Recently I was contacted on behalf of a small ministry. It’s pastor had a son and a daughter that were elementary school age. The family and ministry was torn apart when it was discovered that a member of their church had fondled the boy and raped his younger sister. Would I be willing to help? There could only be one answer to that question, of course I’m willing to help. As I hung up the phone I began to experience a familiar emotional conflict, gratitude and anger.
Words cannot describe the gratitude I have over the breakthroughs we had since the New Year, and the number of churches that opened their doors to our ministry. But words also fail to describe the anger I have at the refusal of the vast majority of the churches to confront this epidemic of abuse in our society.
“Epidemic? Surely you’re exaggerating, Pastor.” I would to God that I was!!! One out of every four girls and one out of every seven boys are a victim of a sexual assault by the age of fourteen.
State Representative Shirley Brown of the Florida House of Representatives recently gave me a survey of child on child sexual assaults in the State of Florida. The Florida Abuse Hotline received 6,883 calls reporting child molestation during the 1996-97 Fiscal Year in which the perpetrator was a child. There were 5,968 victims age thirteen or under, 915 were age fourteen or older, 2,671 of the victims were male, 3,911 of the victims were female, and the gender was unknown for 301 of the victims.
Here’s the shocking part. Of the 5,568 perpetrator’s involved in these assaults, 4,238 were age thirteen or under, 1,119 were fourteen or older, and the age of 211 was unknown. Now it goes beyond shocking and into frightening, 3,248 of the perpetrator’s were male and 2,137 were female, 183 the gender was unknown! Don’t tell me that sexual violence has not reached epidemic proportions in our society today!!!
This causes me to reflect on Mark 10:13-14 & 16, “Then they brought young children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.’ And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them.”
Obviously Jesus, the Great Shepherd, has a very special, place in His heart for children, and so should His sub shepherds (pastors). What does a shepherd do? Feed the sheep, lead and guide the sheep, nurse their wounds and protect them from predators.
Pastors have put a great emphasis upon guiding and feeding God’s flock, and even nursing it¹s wounded members back to health through wholeness ministries. They are even aggressive in protecting the flock against the predators that would bring false doctrine into their midst, but what about those wolves in sheep’s clothing, the sexual predators in both our church and society that prey upon God’s sheep? I have the greatest respect for the handful of pastors that are confronting this epidemic, but for the most part, they have proven themselves to be, at best indifferent, at worse, negligent.
There are three primary reasons for this. First, ignorance. Because they are ignorant of the depths of this epidemic in our society, they fail to recognize the need to confront it.
The second is denial. They know the epidemic exists, but because they don’t know how to confront it, they ignore it.
The third is fear. They know the problem needs addressed, but because they are afraid of upsetting church members, they choose to ignore it. At the risk of sounding judgmental, I believe that those pastors who allow their actions to be paralyzed by fear will stand accountable to the Good Shepherd for allowing His flock to be ravaged by hell.
Literally millions of children and adults are going to be victimized by sexual violence during their lifetime and the Church of Jesus Christ, for the most part is doing nothing! The priceless potential represented in the lives of our children is being destroyed, and for the most part we do nothing! Flames are consuming Rome, and Nero continues to fiddle!!!
“Now Pastor, be careful, Jesus would never have an attitude like that!”
Oh really? He once called the religious community a brood of vipers. I do believe when you call a group of people a bunch of snakes you are displaying an attitude!
You can help. First pray, then after you have immersed yourself in prayer, give copies of this article to every pastor you know. If they don’t have the resources to confront this problem in their church, suggest they contact me, I would be glad to help them anyway I can.
“Lord, it is not by might, not by power, but by our Spirit. Empower our words with Your Spirit that they might burn in the hearts of those who hear them, in Jesus name, Amen.”