Voices: Domestic Violence Survivors Living in the House of God

By Yvonne DeVaughn

This column initially appeared in the Women Ministries website.

Rublev's icon

Rublev’s icon

The Eastern Church has a tradition of using icons as a way to enter into a conversation with God. According to Professor Paul de Neui of North Park Theological Seminary, “It is a window into heaven through which we see not just the physical representation, but the spiritual reality of the one-depicted…when we gaze into the mystery of the person of Jesus, we see through and beyond him into the heart of the living God.”

Recently, I spent some time looking at and attempting to replicate Andrei Rublev’s “Holy Trinity” which Henri Nouwen subtitled “Living in the House of God.” Reflecting on that image I thought of how peaceful and loving it is to be in the presence of the holy trinity to be truly seen, known and loved without fear. Unfortunately, I know that many of our Christian sisters, brothers, and children who attend our Covenant churches and Bible studies on a weekly basis do not experience that as a reality.

Many do not live in homes that reflect God’s peace and presence, instead they live in fear daily because of the violence in their midst. They have days and nights filled with pain, terror, and heartache because they deal with physical, sexual, psychological, and/or spiritual abuse so often that it is destroying the very fiber of who they are.

As members of God’s church, we cannot silently sit and remain disengaged in this issue. In Ephesians 5 Paul writes that we should imitate God and live a life that springs out of love, and just as Christ gave himself up for us, Paul strongly urges us to do the same by treating each other justly.

We can make a difference in the lives of those who sit beside us in our pews and chairs by admitting that violence knows no boundaries and can infect our sacred communities. We can speak up for the voiceless and begin to take Paul’s stance that “these things should not even be named among us!”

yvedaughn004During this month of national domestic violence awareness I urge you to commit to doing one thing that will engage you in this issue and then continue that on monthly, weekly or daily basis to help turn our communities of faith into “Living Houses of God.”

See covchurch.org/abuse to get more information on how to advocate for victims of abuse.

Yvonne DeVaughn is the director of Women Ministries’ Advocacy for Victims of Abuse.  and an abuse survivor.

 

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