Abuse. The statistics are startling. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated1 billion children, aged 2–17 years, have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence or neglect in the past year. Likewise, a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control showed that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical abuse by an intimate partner throughout the course of their relationship. One cannot turn a blind eye to the abuse so prevalent in society, even in the Church.
In 2009, the Adventist Church launched enditnow, a global initiative to raise awareness and advocate for the end of violence around the world. According to the official website for the initiative, “enditnow is the most important stand the Church has ever taken regarding violence against men, women and children. It is a call to action for all Adventists and supporters to stand up and put into practice those principles we hold true. Domestic violence has been documented as a major issue within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Incidences of abuse follow trends documented in non-Adventist populations. This is why enditnow seeks to increase personal awareness, responsibility, and involvement to effectively help end violence in every family and community.”
One way the Church has created awareness is by designating an annual Sabbath, the fourth Sabbath in August, as enditnow Emphasis Day. The Women’s Ministries Department (GCWM) at the denomination’s headquarters in the U.S. state of Maryland, facilitates the campaign.
Raquel Arrais, associate director for GCWM, explains why an annual Sabbath is necessary. “There are so many people suffering silently thinking the Adventist Church doesn't care. But the Church does care. Observing enditnow Emphasis Day is one tangible way our congregations globally can help to raise awareness in the community, showing that we serve a God of justice and a God of love.”
Arrais continues, “Our purpose also is to create a church environment where all can address this issue in a safe way. The #MeToo movement has become a platform or a forum where many survivors of sexual abuse have the opportunity to bring to the surface the trauma they have experienced. In many ways, this is a venue to break the silence about this very sensitive issue.”
And while there is still much to do, Heather-Dawn Small, GCWM director, says she has seen a change in the attitude of many members who are now willing to talk about abuse and seek solutions.
“GCWM has focused on this since 2002 and there is hardly a church where the topic is not known. The issue of abuse is a social issue we, the Church, cannot ignore. It goes against the essence of who God is – God is love (1 John 4:8),” she says. “To show the world God’s love, we must deal with these social issues of abuse, poverty, illiteracy, etc.”
This year’s theme focuses on Words That Wound: The Trauma of Emotional Abuse. You will find a variety of resources available for planning an enditnow Day by visiting women.adventist.org/enditnow-day or enditnow.org.