Angela Chininin Buele
Rape is such a painful topic. No one wants to remember, but sometimes it’s necessary to remember – necessary to file reports and press charges, necessary to talk and cry about it, or necessary to share with another wounded soul that she is not alone. While I can’t say that I am glad I was raped, I will say the amazing story God has given me because of that devastating violation, has changed my life forever… for the better. Will you let me explain?
If you have not been reading along since the beginning of this 40-day writing project, you don’t know the personal history I shared regarding the complex story I will finish telling here and now. If you would like to read the first part of the story, you can look back at my article from September 29, 2016 titled This Might Shock You. I used to be Pro-Abortion. If you lack time or interest, however, the most basic information needed to carry through with my story is this: When I was a young child, I was raped by a teenager I knew, and I didn’t tell anyone about it for years.
Any child who knows the confusion, fear, isolation, dirty feeling, and anger of having been violated can only do so much to live a “normal” childhood. If there is no justice and repentance for the offender, kids may feel like there will never be any healing for them. I know I felt like that. Since I knew the young man who violated me, when I finally told my mom about what happened, she helped me try to find justice. She took me – a pre-teen then – to meet with the young man’s mother. I handed her a letter and explained that I wanted her to mail the letter to her son as a way of confronting him, now a college-aged man. Based on her dismissal of my story, I imagine she never sent the letter, and I left that day with the additional burden of being believed to be delusional.
A dark road of depression, sexual sin, suicidal thoughts and actions, and hopelessness were real struggles in the following years. I know it was only by the mercy of God to lead me to turn to His well-kept promises when Satan would try to drown me in a sea of broken promises of fallen men.
As I followed Jesus in my young adult years, I tried to follow my dreams. Since my rape was more like a nightmare, I just worked around it trying to ignore it. In case you’re wondering, you can’t ignore stuff like that. It just doesn’t work.
In my mid-twenties, I shared my testimony with a group of Christians with whom I was quite close. In this time of my life, I was quite disrespectful to someone placed in authority over me, and I was rightfully told that I could no longer be a part of the work the group was doing since I was working against the team instead of with them.
When I moved back to my hometown, I was pretty sure I couldn’t go on. My dream had been shattered when I was sent away from the team. But I’m so glad the Lord prodded me on because my whole life changed within a few weeks.
While talking with the family of a dear friend, I overheard a few identifying details about a new family attending the church. My heart stopped. I knew it was him. The man who had broken my trust so many years before was well-known and well-loved by my very own church family.
I had prayed for years that this man would not harm any other children, but I don’t believe I ever prayed for him to seek God’s pardon for his sins – against God, against others, and against me. Yet it seemed that maybe He had done just that. Not knowing what to do next, I did the only thing I felt I could do – wait.
A couple of months later, as I was sitting in a Sunday morning Bible study group, I was told of a young family the Lord was using to preach His Word and make disciples of Jesus Christ. Thinking I would be blessed to meet such a couple, I asked their names. I was told their names and that they were in the very next room at that very moment and I could meet them immediately. It was him, and I was panicked. Over 20 years had passed since the rape, but I was nearly crushed by a sudden tsunami of emotions as I rushed to excuse myself and escape into the crowded sanctuary.
By the end of that week, I had confided in some very close friends and asked them to meet with this man. I asked them to tell him that I had forgiven him and to find out if he had confessed and repented of the sin. Maybe you won’t be able to understand this, but I no longer wanted revenge for myself or humiliation for him. I wanted joy for us both, and I knew that would only – could only – come from new life under the Lordship of God Almighty.
I was blessed to hear that my friends confirmed his acknowledgment of the rape. What I had not expected was the account of his tears when the message of my forgiveness was delivered. That moment was like no other before. I was relieved of the burden of unresolved angst, the storyline that reached the conflict and went no farther. God gave me a gift that precious few ever know. He who was my enemy, my betrayer, is now my dear friend and my brother by the blood of Christ.
I tell you that even now I am filled with joy to know this story, to live this story, and to share this story. This is a story I have rarely had the privilege to share, but I do so here because I know that rape is horrible. Rape feels like the end of the story, but the Lord can – and does – give gifts through Jesus that are infinitely sweeter than your heartbreaks are bitter.
My story isn’t really over, and neither is yours. I’m praying for you, my friend, to know true relief from whatever crushing burden you carry, maybe alone. Will you cry out to the Maker of Heaven and Earth to make the end of your story sweet with forgiveness?