When Pastors Abuse

I wish Overcoming Church Hurt & Abuse was not a book I needed to write. Why? I wish “church” was always a place of love, safety, and God’s goodness. I wish the organized “church” looked and loved just like Jesus.

Jesus is perfect theology and God is love. There is no abuse in love. There is no manipulation or dominance in love. There is no control in love. There is nothing perverse, sexually inappropriate, or lustful in love.

I use quotes for the “church” because truly God’s church is not a weekend service or organization, it is a body of people yielded to God. Jesus stated His followers would be known by their agape love (pure, sacrificial, and unselfish love). Abuse is not love and not of God. God will separate His true church from what is false.

Part of what I do is called deep inner healing. It’s not SOZO for those who are in the charismatic church. It’s inviting God into memories throughout a person’s life to interject truth, expose lies, deal with pain, and negative emotions. I do not interject memories. We deal with what God reveals to a person that needs to be healed.

Over the years I have heard the worst of the worst of stories; stories that make Steven King movies appear tame. I deal with people who have been severely damaged and abused to the point of dissociation (they fracture into multiple personalities). I hate to admit that some of the perpetrators claimed to be Christians. Some were pastors or deacons. Some had high levels of influence. They used their status and influence to exploit, manipulate, abuse, or molest others.

Some churches have encouraged hiding the sins of the pastors or the “church”. If anyone knew it could damage the “church” reputation. Holding onto this mindset helped to enable thousands of pastors to continue to abuse people in silence. It is ungodly to enable sin. What you hide, enables abuse to continue. It sends a message, “Please come and abuse people here. We will keep your secrets and forgive. We will pretend that nothing happened.” Some “church” leaders don’t recognize forgiveness is not ENABLING! Forgiveness is supposed to be coupled with repentance. To repent is to change one’s mind, not offer a sloppy sorry because you were caught.

In Overcoming Church Hurt & Abuse I talk about the boundaries churches need in place to prevent a set up for a scandal.

  • Background checks on every leader. If you are a pedophile, you are not qualified to lead. Period.
  • Men should not counsel women in closed door, behind the scenes situations or off hours. And vice versa with women counseling men. “Counseling,” has led numerous people into sexual misconduct. Have a two person system. If you must have a one on one, one pastor I knew had a glass office door and his admin would sit outside. She could not hear, she could see what was going on in the session. I do not do deep inner healing sessions by myself in person. I have an assistant. If it’s through Skype, it’s recorded.
  • Check in on pastors and their mental, spiritual, and emotional health. Some are burnt out and not connecting with God. They serve, yet they are not working on their own relationship with God. Check in and have accountability systems.
  • Set up situations where leaders are never alone with someone else’s child. Children’s ministry should have two people not related caring for kids. They all need background checks too!
  • Teach your children proper boundaries. Just because a person claims to be a Christian does not mean they are safe. Teach your children about inappropriate touch and they can tell you anything. It’s sad, yet many children are threatened with getting in trouble if they tell.
  • Cease trusting people just because they claim to be a Christian or clergy!! This one is big.

I knew a lady who’s pastor invited her out to a bar then began to sexually proposition her. Well, first thing is this-I am not meeting my pastor alone anywhere!! Let alone a bar. Secondly, the moment he propositioned me for sex he would have been rebuked and then turned into the church board. This pastor had a history of hitting on women at the church, sleeping with them, then getting up preaching on Sunday. He would also remove parts of scripture that talked about sexual immorality.

What we permit, we promote! Let me repeat that, “What we permit, we promote.” This woman wanted to love, forgive, and pray for her pastor. Awesome! Yes, forgive. Also rebuke the sexual advances and let someone know so he cannot prey on anyone else. Some women have been so brainwashed with false teachings on submitting to authority that they easily give in to what is ungodly. He’s my pastor, I have to do this. NO!!!! You are sinning and God still hold you accountable. “My pastor told me,” does not fly in heaven.

