Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night in October my church hosts a month-long event called the Nightmare, a reality-based haunted house of sorts that seeks to showcase the top killers and issues facing teenagers (drugs, alcohol, suicide, car wreck, and other current issues). Generally, each year a room is dedicated to the issue of rape. I’m often asked why this room is important to the event from those who aren’t involved with it, and for me, the answer is simple: 1 of every 6 women has been a victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime in the United States, and 80% of those victims are under the age of 18 when the rape or attempted rape occurs (source: Rape Crisis Center).
This year is the second year my husband and I have been the rape couple (only married couples are allowed to be in the rape room), and even though many know the alarming statistics in the United States, I still get a lot of questions, comments, and surprised facial expressions from friends, family, and church members related to why we agree to act in the room each Saturday night. For me, personally, the answer lies in the tears. In every group that comes through the Nightmare there is a percentage of girls who, when they enter our room, immediately look upset when they realize the issue that our room deals with. While no physical action is displayed by my husband and myself and only the implication is given through the scene, there are those who turn their heads, those who grab the hand of someone next to them, and those who stare straight into my eyes as tears begin to form in their own; it’s for those girls that I agree to do the room. Many of these girls have never told anyone what has happened to them or to someone they love, and the room acts as an outlet for them to express the hurt and pain they have felt and have never spoken. As the group exits for the next room, I begin to pray under my breath for each girl who has walked through our room, that they would be comforted, that they would experience true peace, and that they come to understand that they are not defined by what has happened in their past but that, through a relationship with God, they are complete, whole, perfect, nothing missing and nothing broken, and that their hearts would be open for prayer in the ministry tent and they would receive help.
During one of our meetings after Nightmare one evening, Pastor Bill talked about how all the effort, time, and energy we put into the Nightmare has to be worth it. It has to be our best every night because real people with real issues are going through and they need help. I think of the girls who go through our room often, and I picture mothers, sisters, friends, grandmothers, all who have prayed tearful prayers specifically for the girls who may happen to come through our room. It’s worth it. It’s all worth it because they are worth it.
"Ministry is never convient or comfortable." - Pastor Bill
"If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you." - Unknown