“Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime.” Herbert Ward
There is a reason that Wade Burleson is admired and respected by the two of us. Wade has a natural empathy for victims. His gut response in bad situations is to reach out to the most vulnerable. His instinct for those who are hurting is rooted in a deep understanding of the love and grace of Christ who spent much of His time amongst the poor and let down.
We have a prime directive at our blog. That means that all commenters must show concern for the victims in these stories. If they do not, we believe that these commenters exist to prop up either an idol or an ideology. On this blog we care about the forgotten victims. Most of these admired Christian leaders have throngs of admiring sycophants who strenuously defend them and uphold them throughout their ordeals.
Who stands for the little guy, the victim, and the not famous and admired? This blog does. Period. If you don’t like it, go to the blogs of all the admirers of the famous. There are many. Let us know if you need a referral because we read them to remind ourselves why we blog. We do not want to be like them.
Wade has taught us all an important lesson in caring for the hurt. He went out on a limb for this young victim and bravely called it as he saw it. On his blog, he received a horrendous comment by someone who said that the 10-year-old child might be a Bathsheba or a Tamar. Let me say this loud and clear. These comments are sick and such a person needs counseling.
A Letter to Emulate
It was Wade’s postletter to a victim, Here, that caused the father of this young girl to reach out to him. Through Wade’s compassion, he has been used by the Holy Spirit to bring healing to this situation. This is part of the posted letter he wrote. Please read the full letter to see how to effectively minister in such a situation.
“Your life is not defined by your abuse or your abuser's death.
Yes, it will be difficult to ever forget what has happened these past few months, but it is one thing to remember events, quite another thing to be defined by them. You are a child of God who has significance, value and worth because of Him. Your future is His. One of these days I believe that you will be able to help other people overcome the pain of abuse because God has granted to you the special grace of experiencing supernatural healing that only comes through enduring unnatural hurt. You have been abused, but you are not defined by that abuse. Your personhood is defined by your God, and He makes no mistakes. “
Why This Letter Was Important
Here is an excerpt from Wade’s later post which addresses the phone call that he received from the father.
“Her father was now on the phone. I answered trepidatiously, not knowing what to expect. During the subsequent forty-five minutes I had one of the most moving phone conversations of my life. I cannot go into all the details of the conversation, particularly in regard to the abuse and the circumstances surrounding Tom White's death. These matters will remain confidential out of respect for the victim and her family, as well as the family of Tom White. What I can say is that there is no doubt the abuse occurred. In addition, there is no doubt the open letter helped this young girl's family.
Her father told me that he was at work and had Googled "Tom White" and on the third page he found my post "The Sin and Suicide of 'Voice of the Martyrs' Executive Director Tom White: An Open Letter to the Young Girl He Abused." He thought to himself, "What in the world is this about?" He read it at his desk and began to weep. He said that he a great deal of comfort and healing from the open letter and immediately printed off a copy of it to take home to read to his wife. He said they both cried as he read the letter again to his wife at their house. "The Holy Spirit brought such incredible comfort and healing to us both." The parents of the young girl have saved the letter and will at the appropriate time read it to their daughter.”
Wade is the right person to love, counsel and pray with this family. All of us should pray for him and for the family. God be praised for directing this embattled father to Enid! Can you imagine how hard it is for this family to read all the accolades for Tom and read very few expressions of concern for their daughter? Even worse, can you imagine the pain they would feel to read speculations that their daughter might have encouraged such an incident?
We all can learn a lesson from this experience. We must, first and foremost, always reach out to the victim. In some circumstances, it is often clear that something horrible happened. TWW was bombarded with emails and comments, seeking to defend the honor of Tom White. We got all manner of possible excuses such as “Maybe he committed suicide because he was on antidepressants.” The suicide and the molestation investigation were blown off as just plain coincidence.
We received comment after comment yelping about how little we used the word alleged even though it was used several times in the post. Of course, the molestation wasn’t 100% proved. I made that clear at the beginning of the post, saying White was under investigation.
The tenor of much of the defense was that Tom was a “good ”man who could not do such a thing. This shows a profound misunderstanding of the Bible, which demonstrates that man is capable of anything, including blind hero worship. Thankfully, there were many readers of this blog who stood for the victim. We are so grateful that so many have compassion for victims.
New comment policy
1. There will be no further comments allowed that blame a victim of child abuse or child molestation of encouraging or contributing to his/her abuse. TWW will fully stand by the victim and his/her family. We also expect “supporters” of the alleged molester/abuser to express concern for the victim. We will not debate this topic. It frankly amazes us that we must lecture Christians on this subject.
