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National domestic violence awareness month happens in October in the U.S. and in November in Canada. On October 13th, Safe Church hosted a webinar with Selah Empowers. Selah offers support that empowers lives and homes; and was started out of Heritage Christian Reformed Church in Byron Center in 2018 when its leadership recognized the need to offer help through the church for those victimized by abuse. Selah is working to address that need by offering weekly online and in-person support classes and offers other free resources, education, and support to individuals. Learn more about Selah Empowers below!

Watch the recording of this webinar here!

Panelists from Selah Empowers:

Vicki Williams is one of the co-founders of Selah Empowers. Her passion for starting Selah was born out of her own personal experience with domestic abuse. She knows firsthand the destruction, confusion, and fear that domestic abuse brings and is committed to helping other people experiencing abuse find the help they need.  Vicki currently works full-time as the Director of Music and Worship at Heritage CRC.  Over the years, she has met many people in the church experiencing domestic abuse and recognized the need for an easily accessible,faith-based educational support system in the church. With the support of her pastor, she trained with Safe Haven Ministries, and Selah was born! Vicki’s ultimate desire is that individuals experiencing abuse will find hope and healing as they realize their full value and identity in Christ.

Shirley Ritsema came to Selah in January 2022 after a clear nudge from the Holy Spirit to learn more and offer her years of organizational and leadership experience. She now fills a behind-the-scenes role of Operations Manager and contributes insights and knowledge to lesson planning and group support from her personal experience with domestic abuse within a previous marriage. Shirley reflects that the restorative value of connecting with other victims and survivors is powerful whether abuse is ongoing or long passed.

Paula Wigboldy, the newest member of the Selah team, is also new to West Michigan. Her experience in marketing and business development has brought new insights and support to the team at just the right moment. Her passion for bringing hope to the broken fits especially well as she seeks to have those gifted with resources connected to those finding hope with Selah.

Shari Murdock joined Selah early 2021. Since then, she’s regularly mentored and co-led group classes. She is passionate in educating participants to learn in these confusing situations that each is experiencing the result of brokenness, not lack of individual effort. They are, in fact, precious and loved heirs of God and worthy of deep love and honor. Watching eyes opened, hearts filled, and experiences that bring hope brings joy to Shari’s heart! There’s victory when participants understand their value and worth in their Creator.

Elizabeth VandenToorn: I came to Selah as a client referred by my therapist in the fall of 2018. Selah’s educational program and support rescued and transformed me from a place of hopelessness and worthlessness as a result of abuse to the discovery of my identity and priceless value as a daughter of my loving Creator God. As I grew in strength and healing, I felt a call to serve and support hurting women who came to Selah. I have been honored to co-lead evening classes, empowering women on their journey from the darkness and weight of oppression to become equipped women who pursue freedom, healing, and peace.


Selah Empowers is a faith-based, nonprofit organization offering free resources, education, and support to individuals experiencing the effects of domestic abuse.  Selah was started out of Heritage Christian Reformed Church in Byron Center in 2018 when its leadership recognized the need to make help for victims of abuse more readily available through the church.  Selah is working to address that need by offering weekly online and in-person support classes.

Statistics show that as many as 1 in 3 women and 1 in 7 men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.  It might surprise you to know that those numbers are no different within the church. Statistics also show that 1 in 3 adolescents will experience teen dating violence.  On an average day, domestic violence hotlines in the United States receive 20,000 calls.  

The basis of domestic abuse is the misuse of power and control in a relationship.  It includes behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing things they want to do, or force them into things they don’t want to do.  It can include physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, isolation, economic deprivation, and even spiritual abuse.  

Selah offers education, support, and resources that help bring clarity and validation to individuals who find themselves in an abusive relationship.  Selah offers two levels of classes that are each 10 weeks long. The first level of classes is called Journey to Understanding and covers topics such as Power and Control, Psychological, Emotional, and Verbal Abuse, Abusive Behaviors, Trauma and the Brain, Effects on Children, and Faith Issues.  The second level of classes is called Strength for the Journey. This series covers topics that help individuals regain confidence and strength as they move forward in their journey.

Living in an abusive relationship can be very confusing and leave a person fearful and wondering what’s happening.  It is our hope that through the education and support Selah offers, individuals will begin to understand the dynamics of abuse and become empowered to make the decisions needed for each of their situations.

If you would like to know more about Selah, or you would like to talk to someone individually, please call or email us. Our contact information is below. You can also visit our website for more information. We are here to help.

[email protected]      


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