Monday, 12 March 2018 07:05

Standing Alone

Written by  Bob Crittendon
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Standing alone has the potential to get attention and enact lasting change. On The Meeting House on Faith Radio recently, I interviewed Joyce Im Bartholomew, who is a singer who has recorded a pro-life song; the video of that song was banned from YouTube, and so she took legal action against the Internet behemoth. Even though she initially lost her challenge, others who had experienced restrictions came forward, as well. Ultimately her video was allowed to be posted. 

 

I related the story of Greg Schiller, whose story was told in a WORLD News Service story on ChristianHeadlines.com.  He “began to minister to the homeless, first in his garage, and this year in his better-equipped basement.”  The article continues:

 

But city officials in Elgin said Schiller’s basement didn’t meet its “sleeping regulations” code. When police officers inspected and shut down the basement “party” space last week, they cited the ceiling height as too low and the windows as too high and small to be used as an egress.

 

So here you have one man, taking action - in this case, exhibiting compassion for the homeless. But, that action resulted in the city taking steps to provide for those homeless in need.  The article states:

 

After the showdown at Schiller’s home, the city is now helping lead the creation of new shelters and has even offered the police department lobby for people with nowhere to go, including those who have a criminal record that keeps them out of shelters.

 

One man, standing alone – providing leadership in his singular focus and action.

 

There’s also the story of a former gymnast who took a series of bold steps.  Esther O’Reilly wrote at The Stream about Rachel Denhollander, one of the many athletes abused by former Michigan State and Olympic doctor Larry Nassar, who, according to the article, “received the maximum sentence of 175 years in prison for multiple counts of sexual assault on his patients. He already faced 60 years for possession of child pornography.” O’Reilly rightly stated:

 

If there’s one single person who can take the credit for finally bringing Nassar down, none have a better claim than Rachael Denhollander: victim zero, first to speak out and open the floodgates of justice. In 2000, Nassar repeatedly abused her over the course of a year after she sought his care for back pain at the age of 15. Confused, afraid, and assured by the responsible adults around her that nothing was amiss, she kept silent for years. Now married with three children, she has become an advocate for sexual assault victims.

 

Rachael was the final witness to speak against Nassar before he was sentenced.  Because of her Christian faith, she was able to give an eloquent and stirring perspective of the gospel.  She said, in part:

 

Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.

 

I pray you experience the soul-crushing weight of guilt, so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me — though I extend that to you as well.

 

In the midst of her own pain and brokenness, Rachael has been involved in advocacy for sexual assault victims in another context - in the Church, according to a gripping Christianity Today article.

 

The Church is no doubt being challenged in these days in its response to matters of sexual abuse. Reflecting on what Rachael said in the Christianity Today article, I would say that people do not have to be afraid to enact church discipline for those who have sinned in this manner for fear that somehow their own reputations or the reputation of the church or the gospel itself would be damaged.  God’s reputation and His glory are far greater.

 

We can reflect on these three individuals who have been willing to take a stand, and in their respective stands, they encouraged others. We can be reminded that standing alone can make an impression.  Joyce Im Bartholomew challenged the policies of YouTube and others came forward.  It took a bold step.  Greg Schiller took a bold step and provided a home for those who had none – and influenced city officials.  Rachael Denhollender came forward to speak out on assault and to share the gospel and extend forgiveness to her own abuser.  Remember, sometimes compassion calls for a bold step.

 

We can check our hearts to make sure that we are open to the promptings of the Spirit. Bold steps can contribute to changed hearts, and as people are influenced and embolden by acts of faith, there are infinite possibilities. 

 

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