I was coming up a flight of stairs and saw this button at the top. I stood and looked at it wishing it were true, to be able to push a button and then get rescued, I would wear that button out!
The last several weeks have been particularly challenging - buildings, budgets, burdens and bruised feelings. Then, one of my mentors goes down in flames. Bill has been, for about 25 years, an important voice in my life. I have read his books. I have listened to his sermons. I have been in meetings with him. I have traveled to Ethiopia with him. I have prayed for him. I have laughed with him. I consider him a friend. He has frequently been generous with his praise for the work our church and team does for the GLS in Ethiopia. I wrote him to remind him I am still his friend.
My stomach has been churning for several months of agonizing silence. The women who were violated are also my heroes. They deserved better sooner. Nancy opened up a whole new world of worship with the addition of the arts. John is one of the best teachers I have ever heard. Jim leads and organization I love and helped us so much in Ethiopia. Many of the women I do not know personally, but hearing their stories has broken my heart. I reached out to the women. I told them I believed them. I offered respite to them and their families in our town. They thanked me for the offer and declined, but told me that believing in them was the best gift I had given.
Last Sunday, early in the morning, I read the clearest, most detailed account of abuse and I was sick. It was very hard to preach. I wanted to believe it was all a misunderstanding, but that position is no longer tenable. My mentor failed. He abused women. He failed his family, his church, his friends and the community of individuals he led. I want to find that button and push it.
I reached out to an individual from Australia. His mother was sexually abused. It was dark and destructive. My Aussie friend took it upon himself to try to stop the Global Leadership Summit. He is not a Christ follower. I have been embarrassed by the behavior of Christians toward him. One pastor, a good friend of mine, was the rudest to him of 500 pastors he wrote. I contacted this pastor who then wrote the following apology, "I apologize for insulting you. Since you were so aggressive, I did not realize this would hurt your feelings. That was not of Christ, and I could have just asked you to leave us alone. Forgive me for that.' I cringed when I read it. I have tried to walk with my Australian friend through this pain. He flew halfway around the world to attend the GLS with us. He hated it. He was charming and funny and rough around the edges. He told us his story, it a painful story of those who use religion to abuse the most vulnerable and protect the powerful. He is a champion for victims. I applaud his passion if not always his method. I wish I had a button.
The rescue I need is some time and some space. I'm going on vacation this week. I need to unplug and enjoy. I need a long walk in the woods. I need to stroll through museums and read until my eyes are exhausted. I'm going to go to church and have no responsibilities. I plan on laughing and crying. I'll be praying. I'm praying for the victims to feel heard and receive due justice. I praying for Bill to find the courage of confession. I praying the our building gets finished. I'm praying that God rescues some people out of this mess, including me.