Germany

Martin Worster explains how victims of abuse function.

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Sexual abuse and violence in the Seventh-day Adventist Church is addressed

The reality of sexual abuse by Adventists can be shocking to some members.

Inter-European Division (IAD)

[Germany] On January 26, 2019, the Consulting Committee for Cases of Sexual Abuse was invited to address the topic of abuse in Adventist churches. There were presentations for adults and a special program for children and teenagers. For quite a few people the information that was presented was a shocking picture of church reality.

Oliver Gall explained what is considered sexual abuse and that it occurs in our churches. He also showed what can be done to prevent it. “It is time we grow up and see the reality of the church. Just because somebody is an Adventist it does not mean that he is automatically a good person.” He encouraged the listeners to stand up for people who experience violence and to protect them. It is necessary to show boundaries and not look away.

The topic of forgiveness often becomes a difficult problem in churches when victims are expected to forgive perpetrators with the declaration that God will not be able to forgive them unless they forgive. This piles on the pressure on the victims and can cause a faith crisis. A victim does not have to forgive. Jesus said on the cross: God, forgive them.

In another presentation Martin Wurster explained how victims of abuse function. They often split their trauma so that they do not remember it. Then some day the past experience surfaces and has to be dealt with. As a church we must give them time and sympathy to deal with it. For the children age-specific topics were addressed. The 8-12 year-old kids all except one had a cell phone. After viewing a movie made by a high-school class they discussed cyber-bullying and what can be done to prevent it as well as how to react when you are the victim. What should you do when somebody is being bullied was the next step discussed. The teenies created a photo story about civil courage that they photographed and presented at the end of the day.

It is good that many people stayed for the complete program and were confronted by the issue. It can only be recommended for all.

Reported by Iris Kruck

Photos: W M Hanse

Reported in Mosaic newsletter, 2019, Q2, Summer issue