I have been so conflicted about writing what you are about to read. I finally went to my daughter to ask permission to write about her traumatic experience in the church. Yesterday, she gave me permission to tell her story.
Seeker Friendly Church
Back in the early 90’s, we had heard of a church in our area which had a large and very active youth program. We have 3 kids, and they had even heard about this church and wanted to attend – and so we did.
Our daughter was 12 years old when we first went to the church. I am not naming the church in this article. They were made aware of what happened about 3 years ago (when we found out from our daughter).
We noticed immediately in the service that the pastor and praise team were attempting to appear “cool”, and I felt unrest in my spirit. One Sunday they said it was “Crazy Hat Sunday” and the pastor and praise team wore silly hats.
The next Sunday they did a skit from Seinfeld. The skit was based on the “Soup Nazi” episode. They laughed – actually the whole church laughed at the mention of the “Nazi” and “No Soup for you!” I didn’t laugh. Again I had that bad feeling in my spirit. I did call the church during the week, and asked to speak to pastor or an elder.
One of the elders did call me back. I told him that it was offensive to me on so many levels to mention the soup Nazi during service. He began to lecture me and told me that I was just the kind of Christian who turns off other people to church. He said that I had a “Holier than thou” attitude.
New Age 3rd grade Sunday School teacher
I am very observant of my surroundings. You might say that I am hyper-vigilant. I had noticed a woman who was a Sunday school teacher to kids, and she wore a crystal around her neck. As we were having coffee and snacks, I overhead her speaking to another woman and it was clear that this woman was not only unsaved, but she was into new age practices.
One Sunday a person approached me in church and asked if I would attend a special meeting regarding the church. I had no idea why they asked me, but I saw it as an opportunity to speak about the things that were troubling me.
During the meeting I was asked if I had anything I wanted to contribute. I spoke about being very offended as a Jewish believer at the “Soup Nazi” skit. Then I asked if they had a process when choosing teachers for the kids – an interview of that person to make sure that they were born again believers. The room went silent.
Our Daughter and the Youth group
At that time our daughter was almost 13 years old. She was active in the youth group. We noticed that she began to dress in all black. One night she pierced her own nose. She became a different person and I didn’t know what was going on with her. She then showed signs of the desire to kill herself. We were all devastated. We took her to a psychologist – the first of many.
Our daughter began to run away. We would be sick at heart, not knowing where she was for days on end. She even had to be hospitalized because of wanting to kill herself.
There was a lady who helped out with the youth group. She took a special liking to my daughter. I had no reason to think that she had anything but good intentions towards my daughter.
One evening when our daughter was on one of her run aways, this woman came to the house. She wanted to see our daughter’s bedroom. Her behavior was a bit odd, but I thought that it was due to her worrying about my daughter.
Fast Forward to 2014
Through the years our daughter had an aversion to attending any church. When she was elementary school age, she loved the Lord Jesus with all of her heart. I have kept all of my kid’s artwork through the years. I have large envelopes for each of them, with all of their art from the time they could hold a crayon. My daughter’s envelope was filled with pictures of Jesus – she talked about Him all of the time.
One day in 2014, she came to me and told me that she needed to tell me something important. She began to tell a story which made me sick – physically, emotionally and spiritually. She asked me if I remembered the lady who liked her from the youth group. She then told me that this woman had taken her to her apartment and would touch her inappropriately.
When I calmed down, I wrote to the Youth pastor who was a FB friend. I told him about what had happened to my daughter. I asked if this woman was still part of the youth program. This pastor was shocked and saddened by what had happened. He told me that this woman had stopped helping with the youth. He told me that he did know where she lived, and wanted to know if my daughter and I would come with him and the head pastor to confront this woman.
My daughter told me that she could not look at the woman. She said that she just wanted to put this behind her, and that seeing her again would be more harmful to her.
I told the Youth pastor what my daughter said. He told me that he had been tracing where this woman had been through the years. He said that she had hopped from church to church – helping with the youth. He was absolutely sickened by the whole thing. He even contacted me again to see if my daughter would change her mind – but she wouldn’t. I hoped that this pastor would go and speak to this woman anyway. I hoped that he would call each church where she had been “helping.”
The pastor did tell me that years after we had left their church, they realized that they needed to do back ground checks on prospective helpers in the youth and children’s ministry. They began to ask for many references and they would interview the person at length to make sure they were truly Christians. It was too late for us, but I was grateful that this was being done to keep other kids safe.
Brethren, I know that this was not an easy article to read. Believe me – it was extremely hard to write. There are people in this world who do very evil things. They are child predators. If you have your child in a youth program at your church, please ask if leadership has vetted the volunteer helpers.
I know that we are supposed to think the best about people, but in a world filled with sin, we cannot take a chance; we MUST protect those who cannot protect themselves.
Please pray for our daughter.