Skip to main content

Love and Abuse

Today I received The Banner. It was filled with various articles about abuse, most of which were well done. However, the article “Torn between Love and Abuse” (Dec. 2018) helps perpetuate the problem many face every day. I can only imagine a person in an abusive situation reading this and deciding not to leave but rather to stay and try to salvage a marriage at the cost of her own safety and the well-being of her kids. While there are not a lot of details, the tone was dismissive, suggesting prayer is the answer. And there was no call for anyone in the situation to seek professional help.

It is good to pray for a situation, but according to the article, this is a life-threatening situation and the victim must be encouraged to stay out of the relationship, not only for her safety, but for the lives of her children! A nurse/pastor is not qualified to counsel and give advice in this situation.

Kristin Gootjes // Grand Rapids, Mich.

Response from Back to God Ministries International:
Thank you for your concern for Elizabeth’s well-being. For her privacy, we intentionally left several details of her story out, but we apologize that this caused an unclear picture of the steps we took for her well-being. Elizabeth’s relationship with her husband put her at serious risk. The team at Family Fireacted quickly over a holiday weekend to ensure her safety and connect her to resources such as an abuse prevention hotline, a local counselor, and emergency housing. Like you, we care passionately about protecting people from domestic violence and abuse, and we strive to work to ensure people’s safety.

Why Christianity Still Matters

Kudos to the young people who entered the contest “Why Christianity Still Matters” (Nov. 2018). How beautiful to see that God is raising up brilliant, sensitive new leaders for his kingdom. After reading the first-prize essay, I vowed to stretch my hands as far as possible to do what I can in the kingdom for the sake of the One who died for me.

Nancy Tuit // Grand Rapids, Mich.

"Presenting the winners of our fist-ever essay contest for college students . . . " (“Why Christianity Still Matters"). Really? I get to page 32 (of the November issue) and you printed only two of the three winners! What a disappointment!

Ken Kruisenga // Grand Rapids, Mich.

Editor's note: Due to space constraints, the Banner printed only the first- and second-place winners in the print issue of The Banner. All three winning essays are published on our website:


The Banner Made Me Do It!

Because of two articles in the November Banner (“Generation Spark: Growing Relationships, Finding Solutions” and “Elders Are Called to a Ministry of Presence”), I invited my young elder and his wife to come to my house for a bowl of chili. I couldn’t expect them to invite me—she is recuperating from a bone marrow transplant and chemo treatments. I am 89 and can’t entertain like I used to, but a bowl of chili and a dish of Jell-O, with crackers and French bread, was sufficient. We had Klondike bars for dessert and had a delightful time. This occasion blessed me so much I just wanted to share it.

Thanks, Banner. I’ll keep supporting you as long as I can. Keep up the good work.

Thelma Bergman // Muskegon, Mich.

We Need More Ralph Bakers!

Janet Greidanus’s “In Memoriam” for Rev. Ralph Baker (Oct. 2018) includes a line that begs for amplification: “Baker will be remembered for encouraging the Tiv people in Nigeria to use their native instruments in worship.” Rev. Baker was one of the few missionaries who understood that culture is a gift of God, part of God’s common grace and an element of general revelation. The  impact of Rev. Baker’s efforts in promoting Indigenous musical genres was enormous.

Providentially, the column came out right next to your article on reconciliation in the Canadian churches. One thing we as a denomination need to repent of and ask forgiveness for is failing to see the God-given beauty in Native American culture, especially in music. In societies around the world, Indigenous music has been redirected to the praise of God. We need to see that happen in North America. We need more Ralph Bakers!

Robert Koops // Gallup, N.M.

13 Things about Hell

Why are we trying to explain the many mysteries found in the Bible that can’t be explained? (“13 Things You May Not Know about Hell,” Sept. 2018). “Sheol” or “Hades” leaves us to acknowledge only external depictions of doomsday horrors in art form in Christian eschatology throughout the history of medieval churches. Mysteries are not to be feared but [can inspire] hope for the thing not seen.

George Lieuwen // Langley, B.C.

Where Have All the Sad Songs Gone?
Thank you for this article about the importance of lament in our spiritual lives and growth (As I Was Saying blog post: "Where Have All the Sad Songs Gone?"). It's so very needed! In Safe Church Ministry, we recognize that healing comes only after acknowledging the wrong done, as well as the painful consequences--it requires lament. Only then we can move on to praise as the Lord is with us every step of the way in what is often a long and difficult journey toward healing and wholeness. We're not in heaven yet. Until then, we need lament.

Bonnie Nicholas // online comment

Polyamory Question
Editor’s note: My answer to the question about polyamory (Big Questions, Ethics, Nov. 2018) was confusing for some readers. Research shows that Christian polyamorists do not regard their practice as adultery or infidelity; for that reason, the standard argument that it breaks the seventh commandment fails to persuade them. And the Bible does not directly condemn polyamory either, since Abraham, Jacob, and David had multiple wives. My answer, therefore, in a limited space, attempted to show that lack of biblical condemnation does not equal biblical sanction for such a sinful practice.

We Are Counting on You

The Banner is more than a magazine; it’s a ministry that impacts lives and connects us all. Your gift helps provide this important denominational gathering space for every person and family in the CRC.

Give Now