Another School Year Begins
August 1st. I reported back to school today for teacher orientation for the 2018-19 school year. The students return August 8th. Can you believe that. I know for many of you school began after Labor Day and it seems it has been getting earlier and earlier for years now. What happened to the perception that us teachers have it made with three months off every summer?
I am beginning my 41st year in the education arena. When the students walk into class next week once again the blood will flow a little quicker, the energy will increase, and the joy of teaching young incredible kids will erase the aches and pains, the fatigue, and the sometimes bad attitude guys in their sixties can get. I will be blessed to have 180, fifty minute sessions to share truth, kindness, and hope with kids who have their lives in front of them. It is a honor and joy each day.
Jesus is Very Fond of Us
At the core of sexual abuse healing is the recognition one day that I as a survivor am truly valuable. When Jesus emerged from the water after John dunked him in the Jordan River, the heavens opened up and a voice was heard saying, "This is my beloved son in who I am well pleased."
My dad passed away twenty three years ago this week in July. Of all the memories I have of him, the one that stands out so vividly was just a few weeks before he left us when he said to me, "Son, I am so proud of you." At the very depth of my being is the truth I know that my dad loved me and more, he was proud of me. There are the days when I don't feel good about myself. The failures of thought and deed bring me back to the many years of pain and silence believing that I was worthless. My dad did not know that I am an abuse survivor. I never revealed to him on this earth. I know this, nothing would have changed his feelings for me had he known.
Evil is working Overtime...
Since February there has been an escalation in the public arena of shooting and provocative sexual abuse cases. In every case the question is raised as to motive and in every case those reporting say there is "little to go on." The shock and awe of the case fades in a few short days and weeks and the motives are not reported on or released or maybe never known. Then another shooting or abuse case is uncovered and short cycle of outrage repeats and on and on we go.
I have been searching for updates on the two latest school shootings and possible motives for both Nicholas Cruz (Parkland, Florida) and Dimitrios Pagourtzis )Santa Fe, Texas. Most often in these shooting the shooter either commits suicide or is killed by lawenforcement. It would be a real benefit if information could be released as to motive so we as a culture could begin to address solutions and prevention of future destruction.
The Tenderness of Jesus
On the cross, Jesus experienced every type of abuse we as humans face in a lifetime; physical, verbal, spiritual, emotional, sexual. The book of Hebrews reminds us over and over that in Jesus we have a Savior that understands every human experience we face and urges us to carry on. He conquered it all. Embrace the one and hold on with all you have.
This Easter season I want to share an excerpt from Brennan Manning's book, The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus.
I hope you have a blessed Easter Season.
The death of Jesus Christ on the cross is His greatest single act of unwavering trust in His Abba's love. He plunged into the darkness of death, not fully knowing what awaited Him confident that somehow, some way, His Abba would vindicate Him.
Twenty years earlier, Jesus spoke these words to His panicked parents; "I must always be where My Abba is." Surely these words must have surfaced in Mary's mind as she stood at the foot of the cross watching her son die.
"He's a Broken Kid"
For many years I have observed students in my role as a teacher. Psychology and psychiatry have undergone real change during this period in both philosophy and treatment. For example, consider the case of a current nineteen year old young man. As a child he exhibited behaviors that were described as over active, compulsive, anti-social, and disruptive. It grew over the years to bouts of anger, and depression. The counselors, doctors and care givers in his life agreed that medications to treat all the issues would benefit him in managing and possibly changing his behaviors and outlook on the reality of the world around him.
If you are my age, you have heard this story often. I have been skeptical of all the diagnoses, treatments, and results for forty years now. I am considered "old school" for reluctantly embracing the "new" science. I still like to include other contributing factors, such as family of origin, childhood trauma, stability of home and environment, and spiritual instruction as equally credible factors in assessing behavior. I would like to see all of the factors considered when determining intervention and or treatment. But that's just me.
Let's take this nineteen year old again. His biological mother gave him up at birth. The biological father was unknown. A loving older family with other children adopted him and provided a good home and family environment. Tragically, the boy witnessed the death of his adoptive father at age 5. His mother was left to raise him and his younger brother as a single parent. His early development was mixed with normal behaviors and incidents of rebellion that grew over the years into fits of anger. Physically he was always undersized for his age and it drew kidding and unkind treatment from students and neighbors; today it is called bullying. His response to the ridicule was to withdraw and become silent, kind of a mystery person fearful of trusting new acquaintances for fear of rejection. He became "unsocial." Then without much time to prepare his mother passed away unexpectedly. She had been his rock and stability.
"Possibly the Most prolific child sexual abuser in history"
In 2011 Jerry Sandusky, former football coach at Penn State University, was sentenced to 30-60 years in prison following his conviction of assaulting young boys between 1994 and 2009. A concrete number of victims Sandusky molested has not been made public. At least 10 were mentioned in the original grand jury report. After the trial, Sandusky's lawyers hinted at many more, some dating back to the 1960s.
Most recently in the news is the case of Dr. Larry Nassar. Nasser is the former team doctor for the United States Olympic Gymnastic team and athletic program at Michigan State University. Last week a prosecutor in the Nassar case called Nassar "possibly the most prolific serial child sex abuser in history." That is a quite an accusation. Is the statement accurate? Is in fact Mr. Nassar the most prolific child abuser in history?
This case like the Sandusky case before it gets major media attention because of the high profile of the perpetrators. It successfully provides awareness on a grand scale and sheds light on this evil behavior. And then, as quickly as it comes it fades away and little is done to address the damage left in the wake or strategies to both prevent and heal those damaged deeply.
A New Year of Hope
It's that time of the year again. A time to reflect on the past year and a time to ponder what the New Year may bring. It is always time to recognize the goodness and faithfulness of our Lord.
Ten years ago I was recovering from cancer treatment and in the middle of that season, the Lord prompted Jillian and I to branch out and enter into the world of the sexually abused full time. It was a step of faith not knowing what it meant, with whom to partner, or what direction it may go. There isn't a blue print for this work out there. These years we validated what I already knew that the hurt abuse inflicts on a soul is deep and destructive and out of the line of sight of the world around us.
We learned early that there is great fear and uncertainty in addressing the issue in an open public setting. We learned that there is resistance to providing safe places and programs for healing and hope. We learned that swimming upstream is truly a difficult task.
Here in 2018, we are as committed as ever to the cause. There is a movie coming out this spring that I have already had the privilege to see. It is called the "The Heart of Man." For the last ten years I have immersed myself into studying and learning about the scope and magnitude of the devastation of sexual abuse. I have read everything Dan Allender has written. I have been to seminars and classes. Dr. Allender has a prominent role in this movie and along with the others they open the door widely to the hope that rests in our Lords love.
Sexual Harassment Training for Congressmen...Really?
It is awfully hard to deny there is a sexual abuse crisis in this country given what is unfolding in both Washington DC and the media. The truth that this is an epidemic being ignored and kept silent is being exposed.
The immediate response to exposure is shame. Remember the garden when God came looking for the couple that had just disobeyed. The first response was to hide themselves because they had been exposed. Shame breeds silence and cover up. Whether it is a child that has been molested by a more powerful adult, or a powerful Congressman that has covered the behavior for years. It is shame that destroys.
In these present cases the responses are quite telling. The first response is to deny; "I don't recall that at all...the accuser is lying...the facts are being misrepresented." In the garden the man pointed to the idea that his wife made him do it. We have all been there when the moment of exposure turns our stomach in knots and hiding feels like the best response.
The Menendez Brothers
NBC aired a series this fall about the Menendez brothers. Lyle and Eric brutally murdered their parents in their home in 1989. Both confessed to the crime but pleaded not guilty. Both were tried for first degree murder. The defense argued that Lyle and Erik were the victims of childhood sexual abuse. There were no prior acts of violence in their history. The years of abuse that began at age six and the ongoing intimidation and threats of continued harm momentarily caused the young men to snap. The defense team argued for a lesser charge of manslaughter given the boys history.
The brutality of the murders and the depiction of the boys in the media moved public opinion to sympathize with the prosecution. But lead attorney Leslie Abramson presented the argument that both Erik and his brother Lyle were lifelong victims of sexual abuse by their parents. After years of secrecy and torture the accumulation of the affects of the sexual abuse contributed to Erik and Lyle's state of mind in the moment. They feared for their lives.
Sixteen year old Maturity
September was quite a month for Jillian and I. On October 6, 2008 I suffered a serious heart attack while visiting in Illinois. At that time the doctors placed a stent in my Right Coronary Artery to resolve the blockage that had developed over the years. Last June I scheduled a routine stress test to see how my heart is doing. The doctor recommended an angiogram to see if the stress he observed on my heart needed some attention. On 9-11 I had two new stents placed in the same artery to assist the present stent that was beginning to wear a bit. Thank you for your prayers. I am feeling great.
Jillian had back surgery three days after my procedure. Unfortunately, we are past two weeks at the time of this letter and her recovery is progressing slowly. Jillian has a long history of medical struggles. Thirty years ago she began battling an unknown condition that we now know as fibromyalgia. It has taken a toll on her since 1988. It appears that this current surgery has aggravated the fibromyalgia and is not allowing her body to recover at the normal rate. Jillian has two other health issues that also complicate the healing process. We are taking it slow and she has put her contacts on hold for a while with the ministry until she has the strength physically and emotionally to return to caring for those she counsels. We covet your prayers for her the next few months.
As you know I returned to Northwest Christian School last year as a teacher. We have continued to do our best to keep Holding onto Hope as a resource for survivors of sexual abuse available as needed. I have a consistent number of men I meet with regularly and more continue to seek us out each month.
CHRISTIAN SCHOOL STUDENT ANOTHER VICTIM OF THE EPIDEMIC
In 2016 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science awarded Spotlight the Oscar for Best Picture of the year. The film is a documentary of the scandal that surrounded the Catholic Church in Boston involving priests and sexual abuse. The movie exposed the darkness of the issue, the lack of awareness in the public square, and the magnitude of the epidemic.
Take a look at the previous best picture winners and you will not find another movie like it. This issue was given elite status. A movie that chronicles the darkness of evil perpetrated against innocent children vaulted into limelight. Two years later, the movie has been moved to the rarely viewed list, while the issue continues hiding in the shadows of shame throughout the world.
Radical Time Out – A Place of Hope and Encouragement
RTO stands for RADICAL TIME OUT and is the slogan used by an incredible group of people Jillian and I were blessed to share with in July. Our dear friends Jim and Mary Whitmer were instrumental in launching RTO as part of Koinonia House Ministries in Wheaton, Illinois. http://koinoniahouse.org/
Our family friend Manny Mill is the founder and director of Koinonia House Ministries and every Thursday for the past three years the ministry hosts a dinner and program highlighting the struggles and successes of those who have been incarcerated or have family members serving time. I have had the privilege of sharing in the past with RTO about Holding onto Hope Ministries. It was once again truly a blessing for Jillian and I to share in word and song. Check out this short video of our time with RTO.
The Silence of God
Healing from abuse is a lifelong difficult journey. Any type of abuse damages the soul deeply. The soul is the connecting point to the creator the place where we go to communicate and to search for answers to questions like: Why? Why did God allow this to happen to me? Where was God when the abuse was happening? Why do I feel so distant from God in the great pain and why does He seem to not be interested in my pain? Why is he so silent?
These are all real and soulful questions. Well meaning counselors, clergy, and close friends attempt to offer words of encouragement and advice but often fall short. The questions are founded in great pain. Pain inflicted on the core of our being and only the creator of our soul must have the answers. But so often it feels as though he is not talking. Andrew Peterson puts it this way in his song, "The Silence of God"
"And it'll shake a man's timbers when he loses his heart
When he has to remember what broke him apart
And this yoke may be easy but this burden is not
When the crying fields are frozen by the silence of God"
"Hope is built into the structure of our personalities, into the depths of our unconscious; it plagues us to the very moment of our death. The critical question is whether hope is self-deception, the ultimate cruelty of a cruel and tricky universe, or whether it is just possibly the imprint of reality."
