Standing Against Abuse in the Church

By the Safeguarding Team

Please note that this article mentions issues of abuse.

Just yesterday evening, our friends at Graceworks published and launched a much needed book, Assault on the Body: Sexual Violence and the Gospel Community. Along with over 25 writers, the Zion Bishan safeguarding team contributed to this book.

This is a first-of-its-kind collaboration in the local church to address the real issue of sexual abuse in Christian communities and equip churches in this regard. The book is a collection of articles featuring testimonies from survivors, reflections and practical tools from therapists, social workers, lawyers, senior pastors, theologians, ministry leaders, and academics. Here are some of our team’s reflections in the book:[1]

In the past few years, it has become impossible not to be aware of high-profile cases of sexual assault in churches and other religious settings, in Singapore and elsewhere.

Closer to home, during their pastoral care work, our pastors and leaders encountered several allegations/instances of sexual assault involving people in our church community. It was this personal experience with such cases that brought home the reality that sexual assault happens, not just in churches, but in our church.

As if that was not already challenging enough, we also found that whenever a case occurred, we were often reacting in-the-moment rather than being guided by a set of principles, policies, and protocols that were well thought-through and informed by best practices. …

Processes, however, can only do so much because there are, unfortunately, myriad scenarios in which sexual assault can occur and ways for offenders to evade safeguards outside structured ministry settings.

Our approach has been to work towards a culture of a safer church by encouraging a safety mindset: having the whole church look out for one another. That involves education and awareness-building among staff and leaders, through training, and for the congregation as well, through updates we publish from time to time.

We have also sought to empower children by offering training on body safety, which they can attend with their parents. This is aimed at helping children protect themselves against sexual abuse and teaching them how to seek help if they find themselves in an unsafe situation.

As we strive towards God’s vision for Zion Bishan to ‘present every member mature in Christ’, we must also stand against any sin or abuse that can destroy lives and tarnish the name of God.

Please pray along with us – that this book will help the Church in Singapore to recognise the reality of sexual violence, and to respond rightly and minister well in such cases. You can find out more about the book and obtain a copy at Graceworks’ website. Read more about our safeguarding efforts in ZB here.

[1] Danny Chua, Deborah Liew Yang, and Ee-Ling Shankar, “Setting up Safeguarding Church Policies”, in Assault on the Body: Sexual Violence and the Gospel Community, eds. Nicole Ong, Raphael Zhang, Ng Zhi-Wen, Ronald JJ Wong, Jonathan Cho, and Bernice Lee (Singapore: Graceworks Pte Ltd, 2023), 311–322. 

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