A Gut-Wrenching Afternoon Thinking About Child Sexual Abuse

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I want to share with you two things that have been occupying my attention this afternoon, one of them expected and the other quite unexpected.

First, I spent early afternoon completing a training program designed to help protect Christian ministries from child-predators. The program is the second one I have completed in the last month, and both programs are pre-requisite for serving in ministries that I am involved with. I am so very grateful for both programs. They were informative, helpful and practical. But they were also gut-wrenching. I learned so much.

Both programs describe how child predators single out and groom children. Both programs explain how predators manipulate “gatekeepers” to gain access to children. And both programs explain how predators target the most vulnerable children—those who are loners, fatherless or otherwise isolated from their peers. The predators choose and victimize children who have the least amount of protection.

Both programs are designed to protect children participating in Christian ministries, which are often targeted by predators. For those of you who are interested in such training for volunteers in your church or ministry, the one I recommend is Ministry Safe. I hate that such programs are even necessary, but they are. I can’t recommend Ministry Safe highly enough.

Second, in a turn of providence just as I finished the training, I came across Justin Taylor’s posting of Rachael Denhollander’s victim-impact statement, which she gave at the sentencing hearing of Larry Nasser, former Team USA gymnastics doctor who molested her 16 years ago. Let me just say, that I have never seen anything like this.

For over 40 minutes, she held forth. She gave a heart-rending account of her abuse at his hands. With her abuser right before her, she spoke with conviction, determination and moral clarity. She also offered the gospel to her abuser and offered him her forgiveness. When she was done, the judge said she was the bravest person she had ever had in her courtroom. The gallery rose in a standing ovation.

I urge you to set aside 45 minutes to watch the entire thing (see video above). You won’t be able to look away. You will fight back tears. I know I did. But it will be worth it.

Then let the tears flow. Pray. Maranatha.

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Denny Burk
Denny Burk serves as Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the author of the book Articular Infinitives in the Greek of the New Testament and the forthcoming book from Crossway What Is the Meaning of Sex? He has also published numerous popular and scholarly articles. You can read his daily commentary on theology, politics, and culture at DennyBurk.com.

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