Freedom for Prisoners: You Can be Set Free from Abuse

I'd like to start by introducing myself. My name is Sheri, I am currently 42 and have been a Christian since the age of 13. I am a survivor of more than 20 years of sexual abuse and rape. I have been abused by both men and women, but the one woman scarred me more than all the men together. However, I am NOT a victim, but a survivor. I am not being abused anymore. I may have the occasional flashback or other issue that arises when you have been abused, but it is just the memory of the abuse, not the actual abuse itself. I am a SURVIVOR, not a victim. I am not fully healed, but am steadily working on my recovery and healing with the help of Jesus Christ and good counselors. I know what it is to be in bondage and I know what it is to be free. It is my prayer that you learn the way to freedom through this message.

I have had this message rolling around in my head and my heart for quite some time now. Just down the road about 30 minutes, maybe less, is a Federal Maximum Security Prison that holds only 3 types of offenders: rapists, murderers and armed robbers. For the longest time now, every time I go past that prison, I have a longing and a desire to go in and tell the prisoners that are there that there is hope for them and forgiveness of their sins. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. That though they may never receive the forgiveness of those they hurt, they CAN receive God's forgiveness. There is another way to live that holds hope, peace, joy and truth. But after speaking to my pastor, who is very wise, he suggested something I have never thought of. Perhaps I am being called to minister to those in prison, but not necessarily those in a prison building. Perhaps I am to write this message so that those who are imprisoned in their past, pain, misery, sorrow or other such prisons and chains. This message is for you.

I don't know what road you have been down. I don't know what steps you have taken. I don't know what kind of a life you have had, whether safe and loving or tough and abusive. But if you are reading this message, you have been blessed enough by God to remain alive, which in turn means He has a purpose for your being here.

God cares deeply about all humanity equally - There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all Christians--you are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

He longs that all would come to know Him and enter His Kingdom
Luke 24:47 With my authority, take this message of repentance to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: Matthew 24:14 - And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then, finally, the end will come. But God also knows that not everyone will accept His offer of love and acceptance. Matthew 7:13-14 - You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way (which is to not follow Jesus Christ.) But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it. Not all will find or accept God's will and way, but for those that do, there is hope beyond all hopes when you turn to Him for guidance, love, peace and forgiveness. Having said that, God especially cares for those who are hurting or in a captivity of their own.

Psalm 146:8 - The LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts the burdens
of those bent beneath their loads.
The LORD loves the righteous.


Matthew 11:28 - Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."

If you are among those who are hurting or in a form of captivity, then I have some more good news for you today. There is freedom for all who are looking for it and for all who want it. But in order to obtain this freedom, you must do some things that may not be easy. We are to forgive and love those who hurt us - not an easy thing to even comprehend if you have survived a crime. But it is in black and white right in the Bible.

John 20:23 - If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven. If you refuse to forgive them, they are unforgiven.

2 Corinthians 2:10-11 - When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive him (for whatever is to be forgiven), I do so with Christ's authority for your benefit, 11so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are very familiar with his evil schemes.

Colossians 3:12-14 - Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.

Mark 11:25 - But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.

Matthew 6:15 - But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

These verses will be repeated later in this message to emphasize their importance.

If you have been the victim of any crime, you are held prisoner by that person. Either through memories, flashbacks, hatred, depression, anxiety, sorrow, etc. The flashbacks, we often cannot control, but the memories we can. We can ground ourselves, reminding ourselves that I am here in the present with my house and belongings surrounding me; I am not being abused right now at this very moment. Still, you are in prison because of those memories and flashbacks, and especially because of the hatred you feel toward the person(s) who hurt you. I know; I've been there.

If you are a Christian, you know that God offers hope, joy, peace, love, healing and forgiveness:

1 Corinthians 4-8 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.

If you are not a Christian, that should hold some sort of good news for you. Freedom from the bondage of your past:

Psalm 103: 11-13
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our rebellious acts
as far away from us as the east is from the west.
The LORD is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

If you are not yet a Christian, all you have to do is confess your sins to Him and He will save you. 1 John 1: 8-10 - If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. Romans 10:9-10 says - For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

