A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Look for the Church in Catacombs, Caves, and Deserts

UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.

***

These are our Lord’s personal letters to two of His churches, Smyrna and Philadelphia.  They both share at least two things in common.  See if you note what those are:

Revelation 2:8-11, “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. (9) “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (10) Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. (11) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.'”

Revelation 3:7-10, “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. (8) “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. (9) Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie–behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you. (10) Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.”

Actually, I see four, no, five things that stand out:

  1. They were both suffering persecution
  2. They were hated by the established, dominant religion of choice (synagogue of Satan)
  3. They were poor/weak (not big, rich, and powerful)
  4. Jesus had not a single word of rebuke for them!  He only blessed them
  5. They were obedient to Christ and loved Him

Smyrna and Philadelphia.  Now those were true churches.  These are the kind of church that every genuine Christian wants to find and be a part of.  But we so often look in all the wrong places, as we have noted before.

I wrote this post in response to Pippa’s comment on our “Mercury Poisoning” article.  Here is one point that she made and it is a really good one:

“The phrase in this discussion that is exciting to me and that I meant to respond to was. ‘You know, a suffering church, a suffering body of believers – now that would be a church community where the suffering of victims would be acknowledged and properly embraced.’ I really long for that. Do we have to wait for Heaven or are we suppose to be living in that sort of community now? A rhetorical question of course. And I am sure that in some way we are all doing that to an extent. But what is He calling us out to do?”

A suffering church.  A church that shares the qualities of Smyrna and Philadelphia.  That is what Christ is calling us to be.  How do we get there?  Live for Christ.  I mean, really love Him and obey Him and be willing to be hated for Him.  Because if you truly belong to Him, if you live as He calls you to live, you will be hated by the world.  And in particular, you will be hated by false religion, and  especially by false “Christianity.”  I really believe that those of you who are believers and who have suffered at the hands of your abuser, have largely suffered because you love Christ. And because this has been your experience, because you have been hated even by that which claims to be Christianity, you are in search of the real thing.

Where do you find it?  In strange places.  Unconventional places.  We are getting just a taste of it here in our little blog community.  Anna and I and Barbara never began this forum with that in mind.  But it has become somewhat of a fellowship and for that we are thankful to Christ.  Where else might you look?  Well, if you live in any size of a community at all, then there has to be other real Christians who have suffered in similar manner as you.  Or are still suffering.  Seek them out.  Most of you are more inventive than I am.  Ask  yourself, “What might be a way for me to connect with Christians who have or are suffering abuse?”  I can give a few ideas here, but I suspect you can think of more:

  • Keep some books about abuse handy and watch for women that you can hand them to.  Put your phone number in the front cover and maybe a short summary of your own experience.  Invite them to call you.
  • A church could put an ad in the local paper announcing a weekly support group. If a local church were to make abuse ministry a primary “mission field,” it would soon find itself slandered and maligned, I assure you.  Synagogues of Satan around town will have all kinds of nasty things to say about you.
  • Come to the aid of an abuse victim who might be in your church and advocate for her.  In many cases, you will start to see what it means to be spurned and criticized and hated, if you haven’t already.

There are myriads of avenues, and ministry to abuse victims is just one of them.  But ALL have to do with genuinely loving and following and imitating Christ.  Refusing to go along with the ridiculous and shallow fads that sweep through churches.  Rejecting the things that bring flattery and notoriety and power and wealth to a “church.”  Calling for real, genuine repentance.  Being radical.   Selling your expensive car, buying a cheaper one, and using the money to help the widow, the orphan and the stranger in the land.  People will call you stupid for that.  Unwise and foolish.  That means you are on the right track.  Provide a place for an abused woman to live so she can get free of her abuser.  Buy her groceries.  Help her with transportation.  Go to court with her.  In short, entering into her suffering and helping her carry the burden.  This is the stuff that James says is at the heart of true religion.

Where do we find Smyrna and Philadelphia?  Well, don’t look in the fancy temples.  There may be an exception, but very, very rarely.  You will have more success if you look in these kinds of places:

Hebrews 11:37-38, “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated– (38) of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”

Where might those kinds of hideouts be?

11 Comments

  1. Pippa

    “Where might those kinds of hideouts be?”

