A Shepherd’s Response

Sam Powell is a pastor and abuse advocate. He writes a blog, but I first encountered him through the comments he posted at A Cry for Justice. He wrote the following comment at Facebook in response to Jon Uhler’s posts about Jane, whose story about being raped while attending Master’s College (now University) has gone viral. I believe that Sam’s response reveals the heart of a true shepherd who cares about the abused. He gave me his permission to share it here:

Dear everyone,

I have been mulling this for several days, and weighing whether I should get involved. But since my name has come up, I’ll put in my two cents.

Jon, I cannot agree with your stance here, and beg you to hear me out. First, the point of Jane’s story was NOT necessarily the rape. She reported that properly, names and all, eleven years ago. Biblically, there is no requirement to continue to bring it up, especially since it would leave her and her loved ones vulnerable to expensive lawsuits for years to come.

If a counselee told me in my office “I was raped last night”, I would certainly advise her to do exactly what you are saying. Name names. Go to the police. But she has already done all of that. Old history. Her part of that is finished. 

But the details of the rape were crucial to the main point of her story – which is how Masters dealt with the whole thing. This is what she wants addressed. This is where she DID name names specifically.

If Masters is the same as they were eleven years ago, they would respond exactly the same way that they did – cover-up, accuse, deny. If they had changed, then they would have approached this far differently, sought to make contact in humility, and tried to reconcile.

To me, Jane showed the wisdom of Joseph. He didn’t immediately accuse. He first tested the waters to see if there was any change. There was no change, and I don’t blame her a bit for staying anonymous. It is her story, and her right to tell it her way.

But there is something even deeper than this that is absolutely crucial to recovery for a victim. We are made in God’s image, which means we have personhood, choice, will, and a voice. Satan hates that and seeks to rob us of those things. This is what Jane’s rapist did. and Master’s college did the same thing. The assumption that she needs others to tell her what to do and how to do it. Shut up. Speak up. Stand up. Sit down. 

She’s in God’s image, with a voice and a personhood. (Diane Langberg is excellent on this). As a counselor, I not only direct victims in the scripture, teaching them about God’s character, I also encourage them to seek justice, but I never bully them into it, coerce them to report it, or force them – by using the bible as a bully pulpit – to do what I THINK they should do. it is crucial that they regain THEIR voice and THEIR choice and personhood in this. That is how they recover. By ordering Jane to do this as you think she ought to do this, or else be accused of lying, or slander, or worse, you have simply allowed yourself to join with her abusers in taking away her voice and her will.

There is nothing in scripture whatsoever that forbids her from doing what she has done. She’s gone the Romans 13 route, she’s gone the Matthew 18 route.

I thank God for social media. The power brokers of “ministry” have had too much success in shutting mouths over technicalities and threats of “gossip” for far too long. 

Jane, if you are reading this, there is no sin in what you have done, provided what you say is true. And I believe you.

Jon, one other thing. I also went to a bible college (BIOLA) and can tell you with much assurance that such wicked men ARE in the seminaries and in the schools. They go largely unhindered because there are so many who say, “But that can’t happen here! You mean to tell me that we have RAPISTS and LIARS and those who mock victims HERE??

Yes, Jon. We do.This isn’t the first account, and it won’t be the last.

Here are my two bits. Hope they help. Have a good evening, everyone”

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