by the Speaking Witness (*)
"I send you as sheep among the wolves. So be as careful as a snake and as innocent as a dove. " Jesus spoke this words against his twelve disciples on the occasion of what I might call the first field service meeting. Indeed, the apostles could expect the necessary resistance, both from their own people and from the Roman occupiers.
The words of Jesus have sounded regularly in my mind over the last few months, especially when I visit the meetings (nowadays called meetings) and field service meetings, now that I have decided to make that what is actually unspeakable impossible to discuss.
Sexual (child) abuse is a gruesome crime. Although the most organization-friendly sister or brother will confirm this, this unfortunately still does not appear from the culture within the Jehovah community. Despite a stream of media reports about sexual abuse within the organization of Jehovah's witnesses, it is also deafening in our congregation. Nonetheless, I know that several brothers and sisters have been victims of abuse in the past. In many cases the perpetrator appeared to be someone of their own religious community. Often I wonder what goes on in the brains of those victims when the media once again reports how the Jehovah's witnesses' deal with sexual abuse. Would they really feel that the organization is addressing this problem adequately? I really would not know, but I guess so. One of them is an elder, none of them wants to say something about that piece of the past. Of course, the latter is understandable in view of their problems. The strategy of systematic avoidance of the subject, however, may give victims some peace of mind in the short term, but is counter-productive in the long term. Especially those victims who continue to suffer from complaints resulting from a post traumatic stress syndrome (PTTS) will benefit greatly from trauma-focused therapies. Clinical psychologist Agnes van Minnen tells in her recent book 'Paralyzed with fear' about the success of EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) and cognitive behavioral therapy such as exposure. Of course, every victim of sexual abuse is confronted with her or his own problems, but to 'forget as good and as bad as possible' without using professional guidance seems to be never a serious option. Yet I see several abused sisters and brothers in mine own municipality still struggling with it. Many of Jehovah's Witnesses abused in his or her life fail to engage timely professional help. Of course it does not help that very few elders will be willing to send their abused sheep to a 'worldly' aid worker and certainly not when the abuse has taken place within their own religious community.
This fear and culture must stop. Although I am only an ant on the highway, I feel that Jehovah wants to use me to contribute my part. Perhaps precisely because I am not an excluded or inactive person. I also believe that I am not alone in this. I see and notice that some elders come into conflict with their conscience and come out critically behind the scenes and in some cases sometimes secretly leak out secret guidelines.
Although I live in a very different context and time, I see many parallels between myself and those twelve men against whom Jesus addressed his message. As a vulnerable sheep, I feel myself always and everywhere sent to wolves.
From comments on previous blogs from me, some have not understood why I am still an active Jehovah's witness. The answer is simple: I have dedicated myself to Jehovah and not to an organization. Moreover, I see a lot of similarities in the Bible in the way people used to get away with God and how that unfortunately still happens today. More importantly, the Bible shows me exactly how to deal with that. However, that does not mean to me being passive under the guise of 'obedience and trust in Jehovah's organization'. In my view, that seems too much in practice Mattheus 25: 42-45. Activating love to the most vulnerable groups in this society, that is all about me in faith.
Years ago, I made this promise to Jehovah and I still want to do that. I want to obey his voice more than people's. That assignment that goes with it includes that I try to be a preacher of justice and that I do not let myself be silenced by opposition. Of course, of course, I try to hang out as much as possible that innocent pigeon. Fortunately, I managed to achieve that most of the witnesses in my municipality are now at least aware of the fact that the organization does not play an open card when it comes to the policy concerning sexual child abuse and that the two witness regulations are absurd. way is applied in the handling of abuse cases. I am extremely grateful to Jehovah that I am fortunate enough to have sisters and brothers inside and especially outside the community who share my concerns about this. A hungry wolf within a trusted pack will not hesitate to devour me if I do not pay enough attention. Exclusion due to apostasy they will call that. In any case, it will not be me. To the article Elders - treat God's flock with tenderness! in The Watchtower from 15 September 1989 neither. It is clear to me that every Christian must be willing to enter the kingdom of God through much tribulation. Fortunately we don't have to do that alone, the circle of friends all around Reclaimed Voices is good proof of that. We can all experience that ourselves on 6 October. Be there!
* The Speaking Witness is an active Jehovah's witness who is connected to one of the local congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Netherlands. He is critical of how Jehovah's Witnesses react to the media reports about sexual abuse and shows that there are also people in the organization who believe that the subject of sexual abuse should be dealt with differently.
Blogs from the Speaking Witness express the personal opinion of the author. This personal opinion does not automatically correspond with the opinion of the board of Stichting Reclaimed Voices.