Healing ministry in ‘battle zone’ of abuse

Ohio congregation opens safe house, hopes to break culture of silence in ‘closed communities’

May 9, 2016 by

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MILLERSBURG, Ohio — Physical and sexual abuse in the Amish-Mennonite community weighs heavily on Larry and Kendra Kaufman, pastoral couple at Grace Mennonite Church.

Just this year in their community, the issue has been thrust into the public eye through the conviction and imprisonment of an Amish preacher who is a sex offender.

Since many of its members come from an Amish background, Grace has launched a safe house known as 58:12 Rescue — “a safe place of healing and restoration for female victims of sexual and physical abuse” in Holmes County.

“My parents left the Amish church years ago,” Larry Kaufman said. “So we feel a very personal connection. We understand and respect the community, but we are also determined to break the silence and secrecy surrounding the issue of abuse that is so prevalent in these closed communities.”

Kendra Kaufman said Grace has helped several women and is trying to educate people about abuse and justice.

“We’re committed to helping people find healing through Jesus, the healer and restorer of our brokenness,” she said. “But it’s sobering to hear how often families want to brush this shame and guilt under the rug and not become a part of the abused person’s healing journey.”

When abused women first began coming to them, Kendra Kaufman said, they would take them to a secular women’s shelter. But they sensed God calling them to open a shelter closer to home.

“We feel like we’re entering a huge battle zone,” Larry Kaufman said. “This problem has existed for a long time. There are fears that keep people quiet. Young people end up in my office, telling me things they’ve never told anyone.

“We want to walk in the light, to educate people and work on prevention. We are passionate about building godly marriages and healthy families.”

The ministry’s name comes from Isaiah 58:12, which describes a “repairer of broken walls, restorer of streets with dwellings.”

A donor gave a fully furnished home that can hold up to 15 residents. In addition to the emergency shelter, 58:12 Rescue provides Bible teaching, mentorship, Christ-centered counseling, life-skills training and medical care. Its phone number is 330-204-5788.

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