    I sat staring at the computer for a long time yesterday. What does he mean by “where?” Is that a literal or figurative “where?”? I have asked google “where?” I went to one site that was encrypted military geography and just hope homeland security doesn’t mind.

    Deserts and mountains, and dens and caves of the earth are in remote places. They are in places where civilization doesn’t go. They are God’s places, unsullied by humans. They are the best places. Often they are “waterless places” where demons cannot settle. Perhaps they are “waterless places” just because they are places where civilization doesn’t go.

  2. Jeff Crippen

    Pippa – I guess the “where” is where the Spirit of Christ is. In other words, where the real people of Christ are. And Scripture repeatedly tells us that…. well, listen to this description:

    1 Corinthians 4:9-16 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. (10) We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. (11) To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, (12) and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; (13) when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. (14) I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. (15) For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (16) I urge you, then, be imitators of me.

    The true body of Christ is rejected by the world, and particularly by religion that is conformed to the world, no matter what it calls itself. The incredible thing is that we all to often tend to look for qualities and appearances that are exactly the opposite of what Paul describes, instead of looking to Scripture for the characteristics found in Smyrna and Philadelphia. Is it not possible that the greatest churches (in Christ’s judgment) REALLY are found in literal wildernesses, caves, and catacombs where genuine believers gather as outcasts of the world? In countries of western civilization like the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and so on, perhaps many of Christ’s people are wandering, finding themselves less and less at home in typical, traditional churches? I am not a radical – I cringe at the thought of starting some rebel troop that throws the baby out with the bathwater. Gathered churches with pastors and teachers and elders, able to have their own facility to gather together in, is quite biblical and even preferable in many ways. But is the Spirit of Jesus there? How many of us go looking for a church that is regarded as a pack of fools by the world, that is poor, reviled, persecuted, slandered, and looked upon as the scum of the earth? Yet these are exactly the qualities of the Apostle Paul, and of our Lord Himself.

  3. For me, the hideouts are on the internet. Blogs like this. False screen names. Forums like Our Place. Emails sent privately between survivors. Whispered conversations during the coffee time after church between two survivors who know each others situations. People who email Jeff or me or Anna and pour out their stories.

    I have been asked to make my book available as an e-book. Why? So a woman can read it on her e-reader without her abusive husband being aware that she has it. I’m still getting there, sister…. one of the dozens of things on my TO DO list! I am sorry it is taking so long.

    But what about the survivors who don’t have the internet, or whose internet and emails are totally monitored by the abuser? We need to think of ways to help these people. I’d love to have a small army of techno-geeks who could provide computer and internet ability to those women who don’t have the money or ability to get it set up for themselves. And ways to enable survivors to use a computer that their abuser does not have access to. Going to your local library is one way, or asking your local domestic violence support service if you can use their system, is another. But that requires someone willing to look after your young kids…… it goes on and on.
    But I pray for these survivors. And I pray for those in other countries where these things are almost like wishing for the moon.
    We have much to do, but God will help us.

  4. Jesus saves in deepest caves some lines from a hymn:

    Sing above the battle strife: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
    By His death and endless life Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
    Shout it brightly through the gloom, when the heart for mercy craves;
    Sing in triumph o’er the tomb: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

    Give the winds a mighty voice: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
    
Let the nations now rejoice: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
    Shout salvation full and free; highest hills and deepest caves;
    This our song of victory: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

    • Jeff Crippen

      I like these verses!

  5. Finding Answers

    (Airbrushing through dense fog…)

    Pastor Jeff quoted Revelation 3:7-10,
    “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. (8) “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. (9) Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie–behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you. (10) Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.”

    For a short time, I attended a ‘c’hurch that twisted these words, dwelling on “being given the keys” to further a ministry.

    In hindsight, I see a den of wolves in sheep’s clothing, binding people in the secrecy of legalism.

    In hindsight, I see a synagogue of Satan.

    I have been isolated by the Holy Spirit…the ACFJ community is my only connection.

    I have been shown the possibility of a Philadelphia…but He says it is too soon.

    I have been given glimpses of aiding others like me…but He says I am not ready yet.

    I need to start somewhere…but wait for His lead.

    I need to start somewhere…but need somewhere safe.

    I need to start somewhere…but know I need help getting there.

