Church & Youth work in an abused world

After getting home from a quiet night out on the streets of Durham this evening, actually it was a really great evening a long catch up chat with one of the detached volunteers who’s working in one of the local prisons with an education charity, we talked about the reality of prison, redemption, restoration, community and faith. Harrowing stories of change, of hope. Not my story, not even hers, but of those often judged guilty before being understood.

In the last 90 minutes I have been watching the documentary ‘Abused’ on BBC1. Telling the story, on one hand of the story of the mistakes made in the publications of the documentary about the paedophile Jimmy Saville.

What it also told was the effect it had on the marriage of two people because the woman had been abused by someone ‘not famous’ as a 10 yr old.

And the 24 yr old who worked at the hospital who was raped by Saville. Who lost 36 yrs of her life until she was able to hear the words that it wasnt her fault.

There were, sadly, countless others on the programme unnamed. Saville was too famous to prosecute. Others, since Saville convicted, were previously hidden from view.

One Girl had been abused by her own grandfather, and then Saville got to her too. Shed been so tortured by her grandfather, that the places of sanctuary, the church, the confirmation and communion were for her places that reminded her of the torture, because her grandfather was also present in her life in the church.

But these were their stories, to tell you more would be to take power away from them, an abuse that I wouldnt want to be complicit in. Watch them tell them yourself on iplayer here

Yet; With the exception of the 24yr old hospital worker. All of the victims at the time were young people. 

All the victims in Oxford, Rotherham and Rochdale were young people, and these abuses happened in the last 20 years.

Let alone all the other children who have been victims of abuse in the child sex abuse scandal being embarrassingly delayed by the home secretary. Their abuse and their right to freedom from injustice stays delayed. 

Should it not be embarrassing for the UK that it doesn’t believe, and take seriously the cry of the child?  Why do people live with shame and have their innocence and lives taken away from them? because they fear they wont be believed? Why are the guilty protected?

I dont have much of a story, i wasn’t abused as a child, or an adult, and thats not the point for writing this. The point is not that i desire to connect or empathise because i can share a similar experience, but that these stories in themselves tell many stories. They tell of the condition of this country that allowed this, the systems and organisations that didn’t prevent, react or believe children and young people is just harrowing, frightening and embarrassing.  That power and manipulation run rife.

Being believed gave these now adults healing, the truth spoken by those who could administer truth healed and redeemed.

Justice cannot undo the act, but it enhances the recognition of being believed.

As a Christian i ask what might be the response of the church, flawed though it has been on such matters, in the future, in society to listen to the voice of young people and children, and go outside of its walls to be available to the cries of young people whom it doesn’t yet know. And get involved in the messiness of it all. To involve in being present to witness truth, to empathise in real life of children and young people. To act to love justice. To act in a way that is present with children and young people, at a time when other organisations are reducing their time, facilities and services that listen.

The church if it embraced youthwork that empathises & resides in community- might just be the practical and prophetic world changer that it is meant to be. To hope in spaces of the darkest of darkness.

As I said, we didnt see anyone on detached this evening. But we were available to observe, understand and be present in the culture of the streets, just in case.











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