Saturday, March 15, 2014

Do you know why sexual abuse can happen in churches? It has to be one of the largest conspiracies of silence in the world today. I was thinking about that especially this morning, and here are my thoughts why... 

1) We deny that anything 'sinful' ever happens in our churches. Affairs? No way! Domestic violence? Absolutely not! These don't happen in our churches, let alone something as sordid as sexual abuse! Brother so-and-so and Sister so-and-so would NEVER do something wrong! And if a victim ever dares to utter even a whimper of accusation, they will most likely be hauled up for 'counselling' for 'lusting with your eyes'. 

2) Homosexuality is never accepted in churches. The LGBT community is not even allowed in through most church doors. This denial that LGBT relationships even exist only hurts victims of same-sex sexual abuse. How can a victim ever say that they have been sexually abused by someone from the same sex in church when LGBT relationships are seen as 'so wrong'? By the time the Catholic church admitted it was happening in their ranks, it was rampant. The Christian church has yet to openly admit to anything happening in theirs.

3) Leaders and church workers are looked up to in all churches. The congregation looks up to them, listens to their every word, sometimes practically fawn over them. When a victim sees everyone around him in church looking up to the very person who abused them with adoring eyes, how can they dare to speak up? It is as clear as day that nobody will ever believe them. 

4) As soon as a victim stops attending church because he feels uncomfortable around the abuser, he is at fault. He is, in Christian-ese (our very own language), a 'backslider'. How a backslider is treated depends on their particular church. I've been in a church that treats backsliders as 'goats' and warns the congregation against contact with them as they will influence the others. Some congregations are warmly encouraged to reach out to backsliders. But believe them when they make claims of sexual abuse that occurred in the church? No. Obviously their minds have been corrupted and they need to be gently shown the error of their ways. 

Ours is a culture of silence. I have qualms writing this post. I know that most likely I'll get hauled up because to criticize the Body of Christ is seen as the sin of 'rebellion'. But if nobody speaks up, this silence is never going to end. If just one person thinks, "Maybe what so-and-so told me about that incident isn't a lie", then I think this post is worth it.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Malaysians for Malaysia

I am just so touched by this beautiful project by Malaysians for Malaysia. They collected donations from Malaysians of all races and religions for the rebuilding of destroyed graves in a church in Pahang. Nobody knows who is responsible for the destruction of the gravestones. M4M took the initiative to bring healing and hope back to a nation that is quite confused and upset by the way we seem to be thrown against each other right now. What a beautiful gesture of love!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Slam poetry

I've got a new love for slam poetry! I am so addicted to it! I can listen to person after person. You know why? Because slam poetry is so RAW. Each poet comes up with their own poem so that the poem itself becomes real, instead of fake.

And what I love best is how if they're sad, they're sad... If they're angry (and they're often angry), they just ARE angry! That has to be the awesomest part for me... How cool is it to be able to express anger, and receive approval in the form of applause for it. If only real life was like that! If only we didn't all have to go around in masks of happiness and sweetness and light. Well, sadness and depression are strangely okay emotions to show... But not anger.. No, never anger.

Attaching two of my favourites to share!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My heart is too full right now...

I don't know what was different about this year's Kiwanis camp... I don't know what was different about this group.

I remember before going to Camp Vision, I was really nervous about being small group leader. I always try to avoid it because I don't know how to talk to the youths. And then I read Paul's advice to just think of a topic and then keep trying until it works.

So armed with that, I went to camp. And... I had the best time ever. Because for once, I didn't sit there like a boring dumb-mute; for once, I talked to the youths whenever there was a break or we were just waiting around... It made for the best camp ever as the youths opened up and I felt a sense of closeness with my team that was so awesome, I never wanted camp to end.

Fast forward to Kiwanis camp, and I wasn't particularly looking forward to it as I had caught a bad cough. Also, I admit a slight prejudice because half the kids, in my eyes, come from 'okay' backgrounds. To me, that makes for a 'boring' camp.

