Archive for the ‘Testimonies’ Category

FTT   – Failure To Thrive, describes an infant who should be gaining weight and growing but is not. Something is wrong on the inside that effects what is happening on the outside…. There is a Failure To Thrive. But life can be like that can’t it?

Ever feel like that…? You know something is wrong on the inside and its tearing your life apart on the outside as well? I sure have. The story in this brief video clip is the true story of an extremely intelligent,  and gifted person whose failure to thrive on the inside was exacting a toll on her life inside and out. It was killing her. But through the Genesis Process that we use at Real Life Ministries…she not only stopped the failure to thrive, but found her voice and the magnificent fullness of life Jesus spoke of in spite of challenging circumstances. She is alive to thrive… you can be too.

BOB:  Sitting here in this room are many women young and older who have a secret, feel ashamed and blame themselves for what has happened to them perhaps because they were drinking, shouldn’t have been there, didn’t listen to a parent, etc. and are functioning but deep down feel guilty and ashamed even though they were coerced.  What would you say to them?

DEBBY:  It wasn’t until I was able to look back at what happened and picture someone else at that age (innocent, naïve, untouched and ill-equipped) or in that circumstance and the condition I was in could I see that I was not responsible.  Picturing someone else helped me see that the person I was picturing was not responsible and neither was I.  To answer your question: They should talk to someone who will accept them and who can help them… as you have done with me. Also, if there are men who have coerced and used women as was done to me, they need to know that God wants to forgive them and deal with their guilt as they acknowledge it.

BOB: What would you say to parents?

DEBBY: Be the parent and protect your children and teens. Do not be naïve or stupid or live in denial.  Bob, you asked me where my parents were during those three awful years and the answer was that they often left me alone with this “Christian guy” while they were in a different part of the house.  They thought they were doing me a favor, but they weren’t.

BOB:  What would you say to husbands whose wives have been sexually abused or raped?

DEBBY:  They need to do what you did with me.  You chose to enter into my suffering as completely as you could.  You needed to know all that was done to me, not out of curiosity, but to feel my pain.  In order for you to forgive you needed to know specifically what to forgive others for.  Also, what has helped and still is helping me heal is your unconditional love and acceptance and the choice to talk with me on an intimate feeling level about the events instead of sweeping it under the rug.

Maybe you should share about your pain and how you have had to struggle to forgive.

BOB:  You were taken back at the intense emotional battle that both I and your counselor experienced at learning of what was done to you.  But for us … for me it was as if this had just happened to you and it ripped my heart out…still does.  IT is like fear and intense grief all at once. Fear at what might never have been and grief at the horror and brutality. So I experienced intense anger at the injustice done to you… and awful sadness at how you were treated so disrespectfully as if you had no value at all.  Here is what I shared with our kids when we told them of this. This was after I had already spent a week of anger and trying to forgive, but struggled with it.

One morning my son and I spent about an hour in heart wrenching prayer together as I worked through the forgiveness of all that was done to Deb.  I have a real peace about the forgiveness and at least for now am praying God’s blessing upon those who have brutalized the one I love more than anything.  I was deeply moved when Keith cried out to God thanking Him for sending me into his Mom’s life.  I cry when I think what I might have lost if we had not met when we did. Deb tried to tell me that her life with me has made up for her suffering and mistreatment, but that is not true.  Nothing in all the world could make up for it, but the blood of Jesus has covered it.  That is why I can forgive and so can she. Hatred it too big a burden for me/us to bear.

Genesis 50:20 says “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, saving many lives…” (Restoring…bringing new life to, etc.)

Isaiah 43:18-21 (NIV) “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. … I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.

CAN GOD RESTORE Broken hurting people? The answer is a resounding YES!

DEBBY: Bob, people might be thinking that you knew all about these years of trauma and rape, but you didn’t. Why don’t you tell them what you knew and how we both discovered the truth of what had happened to me.

BOB: I knew of the 3-year relationship (but not its abusive nature) and of a relationship or two during the time in between that and our meeting, but I did not know anything of the trauma or the rapes.

Over the past couple of years I have received some specific counseling training and also encountered a number of women in counseling in and outside the church, who either had been raped, date or acquaintance raped, child raped, and many more who had been molested in many ways.  I began to see some similarities in what some life histories with your life history.  At the same time you had entered the Genesis Counseling Program simply to learn and grow in your faith.  I did not talk to you about it, but alerted your counselor to the possibility of a date rape in your past…to check it out.  She did and all this began to unfold.

DEBBY:  Until recently, I was unable to speak of this period of my life with the freedom and full understanding that I now have.  But on February 10th I began to learn of the true nature of what had happened to me. As I was working through resentments from the past God showed me that I still had some resentment toward the Christian guy who had hurt me so deeply.  As the story unfolded my counselor began to see the reality of what had happened and how what I had blamed myself for was sexual abuse and rape.

I have since learned and understand that those who have been abused as I was for three years and those who have been date raped as I was come out of those experiences believing they were responsible for what happened either because of bad choices (shouldn’t have been there, didn’t fight back, drinking, and more).  Most date rape victims believe they were not raped and were in fact responsible for the event (and I was no exception); Thus the silence for the past 30 plus years.

This is very important: The result for me (understanding rape and what happened to me for what it is) has been freedom and relief from an awful weight I had borne alone and unjustly for decades. I am doing very well, except for the difficulty in sharing this. I have good days and more difficult days, but God is healing my wounds.

BOB:  Deb, What about the memories?

