|I’m sharing the recent newsletter I sent with our Christmas newsletter from Called to Peace Ministries. If you aren’t on the mailing list, be sure to visit www.calledtopeace.org to sign up.
These days, I find myself saying Merry Christmas a whole lot less– not because I find the idea of Christmas offensive, but because day in and day out I work with people whose Christmases will be anything but merry. Some will face the day without their children for the first time. Others will spend it overwhelmed by threats from their estranged spouses, while others will endure constant belittling and ridicule from their current spouses or partners. We have a private group on Facebook just for mothers who have been estranged from their children by an abusive co-parent. I’ve walked alongside many of these women for months and even years. The power of manipulation and mind-games to completely alienate a child from a loving parent never ceases to astound me.
Abusers are exceptionally skilled in continuing to manipulate and abuse, even after their victims leave. From the courts to counselors and therapists, and even in our churches, they are masters at discrediting their victims. There are very few places for victims of abuse to turn for help, because there is such a lack of knowledge when it comes to domestic abuse. Every week we hear heartbreaking stories from survivors of abuse who have come to blame themselves for the cruelty they’ve endured. They come to us wondering if they are the problem or if God is mad at them. Both they and their children have a very warped view of God. They are plagued with anxiety and fear. Yet, when Jesus came to earth the angels cried, “Peace on Earth, Good will toward men.”
I sometimes can’t help but contemplate this passage. Where is the peace they promised? It seems that Jesus’ coming has done nothing to change the violent nature of this world. It can be very disheartening sometimes. How could a small baby born in a cave in the hills of Judea ever really make a difference? In his brief life on earth, he spoke of loving and caring for people more than traditions, but that only led to a great miscarriage of justice. Like many of our clients, he was mocked, beaten and falsely accused.Ultimately, his life was ended through acts of unimaginable cruelty. And yet, he came to bring peace on earth? Even after his miraculous resurrection, his followers faced unjust imprisonment, abuse and death. Peace on earth? Really?
It can all be very disheartening, but Jesus warned that his peace does not fit the world’s definition of peace (John 14:27). Most of us simply define it as a lack of trouble or strife, but that is not how he defines it. Instead he gives us a picture of comfort and calm in the midst of the storms of life (John 16:33). We see it firsthand with our clients. When they are able to connect with God in the worst of circumstances, something beautiful happens. We see them developing an unshakeable faith that rests in his goodness in spite of hardship and suffering. They come to learn that HE IS OUR PEACE (Ephesians 2:14)– even when everything and everyone else fails. However, getting to this point usually requires connecting them with truth to help untwist their warped view of God.
So much of what we do at CTPM involves countering lies that our clients have come to believe. How can you entrust your life to a God who seems distant and cruel? What sort of hope can you find in a God who cares more about your broken marriage than your life? How can you trust scripture when it’s been used as a weapon to keep you oppressed? These are all questions we have to tackle head on nearly every day. Truth really does set us free, and the most important truth is that God is loving and good.
We’re so grateful for those of you who support Called to Peace Ministries! Because of you, we are able to share God’s goodness and truth with those who are downtrodden and hopeless. There is nothing more wonderful than watching these precious souls walking away from bondage and into the peace that surpassses human comprehension (Philippians 4:7). Thank you for the part you’ve played in this ministry, whether it has been through prayers, financial donations or volunteering.
We are so very grateful for each one of you, and pray that even if your Christmas isn’t merry, it will be filled with his amazing peace!