I will never forget the night. Looking out from behind stage, I saw an audience of over 700 women. A plethora of emotions consumed me. I was trembling…anxious, scared, wondering if God could really use this broken, damaged rape victim to touch this audience of strangers. Sure I could share my story to a small group of friends or a Bible study. But why had God brought me here? Would anyone even care? Would what I say have any value? How I wanted to run and never look back.
But when I stepped on the stage, God took over. He gave me the strength to share what happened to me that terrible day in June 1986. His peace washed over me, and He filled my mouth with His Truth…His promises…His Hope…His healing Word. As I closed my story, our pastor’s wife came out and joined me. We prayed for the women, inviting them to come forward if they needed prayer. With that many women in attendance, we were not surprised that some came forward. But what blew us away is how many women shared for the FIRST time that they had been victims of incest and rape. Women who had been in church, Bible study, and small groups for years but never, ever shared their deep dark secret. They lived in isolation and loneliness, hiding this horrible truth. It broke my heart as woman after woman shared her story.
A Christian psychologist walked up at the very end of the event and thanked our pastor’s wife for opening the pulpit for this kind of testimony. She shared how churches traditionally avoid discussing such issues. She said by opening this door in our church, many women would be set free. And she was right.
This is not unique to that night or my church. Every time I share my story, whether in Salt Lake City, UT, New Washington, OH, Buckhannon, WV, or Charlotte, NC I hear the same words. I wrote a book entitled Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: The Transforming Power of God’s Story to bring awareness to this problem. We intentionally included a study guide in Hidden Joy to help women work through hurting and broken places in their lives.
The statistics are astounding as to how many women and children never report that they have been victims of rape and incest. They live locked in a prison of fear and shame for years, decades, and some never escape.
I am so thankful to Karen True of womensministry.net who invited me to write an article on this untold story lurking in the hearts of women. It is her desire to bring awareness to this issue, especially in our churches…to free women from their prisons of fear, shame, and unforgiveness.
Please visit womensministry.net to read the article and find practical ways to bring awareness to this issue in your churches and communities.
It is our prayer that God will use this article to shine His Light and Joy into the hearts of women hiding in the dark corners of churches everywhere.
If the blog post and/or article touch a place in your heart, please leave a comment and share your story. I will pray for each and every one of you who leave a comment. Also, if you are a women’s ministry director or lay leader in your church, please leave a comment, and we will direct you to resources to aid you in reaching the women in your church.