This beautiful letter represents hundreds of Independent Fundamental Baptist "Survivors."
The sentiments shared therein are touching and profound.
To every person who signed this letter, and to Jo McGuire who crafted and initiated this,
I sincerely thank you.
You so graciously wrote an open letter that offered an apology to those of us who suffered beneath the weight of the massive First Baptist Church of Hammond and its impact upon our lives. Through sheer
courage that is unthinkable, you have taken a stand for truth and offered hope to thousands who have yearned for acknowledgement of the abuses and crimes against them. You have cracked open the sealed vault containing lies, shame, deceit, false guilt and condemnation … allowing the voices that were bound in silence to break free and join your truth as an ever growing tidal wave of freedom, healing and peace. Grateful does not begin to describe how we feel. Inspired, overwhelmed, validated, fearless, freed, victorious, awakened, empowered, renewed … these are just a few of the emotions that resonate within our hearts as we hear your truth.
In this, you have taken enormous risk upon yourself and experienced the harsh realities of those still blinded who lash out at you to protect their own misguided illusions out of fear. Many of us speak our truth in the comfortable anonymity of our homes, behind our keyboards, in a virtual world, but you stand publicly exposed as a target for those who need to protect their Jericho, as it were. The panic of
feeling the walls come down around the fortress of their man-made religion causes the fierce attack to land on your shoulders and here is where we, the Survivors, write an open letter to you:
For every small-minded person that lashes out at you, hundreds more stand shoulder to shoulder with you, Linda. We grow daily in numbers and in strength of spirit to rise up and say, “No more!” While
there is yet work to be done and generations of false teaching to be undone, we are willing to do the work it takes to get healthy, to stand strong and to right the wrongs of the past. In doing so, we support you and surround you in love. You are on no pedestal; we appreciate and value you too much to revisit the former ways. We are simply partners in this journey, each sharing a common path, lighting the way for thousands more to follow as they slip free of the bonds that enslave them to fear.
And … we want to apologize to you for those who have hurt you so deeply and senselessly. We pour out our heartfelt regret and express our sorrow for the scars and wounds you bear in your tender heart. You did not deserve to be set apart, isolated, pointed at and criticized or attacked. You deserved better and on behalf of any of those who could have made that happen for you, whether they are our grandparents, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, or we ourselves, you were failed by those who should have protected you, cherished you, valued you, embraced you, and should have called you Beloved.
Survivors of this cult are a wounded people. While some have learned to walk in love and breathe grace, we still include a great many who know no other way but to destructively point out the
differences in others as threats. For so long, this is all we have known, a culture of creating levels of holiness, measured by degrees of rules and standard keeping. Therefore as former hostages, we can be divisive, tediously insensitive and sadly, even hateful. We are infected with it. However, we will
persist in growing up and learning new ways of being. We will deprogram from the intolerance and the need-to-be-right, and we will increase in our ability to love radically. We will do the work to get healthy emotionally, mentally and spiritually. And some day, Linda, we will have – not many voices – but one resounding, over-powering drum beat that rejoices in our beautiful individuality and, more importantly, the loving God who made us each as we are and delights in us as His precious Children. With that identity, with that power … we will create change that can only come from the goodness within us, rather than the dark blots of our past.
Though it may feel like this story has gone on for too long, we are creating new chapters daily and living a new beginning … together.
Thank you, Linda, for that moment in time when you decided walk away and break free, and for that moment in time when you decided to be brave and to speak. For all the moments in-between.
And for every moment after.
May our moments of courage reflect yours.