What are you and I going to do to help stop abuse in the church? We cannot change other people. We can ask God for our part! Writing this book and helping victims of abuse is part of my part. It’s also my part to say something if I see something inappropriate.

I regret not listening to my instincts years ago. I noticed a male minister always playing with the little girls. He was in his 50s. They were 7 to 14 years old. I did not wish to judge him. I thought I was being overly suspicious. I looked the other way though it bugged me. Later it was revealed he was grooming young teen girls for sex. He eventually married a teenage girl in an impoverished nation by grooming her parents as well. He was eventually removed from ministry. Could I have helped if I said something early on? I don’t know. I had no proof. It just creeped me out. I wish I had said something.

My encouragement is this, “Please don’t turn a blind eye to abuse, control, manipulation, or sexual sin.” God is loving, gracious, kind, and forgiving. God also highly values people. If we allow abuse we violate God’s love. Being passive is easy. Being passive is not godly.

I see the aftermath in sessions with people. I see how the abuse wounded their views of themselves, of God, of the church. I see the horror and the agony the victims of abuse carry.

Let’s have honest conversations about abuse in the church. Let’s have boundaries that keep people safe. Let’s stop teaching that submission is doing whatever is asked of you. It’s not! Godly submission is being willing to yield to what honors God. It does not mean obey. Let’s teach young children and teens about appropriate and inappropriate touch. Let’s teach everyone about healthy boundaries. No I am not meeting a man alone in his home for ministry. I do not have them come to my house either. Why? I have no desire to be a victim of rape nor to appear to be doing something inappropriate. I don’t meet men at bars to talk about ministry. I don’t sin with them.

Several stories came out this week of men in Christian leadership exposed for sexual misconduct. Those women could have helped themselves by saying, “No I am not sinning with you. No I am not meeting you somewhere alone with no witnesses.” I am not trying to blame them. I feel compassion for them. I am saying in this day and age, we must use wisdom. I am not traveling to my pastors house alone. I will meet you in a public place with witnesses. No I am not sinning with you and submitting to what dishonors me or my relationship with Jesus. Boundaries help protect what has value. It’s far more difficult for sexual assault to happen in a public place with loads of witnesses.

If you have been abused sexually, physically, emotionally, spiritually (spiritual abuse is another one that is high in clients I see), manipulated, controlled, or mistreated by clergy or professing Christians, I am so sorry! It is not the heart of God and He hates abused. I pray your heart is healed and restored. God loves you! I can also confidently say that God gives beauty for ashes and binds up the wounds of the broken hearted! You are greatly loved.

Warmly,

Erin Lamb

Empowered-Free.com

EmpoweredandFreeMerch.com

OperationGodisLove.org

It’s Time to Live Victorious! (New Book Coming Soon)

We are almost across the finish line! I am finishing up the supplemental study guide for the Overcoming Church Hurt & Abuse book today.

This book was birthed out of conversations with clients from deep inner healing sessions and a friend who said, “We need a book to address abuse in the church.” It was not in my queue of books to write. I was working on a manuscript called Killing Insecurity. It’s still a work in progress. 🙂

In the past few years we have heard and seen the stories of #metoo and #churchtoo. Unfortunately, communities of faith are not immune from abuse, gross misconduct, or ungodly behavior. Every person can still choose sin. Abuse is sin. It is unfortunate when abuse happens in places that were intended to be safe, like family, and a place of healing.

I noticed abuse can slip under the rug because of wrong teachings about forgiveness, wrong teachings about submission and headship, and wrong beliefs about God. For many, it is far more detrimental to be abused by clergy. Then they are told to simply forgive and magically it will be like nothing happened. This is false. There are ways to restore/help both the abused and the the abuser.

Aren’t Christians supposed to be loving and perfect? Ha! I am not perfect, are you? Only God is perfect. I am a work in progress.

So, what are we to do about the abuse, control, manipulation, and gross mistreatment? What do we do when the people who claim to love God are failing in loving people? I highly recommend addressing it head on instead of ignoring abuse or telling people to forgive, build a bridge and get over the trauma or mistreatment they suffered.

