OUTLOOK editor Brenda Dickerson talks with Samantha Nelson, author of a new book titled Reaching the Hurting—A Biblical Guide for Helping Abuse Victims.
OUTLOOK: Tell us a little about yourself, Samantha.
Samantha: Well, I became introduced to Adventism when I was 18 years old and I started dating Steve, who has now been my husband for 22 years. He was raised Adventist and he led me into a deeper relationship with Christ and, ultimately, into the Adventist Church. I had a tough childhood, with many different types of abuse, and it was refreshing for me to feel loved and accepted.
So did your childhood experiences prompt you to write this book?
Not exactly. You see, I had many unresolved issues due to the past abuse and when I went to our pastor at the time for counseling, he took advantage of my past to abuse me himself. It was a terrible time in our lives!
How did you get through that awful experience?
It wasn’t easy! God alone kept us through that terrible time. Then I started taking counseling courses from the American Association of Christian Counselors. After all, the reason I had gone to the pastor for help was to discover what the Bible had to say about abuse. Since the pastor didn’t help me, I thought these courses would. The more I learned about the Bible’s counsel to victims, the more I became convicted that God wanted me to write a book to help other victims from a biblical perspective. I had read through many psychology and self-help books and, while there was some practical advice in them, they lacked one very important thing—the fact that God is our Great Physician and is there to help us heal emotionally, spiritually and physically. God carved out a two-year period, after the pastor abused me, for me to immerse myself in His Word and to heal from all that had happened. As He healed me, He prompted me to write a book about what I had learned that could be a benefit to others.
How has Reaching the Hurting been helpful to victims of abuse?
Many have written to me to express how the book helped them overcome certain painful issues or habits in their lives, as well as enabled them to rebuild their relationship with Christ. A majority of those who have written have expressed gratitude for the book being Bible-based and Christ-centered. Here are some of the comments I’ve received:
“Last night I skimmed through chapter 5 of the book and you said: We don’t have the power to do something about abuse and to avenge ourselves at all times…But Christ had all the power in heaven and earth, and He did not do anything for the very purpose of fulfilling His part of the great plan of redemption. That spoke to me last night and I thought about that today. Every revengeful thought I had was conjured up by my own power. God can do such a better job than I can. I wanted revenge for my own self and this is not about revenge for me. It is about filling God’s plan. Thank you so much…for the first time I have felt peace. I want to start healing and move on with my life. Thank you for helping me.”—WV
“God bless you, sister. I finished the book you so kindly sent me and am doing better. I really appreciate that your book is based COMPLETELY on the Word of God. The Holy Spirit definitely used you to write that book. I was wondering if I could purchase that for others. Where I can order it and how much?”—NY
What is the structure of the book? And how has the book been used?
Each chapter starts with a short narrative—a snippet of a victim’s story. Then the chapter goes into a discussion about the issue raised in the narrative. At the end of each chapter, there is a Bible study to help readers reflect on their own lives, issues and relationship with God. Individuals seeking healing for themselves, people who want to know how to help those who have been hurt, clergy needing a resource, and small group Bible studies have all used the book. In fact, there has been a small group that has been meeting in Southern California for several years now. Every 13 weeks or so, a new group begins. The lady who leads out in this group, Gail Jenkins, has even created a certificate of completion for the women who go through the study. It’s been a very positive thing in their church.
That sounds like a wonderful idea and I’m happy to hear it’s being used in churches, as well as among individuals. Is the book just for women?
No, although it was written with female pronouns and from a female perspective. I state clearly in the beginning of the book that the same principles apply to men and they can just substitute male pronouns. There have been male victims who have been very blessed by going through the book. In fact, one man who was in a counselor’s office waiting for his appointment picked up a copy of my book lying there and began reading it. He told his counselor how much it helped him and even sent me a video clip to say thank you. I thought that was pretty neat! In fact, she wrote the following to me:
“I just got out of a session and the guy had picked up your book [Reaching the Hurting] from my office and read it. He was really blessed. This guy went through the worst sexual trauma I’ve ever heard, from his dad.”—Jennifer Schwirzer, LPC
It sounds like people are responding well to the book. Where can Reaching the Hurting be purchased?
Right now, it is available on The Hope of Survivors website , on Amazon.com as a Kindle eBook and as a paperback book, and in some Adventist Book Centers throughout the US. For a list of ABCs and other retailers, visit reachingthehurting.com. I’m still working on getting the book into more ABC Stores and other Christian bookstores.
Thank you so much for sharing this valuable new resource with us, Samantha. May God bless your ministry!
Samantha Nelson is a pastor’s wife who loves ministering alongside her husband Steve. They have served in pastoral ministry since 2009, and have been ministering to victims of abuse since 2002 when they started The Hope of Survivors. When not working, Samantha enjoys spending time in the mountains and traveling.