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FROM VICTIMS TO VICTORSOVERCOMING ABUSE BY THE POWER OF JESUS CHRIST
By MARK JONES
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Mark Jones
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE CALL
When I was a child of seven years old, I felt conviction of sin and received Christ into my life. I felt a definite call from God on my life to be a minister. At the age of eight, I received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. A year later, I preached my first message at a youth service. I have always felt a deep concern for children and youth. Some of the most fulfilling moments of my life were when I prayed at the altar with other children, helping them to find Jesus as their Saviour.
As I grew into my teens, it became increasingly clear that God had called me to minister and impact lives by the Spirit and Word of God. Today I still feel a great concern to see young people grow into strong Christians, for they are the church of today and the spiritual leaders of the future.
At the age of thirteen, I had my first personal encounter with an abused teen. Many teens had responded to the evangelist's stirring message that night. I was praying in the altars with the youth. The Lord directed my focus to a young lady who had come forward for salvation. She had a very troubled look on her face. I spoke to her, asking if I could pray with her for salvation. At that point, she began to cry profusely. Between her sobs, she managed to tell me that her father had sexually abused her. She felt ashamed and unworthy of God's grace. The evangelist and I continued to talk with her and pray for her. God's Spirit touched her soul and gave her joy, and began a healing process in her that night. We serve a mighty God who desires to heal the whole person: body, soul and spirit. That girl left the service with peace of mind and restored self-esteem. God's healing power can do more in one hour than a secular counsellor can do in a year.
As my wife and I were dating, I found another opportunity to minister to a victim of abuse. When we became engaged, my wife felt the need to be open with me about her childhood. She had been sexually abused for several years by a close relative. It had started when she was very young and continued until she was eleven years old. Her abuser had passed away many years before we had become acquainted, but the pain and trauma of it was still very real. She felt shame, anger and guilt. It seems elementary to say that children are not the guilty ones when preyed upon by adults, but the victims. Even so, that doesn't change the fact that they feel shame and will often blame themselves.
As my wife shared her secret with me, she told me that she felt it only fair to share it with me, since I was a virgin. She thought I wouldn't want to marry someone who wasn't a virgin. I was the first person she had ever told. I reassured her that the sex offender was the one who had sinned, and not her; she was merely an innocent victim who had no choice in the matter. I then told her that she was as pure as a virgin, as far as I was concerned. The sex offender had taken a period of her past from her, but she didn't have to let that ruin her present and future.
The first step to healing from abuse is to open up and tell someone about the pain. If you continue to hold it in, it will eat you up like a cancer.
I continued to build Terry's self-esteem and to be supportive. Since that first talk, she has continued to heal and grow, regaining confidence and self-worth. She tells me that her life has been given back to her because of her relationship with God, and my ongoing support. People can get their lives back and be triumphant through the power of Christ.
In the summer of 1995, opportunity came for us to help some victims of abuse. I came home from work one day to find that two of my nieces were placed in our care. Charges against their parents were being investigated. Ten days later, their two brothers were placed with us as well. Our home was the only option the state felt comfortable with, and we were the only close relatives that were able to take them in. Otherwise, the state would've been forced to separate them into different foster homes.
The children's own parents had requested that they be placed with us because they trusted us to love them and provide a good home for them. We willingly received them, not wanting them to lose each other after having been through so much. We also felt it was imperative that they would not lose touch with the rest of their family. Our family has been a great support to us through this whole ordeal.
Taking four children into our home so unexpectedly was a great challenge to us, as you can imagine. We had two daughters of our own, and there were many adjustments to make. Danna and Vicky were pre-teens at the time. They had always been close to each other, and we had trained them to resolve their conflicts without fighting and yelling. There were suddenly four children in the home who had grown up with constant fighting, which is a common by-product of abuse. These children came to us with all of their emotional baggage. They felt betrayed by those who were supposed to protect them, and had a hard time trusting anyone.
It took time and a lot of prayer to help us adjust to being a family of eight. Being used in the ministry requires allowing God to take you outside of your comfort zone. It was a growing experience for our family, allowing us and our daughters to see beyond ourselves. It helped us realize that there are hurting people who need God's love.
