An Open Letter to the Victims of Abuse in SGM

To all who have suffered as victims of abuse in SGM,

For a month I’ve started and stopped writing this. Started because each time I see a child, I tend to think about you. And stopped because sometimes those of us who write even fail with our words. We fail to find them and we fail to find them adequate to the situation.

I will not pretend to understand. That would be impossible. After reading the Second Amended Complaint, I realize this acutely. And it’s a strange thing. Those of us who are concerned on your behalf about what actually happened and what continues to happen, want to hurt alongside of you. But I have not been through what you have, so I know there is a limit. Strange as it is, I want to honor you by not pretending to understand.

I wouldn’t even presume to write anything like this if I had not had contact with any of you. But I have and that contact has changed me in irreversible ways.

It has helped me move forward more in care for you and so many others who have been victims of the same treatment. More care for the victims and less animosity against those who seem to not care at all. Care and concern are better fuel anyway.

And it has rattled me. Reading your stories is painful. But even having the least bit of contact has shaken me to my core. If it can become more real, it has.

Some confession is in order, too. I have my fears. I’ve had them for a while. I fear saying “too much” and angering the influential people. I fear hurting my writing “career.” I fear reprisals. I fear being seen as crazy. I fear saying something that would get in the way of justice. And I fear not being taken seriously.

For these reasons and probably others, I have written things and then hit delete just so I could have a carefree day and not add to my problems, which sometimes seem Legion.

For all this I want to apologize.

When I stopped being a pastor and started working in a bank, many people told me I would never stop being a pastor. I blew off those words like autumn’s brittle leaves. And no one knows it better than I do now. So as a pastor I have believed you and prayed for you. And now as pastor-banker I believe you. I began reading your stories two years ago and have not doubted you yet.

I cannot speak for others.

But there are many others. Most of us not very notable. Most of us are not influential and we may not be who you would have chosen to speak for you.

But we are here.

Some of you will instinctively question our motives. We will continue to stand by you anyway. Some of you have left the faith because of what those who claimed to represent it have done to you or refused to do for you. And still refuse to do for you. We will still be here. You will wonder if there is anyone left listening to prayers. We will pray for you.

You need to know that throughout the world there are men and women praying for you and thinking of you and standing with you and they are in it for the long haul. I get emails, facebook messages, tweets and hear from some personally. I assume they represent myriad more.

We are all outraged at the abuse and the silence in the wake of the abuse.

We have lain awake at night hating the silence of those who are influential. In those same hours we have been your watchmen waiting for the morning and wanting the darkness to be dealt a deadly blow.

We are with you.

Matt B Redmond

18 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the Victims of Abuse in SGM

    • Bill Frank June 15, 2013 / 1:20 pm

      Amen and Amen, Matt. You have indeed spoken for many of us…. I know your feelings as I am a ‘former’ paid pastor as well. When God gave you and me a heart for people, we cannot help but care for these and want to see justice for them.

      Keep writing and caring, brother! Your courage is an inspiration… history will judge you rightly.

      In Christ, Bill Frank

  1. 1 of 11 June 15, 2013 / 8:19 am

    We are listening!

  2. Dee June 15, 2013 / 9:14 am

    Incredible. Made me cry.

  3. Deb June 15, 2013 / 10:06 am

    Matt,

    What an incredible message to those who have been hurt. I am so grateful for your ministry here as an Internet pastor, and I will always remember your first communication with Dee and me several years ago. If only more Christian leaders had your compassion…

  4. Heather June 15, 2013 / 10:21 am

    I am stunned at the silence of the religious leaders on this matter. I am stunned at the abuse. I’m outraged that a “Christian school” and “church” would use its events as opportunities to use children. I’m speechless. I have no words. My heart breaks for the victims and I pray God, who is our Healer, supernaturally heals and supports these victims. I pray these victims realize fully what it means to be ” more than a conquerer.” I am so sorry this happened. I am a rape victim myself and was young when it occurred and I stand beside and with you in tears over what you’ve suffered and continue to suffer. These men are not from God. Do not confuse evil with Your Father in heaven. Revenge is His and for this I rejoice.

  5. Mom of 2 of the 11 June 15, 2013 / 10:26 am

    Beautiful message. You’ve shown that one doesn’t necessarily have to experience abuse in order to be a vessel of compassion and courage. Thank you for being that vessel time and again.

