Executive Director's October Message
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The statistics are staggering. On average 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States. More than 12 million women and men over the course of a year,1 in 4 women and I in 7 men ages 18 and older have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Intimate Partner violence affects more than 12 million people each year. (National Domestic Violence Hotline) More than 3 million children are exposed to domestic violence in the home. One in four teens will experience teen dating violence. Elder abuse also known as Elder Justice is on the rise.
People experiencing abuse often feel alone, isolated, and that no one is there for them. Many ask, “Where is God in the midst of suffering?” There is not a straightforward response to this question and I am reminded of a poem “Words of Wisdom: Malachi 3:3 - Refiner and Purifier of Silver” by an unknown author, that ponders this concern and gives hope to the reader. In the poem, the author asks, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy - when I see my image in it.” For victims and survivors of domestic violence, it is about healing and seeing themselves moving forward with their lives. Knowing that they are not alone and that God is present each step of the way. Malachi 3:3 says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.“
This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study. That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot then she thought again about the verse that says: "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.“ She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.
The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy - when I see my image in it."
If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.
On Friday, October 20, 2017 from 4-6 P.M., we will host an inter-generational conversation with our teen program Daughters of the Lotus titled: Gender Based Violence; Then and Now Bridging the Gap. There is space available if you are interested in joining us, for more information please keep victims and survivors of
domestic violence in your prayers.m
Co-Founder & Executive Director
A Letter from Rev. Paul H. Knudsen
With each passing year the commitment of Bethlehem Lutheran Church to The Healing Center grows. Several years ago The Healing Center came to Bethlehem. It all began with some freed up office space and an offer to Antonia to move in. The next step was church council approval and then we rented the biggest Budget rental truck possible and moved The Healing Center to Bethlehem.
We committed to a mission agreement that includes the following verbiage: “Bethlehem Lutheran Church embraces The Healing Center. Together we will serve those who suffer in silence due to family violence. Through this partnership in ministry, we will journey in carrying out God’s mission of serving the poor and the marginalized, those who have been abused physically, sexually, mentally, emotionally, and verbally. We will share the good news of hope, peace and healing to victim survivors of family violence. As a community of faith sharing in God’s promise of healing, victim survivors of family violence through the mission of The Healing Center can find safety, hope and spiritual support at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.”
Bethlehem’s church council unanimously supported the decision to make our mission agreement with The Healing Center automatically renewable every year. Bottom line: The Healing Center has a permanent home at Bethlehem Lutheran Church. The Healing Center will never be asked to pay rent or utilities and Bethlehem will support The Healing Center financially and spiritually. Elaine Swiontak from Bethlehem’s church council was elected to the Healing Center’s Board of Directors, thus further establishing our commitment to this ministry. She will serve as The Healing Center’s liaison to the church. Bethlehem continues to annually celebrate Healing Center Sunday and we commission the Healing Center board and staff to carry out this critical mission. In 2013, in addition to our annual benevolence to the Healing Center, congregational members will have the opportunity to support The Healing Center directly with a monthly envelope included with our regular Sunday morning offering envelopes. Our connection to this ministry is growing stronger and stronger.
The above information is not meant to accentuate the goodness of Bethlehem. We actually consider ourselves blessed to be assisting in such a vital ministry to our community. We believe The Healing Center is truly carrying out the ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and we are the ones who benefit from this partnership. No words can express the feeling we get when we hear the stories of women expressing their pain and being heard and believed, women and children finding support and assistance, women freed from the bondage of abuse, women’s lives made whole again. This is what The Healing Center does and we are so grateful to be a part of this mission. We hear these stories and we yearn to do more.
Year after year we are amazed by The Healing Center staff, the Board of Directors and especially the incredible dedication and superior leadership of our Executive Director, Antonia Clemente. Without her, none of this work would get accomplished. The Healing Center will continue to serve more women and children and God’s work will continue to get done in a bold way. Bethlehem’s commitment will only grow and grow. This is our promise!
In His Service,
Rev. Paul H. Knudsen
Spiritual Adviser to The Healing Center
Other Healing Center files for download:
The Healing Center Annual Report (2010)
- Presented at the Annual Congregational Meeting of Bethlehem Lutheran Church on February 13, 2011
Spanish Language Support Group