On March 10, BJU President Dr. Steve Pettit addressed the chapel audience concerning the University’s response to the recommendations of a nearly two-year-long investigation by Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE).
Pettit’s response was one of humility, courage and hope, as he sincerely admitted and apologized for the problems of the past and promised change for the future.
Beyond its immediate application, Dr. Pettit’s response to the report also sets an example for the proper Christian response when others have been hurt by our actions.
With empathy and sincerity, Dr. Pettit addressed the sexual abuse victims who were not helped by the University. “We do want you to know that we are deeply sorrowed that you were hurt, and that we did not help you by our response,” Pettit said. “This was wrong and unacceptable. We ask you that you would forgive us.”
“Some people want us to put this experience behind us,” Pettit said. His courageous answer to this desire? “I want to keep it before us.”
He went on: “I don’t want us to forget what happened, and I know you don’t want to forget that, because we don’t want it to happen again. This is why we are committed to taking the time to change.”
Forging permanent change takes courage and hard work, but the end result is worth the effort.
“We want to learn from our past,” Pettit said. “Our students deserve this. Our faculty and staff desire this. And our God demands this.”
It’s the same for us as individuals. Facing the fact that we may have hurt others is difficult. It requires us to think beyond ourselves.
We must consider who we have hurt by our actions, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
We must swallow our pride, humbly admit we were wrong and love the other with abandon. Then we must move on, courageously keeping what we’ve learned continually before us.
It is then that we can begin to change and to be forgiven, realizing that God is constantly at work in our lives to make us better instruments for His glory.
“This has not been easy for anyone; it has been particularly hard on a few,” Pettit said of the events surrounding the report’s findings. “But I truly believe that God has meant it for good, and we are going to be a better university because of today.”
Doing the right thing is never easy. But it’s our choice. We can cower in fear of our past actions, or we can choose to trust that God is at work and take every downfall as an opportunity to get back up and stand up even taller than before.
Let’s do the courageous thing and with faith, hope and love press on toward the mark of conforming to the image of Christ.