The first night, I don't know what happened. We had a time of sharing amongst our small groups, and... One by one, the youths in my small group shared their dreams, and broke down in tears as they shared secret wishes and struggles in their lives. I didn't know what happened, I just flowed with it. We stayed long after the other groups left, just sharing and sharing.

After that, we had a debrief amongst all the volunteers, and I told the others, I didn't know what happened. Yuen Li the founder of Nomad who had been listening in to my small group's sharing said, "I know what happened... You guys were REALLY listening."

My group didn't stop there... They kept sharing throughout the camp. We were far from being a high-performing team; in fact, I felt really guilty because their games results were rather low! But by the last night, they all agreed, this group was so different from any group they'd ever experienced in camps. There was so much support and acceptance of each other.

And as they shared, and shared, I heard stories that shocked me at the struggles and trauma the youths were going through. I thought, after all, the youths are not from shelter homes.... Only a few of them are. Yet, the stories of the youths were equally on par with those who were from shelter homes, as they shared of divorce, parents who had passed away, poverty, low self-esteem, violence in the home..

When I came home, as ever, I stayed in touch with the youths on FB. And I got to know other youths better, who were also from 'normal' homes. And they too, opened up and shared their stories.

I don't really know why that is happening. But I feel as if my cup is so full of the pain these youths have gone through. I only wish I knew now how to steer them towards 'what's next'...

And a part of me wishes I could run under a table and just hide for a while for the pain is getting too much.

Friday, December 13, 2013

If I could wish...

... Then I would wish that you could be well again.

I don't know when you started not being well. I think you've not been well for as long as I could remember, but things were better last time. Yesterday you said, "Somebody is tapping the phone! They want to listen because I'm so important!" in that voice that veers on crazy that scares me.

I changed the subject as quick as I could. I did that a lot my last trip with you. I've learnt to navigate the route to speak about other subjects when the familiar rants come up of how someone is trying to kill you, someone else is trying to harm you...

I wish you could get well, but I don't know what to do. And I don't know if it's possible that you'll ever be.

But just now, what we have... It's good enough for me.

Adrienne's story

I met Adrienne at the Protect and Save the Children workshop on Preventing Child Sexual Abuse. There was something about her and her answers to the questions that the trainers would throw out to us that made me look over to her and wonder. She was so spot on with her replies. 

I kept in touch with her after the workshop ended... She is someone who is passionate about abused and trafficked women. 

I just returned from Kiwanis camp. And on the last day of camp, I saw this incredible sharing that she did on a public FB page that just amazed me....

'"Tell me something interesting about yourself"

"I accepted the apology I never got."

"What happened?"

"I was raped by my ex-boyfriend years ago. And I didn't realize till later. I didn't realize that I was a victim. The worst part of it was blaming myself. I did't realize how much it affected me until I finally come to terms with it. Only after I stop blaming my
self, I could move on. I accepted that it wasn't my fault. Getting off that was the hardest part. Getting off the hate I felt for myself. Getting off the guilt that I blamed myself for. I was such a different person then. I couldn't think straight, didnt know how i got through, all I know is that I was really lost for a few year. My perspective of things have changed now. Then things just changed, for the better. Now Ive come to terms with myself. And now I'm just living life. Happy."

"Did you ever confront him?"



"Its all in the past, and also because he doesn't know. I don't think he ever realized that my NO meant NO-not YES"'

I was just blown away by this brave, generous sharing. She shared with me that she wanted to help other victims be brave enough to reach out and share their story to someone who can help them too. 

It may not seem very generous to some people to share a story like this publicly. But there are cruel people out there who love to throw brickbats at survivors who dare to share their story. There is so much shame and fear of how others will judge you that wraps survivors in silence. To dare to share just for the chance that others may dare too... That is so 'wow'.

:) She was pretty surprised that I had guessed she was a survivor. I think it helps in the work I want to do to be able to hear.