|A Letter from the Vice President—Samantha Nelson|
(From the January 2010 edition of HopeSpeak)
Dear Hope of Survivors Family,
A new year, with new opportunities and challenges awaits us! We are excited about what God has been doing in, for and through The Hope of Survivors for the benefit of the church, victims and clergy. When we think back on all that was accomplished by His grace in 2009, we can only praise God for His many blessings.
Before we look ahead to 2010, let’s pause to recall some of the highlights of 2009. In January we taped several television programs that later aired throughout the year to give hope to victims. The month of February was spent overseas, ministering to those in need in Norway and Romania, with a few days’ respite in The Netherlands. March brought several speaking engagements and an opportunity to participate with a selected group in the media training and pre-release of the results of the Baylor University Research Project on pastoral sexual abuse. April was a month that changed our lives forever, as Steve was employed by the Illinois Conference of Seventh-day Adventists as a pastor of four churches. In May, we conducted a Hope & Healing Conference for victims in St. Louis and were pleased to have attendees from many different states. During the month of June, Pastor Steve conducted several abuse prevention emphasis programs at area churches, raising awareness of the issue of abuse in general and educating all about pastoral sexual abuse. Prime 11 Cinemas granted The Hope of Survivors the opportunity to participate in the Monday Night Sponsorship Program and to be a recipient of funds raised during the month of August. In September, we participated in a live radio program, addressing the topic of pastoral sexual abuse and then hosted Alina—the Romania Division representative—for a week of brainstorming and fellowship together.
And then came October and the trip “down under”! October and the first part of November were filled with programs for victims and pastors in Australia, as well as several counseling sessions, radio & TV interviews and strategic planning sessions with Coralie and Arlagene, the Australia Division representatives. Coralie’s update will give you a greater idea of the many blessings God granted in Australia. Thank you, Coralie, Arlagene and everyone else involved in making the mission trip a success! Sandy Kirkham also presented a Trust & Truth seminar to the graduate students at Cincinnati Christian University in November, as she has done each year for the past few years. December brought the seven-year anniversary of The Hope of Survivors, the year-end crunch for administrative tasks, and a brief, but very necessary, vacation for Steve and me.
So, what lies ahead for 2010? Honestly, we don’t know. We believe the Lord still has a great work for The Hope of Survivors to do, as the issue of pastoral sexual abuse continues to come to the forefront and victims are reaching out in ever-increasing numbers. This is a vital ministry for those who have been abused by a spiritual leader and we believe the need for The Hope of Survivors will become even greater in the coming months. Why do we believe that? Because the Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 3:13, “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” The problem is not going to get better; it’s going to get worse. And we want to be able to be there when victims are in need and when pastors and church leaders seek help and education in this area.
The challenges the ministry faces are great. There is a shortage of funding, something we know many other ministries and nonprofit organizations are also struggling with at this time. There is also a lack of qualified volunteer staff, which leaves many projects uncompleted. Projects that could truly be life changing and healing to suffering victims.
But this is no time to be discouraged! We know God raised up The Hope of Survivors and we believe He will sustain and strengthen it. Will you join us in praising and thanking God for the blessings He will bestow upon the ministry and the doors He will open in 2010? Let us follow the example in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (NIV) Then let us trust His Word in Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
The Lord bless you and keep in this new year!