Hello, friends. As we meet from week to week through these video messages, I hope you are blessed and encouraged in your walk with Jesus and in the mission He has given to us in reaching the world for Him.
Today, we will be discussing a very difficult, yet very important topic—abuse. Abuse is a topic that no one wants to talk about, and yet it is one that must be addressed if we are to carry out our mission of hope and healing.
Every day, thousands of innocent people around the world—many of them children—experience abuse. Abuse comes in many forms—child sexual abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse, abuse by clergy, human trafficking, rape, female genital mutilation, and many other horrific forms.
And sadly, abuse exists everywhere—even within the church. As a worldwide Church of caring, loving Christians, we must open our eyes to the fact that there are more people than we might imagine who are suffering deeply from the devasting effects of abuse. Jesus calls us to a ministry of hope and healing. But first we must recognize the problem.
Although violence affects everyone, women, children, and the elderly seem to bear the brunt of nonfatal physical, sexual, and psychological abuse. Consider that:
- One in four adults reports having been physically abused as a child.
- One in five women reports having been sexually abused as a child.
- One in three women has been a victim of physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner at some point in her lifetime.
- One in seventeen older adults reported abuse in just one month, according to the World Health Organization.
Results from abuse can be devastating, leaving the victim feeling worthless, depressed, anxious, even suicidal. Those who have been abused are often more vulnerable to eating disorders, self-mutilation, substance abuse, and other destructive behaviors.
As Seventh-day Adventists, we condemn abuse in all of its forms and embrace the healing ministry of Jesus. This is part of our God-given mission.
In Isaiah 58, verse 6 we read,
Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the [a]heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke?
Commenting on Isaiah 58, Ellen White wrote, “The work specified in these words is the work God requires His people to do. It is a work of God’s own appointment. With the work of advocating the commandments of God and repairing the breach that has been made in the law of God, we are to mingle compassion for suffering humanity. We are to show supreme love to God . . . and with this we are to manifest mercy, benevolence, and the tenderest pity for the fallen race. . . . Love revealed for suffering humanity gives significance and power to the truth” (Welfare Ministry, p. 32).
This coming Sabbath, August 22, is a special day for raising awareness and advocating for the end of violence around the world. Known as “enditnow,” this global initiative developed by the Seventh-day Adventist Church was launched in 2009 and seeks to increase personal awareness, responsibility, and involvement in helping to stem the tide of this terrible evil. You can find more information about this special emphasis day by visiting enditnow.org
It’s so important that we as leaders, and members, not only be aware of the signs of abuse, but actively take steps to prevent it from happening, listening carefully and compassionately to those who have experienced abuse, and taking action—such as taking preventive measures, reporting perpetrators to the proper authorities so the perpetrators can be held accountable.
There are many helpful resources available online, including this website where you can find more information.
As we close, I would like to take a moment to address those who have experienced some form of violence or abuse. My sister, my brother—God knows what has happened to you, and He cares. What happened to you is not your fault. I encourage you to talk with a trusted person today. You do not need to suffer in silence. Help is available now. And someday, God will bring about new life and complete healing. He promises in Malachi 4:2—“But for you who respect my name, the sun of vindication will rise with healing wings, and you will skip about like calves released from the stall” (NET).
Let’s pray together. Father in heaven, come close to all those who have experienced great difficulty in their lives. And perhaps even now we ask that you will bring a complete healing to their hearts and help them to see a new picture and bright hope for the future. As you fill them with your righteousness.
You’re justifying righteousness, you’re sanctifying righteousness, and help them to see that they are worth so much in your eyes. And in the eyes of others, they are valuable in the mission outreach of the church. And soon when you return Lord, we will be made completely home. We thank you for this now Lord, please be with each.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.