    Here I am, Lord…send me?

    • Finding Answers

      (Extreme airbrushing….)

      Last night my last wall crumbled, a wall that had stood strong for over 50 years. A wall that could never have fallen without the miracle of healing enough to feel real emotions, rather than sense-feeling them.

      Behind the wall was a world of grief, the lies of false Christmases.

      The Holy Spirit reminded me God sees my heart, no need for false Christmas gaiety, no need for pasted-on plastic smiles, no need for singing songs of mass-market merchandising.

      Last night I listened for many long hours to non-Christmas music, doubled over in almost silent grief, engaging in warfare to regain music, my God, and my Christ.

      My Christmas is different this year from any in my entire life. Yes, there is massive grief and heartache, but there is also the faint beginnings of joy.

      I have a new cyber-family now, some with voices, some voiceless, some fitting somewhere along the spectrum.

      I may be grief-stricken today, but I also have a new life.

      • Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

        Merry Christmas Finding Answers
        I’m so glad life is becoming a reality for you out of all the suppressed memories and false realities.

        Out of your pain is coming forth great joy. It is a amazing how God has been leading you through so much and healing you. It’s even better to see He not only reveals and brings healing but is recovering precious things to you.

        We are all having different kinds of Christmas days but God is doing so much within us. Now is that not a better one than sitting with many who pretend Christmas and pretend life.

        I think the Jesus of Christmas Day is far more adored and prefers this gift of ourselves to Him, than much that goes on today in His name.

        Praying for you at this time. Keep trusting. God is surely doing a new thing in your life and making all things fresh and new.

      • Dear Finding Answers, here are some scriptures about weeping – I hope that some of them may bless you.

        1 Sam 30:1-4
        David and his men arrived in Ziklag on the third day. The Amalekites had raided the Negev and attacked and burned Ziklag. They also had kidnapped the women and everyone in it from youngest to oldest. They had killed no one but had carried them off as they went on their way. When David and his men arrived at the town, they found it burned. Their wives, sons, and daughters had been kidnapped. David and the troops with him wept loudly until they had no strength left to weep.

        Jeremiah 9:1
        If my head were a flowing spring, my eyes a fountain of tears, I would weep day and night over the slain of my dear people.

        Jeremiah 31:9
        They will come weeping,
        but I will bring them back with consolation.
        I will lead them to wadis filled with water,
        by a smooth way where they will not stumble,
        for I am Israel’s Father,
        and Ephraim is my firstborn.

        Lamentations 2:11
        My eyes are worn out from weeping;
        I am churning within.
        My heart is poured out in grief
        because of the destruction of my dear people,
        because infants and nursing babies faint
        in the streets of the city.

        Psalm 126:6
        Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves.

  6. Finding Answers

    Thank you, Now Free (Formerly Struggling To Be Free) and Barb, for your comforting and thoughtful replies.

    While my Christmas Day was filled with grief, I was also very blessed in a myriad of ways. I regained more lost music, and not just the audible kind.

    The odd thing is how few actual tears I have wept – not from a lack of capacity to weep, but from a silent grief that is not expressed through crying.

    The Holy Spirit stops my thoughts when they might become overwhelming, so I can feel my grief in manageable amounts. Another blessing.

    My biggest blessing from grief is knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel – I already see and experience glimpses of beauty, the fleeting changes due to the season.

    What most of the world tends to forget is without the capacity to feel pain or sadness, one also cannot feel joy. I gladly take the balance of emotions – I have lived all my life at a distance.

    • Finding Answers

      Adding on to my own comment……

      I was reminded of an ACFJ post on neuroplasticity, one on which I commented in October, 2018.

      https://cryingoutforjustice.blog/2013/08/02/neuroplasticity-learning-disabilities-and-domestic-abuse/

      I had forgotten my comment, though I DO remember doing significant research on Barbara Arrowsmith-Young at the time (follow the link to the post for further information).

      As each day passes, new parts of my mind awaken. I am finding the process fascinating, learning the “Why?” behind aptitudes I have used throughout my life. And those aptitudes are becoming stronger with each awakening.

      I still have much to learn, especially with the addition of emotions.

      And I’m OK with that, truly I am.

      The Holy Spirit is patient. 🙂

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