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10th Abuse Prevention Emphasis Sabbath is August 27

10th Abuse Prevention Emphasis Sabbath is August 27

The Adventist Church has promoted anti-abuse campaigns around the world for the last 10 years. Above, Adventist Church members carry an EndItNow banner during the Galway St. Patrick's Day parade in Ireland last year. [Irish Mission file photo]

Decade anniversary can help your church raise awareness of violence against women

By Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, Gilbert Cangy, Allan Handysides, Linda Koh, Elaine & Willie Oliver, Jerry Page and Heather-Dawn Small

As stories of sex trafficking, domestic abuse, sexual assault, honor killings, Female Genital Mutilation and child marriage make headlines, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is committed to raising awareness and educating its members on preventing violence against women.

Observing the world church's Abuse Prevention Emphasis Day is one tangible way you and your congregation can help raise awareness in your community. A presentation during worship service can help create a safe, open church environment that welcomes discussion of tough issues. Find resources here.

While high-profile crimes and injustice seem far away, closer to home many women suffer in silence from either physical or emotional abuse. This issue quite possibly affects someone you know.

The Adventist Church launched its annual Abuse Prevention Emphasis Day 10 years ago, noting that occurrences of domestic violence and sexual abuse unfortunately happen in Christian homes at rates similar to the general population.

This year, Abuse Prevention Emphasis Day falls on Saturday, August 27. In previous years, we've addressed domestic violence, incest, abuse of power and abuse of the elderly. This year, in partnership with enditnow, we are focusing on violence against women.

Human rights organizations estimate that one out of every three women globally will be beaten, raped or otherwise abused during her lifetime. The United Nations Children's Fund estimates that 1 million children, mostly girls, enter the sex trade each year.

We need your help to reverse these unacceptable statistics. As a church, we have committed not to ignore violence against women, knowing that indifference can condone or even perpetuate such behavior.

Two years ago, the world church's Communication department reported the results of Abuse Prevention Emphasis Day and discovered successful campaigns in several parts of the world. Sadly, though, word of this initiative has yet to get out in some regions.

If your church has observed Abuse Prevention Emphasis Day with a Sabbath presentation in previous years, we want to thank you for helping to create a church environment where we can freely address the harsh reality that many women face -- both within the community and the church.

This year, we ask that you go a step beyond talking by directly benefiting women affected by violence in your community. After worship service, find a shelter to visit, and offer the women there your support, a prayer or a hug. As a community of faith, we must not only talk, but act.

We're seeing Adventists impact their communities in places such as the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, where an Adventist church sponsored a one-day spa for abused women. Childcare was provided so women could get their hair done and receive massages. In the North American Division, a church social worker with limited resources recently opened a shelter that now treats dozens of women emerging from substance abuse and domestic violence. Another Adventist church has committed to distributing comfort packages to rape victims in the community. And the South American Division regularly produces a magazine about abuse awareness and education, which is then distributed to communities.

By partnering with enditnow until 2015, Abuse Prevention Emphasis Day harnesses a global awareness and advocacy campaign with an active base. Supporting an end to violence against women is something every church member can rally around, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or education level.

Now more than ever, young people are embracing the cause, believing that they can serve as a bridge for change.

The abuse prevention initiative is sponsored jointly by the denomination's Children's Ministries, Family Ministries, Health Ministries, Women's Ministries, Youth Ministries, Education department and Ministerial Association. Abuse Prevention Emphasis Day is a world church event where all are called to be involved.

While the Seventh-day Adventist Church sponsors this initiative worldwide, we know that local church pastors and members are the catalyst for its success.

Please join your global Adventist family August 27. Tell your pastor about Abuse Prevention Emphasis Day resources, volunteer in your community and show your support for our global sisterhood. We serve a God who says yes to love, and yes to justice. Together, we can help make those promises a reality for every woman.

--Lisa Beardsley-Hardy is director of the Adventist Church's Education department, Gilbert Cangy is director of Youth Ministries, Allan Handysides is director of Health Ministries, Linda Koh is director of Children's Ministries, Elaine and Willie Oliver are directors of Family Ministries, Jerry Page is secretary of the Ministerial Association, and Heather-Dawn Small is director of Women's Ministries.

Resources to encourage, train and equip can be found here.

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