This open letter was written to the victims of spiritual abuser and promiscuous evangelist, Clayton Jennings, by a sexual abuse and domestic assault victim advocate who actually knows Jennings and is from his own home church.
I know you are terrified, probably filled with guilt and shame. Every second of every day since it happened you’ve asked yourself what you could’ve done differently, what you did wrong. You’ve likely questioned God over and over again as to why this happened to you. You thought he was “the one”, you felt so clearly that God brought this man into your life to be your partner, and you thought He was going to be a spiritual leader in the relationship. You trusted him. He talked so smoothly… Every word seemed so perfect. When he pressured you into things you didn’t want to do, you trusted him. When he’d quote scriptures, or justify his behavior with promises of a lifelong commitment you couldn’t help but submit to his requests because he constantly made you feel like he was more spiritual and knowledgable than you. You started to doubt everything you knew about God, and the Bible, and started to trust man instead. That’s when it happened. That moment or moments you regret. Filled with guilt, shame, and regret. In a moment you went from his future wife, to a disposable piece of garbage. Instantly wishing you could take that moment back, wondering why you hadn’t been stronger… more firm in your protests. But a piece of you hopes that it meant something. That maybe he’d wake up and want you by his side. Instead he’d wake up and escort you out as quickly and discreetly as possible. Doing anything possible to not have any remnant of you left in his life. And in an instant you realize that your entire life has changed.
Then you see pictures of them together, pretending to have the perfect life. Everything he promised you just months before is being played out before your eyes, but it’s with someone else. Your heart breaks into even more pieces than you ever thought imaginable. He took your body and broke it, he took your heart and shattered it, and he took your dreams and disposed of them. And while you’re left to pick up the pieces, he walks away seemingly unscathed. His threats haunt your dreams, and you’ve forgot what its like to sleep through the night. You are constantly afraid of what could happen, what he might do, all while trying to heal from the trauma. You’re living this nightmare that you can’t seem to wake up from.
But beautiful girl, let me tell you something. In the depths of this pain, and in the depths of this struggle… God is doing mighty things. The courage and bravery you’ve shown by coming forward is something to be praised. For the girls that almost fell into his trap of empty promises and endless lies, you prevented them from experiencing the heartbreak you did. For the girls who have been hurt by him, you’ve given them hope that they aren’t alone. And maybe, just maybe, you’re boldness will be enough to encourage other girls to come forward. That you all may stand strongly together, no longer allowing him to silence you… but instead standing bold in Christ to proclaim the truth, ensuring that his control and manipulation no longer have any reach.
And even more importantly, you did nothing wrong. You wanted to be loved, and you wanted to love. It wasn’t what you were wearing, because a man should respect you regardless of how you dress. It wasn’t that you weren’t firm enough in your protests to his requests, because he never should’ve put you in a position to have to fight him off or tell him to stop. He boasts about when he became a man, but in the way he treated you he proves that he’s still just a boy. No man would hurt a woman like he hurt you, and no man of God would cause the trauma that he’s caused you. No matter what he put you through, it doesn’t discredit that you were created in God’s image. You are a beautiful child of God and daughter of the King. Though he tried to strip you of that, nothing can take away the identity that you have in Christ. And no threat he makes can break through the full armor of God.
I’ve walked this path before you, and I know how painful it is. But I’ve also been able to watch how beautiful of a testimony Christ can unveil through even the most unimaginable circumstances. You might feel like its hopeless, and you might feel like you don’t have any fight left… and that’s exactly where you should be. Surrender this to God and watch Him redeem every painful piece of your story to bring more glory to His name. What that man has tarnished with his actions, Christ will redeem for good.
[Editor’s Note: This article was written by abuse victim advocate, Hannah Hendrix, and posted first at her bog, (Re)Faithful, re-published here by permission]