In my first year serving in Salvation Army ministry, I attended a continuing education session that addressed a variety of social problems I might encounter in my work.Those first few months of ministry had been eye opening for a young girl from Tonawanda, Ny.
Divorce–yep, we’ve got that in our church. Child abuse–I could name the kids, and had to fight the urge to take them home with me. Alcohol abuse–one of our members had been at our door that week, inebriated and belligerent. And sexual abuse–well, this was 1978 and not too many people were talking about it openly in the church yet, but hindsight tells me that was present as well.
Fast forward to 2011. Sexual abuse is no longer the taboo subject it was in the church of my childhood. It’s a common theme in the stories of many women and even some men, who seek mental health counseling or pastoral care. Therapists now understand the impact of the abuse on their clients, while pastors face its spiritual and emotional fallout in the pews.
How can these different disciplines bring their strengths to this serious sujbect? What might help connect the dots between theology, psychology and pastoral care? Long conversations over coffee would be great, but aren’t really practical between busy professionals living across the country.
Moody Bible Institute professor Andrew Schmutzer has made the conversations happen through a new sourcebook for those who want to understand and support the healing work of the Spirit of God. In The Long Journey Home: Understanding and Ministering to the Sexually Abused, Schmutzer invites 27 professionals who work in psychology, theology and pastoral care to discuss a collaborative approach to sexual abuse. The book also provides theological reflection, pastoral wisdom and current research in mental health.
Published by Wipf and Stock, The Long Journey Home will be an invaluable resource for professional helpers and provide an accessible foundation for the caring friend or for the survivor of abuse.