The following email is an example of such a comment. If this person is a schoolteacher, he/she needs to go back to get some education on pedophilia. This child was 10 years old, for crying out loud. And anyone who molests a 10 year old child is a pedophile. This is abnormal behavior and indicates a serious problem in the mind and actions of the molester.
This comment indicates an incredible lack of empathy for the victim and worries me. The caps are from the commenter, which means “shouting” in blog language. This comment has now been removed from the comment section.
YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. BUT IT DOES EXPLAIN SOME THINGS TO ME IN MY SPECULATION. FIRST, THE GIRL WAS NOT A STRANGER HE PICKED OUT OF THE BLUE TO MOLEST. THEY HAD SOME KIND OF FRIENDSHIP GOING FIRST, AND IT REACHED THAT POINT WHERE TOM WENT OVER THE LINE. WHO KNOWS, THE GIRL MAY HAVE ENCOURAGED IT. AS A HS-MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER, I SEE THIS KIND OF THING EVERY DAY. MORE MALE TEACHERS IN MY CITY HAVE LOST JOBS BECAUSE THEY COULD NOT RESIST TEMPTATION. I GUESS WHAT I AM TRYING TO SAY IS THAT THIS, IMHO, WAS A ONE TIME TRAGEDY. TOM IS NOT A PEDOPHILE – I’LL NEVER BELIEVE THAT. I LOVED THAT MAN – WE SPOKE ON THE PHONE A FEW TIMES. MY BIGGEST WORRY IS WHAT THIS IS GOING TO DO TO ALL THE CHRISTIANS IN PERSECUTED COUNTRIES WHO TRUSTED HIM SO MUCH, AND NOW THEY SEE THIS HAPPEN. THAT, TO ME, IS THE BIGGEST TRAGEDY.
2. We also reserve the right to disallow any commenter who uses a proxy server.
We have consistently found that comenters who use proxy servers have a higher rate of over the top comments. We allow many comments on this blog that most other Christian blogs would ban. Sometimes, though, we will debate about allowing a particular comment. If it is highly inflammatory, we will now err on the side of caution and disallow those that come in by proxy server. Many of these folks are trolls, anyway. If you disagree with the removal of your comment, contact us via email.
We desperately need the help of our readers in monitoring comments and reminding us about emails.
Deb and I are trying to keep up with all of the comments and emails that we receive. It is becoming a full time job, something that we did not expect.
We deeply appreciate the folks who take their precious time and share their thoughts and lives with us. Just this past weekend, I teared up in church thinking of the comment of a man whose son had committed suicide. We care and care very deeply.
We get so many emails that, even though we always read all of them, they get backed up in the queue of those that we need to answer. Sometimes we can have as many as 20 emails to answer. These emails are deeply touching, need thoughtful responses and we want to respond to them but there are just so many hours in the day.
The same goes for comments. We want to oversee each of them but we miss some in the course of the day.
So, we would like to enlist some help from out readers.
Please email us or leave a comment if you think a comment deserves a closer look. We have a very open blog and want to keep it as such. So, we might allow some comments with language issues or obnoxious observations. We believe that it is important for the Christian community to clearly hear the opinions of others, even ones with which we deeply disagree. We also think that we should see how some Christians respond to others to understand why, sometimes, Christians are not well liked by others.
We want to reiterate that this is not a blog aimed just at evangelical Christians. We welcome people from all faiths, creeds, beliefs or non-beliefs. It is our wish to present an honest and thoughtful discussion, along with a hand of friendship, to all who come here
So, if we do not respond to your email, could you send us a reminder? If we have overlooked a comment that needs to be reviewed please email us or place a comment on the blog. We promise that we will not be offended with such a reminder.We would be grateful.
We have considered getting some help for the blog but that, too, is fraught with problems. We have a particular way that we view situations, the TWW way, and we talk things over regularly with one another, often speaking 5 or 6 times a day. We do not want this blog to lose our distinctive or the personal connection that we feel with so many of you who visit here. We view this as a community that we love very much and we want it to stay that way. So, we are going to try to muddle on.
If you have time in your day, could you pray for us? Thank you for bearing with us.
PS-We have misplaced an email from an ICOC or IFB family who sent us a story. If they are reading this, we are so sorry and could you please resend it. We can't even find a contact email. Aarghhh!