September 2017 Newsletter

Newsletter August 2017

MOUNTAIN HAVEN- MINISTRY AT A GLANCE

Financials: Monthly Revenue Required: $7,100.00, and Monthly Revenue Received: $2,004.00, Remaining Need: $5,096.00

Needs: We are in need of one time donations to keep Mountain Haven running. The driveway is in need of serious attention, the back up generator for Mountain Haven needs to be replaced, the refrigerator just got replaced only after five years, and there is much maintenance to do. Right now the need, above and beyond our monthly operating expenses, is $10,000.00

Current Ministry/ Ranch Projects: 1.) Our lodge space is available for your retreat, get away, sabbatical, or small team building meeting; at a donation basis. Call or email to schedule today. 2.) We officially closed our office on Main Street after almost five years, & are using a cozy little corner space of the friendship house chapel located at 1020 North 15th Street. If you need an appointment, please contact Chris. 3.) We are in need of putting gravel on the driveway, we got hit with some severe rains that have wreaked havoc on the roadway.

Something Interesting or Unexpected that Happened Last Month:  1.) Our nephew Josh has been staying with us since mid August and it has been such a joy to have him here learning the ways of the mountain.2.) We had to unexpectedly put one of our goats down and it was a terrible experience.

Top Prayer Requests: Pray for marriages to have healthy, non-violent communication that encourages and strengthens bonds not destroys them.

 

A shout out to Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is domestic violence awareness month, so I figured why not talk openly in our newsletter about domestic violence in the church. It is one of the biggest kept secrets out there, masked in many forms. Perhaps one of the most pervasive, subtle forms of violence within the church is spiritual abuse and misuse of spiritual power. This is the toughest form of belief system to break through because our entire essence is often wrapped up in our spiritual identity. If we feel that we are not a submissive wife because our husband uses that language, then we feel we have failed God. Doubt, inevitably creeps in about our character.  If, as a husband, we feel that we don’t measure up because we lost our job or have fallen on tough times and our wife tells us over and over that we have failed, then we can feel like we are not a “spiritual leader”. It is very easy to use the bible as a way to tell each other that we don’t measure up. Or to use it to excuse our destructive, terrible behavior because our spouse is not acting “Godly” and we are just responding in kind, or even to use grace as a way to give ourselves permission for our bad behavior.

What if, instead, we took the approach to spiritual violence as one of opposing it in every form, like we do to physical violence? What if we welcomed conversation in the church about gender roles, gender expectations, and exploration of how gender works in our current culture in light of financial changes, geographic mobility, and changing roles of men and women.  What if we listened to the stories of other couples and how they make mutual “submission work” and opened our hearts to conversations about loving one another more deeply instead of coercing others to believe what has been culturally and generationally normal.

What is difficult about this conversation is the fear that feminism will wreak havoc on the conversation and will pit men against women, and women will be hateful towards men. The word feminism actually means “The advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes” (online dictionary). Now we know that the message of the bible is a message of equality and intrinsic human value and worth. We are all created in God’s image and therefore our value is the same in God’s eyes. Plus the conversation about submission begins with the fact that we should mutually submit to one another. It is a difficult conversation, nonetheless, because in the past it has led to division instead of unity.

Where does this fear come from? The changes in our nation’s culture and the hatred between the genders have brought so much division. How can we not do better? How can we not make a night in our small group to hear about the experience of being male and the experience of being female in this current world structure? Why is it so difficult to discuss what violence and harm feels like in the church? Why do so many men hate this conversation? Is it because it is embarrassing that this is a primary male issue? It feels shaming and oppressive, and often times the delivery from the women’s movement has been one of hate towards men, so there is silence; individually and within the church. But, yet violence and abuse happen. Why do so many in the church use language about women that is still oppressive and divisive? Language that pigeonholes strong women, or women who go against the grain, as women that are not submissive. How can we not have a conversation about how oppression is subtle and how we can’t use God as an excuse to hurt one another?

We have to address this fear on a macro level within the church. In the last month, at a meeting in Chicago, I had the privilege of talking to church leaders from all over the world about what the church can do to better recognize domestic violence, and better yet how to respond to it in transformative ways. It begins with a conversation. A smaller conversation in our homes about ways to cultivate respectful and life giving communication that goes both ways. A recognition of the different strengths within the sexes, and then within the personalities in each union. Because after all there are two very different individuals in each union. It then needs to spread to our family conversations, and conversations with our small groups and groups of friends. We should be wrestling through these complex conversations in the faith community. This is not a “them” problem. Referring to those on the outside. We need to figure out how to hold others accountable for behavior or words that hurt their spouse. Both individually and corporately. We need to be aware of cycles of abuse, and reframe our interventions and labeling away from words like abuse; and towards words like compassion, accountability, and challenges about how we love our spouse. We have to examine our own values, mores and traditions about men and women and communication. We have to examine how we talk, the language we use, the absolutes, the diminishing and cutting off sentences that push our spouse away and negate their value. This is not something for just the professionals to deal with. We can seek insight from them, but we can also check our hearts to see what our gut is telling us about ourselves and our own behaviors and relationships. There is a place for professionals that will lovingly address “victim” mentalities for those that get hurt over and over. And there are professionals that will address  stuck belief patterns in those that hurt others out of their own brokenness. Refer to those people when it is a bit too much for you.

Let’s give a shout out to the advocates, counselors and pilgrims that work on behalf of victims and survivors. And also the dedicated, generous workers who educate and break belief systems for those that are the perpetrators of this behavior. And as a faith community let’s see what we can do to break the silence and not be afraid to address this hidden phenomenon happening within many relationships. Let’s make a difference today.

 

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