One offender (who had repented of an offense as a juvenile, and turned himself in entirely voluntarily) is someone I have had correspondence with. He was originally fairly dissatisfied with Pastor Dale Ingraham’s book, Tear Down This Wall of Silence, which is one of A Better Way’s highly recommended resources. He felt that it took entirely too hard of a stance on offenders, and that if we wanted to reach them with the truth, and restore them to Christ, it wasn’t a helpful resource.
Well, it was easy for me to see, given his story, how that might feel true. But I wrote back, imploring him not to harden his heart, and to realize that his story was far from the “norm” for the majority of offenders. I also explained how the book was written to address the typical adult offender. I asked that he keep an open mind as he continued to educate himself.
He then went on to read the next book I’d recommended–Suffering and the Heart of God by Diane Langberg. Great was my delight to recently get another message from him. “I finished reading ‘Suffering and the Heart of God’ yesterday. I found it very helpful and I could relate to how the poison of others can affect us. *It also helped me understand the other book more, and I can see where and why those responses fit in.* I liked the thoughts on deception and misuse of power and about shame. I would recommend the book to anyone who has a desire to care for the afflicted and protect the vulnerable. It is realistic and practical and understandable.
“I think it is very important to understand deception as well and just how hard it is to see at times… I can’t imagine what it would be like to be on a predator’s leash. Neither can I comprehend what such predators would do to some soft-hearted person who hasn’t learned boundaries. They would get eaten alive. So although I haven’t seen it to that extent within the church, I definitely understand that the human nature is capable of such things. The initial response is self-protection and anger. But when I deal with that I also feel compassion for them. They are in bondage and they don’t realize it. Jesus can set them free!”
So little by little, as he is being exposed to accurate, best practice resources, he is being educated in a way that will help him live out his (hopefully sincere) desire to serve God in a healthy, sin, and crime-free manner. It will also allow him to reach into his insular, very closed community of churches, with some accurate, truthful teaching and resources.
We can pray for that, yes?!