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Summer 2007 Rapport: Hands of Christ

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Barbara Strickland (D.Min. 2007) and her husband, Bill (M.A. 1980), are missionaries to Honduras, Central America, where they have started a ministry to raise awareness of the problem of child sexual abuse. Barbara’s doctoral project focused on this topic.

A few years ago, while attending a weekend retreat for the church we serve in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, I sat in disbelief as I heard testimonies of young teens describing their childhood abuse.

  • “When I was five years old, my father allowed three uncles to rape me.”
  • “In exchange for education, I accepted the friendship of an older man who later came to ‘collect’ through violent sexual abuse.”
  • “My parents worked long hours, and I was a lonely little boy. The teenagers next door gave me the attention I craved, but that attention soon turned to sexual abuse. I began to act out in homosexual behavior, and it soon became my lifestyle.”
  • “The man next door raped me when I was very small. I never told anyone. The damage he did to me has affected my marriage and all of my personal relationships.”

These victims found healing and deliverance as they yielded themselves to the work of the Spirit. They since have found places of ministry in the church—their testimonies are helping others.

Sexual abuse statistics in Honduras (population 7 million) are among the highest in the world. A recent survey by a nongovernmental organization reported that 10,000 children in our largest cities currently are victims of commercial sexual abuse. Minors disappear daily—kidnapped or deceived into use in the sex trade.

Historically, the subject of sexual abuse has been taboo in Honduran society, perpetuating the secrecy surrounding it. This silence must be broken—beginning in the church.

In addition to ministering to adults who were victimized as children, we are working to increase awareness. Through seminars across the country, we teach the biblical principles related to sexual abuse and the church’s need to minister to victims. We have distributed to 34 different church, social and government agencies, seminar materials that highlight the symptoms and consequences of abuse, appropriate responses and community resources for reporting and counseling. We also have scheduled seminars to educate children about abuse.

As the church continues its compassionate response, the need for refugee centers for minors rescued from sex trafficking is becoming evident. We look forward to this next challenge.

 

Updated: Thursday, August 9, 2007 5:03 PM

 

 

 
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