MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next, an excerpt from Listening In. This week, a conversation with Boz Tchividjian. He’s a former prosecutor and now advocates for abuse victims within the church. His ministry teaches the church how to properly respond to abuse.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: In this excerpt of their conversation, Tchividjian explains one of the reasons why it’s so hard for victims to come forward when the abuser is a leader in the church.
WARREN SMITH: It seems to me that there’s also another dynamic that is maybe unique to the church and that is a lot of these girls and women who are victims love the church. They love the people and they know that if they speak up, it’s like pulling the pin on a hand grenade in that church, it’s going to blow up the church. And they don’t want to do that either.
BOZ TCHIVIDJIAN: There’s a tremendous amount of tension because oftentimes they have grown up in these environments where even though this man may be victimizing me. If I say something, it’s not just going to implode the church, but it’s going to destroy his career and his ministry. And it’s a really distorted way of looking at it, but going, wow, but look at all the people that God is saving through this man’s ministry.
And, they’ve been told repeatedly growing up, “don’t do anything to hurt the church.”
SMITH: “Touch, not God’s anointed” is a verse many use.
TCHIVIDJIAN: Yeah. Or, if you do this…I mean, I had kids on the mission saying their missionaries, their abusers who were abusing them said, “if you step forward and disclose this, which would require your parents to leave the mission field, the bush, and come back to this boarding school, there will be Africans going to hell because of that.” And we wonder why those kids stayed silent for decades. Think of it through the lens of his little seven year old boy being told that the Africans are going to end up in hell if he says something about this abuse. It’s a tremendous manipulation and in my opinion, a horrific crime on top of the already existing crime of abuse.
SMITH: We’re clearly at an inflection point in this conversation, right? I mean, the, the #me too movement, the #we too movement, the #church too movement, however you want to describe it.I mean this conversation is happening in ways that, to my knowledge, has never happened before. Does that make you hopeful?.
TCHIVIDJIAN: I want to see more than a conversation. It’s easy to put on a conference. It’s easy to talk about it because, let’s face it, the whole world’s talking about it. It’s the hard work of rolling up your sleeves without the cameras around and effectuating cultural transformation. That’s what I haven’t seen yet and that’s what I’m waiting to see. I’m hopeful. The fact that we’re talking about it is that perhaps, uh, a good first step, but we have a long way to go.