I’m a member of a Facebook group where Nigerian ladies are encouraged to share their experiences and give/receive non-judgmental support; I have read many inspirational stories as well as some horrific stories on domestic violence (DV) there.
I see you sister.
I celebrate all the ladies who share their stories about surviving DV however, I am saddened by the response many say they received from the Church when they cried for help: “submit to your husband, be a better spouse and watch War Room”.
In a healthy marriage, with regular ups and downs, that advice might not be bad (depending on the circumstances) but when given to a woman in an abusive marriage, it means she is being blamed for the abuse and encouraged to remain in it while her abuser isn’t held accountable for his actions.
In the FB group, War Room is regarded as a film that gives an impractical solution to very serious, real life issues, a film the church uses to turn a blind eye to the sufferings of some women yet that is the exact OPPOSITE of what War Room is about.
“There always seems to be something to fight for but one thing has remained true of every war, behind the field of battle, someone has designed a STRATEGY” – Ms Clara, War Room.
The film is about STRATEGY, that is, the planning and effective use of resources, during both peace and war, to ensure safety and victory.
“To win any battle, you have got to have the RIGHT strategy & resources because victories don’t come by accident” – Ms Clara, War Room.
War Room recognises that sometimes, marriage is a battle ground and it teaches that your battle determines your strategy.
In the film, all Elizabeth wanted was for her husband to love her again and as she took this up to God in prayer, he gave her, the strategy that was right for her situation: forgive Tony, be patient with him and give him grace.
A woman in an abusive marriage (whether verbal, emotional or physical) will probably need a different strategy. She may stay in the marriage and just seek good Christian counsel to work things out or she may separate from her husband. We often don’t know which, is the best move but God does and that is where prayer comes in.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye”. (Psalm 32:8)
War Room provides us all with the skeleton or framework for spiritual warfare to which we add flesh through our words, thoughts and actions. So I ask, what words do you speak when you get into your closet to talk to God?
Many women pray “Lord, change my husband” but that is too general; what does change mean in your situation (remember, change rarely opens overnight)? May I suggest you tell it to God the way you want it and I guarantee that He will give you a very practical answer.
I remember hearing about a woman was very unhappy about her husband’s unending affairs; she still loved him and just wanted him to be faithful. She had been praying but months later, nothing changed. One day, she went for counselling and was advised to become more specific with her request; she told God, “I want my husband to become undesirable to other women”. A few weeks later, her husband began coming home early and couldn’t keep his hands off her; a mutual friend later told her that her husband now found himself unable to sustain an erection with any other women besides her. Only God could have come up with such a practical answer.
“It wasn’t my job to do the heavy lifting, no that is something ONLY He can do. It was my job to seek Him, trust Him and stand on His word…….You have got to plead with God to do what only He can do and then you got to get out of the way and let Him do it” – Ms Clara, War Room
There are many victims of DV sitting on the pews in our churches. We fail both them and God when we keep wiping their tears and paying the bills when they land in the hospital and yet DO nothing to ensure their protection or help make abusers accountable for their actions.
Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person (Proverbs 3:27)
Most African cultures promote silence when it comes to domestic violence but that isn’t the culture of God’s Kingdom. We ought not to turn a blind eye to the oppression and suffering of others. When we come across victims of domestic violence, we shouldn’t stop at praying with them but should also at the very least, refer them to a support group.
Rescue the perishing, don’t hesitate to step in and help. If you say, “hey that’s none of my business”, will that get you off the hook? Someone is watching you closely, you know- Someone not impressed with weak excuses. (Proverbs 24:11-12)
It has become essential that the church speaks out against domestic violence, call it the evil that it is and urge abusers to repent and seek counselling (spiritual and psychological).
For support in Nigeria contact: Project Alert on Violence Against Women (PROJECT ALERT) http://www.projectalertnig.org