Warriors needed. Armed and ready

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“Some people call us victims. Some call us survivors. I like the term warriors.” Matt Sandusky stated yesterday at the “Not A Target” symposium for the prevention of child sexual abuse in Sonora, California. Victim. Yes, sadly, for nine years. Survivor, yes, in spite of trying to escape his personal hell through risky behaviors and eventually an attempted suicide. And most definitely a warrior. How many would be willing to unmask such an evil by also exposing the deepest shame of their lives to public view? Quietly and courageously, Matt led us through the painful journey of his life from being burned and battered by his biological father to becoming a victim of sexual abuse by his adoptive father, Jerry Sandusky. Now by telling his story and supporting other victims, he is transforming other mere survivors into warriors as well.

Learn more about his story and his new book, Undaunted, at  http://www.peacefulheartsfoundation.org/about-1.html

The terror of predators stalking our children is something most of us would rather not think about, and yet it is a reality we dare not ignore. Knowledge is essential if we would guard our most vulnerable against these predators. So what do these monsters, these perverts look like? The frightening answer is that they look like all the rest of us. They are human. Normal people like you and me, capable of great good or great harm. But they have chosen the dark side.

FILE - In this Dec. 13, 2011 file photo, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky arrives with his wife, Dottie Sandusky, for a preliminary hearing at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa. Dottie Sandusky says it was long after he’d been arrested, tried and convicted before she realized just how much trouble the former Penn State assistant football coach had gotten himself into. In an interview this week at her home in State College, Dottie Sandusky said that even after his 45-count guilty verdict in the child molestation case, she still had had hope. But when the judge gave him to 30 to 60 years in state prison, she said, she fully comprehended the trouble he was in. She’s been granting interviews in recent weeks, arguing her husband’s conviction was unjust and claiming the victims who testified against him told inaccurate stories to cash in. An attorney involved in negotiating with Penn State on behalf of his victims calls her denials “obscene.” (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Dec. 13, 2011, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky arrives at the courthouse with his wife, Dottie.

Sexual predators become frightfully skilled, not only at grooming their victims to accept increasingly sexual advances, but at grooming their wives, colleagues, and communities to ignore suspicious behavior as the Sandusky scandal well illustrates. In response to Dottie Sandusky’s total denial that anything could have happened, Matt says, [She] “walked in on things most wives would find inappropriate.” Fellow coaches at Penn State were guilty of the same denial when they came upon this respected coach “wrestling” with Matt in the football locker room showers.

Perpetrators create a conspiracy of silence and thrive in it. “Trust your gut” Matt tells kids. It is a good reminder to responsible adults as well. We must learn to spot the red flags and fearlessly speak up. We must arm our children with the knowledge that anything that feels wrong is wrong. Teach them to say no to any unwanted touch. Teach them to tell a trusted adult. Warriors are needed to help shatter the silence.

The evil in our world is spun by the Master of Darkness. He tosses glittering lures that reflect a bit of light, but the true consequences of his work hide in shadows and silence. We wonder why God doesn’t do something about human trafficking, child molestation, violent crime, war, disease, and all other pain that fills our planet. Does anyone recall hearing the voice of Jesus say that “the gates of hell will not prevail.” Too often we flip the image around and picture the gates of hell attacking us, the good guys. That is not what the Master of All Rescuers said. When we choose to seclude ourselves in gated communities, living in the safety of our churches or social clubs, hiding from and protecting ourselves from that evil, we become enablers. Our weapons are truth and love. The gates of darkness cannot hold against an onslaught of love and light. But it is up to each of us to arm ourselves with knowledge, to risk personal comfort and safety, and launch rescue missions to free those trapped in unimaginable evil.

That is the theme of the Stones of Gilgal novels. Abuse of children was institutionalized in the fertility worship of Canaanite culture, and Yahweh called a group of ordinary young people to become warriors in the battle against that evil. The Great Cosmic War revealed in the Bible is not over yet. Warriors are still needed. Matt is leading the charge in a battle to rescue exploited children. Who will dare to follow?