Restoration Oslochurch introduced from Day 1 on August 15th, 2013 “Zero Tolerance for Sexual Abuse“.
We gave a statement of principle that maintained the following:
«…every sexual approach towards children (children in legal terms) is forbidden and must be handled in the strictest way possible. This includes both our ministry in Norway and in other nations. Every suspicion of such abuses must be reported to the police. We believe that the police and judicial system has the greatest competency in such matters. Jesus established absolute zero tolerance for sexual and other abuses against children (Mark 9:42).»
«…every sexual approach outside the parameters of marriage, committed by trusted representatives, is forbidden and must be handled in the strictest way possible, both in Norway and abroad.»
- My first demanding handling of such matters occurred in Norway in the middle of the 1990´s when a man wanted to get involved in our church. As a nice pastor, I leaned towards letting him full-fledge into the church, but when I learned about his sexual dispositions towards children, I conferred with Ludvig Karlsen (the founder of Norway´s premiere ministry to addicts), who was admirably clear and strong: «Don´t believe in him, Jan-Aage. He just wants to get on the inside so as to continue like before!» I was shocked, but fortunately I was obedient to Ludvig, so that the kids in the church and my own kids would not be hurt.
- The next demanding handling occurred in Thailand in 1998 where a male Thai worker at our orphanage had abused the young girls. The honorable missionary who I had a close relationship with from 1962 until her death in 2014, Anna Kristensen, was the director and «mamma» for the 70 kids, and she was terrified that a man could «trick us like that». When I went to Bangkok in December 1998 to conduct camps with the kids, we immediately dismissed him. Anna would show «no mercy» for such matters.
- The next time occurred in 2001, and this was «worst». Now it was about even more difficult matters that were intertwined with personal relationships. It was about serious sexual abuse that had been going on against many children for at least 15 years in a missionary nation where Seierskirken (=Victory Church which I pastored in Norway) had been «close» to the missionary since the church was established in 1990. I got the abuser to report himself to Norwegian police, and he was properly sentenced to five years in prison and fined, but both Redd Barna (=Save the Children Norway) and Kirkens Nødhjelp (=Norwegian Church Aid) complained that he was given a seeming «penalty-rebate» because the abused children were «poor». I prohibited in our environments that he would be allowed to be alone with the children among us.
- When Healing Center was established in Oslo in September 2007, I had to handle two occurrences of sexual abuse against minors which led to police prosecutions and penalties. Now it was much easier than before because I had learned by tough experiences through several years.
We need to be alert when faced with sexual abusers.
My experience is that the misguided media picture of connections between sexual abuse and «strict, disciplinary fundamentalism» is highly exaggerated. Quite the contrary: It is the charming and seemingly trusting ones that ingratiate themselves into the family, in schools and kindergartens, and in social settings. They are the dangerous ones.
In churches we need to be crystal clear towards sexual abusers. As a pastor I am prepared to help the abuser by having personal conversations, keeping a friendly tone, sharing the Word and the Lord´s Supper etc., but not in a fellowship setting where the abuser is given legitimacy towards children and others that are vulnerable.
Within the family it is even more important to be consistent. Within the family this can be a very un-rewarding task – especially if it is a relative or other kinds of very personal relationships that are involved. In such cases we must not handle this as a surreal, superficial “dream world” family, but we must think longterm.
We have ZERO TOLERANCE FOR SEXUAL ABUSE!