I want to put a spotlight on my my friend Andrew Schmutzer’s recent edited book titled The Long Journey Home: Understanding and Ministering to the Sexually Abused.
Sexual abuse is a huge problem and it gets so little direct attention pastorally. Conservative statistics tell us that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have been sexually abused. Those numbers make certain that many of our friends, colleagues and parishioners have a story of abuse.
The Long Journey Home is an excellent source book for shepherding that part of Christ’s church who has been harmed by Evil in the area of their sexuality. Although once a topic not mentioned in the church, today it is unavoidable as a ministry concern. Church leaders are reporting a growing number of their people confessing the experience of past abuse. And yet the church is underprepared for a response. This is where the book The Long Journey Home fills gap.
Andrew, a prof of OT at Moody Bible Institute, has assembled a large team of experts spanning various disciplines to deal equip the church to minister to survivors of abuse. The book is divided into three parts that deal with the issue from a social-scientific perspective, a theological perspective and a pastoral ministry perspective. These three angles present a full-orbed treatment of the issue and its treatment in the context of the local church. The style of the book, while accessible, is not writing on a “lower shelf”. It is a high powered discussion that will stretch most people. This should not in any way be taken as a criticism. Issues related to abuse are complicated and the style of writing reflects the complexity. Dr. Schmutzer himself labels the style as “semi-technical”.
Here’s my endorsement: I think every pastor should have this book in their library. Or better, I think they should have first read this book–we all know we have plenty of books in our library we’ve not read–and then put it on their “ready to grab” shelf next to their desk.
Sexual abuse and our ministry to people who have survived it will only become a more significant element of the church’s ministry. The Long Journey Home is positioned to be the go to resource for pastors and church leaders as they seek to shepherd people into greater levels of experiencing God’s redeeming grace.
I myself am a survivor of abuse. I continue to reach for the fullness of the dignity that is being restored through the gospel. But it is a difficult road. I’ve not spoken publicly much about this aspect of my life, but it is something that I will be exploring more publicly in the coming days. I’m currently working on a non-academic writing project on my story. It is something of a memoir. It’s not something I’ve ever done before and I’m not suer it will ultimately go anywhere. I’ll let you know if anything comes of the project.
In any event, you can expect to see me discussing this issue increasingly on this blog in the future.