I am sitting at the Fredericton airport waiting for the first flight of several to go home to New Zealand. In mid-November I met up with Nancy Nason- Clark in Michigan for the BISC-MI conference. This week I have been fortunate to have stayed with Nancy and had the joy of visiting the actual place of the Religion and Violence research team at the University of New Brunswick. A highlight too was attending the event ‘Photovoice Seeing Religion: Muslim& Christian Interfaith Dialogue’ event.
In New Zealand I serve in a Church Community Ministry called Project Esther www.projectesther.co.nz. We work with women and families offering programs, temporary accommodation, support and advocacy. I am a chaplain in our local women’s prison where Project Esther staff and volunteers also provide spiritual and pastoral care.
This visit to the university campus bought to mind how the work of the RAVE Project for many years has been a source of information and resourcing for my work in New Zealand where the conversation about domestic violence and religion has yet to gain momentum. Most of the RAVE bookstore books have been devoured and the learning used in my Master’s thesis and passed on in sermons, conversations and pastoral care practice. This year I toured NZ and co-taught about how church leaders can respond well to conversations and disclosures of domestic violence and sexual abuse. We were able to use so much of the RAVE downloadable material for Power Points and handouts and also refer these church leaders to the RAVE website. I have preached at several church services and recently spoke at a youth focused service and used the RAVE information about teen dating. It was warmly received.
Earlier in November I gave a lecture to some 500 NZ Baptist church leaders and again was able to point people to the website. A NZ theological college has engaged me to provide an option for ongoing learning for church leaders and my course includes directing people to the RAVE website and reading No Place for Abuse: Biblical and Practical Resources to Counteract Domestic Violence by Catherine Clark Kroeger and Nancy Nason-Clark. ‘
It was a delight to see my book Dishonored and Unheard Christian Women and Domestic Violence featured on RAVE social media, thank you Cathy Holtmann. The book is a result of working in the area of church pastoral care for many years. I become aware of the plight of Christian women when they seek help from their church communities. It was alarming how scriptures were being used by those giving advice.
The book is a pastoral and biblical resource for Christian women who are living in or have left behind an abusive relationship. It is also written for, pastors and pastoral care givers, counselors, theology students and friends who listen and respond. The material is drawn from women’s stories, researchers and biblical scholars. Together these voices all point to a compassionate, constructive and relevant biblical response which reflects God’s heart for Christian women living with and recovering from domestic abuse.
I am so grateful for the RAVE Project work and community, for the accessible up to date and helpful resources it has made available to many, including those of us out on the coal face. I am sure there are many like me who have felt buoyed and encouraged by such generous resourcing, bearing in mind that working where faith and violence meet be a challenging and lonely space. As such it was a pleasure to actually be in the physical RAVE place to meet and spend time with its wonderful champions. Keep up the great work of RAVE, women all over the world need sorely need the gifts of your work.
Daphne Marsden, 13 December 2018