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  • Writer's pictureShannon Makujina

One Year

It’s been one year.

I was standing in a darkened church parking lot, my heart in my throat, as the music director got in between me and my car and proceeded to kiss me and tell me I was “like a daughter to him.” I can still remember how tightly he gripped me and the nausea I felt, wanting to pull away, but wanting even more not to offend him.

He was a pastor’s son. He was the music director. Almost the man of God. I had known him for years. I had known his family for years. He didn’t mean anything bad by it, right?

And yet he was touching me in a way that I would never allow my dad to touch me, touching places no one’s hands should travel except my non-existent husband.

It’s been one year since I gunned the gas pedal down the gravel driveway, tears blurring my vision. What had I done? What was I going to do? What in the world was happening to me?

It seemed very clear. I had left my parent’s IFB church, one month earlier, and stepped out from under my father’s “umbrella of authority”. And now the wrath of God was descending on me, allowing my purity to be tarnished, rendering me defenseless against my much older abuser–a respected man in the community.

I found out, slowly, over several months, the horrifying truth. My abuser had a history of this behavior and his own family members knew he was grooming me, including his wife. When I approached his father, who had been my pastor in the IFB for 7 years, he refused to get involved, saying he didn’t want to make his son angry, and that I needed to just stand up to him and tell him to stop. He said his son was a “dangerous” man.

I was too scared to confront my abuser. I didn’t know how to tell him to stop. I was so scared that I might offend him. In the end, it was two close friends who texted him and told him to never touch me again. He denied any bad intentions and said he just felt affection for me, like I was his daughter.

I wanted to believe him so badly. So for a while, I did. We kept going to church together. I kept the whole thing a secret. We kept working in the church together. But the memories and the fear wouldn’t go away. And I began to realize that what he had done was very wrong and deserved accountability. So I went to my pastor, someone I deeply trusted.

He told me I just needed to “forgive him” and he’d make sure my abuser didn’t work in the nursery (like there was any chance of that happening anyway). When I pressed him harder, he explained to me that while he believed my story, he didn’t want to disrupt the unity in the church by exposing my abuser’s behavior.

When more serious accusations came to light just a few weeks later, and my pastor still refused to do anything about them, I left the church. I cried on the phone, telling him I loved the church and I didn’t want to leave, but I could not stay in a church that was safe-harboring a predator and adulterer. My last Sunday there, I finally got the courage to go up to my abuser and tell him to his face what he had done to me. I stood there and endured the torrent of verbal abuse and shouting that followed. I got told I “wasn’t a real Christian” and was a “perverted little girl” and “I had no respect for my authority”.

I walked out of the church, filled with rage and fear. The anger continued to eat at me all spring, till I finally took a friend and went to the sheriff’s office and made a report. They closed it out right away, telling me since I had no proof of my accusations, they couldn’t pursue legal action against my abuser. I didn’t want legal action. I just wanted to tell the police officer what happened. So I wasn’t hiding it anymore.

When I walked out of the office, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Since that day, what he did to me has rarely reappeared in my mind and almost never bothered me again. I found peace through giving the situation to the hands of the law.

Today I prayed for my abuser and his family, by name. I prayed that God would bless them. I prayed the same prayer I’ve prayed for him every day, for the past three months, that God would give him repentance for what he did and grant him salvation. I pray that one day I would see him in heaven and feel the joy of the new creation, where everything broken is made new.

I know forgiveness is a really sensitive subject for abuse victims, and if you aren’t there yet, that is ok. Forgiveness can’t be forced. I don’t want to shame anyone for still feeling anger against their abuser. But I want to testify that forgiveness can come, through Jesus, and God is able to let us love our enemies.

As I’ve come to believe the love of God for me, it spills out into my life, even to my enemies. Vengeance belongs to the Lord, but while I am alive, I will heap burning coals upon his head by my blessings and my prayers. Like everything else in my life, God’s got this, and I no longer have to carry the weight of it with me.

One year later, I’m no longer afraid. I’m no longer confused. I understand exactly what happened and I’ve learned much about sexual abuse in churches as a result of it. I've been able to use what happened to help other victims and advocate for safety in church.

But one year later, I'm also a different person. I know who I am, I know where I'm going, and I know Who's going to get me there. And he's working everything that happens in my life together for my good and his glory. He's powerful enough to take away my anger and replace it with forgiveness. He's promised me a future and an inheritance that I can only grasp if I leave my hurt behind.

One year later, I’m moving on. I’ve got just too much to look forward to.

Note: If you have experienced abuse or have concerns about a situation in your church, I would love to talk to you. Additionally, if you are a pastor or ministry leader and want to know more about preventing abuse and creating a culture of transparency and safety in your church, I would also love to connect with you.

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4 comentarios

26 jun

May God bring you healing and peace as you live for him.

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28 dic 2023

Hyles Anderson Jack Schaap convicted to 12 years for grooming and luring a young girl 16 to her sexual demise. A pastor I know who was schooled and groomed by this church, his 2 1/2 year old daughter, while my wife and I were baby sitting, grabbed my hand and guided me to their bathroom and stepped up on a stool and took a wooden stick hanging on the wall, handed it to me then started to bend over the toilet seat. I was in sudden shock, picked her up and loved her. Unbelievable! The hypocrisy of the IFB is beyond sin. I was a short lived member of a different IFB church and got out and saved my soul.

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18 nov 2023

God bless you for your faithfulness and courage!

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17 nov 2023

Care. Praying for you dear girl. May God bless you and use you in his ministry.❤️🙏🙏

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