the Hope of Survivors

If You Were There by Steve Nelson

(From the July 2008 edition of HopeSpeak)

Hope & Healing Conference in MNAs she walked by the room she saw the sign. There was no mistake—this was the place. This is crazy, she thought. Why did I come here in the first place? I must be crazy. Who would fly thousands of miles to meet a room full of strangers? Will they really understand? Maybe they won’t believe me either. Perhaps it’s not too late. I can leave now before anyone knows I’m here, and just face the fact that no one will ever understand what happened to me.

Somehow, almost unconsciously, she found herself walking into the meeting room. Looking around, she saw several women sitting quietly and thought, I wonder if they are as uncomfortable as I am? Well, as long as I’m here, I might as well stay for this first session. If they start saying things like “you should have known what he was up to,” I’ll just leave, but at least I came. If this doesn’t work, I’ll just crawl back into my shell and accept the fact that this was all my fault. God certainly can’t love me. In fact, no one can ever love me. I’ll just live out the rest of my miserable existence of life the way it’s always been—alone, confused and empty.

The circumstances are different, but the outcome is always the same. A life has been devastated by a broken trust and now, in a desperate attempt to find the answers they need, they attend a conference, hoping that maybe, just maybe, they can gain hope and become whole again.

If you were there you, too, would have looked into the faces of each one, and seen what no words could describe and, if you listened carefully, you would have heard heard the heart’s cry, please God don’t turn me away this time.

It is for this reason that The Hope of Survivors came into existence. To the glory of God and for the privilege of sharing eternity with those for whom Jesus came to seek and save, we are committed to “Reaching the Hurting” for Him.  

For more than 12 hours we met and prayerfully sought God’s guidance as we, His servants, sought to faithfully share hope and truth with those who came. What follows is a brief overview of the events of this wonderful weekend.

Author, pastor, speaker and multi-talented editor of Outlook magazine, as well as a board member of The Hope of Survivors, Martin Weber gave a powerful discourse titled “Identifying with Christ.” The wisdom and personal experiences of Pastor Weber brought to life many questions most victims of pastoral abuse share, and each one left with a greater awareness and appreciation for those who remain faithful to their high calling.

Pastor, Minnesota conference president and board chairman of The Hope of Survivors, Tom Lemon gave a stirring message titled “It’s Not Your Fault.” Pastor Lemon shared from God’s Word, his own insights and convictions into the well known, but often misunderstood, relationship between King David and Bathsheba. All who were present at the conference received a rich blessing as the truth of David’s actions where brought into focus and clearly shown to be an abuse of his power, trust and authority.

Counselor, speaker, musician and board member of The Hope of Survivors, Jennifer Jill Schwirzer presented an awesome message entitled “Mary Magdalene—The New Testament’s Premier Survivor.” Jennifer brought clarity and life to a familiar and loved story about the woman whose tears have left their mark on the minds and hearts of all who see Christ’s amazing love shown to her. And to everyone who heard Jennifer’s account of this wonderful story, the love of Christ spoke clearly to our hearts.

The closing program for our weekend was an inspirational concert given by vocalist Stephanie Dawn, accompanied by the very musically gifted Dann Thornton. Both Stephanie and Dann are extremely talented musicians and their dedication to sharing in song truly inspired and blessed us. Heart-touching testimonies were also shared during the concert, which was a blessing to all.

Samantha and I were also privileged to share our own experiences during our opening night presentations entitled “What Happened?” and “I Trusted Him.” We are truly thankful for the blessing of being able to turn a tragedy into a ministry for healing, and we praise God for His wonderful love and care. I am truly blessed to have a wonderful wife who loves God and has committed so much of her time, talents and love to comfort the comfortless.

We truly want to thank each one who had a part in making this conference a success, but mostly we lift our praise to God whose love was felt and experienced by all through the presence of His Spirit. Thank you, Father, for your amazing love.

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