Every day I ride the subway line into the city of Boston. It’s a short ride, going from Central Square in Cambridge to the busy Park Street stop just off the Boston Commons. At one segment in that short ride we come out from the deep underground of the city and we are above ground overlooking the Charles River, the city of Cambridge on one side, the city of Boston on the other. It is glorious to come out of darkness into the light of the day. It never gets old.
In the quiet night the girl lies alone. She can hear the breathing of five others in the boarding school dormitory room where she lies. All of her roommates have been asleep for a long time.
They don’t know she is awake. They don’t know that every night she wakes in a panic, a scream just ready to break the silence. That it takes her a moment to calm, to realize she is not being attacked – she is safe with 5 other girls, all of them young teens. She cries out to a far away God, desperate to reclaim the innocence of her faith from before the attack, desperate for some measure of comfort.
The man who violated her is a respected member of the missionary community in the city where her parents work. He is a household name; a frequent household guest.
No one would ever believe her — a 14-year-old teen who is known for her sparkling personality; her love for the dramatic. She physically wards off the panic and the tears by folding her arms tightly across her chest, feeling the warm flannel of her pajamas. It’s in the early hours of dawn when she finally falls back into a dreamless sleep.
In another room and building a little boy has just woken up in tears. He has wet the bed. He cannot let the other know. The other missionary kids are white – and he is not. He is subject to sometimes merciless bullying – and no one stops it.
He curls into a ball. How can he change his sheets so no one will know? He cries out to an absent mom, longing for the comfort that would come from her presence, knowing he will never tell her.
It’s dark and it’s painful – but abuse of missionary kids is rightly being brought into the light. The loyalty code that makes people hesitant to confront is being replaced by a Godly recognition of sin and the need for confrontation and repentance, the need for justice.
There are some horrific stories – and there are some just plain sad stories, but they can’t heal until they are brought to the light. It’s a warped sense of honor, a twisted allegiance that tells us we need to forgive without confronting and bringing to light that which has wronged or destroyed.
And the thing with light is this: Even a bit can dispel darkness, even a candle illuminates and makes room for us to see more clearly; even a little light can comfort. And God who sees into the silent, sleepy dormitory asks us to speak into the dark, speak truth where lies were planted, offer hope where despair has been rooted, offer comfort in the face of torment.
Because these ones who were hurt have been called out of darkness into His glorious light; a light that dispels darkness and blinds us with its beauty and power. It is glorious to come out of darkness into the light. It never gets old.
Blogger’s note: I wrote this as I do all my posts – with a deep breath and a prayer. The post is not intended to hurt further – rather to offer a word of hope. If you know or suspect that a missionary kid around you is being abused – please in prayer speak up, bring it into the light. We must be people who protect and nurture, who call others into accountability.
Picture Credit: Stefanie Sevim Gardner 2011 Cairo, Egypt
- MK Safety Net – Goal is to be an encouragement and promote healing for current and former MKs (Missionary Kids) and TCKs (Third Culture Kids) and their families who have been hurt or wounded by their experiences of abuse within the missionary environment.
- Child Safety & Protection – The Alliance Mission is committed to promptly address every reported allegation of child abuse that may arise in association with our work overseas and to provide helpful resources to churches and districts that may deal with such allegations in the United States.
- International Therapists Directory – provides an increasingly comprehensive online global listing of professional mental health therapists who are familiar with the TCK and international expatriate experiences.
- Missionary Kids – silent no more on abuse. – An article written in 2011 by the Christian Broadcasting Network
- Ministry Safe – a site dedicated to sexual abuse awareness and prevention
- Dear Missionary Parents – While not on abuse, this is an excellent article just published by Michelle Phoenix.