As time went on, we took the children to church and had family prayer at home on a regular basis. We witnessed the healing power of Christ, and watched God restore what Satan tried to destroy. After being placed in our care, the children showed major emotional and academic progress. Social workers and school teachers were amazed at the difference.
It is to these children and thousands like them that I prayerfully dedicate this book. I appreciate my wife and daughters. They have been an outstanding blessing to me and many others. We have grown in God's love and grace through it all. It was a selfless love that caused Danna and Vicky to open their hearts and share their parents' love with four additional children.
I would not recommend a family to do what we did unless you are founded in the Lord, have a strong marriage, and have no doubt that it is what God wants you to do. I do not want you to think that everything went smoothly during this period of our lives. There were times when our children were under great strain. There were times when Terry and I were exhausted and our marriage was strained. The powers of hell attacked us and we had to engage in spiritual warfare. When you reach out to help people, it makes Satan angry. We had the blessings of a great Pastor and supportive church family during this time. They all helped us make it through.
In the next chapter, we will share testimonies of God's intervening love and grace. I pray that you will find these stories interesting, and that you'll be blessed by His loving and powerful hand moving on the lives of these former victims.
Chapter TwoTHE VICTIMS
I want to begin this chapter with some statistics on sexual child abuse.
* Roughly 33% of girls and 14% of boys are molested before the age of 18. 1
* Nearly 2/3 of all sexual assaults reported involved minors, and roughly 1/3 were children under 12 years of age. 1
* The average child molester will molest 50 girls before being caught and convicted.
* A molester of boys will molest 150 boys before being caught and convicted, and will commit about 280 sex crimes during his lifetime.
* The standard pedophile will commit 117 sexual crimes during his lifetime.
* Most abuse victims are between the ages of 7 and 13.
* There are over 491,720 registered sex offenders in the U.S.
* 80,000 to 100,000 of these sex offenders are missing, whereabouts unknown.
* 70-90% of victims are molested by a family member or acquaintance.
The F.B.I. Reports that the National Institute for Mental Health found that only 1%-10% of victims ever tell that they were abused. Boys report far less than girls. This means that the real numbers are difficult to determine.
I would like to share the stories of several former victims that we have had the opportunity of meeting. The four children I'm going to discuss in this chapter are the family members that were placed in our home. Each had individual issues from their abuse to deal with. The following will provide some insight into many of the issues that arise when children have experienced sexual abuse.
Monica was born with the odds against her. Soon after birth, it was discovered that she was blind and had cerebral palsy. When she was a few months old, she began having seizures, for which she was placed on medication. Although Monica's parents did not attend church, they were aware of the Gospel and God's healing power.
One night, Monica's parents took her to a revival service and asked the minister to pray for her eyes to be healed. This minister had special faith for this kind of miracle, having been healed of blindness himself in his childhood. His name was Ronald Coyne. God healed Monica's eyes that night and the seizures stopped as well. When Monica's parents took her back to the doctor, he was amazed. According to medical science it was impossible for her to see, but tests revealed that she had 20/20 vision in both eyes. The doctor had no choice but to admit that these results were connected to a divine intervention.
One would think that such a miracle would have caused Monica's mother and father to become believers and start serving the Lord.
In Romans 2:4, the Bible says that God's goodness is manifested to bring men to repentance. Many people, however, do not appreciate God's love and mercy. Sadly, these parents chose to keep living as before, outside of God's kingdom.
Time went on and Monica grew into a beautiful, brown-eyed brunette. Her father began molesting her at a very young age. Monica told her mother what was going on, but her mother wasn't sure how to stop the situation. The mother had been a victim of the same thing in her childhood. In the years that followed, Monica's mother tried various ways to stop the sexual abuse. She tried to get her husband to seek professional help, but he would not agree to this. She began to feel hopeless and resorted to threats. She told him she would turn him in, and even went as far as threatening to kill him. Monica's father would cry, say he was sorry, and promise to change, but the abuse continued.
