Dignity training day: disturbing and encouraging
Churches were helped and challenged by a BMS World Mission training day on responding to gender based violence
Does losing your wallet, phone or handbag fill you with worry and dread? Those that attended the Dignity training day last Saturday (5 December) experienced this situation when they were purposely separated from their belongings as part of an exercise on gender based violence (GBV).
What has abandoning your essential possessions got to do with GBV? The idea is to show what it would be like to be a woman having to flee her home in the night to escape a violent attack from a partner, forced to abandon everything for her safety, leaving her exposed and vulnerable.
This was just one illustration at a training day to help churches understand the issue of gender based violence more fully – and how Christians can respond to it in their church setting and local community.
Josephine Wakeling, from We Will Speak Out coalition partner organisation Restored, shared stories and statistics about the extent of GBV in the UK.
Some that attended the day were GBV survivors who found the day a safe space to tell others how they had been personally affected by their experiences.
The group, which included participants from Somerset, Sheffield, Nottingham and London, was especially shocked by the statistic that one in four women in the UK will experience some sort of abuse in their lifetime.
“The statistics in respect of the abuse of women are truly alarming, said the Revd David Bird, minister of Harborne Baptist Church who attended the event at BMS’ International Mission Centre (IMC).
“Christians interested in the pursuit of the cause of justice, which stands at the heart of God’s kingly rule, cannot but take note and take action.”
David felt that more churches should be more informed about the impact of GBV on survivors.
“The day underlined the importance that churches know about this emotive but vital matter; for it touches the lives of so many, so painfully,” he said.
“My wife Marion and I found the occasion both highly informative and deeply challenging. We are grateful to those who organised the day, for helping us begin to think through what this might mean for us personally and for the fellowship of which we are a part.”
Co-director of IMC Claire Ord agreed that the day was helpful and challenging.
“The Dignity day was both disturbing, because the gender based violence we hear about overseas is also present in our own communities and churches; and encouraging, because we were challenged to commit to ‘one thing,’ however small, we could do in response to the day,” Claire said.
The day encapsulated what the Dignity initiative has been all about: making people more aware of the magnitude of gender based violence and encouraging the Church to do something. If every church did at least one thing as a response, what a difference we could make.
Has your church responded to GBV by signing the Dignity Church Charter? Please do more than think about it. Act today.
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission.