the Hope of Survivors

Letter from the Vice President—Samantha Nelson

(From the October 2017 edition of HopeSpeak)

Dear Hope of Survivors Family, 

"hold up handsAnd let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (Galatians 6:9)

This passage is a reminder to me—an encouragement if you will—to persevere.

This past year has brought me to the point of debating retirement (unpaid, of course, as have been the majority of my years at The Hope of Survivors). Why? Because I am weary. I'm tired of begging for funding for much-needed salaries (Mary Jo had to be laid off August 1 due to lack of funds), resources (DVDs, booklets, etc.), seminars (and related expenses), and so much more that victims need. Tired of explaining to people who do not even consider the words they speak when they say foolish things about victims having "wanted" the abuse; that it "takes two to tango"; that adults are not victims because of their age; and so many other remarks that reveal such an ignorance of clergy sexual abuse. Educating others is a daunting—and never-ending—task. It takes a toll on me. And now, I finally confess, there are actually times I want to give up, to "retire," to move on with other interests in my life and leave clergy sexual abuse behind. There. I said it! However, that changes nothing, as I am reminded by the Scripture above that God alone can sustain me when I am weary of well doing and that, ultimately, all of my efforts will be rewarded. Hopefully those rewards will be lives spared from clergy sexual abuse, churches that are safe for all, pastoral leadership that maintains integrity, and victims who experience healing. Those are the rewards I seek.

2017 is the 15th anniversary of The Hope of Survivors. For 15 years, we have been making inroads in raising awareness of the issue, educating pastors and church leaders, and facilitating healing and instilling hope in the lives of victims around the world. We have made tremendous progress and yet there are times when it seems like there's so much left to do we'll never make a difference!

Many of you do not realize how taxing it can be at times to manage the global operations of The Hope of Survivors. Additionally, talking about sex, sexual abuse and sexual immorality are not popular subjects for most people, but talking about clergy sexual abuse is even more taboo, not only here in the U.S., but even more so in other countries.

Talking is one thing...now try fundraising for such a venture and many doors close instantly. That's why, even after 15 years, we still struggle while most of the financial support The Hope of Survivors receives comes directly from the victims themselves—the very ones who should be supported are supporting the lifeline they have found in The Hope of Survivors. Where are these victims' friends, family members, fellow church members, co-workers and acquaintances? Why is it that many of them do not contribute on behalf of their loved one? I am grateful for the few who do—the mothers who donate because of their daughter's abuse; the husbands and siblings who contribute to show support to their beloved—thank you and God bless you!

But there are others who could help and I pray that some who may be reading this letter right now will be impressed to lift up the hands of the weary workers at The Hope of Survivors, like Aaron and Hur did for Moses (Exodus 17:12), and help us continue in our efforts of well doing on behalf of clergy sexual abuse victims.

This passage applies to all of us, "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." (Galatians 6:10)

Thank you for your prayers, your words of encouragement that literally help keep me going each day, your financial support and your willingness to partner with us to help stop this scourge that plagues our houses of worship everywhere. You, too, are a lifeline to those in need!

God bless you,
Samantha Nelson
Vice President & CEO

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart...Psalms 34:18