First of all, let me tell you that you are loved, regardless of whether or not you are a Christian. So much so that you have a place waiting in Heaven for you if only you will reach out for the hand of Jesus. If you are loved by nobody on this planet, you ARE loved by God. God created you in His image and He was pleased with what He made - just read Genesis chapter 1. In fact, God loved you so much that He made a sacrifice that nobody else on the Earth since its formation by God has ever done or ever will do. God loved you enough that He sent His only Son to die for you in your place so that you could have communion with God, John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

See, when Adam and Eve fell, we lost our free and open communication with God. We learned what was right and what was wrong, and suddenly had a conscience - in effect, we found our free-will, and because of that, sometimes people make wrong choices. God does not demand that we go His way. He has given us the option go choose our way: Exodus 19:5 - Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the nations of the earth; for all the earth belongs to me. Exodus 20:6 -But I lavish my love on those who love me and obey my commands, even for a thousand generations. Sometimes those choices hurt them or others. By God sending Jesus to the Earth to die in our place, God created a bridge between sinful man and sinless God. He closed the gap between sin and holy. John 3:16 says For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life. This verse tells us that God KNEW we were going to be a sinful people so He made preparations in advance so that we would not go to a lost eternity. His Son, Jesus, was the preparation.

A lot of the messages that Jesus spoke, were of loving God, your neighbour, your enemy and yourself. He spoke of love and forgiveness, more than any other topic. If you are a Christian, it is fairly easy to love God. How could you not when He provides everything we need, and sometimes more than we need. To love your neighbour, may be a bit harder, depending on how you relate to each other. But most often, we like the people we live next to and enjoy getting together with them. That makes it easy to love them. Jesus also spoke of loving your enemy. That's where it gets a little bit harder. How are we supposed to love somebody who hurts us, wants to maim us or control us in some painful fashion? More than that, WHY should we? The why starts because God forgave us of our sins. If He is loving enough to forgive us of our sins, why would He expect any less of us who are born into a sinful world as sinful people?

Now, you may be saying, “but I was a good person. I didn't assault anybody. I didn't kill or rape or torture anybody." Maybe not, but have you ever lied? If your answer is yes, then that makes you a liar. Have you ever stolen something, regardless of how small it is - like a pack of gum or a chocolate bar or change from your parents' wallets? If so, that makes you a thief. Have you ever lusted after somebody you don't know and in your mind imagined having sexual relations with them? If so, that makes you an adulterer. Have you ever had hateful thoughts about somebody? If so, that makes you a murderer. The list goes on. We are ALL sinners. I myself have lied, stolen, lusted and hated people.

Therefore, despite the fact that I was raped, I am still a sinner. Just because somebody hurts us, doesn't mean we are sinless ourselves. So, if God can forgive a thief, murder, liar and adulterer all in one person, then how would it be right that we not forgive the person who abuses us? You say that the abuse went on for years. So did our own sinning. How many times did you sneak out of the house to go out with friends when your parents thought you were sleeping in bed? If you got away with it, you felt a high, but always there was a fear that you would get caught. That's called a conscience. And do you know what your conscience is? It is the Holy Spirit who warns you to stay out of trouble. It's that gut instinct that says to leave this place. You don't know why, but if you don't, it later becomes apparent why He wanted you to leave. If you do leave and later find out what happened, you are glad you obeyed the Spirit's leading.

So God forgave us and we are to forgive all others.

John 20:23 - If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven. If you refuse to forgive them, they are unforgiven. 2

2 Corinthians 2:10-11 - When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive him (for whatever is to be forgiven), I do so with Christ's authority for your benefit, so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are very familiar with his evil schemes.

Colossians 3:12-14 - Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.

Mark 11:25 - But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.

Matthew 6:15 - But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. And do you know why we are to forgive others? It is not for the other person that we are to forgive, but for ourselves and for God. When we forgive somebody who wronged us, we are obeying God, which in turn brings blessing upon us who forgive. We also find a freedom when we choose to forgive others.

Everybody has a best friend somewhere in life. You enjoy spending time with them, you smile when you think about them, you want to buy them presents at certain times of the year…In essence, you love that person and are therefore bound to them in love.

The same goes when you hate someone. You are so angry at them, planning revenge in your mind, that you spend your time thinking about them, spend energy on how horribly they have hurt you, you get angry, sad or vengeful when you think about them and you look for ways to get back at them. You'd never think of forgiving them. Because you hate this person so much, you are constantly bound to them. You have chosen to hold on to the pain, the sorrow, the anger and so on and by doing so, you have handcuffed yourself to them. That means they are with you wherever you go, whatever you do, etc. Love and hate have the same strength of emotion, just one is positive and one is negative. It is you who chooses which one you live with.

