“I can’t forgive” – the perspective from someone that faced abuse
In last week’s article I have been digging quite a bit into the whole subject of abuse — once again.
The first time I was confronted to that subject was during my time in a Christian counseling home about 15 years ago.
It was during that time I met Téo.
Téo Vander Weele is a Dutch friend of mine, who just celebrated his 80th birthday recently.
After a very rough and painful childhood, God used his life to reach out to hundreds of children and women that have been sexually abused.
I’ve rarely met a man with such gentleness, radiating peace, love and warmth.
During his time as a missionary in Thailand, he was called from God to work in the area of abuse – as a male.
Now, in Thailand privacy is a foreign word (due to the walls which aren’t sound proof as well as the family culture, which includes everyone).
He asked God to give him some tool to reach out to this culture in a way that people could feel secure and respected.
Out of that was born the practice to bless his clients with the “powerful peace of God”.
He soon found out that this practice was an amazing tool to let his clients experience God’s presence, his peace in their body and in their soul. Often, God worked very quietly, tears streaming down their faces, as they felt the presence of God in their spirit, soul and body. As I mentioned above, in this culture where he was serving, among these people who had been crushed by mostly a male person, it was not appropriate for him to touch a woman or even come too close, not even in order to pray for them. With that practice of the powerful peace, together with this gentleness, love and wisdom God gave (and taught) him, he saw many people get healed physically, saw their will be woken up, their traumas erased and replaced by that powerful peace of God.
Back to Europe, he co-founded a school to train people to reach out to the sexually abused.
Later on, he wrote the book
To write this article, I took that book out of my book shelf after a long time. I discovered anew many of the valuable and insightful contents!
The book is very recommendable to read by yourself — if you are a survivor of sexual abuse or a person wanting to have insights and tools on how to reach out!
He sent me the following jewel:
“I can’t forgive”
Having an abusive past myself, topped off by a Dutch soldier who put a gun on my eight-year-old head in 1945, shouting “if you don’t tell where your dad is, I will kill you”. My mother heard my death scream. She raced towards me and pushed him away while shaming him. She really hit home. He walked away with his head bowed in shame, but I was shattered.
My Father worked with the Germans and got 3 years in jail. My mom 2 years, I went to a children’s home, there was a pedophile…
My life was warped by WWII and the soldier just finished me off.
Divine healing had touched some areas in my life. Being a missionary in Thailand I often had to meet people in uniform. I never knew why I was then so nervous.
Then the Lord used in 1972 a book to “pull the curtain”.
I still remember saying to the Lord: “Lord, your Word tells me to forgive. I decide to do that with my will. I am so angry with that fellow. How could he do that? I can’t forgive from my heart”.
The Lord replied: “I know, Téo, you can’t forgive, but I can teach you. Come into the school of forgiving. The lessons might at times a bit too difficult, then you have the permission to leave the class. You can relax outside, on the playgrounds”.
That is what happened. The school lasted 12 years. In 1984 I went to a Communion Service. Once again I thought about this soldier. The thought came to my mind: “He must be 80 now, or he is dead”.
Spontaneously the thought came:
“I hope I will meet him before the throne of Jesus”.
Then the Hallelujah chorus from Handel flooded my soul.
The anger about injustice, abuse, betrayal, can be so intense. God doesn’t mind, He is angry as well (Luke 17:2, Matt.18:10). This story has helped many abuse survivors to “enter the school of forgiving”. Now I am 80. I still hope to meet that soldier before the Throne of God. It is about 10 years ago that I started to thank God that He allowed this soldier to hurt me so deeply. Thus, a life ministering to abused people arose. If he hadn’t done it, I might not have had this type of deep involvement in the lives of hundreds of abuse survivors.