The King's Gardeners Ministries
Reverend S. L. Gardner
Spokane Valley, Washington U.S.
- The Issue of Abuse -
How Can the Church Respond to Spouse Abuse?
A woman in an abusive marriage cannot break the chains of her imprisonment without the wise and well-orchestrated involvement of a compassionate community. Unfortunately, the church has too often been ill-prepared and even hesitant to get involved in such messy situations. Thus, many women don't seek help from the church but have turned to outside agencies and services instead.
God indicted the religious leadership of Ezekiel's day because, He told them, "You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally" (Ezek. 34:4). The call of the people of God is to minister to those who are hurting and in desperate need of assistance.
1. Be prepared to get involved. Plan ahead. Don't be caught off guard. If a church is truly committed to ministering to families in today's cultural chaos and to be lights in a dark world, then it must be prepared to provide the needed support structure. This will enable a woman to lovingly hold her husband accountable without the perpetual threat of physical harm and financial ruin.
Consult with professionals in your area to find out how to implement intervention with an abuser and how to provide protection for a victim and her children. Also, seek liability insurance to protect the church from litigation. It's a small price to pay for the added potential risk in dealing with these situations.
2. Maintain follow-through. Be persistent. It's easy to get discouraged when working with individuals who come from abusive homes. Progress is usually slow and almost seems nonexistent at times. Expect the unexpected. It can be draining work, so don't allow only a few people to carry the load. Don't become weary in doing good (Gal. 6:9-10). An extensive prayer ministry is needed to support this frontline, hand-to-hand combat.
3. Establish a referral network for helping both victims and abusers. This includes housing, food, clothing, medical services, legal advice, protective services, professional counseling, and employment services. Don't be afraid to recommend the help of other reputable agencies.
The church should be the focal point for coordinating the overall ministry efforts to help this wounded person become a healthier member of the body of Christ. But the church should not be expected to do it all themselves.
4. Hold the abuser accountable. Remember, the church is responsible to minister truth and mercy to both the abuser and the victim. The church is about the business of restoration.
If there has been a separation due to physical violence, regular accountability must be maintained. If charges have been pressed and he is incarcerated, he should not be abandoned. He needs to know that while the church sides with God in hating his sin, they (like God) desire his restoration.
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The King's Gardeners Ministries is based in Washington State U.S. with all proper Corporate Reports on file with the Secretary of State for Washington U.S. Reverend S. L. Gardner President and CEC.
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