That was my introduction to the commune. God was indeed working there at that time, and he sent me there to learn. There were many wonderful things I learned with that group: how to pray, how to worship, how to study the Bible and how to yield to the Holy Spirit.
“When abuse strikes, there is no home.” So say Catherine Clark Kroeger and Nancy Nason-Clark in their book, No Place for Abuse. This quote struck me, as I grew up in a fundamentalist church where mentioning some personal abuse brought blame to me and sympathy to my father. This book is refreshing in its directness as it addresses the ticklish issue of how churches have traditionally dealt with abuse.
History teaches us that failure to recognize and empathize with suffering is dangerous physically and spiritually. I wonder if something similar has happened in the body of Christ. Part of the body is hurting, but needed change is not being made.
The reality is overwhelming: women are suffering appalling abuses and tragic deaths around the world. But we don’t want to avoid this truth because it’s uncomfortable; noticing and identifying with this pain is important for Christians.
It reads like a tragic novel: Nearly two-thirds of the world’s 876 million illiterate adults are women. Approximately 6,000 girls are subjected to female genital mutilation each day, and 30% of girls subjected to its most radical form die from the effects. Four million women are sold each year as slaves. In sub-Saharan Africa, 55% of HIV-infected adults are women, and teenage girls are five times more likely to be infected than boys.
The spread of AIDS in Africa is related to a low view of women, an opinion confirmed in a Wall Street Journal article published on July 9, 2002... the article stated that the spread of HIV is related to “the emotionally charged, culturally entrenched ways that men and women interact sexually.”
The memories of child prostitutes on the streets of Bangkok are still swirling in my head. Even as the Lausanne prayer team walked and prayed through the streets of Thailand, one prostitute begged them to take her home. How can we encounter such suffering with- out longing to make a difference?