Healing from sexual abuse is a complicated life long process. The original trauma to the soul is soothed in that there is hope that one day wholeness will be restored. I get a sense that out there in the world there is a belief that some sort of systematic approach, if provided with great self-discipline and fortitude along with enough effort will at some point foster in complete healing. The desire to heal and mend completely is admirable. However, if ultimate healing becomes a goal we pursue with great determination, with that comes the potential for great disappointment. So many variables are outside of our control. In working with fellow survivors the one great common frustration is time. Years pass as healing comes and goes. It seems at times there is no progress at all.
I was sexually abused the first time at age 12. From that moment it took twenty nine years before I spoke out to anyone about the experience. In that twenty nine years I developed the ability to disguise feelings, and expectations. I taught myself how to survive with deep seated anger. I committed myself to believe and behave so that no one would ever hurt me again. I fell prey to the idea that because of my abuse I was no longer of any value to anyone. I lived for twenty nine years in the bondage of shame and I hung on hoping that one day it would just all go away.
It's the Shame Underneath
"And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed...
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord had made..
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes...she took from its fruit and ate it and also gave some to her husband and he ate it...
Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew they were naked..."
Every time we are exposed in a moment of weakness. Every time we are witnessed failing. Every time a thought or fantasy leads to error, before God, the painful emotion of shame cuts into our soul with the precision of a surgeon. The dread of the moments shouts in our hearts, "get me out of here...now... I can't take this feeling of hopelessness...I am worthless...God couldn't possibly love me after this..." The moment fades and the next mistake, the next slip up, the next criticism, the next fantasy or evil thought comes and shame takes another jab at the soul and on it goes, time after time after time.
Value of Easter for Survivors
Once every year the world is reminded of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Some will celebrate. Some will ignore. Some will weep. Some will bow. Some will deny. All must answer the question, "What will you do with this man?" It's the only question in life that matters.
Jillian and I work in the world where brokenness is deep.
We all suffer from pain and past hurt that shapes and molds our thinking and behavior. For those that have suffered severe trauma to the soul, hope in the resurrection during the Easter season is not always a celebration. Is it a lack of faith? Is it stubbornness to the need for surrender? May I suggest that it is a reminder of the pain and the struggle to accept that what Jesus did carries any value for a soul that believes he or she has no value?
Jesus ministry began on the shore of the Jordan River where after his baptism the heavens opened and a voice declared, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." God proclaimed to all standing there that this is a valuable man. This is my son. He means everything to me. I am so very fond of him. God wants us to know that He feels exactly the same way about us. We are His beloved sons and daughters, and nothing will ever change that.
Fast Start for the Ministry
2017 is off to a fast start for Holding onto Hope Ministries. Last month I reported on long time ministry friend Richard and his release in January from prison. Richard stayed with us at the Hope House through February 28th and the great news is that he has settled in with Deep Within Ministries here in Phoenix. Deep Within has one of the finest programs in Arizona, and I would argue anywhere helping men with recovery and re-entry. Richard is a perfect fit and is looking forward to working as part of the team at Deep Within throughout the community of Phoenix. After the initial time spent, Deep Within has an outstanding record of securing excellent and steady employment and transition to housing that will go a long way in helping Richard make the transition successful. Keep him in your prayers.
Jillian and I both have received numerous calls and inquiries from around the country this year through the website from survivors both men and women searching for hope from past sexual abuse trauma. We are maintaining contact through e-mails and phone calls as these wonderful people begin the long journey of healing from often unspeakable harm. Pray the Holy Spirit will continue to bring thoughts and words of wisdom and healing to both Jillian and I as we walk with these precious new friends.
The ministry continues to work with the Alvarez family through the Family Rescue and Recovery Program. (FRRP) Debi and the kids have made great progress the last year and continue to work hard at building a strong and stable home environment. There was a little set back in February as some past issue came to the surface. Special attention was given and it has raised the need for some intensive care and counseling to help restore a lot of hurt and pain. Pray for Debi and the kids as we and they travel through this together. It is at the cornerstone of this ministry. It is a constant reminder of the great needs that are all around us in every community.
Hope for the Prodigal
"His father said, 'Son you don't understand. You're with me all the time and everything that is mine is yours...but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he's alive! He was lost and he's found'"
Jesus parable of the Prodigal Son is one of my favorites. Henri Nouwen speaks to it in his classic book, "The Return of the Prodigal Son." Jillian and I have been reminded of the story every day since January 6th when our friend Richard came to stay with us.
Those of you that have followed the ministry over the years know that Richard and I became acquainted in 2009 not long after the ministry began. I met Richard while I was teaching a class for men that had recently been released from prison. We addressed the issues of abuse in the class and Richard and I made a connection and developed a friendship that has lasted.
Hope for Healing
Holding onto Hope Ministries looks forward to 2017 with continued determination to be a refuge for the many that have experienced the damage sexual abuse perpetrates on the soul. This is the ninth year for the ministry and it reminds us daily of the unique place this work has in the Kingdom of God.
The healing process is extremely difficult, lengthy to the point of a lifetime, and confusing to those that have not experienced the trauma. It requires the difficult first step of acknowledging the abuse and then telling the story. That alone can be a process that takes decades. It requires a loving, trusted, gentle friend that will walk along into the experience and share the pain. That can take years in the making. Finally, it requires an ongoing transformation of lies that have been believed for many years and movement toward love and forgiveness.
I have learned now over the years of the ministry that there are not many that choose to move into the arena of abuse and healing. This is a stronghold of the enemy of our soul and evil will not let go without a fight. As with military forces, it is difficult to recruit soldiers to a dangerous mission, and difficult to maintain a force without resources. Some days we feel lonely in the effort knowing that the cause is so much greater than the world chooses to acknowledge.
Our Family Angel
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior. which is Christ the Lord."
Emmanuel...Our God is with us."
Jillian and I wish you and your family all the best wishes for a Joyous Christmas season, and a blessed New Year.
There has been some changes in 2016 for Holding onto Hope Ministries. The Family Rescue and Recovery Program expanded to include additional families in need of counsel and encouragement. Bill took a full time teaching position at Northwest Christian School in August and it has been a rewarding fall semester as the ministry has been able to partner with NCS to help students and families that have been affected deeply by abuse.
Jillian left the work place in June and has developed a side of the ministry that is reaching out to women looking for counsel and hope from past abuse. Jillian loves to be active and so it will be a chore to keep her caring for her health while also serving those in need. Pray for her strength and wisdom to keep her rest a priority.
$1,586,255,180.00 was spent on Internet Pornography since January 1, 2015; that's billion. The total revenue from internet pornography each year is greater than the revenues of the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball...combined. The devastation it is causing silently around this country is addressed little if a
t all. It is in the shadows, it is anonymous, and it is reaching down to the youngest and most vulnerable among us and destroying lives. I saw it on display again last month on my trip to Greenville College in Illinois.
Thank you goes to George Barber, Basketball Coach and Friend for his desire and courage to bring this issue out in the open on the Greenville campus. I had the honor and privilege of speaking in chapel and sharing my story of childhood sexual abuse along with what I have called for several years now, Satan's Weapon of Mass Destruction; Internet Pornography. I believe strongly along with my friend John Fort that the affect of pornography viewing demonstrates the same consequences on viewers as those who suffer from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. There is a consistent behavior silence that turns survivors and participants into slaves to the bondage of shame.
Hope in Imuris, Mexico; Wedding in the Pines; Busy Holding onto Hope Fall
Northwest Christian School students traveled to Imuris, Mexico last week to spend four days with dozens of beautiful children. Arturo and Lily Jimenez are the amazing directors of Reino de Los Niņos (Kids Kingdom) a little orphanage that has been caring for children for over ten years. Arturo and Lily are more than directors. They fill the void for the children as loving parents and teachers to many of this world's castaways. What a treat to see them pour into the hearts and lives of children the true hope of faith in our Lord.
This was the third trip I made this year to Imuris along with 40 students to share in the lives of these beautiful children of our Lord. Abuse is a pervasive but rarely addressed issue everywhere and even greater in impoverished communities. The children in Imuris range in ages from three to fifteen. While the language barrier hinders knowing their personal stories, the smiles and joy in their eyes is precious. Arturo and Lilly's compassion and determination to provide a safe and joyous home is inspiring and contagious. Our lives are changed and strengthened with each visit. It is a few days of understanding what Jesus meant when he said, "Suffer the little children to come to me." As you desire to love and share with them, they grab a hold of your heart and draw you in.
New Role for Jillian
Hello Friends of Holding onto Hope,
I'd like to start with a Family Rescue and Recovery Program update. Major progress is being made with our family. Debi and her kids started with us 1 1/2 years ago. We are continuing with them another year as we see continued stability. Debi wrote Bill and I a letter last week that I want to share with you. Hear it from her directly.
"Mom, Just saying today I felt all doubt go away. I know the only way you will stop being like my parents is if you pass. Nothing specific you said or did, it's the amount of time you spend repeatedly showing me I am worth something to both of you. I really know it's a different relationship than all your other kids, but I know I still have a place in your hearts. As for me, I am really excited I have a mom that speaks truth, loves me unconditionally and has time to do fun things together with me and my kids. I understand that I am not perfect, but I love hard and little things have meaning.
Dad, Wow I just enjoy our conversations, a few road trips and of course dinners where you made me feel like I am worth a meal. We can just talk like father-daughter, but one thing I love is that you really and truly understand my bad days and you always show me the correct way to do things lovingly.
Jillian and I began Holding onto Hope Ministries over eight years ago. It has been a challenging journey; one we believe God led us to and has opened our eyes and hearts on many levels. We believe more than ever that the pain and suffering caused by childhood sexual abuse wounds souls deeper than any other experience in life. The devastation it causes individuals, families and the community at large is costing us countless lives. We have also learned firsthand how difficult the healing process is and how the enemy continues to damage the world and the Kingdom of believers.
During the eight years we have prayed and worked to solicit funds that would allow the ministry to grow and expand. We have had many faithful partners that allowed me to leave the field of education and pursue this issue full time. It worked well as long as Jillian was able to provide a significant part of our financial needs. Last May, Jillian left the work force completely. That income loss is not enough to support us full time.
Last April I accepted a teaching position and Northwest Christian School here in Arizona and beginning on August 1, 2016 I will be full time as a high school Bible teacher. Jillian and I have not lost any of our passion for this issue and ministry. I will continue to meet with the many men I have worked with over the years. We will keep developing the FRRP program as time and finances allow. The FRRP program has been a great success and I believe a sound model for future work in the healing process for families.
One of the most difficult ideas to accept for a sexual abuse survivor is that there is a God who forgives and accepts us as we are. I suspect, that this is a difficult thing for anyone to truly grasp at times but I know firsthand that survivors of abuse struggle with this all their lives, especially the acceptance part.
Richard Rohr helps with this encouraging statement: "Every time God forgives us, God is saying that God's own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that God wants to create with us. Just the Biblical notion of absolute forgiveness, once experienced, should be enough to make us trust and seek and love God."
It's the should part that is so hard. Trust is broken so deeply and often by a family member, or trusted friend that the mental image we embrace makes it very difficult to allow a loving God to change the wrong thinking. Believing that God's grace is so inclusive that there is nothing we could do to fail to receive it is a lifetime process. That goes for perpetrators too. It is hard many times for survivors to grasp that God forgives the ones that abuse us equally and we have to travel to a point where that forgiveness must flow through us as well. That's why it is so important to have a fellow traveler that understands the road.
