first stopped her pain, he then provided her safety and last when she was in a place to hear it delivered the message of love and hope.

Any victim can overcome; any addict can beat the addiction. IF they have a safe place where love and acceptance are present. Your loving, caring, gracious example will lead the victim toward healing and ultimately back to faith. The example set will lead them to healing.

I would caution not to rush healing for not all victims heal at the same rate. It took me a decade plus to heal. Addiction is the same. There are addicts who can conquer the addiction quickly and there are others who struggle and fail many times. Pick them up with love, hug them and let them know you believe in them with your presence.

I can tell you Sarah and TJ are my lifelines if I feel the need to cut (my addiction) I reach out and they are there. Do they tell me how bad it is? How if I do it I am throwing away all that effort? No they don’t. They just talk to me, they let me know I am here and I’m not leaving you alone. Knowing this is often helpful. The addict and the victim needs to know they aren’t alone in this.

I feel their hearts and love as they sit with me, talk to me. I know the world is brighter when I’ve a safe place and am not judged. Once the victim or addict sees your love they will return it. They may even follow you to god but only as they heal and come to grips with all they have suffered. Once they come to understand they are still loved that is when the healing will start.

I would ask you to try something see if it brings you closer to god. Go to an AA(Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting. Be someone’s sponsor; their life line. Give them someone safe to call; safe to talk to free of judgment and full of love and encouragement. It may take time but you just might save a child of god.

Find a rape shelter (ladies mostly many rape victims have a fear of men by this point) and be there when a victim comes in. Hug them, hold them, let them cry and talk. Listen, cry and love them. Pray for them, pray with them but pray.

When you pray for the victim/addict don’t repeat memorized quotes speak to them and god. Something like dear god you daughter Michelle is here and she is suffering please help me to be a friend and champion to you and to her on her path from darkness. Something honest and from your heart but most of all something that tells the victim/addict you are not alone. I am here and god is here.

By telling the victim you are here, showing them gods love in you. They will see hope. Isn’t that what Christians believe Christ was? Hope? Hope is a powerful tool in healing. Your grace, your love and your willingness to get close to the victim to feel just some of their pain…….That give hope where darkness squashed the light.

John 9:20-21 And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.”…

To the wounded the actions will speak louder than words shouted from the holy mountain. You actions will be heard as whispers deep inside. Eventually the whispers are heard where physical words will fail. For my Christian friends. Did the woman who believed just the touch of Jesus’s robe would heal her need vocalization? No Jesus heard her heart and healed her. The victims words were not needed for Jesus to hear her pain nor place her on the path to healing and ultimately loving the heavenly father.

Jesus further pushes us to listen and be slow to speak. James 1:19,20 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

He reminds us listening is important work of the father. Your ears will show god is listening with your actions. More important to the victim is being heard and validated not placated. Being heard from a place of safety. I remember when the police questioned me they kept telling me to calm down. How could I be calm when I didn’t feel safe. They had my father leave the room and it was me and three male policemen. Not a very good starting point for a victim of rape to be calm.

Romans 10:10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

The language of love needs no words. It is seen in your actions, felt in your embrace, nourished in your hopes and watered by tears. I know tears? Yes when we experience something overwhelming we cry. Love (true pure love) is overwhelming.

You can change a life now if you act with your heart. Don’t be afraid of the pain. Don’t be afraid to be disappointed. When dealing with victims and addicts there will be both. There will also in the end be triumph and rejoicing. If you try and help engage your heart and if you listen with it you will know when to engage your words to support your action.

Pastor Dan did very well highlighting these in his series. I am hopeful many will hear this and heed the words.

Pastor Dan is saying become a sanctuary (A place of refuge or asylum). Victims need a place of safety a sanctuary. A place free of the world where they are safe. Safe from judgment and the fear of more hurt while they seek answers and attempt to heal.

His message to the believers in Christ is make your open heart and your church a place of sanctuary. Free of judgment and safe to come and heal. If you do this you will be acting as Jesus and creating a heaven (a sanctuary) here for the least of his children. He’s encouraging Christians to become a surrogate to the spirit of god and act in a manner becoming of a spiritual being and a brother or sister to Christ himself.

He set your example for mercy, kindness, love, compassion and faith. He honored his and your heavenly father as the example of hope sought by all Christian and non-Christian alike. Pastor Dan is encouraging you to be as Jesus and be hope to the victim as they’ve lost their way and have none to spare.

The life you save by doing so just might be your own.

~Michelle Styles – December 17, 2013