  6. It's just the beginning June 15, 2013 / 12:39 pm

    Matt, thank you for being a voice in the darkness. God bless you!

  7. 2samuel127 June 15, 2013 / 12:55 pm

    Open your mouth for the mute,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
    Open your mouth, judge righteously,
    defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31:8-9, ESV)

  8. thejenncast June 15, 2013 / 9:54 pm

    At last, someone shows a true pastor’s heart towards these souls. Thank you.

  9. River June 16, 2013 / 3:36 am

    Thank you

  10. 2samuel127 June 16, 2013 / 8:48 am

    “Looking at Jesus through the prism of Johannine values offers unique insight into the priorities of discipleship. One’s personal relationship with Christ towers over every other consideration. What establishes preeminence in the Christian community is not apostleship or ecclesiastical office, nor titles or territory, not the charismatic gifts of tongues, healing, prophecy, or inspired preaching, but only our response to Jesus’ question, “Do you love Me?”

    The gospel of John sends a prophetic word to the contemporary church accustomed to treating charismatic persons with excessive deference: The love of Jesus Christ alone establishes status and confers dignity. Before Peter was clothed with the mantle of authority Jesus asked him (not once but three times), “Do you love me?” The question is not only poignant but revelatory: “If authority is given, it must be based on the love of Jesus.”

    Leadership in the church is not entrusted to successful fund-raisers, brilliant biblical scholars, administrative geniuses, or spellbinding preachers (though these assets may be helpful), but to those who have been laid waste by a consuming passion for Christ – passionate men and women for whom privilege and power are trivial compared to knowing and loving Jesus.”

    -Brennan Manning, “Abba’s Child”, page 111

  11. 2samuel127 June 16, 2013 / 9:44 am

    “In the name of prudence the terrified imposter would have us betray our identity and our mission, whatever it might be – standing with a friend in the harsh weather of life, solidarity with the oppressed at the cost of ridicule, refusal to be silent in the face of injustice, unswerving loyalty to a spouse, or any lonely call to duty on a wintry night. Other voices clamor, “Don’t make waves, say what everyone else is saying and do what they’re doing, tailor your conscience to fit this year’s fashion. When in Rome do as the Romans do. You don’t want to raise eyebrows and be dismissed as a kook. Settle in and settle down, You’d be overruled anyway.”

    Anyone who has ever stood up for the truth of human dignity, no matter how disfigured, only to find previously supportive friends holding back, even remonstrating with you for your boldness, feels the loneliness of the poverty of uniqueness. This happens every day to those who choose to suffer for the absolute voice of conscience, even in what seem to be small matters. They find themselves standing alone. I have yet to meet the man or woman who enjoys such responsibility.

    The measure of our depth-awareness of Christ’s present risenness is our capacity to stand up for the truth and sustain the disapproval of significant others. An increasing passion for the truth evokes a growing indifference to public opinion and to what people say or think. We can no longer drift with the crowd or echo the opinion of others. The inner voice, “Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid,” assures that our security rests in having no security. When we stand on our own two feet and claim responsibility for our unique self, we are growing in personal autonomy, fortitude, and freedom from the bondage of human approval.”

    -Brennan Manning, “Abba’s Child”, page 118-119

    • mattbredmond June 16, 2013 / 2:33 pm

      Thank you for this. I needed it today. I was thirsty for it and didn’t know it.

  12. Another SGM Survivor June 17, 2013 / 10:25 pm

    Matt,

    Thank you. Truly. Thank you.

    This is a truly heart-felt letter that brought tears to my eyes. As a survivor of abuse myself, and knowing several of the plaintiffs in the SGM lawsuit, I can say that I was touched by your words.

    Thank you!

  13. Wanting to hope June 26, 2013 / 11:13 pm

    I want to know truly where the hope is. I am broken for the SGM survivors and hope that each of you find healing and peace. I am a different survivor from the BJU investigation and I am struggling very much to find any hope. It is hard to trust when almost all Christian leaders speak out against you. How did it come to this? How did it come to a place that offenders are revered for their good christian ministries and we survivors are reviled for speaking truth. I feel hated, as if I am the destroyer, yet I only seek to protect future victims. It’s an intensely lonely road where other christians are the quickest to attack.
    I wish I knew where God is and whether he cares.

  14. 2samuel127 June 28, 2013 / 4:45 am

    “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?”
    Luke 18:7

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