Pedophiles in Hollywood
The Pedophile Problem in Hollywood
Elijah Wood Calls Out Hollywood's Pedophile Problem...Former child star Elijah Wood has spoken out on Hollywood's pedophilia crisis. But in an industry notorious for turning its back on the issue, will anyone listen? http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/05/23/elijah-wood-claims-hollywood-is-in-the-grip-of-massive-pedophilia-epidemic.html?via=newsletter&source=DDMorning
Teen Girl Who Allegedly Had Sex With Multiple Partners in School Bathroom Was Once Human Trafficking Victim, Mother Says
Recorded child sex abuse cases increase by more than 30% in United Kingdom over last year. 124 per day.
Dennis Hastert accused of sexual abuse by at least 4, sources say.
It takes a little out of you when you read headlines like these. In just the last three months all of them were the lead headlines of well know publications. In each story a few of the details of the crimes are exposed, just enough to make it difficult to read. After reading them there is a feeling of despair, emptiness and frustration. Often the thought goes, "I wish there was something that could be done about this."
Gotta Tell Your Story
You have to tell the Story...
I had the great honor to speak to over 600 students at Northwest Christian School here in Phoenix on April 26th. I served at NCS from 1998-2008 prior to beginning Holding onto Hope Ministries. What an encouraging morning. The students at Northwest are attentive, respectful, and gracious and it was a true pleasure to share with them a most difficult topic. Thank you one and all for your kindness.
I believe there are five aspects of sexual abuse healing. They are not in any systematic order instead each one stands alone and is in play throughout a survivor's journey. A survivor must recognize and acknowledge that he or she is a survivor of sexual molestation. Telling the story to a trusted individual is often the ice breaker to healing. There comes an ongoing process of mourning for what was lost in terms of normal proper development. It was taken unwillingly. Abuse damages the heart and also alters the understanding of truth and reality and thinking needs to be reformed to continue to return survivors to the truth of who they are and not lies that have been developed due to the trauma. Finally, there is the difficult journey to forgiveness of the perpetrator or traitors. It is not easy.
All these stages require time. Each individual heals at the pace they determine. Healing cannot be imposed or commanded it must be lived and the process is benefited by having a trusted friend or group of friends willing to walk along with survivors on the journey. Fellow survivors are often the best resources for healing as they understand clearly the difficulties and struggles of healing from this deep damage to the soul. But, a heart of kindness and a desire to enter into a friend's broken heart is rewarding and what the Master loves.
The Duckling has to be ugly...
I started driving for Uber last November. I have made over 400 trips to date. Of those I can only recall four riders that spoke of contentment in their lives, a sense of peace and even happiness. Of the other trips, literally over 400, I have heard consistently of the pain of life; broken relationships, second, third, and even a fifth marriage. There are the heartbreaking stories of wandering children, estranged families, drug addictions, terminal diseases, lost employment, and death. As a wise old sage Inigo Montoya said, "Life is pain highness, anyone who says different is selling something."
The culture we live in is constantly and desperately attempting to avoid the pain, with little if any success. My riders seem to make that point quite clear. But pain is a universal theme that has existed forever. Without the pain, there is no happiness, joy, or satisfaction. Hans Christian Anderson wrote quite clearly that "the duckling must be ugly or there is no story." Every beauty is sleeping, it seems before she meets the prince. The knight must be wounded or he will never know what the Holy Grail is, much less find it. Jesus must be crucified or there will be no resurrection.
Richard Rohr explains, "If we all truly desire a spiritual journey sooner or later some event, person, death, idea or relationship will enter your life that you simply cannot deal with, using your present skill set, your acquired knowledge, or your strong will power. Spiritually, you must be led to the edge of your own private resources." Isaiah called it a stumbling stone, Jesus said you must lose your life in order to find it. Denying and or avoiding pain leads us to an endless pattern of addictions, sorrow, and eventually despair.
Kids Kingdom, Mexico
I had the great fortune to travel with Chris Gardiner and thirty students from Northwest Christian School to Imuris, Mexico last month to the Kingdom Kids Orphanage. It was four days filled with a lot of laughter, tears, and joy as we interacted with the sometimes sixty children that are cared for on a daily basis in the little community one hour south of the Arizona border. (That's Chris in the middle)
Chris shared with me on many occasions prior to the visit about the extensive patterns of abuse in the town and the culture. Given the nature of evil, it is not surprising that sexual abuse is rampant in cultures where poverty and lack of accountability combine.
Arturo and Lily Jimenez are the directors of the orphanage. I was blessed to watch them love and care for the children as if each one was their own. The love going back and forth was precious to observe and share.
"Nothing Short of Evil"
A three year old girl was found duct taped and covered in feces in a closet Monday, Mesa police said. The man who was watching her was arrested, as was the girls' mother.
The girl was suffering from malnutrition, genital blistering and rash, and had multiple scratches and bruises. Mesa Police Chief John Meza commented, "The level of neglect was so harsh that the girl could not stand on her own;" It is nothing short of evil."
Rios-Covarrubias had no record of sex offense and no extensive criminal history. Arizona Republic January 16, 2016
It is likely that everyone who reads this knows a family member, a personal acquaintance, or maybe a survivor that was physically or sexually abused. It is not about Awareness. There is consensus across the country that there is a large presence of sexual abuse occurring on a daily basis. Awareness is not really the issue now. The issue is the resistance to move into the healing journey with intention. As a result of the silence the larger issue of healing lacks the army of helpers needed to offer hope.
THANK YOU ONE AND ALL!!
Jillian and I send our thanks to all of you that contributed to the ministry last month with year end gifts. We do not have words to express how encouraging it is as we continue this work. A number of dear friends stepped up and gave above and beyond. We are looking forward to the New Year with much Hope as the Lord continues to walk with us in the shadows. Be encouraged and smile knowing that the ministry is going after the enemy once again this year with power and light. Thank you dear friends.
I hear the hope this Holiday season in the voice of Daniel Berrigan. Sitting on the top tier of a bunk bed under a pale bulb in a jail cell in Washington, D.C., Berrigan scrawled notes in his journal: "I hardly have words, I am not capable of expressing how deeply, with all my heart, I believe in the words of Jesus, 'Do not fear...I am with you.'" Turning to his brother Phil he asks, "Can you imagine yourself apart from this promise?" Phil Berrigan says he cannot. Dan agrees: "Neither can I. It's almost like a game; watch me while I melt away, vaporize without Jesus; then describes me, the someone who was, the nothing that is."
The Holiday season of 2015 is upon us. Holding onto Hope Ministries wishes you, your family and friends, and your community a time of joy and reflection of thanks for the great hope we have in the birth, death, and resurrection of our Lord. The month is the busiest of the year and the focus on the Lord is where it should be. So, we wish you first and foremost a blessed Holiday season.
Holding onto Hope is about the devastation of sexual abuse. I would be remiss by not addressing it even in this most joyous of seasons. It is destroying the hope for which our Lord came. This month I wish to address the very large elephant in the room that my friend John Fort has addressed most effectively in his book, Accountability; Integrity through Relationship
. The issue, Internet Pornography.
Here are a few excerpts and statistics from John's book:
The Struggle to Trust
Trust is a life-long struggle...
Surrendering trust is difficult for everyone. For a sexual abuse survivor it represents a life long struggle that truly hinders healthy growth and understanding of the realities of life. When a child or adolescent is violated the trust that is betrayed by an adult quickly renders the victim powerless. With little understanding and little experience silence becomes the safest place to live. As time goes by the silence provides a covering that unfortunately represents an illusion of safety and protection. Fearing further pain and debilitating shame survivors develop thoughts, strategies, and behaviors to hopefully eliminate the pain and bury the memories. I believe the only real difference between abuse survivors and others is the intensity of the shame. Who among us does not struggle to trust.
Brennan Manning addresses the issue in his book, The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus; "You will trust God only as much as you love Him. And you will love him not because you have studied Him; you will love Him because you have touched Him-in response to His touch. Even then your troubles are not over. You may still wrangle with God. You may cry out with Jesus, "My God, my God why have You forsaken me?" Only if you love will you make that final leap into darkness: "Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit."
A priest from the Bahamas related this episode. A two-story house caught fire. The family – father, mother, several children-were on their way out when the smallest boy became terrified and ran back upstairs. Seconds later he appeared at a smoke-filled window. His father, outside, shouted to him: "Jump, son jump! I'll catch you." The boy cried out: "But, Daddy, I can't see you." "I know" his father called, "I know. But I can see you."
Survivors have heard and know that healing and movement forward will come down to how much you can learn to trust. The way to begin that trust is for someone to reach out to them from the ground of the burning building. Trust must be re-established and it takes time-a lot of time. I am not sure any of us will completely trust in this life...I do know that when someone began to walk with me in the pain of my story, trust began to grow and the more time that person leaned in, the more trust I learned to give and to share. We must be our Lord to those that are broken. The more I see and experience the love of Jesus through others the sooner I will learn to trust. Larry Hein helps us see it this way, "We must let go of everything we have taken literally all our lives and find our own symbol. Only then will we be open to the mystery of God within us."
There are millions of abuse survivors walking among us just waiting for someone to trust. There are millions of those walking among us who have never experienced abuse just waiting for someone to trust. Let the love of our Lord shine through us all today and help those who are most broken among us take the first steps.
Family Rescue and Recovery Program
Holding onto Hope Ministries unveiled a new program last February as part of the Ministries vision to assist in the healing process of survivors of sexual abuse. It's working!
Over the years Jillian and I have learned that there are two significant factors that hamper the effort to develop and grow a work in the field of sexual abuse. The first is the overwhelming stigma attached to the horror of sexual abuse. Just using the words sexual abuse immediately creates uneasiness and a desire to avoid discussing the issue in any forum. The incredible personal nature of the offense relegates it to the world of silence.
The second factor is the limited understanding and therefore inadequate implementing of a healing process. Very little training is given in counseling programs to directly address a course of action toward healing. Consequently, little is done outside the accepted norms of traditional counseling and therapy. Those methods are woefully inadequate in addressing the unique needs for recovery.
Given these two hurdles it is not surprising that there continues to be a rise in addiction, violence, family breakdown and abuse. Unless the core issue is addressed the symptoms will continue. We know from all these years and countless personal testimonies that silence is the major hurdle in the healing process. Given few will reveal their history; there will also be few to heal.
Jillian and I believe the best method toward healing of sexual abuse is one on one connection and lots of time. Hours and hours each week devoted to living life with survivors that have acknowledged their abuse and are willing to walk the difficult pathway each day. At the core of a survivor is a belief that one has no value whatsoever. Everything branches from this perception and the years and years of silence and self-affirmation of worthlessness becomes a way of thinking and way of living. It is no wonder little is being said and even less being done to address this issue.
Enter the Family Rescue and Recovery Program. Since February of 2015 Jillian and I have been walking daily with the Alvarez family. A single mom with four children. The core issue for mom? Childhood sexual abuse that began at age 5 and continued through the late teens. The consequences are manifested in a broken dysfunctional family, substance abuse, and broken relationships; financial calamities, extended family alienation, legal issues, discipline issues at home and school. On the whole a daily atmosphere of chaos. Once again at the core is a hardened belief of unworthiness and value that began thirty years ago and has never been addressed, confronted, and denied.
The FRRP first steps are to rescue a sinking family with daily needs. Food, clothing, house care, financial accountability, all must be addressed and stabilized. Assistance with child care and control. Church connection that addresses the need for a community of compassionate followers. All of these fall in the rescue phase of the program. Once some stability is established, recovery can begin to take hold. Digging down deep into the core lies that have led to the belief of unworthiness. Walking hand in hand through the daily dramas and providing counsel and care. Providing new opportunities to show the nature of true family and the development of stability and an eventual legacy. In a word...time.
