Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him. (Matt 2:13)
The Christmas story brings hope. Yet safety and protection was needed for the baby Jesus as others were seeking to kill him. Joseph, the father, is guided by a dream and he finds safety for the family. With safety, hope thrives.
Previously, safety seemed linked to expressions like “No Running in the Hallway!” or “Carry that thing with two hands!” This past year at Safe Haven Ministries has deepened my understanding and value of safety. “Safety is a basic human right and the foundation of an individual’s ability to thrive.” We center our work around this priority.
In a perilous landscape like today where the domestic violence homicide rate is on track to double this year in West Michigan and crisis calls to Safe Haven are up almost thirty percent, safety is critical. Because we value it, we have a commitment to confidentiality as a way to protect our clients. Because we value it, we have advocated for the Kent County Commissioners to implement systems-wide change through a domestic violence court in Kent County that will proceed with a trauma-informed foundation as well as a pledge of accountability. And they have approved the funding. Because we value it, we are seeing survivors healing and taking the next steps of their journeys.
I am finding that safety can be a complex journey. Al Miles, pastor and author of Domestic Violence: What Every Pastor Needs to Know writes “The top priority of any prevention or intervention strategy needs to be safety for victims and survivors and full accountability for violators.” (p. 1) Miles articulates a challenge for a Church that can mistakenly prioritize marriage over safety. To be clear, marriage is an important value. But the Church can miss the mark when victims are given little choice but to return to a marriage with their assailant or to reconcile before accountability and therapeutic support for abusers are established.
Our CEO, Rachel VerWys, quotes Anne Lamott from Bird by Bird in Safe Haven’s recent Winter Newsletter. “Hope begins in the dark” is the building block that Rachel uses. Pondering this idea, I do notice that we seem to be in a time of gathering dark. Yet we are simultaneously seeing the light of hope rising here at Safe Haven. A sentence earlier in her book, Lamott writes “I heard a preacher say recently that hope is a revolutionary patience.” (34) And I sense this same revolutionary patience amongst my colleagues and the larger project of Safe Haven Ministries. And Safety thrives in this patient soil; Safety and Hope for this Christmas season. As this year closes, would you prayerfully consider joining us in providing more safety and hope this Christmas season?
May we all be kept safe this season, high upon a rock.