DEBBY: Memories don’t go away, but the sting and the hurtful part of those memories can go away. The hurt and the pain were in what I believed about myself as the result of those awful events (dirty, worthless, unlovable, damaged, etc.).  When those false beliefs are replaced by God with God’s truth then the sting and the hurt of the memory is erased… and as Jesus said, we are made free.

BOB:  Most, women who have gone through this healing process you just described, choose to then never share this with anyone and try to shut it away.  What would you say to them and why?

DEBBY:  Secrecy breeds shame and shame is Satan’s tool to keep you from real and complete freedom.  Real healing is helped along by helping others with what has happened to you.  You have encouraged me all along not to waste the suffering I have gone through. Someone asked me “What is the difference between being able to function really well even as a Christian as I have for the last 30 years and real healing as I am now experiencing?”  If I had not taken the risk of seeking to grow and change… and had not chosen to share this with others, I would never have been able to reach the potential God has for me. Satan was perfectly content for me to stay as I was and function well, but never find full healing and reach the potential God has for me.  If are content with the way we are, Satan wins.  If I were to keep silent about my suffering and abuse all that suffering and pain would be wasted. The goal of my heart and the purpose of my scars that do remain are to help bring healing to others; and that can only happen by sharing my experience and talking about it.

“The hurt and the pain were in what I believed about myself as the result of those awful events…”

Do Debby’s words resonate with you? Do you find yourself caught in a web of lies about who you are because of something that has been done to you? Tune in next week to read more of how God used Debby’s experience for good, in her life and those of others. 

Recently we shared Debby’s heartbreaking story of sexual abuse. It may have struck a chord with you. This week we will reveal the first of a 3-part interview in which her rescue and redemption to healing and wholeness is revealed. Our prayer is that wherever you find yourself on the continuum of abuse and recovery, you will know that God is there waiting, just for you.

BOB: Deb, we have been married for 31+ years; have 4 grown sons with wonderful families of their own, 13 Grandkids with one on the way…and by any standard of measurement we have a great marriage physically, emotionally and spiritually. Would you have thought this possible at any time between your 15th and 19th birthday? What future did you foresee?

DEBBY: On my 19th birthday, just two months before I met you, all I could see in my future was extreme loneliness . . .  Why? Because I believed I was only good for one thing, being used.

BOB: Where was God during all of this?

DEBBY: God was there all the time protecting me from worse harm; from being physically hurt or beaten. I was aware He was there, but I pushed Him away because of how I felt and came to believe about myself (dirty, worthless, unlovable, and damaged forever). I couldn’t believe that God could love me like that. But instead of condemning me God treated me with compassion, reached down and arranged the circumstances in my life that got me out of all this.

BOB: How did all this abuse, this path to destruction come to and end? What was the turn around point or events that allowed you to step out of that and recover?

DEB: The short answer is that it ended when I met you, fell in love and we got married. But there is more to it than that. People have heard our romantic story of you not being able to leave me, turning your car around and asking me to marry you…and us marrying after only 3 weeks of dating. Truth: He brought you into my life at critical points in both our lives and used each of us to bring about a change in the others lives. You were very reckless with your life, thrill seeking, not caring if you lived or died and told me that your life started the day you met me. After we married I recovered my faith and you then came to Christ. I was living without hope headed for ruin, but you pulled me out of that and loved me.

BOB: Deb, at age 19 God reached into your life and gave you a future and real hope. What occurred that enabled you to function so well as a wife and mother in all areas of your life after all that happened to you?

DEBBY: God began to touch my heart as a result of you challenging my Christianity even though it was not evident in my life. I realized how far away I had pushed God and I began to realize that God wanted to forgive me and for me to forgive myself, which I did. Then I chose to live a forgiven life. That enabled me to function well, yet God had more to come: complete restoration and healing from the past.


How We Met

Posted: September 11, 2012 in Testimonies
Tags: , ,

Not long ago I taught a series entitled, “Love That Lasts” about how to find and sustain a love that lasts a lifetime.  Though Debby and I knew each other only three weeks when we got married and our story sounds romantic it’s only by God’s intervention and grace that we’ve been able to overcome a poor foundation to flourish in our marriage.

We met in the fall of 1974. I was finishing up flight school in Pensacola, Florida and had gone to a mixer type of dance at the officer’s club on base.  It was a typical activity to fill my time as I waited for graduation. Going to the dance was something to do.

I can still picture Debby as she and her girl friend stood in the entrance.  She was really looking good and I wasted no time. We met, danced and continued to see each other over the next week or so. Then I said goodbye. I had received my Wings of Gold and had orders to report to MCAS at Cherry Point, North Carolina for duty. I told Debby good bye and left.  Then something strange happened to me.

The further out of town I drove the more I realized I did not want to leave.  I turned my around, and drove back to Debby’s apartment with the intention of asking her to come with me.

When I got there I was greeted by Debby’s mother and told that her father was giving her a ‘talking to’ and my presence was not welcome. Discouraged, but not defeated, I went to a nearby apartment where another Marine and his wife lived. They got a good chuckle at my predicament but supported my decision not to give up; despite the fact that Debby’s phone had been left off the hook to keep me from reaching her. Around midnight I tried calling again. This time Debby answered and was surprised to learn I was still around. We met outside where we kissed and I asked her to be my wife. A week later we were married at the chapel on base with a Navy chaplain presiding.

Though the fairy tale had begun, Debby’s secrets and shame carried within them the potential to destroy even this romantic beginning…

by Bob Barnett