There isn't a timeline. There isn't a check list. Each family will progress at its own pace as all the factors are addressed together over time. The goal is to be able to walk away from the daily interaction and see a family unit that can manage each day as a cohesive, kind, and functional home. In the Education world it is called Special Education. A lot of concentrated time with the very broken one on one for as long as it takes. When the goal is met, it is time to move onto another family. One at a time.
This is a difficult model. There are few if any organizations providing the structure, personnel, or financial base to establish such a program. It is not cost effective so the needs go unaddressed. But that's the key to this. It can only be done on a small scale one to one with lots of time and a whole different measurement of success.
Jillian and I are committed to the model because we have witnessed success. Not in the hundreds but in the ones and twos. Kind of like that one sheep Jesus talked about going back for. We will continue to faithfully walk this road. We can always use help. If you believe it is something you would like to be a part of, check out the details below in the Hope House update about the Family Rescue and Recovery Program. You may not be able to walk the road the same way, but you can walk with us in the journey for others. A little from many accomplishes much.
Oh Those In Between Times
I have pondered a lot what the Bible writers chose not to share with us. I would love to read a record of what went on in the in between times. The gospels share such a limited amount of information about the day to day walk with Jesus. We read some of Jesus teachings, and stories; the miracles and healings but I so much would like to know what those years were like day in and day out.
Was Peter always high strung and opinionated? What did they do to decompress besides fishing? Did Thomas doubt all the time, or just some of the time? And what's the deal with Thaddeus? What's the mystery about? Why the four names with no explanation? Who was that guy?
I understand that the writers were inspired and the words they penned give us the road map to the Kingdom, the purpose of the Master's visit to earth and that's all we need. Some days though I wish there were some accounts of the days after the miracles when they were walking from town to town. Did they argue? Did they laugh? Were any of them hiding dark secrets that no one else knew about? Were there times they just looked at Jesus and just wondered..."Who is this guy, really?"
How about their training? Were these guys steeped in Jewish orthodoxy or just casual attendees to the temple? Did they mistrust one another at times? Did jealousy surface as Jesus became more popular and how did they resolve that not to mention how did they resolve any differences. Matthew 18 wasn't written yet. I would love to have just a little glimpse of the in-between days.
In our work we have learned that life is really lived in the in-between times. My favorite quote comes from Larry Crabb; "Healthy people who love God live life in momentary bursts of ecstasy followed by long periods of quiet allegiance." And the time between those bursts of joy can be long and occasionally feel eternal. Living with the pain of broken relationships that seemingly have no hope of resolution make the in between times excruciating. Years and years of estrangement from parents or children brought on by relational abuse harden hearts into impenetrable fortresses of bitterness and anger. Yes, there is hope for joy. Yes, we can reach out to others and institutions for encouragement and help. Yes Jesus and his grace is the answer but those in between times some days are a battle. And I just wonder...what was Peter thinking and feeling those three days in between.
We know the answer is grace. We know our hope rests in the finished work of the Savior. We know that living in the joy of that grace and forgiveness is our goal and desire. I also know, that in some of those in between times, I doubt, and I argue, and I am unkind, and am unfaithful. Some days I am not happy. I want to believe that the twelve had some of those days too; even when they were walking with the King.
So, let's not lose heart. Faithful allegiance will shorten the time between those moments of ecstasy...Hold onto Hope.
Pedophiles the next protected class...
Ideas have consequences. In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. At the time few would have believed that just forty two years later the United States Supreme Court would affirm same-sex marriage. In January of 1973 the United Sates Supreme Court declared that the killing of unborn life was legal. Forty two years later we have lost over 50 million of our fellow citizens to murder.
With the Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage only a month old, consider the following statement.
"On March 20, 2015, B4U-ACT proudly resurrected its workshop series by hosting its seventh full-day workshop in Baltimore. Despite a three-year conference hiatus, this latest event, entitled "Working with Minor-Attracted People and Their Families: Facing Dilemmas Together," garnered the highest participant turnout in the organization's twelve-year history."
There is a reason it is a called a "Slippery Slope." Abortion has led to selling body parts. Affirming homosexuality has led to same sex marriage so it is not surprising that B4U-ACT is implementing the same strategy to accomplish its ideas. In this case, "Minor-Attracted People" is a euphemism for PEDOPHILE.
At the conference last March, a group of psychiatrists with B4U-ACTproposed a new definition of pedophilia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association to normalize the behavior.
You may not have heard of B4U-ACT nor that they have been in existence for quite some time. They are basically NAMBLA (North American Man Boy Love Association) with a PhD and a marketing plan. You will find on the B4U-ACT website the following:
- Pedophilia (as an orientation) "it is not a choice."
- Efforts to treat pedophilia are ineffective.
- "Minor-Attracted Persons" do not exhibit narcissism, psychosexual immaturity, psychopathology, neurosis or any personality disorder more than people attracted to adults." In other words, "they are just like everyone else." According to the operations director for B4U-ACT many
pedophilesMinor-Attracted Persons, "interact with minors in a variety of non-sexual ways and develop close friendships with them." I can vogue for that statement. My Pedophile abuser developed a very close relationship with me prior to years of abuse; not only me, but many others. Am I to believe now that he was perfectly normal and I am the one that is wrong? The millions that are suffering today from childhood sexual abuse may soon once again be victimized by this evil thinking.
NAMBLA was founded in 1978. Its goal is "to end the extreme oppression of men and boys in mutually consensual relationships by:
- Building understanding and support for such relationships
- Educating the general public on the benevolent nature of man/boy love;
- Cooperating with lesbian, gay, feminist, and other liberation movements;
- Supporting the liberation of persons of all ages from sexual prejudice and oppression.
"Our membership is open to everyone sympathetic to man/boy love and personal freedom." This is all taken directly from the NAMBLA website.
NAMBLA has never been taken seriously in the public arena. Founded in 1978 it has always been viewed as a fringe group that could never be assimilated into mainstream thought and culture. In just thirty seven years the group is now being endorsed and supported by psychiatrists from the APA. The ideas have taken shape in Europe and Canada and the logic and support of the Supreme Court decision just two months ago opens the door to this evil.
Holding onto Hope exists to promote awareness that this is an evil on society. How long before this ministry is viewed as hate mongers of Minor Attracted People? How does a ministry continue to advocate for survivors of abuse when the abuse is no longer considered abuse and the abuser not a perpetrator? Remarkably, evil is twisting this culture into insanity.
We are determined to press on. There are millions of men and women living in the silence and shame and memories of abuse from adults. We will continue to advocate and be available to them for healing. We will challenge on every front with truth. We are ready to walk with the broken. We cherish your prayers. We can always use financial support in the cause. Stand firm, our God will not be mocked.
America is losing its mind...
Step back for a moment and take a look at the Big Picture. The world is in chaos. Israel is surrounded on all sides by enemies. Terrorists are roaming freely. America is losing its mind. Fear is growing. Everywhere there is chaos. Two thousand years ago the enemy smiled as he watched his arch foe hanging on a cross. What great pleasure he took seeing them take down the lifeless body. What a great surprise though when the grave was empty a few days later and the King had beaten back death forever.
Not accepting defeat Satan has been on a relentless march to conquer this earth. The last two hundred years in Europe and this country the emphasis has been the take down of the family and human sexuality as designed by God. Socialism and communism with their atheist tenets of faith have slowly gained a foothold around the world as the dominant view. Islam is moving rapidly and forcefully to be the majority religious belief. America has been duped as the conglomeration of ideas and beliefs have percolated in the universities for over a hundred years. Those ideas have moved to the places of power. The foundation is crumbling. Very soon, the followers of the King will be taking it to the streets. Truth will no longer be tolerated in the public square. It will be person to person.
Jillian and I are thankful everyday for all of you that keep this ministry in your prayers. We cannot do much in the Big Picture of this world in terms of change. Time is slipping away and the call is for each of us to be in the lives of others. We have learned from walking with survivors of sexual abuse how helpful it is to be connected with just a few or even one and walk the walk together each day.
Our Lord will handle the big picture. The enemy has stepped up the game believing this time he will triumph. We must be mobile and active hoping to save one or two. Walk with a broken traveler and help them home today. Time is short.
Is the Josh Duggar story really about Abuse?
Once in a while a sensational story hits the media about the horrors of childhood sexual abuse. Josh Duggar is now drawing the media attention more for the political agenda than the actual issue. Josh Duggar and his family make no bones about their faith. In this current culture their faith is the target and the issue of hypocrisy is the nugget the critics are using to attack people of faith. The media will spend little time addressing the issue of abuse with the care and compassion it deserves; rather let's just take down the Christians.
The issue here is that childhood sexual abuse is rampant. Has been and will continue to be until there is a genuine desire to address the issue across the culture. Look at the last sensational case. Jerry Sandusky was convicted in 2012. Do you recall any other glaring cases covered by the media since? Do you recall any special programs designed to draw attention to the need for healing advocates and resources? Josh Duggar is the new poster boy. Not for the crimes, but for the hypocrisy. Once again, the media will focus on this for a short cycle and never get to the core of the issue with either legitimate awareness information, or proposals for change and healing.
Sexual misconduct is the most shameful behavior in any community. Engaging in a public discussion about the issue and/or healing rarely happens. Every family in this country has or knows someone in their family that has been molested, abused, or inappropriately approached. It is so much easier to deny and ignore it than take it on. The devastation it does to individuals and families spans a lifetime. The Josh Duggar story will fade from the front page. The survivors will be forgotten and this evil will continue to plague towns, cities, and countries without attention.
Why won't we address this? Why isn't there a concentrated effort to promote awareness? Why don't graduate schools of "counseling" have majors dedicated to healing this trauma? I have said for years that the shame is so powerful; it stops everyone in their tracks. I believe there is another reason just as significant as the silence caused by shame and that is, the healing process is just too hard. Sexual assault, molestation, and or abuse damage a person so deeply that healing requires an extraordinary amount of time and personal connection. It isn't accomplished in a weekly therapy session. It isn't cured with well meaning words or exercises. Behavior modification doesn't change the damage done to the very core of an individual's belief in personal value. Healing from this demands a person walk with a survivor every step of the way for as long as it takes; and it takes a long...long time. The inordinate amount of time and commitment on the part of healers by itself hinders or eliminates the desire to walk the journey. It is no wonder to me why it isn't addressed. Too much shame and too much time required to help with the healing.
So what do we see here this time? The occasional sensational story that reminds us all of the millions that are out there suffering in silence and fear. What have we done about it? Very little to date. What will be done? Most likely not much. Ignoring it won't make it go away. I and my precious wife have committed our lives, our finances, and our hearts to being available to walk with fellow survivors every day for as long as it takes. For eight years, we have felt very alone in the journey but very blessed to watch lives slowly being restored a little at a time.
We could always use help. We need help breaking the fear of shame in communities. We need help telling others about this work. We need people and organizations to join with us in the fight. We need to believe that this issue is bigger than we dare admit. We need to believe that everyone desires value at the core of their being and there is hope to restore. We are here and there is hope.
Since 2010 Holding onto Hope has been working to develop a model that includes a residential house to be used as a place for healing and restoration from Childhood Sexual abuse. It has taken several forms. Each one valid, but for different circumstances unable to sustain. Beginning this month we are again following our Lord's direction with the "Hope House" model.
Earlier this month I sent out a message requesting support for the house that is next door to us. We contacted the owner about renting the property and one day after I sent out the note the owner rented the property to another party. As it works out, losing the home next door was a blessing. In its place we have arranged for the family we are working with, to remain in their present location. It is just 1.3 miles from our home. Wonderful friends of the ministry pledged $310.00 in monthly support toward the goal of $400 the last two weeks of April. One hundred more a month will take this through the year.
