As I hear her story, my stomach churns. I hold back the tears.
I’m interviewing a beautiful 23-year-old woman for a project I’m working on. She lives in a shelter home with her two little girls. I’d steeled myself to hear a shocking story of domestic violence. But I didn’t expect to have such a visceral reaction when I heard the details of her abuse.
Her story is horrific.
Just two weeks into her marriage, the hitting started. Broken bones, stitches on her head, black eyes. Then, the depravity spiralled further - her husband began pimping her out to his friends in their village. He began circulating compromising pictures of her via text message. When she became pregnant, he only grew more violent and abusive. Their daughter had barely started talking when he pumped the little child full of pills so she would be “compliant” too. He sold his three-year-old for sex with strangers.
Today, seven months after she and her two daughters were rescued, the scars run deep. She fights demons every time she closes her eyes. Flashes of the past haunt her, robbing her of even one restful night of sleep.
Even as I type, the anger rises, and nausea sweeps over me.
Yes, we live in a world fractured by sin and wrought with depravity. Yes, it’s a fallen world. I’ve been taught that at Bible studies and at churches.
But what I haven’t heard enough from the pulpit is this: the injustice should shake us. It should stir us out of our comfortable, tidy world of PTA meetings and haircuts with senior stylists and catch-ups over coffee.
When we see the gross injustice, the perversion that has trapped and tortured the defenceless, our hearts ought to cry out: “God, break my heart for what breaks Yours.”
And in that brokenness, we should come together as one voice and declare that this just can’t be okay. That we can’t look the other way. That this is our problem, too.
Our God hates injustice. “Hate” is a strong word. It’s not pretty or tame or under-the-radar. I usually avoid it because it ruffles feathers. It’s much easier to market blog posts about love than about hate.
But Psalm 97:10 says it quite simply: "Let those who love the Lord hate evil . . . "
We can’t just dwell on the warm fuzzies. We are also called to hate injustice and evil and depravity.
When my anger burns, when I feel sick to my stomach, I should advocate, I should fight, I should rally, I should write, I should protest, I should pray, I should march, I should cry.
Church, let’s declare it together: This cannot be okay. We cannot look the other way. This is our problem, too.
Too often, we turn to theological platitudes: that it’s the enemy, that we live in depraved times, that in this world we will face trials of many kinds, that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. Yes, those things are true. But often we use them as excuses for inaction. We hide behind those all-too-familiar lines simply because we are afraid to step out, or because we don’t want to be inconvenienced.
This is also a profound biblical truth: that He who lives within us trounces he who lives in the world. He who lives within us gives us what we need to fight the ugliness. "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it" (John 1:5).
Let’s support those who are doing the hard work of rescue. Let’s pump in our resources and our time to help those whose lives have been wrecked and ravaged. Let’s invite these survivors to our churches and Wednesday evening fellowships. Let’s teach them some skills so they can stand on their own feet. Let’s build their bank accounts and build their lives.
Let’s never ever doubt their stories or point accusing fingers at them. Let’s never use the Bible to dismiss what they've been through by telling them, “It’s the devil and not your husband.” Let’s never tell them to “just get over it.” Healing is a process, often a lifelong one.
Let’s listen, counsel and empower. Let’s share Jesus with them. He will avenge and He will defend. He will be their Healer and their ultimate Rescuer.
Meanwhile, let’s stand with them. Because this is our problem, too.