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I grew up in Mali West Africa where my parents were missionaries. At age six I went about 700 miles away to boarding school in Mamou Guinea. This was a boarding school for missionary kids. About seventy five percent of the children who attended there were abused, physically, emotionally,  sexually and spiritually. It has been over 50 years since I left. Over the years many of us dealt with the abuse silently thinking no one else was abused like we were. Personally God has helped me through many of the wrong ideas that were planted in our heads as children.

Since many MKs (missionary kids) have attended boarding school and the reports of abuse are coming in at an epidemic rate I wish to discuss how we can deal with the results of abuse.

  

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First of all, Shary, let me say how deeply sorry I am for what you and others endured. I do not say that lightly, I say it with my own knowledge of the wounds that can be left by abuse. I was not an MK but I was severely emotionally and physically abused from the ages of 2 to 12 by and alcoholic father and a mentally ill step-mother.

I was finally taken out of the situation at age 7 and allowed to live with my grandmother, but she died 3 years later and I had to return home. I lasted there a year before being removed again. This time I was placed with an alcoholic senile grandfather. I lasted there a year before running away and refusing to return. The next five years, I was in foster care.

I used to think that when I became a Christian that all of those wounds would somehow disappear, but they haven't. I believe that the healing process is like peeling layers of an onions. You do a little bit at a time and you cry a bit in between.

My own healing journey has been far from easy or straight. I have struggled with forgiveness, identity issues, post-traumatic stress reactions, depression, etc.

Some of my wounds were from well-meaning Christians who simply did not believe what happened or who thought that I should just be able to forgive and forget and move forward. I believe that I needed to acknowledge what happened before I could forgive. I needed to grieve the losses associated with my story, so that I would have greater appreciation for the ways that God could redeem my story.

It is important to me to be able to find "safe" people to share my story with. Some are quick to judge the necessity or value of re-telling something painful but it's part of our life and in the process of telling the story, we learn to accept validation, comfort, and the help that we need to heal.

Throughout my life, God has placed wonderful godly people around me to encourage, comfort, disciple, and support me. During the worst part of my life, I met a man who shared with me how God was a father to the fatherless. He let me tell my story, he wept with me, and he made himself available to help me heal. He helped me see that God could take the broken pieces of my life and use them for kingdom purposes.

I am a mental health therapist and a pastor's wife, but I am still working on healing everyday. God has allowed me to use my story to help other children who were abused, neglected, and in foster care. He has given me opportunities to "Comfort others with the comfort that I have received" in ways that I never would have been able to without having gone through the trauma that I went through. That doesn't mean I'm happy about what I went through, it just means that God can use turn it into something useful. Someone once said to me that one of the biggest challenges we have is to stop asking God why things happened and start asking how they can be used for good.


Jenni Biegler said:
First of all, Shary, let me say how deeply sorry I am for what you and others endured. I do not say that lightly, I say it with my own knowledge of the wounds that can be left by abuse. I was not an MK but I was severely emotionally and physically abused from the ages of 2 to 12 by and alcoholic father and a mentally ill step-mother.

I was finally taken out of the situation at age 7 and allowed to live with my grandmother, but she died 3 years later and I had to return home. I lasted there a year before being removed again. This time I was placed with an alcoholic senile grandfather. I lasted there a year before running away and refusing to return. The next five years, I was in foster care.

I used to think that when I became a Christian that all of those wounds would somehow disappear, but they haven't. I believe that the healing process is like peeling layers of an onions. You do a little bit at a time and you cry a bit in between.

My own healing journey has been far from easy or straight. I have struggled with forgiveness, identity issues, post-traumatic stress reactions, depression, etc.

Some of my wounds were from well-meaning Christians who simply did not believe what happened or who thought that I should just be able to forgive and forget and move forward. I believe that I needed to acknowledge what happened before I could forgive. I needed to grieve the losses associated with my story, so that I would have greater appreciation for the ways that God could redeem my story.

It is important to me to be able to find "safe" people to share my story with. Some are quick to judge the necessity or value of re-telling something painful but it's part of our life and in the process of telling the story, we learn to accept validation, comfort, and the help that we need to heal.

Throughout my life, God has placed wonderful godly people around me to encourage, comfort, disciple, and support me. During the worst part of my life, I met a man who shared with me how God was a father to the fatherless. He let me tell my story, he wept with me, and he made himself available to help me heal. He helped me see that God could take the broken pieces of my life and use them for kingdom purposes.

I am a mental health therapist and a pastor's wife, but I am still working on healing everyday. God has allowed me to use my story to help other children who were abused, neglected, and in foster care. He has given me opportunities to "Comfort others with the comfort that I have received" in ways that I never would have been able to without having gone through the trauma that I went through. That doesn't mean I'm happy about what I went through, it just means that God can use turn it into something useful. Someone once said to me that one of the biggest challenges we have is to stop asking God why things happened and start asking how they can be used for good.
Jenni thank you for sharing your story. It is very important to have people who will listen to you and not have quick answers. As you have said it is a process that will take us until we die. There are so many lies that are just part of the thought process in those who were abused as children. We often don't recognize them as lies and believe they are just life. The lie "I am worthless and no good" is part of the emotional makeup of an abused child. Even though I know in my mind I am of great value to God and many people, and good at many things when criticized my first response is to quit and give up. So each time I have to give myself a good talking to, so that I will come back to the emotional stability of the truth "I am love, valued, and of much good to others." This may sound like pride for those who don't struggle with this but it is not. It is a fact God loves us and we have great value to Him.
I know exactly what you are talking about regarding the "lies". Just started reading a great book on that subject by Jerusha Clark called, "Every Thought Captive..."

Shary,

I'm new here but have suffered quite a lot of abuse - some in my family of origin and a couple of times now from men in relationships.

 

Healing is hard.   I liked what you said about it being like the peeling off of layers of an onion, with some crying in between. 

 

I am on my own journey of healing - one of my incidents of abuse was recent and long term.  I just found out today I made a serious mistake in which I misjudged somebody who had the best of intentions - but it was just my "old stuff" reacting to something he said - and he never meant any harm.

I was very humbled when I realized I had made this misinterpretation.  And I know its from my abuse and some PTSD issues I have.

So I know God can and does heal - I know with abuse, it just takes time.  How complete the healing will be I guess depends on how complete God wants it - I guess.

But anyway, its a tough, tough road!  It happens though and I think I am learning to keep myself in the Word, commit to prayer and including intercessory prayer for others - and take my faith in Christ very seriously.  God will do the rest.

Brenda

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