Jillian and I have been working with this family since we spoke at our church last fall. It's a long story. This family has suffered through the years. A history of abuse and neglect has taken a toll on their development and ability to understand and live in the real world. This is what we dreamed for the Hope House. We will work directly with mom to help with parenting skills while assisting her in the long healing process from abuse. We will also work closely with the children to provide needed direction on a daily basis. They don't know what it's like to have a male role model in their lives. I look forward to the opportunity. It is an arduous task that requires lots of patience and compassion. We covet your prayers.
The mom maintains a full time job that covers all of their monthly rent. However, there is little if any left for other needs. We will be assisting them financially as needed. This is a family that has a desire to improve their lives they just have not learned or experienced the skills needed. What an opportunity to share the love and compassion of our Lord.
We continue to meet with many broken souls. This opportunity is what we dreamed would be a great part of the work. Walking with survivors through the pain and bringing hope. I will update the progress every month. We are kicking off a matching fund raising project this month as well (see below). Any pledges toward helping this family will also be counted as part of the matching campaign.
Thank you for praying for this work. Thank you for believing in this work. What a great master we serve that gives his unending love to all every day.
TRUST IS OUR GIFT BACK TO GOD
"Lord I have to ask you, on the cross you suffered through, was there a time you ever doubted, what you already knew?"
Trust is the core issue that keeps survivors of childhood sexual abuse from initial and continued healing. At some point in life, the trauma of abuse renders victims helpless and trusting others in the future is a constant struggle. If you think about it, one does not have to have suffered abuse to struggle with trust.
Doubt, is the little secret that haunts us in this life journey. Will I be successful? Will my marriage work? Will others come through for me? Does the Lord really understand my struggles? For abuse survivors trust was broken at the very heart of our being and trusting others and even our Lord is so very difficult.
Holding onto Hope strives to offer hope to those that have a very difficult time trusting. It takes a long time to build a consistent level of trust that others can rely on. Once gained, the joy of healing and peace in survivors makes the struggle of this work worth it all. The time needed to establish trust in new contacts and the resistance to the issue makes trusting difficult I admit. But we treasure the faithfulness of those that support this work and our ever faithful Lord.
In this Easter month let the words of Brennan Manning encourage us all: "Trust is our gift back to God, and He finds it so enchanting that Jesus died for the love of it."
Thank you always for your prayers.
Sin is the destruction of community. Rather than enjoying the presence of God, we flee. We live in fear, presuming that God is hostile toward us, although we are in fact the hostile ones and project our hostility on God.
Despite our infinite dependence, we run from the only one who can overcome our fear, brokenness, and hostility, the one who can fulfill our deepest needs. Sin, therefore, destroys the community God intends for his creation. Consequently, we are alienated from our own true selves. We simply are not who we are meant to be." Stanley J. Grenz
The sin of abuse destroys communities by silencing the survivors in shame. In search of relief from the shame, survivors find all kinds of sin attractive solutions to deep seated pain. Sin wins all around. The sin of defiling another, leads to silencing both the perpetrator and the victim. Both go searching for relief and most often find it in sinful strategies. The sinister evil "destroys communities" daily. Silence allows the evil to grow and perpetuate. Without acknowledgment and push back the community continues on believing the status quo is the normal. Evil reigns.
Holding onto Hope ministries crosses the seven year mark this month. Jillian and I have been blessed to walk with many survivors. We have witnessed the healing that takes place in individuals and communities when the sin of abuse is confronted and exposed. It is difficult and strenuous work. It is also filled with joy seeing the broken experience healing.
Embrace the hope for your community and share the good news of the faithfulness of our Lord this month. Keep the ministry in your prayers.
It is estimated that over one million people will be in Phoenix for the Super Bowl. While those estimates will be accurate what will not be is the number of children and adults that will also be in Phoenix in the sex trafficking business. The local authorities have suggested numbers in the thousands but a true number is difficult to measure. Phoenix and the surrounding towns and cities have been working hard the past six months to provide awareness and training to help limit the activity and provide more harsh penalties to offenders arrested.
Sex trafficking is on the rise all across the country. The last ten years has seen a concerted effort to raise awareness of the issue in the public square. Trafficking is viewed with repulsion and in addition to raising awareness; millions of dollars have been collected to combat the evil. Non-profits like Red Light Rebellion here in Phoenix are popping up all over the country in coordinated efforts to slow down the trade.
Holding onto Hope has been working for seven years now to shine the light on the darkness of sexual abuse. The first incident of sexual abuse in trafficking damages that boy or girl, woman or man deeply for life. One encounter is all it takes to send them down the road of brokenness. The insidiousness of the industry is that the victims are never only abused one time. Hundreds of willing perpetrators will do damage to just one soul. Multiply that by millions of survivors mostly living in silence and you may get a sense for the magnitude of this plague.
I am encouraged by the level of awareness that trafficking is gaining across the country and around the world. I am equally discouraged, by the lack of resources and interest in what comes after. Slowing down trafficking is the
objective and we must continue to sound the alarm and fight. What happens then? Where does the survivor turn? Who is there to begin the long walk with them through the hard task of recovery? Where is the incentive to establish safe environments that will do the really difficult work of healing?
We my friends must become what Andrew Pitts calls the "Mobile Church." We must each embrace the relentless compassion of our Lord and begin the lifelong task of walking with a survivor. Fellow survivors are the best equipped. As Henri Nouwen so eloquently expresses in The Wounded Healer; "Compassion must become the core, and even the nature, of authority. Christian leaders are people of God only insofar as they are able to make the compassion of God with humanity-which is visible in Jesus Christ-credible in their own world."
Healing from abuse is a difficult and messy journey. It requires a follower walking with a survivor maybe for life. It will take countless souls to walk with souls. The task is daunting indeed. Our Lord is calling us to just one. Each of us walks with just one. They are all around us. We are them. Healing begins in the arms of the Savior. We...are his arms.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Jillian and I wish you and your family and community the promise for a wonderful new year. The time is passing quickly and the work grows greater every year. What a blessing to know and receive the faithfulness of our Lord. The bliss of grace.
Thank you to so many who graciously contributed to Holding onto Hope as 2014 closed out. We are filled with gratitude for your faith, trust, and desire to see this work active in this broken world. Jillian and I spent over one-hundred hours in November and December counseling with new connections to the ministry. It gets frustrating and discouraging many times with the pace of the work and we have to remind ourselves often that we are not in charge. Dependence on the Spirit to move requires our Trust.
Speaking of trust, I have been reading again a wonderful book by a favorite author and mentor of mine who says this:
"The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious and secure and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it his presence and promise." Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust
2015 is uncertain as is all the future. Jillian and I are committed to working at trust. Not easy as I am sure you know. We are starting a restoration healing group for survivors of sexual abuse at our church January 11. Another desire for the New Year is to reach out to local groups and schools in the public arena here in Phoenix. We are also developing a new program online for survivors to reach out anonymously with a forum model for healing. Lastly, we are continuing to develop the Hope House as a place of refuge for the many right here in Phoenix to begin the healing process, an ambitious year for sure. We covet your thoughts and prayers. We believe our Lord is faithful. We delight in the healing we have witnessed. We are grateful for your support.
Blessings and best wishes for each new day as this year unfolds. Connect with us if we can serve you or your community. Faith and Hope enable TRUST...Our God reigns!
Jillian and I and Holding onto Hope Ministries wish you and your family a joyous Holiday Season and best wishes for a blessed New Year. The assurance of living eternally thanks to our Creator coming to this earth to suffer and die then miraculously conquer death is the comfort this season is about. We pray that you experience the joy of knowing Christ.
Holding onto Hope had the opportunity to share with New Life Community Church last October about the lifetime devastation caused by sexual abuse. Jillian and I have been doing this for nearly seven years now and each time we share it encourages those that have never spoken or have not worked on the difficult work of healing to speak out. (You can view the sermon at New Life by following the link below)
This month we are beginning a healing program in partnership with New Life. Over a dozen people have connected with Jillian and I since we spoke about the pain they live with everyday. Healing from sexual abuse is a lifelong process. It is so encouraging for us after a long time to see survivors coming forward to begin healing. We look forward to the new year and the opportunity to walk with many who are hoping for healing and joy.
As the year ends Jillian and I encourage you to consider sharing with your community the great need to shed light on this issue. History has showed us that when the issue is brought to the light, those that are suffering in the silence of shame become empowered to reach out for help and stop the years of silence and begin speaking. Individuals, communities and families begin to recover joy and even physical comfort from the confusion and pain. This issue quietly disables every community. We must have the courage to speak out to keep evil in its place. Speak out this year. We would love to share with your community.
As the year closes Jillian and I humbly ask you to consider a donation to Holding onto Hope. We have had five residents in our home this past year. Our home serves as the Hope House for the ministry. It requires financial means to house the residents and help them recover and begin healing. We would love to do more, but the financial resources aren't there. Any gift goes directly to the ministry needs and allows us to continue to provide safety for the broken among us. Thanks for considering walking with us.
Merry Christmas and best wishes for a prosperous and joyful 2015.
Heal the Wound...But Leave the Scar...
Jillian and I had the wonderful opportunity to share with the New Life Community Church family the weekend of October 17-19, 2014. Pastor Steve, and Pastor Pat and I have been praying since last spring for the right time to address the difficult topic of Sexual abuse. Doors were opened for the first time for many who stepped out from a lifetime of secrets into the light sharing their stories after the services. New Life is committed to addressing this issue along with the many other areas of brokenness we battle in this fallen world.
Many of you know that Jillian and I met when we were just ten years old. The first time we met, she was singing with her family at the church I attended. It was really a treat to have her close the service with a song that captures the essence of Holding onto Hope Ministries. Thank you to all of you that prayed for us this past month. We have plans for healing and support groups to begin at New Life in the coming weeks. The church should always be the safest place to share your story. Thank you New Life for being really real.
New Life taped the sermon and this link will take you there: http://www.newlifeonline.com/sermon/real-life-heal-the-wound-leave-the-scar/
New Life is our home, but we would be honored to share this important message of hope with your church or group. Share the sermon with your community leaders and pray about having Holding onto Hope visit. The enemy wins as long as we remain silent.
October is shaping up to be very special. Jillian, Joree, and I will be sharing our story and the heartbeat and vision for the ministry with New Life Community Church here in Peoria, Arizona. New Life is our home church and is working closely with us in the continuation of the development of Holding onto Hope. Many friends and family have been praying with us since the ministry began for an opportunity like this. New Life has two campuses and we will be presenting to the Surprise community on October 12th. The following weekend we will be sharing in the three services at the New Life campus in Peoria.
Would you be so kind to pray for these opportunities as they come to mind. We have learned over the years that the presentation not only raises awareness of the issue of sexual abuse but it also often brings memories and secrets to the surface that have never been addressed. I expect to see the same pattern at New Life. The great news about all of this is the commitment New Life is making first to address the issue with the entire body and second to prepare for the needs generated with programs and counseling for those seeking help. In addition, New Life is dreaming with us about the ongoing development of the Hope House, weekly support groups, and dedicated services to survivors of sexual abuse. We have prayed and worked toward an opportunity like this and covet your prayers that the Lord uses us with clarity, compassion, and kindness and protects us from the lies and influence of the enemy as the days come closer. This is enemy territory and evil will not allow this without resistance. The good news of hope will triumph.
I am teaching at Arizona Christian University this fall. Doors have opened with several students that have never addressed past issue of abuse in their lives. It is wonderful to see young people willing to share the secret and begin working on the healing process early in life. It is a great place to challenge students to consider working in the world of the broken and it has been encouraging to see the interest and desire to consider it as a life time work.
