From Psalm 31…
“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; my eye wastes away with grief. Yes, my soul and my body! For my life is spent with grief and my years with sighing… I hear the slander of many; fear is on every side… “
And a response from Jesus in Matthew 11:28,
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
And from Charles Spurgeon, commenting on Psalm 31:8 (From Treasury of David)
“Many saints have had their greatest enlargement of soul when their affairs have been in the greatest straits. Their souls have been in a “large room” when their bodies have been lying in… some narrow dungeon. Grace has been equal to every emergency; and more than this, it [grace] has made the emergency an opportunity for displaying itself.”
Remember the prisoners… (Hebrews 13:3)
If prison is a place to which you go when you’ve done bad things,
If prison is a place where you don’t want to be, but can’t escape from,
If prison is a place where bad things can happen…
Then unfortunately there are some Christian homes and group home ministries that must be classified as a prison. Therefore the Scriptural injunction follows, “Be mindful of the prisoners, as though bound with [them].”
Yes, there have always been, in places of incarceration, those who were relatively glad to be there, for reasons of their own. There are people at our Cook County Jail who are glad to be there. They are not wanted anywhere else, they are fed. They are kept in line by harsh rules. They have forgotten how to live their own lives, for better or worse.
Some of these children we are talking about would have been called “bad kids.” They were “arrested” by parents in many cases, brought by deception or force to some facility, “abandoned” by their arresters, and forced into a sentence of many months.
And as in most prisons, some escape. Some are returned. Others are able to prove abuse and stay out for good.
Am I making all this up? Trying to be dramatic? Do the research. See if you agree that something is amiss in a facility that calls itself a “home” for the “troubled”, but has become a “trouble” of its own.
If I have misspoken, please show me where.
JUDGE NOT. Is it possible to discern error, point it out, without having a judgmental spirit? That is our calling. When we condemn, we get ourselves in serious trouble with the Lord. I fear Him and tremble at His word. Nevertheless, the cries of the suffering must not fall on deaf ears. We seek not retribution, only correction. And we know that what we seek in others God will expect in us. He will have a perfect church when all is said and done.
On accusing an elder.
The passage is 1 Timothy 4:19. The letter was written from an apostle to a member of his team. Timothy was only a “pastor” – in the modern sense – on a temporary basis. And the office of pastor in those days was a shared one anyway. Pastor/ elder/ shepherd/ bishop, seem to be overlapping terms.
But for the time being, Timothy had been assigned to put the Ephesian church in order by ordaining a group of elders, training them, and then moving on.
His instruction here is never to receive an accusation against an elder unless there were two or three witnesses. Hearsay would not do it. Someone must have seen the wrong activity. Well, two or three “someone’s” just to be sure.
Dare we come against church leaders? Yes, if the accusations mount against them. And they do.
The entire passage from verses 17 to 22 is about church eldership. Paul goes on to say that those [elders] who turn out to be in error need to be rebuked before the congregation, so that the congregation may “fear”, realizing that no one is above the law of God.
I have indicted myself already. I know my failings in child-raising. But I must include in this indictment “homes” like the one in question in various states where such abuse is not monitored. Of course none of that clears me, or anyone aware of these sad events, from allowing these people to bring forth their clear and painful memories of this place.
Let me present to you some of the cries of the incarcerated children. Yes, some in secular places, but some in places bearing the name Christian. And many of these crying out are middle-aged adults telling their stories of long ago so God’s people will do something. Some are saved brothers and sisters. All need a healing. All are the reason for this article. All have broken my heart and will break yours.
I have taken many of the cries I heard and put them into categories. There are others. I have included random statements under each category, combined fictitiously into one person. But each statement is from a real person.
There is absolutely nothing fictitious about this listing. These people being abused could have been your child, or sibling, or friend, or fellow church member.
EXCESSIVE PHYSICAL PUNISHMENT
I was so bruised from beatings that I could not sit or sleep comfortably.
I heard screaming from the punishment room often. I could not sit after a beating, but was told I was being overly dramatic. I peed all over myself while big ___________ paddled me severely, seven or eight times, then had me sit on my wounds.
I was told that beatings would rid my soul of its wicked ways. I was so shaken by a beating they had me breathing into a brown paper bag.
MEALS WITHHELD or FORCED or SUBSTANDARD or SICKENING
If my work was not done well, I could have dinner withheld from me.
I went to bed hungry many nights. I was often fed expired Dole lettuce with expired salad dressing. I was fed rotten vegetables. I was fed burnt oatmeal. I was fed Alpo dog food.
“No meals” was a form of punishment.
THE SHAME of ADOLESCENT BED-WETTING
Because of scheduled bathroom breaks, often I wet the bed. If I wet the bed I would have to strip the sheets in the morning, wash my plastic mattress and get paddled. I was forced to wear a diaper. All my peers were made aware that I had to wear a diaper.
VERBAL ABUSE/ HUMILIATION/SHAME
I was called lazy. I was called filthy. I was called disgusting.
I was told that my hair would be growing out because harlots wear their hair short. I was broken down and humiliated at every turn. I was often called “worthless” or “harlot.”
MOUNTING STRESS and ANXIETY and FEAR
I often cried myself to sleep. I was afraid to speak out against atrocities I saw around me. I worried about whether ________________ would scream at us. I worried about whether our chores would pass inspection. I worried about what the next meal would taste like, would the food be old and dangerous to eat?
TOTAL CONTROL and MANIPULATION
Accused of not washing after using the toilet, I protested. Then I was accused of arguing and possibly lying. I was told there was no place to run to, that neighbors were friends of the House, as well as police.
There is so much more. But this is probably enough to cause you to pray and to ask God what you could do to stop the “bleeding” of our children. May God give us wisdom.