We must cease sweeping things under the rug and deal with issues that violate God’s heart. It’s a part of justice. God loves to help the oppressed. The greatest commandment revolves around loving God and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Overcoming Church Hurt & Abuse unpacks:

  • Why abuse happens.
  • How people who claim Jesus can be so cruel and unloving.
  • How to spot the red flags of abuse.
  • Wrong uses of scripture.
  • Why forgiveness alone is not removing all your negative feelings or pain.
  • How to get your soul healed!
  • How to keep your children and heart safe.
  • Setting boundaries and dealing with people who do not respect boundaries.
  • Moving from victim to victor.
  • Where was God and why didn’t He stop the abuse?
  • And so much more!

I hope you grab a copy of Overcoming Church Hurt & Abuse when it’s released next month and you share it with any person who has been physically, sexually, emotionally, verbally or in any way grossly mistreated by professing Christians.

I also recommend this book for those who have not been abused. I have never been sexually abused, yet I have learned so much and how to speak compassionately from working with abuse victims. Sometimes Christians say the wrong things. This book provides insight into the thoughts of an abuse victim.

I hope many are set free from deep rooted wounds. The first editor stated she experienced healing from reading the manuscript.

It’s time to heal.

It’s time to SOAR!

It’s time to move out of the land of being victimized and into the land of victors.

You may watch a short book trailer here: https://youtu.be/jlexF1HRpFA

Warmly,

Erin Lamb

Silenced Screams (A Response to Human Trafficking and Abuse)

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19.

Silenced Screams

Written by Erin Lamb

December 12, 2010

I hear the echoes of your silenced

screams piercing through my mind.

Screams from the forgotten,

abused, and misused.

Compassion overflows

for hearts and bodies tattered, worn,

wounds left open, and exposed.

The cries of your heart,

that you feel no one else seems

to hear,

reach high into the heavens.

God sees and understands.

The tears that flow like waterfalls,

that you think no one seems to see,

God sees them.

He hears them.

I must respond on bended knee.

On bended knee before my Father

there is a plea for your Deliverer to

come;

knowing only He can move the vast

mountains of oppression,

that have remained for way too long.

It is here,

I feel the earth shake,

in an outcry,

for justice,

for your freedom,

to live a life free of being someone’s

slave.

I see a light,

pierce through the darkness,

illuminating your tear stained face.

Your face is not forgotten,

God knows your name.

You are the King’s treasure,

and He longs to give you His very best.

You are not someone to be overlooked,

neglected,

ignored,

or clothed in shame.

You are a precious one,

one that God adores.

God hears the wailing of your heart,

and He is calling for the world to

respond.

We do not lose hope for justice,

for our help comes from above.

He is breaking our hearts,

with the pain that breaks yours.

No longer are your screams to be

silenced,

or your suffering ignored.

We cannot live your nightmares

or even heal your wounds,

but we can keep shouting from the

rooftops for deliverance to come.

We can fight for your freedom.

Your freedom is my passion,

for the world to see your plight.

Prayers will surround you,

until all the injustices are made right.

More than prayer,

there is rallying for you!

We cannot do everything,

but we can do something.

It starts here,

with the world hearing your silenced

screams.

There are so many hurting people in the world. So many children and women, who are being abused, or held against their will. My heart aches for every hurting person in the world. While I cannot carry each person’s individual burden, I can pray for the oppressed. I cannot forget those held captive and so my knee bends to pray. So please join me in praying for our friends held captive around the world. God loves them as much as He loves us.

Check our these great organizations who are fighting for freedom.

A21 Campaign: http://www.thea21campaign.org/

20 ways you can fight human trafficking:
http://www.state.gov/j/tip/id/help/

Not for Sale:
http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/

Fight for Freedom:
http://www.thedailymuse.com/education/the-fight-for-freedom-7-organizations-combating-human-trafficking/

National Domestic Abuse Hotline:
1−800−799−SAFE(7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224.