Thank you again for helping us reach the matching goal last month. It has energized us for the coming months. Blessings to you and your family. I look forward to reporting back as the month unfolds.
Bill, Jillian, and Joree
Just Ten Little Words..
Jillian and I were intrigued last week by a cable TV show we were watching called The Forensic Files. The show documents how forensic science effectively assists law enforcement solve difficult crimes. In this particular episode, a man named Paul Kellar was suspected of setting over seventy fires over a ten year period. In one of the fires, three people died making it more than just an arson investigation. The thirty minute program tracked the scientists and law enforcement as they profiled, investigated, and eventually arrested Mr. Kellar.
After twenty five minutes of riveting
suspense and development of the arsonist/murder's profile the narrator made a statement I had anticipated from early in the show. Mr. Kellar's anger was described as a regular behavior that began when he was a child. They also mentioned that everyone who knew him described him as a pleasant, nice man.
Then came the ten words i just sensed were coming. He
(Mr. Kellar) suffered sexual abuse when he was twelve years old.
Paul Kellar was convicted and sentenced to 122 years in prison.
A thirty minute show documenting a man's horrible deeds and in less than three second they uttered ten words and passed over them without any attention. Mr. Kellar deserves the consequences for his actions. Just think though, if Mr. Kellar had heard as a young boy of twelve or thirteen, that sharing about the sexual abuse he suffered was so very important. Maybe, just maybe his fear anger could have been resolved. He could have been told that even though what happened was horrible, he was still a valuable young man. Just think...
Jillian and I press on because we experience the consequences of this now almost every day. Broken men and women that have hidden secrets and live broken lives searching for hope. Be watchful of children, men, and women in your community that you may suspect are holding in some very dark stories. Let them know that there is hope in our Lord.
Daniel the Ambassador to Albany, New York
I must pass this good news story along as well. Nearly three years ago Daniel Johnson came to visit us at the Hope House. Daniel is a survivor and has battled for many years against the hurts and pain of the childhood memories. We had a wonderful two weeks together and developed a cherished friendship. Daniel invited Jillian and I to the Albany, New York area and we have had the privilege of returning four times to share with the great people of Upstate New York.
On September 13 Daniel, along with our good friends Christa Jan Ryan, and Dom and Jo Massaro our hosting a Celebrate Recovery Seminar and Daniel is sharing his wonderful music and story. In fact, Daniel is providing Awareness and Hope to the Albany area. We know the Hope House model belongs to our Lord, and we are thrilled to see how God is using Daniel and his story to change lives. Hold onto Hope.
THANK YOU dear friends for walking with us. If you haven't had a chance to help in the matchingt campaign yet, please consider a gift this month. (See details below). I have been teaching two weeks now at Arizona Christian University. I will do an update in the October Newsletter. Been great so far.
Have a great month...
In 2011 Holding onto Hope opened the Hope House. Many of you were an integral part in helping launch a unique project. The initial home model was unsustainable but the vision for the workings of the Hope House continues. Jillian and I have been operating the Hope House from our home. The vision has always been to provide a safe place for broken people to come and begin the process of healing from the shame resulting from sexual abuse, addictions, domestic violence and brokenness.
Meet Joe, Emily, and Grace. In June this young couple and their precious seven month old daughter came to the Hope House from the street. Difficult circumstances from the past and the battle with drugs left them homeless. The Hope House exists for this very reason. After six weeks of difficult withdrawals, back and forth with arrangements in a local recovery center, Joe and Emily entered the Phoenix Dream Center to continue the journey of healing. Through the kindness and generosity of family members, little Gracie will be cared for while Joe and Emily are away. To all of you that partnered with us to see the Hope House begin...THANK YOU...this is what it's all about.
Pray for Joe and Emily. The healing path is not easy. The enemy will not allow them to go quietly into the light. The struggle with addictions, the shame of the past and the recovery program can derail the healing process, and being away from your baby will be a challenge. The future can be bright and it will come with tears, sacrifice, and faith. Pray for them.
The Hope House will continue to be a priority for Holding onto Hope. It can only exist and expand with the financial resources to sustain it. Nearly all of the guests to the House do not have the means to contribute. Along with the faithful giving of our 25 monthly partners Jillian and I are keeping the doors open. Housing a family has been a challenge. Our home is not equipped for that as an ongoing plan. We are best with one at a time. We have now had the great honor of hosting seven and dream of the time when the Hope House will expand and care for the hundreds holding out hope.
If you have never contributed to this work, consider a donation today. We have a matching program going on currently (see below) that doubles your gift. Consider becoming a monthly donor. If all the people in our circle contributed just one dollar a day...$30...a month the Hope House could expand. Give it your thoughts and prayers.
I took an adjunct teaching position at Arizona Christian University for this fall. It will limit our ability to travel but opens some new doors to sharing about the ministry. As you know Jillian's health has long been a concern and so keeping her out of the work place is a priority. I will continue to flip homes when available to help with expenses. We appreciate your prayers for this work. I meet new men each month searching for healing. Thanks for walking with us.
The recurring theme that underlies the devastation of childhood sexual abuse is shame. The initial trauma produces shame and communicates a lie that in time becomes a core belief. The belief is that I no longer have value or worth as a human being. As the journey of life continues the core belief determines behaviors. Sadly, many if not all of the behaviors are destructive to the individual survivor and the community at large.
Healing begins when survivors acknowledge that they were abused. The next step, the most important, is to tell the story and release all the poison that has collected over the years. The shame is shrouded in silence and it is often years before the point of release can be reached.
The lies must be addressed, confronted, and reversed. There must be a renewing of the mind and recognition of the truth that has been silenced. The original lie that I as a survivor have no value or worth is where to begin. Henri Nouwen in his book, "The Return of the Prodigal Son" helps begin the healing process by reminding us of who we are as followers of Christ. Nouwen says:
"Home is the center of my being where I can hear the voice that says: "You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests"-the same voice that gave life to the first Adam and spoke to Jesus, the second Adam; the same voice that speaks to all the children of God and sets them free to live in the midst of a dark world while remaining in the light. I heard that voice. It has spoken to me in the past and continues to speak to me now. It is the never-interrupted voice of love speaking from eternity and giving life and love whenever it is heard. When I hear that voice, I know that I am home with God and have nothing to fear. As the Beloved of my heavenly Father, "I can walk in the valley of darkness: no evil would I fear." As the Beloved, I can "cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils." Having "received without charge," I can "give without charge." As the Beloved, I can confront, console, admonish, and encourage without fear of rejection or need for affirmation. As the Beloved, I can suffer persecution without desire for revenge and receive praise without using it as a proof of my goodness. As the Beloved, I can be tortured and killed without ever having to doubt that the love that is given to me is stronger than death. As the Beloved, I am free to live and give life, free also to die while giving life."
The most important truth to combat the lie of value is to hear from the heart that I am a "beloved son of God and on me his favor rests."
That truth may take many years to overcome the lie. It may come after years of silence, pain, and struggle. But it will come. With care and kindness from followers of our Lord, it will come.
AWARENESS is the necessity of moving this issue into the public arena. Holding onto Hope is working every day promoting awareness and walking with the courageous survivors that emerge from the silence searching for hope. Whether you are a survivor of sexual abuse or not, the issue of shame is common to everyone. Trust in our Lord and the truth He provides combats the lie in all of us that we are not worthy. The King made the way to restore us and one day we will be whole again. In the meantime, Hold onto the Truth and embrace more each day that WE are HIS BELOVED.
For years now, Holding onto Hope Ministries has attempted to sound the alarm on the prevalence and devastation of Childhood Sexual abuse. I recognize how the constant harangue about the issue can become oppressive, annoying, even stifling. We believe we must continue to shout. This is not going to go away. Truthfully, the silence and cover ups are growing.
Just this week Boz Techividjan the founder and director of GRACE; Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment
addressed on Facebook http://netgrace.org/where-are-the-voices-the-continued-culture-of-silence-and-protection-in-american-evangelicalism/
the recent leave of absence taken by C.J. Maheny in response to a cover up of alleged sexual abuse within his congregation. This has been going on for ages. As Mr. Techivicjan emphasizes in his article it's the cover up that is most alarming. This kind of response and destruction to the church of Christ will continue as long as the church remains silent. The devastation is unnecessary. It is encouraging to see organizations like GRACE stepping into the fight with genuine concern for the survivors.
Jillian and I traveled to the Albany New York area this past month and shared with a community of believers about this very issue. I was blessed to spend a few days with the members of the West Stephentown Baptist Church. In the past year WSBC has suffered from the evil of sexual abuse in their midst by one of their leaders. Despite the pain, and discomfort of dealing with the fall out, the pastor and church leadership confronted the issue in the open with grace and justice. The perpetrator is serving time in prison and now one year after the details came to light, the church and community continues to heal. WSBC is an encouragement to us and an example of how the grace of our Lord works in the midst of the worst kind of evil. They stared the enemy down and fought for truth. There is so much more to do.
I had the privilege of speaking in the morning worship service at Stephentown. In the six years of the ministry this was the second time Holding onto Hope has been invited to share in a Sunday service about an issue that has epidemic proportions across all communities and cultures. Thank you Pastor Tomlinson and the congregation of WSBC. It was an honor and joy to share the good news of hope for healing. You are in our prayers. The sermon is posted on www.holdingontohope.org.
We also had a great time with the Celebrate Recovery group in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Our good friend Christa Jan Ryan launched a new group and it was a delight to share the evening with them as well. Jillian and I will be returning to the Albany area in September. Thanks Christa for all you are doing in the New England area with this issue.
We encourage everyone that reads this to consider contacting the leadership in your community about addressing this issue this coming year. There are thousands living in the silence of shame that just need a little help to step out of the darkness. Consider speaking out today.
Holding onto Hope has been attempting to speak out for over six years now about the destruction being perpetrated on the world by childhood sexual abuse. The short term affects that set up a victim for the long term, lifelong effects that damage the survivor and everyone in their immediate community. In our attempts we have met mostly with silence, resistance, and apathy.
Last month I was approached by a number of survivors or family and friends of survivors that are reeling from the evil of internet pornography. The brokenness in all involved breaks my heart. The consequences I witness are identical to the trail of shame I have experienced all these years as a survivor of sexual abuse. INTERNET PORNOGRAPHY witnessed by children is abuse. My grandson at age two has a profound working knowledge of a smart phone. At any moment, he could be exposed to evil with no intent on his part. The damage from that moment would scar him for life.
And yet, silence. Silence so acute that even this article may be dismissed as the rants of an alarmist. How many examples are enough to agree there is a problem? How many destroyed families must there be before those in the platforms and positions of influence step forward and address the issue on a regular basis? This is not about condemnation. This is not about shaming those who have or will view pornography and taking them out. This is about the truth that the enemy is leading a war against every man's heart with relentless determination. This is about stepping up and walking with each other. We must number one, address the problem without apology and with courage. Number two, we must take the enemy on united. The individual and corporate shame is destroying the message of grace and forgiveness. We cannot lose hope. We cannot refuse to fight. The message of hope for healing is all the power we need. It takes the courage and resolve to begin and to never give up.
I implore you again to step forward and speak to the leaders in your community. The leaders in your children's communities and urge them to address the issue. Urge them to begin to establish strategies and programs to help men and boys come forward and walk with each other in the battle. Holding onto Hope is at the ready to speak about the awareness piece to anyone that will listen. The ministry is also poised to assist communities in developing a healing model. It takes courage to take the first step.
Jillian and I will be in Berlin, New York on May 17th to lead a conference for a number of churches in the eastern New York corridor. We will be in Williamstown, Massachusetts on May 19th. Pray for these meetings and there is a lot of healing that is needed from the devastation of sexual abuse. Jillian and I know of the power of the enemy and cherish the power of our Lord to overcome through the prayers of our brothers and sisters. Thanks for thinking of us on this trip.
