|Letter from the President—Steve Nelson|
The lobby was crowded. Impatient and exhausted, we stood in line with everyone else waiting to check in. Finally, it was our turn. My wife was confirming our reservation and, in the process, a voice across the room breaks our concentration, "Hey, I like your shirt!"
Turning in the direction of the voice, I saw a man speaking toward our direction. I looked at my wife, wondering which one of us he was addressing. In our culture, we have grown accustomed to hearing men make questionable comments about women's clothing and my first thought was that he was talking about my wife or someone else, not me. What he said next became a Divine appointment, "The Hope of Survivors, what does that mean?" He was referring to the shirt with our logo on it that I was wearing.
"We are an organization that helps people who have been hurt by pastors, priests, elders, teachers, or anyone who serves in the role of spiritual authority," I replied. I was used to sharing our mission, just not to a hotel lobby full of disinterested persons.
"Are you staying here at the hotel?" he asked.
"Yes," I answered, not wanting to show the concern I felt about his question. At that moment, I did not know if he was friend or foe. There was an awkward presence about this man. His words spoke reaffirmation, yet his manners were strangely uncomfortable.
Thinking the conversation over, and not wanting some potential altercation to transpire now that our destination was discovered to a stranger, I just wanted the check-in process to end so we could get to our room as quickly as possible. You must understand--a few days prior, our vehicle was broken into and some personal items were stolen. The invasiveness of this incident, complicated by the reality that the hotel we was lacking the level of quality portrayed on its web page, only added to our feelings of vulnerability.
What transpired in the next few minutes can only be seen as under the direction of a Heavenly messenger. A moment later, this stranger walked around the counter and was standing directly beside me. I stood there for a second not knowing why he chose to move so close to where I was standing. Desiring to break the awkwardness of the moment I asked him, "how are you doing?"
"I was abused by a priest when I was growing up," he stammered.
"I know how difficult it is to trust when your life has been devastated by such abuse," I replied. The next few minutes were a revelation of brokenness--a life had been shattered by a trusted leader, and a lost soul was still trying to heal from the abuse that took place decades before.
Most of the heartache and loss resulting from sexual abuse perpetrated by someone who has pledged to heal will never be known this side of eternity. But our Savior has commissioned His Church to stand at the forefront in this battle against evil. If we are willing to be used, even in the most unexpected manner, the God of Heaven longs to bring lost and dying souls into our path. You have an honor and a privilege to be that one connecting link to the Savior. Are you willing?
A few minutes later I placed in this stranger's hands some materials The Hope of Survivors provides to help people just like him. As I think about it, you did have a part in rescuing this precious soul. Your support of this ministry provided the means for us to travel to the exact location where this Heaven-orchestrated rescue took place. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Before we parted, I was able to pray for this dear brother in Christ. In that moment, as our hearts' plea reached into the courts of Heaven, I'm certain a song of celestial praise could be heard. Please continue to pray for the dear ones we have been commissioned to reach for eternity. Thank you again for helping us to be His hands and feet!