Much of what is written about abuse and the Bible focuses on the ways Scripture is used to hurt rather than heal. This accessibly written book provides a much-needed perspective, illuminating the good news of healing and liberation that the Bible offers survivors of sexual abuse. As a theologian and survivor of abuse herself, Elaine Heath handles this sensitive topic with compassion and grace. She offers a close reading of several biblical passages that have proven to be profoundly healing for her and for other survivors. The book is illustrated with stories and insights from sexual abuse survivors who have experienced healing through the Bible in order to bring hope and encouragement to victims. It will be welcome reading for those who have suffered from abuse as well as for pastors, counselors, therapists, and others who minister to them. Each chapter ends with two sets of reflection questions and recommended activities--one set for survivors and another for those who journey with them.
Elaine A. Heath (PhD, Duquesne University) is the dean of Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina. She previously served as McCreless Associate Professor of Evangelism and director of the Center for Missional Wisdom at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. An ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, she is a frequent retreat speaker and has experience as a pastor and spiritual director. She is also the author of The Mystic Way of Evangelism.
"The journey toward healing can be a lonely one for survivors of sexual abuse who feel--and often are treated--like 'the least of these' children of God. Imagine the surprise ending: Jesus himself was the least of these! For Elaine Heath, this ending is just the beginning. This book fills a gap in the literature and I affirm its value as a professor, pastoral counselor, and minister." --Jeanne Stevenson Moessner, professor of pastoral care, Perkins School of Theology
"Sexual trauma survivors have long felt uncomfortable, out of place, and even ostracized within the church. For many victims, reading the Bible is a painful and even re-victimizing experience. Finally, Elaine Heath has provided a welcome reframing of scripture for survivors of sexual abuse. We Were the Least of These offers a compassionate, theologically sound reading of biblical stories and shares a healing, redemptive perspective. As a survivor of sexual abuse and a counselor who has worked with hundreds of hurting victims, I highly recommend We Were the Least of These and thank the author for her invaluable contribution to our healing." --Marnie C. Ferree, executive director, Bethesda Workshops for Sexual Addiction Recovery; author, No Stones: Women Redeemed from Sexual Addiction