the Hope of Survivors

A Place for Me by Hope Bencho

(From the July 2008 edition of HopeSpeak)

I was faint with longing to enter the courts of God and my heart and my flesh cried out for the living God. The sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near God’s altars (Psalm 84:2-3); but I thought there was no place for me in God’s House. After the pastoral abuse, I thought I was stuck in the valley of death, depression, rejection, bitterness, anger and suicide. Psalm 84 tells of the valley of Baca, which means “the valley of tears” or “the valley of weeping.” My life was filled with tears and heartaches from the pastoral abuse; and I was uprooted from everything I knew and wandered in the valley, longing to feel God’s presence and to dwell in His house once more. I didn’t know there was help for me until I found The Hope of Survivors and they helped turn this valley of tears into a pilgrimage filled with refreshing springs, and they walked with me, as I went from strength to strength and from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18). I am thankful God led me to The Hope of Survivors because without them I could still be in the valley of tears isolated from everything Godly. God didn’t take me out of the valley, but allowed me to “pass through” the valley with those who were there to support and encourage me.

What can I say now? I can say this, for a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness (Psalms 84:10). Has it been easy since I have come back to church? No. Have I been nervous and uncomfortable, and does the memories of the pastoral abuse come back at times? Yes, but I replace the negativity with the Word of God and, through every trial, I have learned that God does have a plan for my life, a plan to prosper me and not harm me, and God’s plan offers me hope and a future (Jer. 29:11). 

Watching God’s plan for my life has been exciting and overwhelming. Recently I accepted the position as community service leader at church and, while setting up programs for the community, I spoke with one of the elders about The Hope of Survivors. He began to tell me about a history of pastoral abuse in the church. The elder told me God must have sent me to the church because the lady that donated money for community services was abused by a pastor when she was a child. After hearing this, I realized God’s plan for my life includes sharing with others the same hope and support The Hope of Survivors has given me. Now, one of the programs that will be offered to the community will be a support group, which was created by The Hope of Survivors for victims of pastoral abuse.

Thank you, Hope of Survivors, for being with me on this journey, and thank you for being with me as I have grown spiritually and emotionally. What a joy to say, I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD (Psalm 122:1). Thank you for helping me find my way back to the house of the Lord and for compassionately reinforcing that there is a place for me in God’s Kingdom.
The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart...Psalms 34:18