The home was filled with fighting and yelling. It became so violent that Monica and her siblings lived in constant fear. She told us that her mother would occasionally pick up a gun and threaten to commit suicide or shoot the entire family. Monica was afraid to sleep at night. In her last few years at home, Monica began to suffer abuse from her mother. Monica's mother began to blame Monica for the sexual abuse and view her as a rival lover instead of an abused daughter. This reveals the level of anger and hopelessness that had overwhelmed the mother. This behaviour sounds bizarre and unreasonable, but it is common in this type of situation.
Several close family members suspected that abuse was going on in the home, but suspecting and proving are two different things. The authorities were called more than once. The parents covered for each other and the children were afraid to talk. The case workers found their hands tied, and so the abuse continued. The only bright spot in Monica's life was when she and her siblings were allowed to attend church with family members.
Family members were praying for God to intervene. The day came when the mother finally went to the police and reported the abuse. The children were taken to doctors and physical evidence was firmly established. The father was assigned fifteen years in prison.
God answers prayer in his own way and time. I came home one evening and Monica and her sister met me at the door, along with my wife and daughters. Monica was to be with us for several years. Upon her arrival, she was quiet, depressed and withdrawn. She was ten years old, and struggling with many conflicting emotions. She loved her parents, but did not like the things they had done to her and to the rest of the kids. She wondered if she had betrayed her parents by telling on her dad. She was very confused, but knew she couldn't handle any more of the abuse.
We began to spend time with her, building trust and assuring her that she had done the right thing. We attempted to help her see that she was the victim, not the criminal. We continued to assure her that she was innocent, and had done nothing wrong, and that the trouble her dad was in was his own fault. After a few weeks, she began to open up and communicate more freely with us. I am truly amazed at how the grace of the Lord gave her strength to endure the abuse as she did. She began to heal emotionally and to come out of her shell. It was helpful that we were family, and that she knew us quite well.
School teachers, friends, and people at church all began to notice a positive change in Monica. She began to smile, laugh and make friends at school. She began enjoying life. Her grades at school improved dramatically, and her caseworker was impressed at her progress. Her therapist ended her counselling after only nine months, stating that she had come along remarkably well. The minimum time for counselling for most abuse victims is at least two years. I seized the chance to testify to the caseworker and therapist about God's love and power. They both admitted that Monica's progress was awesome.
Monica's physical condition also improved while she was in our care. When she first came to us, she was not very active. She had limited movement in her legs and back, and her posture and coordination were poor, due to cerebral palsy. We encouraged her to get more exercise and play outside more often, and she spent many hours on our trampoline. This proved to be therapeutic for her in more ways than one. At first, she could hardly stand up on the trampoline and keep her balance. Then she learned to jump on it quite well. She became very active and enjoys outdoor activities to this day.
In the yearly evaluation of student motor skills and coordination, Monica's physical condition improved from 35% normal to 85% in the first year of her time with us. This was amazing, considering her previous condition. We were ecstatic with the good reports. One day, my wife and I were watching her jump on the trampoline and play baseball in the back yard. We were thrilled with her progress both physically and emotionally. God is awesome!
Monica is now much more content and functional. She likes to read the Bible and go to Sunday School. She is more outgoing, and now holds her head up instead of looking down. Though she used to be reluctant to hug anyone, she has become a loving and affectionate person. She has learned that she can trust others. We are thankful for God's love that changes lives.
Brad was a healthy little guy, born in the late 80's. His parents were a little overwhelmed with the care of his handicapped sister, Monica. They asked a family member to help take care of Brad fairly often. A "little babysitting" turned into Brad practically being raised by one of his aunts. She kept him a majority of the time. His aunt was a single young lady at the time, with plenty of time to give him love and attention. Naturally, he grew quite attached to her under the circumstances. He basically lived with her, and his parents would drop by occasionally to see him.
When he became school age, his parents took him back to live with them. Brad was devastated, hurt and angry. He begged to live with the aunt who had been the mother image in his life. He couldn't understand why his parents had little interest in him before, and suddenly wanted to keep him.
Excerpted from FROM VICTIMS TO VICTORS by MARK JONES Copyright © 2011 by Mark Jones. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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