I Believe You

 

I believe you. Perhaps the most powerful words for a victim of any kind to hear. My experience of reporting the truth about sexual harassment and power abuse by Bill Hybels as well as the systemic power abuse of the organization trying to cover it up was met with unbelief, blaming, shaming, and more deceptive cover-up. I’m still processing my own trauma and grief of the last nine months, and hope that writing about what I have learned can help others as they navigate their own deconstruction. I know for sure God’s word invites us to bind up the brokenhearted, defend the oppressed, advocate for the marginalized against the powerful and to partner with Jesus in healing their wounds. I long hoped this would be the church’s response. As Christ’s followers we are called to partner with God in the redemption and restoration of all things, including the hearts of the perpetrators- inviting them into truth and light and freedom as well.

Our churches should reflect Jesus’ call to be a refuge, not an impenetrable empire. I’d propose as Christ’s followers the only image repair work we should ever be concerned with is actual damage repair. To that end, my husband and I are doing what we long hoped Willow Creek and the Willow Creek Association would have done. I begged them to hire a power abuse specialist, knowing that with the inappropriate comments and invitations, the multiple grooming attempts I reported, there would be many more victims suffering in silence. I’m tremendously grateful to the brave women who wrestled this darkness into the light, we owe them a great deal.

My husband and I are partnering with a counseling group that specializes in the areas of power, clergy and sexual abuse to provide services to anyone who has been a victim of these things at willow creek. You do not need to participate in an investigation or share with anyone else about your experiences. Your name and sessions will be kept confidential, but we will cover the costs. We believe you.

May you receive healing and wholeness in Christ as you bear witness in a safe environment to the devastating things you have experienced. May the love of Christ redeem and restore what has been destroyed far beyond what you could ask or imagine. I’ve experienced God’s presence more in my pain than ever before. Despite what you may have been told or what might have been said about you: you didn’t ask for it, you didn’t do anything to deserve it, you weren’t the pursuer, you aren’t being divisive or harming God’s Kingdom. By living out scripture’s invitation to bring into the light what has been kept in the dark you are partnering in His redemptive work.

To schedule, call Diane Langberg’s office: 215-885-1835

For pastors, elders and anyone wanting to learn more, explore her resources: http://www.dianelangberg.com

#IBelieveYou

#Churchtoo

#Metoo

10 thoughts on “I Believe You

  1. Keri, is there a way to donate to the scholarships w/out GoFundMe taking a cut? I would be willing to send a check. You have my email. Thanks!

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    1. Hi there, thanks so much, yes! We’re working to set up a non profit to run the funds through. In the mean time you could send the check to me and I can ensure it is fully contributed to the fund or you could give to our church and we’ll do the same? It’s Vineyard Christian Church and just put in the memo: A time to mend.
      Thanks so much for wanting to give, every bit will help!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Keri, thank you for your courage of stepping forward. I have been a Willow Creek member for many years. I am appalled at how our church handled this situation. I have a problem reconciling the fact that you were on staff ,bringing your own stories of inappropriate behavior related to Bill, during the time the Elder board was supposedly investigating him. We have been told that this investigation started four years ago yet you were at Willow up until 2016. This is just so reprehensible on the part of the Elder board to ignore and condemn your stories of abuse. Thank you for setting up “We Believe You” with Sarah Carter.

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    1. Yes, it really is so hard to take in. I was on staff until February of this year when their neglegent process unfolded. You can find more about that process here over the coming days and weeks. I do believe they want to take responsibility for it, I’m praying for reconciliation with all involved. Appreciate your encouragement here.

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  3. 42 years at Willow. I think I may also be a victim. Not by Bill directly but indirectly by staff who modeled Bill’s power up behavior. I’m reluctant to talk about it. With a safety net, though, I might.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry to hear this, Art! Truly, somehow we lost our way. I have heard encouraging things about the leaders wanting to own their mistakes in this area and will pray for you specifically to receive healing and reconciliation from your experiences. And to be able to fully grasp that they aren’t a reflection of our loving God, although it’s reasonable for it to feel that way sometimes when church leaders are involved.

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  4. I don’t understand–while Diane appears to be well-qualified, she’s in PA. How do the logistics work? Is this an online service? Does she have a branch office in Chicago?

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    1. Great question, Ruth. I’ve done my work with her over the phone as video or Skype options are available. We are working to setup the relationship with a couple of other trauma counselors too so there are options. Keep you posted.

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