In February I shared about the unique founding and development of a new company called U-Neko.com. (Company history in article just below this one) This month Jillian, Brett, and I are really excited to offer you an opportunity to be a part of the launch of this venture. I am sure there have been times when someone has approached you with an idea and with a bit of skepticism you said, "This sounds too good to be true" and if it sounds too good to be true...well you know.
The mission of U-Neko.com is to help communities join together to fight disease. Disease of all kinds; cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental illness abuse and on and on. The company donates 25% of every purchase to the charity of the purchaser's choice listed on the website or of their own choosing. If you go to www.u-neko.com
today you can purchase a U-Neko T-shirt today with the u-neko logo. 25% goes directly to charity.
Here's how easy this is. Our daughter Joree has her own U-Neko.com ID number.
Go to the website today. Choose a T-shirt design, put Joree's ID number in the coupon code and 25% of the purchase price will go directly to Holding onto Hope. PLUS If you purchase a shirt during the month of April U-Neko will give you your own U-Neko.com ID number...FREE
. You will see on the website that purchasing and ID number costs $100. For April a personal U-Neko ID number is yours FREE
A little skeptical about the ID number? Okay...No. There is no other fee to you ever. No. There is no obligation to purchase anything ever. No. The $100 fee is not yearly. Yes. You can be a part of U-Neko too, just like Joree without ever having to purchase or sell anything. Just need an ID number....did I mention that if you buy a T-Shirt in April and use Joree's ID number it's FREE
When you go to the sight you will see that there are opportunities for individuals and groups to raise money for their own community. For every purchase made 25% will always go to charity. This is going to grow quickly and April is the launch point. This isn't an "I have to get in on the bottom floor thing or else." The opportunity will always be there for everyone. Take a little time to look it over and we are pretty sure you will see why we are so excited about this UNIQUE venture.
The company is planning to have all kinds of products available in the days ahead. Help us get started today by visiting the sight, purchasing a shirt, 25% will go to Holding onto Hope and read about this unique idea. You may want to purchase an ID number for $100 instead of a shirt. REMEMBER
for April with the purchase of a shirt, an ID number is FREE
. Even if you never use the number again, you got it FREE
. We are confident after you read about the vision and mission of the company, not only will you use the number, but you will tell your friends about this program.
Go to the site now and use Joree's ID number and get started.... TM14JH101
Jillian and I are really proud of Brett and his perseverance and determination to see this happen. We are excited about what the future holds for Brett and U-neko and I encourage you to check it out today.
Thank you for believing in Holding onto Hope Ministries. I would like to share with you this month the reason we continue to reach out to the world of the broken and offer you an opportunity to help us advance the ministry in the days ahead.
Last spring I had a knock at my door and opened it to find a friend that was in dire straits. He had suffered a relapse two days earlier. He needed a place to stay for the short term and to ponder if he was willing to begin the difficult road to healing.
Jillian and I were in the midst of a long term hospital stay with Joree at the time and welcomed Brett in knowing we would not be able to devote much time to him. The first two weeks of recovery for Brett were filled with the dark clouds of guilt and shame. The personal feelings of worthlessness and the struggle to just survive hour to hour without running back to the addictions.
To help, I asked Brett to join me at the hospital where I was staying round the clock with Joree. He agreed and came every day to sit and talk. We chipped away at the lies of darkness that surround drug addiction. Around the second week, Brett came to the hospital and when he arrived in Joree's room, she was not there. He had reached a breaking point in his recovery and asked the nurse where Joree had gone. The nurse directed him to Radiology where Joree had gone with Jillian for x-rays.
"He had a panicked look on his face and I asked him if he needed help." Jillian remembered when he found her in the waiting room. "He responded with a sincere yes and we prayed for healing and direction."
February 1, 2014 is eight months sober for Brett. He stayed with us until the middle of July 2013 when he secured an apartment. The early days and weeks of recovery are precarious at best. Brett was doing great with the drug temptations, but was restless regarding his future. Brett has a very active mind. Call him a "free spirit"...entrepreneur...visionary...whatever term you wish, Brett has several ideas running through his mind at once, each one with a whole host of possibilities.
In Mid August he settled on one idea to focus on. I admit from the start the idea was intriguing. Jillian and I agreed to walk with him in the venture believing in his dream and confident he had conquered the early days of addiction. He was off and running. This month, Jillian and I are so excited to introduce to you, U-NEKO.com.
Brett's dream turned into reality on February 1st with the launching of his designed e-commerce business. This is the culmination of many years of struggling with issues that go back to adolescence for Brett. Healing from brokenness and shame is a lifetime journey. There will be struggles ahead that Brett will face and the lies and demons from the past will once again try to take him out. One day at a time, we all walk together with others in this life. We survive with the willingness to let others in and walk the walk with us.We acknowledge the pain and choose to lift ourselves out of the mud and fight.
Jillian and I are so proud of Brett. We have agreed to partner with U-Neko.com in moving forward. Brett's heart is to see this company reach out to those hurting and give back the hope for life he has experienced. Join with Brett and us in this journey. This is exactly what we have dreamed of for this ministry from the very start. Shame and brokenness will enslave any of us at anytime. It doesn't matter what the past experience was, shame entangles all of us at one time or another. There is hope, not to eliminate it, but to learn to beat it. It happens when we acknowledge the pain, tell the story to someone, mourn the loss, and move toward forgiveness.
DO US A BIG FAVOR....Keep reading about U-NEKO.com and how you and your community can be involved in this incredible opportunity.
IT DOESN'T COST ANYTHING SO KEEP READING...
BLESSINGS to all of you for believing in this work. We cherish your prayers and gifts.
Where people unite to fight disease
What is U-Neko.com? It's a long story. Let's sum up. Brett Vanhooser developed a concept where everyone can unite together to battle common diseases and contribute to the charity of their choice at the same time. With any product purchased at U-Neko.com 25% of the profit automatically goes to charity. That's it!
U-Neko.com exists to empower individuals and organizations to contribute to the health and well being of their communities.
How can I be a part of this? The UNIQUEST thing about U-Neko is you can promote healing for your community and make money for yourself or organization at the same time. FOR THIS MONTH ONLY (after March 1, 2013 it costs $100) you can secure a U-Neko ID number from the company. This allows you to go to the website and purchase any item using the ID number. Instantly you receive 40% of the sale and an additional 25% goes to charity. THINK about this. Let's say you need to raise money for medical needs for a family member or friend. You go to the website and design a product specific to your need. Everyone who purchases that item or any item using your ID number, you or your organization receives 40% of the profit and 25% goes to charity. Crunch the numbers and you will see this is crazy to pass up. The potential for sharing is limitless and U-Neko does all the work for you. You just come up with the plan, send us a design, pass out the number and that's it.
Where did the name U-NEKO come from? That's a longer story. Brett met a friend in the Netherlands that is a well known artist named Neko Chohlis (see below). Neko is one of the inspirations for the business therefore, U-Neko. As the business grows you will be hearing more about Neko and his art work and you will be able to purchase some of the work or use it in fund raising programs. KEEP READING...Neko has a close connection with the 1960s Pop Group, THE MONKEES...that's a big deal for all baby boomers.
Neko Chohlis (9-13-1944)
World renowned Abstract Expressionist artist Neko Chohlis is often compared to the late Jackson Pollock. Pollock was an influential American painter and a major figure in the Abstract Expressionist movement in the 1950s. Neko's work has matured over the decades. In the 1960s Chohlis was commissioned to develop album covers for the Pop Group, "The Monkees."
His album design for "The Monkees Present" was up for a Grammy nomination in 1969. His lifelong friend Micky Dolenz continues to this day. Today, Neko's work is popular throughout Europe where Neko resides and continues to pain with passion and creativity. Neko comments, "Everything we do in our lives from our first breath to our last may be summed up in one word, feelings, it's what life is all about"
GRAND OPENING OFFER
Get a U-NEKO ID Number this month FREE
Send an email to www.holdingontohope.org
Request an ID number and you are off and running
Visit www.uneko.com today
Hope for the Year Ahead
We begin 2014 with a huge thank you to so many friends and family that have graciously contributed to Holding onto Hope. We look forward to what the New Year will bring and we are encouraged once again to stay the course in this work. As 2013 ends, we have a young friend living with us at the Hope House who is fighting hard to beat the evil of drug addiction. The Hope House is just that, a safe place to rest, to meditate, and to transform thinking. You are all having an impact on the Kingdom and Jillian and I can't tell you how much we appreciate your faith in this work.
We have several dates on the calendar for the coming year. A trip to three churches in Chicago in February; a week ministering in the Des Moines, Iowa area in March and a return trip to the New England area where the momentum continues to build in several communities. Ideally, we would like to travel once a month and we will be praying in that direction. Consider approaching groups in your community that would benefit from an awareness program about addiction and abuse.
While at home in Phoenix, we will continue to develop the Hope House and spread the word that it is a place for the broken to come and begin healing. Last May, a young man knocked on our door. He had survived a drug overdose over the weekend and was in need of a place to stay. He moved in with us and began to confront the wrong thinking of his past. Nine weeks later he ventured out on his own again to begin working on a business he had been dreaming about for several years. As of January 1st he is 8 months sober and the business will be launching this month on the Internet. UNEKO.com is the vision and dream of a young man that less than a year ago was in the grips of despair. Time, freedom to live in the pain, and a safe place to begin changing his thinking allowed him to realize the hope there is in keeping our Lord in the equation. Keep your eyes open for UNEKO.com. You will be hearing more about it from us as the year unfolds. It's a great story.
Jillian and I have been working on a book about Joree for quite some time. The good news is that it is in the final editing stages and our hope is to have it released in the next two months. Thank you for keeping Joree in your prayers. Her health is excellent right now and she continues to minister to those she meets and is a big impact on those who come to the Hope House.
Blessings to you for a great New Year. Thank you again for praying and caring about this important work.
"Our hearts of stone become hearts of flesh when we learn where the outcast weeps."
Jillian posted the following tribute on her facebook page last month...
"Our Ministry, Holding onto Hope, is a Ministry where God has asked Bill and I to help people with addictions and abuse to heal. Outside our front door is a plaque with a picture of my mom, Hope, who went to be with the Lord three years ago this month. She was a prayer warrior for our Ministry and we have used our HOPE HOUSE to help people in need. Many times it is a person staying with us for weeks at a time. During this Christmas season I would like to pay tribute to my mom, Hope, as we continue to help and love those in need. Merry Christmas to all as we reflect on the birth of Jesus who has ultimately given us all the opportunity to spend eternity with God just like my mom is right now!! All you have to do is BELIEVE and ACCEPT Christ to be your Savior! Love to all.
I would like to add a few thoughts. Since Joree came into our lives in 1991 we have had over a dozen wounded travelers stop at the Hope House to rest. It often reminds me of the scripture in Hebrews, "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it."
Over the years Jillian, the children, and I have pondered about Joree and those angels. You don't suppose that Joree has angels that speak to her? You don't suppose that Joree is...? You don't suppose that weary, wounded travelers have come to our door being led by something they are seeking in their hearts?
The Shepherds heard the good news and they went to the Inn to see Him. The wise men traveled a long way to see the child that had been predicted. Multitudes were drawn to see and hear the truth of the Master not understanding who he really was. I wonder if the Inn keeper ever thought back to the couple he turned away that Christmas night.
Jillian and I this Holiday season want to wish you all blessings, hope, and joy for the coming year. We want to thank all of you that pray for Holding onto Hope regularly. Thank you to all who so generously partner with us with your money. We are blessed to live everyday with an angel. We are blessed every day to be the keepers of the Inn for weary travelers. Thanks for sharing your hearts with us.
