I write monthly for A Life Overseas. ALOS’ subtitle is: the missions conversation. The following post is addressed to missionaries, but it also applies to churches, Christian non-profits, and Christian organizations.
People, I have been praying for several days about what to share this month. Every idea I had was . . . fine. But in none of the ideas did I sense God say, “That. That is the post for this month.”
Until this one.
We are going to talk about sexual impropriety, so if you need to take a pass because this post might trigger traumatic flashbacks, please do. Peace be with you my friend.
It seems the U.S. is facing a time of reckoning when it comes to men in power, female subordinates, and sexual impropriety. Actors, directors, sports casters, politicians, chefs, news reporters. The list goes on. Some of the men are truly scummy, some seem to be good guys who have one area of their lives very much hidden and in the dark.
While this reckoning is long overdue, in every incident I’ve seen on the news and social media there is one common refrain: So and so is facing allegations.
I applaud every victim who is able to tell her (or his) story. I also applaud those who have not shared; you live with your story every day, it is yours to choose when to share.
Each story has broken because a victim came forward. Not once has the accused come forward first and said, “I am going to take a leave from my job, go to counseling, learn how to handle my power, and work on making amends.”
As the numbers grow, I keep wondering “Who is going to model what healing, restoration, and redemption look like?” Which network or profession is going to be the first to take a risk and after a person has done the hard and necessary work, allow them a place at the table.
This is my hope for us as a community of Christ followers. We know sexual impropriety exists on the mission field. We will not get a pass on this reckoning.
But we can get ahead of it.
During my years in China, I heard almost every way a person could sexually sin. Not all situations required drastic measures, but all required taking the situation seriously and having frank discussions with plans for addressing it. In lives where it felt like the bottom fell out, often the person (and family) needed to leave the field for a season. But that was not the end of the story! With the hard work of excavating the soul, identity, and personal power, change and even returning to the field occured.
If you are currently embroiled in sexual impropriety, it will come to light. I do not know when. I do not know how. But if you are hoping your story won’t be found out, that is a fool’s bet.
Tell someone today. You are carrying a secret that will take more of your time, energy, and relationships until it steals everything. Christ died so that you no longer have to be a slave. Be a part of showing the world the world that not only did Christ come to save “them over there;” he also came to save actors, directors, politicians, athletes, news reporters, and you.
If you are the victim of sexual impropriety within your organization, find someone safe and report it. I am sorry for your experience.
If you are in leadership in your organization, please create space to talk as a leadership team about the subject of sexual impropriety in your organization. To not put this on your “to-do” list. Send an email right now to get the ball rolling. With others in power ask: how are we going to foster discussions within our organization? What resources can we offer to people? What is our plan when these situations start to be reported in our organization?
This post isn’t about resources. It is a warning.
Our day of reckoning is coming. Let’s get ahead of it.
My hope is that it is also a day of redemption.
This may be an odd Christmas post. But isn’t this why Christ came?
God with us—even in this messy world he loves dearly.
(Resources welcome in the comments.)