Rev. Dr. Tammy Rodman speaks about her ministry for women who have suffered abuse called Sanctuary Outreach Ministry at a recent community meeting. This is a guest blog by Rev. Dr. Rodman.
October 20, 2014
Recently, during a counseling session a woman shared how encouraging it was to hear me refer to her as a “survivor” as opposed to a “victim." The word “victim” made her feel as if she were being held in that place of hurt, while the word survivor helped her to see how she has, and is, being set free from the situation. At that point, I realized even more the power of words and the restoration which comes through our voices being set free, being heard. This is especially important to someone whose spirit, mind, and body have been hidden in the darkness of abuse or bondage.
In light of all that has been in the news within the past few months concerning cases of domestic violence, young girls being stolen from their schools to satiate the need for power and control, the ongoing onslaught of children being broken, mentally, physically and spiritually by someone whose lust supersedes their sense of morality… words of healing are necessary. Voices must cry out in the wilderness and be lifted from the dark pit of silence. I am reminded of the words found in the book of Jeremiah chapter 9 beginning at verse 17, one of the most brilliant elegies in the Old Testament. This passage called for the professional mourners (women) to wail loudly and to hurriedly teach their daughters to wail because of all of the death that has and will occur. It is my deep personal feeling that God is calling the women of the world to cry out and loudly, so that our voices will be heard stating, “No longer will we and our children die a silent death; we will live!” We must change our language from the silence of a victim to the resounding voice of a survivor.
I was further encouraged as I heard the announcement of the Nobel Peace prize being awarded in part to Malala Yousafzai, the teen ager who the Taliban unsuccessfully tried to silence as she spoke against young girls not being allowed the freedom of education. This is a major victory: victory that crosses the lines of politics, religion, culture and many of the isms of this world—classism, racism, sexism. This survivor did not stay in the land of victim; she came out of a situation that literally was meant to kill her, and now she has the world as her platform to speak loudly, “I AM MALALA” a survivor.
In my own personal journey as survivor, it was the “Word of God” and the voice of hope found in Luke 8:1-3, which helped me to understand how a healing encounter with Jesus will not only leave one with a desire to tell someone else but will transform the individual to a committed heart to walk with Christ. Just as the many women whom he healed and who followed him, supported him with all they had, so too did my healing encounter with Christ transformed me. God also used the voice of televangelist Joyce Meyers, as she gave her personal testimony of sexual abuse, saying, “As crazy as it may seem I am grateful that I went through what I did because out of it a ministry has been birthed that will reach many pointing them to Christ.” (One Life: The Personal Testimony, DVD) In this I found the words and my voice to say boldly, “I too didn’t like what I experienced and wish no one will ever again experience such trauma of the spirit; however, out of that pain a ministry was birthed and most importantly a relationship with Jesus was developed and is growing daily.” Now, I truly understand the words of the song my grandma taught me as a little girl with a new light: “Yes Jesus loves me, Yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so.”
There are many little girls whose spirits are stuck in the moment of their hurt, and it is in the very deepness of their hurt that Jesus will meet them reminding them of their worth, defining the true meaning of the word love. This love will give back their voice and lift them out of the pain. The Lord will show his desire to walk with them to the place of wholeness and freedom he desires for them.
We are in the season in which it is the responsibility of those of us who have survived, whatever we have experienced, to speak words of healing so others will know this love. Survivors, we must stand up! We must walk into our new found freedom being compelled like the woman at the well to drop everything and go tell others the good news. For the person reading this whose voice has been stifled know this today, “You may be wounded, but if you keep walking, seeking, loving and wailing, your voice will be heard, and you will receive beauty for your ashes, you will be set free, and you will rise, no longer bound.
By Rev. Dr. Tammy Rodman, Sanctuary Outreach Ministry