From Shadows to Light with Empowering Survivors
October 2023 by Katie Morrow and Lori Aschbrenner
On a warm fall afternoon, sunlight filters through the windows, casting a warm glow upon the support group participants. In a quiet corner, Sarah clasps her hands, a soft smile on her lips. For years, the shadows of her past loomed large, but today she stands tall, an example of strength and resilience. How? Through the Kingdom Workers' Empowering Survivors program, Sarah found healing and discovered her worth as a child of God.
"It's not me!" Sarah's voice resonates with newfound conviction. "I'm not overly dramatic. I'm not overly sensitive." But the statement that silences the room comes next: "I am not alone."
Kingdom Worker's Empowering Survivors program is more than a support group. It's a lifeline. A God-sent haven for those scarred by relationship violence, combining scriptural truths with trauma-informed care. At its core, it offers a simple yet profound message to every survivor of relationship violence: Despite the scars of the past, despite what others have tried to make you believe about yourself, every survivor, like Sarah, is an invaluable child of God.
Sarah reflects, "With the help of Empowering Survivors, I've realized my boundaries. I’ve discovered what's my responsibility and what isn’t. I've learned the people and situations I cannot change. I now possess the resources and courage to make decisions for myself. Above all, with the Holy Spirit within me, I've come to know that I am never truly alone."
The sad truth is that relationship violence permeates our communities. It affects individuals of all backgrounds and walks of life. Heartbreaking statistics reveal the breadth of its impact: 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been trapped in its vicious grip. Every minute, 20 souls across the nation grapple with intimate partner violence. As a community, we must uplift and empower these survivors as they begin their healing journey and find purpose as God's children.
Sarah's story begins in the suffocating grip of a tumultuous marriage. Society's whispers, and even the guidance of some trusted spiritual advisors, bound her with misguided notions of endurance, submission, and sacrifice. "Over the years, I’ve been told repeatedly by pastors and trusted souls that I needed to submit more, pray more, forgive more, offer more, " Sarah reveals, her voice tinged with pain. "Such advice left me—and many women like me—trapped in harrowing circumstances." However, God always provides a way out of the darkness.
During one of the most challenging periods of her life, a close friend from church reached out to Sarah. This friend had found solace and strength from the Empowering Survivors program after leaving an abusive marriage. Moved by the church’s unwavering support for her friend and her children, Sarah felt a pull toward the program. It was through this trusted connection that Sarah first attended an Empowering Survivors support group, benefitting from one-on-one sessions with advocates, and, notably, meeting Pastor Nolan.
Pastor Nolan served as a source of hope and reassurance, proving that churches can be safe havens for survivors. Through the training provided by Kingdom Workers, Pastor Nolan dedicated himself to understanding the complexities of abuse and its effects, advocating passionately for survivors. Pastor Nolan's efforts played a crucial role in implementing the Empowering Survivors program within the congregation. He organized informative sessions on domestic abuse, initiated training programs, and encouraged the church council to fully support this ministry.
In doing so, Empowering Survivor support groups are creating a culture within the church where people who ask for help are believed, and the gospel's truth can thrive. Through these support groups, participants can learn to evaluate and accept God's truth and find freedom from a lie that traps them. Sarah fondly recalls, "Through Pastor Nolan's teachings, I grasped a truth that changed everything: God treasures my well-being and spirit far more than the confines of a marriage that trapped me. I understood that leaving a damaging marriage didn't derail God's plan for me. He values my safety, my spirit, and the safety of my children more than any institution.
"Empowering Survivors extended to Sarah what she had been yearning for balance. It intertwined scripture with pivotal psycho education, allowing her to navigate her path forward. With their shared experiences and unwavering compassion, the program facilitators, trained by Kingdom Workers, became Sarah's light on the darkest nights. "They walked alongside me, lighting up my path, reminding me of my worth at every step," Sarah's voice echoes gratitude.
The urgent need for the Empowering Survivors program is palpable. Its impact is undeniable. Survivors grapple with emotional, psychological, and physical traumas that often erode self-worth and spiritual connections. This program, grounded in trauma-informed care, cradles survivors, nurturing their spirit, reigniting their faith, and restoring their self-worth.
Empowering Survivors offers more than safety and solace—it ignites a transformation. It invites participants to reconnect with God, realize their divine value, and become ambassadors of change. Participants like Sarah aren't just handed a safety plan; they're gently guided to rediscover their connection with God, to understand their divine worth, and eventually become torchbearers of change within the community. Sarah notes, "Those involved in this ministry, both behind the scenes and in the forefront, constantly remind me of my worth."
By introducing survivors to God's love and emphasizing their inherent value as children of God, we aim to empower survivors to heal and become advocates themselves. This spiritual connection can lead survivors to share their experiences and knowledge, creating a ripple effect of positive change within the church community and beyond.
Sarah's transformation, while remarkable, isn't unique. It's a testament to what faith, resilience, and the proper guidance can achieve. The culmination of her journey reverberates in her final words, "Empowering Survivors hasn't just been a support group for me. It has been my lifeline, my bridge from despair to hope. Thanks be to God!"
Sarah's tale reflects Kingdom Workers' enduring mission: We know that real and lasting change happens when people’s lives intersect with the healing power of Jesus. That’s why we combinephysical care for our neighbors with the urgent message of the gospel. Through tales like Sarah's, we witness the transformation that ensues when one's spirit intertwines with God's everlasting love, guiding them from shadows to light.