At OC, we focus on developing Kingdom laborers who are healthy and growing in all areas of life – spiritually, of course, but also emotionally, mentally, and relationally. One area that is often neglected is the role of healthy sexuality in developing whole and holy people. Sexuality, and especially sexual sin, is frequently considered a taboo subject, and entire ministries have foundered because of the struggles that go unaddressed, uncovered, and unspoken. This is especially relevant to those whose work takes them overseas.
A quote from Marriage and Family Therapist Tony Bordenkircher sums it up well: “Separated from important community and relationship resources, plunged night and day into a new and taxing world, and working for the good news against seen and unseen forces bring up all sorts of stressors and fears.” People in ministry struggle with sexual brokenness like anyone else. Fear and shame often keep them silent and walking alone. Most organizations wonder how to break the silence and start the conversation.
OC’s Sexual Wholeness Initiative (SWI), spearheaded by Dennis Martin, seeks to change the culture of silence and shame and, by bringing these secret struggles to light, offer freedom and restoration to those whose lives have been shackled by sin. By equipping our staff to create a climate of openness, safety, and redemption and integrating sexual wholeness into our ministry efforts, OC envisions a future in which generations of laborers live and minister out of sexual wholeness and relational health in Christ.
Dennis became interested in the work of the Sexual Wholeness Initiative (originally an initiative created by The Navigators) several years ago. “As a mission worker overseas myself for 18 years, I had experienced the challenges of sexual brokenness and for even longer have been blessed to walk with others in ministry and offer hope to those who struggled. I deeply believe that Jesus’ Church is meant to walk well with one another in all areas of life, including and perhaps especially in the area of sexuality.
We, the people of Jesus’ Church, are to bear one another’s burdens, and to confess our sin one to another and pray for one another’s healing. Shame makes this counter-intuitive for us. But doing so is the only way to combat shame and bring lasting and complete freedom and wholeness. It is possible, and it is the path of righteousness that Jesus desires to lead us into.”
The Mission of SWI
The mission is twofold: to combat a culture of shame so that no member walks alone, and to establish a common language of grace that is restorative, not punitive. For OC, this means that every member participates in a healthy relationship of accountability, referred to as an “ally.”
Also, we have reworked our Standard of Conduct Policy so that it clearly describes what opportunities are available for help, support, and restoration. In this way, we have made hope and help available to everyone who desires it within our organization.
SWI in Action
Since implementing these changes through the SWI, several people at OC report feeling strengthened and encouraged, not only in their sexual journeys but also in their overall walk with the Lord.
One colleague says,
“The Sexual Wholeness Initiative program has really opened my eyes to the benefits and need for an Ally, not just for sexual issues. Like most of us, I struggle in other areas that bring guilt and shame. In discussing the Allies concept with an SWI team member, I mentioned that I could not think of anyone with whom I would feel comfortable sharing my struggles. Later that week, as a colleague and I were talking, the need to confide in someone came up, and they ended up asking me if we could journey together as Allies. This relationship has been a gift from God! My colleague (friend) and I have found a safe place to share, we have broken our silence and we are no longer walking through our struggles alone.”
Read or download the SWI brochure by clicking on the image here
Pray with One Challenge
- For Dennis as he steps into a full-time role with the Sexual Wholeness Initiative with the purpose of journeying with other mission organizations, non-profits, and churches who would like to pursue similar initiatives.
- For protection for our SWI team at OC and for the Spirit to work in and through us as an organization.
- For SWI to become known among other organizations and churches. We have a full-page ad in the program for Missio Nexus’ annual conference in Orlando mid-September.
- For captives to be set free. Stories are often horrific not only for those who are trapped and struggle alone, but for those who are victims of abuse. There is hope for those who struggle and for those who have suffered abuse.