God’s Heart for the Vulnerable
God is a refuge for those who are abused and never ignores the cry of one who is abused (Psalm 9:9, 12). Astoria Community Church is committed to being a refuge for those who are abused. We will do all we can to protect the vulnerable, care for those who are survivors, and hold abusers accountable. Abuse is not a sin like any other sin. Abuse is a particularly grievous sin (and often a crime), when someone in a position of power and trust violates or exploits someone who is powerless to stop it (see Ecclesiastes 4:1).
As Christians we cannot face abuse if we are in denial about the reality of abuse. Instead, Jesus calls us to be “wise as serpents.” (Matthew 10:16) We all must take responsibility to become educated about abuse and take responsibility to uphold our policy. Jesus spoke often about abuse using the metaphor of wolves, shepherds, and sheep. Jesus warned about “wolves in sheep’s clothing” who would prey upon the vulnerable (Matthew 7:15). The Bible affirms the value and dignity of children and all who are made in God’s image. God condemns abuse in all forms. Jesus calls every Christian and every church to walk in the light with him and “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11)
Our goal is to prevent and respond appropriately to abuse by becoming a community that is educated on various forms of abuse and common dynamics, clarifying appropriate boundaries, and doing the hard work of holding each other accountable. All persons should experience an environment of safety and justice and one that is free from any form of abuse, harassment, or discrimination.
By its very nature, our community includes interaction with vulnerable children and adults. Sadly, predatory individuals often seek environments with vulnerable people. Child abuse is a common reality in our world and even in churches. The data shows that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are sexually abused in the U.S. before they turn 18. Other forms of child abuse are also common.1 Jesus condemned anyone who would abuse a child in the strongest possible terms: “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6) Intimate partner violence, clergy abuse, stalking, sexual assault, and other forms of abuse against adults are also common. Jesus condemned those who used their spiritual position to exploit others (e.g. Mark 12:38-40). Abuse in all its forms is almost always perpetrated by someone known to the victim. Abusers utilize a variety of tactics to gain trust, deceive both victims and others within a community, and keep the abuse secret. This policy only states what must be lived out: as much as possible to take responsibility as individuals and as an organization to prevent abuse and hold those who abuse accountable.
As such, we have created a manual of our policies and procedures and actively live this manual out through the leadership of a Safeguarding Team that consists of 3 members of ACC (Andrea Mungo, Tina Liouzis and James Rim.) Click here for our current manual.