Prepare your heart
To be a place where
Angels would desire to visit.
Let Jesus be a part of your life.
Let the spirit of hopefulness
the spirit of helpfulness
the spirit of gentleness
the spirit of Christ grow
and dwell in your heart.
Sow the seeds of truth
Sow the seeds of hope
Let them grow over time
into a garden of beauty
that will make
your job, and
your life into
a place where...
Angels would Visit!
"Sin may be thought of as our effort to supplement what we think are limits to God's goodness. It is trusting our self instead of trusting God. Until we see Christ fully, we will in some measure try to preserve, protect, and develop that fragile thing we call self, that sense of who we are that longs to enjoy love, respect, and meaning. Until our tendency to evaluate God by what we see is exposed and weakened, we will continue looking for ourselves with all our heart and soul. The result is that we will never find God." Finding God, Dr. Larry Crabb
Traveling the healing road from sexual abuse is a tedious and painful experience. Dr. Crabb points out so clearly in this statement what is so difficult for survivors to grasp. For years abuse survivors protect their inner self from any further injury by erecting and preserving towers of safety. As Dr. Crabb points out, this is sin. Survivors believe that protecting themselves is legitimate since they were the ones violated. To transform the thinking from self-preservation to trusting soul is not easy, not a quick fix, and very uncomfortable.
Sexual abuse recovery is a unique process that does not find home in most present methods. It demands close and constant relationship between survivor and mentor. Once a week counseling or recovery groups all have a beneficial and proper place in recovery, but sexual abuse is outside that model. I the last six years I have witnessed this repeatedly in my meetings with male survivors. A shot gun approach to healing is desirable given the numbers of victims, but close personal contact particularly in the early days of recovery I believe is most critical.
Holding on to Hope is releasing a healing guidebook this month that is available on the website, www.holdingontohope.org
, or by mail 7656 W Charter Oak Road, Peoria, AZ 85381. It is designed to be a pocket type resource sharing the big picture of abuse recovery. I believe that recovery is a life-long process. I believe it requires a close trusted friend to share the walk. I believe once down the road survivors have a natural desire to assist others in the journey. The guidebook is neither a fixer, nor self-help manual only our Lord does the repairing. It is a gift of love from a fellow broken brother and friend. I am grateful everyday for the people that have walked with me and the faithfulness of our Lord to keep me in His eye.
Thank you always to those of you that faithfully pray and give to this work. Jillian, Joree and I are traveling to Alany, New York September 10-17. This will be the first time Joree will be joining us on a trip. The Albany trip is filled with opportunities including our first weekend Shame Recovery Conference. Keep the trip in your prayers. There are a lot of logistics traveling with Joree, but we know that her presence will touch many hearts.
Our goal two years ago was to move Jillian from her nursing career to a full time part of the ministry. August 29th was her last day at Paradise Valley hospital after nine years of faithful service. It is a blessing for her mind and especially health to be away from the stress and physical challenges. It does tighten our budget but God is faithful and we will continue to press on in this work. Like every ministry out there we can always use financial support. Pray with us for that too.
We continue to see the great need all around us for Awareness, Training, and Healing for sexual abuse survivors. We will be emphasizing developing relationships with the greater Phoenix area this fall. We will kick off a new weekend Shame recovery format this October 17-18 at Valley Life Church here in Phoenix, and look to expand that to five other churches in the valley in the coming year. Very exciting!
Blessings to you all...Keep holding on to the Hope of our returning Lord.
"I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor"
I returned July 30th from ten days in Belgium. My College basketball coach and lifelong friend Dick Helm, invited me to join him at a basketball camp sponsored by Forma Sports in Brussels, Belgium. Coach has been directing camps for over 50 years and together we have shared with thousands of boys and men the pleasure of learning and playing the game and more importantly the hope for life through Jesus Christ.
This trip was an experience I will cherish. Coach turned 80 this year and watching him work the week was a blessing as he again shared the gospel with 70 boys. Basketball has a universal language and despite the verbal language differences, the love of Christ came through loud and clear.
Many thanks as well to Fred and Janet Young who were our hosts for the week. This was the 20th anniversary of the basketball camp Coach Helm helped start with Fred. Fred founded Forma Sports as an outreach to the city of Brussels through basketball. He is respected greatly in the community and it was an honor to serve alongside him for the week.
I had the opportunity throughout the week to provide some awareness regarding sexual abuse to many new friends. Copies of Shattered are now present in Brussels and on the final evening Coach and I were invited to share a meal with our friend Ben and I gave him a copy of the book as well. Ben is from Morocco and a very influential businessman in Brussels. Ben invited us to his home to share a traditional Moroccan meal in celebration of Ramadan with a number of his close friends and ministers in the European Union. I would love to share at length about the evening. My new friend Ben inspired me with his kindness and gracious heart for the entire community of Brussels. I hope I have the opportunity to return one day to get to know him and the community better.
Sexual abuse is worldwide. Basketball has been a big part of my life and to be able to use my history and story in this way was truly a blessing. This is the heart of Holding on to Hope presently; to shine the light on this horrible evil and provide the hope for healing. Pray that the message of hope will grow in Brussels.
The summer will be winding down this month. Keep the ministry in your thoughts and prayers. There is a lot of follow up to do in August to prepare for the fall. The Wednesday group is growing and thriving here at the Hope House. Blessings to you all.
Jillian and I had to postpone our trip to Albany, New York as our daughter Joree entered the Hospital on May 1 and required surgery two days later. It was a long recovery process. Joree came home on May 29th and is doing great. Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers for all of us. It is so good to have her joyful spirit back home. We are working on re-scheduling the seminars in New York for September.
Bill at Age 12 when he experienced sexual abuse
AWARENESS, TEACHING, and HEALING are the three components that make up the mission of Holding on to Hope Ministries. Each piece has a special place in this pioneering work. Each piece is being developed every day. We continue to speak whenever invited to promote awareness of the damage done by sexual abuse. Teaching seminars are in place to work as follow ups for churches, youth groups, Christian and secular organizations. The workshops are designed to prepare first responders and organizations to intervene in the initial stages of healing for survivors. Bill began a men's group affectionately known as the "Sexual Abuse Posse"...or "SAPS" for short. It is the hope that this will grow into a true community of men determined to beat back the issues caused by abuse on a regular basis in a safe place. Finally, the "Hope House" is operating effectively as a haven for men and women to come and work on the healing journey.
The first five years laid the foundation for the model going forward. Jillian and I have learned so much. We are determined to continue on sharing life and the good news of hope for a lifetime of healing. To keep going we ask you to prayerfully consider the...
HIGH FIVE FOR HOPE CAMPAIGN
HELP OTHERS TELL THEIR STORY FOR THE FIRST TIME
AWARENESS – TEACHING – HEALING
HIGH FIVE FOR HOPE WORKS TWO WAYS
1. A gift from $5 – $500 will be matched during the month of June by friends of the ministry. If you are an existing donor your gift in June will also be matched. Please consider becoming a monthly donor.
2. Challenge 5 friends and encourage them to learn more about this ministry and consider contributing to this work. All the money in the world will not help if people do not hear.
ANYONE WHO DONATES $1000 dollars during the month of JUNE will receive as a gift, a framed page from the 1621 King James Bible in appreciation for the commitment to this work. The page is certified from one of the first copies using the newly invented printing press. We have only five pages available during the High Five campaign.
How will donations be used?
- Ongoing development of hope house healing ministry
- Provide expenses for Jillian to travel as part of the awareness programs. It is has been very impacting to have her present.
- Strengthen the Training Program in conjunction with Valley Life Church, Phoenix to share with organizations and churches interested in healing programs
- Equip the Hope House for continued outreach
Thank you for being a part of this needed work.
Click here to give a high five
then click on Donate on the website...
All contributions are tax deductible...
You can mail as well to:
Holding on to Hope Ministries
7656 W Charter Oak Road
Peoria, AZ 85381
The Holding on to Hope Ministries Web Site had a facelift. With the help of Web Master Ethan Stone www.holdingontohope.org
has a new look. Take a moment to go the site and look over the changes. We are grateful to Ethan and excited about the information and resources available for those interested in knowing more about the issue of sexual abuse. Please share the link with friends and family.
April is Sexual Abuse Awareness month with Sunday April 14th the national day of awareness. I will be sharing with the wonderful people at Apache Junction Community Church in the morning of the 14th. I will then be attending the MK-Safety Net Conference in Chicago to learn more about the consequences abuse has rendered among Missionary Kids over the years. It if MK's first conference and a courageous venture into the devastation abuse has caused in this community.
Sexual Abuse perpetrated on children steals away the dignity that God created in each of us. It is all about the Shame that disables survivors. Our Lord pursues us relentlessly and we celebrated the Hope for all this week in His Resurrection. The GOOD news of HOPE is what we continue to share. I am hoping the months ahead we will experience a new level of attention and awareness followed by an intentional effort to address the issue in the public square. The victory has already been secured. It is up to us to confront the darkness with the LIGHT of God's word. Reach into your community today and begin to shine the light of hope.
Thank you for supporting the work with your thoughts, prayers, and gifts. One broken soul embracing the hope of healing and restoration through Jesus is worth it all. Blessings.
Jillian and I were blessed to spend a week in the Capitol Region of Albany, New York in January. It was the second trip to this area in the last four months. It marked the success of one of the ministry desires to have Jillian accompany me on an Awareness trip. It proved to be far beyond our imagination. Having Jillian present changed the dynamic of each meeting and provided a welcome perspective for all those that attended the programs. I could share for pages the incredible way the spirit moved during the week stay. We presented programs in five locations, met privately with seven individuals, and one family. We just scratched the surface. What is clear is the desire to have Jillian traveling is integral to the effectiveness of the message.
We can't thank our faithful partners enough for their four year commitment to see this work begin, navigate uncharted waters, and persevere despite skepticism and resistance. I believe the momentum for healing is building as awareness of the issue is communicated in the media. Organizations are uncovering what has been hidden for ages, and the cry for help is sounding all over the country. Thank you to all who believe in this ministry. We will need more in the days ahead to help provide the resources needed to spread the word and provide hope for healing.
The Spring is shaping up. There is a Domestic Violence Conference that I will be co-presenting with Danny Wallace in Rockford, Illinois. In May we will be returning to Albany for two weekend seminars. Both grew out of the two visits to the capitol region and the tenacity of the many new friends we met that are passionate about seeing this plague exposed and healing offered. There is also a movement afoot at Wheaton College. I have shared three times in the last 8 months and believe there is a genuine desire to bring this issue to the front. I will keep you posted on the progress.
The Holding on to Hope website is undergoing a facelift in February. The original site was developed to provide a place of reference and information. We welcome the update and all the opportunities it will create and healing it will provide. Prayerfully consider a gift to help defray the rehab costs. The new site will update the store and have a special place for making donations.
One of the consistent experiences we encounter following presentations, or with referrals is the joy survivors experience when sharing about past abuse for the first time. Comments like; "You are the first person I have ever shared this with"... "It feels like the weight of the world is off of me." This is about the damage done to the dignity of a soul created in the image of God. The damage penetrates so deeply it stays covered, so often for years and years. To see the tears of relief, the feeling of joy, and the light of hope in the eyes is not only healing for those we meet, but healing for Jillian and I as well.
We will continue as long as our Lord allows us breath and we can physically continue. Thank you so much for believing in this mission. Thank you for your prayers and financial support. If you haven't been a part in either way, consider partnering with us. Healing comes to the broken one at a time. Walk with us.
Sexual Abuse Healing, Male Sexual Abuse Healing, Recovery from Sexual Abuse, Sexual Abuse Awareness, Sexual Abuse Prevention