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