If you hate the person who has imprisoned you in pain, sorrow, bad memories, nightmares, scars either physically or emotionally, you are tied to that person. Everywhere you go, they go with you. You say, “but I don't want to be handcuffed to them. I don't want to be anywhere near them." If that is your true desire, there is only one route to go. That is, you must forgive the person who harmed you and caused you so much pain. “WHAT???? FORGIVE HIM/HER!!! ARE YOU CRAZY!!!! No, it is the truth, and the truth is what sets you free.

Forgiveness is often confused with survivors of a crime. We think if we forgive them, we are saying that what they did was okay, and that we are letting them off the hook. Actually, if we forgive them, it is US we are letting off the hook. Remember what I said about being tied to those we love AND those we hate. Well, we obviously want to keep those we love but we want to get rid of the trash and baggage of those who hurt us. To do that, we must forgive. When we finally decide to forgive those who hurt us, there comes a freedom beyond all words and expressions here on earth. To forgive the perpetrators, means we are letting them go into God's hands. By letting them go into God's hands, God can then work in their life. He may cause them to feel remorse for what they did. If not, God will judge them on judgment day. And God can do far greater damage as punishment than we ourselves could ever do. The worst thing we could do to the perpetrators is kill them. Then what? They don't think about it anymore and we have sinned a great sin in God's eyes, making us no better than the person we killed.

When you release the person(s) who hurt you, and it is a daily process, it frees you up so God can heal your pain, sorrow and wounds. If you hang on to your abuser, there is nothing God can do because you won't let go of the abuse. But when you let go of the abuser and reach out to God, all you need to do is take the one step of forgiving the abuser and He will come the rest of the way. Over time, you will feel joy again. You will want to go out and do the things you used to enjoy doing. You won't walk in fear and trembling. You will have the confidence of knowing that God is with you every step of the way, holding your hand as you go. And when the road gets tough and you don't think you can go any further, God will carry you until you are able to walk on your own again. He is the Shepherd and He cares deeply for His sheep, and knows each one by name.

So, how do you forgive somebody who hurt you? You might say a prayer something like this:

Dear Jesus, I come to you in brokenness and sorrow and pain. My life is in ruins. All I feel is pain, anger, sadness with thoughts of revenge. I don't want to be tied to _______________ anymore. Please take the chains off of my hands. I release ____________________ into your hands. I forgive him/her for the hurt they put me through and for the hurt I still go through. I ask you to forgive me for holding a grudge against him/her. I release them into your hands so that You may work freely in their lives AND my life. Please help me work through my pain and help me to get past it all. I thank you for my salvation and I thank You for giving me all this time to forgive the person(s) who hurt me. I want to walk in Your example, forgiving all those who hurt me in life. I now pray for the salvation of the person who hurt me. If they are already one of Your children, I pray that You would work in their lives according to Your will. Help me daily, Lord to forgive those who hurt me. Cause me to feel joy, peace, love and happiness again. Thank You for the chance to start a new life for myself. I now leave ____________________ in your hands to do as You would have done.
In Your Precious and Holy Name I Pray, AMEN.

Now, after saying this prayer, there may be an instant release. For others, it may take many days of saying this prayer. But in the Bible, God makes it clear that we are not to judge ANYBODY. Anybody includes those who have hurt you in some way. Give yourself time. It's okay to be angry, but when your anger is over, always go back to forgiving the person and praying for their salvation. God will heap coals of condemnation on them that we couldn't even begin to think of. Forgiving is a daily process, sometimes hour by hour or minute by minute. A saying I once heard made things a little clearer: “Mile by mile, life is a trial, yard by yard, life is hard, inch by inch life is a cinch." So, if you have to take it one inch at a time, that doesn't make you a failure. At least you are trying to do God's will and forgive those who are your “enemies." He will bless your efforts and increase your joy and jubilation in life. God blesses those who bless others.

Being a survivor of any kind of crime is not nice, it is a hard life and often a very sad one, but if you follow God's word, let go of the people who hurt you and reach up your hands that were once tied to your abusers to the God of love, suddenly life becomes much brighter, lighter and happier. Maybe not over night, but in GOD's time.

~ * ~

Copyright 2007-2014 by Sheri Liegh Adams.
All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Sheri lives in Canada.

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