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An Open Heart

“I was consumed with shame all my life,” Hannah said of the woundedness of her past. “And I was convinced that it was my fault, that there was something wrong with me.”

The shame was due to abusive incidents in her childhood when older boys had used Hannah for their own amusement. She could never have imagined the long-term repercussions these events would have in her life: a distorted self-image, eating disorder, depression, and an inability to enjoy healthy relationships. 

“I did not know why I always felt anxious, unhappy, and insecure,” she said of her adulthood. “I just knew I needed help.” 

Hannah became friends with Richard and Hazel Funk, long-term workers for Multiply in Austria. With them, Hannah began to process her pain and find wholeness through Christ. In their role as member care facilitators for workers in Europe and Central Asia, the Funks also work closely with churches in Austria. Their heart for the wounded led them to partner with an organization called Open Hearts Ministry, which aims at cultivating communities of care where stories of pain and abuse can be spoken, heard and redeemed. Together with Hannah, they participated in an Open Heart course that changed her life. 

“On the first evening of the course,” Hannah recalled, “I heard a detailed definition and description of sexual abuse. I suddenly recognized for the first time that this is what had happened to me, and I actually became sick to my stomach. I realized that others had stolen something from me that was not theirs to take.” 

God showed Hannah how patterns she had created were destroying her relationships, causing pain to herself and others. She wanted to change. With the support of a loving, supportive community, she began to open her heart to Jesus and experience healing and restoration.  

“I came to realize that the way God created me was actually good,” Hannah said. “The people in my small group confirmed my self-worth and dignity, and also shared my sorrow concerning the abuse.”

When her small group shed tears upon hearing her story, Hannah began to realize that what had happened to her was cruel and wicked. “I had a right to feel angry and sad, but I did not have to stay the way I was. I was able to discard my shame-based identity and see myself as God’s beloved daughter. For that, I will forever be thankful.” 

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