I'm Carolyn…Struggling tenaciously through life by the power of prayer…by which my life is gratefully marked. Self-medicating with a little bit of chocolate and a whole lot of Jesus . "Have your roots planted deep in Christ. Grow in Him. Get your strength from Him. Let Him make you strong in the faith as you have been taught. Your life should be full of thanks to Him." (Colossians 2:7)
“I’m ready to be put this all behind me and to continue reaching for my dreams of filmmaking and in music.”
Those were the recent words of Brandon Milburn, a former youth minister, as he pleaded with a judge for a lenient sentence after being convicted of seven counts of child sexual abuse involving two eleven year old boys. His pleas were echoed by supporters who came to court to proclaim his innocence. One even remarked, “I do not believe he is a predator. I love Brandon; my children love Brandon. If Brandon was released today, he would be welcome to come and live in my home.”
Ultimately, the judge decided that Brandon Milburn should spend the next 25 years reaching for his dreams inside the walls of a prison.
Sexual offenders have perfected a grand deception that sadly seems to work all too well inside faith communities. This deception twists truth, minimizes abuse, and exploits guilt in order to create a fictional narrative that paints the offender as the victim and those who accuse and confront as perpetrators of injustice. Unfortunately, too many fail to realize that this deceptive narrative is fiction.
Pornography has rocked my world more than once and if there were one issue, one black stain on the fabric of humanity, one tool of the enemy I could rid our world of; porn is it.
We do not need statistics to remind us pornography knows no boundaries; race, nationality, sex, religion, profession or age. I know it is a sad statement but it is true. Pornography being instantly available on the internet to everyone leaves me gravely concerned about the magnitude of sexual crimes yet to be reported.
I want the church to be aware they are a haven for pornography addicted sexual predators. As the below article suggests; people in places of leadership can be accused of misconduct. As adults and/or leaders we need to be careful not to put ourselves in a situation where we are alone with a child or youth; for their sake and for ours. We need to be protective of children.
Here is the most alarming aspect of a predator/pedophile gaining a place of leadership in the church. They purposefully seek the place of leadership exactly because they are predators and they know where to find children; there is an ample supply of children in churches, schools and sporting activities. Some of these predators go to college and plan their careers based on their end goal: supply—child victims.
Once an unknown predator establishes themselves in a church there is little possibility anyone would suspect them. Even more, when a parent is having problems with a child at home or at school, who is the first person they may confide in asking for help or prayer support? The pastor/preacher/priest, staff, Sunday school teacher or youth Leader. Yes, this is how they often prey on children (and occasionally adults) in the church. The predator knows the child’s emotional state and carefully picks his victim. I say “His” because most predators are male but in today’s world with internet porn and porn romance books we are beginning to see more female predators. Porn changes your brain chemistry. It is a scientific fact.
We need to believe the children! When we are presented with an allegation we need to report it. Always. No matter how much you love or respect the person. Make the report.
A false allegation will rarely make it very far through an investigation. The story has to hold through multiple interviews with different professionals. If any part of the story changes; the investigation is over.
An easy lie for a victim is: “No, it didn’t happen.” The most difficult lie for a victim is a detailed report of a traumatic event. False allegations of child abuse are rare.
We should never be shocked when we find out someone did something we would never believe about them. We are all sinful. It is the human condition and unfortunately we cannot recognize a child predator based on race, nationality, sex, religion, profession or age. You never know what goes on in someone else’s home or mind.
Church should be the last place that parents worry about taking their children. But instead of a sanctuary, child sexual abuse experts say it can be dangerous for kids and can provide a friendly environment for predators.
Studies show that one out of four Americans are survivors of child sexual abuse. That poses a daunting challenge for churches trying to help the adult victims while also protecting potential victims.
“We so focus on issues of forgiveness and grace – offenders are drawn to these places. They’re drawn to places where if they get caught, they simply need to cry and say they’re sorry. And the church many times embraces them and places them back where they were,” child sexual abuse expert Boz Tchvidjian said.
“Churches are also in great need of volunteers. I’ve never been to a church that was not in need of a volunteer. And churches are very trusting,” he added.
To help churches in the fight against this trend, Tchvidjian began the Grace Initiative, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment.
In recent years he’s seen progress as believers talk more openly about the problem.
Tchvidjian would like to see more denominations and local churches developing policies that minister to survivors while also protecting kids.
“You have to know how offenders think and act so you can stay one step or two steps ahead of them,” Tchvidjian said.
Often the biggest challenge for churches is learning how to respond to reports of abuse. In many instances abusers have been well-liked and trusted leaders.
Tchividjian described where the breakdown happens.
“When the 13- or 14-year-old kid in the youth group who’s caused a lot of trouble in the youth group, who comes from a broken home, who maybe has had some trouble with the law, when that 13- or 14-year-old comes forward and says ‘this particular person in the church has abused me’ and when that person happens to be an elder or a leader or a well-respected person in the church – how are we going to respond?” he said.
Tchvidjian calls on churches to take sexual abuse reports to the authorities quickly and be prepared to minister to victims, offenders, and their families.
He said his shedding of light on darkness is the best way for the Church to move forward and demonstrate integrity in a fallen world.
Heather Sells enjoys reporting on a variety of issues for CBN News. Some of her recent stories have focused on religious liberties, technology, AIDS, overseas missions, domestic trafficking, and politics. Follow Heather on Twitter @SellsHeather and “like” her at Facebook.com/HeatherSellsCBNNews.
Consider praying Psalm 5 over childhood victims and sexual predators.
Psalm 5 (NIV)
1 Listen to my words, Lord,
consider my lament.
2 Hear my cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.
3 In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.
4 For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;
with you, evil people are not welcome.
5 The arrogant cannot stand
in your presence.
You hate all who do wrong;
6 you destroy those who tell lies.
The bloodthirsty and deceitful
you, Lord, detest.
7 But I, by your great love,
can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down
toward your holy temple.
8 Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness
because of my enemies—
make your way straight before me.
9 Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;
their heart is filled with malice.
Their throat is an open grave;
with their tongues they tell lies.
10 Declare them guilty, O God!
Let their intrigues be their downfall.
Banish them for their many sins,
for they have rebelled against you.
11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
12 Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield.