Abuse Awareness: It’s Up to You

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One Sunday each year (the fourth Sunday in September) has been designated Abuse Awareness Sunday. I wonder how many people in the CRC know that. Each year resources are gathered and created (www.crcna.org/safechurch/resources-abuse-awareness). Information is sent to pastors and also to over 350 volunteer safe church team members across the USA and Canada. Though we never expect a huge response, the annual email goes out, “tell us what you did for Abuse Awareness Sunday”. Here are some responses from 2014:

  • Our pastor preached an excellent sermon on Christ-like, respectful relationships shown in contrast to bullying. We used the bulletin insert about bullying.
  • The focus of the sermon was on the domestic abuse of Joseph in his father's household, sexual and emotional abuse by Potiphar's wife, and his journey as an abuse survivor through trust in God. We used the bulletin insert about domestic violence. We also presented A Stained Glass Story of Domestic Abuse from the RAVE website (www.theraveproject.com ).
  • We used the bulletin insert about pornography. In the evening service we heard a powerful testimony related to the topic.  
  • As a safe church team member, I had the opportunity to share with the congregation what I do and how it affects the congregation.
  • Besides having the bulletin insert, we conducted safe church training, which is mandatory for anyone working with youth in our church. 
  • Domestic violence bulletin inserts were put in every mailbox and resources from the local shelter were in the fellowship area. Intercessory prayers included domestic violence.
  • We distributed bulletin inserts. I made reference to the scars of abuse that many of us bring into worship and noted that today was a special Sunday to honestly bring those to God as a community - leading into the opening song, "Gather Us In - the lost and the broken…”
  • We had an offering and special prayers for Safe Church Ministry.

Thanks to all who participated. What happened in your congregation? What might be a next step for you?

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Let's Discuss…

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If I thought we were to have an "abuse awareness" church service I would sleep in.

I have read that the human memory converts negative thoughts into positive thoughts so "stop beating your wife" is remembered as "the wife needs to be corrected, again." Maybe better to have "Be a good neighbor" Sunday. 

Community Builder

Many, many of our neighbors have suffered abuse. How wonderful it would be to welcome neighbors into a congregation that could offer understanding, compassion, hope, and healing. We simply can't do that without first building awareness about the issue of abuse.

Participant

Hmmmm, “…human memory converts negative thoughts into positive thoughts…” is an interesting application, in this context.  When I have read those same reports, their focus and goal were to help people overcome depression and rewiring ones brain for positivity and happiness, not as someone using it as a way to validate his/her abusive behavior.  But, as we live in a fallen world, anything can be twisted when someone really does not want to come to terms with his/her actions.

Nevertheless, our churches and its members do not need to “sleep in” on issues of abuse, when we could be doing more to help.

Rather, our churches should be an active, living, breathing organism, with immune systems and bacteria fighting properties intact to promote healing.  When one part of the Body of Christ is hurting, we all should feel it.

So, in effect Abuse Awareness Sunday serves the same purpose as your “Be a good neighbor” Sunday suggestion.  Both serve the greater purpose of us walking alongside each other, through the good and the bad.  Part of the Love in Action instructions we are given in Romans 12:15 is that we should “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

So, if you “sleep in” on Abuse Awareness Sunday, I am sure that someone would miss you in your church family, the same way that someone trapped in abuse would miss having light shed on their dilemma.

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