Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Boy Named Pax

I met a beautiful child yesterday while in the waiting room for a doctor’s appointment. He was with his great-grandmother who introduced him to me as “Pax.” Pax, or, “peace,” is six weeks old and smiles a lot and makes easy eye contact with strangers. He is quite alert and a very healthy baby. “Grandma” explained his name to me and I acknowledged that I knew the old Latin word and thought it was a great name for a child. He had been baptized the day before and she was happy about that. I asked her how his family pronounced his name and she “southernized” it to what sounds like “packs.” It doesn’t much matter how it’s pronounced, but the meaning behind the name that’s important. I told his Great Grandma that I hoped he grew into that name well and perhaps he would someday have a special place in our world as a peacemaker. She liked that thought a lot.
I’ve been in the “peacemaking business” for over forty-five years as a pastor. It’s one of the hardest jobs in a world filled with fear, anger, violence, and abuse. The church is not immune from conflict and pain, but is sometimes filled with hurt and angry people. In retirement I’ve learned that some of this is caused by sexual trauma. I volunteer as the President of a non-profit in Nashville called A Safe Place 2 Heal. I began this journey before retirement knowing I would never be completely content not to be involved in some form of mission outreach. Helping lead this non-profit for the last three years has served that purpose well. It allows me to use my heart as a pastor, my skills as a counselor, and my organizational experience in very concrete ways.
I invite you to visit to understand the work we do with providing deep psychological therapy to those who suffer from sexual abuse, and sexual addiction. It is a basic fact that most people who are sexually abused as children and youth also suffer from sexual addiction, and are often sexual abusers. It’s also true that 1-5 women are sexually abused before the age of 18, and 1-6 men suffer the same reality. That’s means that you can look around you as a church-goer if you are among those who go to church and see someone you know who has been sexually abused.
That’s not good news, or a comforting thought, but it’s true. What is good news is that nearly everyone who suffers from sexual trauma can be helped. I know this as a fundamental purpose of what A Safe Place 2 Heal is all about. I know because I spent a year co-authoring a book with one of the men we have helped in recovery. Like many childhood abuse victims he was sexually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually abused. Some of his abuse happened in church and was perpetrated by church members. You can go to my personal website to find information on how to order our book Conversations with Vii Aboard Papa Being’s Big Waters Tour Bus: The Spiritual Journey and Recovery of a Sexually Abused Child. I think it’s a book well worth reading for it tells Vii’s story of freedom from shame and becoming the whole human being Papa Being always wanted him to be. It’s available from Amazon in both E-Reader and hard copy versions.
I also appeal for your help. The mission of A Safe Place 2 Heal is centered in providing therapy for individuals seeking recovery. We’ve made a major investment in the education of Certified Sexual Addiction Specialists who are highly skilled in bringing recovery to people like my friend, Vii. We work through a grant assistance program for the marginalized of our society who cannot afford such holistic care. It takes about a year and 1,250 hours of therapy, group meetings, working with a survivor mentor, and doing a lot of homework that includes reading, journaling, and maybe even writing a book. It costs us about $3,500 to fully help men and women to thrive. You can go to our website and join us in bringing healing to so many people who are living with the quiet burden of shame. There’s a Pay Pal link there for giving. Or you can send a check made out to A Safe Place 2 Heal at 2000 Warfield Drive, Suite C, Nashville, TN 37215.
I think about a child named Pax. I met his mother and grandmother, as well. He will grow up in a home with a lot of love and support and someday may make a real difference in our world. In the meanwhile, there are many children who will not be so blessed. They grow into wounded adults who need special help. I hope you will join me in this time of remembering those who need our care and support. Give with open hearts and open hands because you can help bring peace to someone who has never felt at peace before!
Phil Leftwich

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