In one of my conversations with Tina recently, she mentioned that she had many things on her mind that she wanted to share with others and that she had been writing it all down. I was thrilled to hear this because I know how much she has encouraged me and others I know in our own journey of healing. I was also excited because there have been so many times I just wished people could see the beautiful spirit and soul that makes Tina who she is.
Healing from any kind of abuse is a personal journey. No one can make it for us and we'll all have variations that are unique to us. Tina's path is her own.
Two years ago this month, Tina's story went public when Ernest Willis was arrested. In April 2011, ABC 20/20 aired the episode featuring Tina's story (see press timeline here). It was one year ago this week that her rapist was finally brought to justice. Tina's willingness to let her story be told by the media has accomplished a number of things in the last two years:
- Pastors were alerted to areas where they need to do better with policies and procedures in their own churches. Even in IFB circles there have been open conversations about the appropriate way to handle difficult circumstances involving minors, sexual assault and what "church discipline" is or should be. I'm no longer in IFB circles but I'm grateful to see these conversations happening. It is my prayer that more leaders within the IFB will be willing to step forward and push for change. Though the IFB leaders like to emphasize that they are "independent" and thus there is no real network, there are a number of influential organizations that can effect change if only their leadership would be willing to boldly talk about the way to handle abuse properly:
- The Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International (For opportunities to contact influential leaders in the FBFI, see lists immediately below)
- Trinity Baptist Church, Concord NH has been hosting a leadership conference for IFB churches in New England for over 20 years. These conferences are well attended and include guest speakers from many IFB organizations and churches. Current senior pastor, Brian Fuller, recently spoke at four chapel services in one week at Bob Jones University.
- Bob Jones University
- Maranatha Baptist Bible College
- Pensacola Christian College
- Northland International University
- Hyles Anderson College
- Ambassador Baptist College
- Crown College
- Golden State Baptist College
- International Baptist College
- Trinity Baptist College
- For other IFB colleges, click here
If you have suffered from any kind of abuse, help is available!
- Online assistance from the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline.
- For assistance by phone, you can always reach your local rape crisis center directly by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
The title of Tina's blog is "Glimpses of Hope." I hope you are blessed by it as much as I am!