“That does not happen here” was my first response when I was explained the problem in 2015. While conducting the Galilee program five years ago, one of the interns tearfully poured out her heart concerning her sexual assault when 11 years old. What was more startling was that the perpetrator was a person in fellowship at the Assembly. At first, I and my fellow directors of the Galilee Program advised the victims to work through their local oversight. Not much had crossed our minds about this issue until 2017 when this dear sister published her story on her blog site (Come Awake Blog, “From Brokenness to Healing”). At that time, we (i.e. the directors) realized this is not an isolated story, but one of many similar heart wrenching experiences in the current generation. Since 2017, another 20+ credible testimonials have been forwarded to us which describe their violations, their subsequent struggles, and astounding victories since their assaults.
What amazed us was the proximity of the perpetrators and settings. Violators spanned from traveling preachers to men or women in the Assembly. Victims ranged from girls to boys and perpetrators included both genders beginning from teens to adulthood. Settings were in the home or in a public forum, sometimes with inappropriate touching at Assembly gatherings. These testimonies are shocking and horrific. The agonizing issues of soul and self-perception loomed large in our victim’s tormented accounts. The common denominator for successfully navigating through such injury was a trusting and clinging to their Christ through and beyond the sins of others. It was disheartening to hear of how some perpetrators went unaddressed or undisciplined and unrepentant. Some shepherds were at a loss on how to deal with a violator of this magnitude. Other leaders were too embarrassed to expose the problem. What was left in the wake of such inactivity were shattered lives that were gasping for the air of closure. In some cases, no life preserver was in sight due to the dormancy of shepherds and sometimes parents.
I ask you to understand that it is not our goal to shock a person over the sins of another. However, it is incumbent upon us to address our own sin in our own camps (1 Pet 4:17). Thus, in May 2018, we (i.e. the directors of the Galilee Program) first published an open letter describing the scope of the iniquity. It was our intention to alert the shepherds of the prevalence and nature of sexual assault within our ranks. We are now producing a letter to parents who may be unaware of the dangers lurking around the corners of our children. Both of these letters are available at www.protecthissheep.com, which is a website started in May of 2018 to begin to address our dilemmas.
However, we believe this problem demands more awareness and subsequent appropriate shepherding. This article is one of several mechanisms toward this goal. The aforementioned website is designed to focus on three potential areas of solution:
I invite you to visit this website but most of all pray for the Bride of Christ in dealing with such atrocities. We must be a people to stand in the gap of such situations (Ezek 22:30). Every generation has its own “giants” that dominate the horizon of the land we are to possess in Christ. We cannot sit idle but must act under the direction and leadership of His Spirit and His Word. I was personally awakened to the heavy responsibility of protecting my children from this infection for it is the “spirit of harlotry” (Hos 5:4) that is surging as a tidal wave today. I would invite you to do the same in a godly measured manner. Please visit the website and communicate with us as this problem has many more layers to address. I beg you to at least ask the question: “Could this happen really here?” Some would say I am exaggerating a problem that does not infiltrate our settings. I would submit that the testimonials of those on our website graphically suggest otherwise. May I ask you to prayerfully consider just how hidden sin of this nature is sabotaging the Lord’s glory on our watch for His Church.
Co-director of Protect His Sheep together with Jim McCarthy and Brady Collier