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Members in Action

Dreams Do Come True

Samantha Nelson


In 2002, my husband Steve and I started The Hope of Survivors, a ministry that provides emotional and spiritual support for victims of clergy sexual abuse, and educational seminars and resources for pastors and church administrators. Within a very short time, we realized the needs were far greater than we had imagined.

Over the years, we allowed some victims to stay with us for long weekends and sometimes for much longer time periods. However, we needed a proper facility where victims could stay.

We prayed and fasted, fasted and prayed, but every time we thought something might work out, it fell through. In April 2013, after believing that a place was finally found and funding would be secured, we were disappointed once again when the door was closed. God shut it, clearly, but where was He leading? Was this vision—this dream of being able to provide what victims needed—only a dream?

In that moment of disappointment, I prayed, “God, I can’t take this emotional roller coaster ride anymore. If you want The Hope of Survivors to have a healing center, you’re going to have to drop it in our laps!” I refused to search anymore. I was done with it! In June, the possibility of a place was once more brought to our attention. Would it work out this time?

The potential donors—owners of the Bedford Inn—had questions to resolve. In June, I prayed, “God, if this is your will, please let the answers this couple needs come on July 1st. That way they will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that You want them to donate this place to The Hope of Survivors, and we will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is your will and not our own.”

The donors received the answer to their prayer on July 1, just as I’d prayed. It took a few months for things to be processed, but by the first of October The Hope of Survivors finally had a healing center! It amazes me to think of how God orchestrated it all!

Early on we realized that renovations would be needed. How could we do them? The Hope of Survivors didn’t have funds to have the work done, and we didn’t have time to do it ourselves. In answer to more prayers, God sent Maranatha Volunteers International to help with the construction; and what a blessing those volunteers were! God even provided a grant from ASI Mid-America that will enable us to complete the renovations.

Steve and I were scheduled to be out of the country for various speaking appointments through the end of 2013, so we knew we couldn’t officially open the Renewal Center until January 2014. But we also needed a program director for the facility!

Because of our many other obligations—Steve’s pastoral duties and my administrative work at The Hope of Survivors—we had always known we could not operate the healing center ourselves. We just knew there was a need, and we had a burden to help fill it. So again we went before God and prayed, “Lord, you alone know whom You want for program director. We don’t have time to search for someone, to wade through resumes and references, to risk bringing in the wrong person. Just as you did with the healing center, please drop a program director in our laps.” And God did!

On January 20, 2013, Vivionne Keli and her husband, Sangman Lee, arrived. Viv now serves as program director for the Renewal Center, and already we’ve housed several victims who received renewed hope and healing as they reconnected with Jesus, our Savior and Healer.

One person reported, “The Hope of Survivors did exactly what their name says—they gave hope, light, and encouragement to our daughter and her family as they are dealing with sexual abuse by their pastor. I am a pastor, and this is the most appalling and bitter emotional experience I’ve ever faced. I thank God that our family sensed His Spirit of wisdom, love, acceptance, and comfort through the lives of the staff at The Hope of Survivors— a ‘light shining in a dark place’ (2 Peter 1:19). We were in a very dark place as a family trying to reach out to precious family members who were being abused by the very one we had all trusted. Out of the darkness came this glorious light God gave through The Hope of Survivors. This ministry is true to God’s Word and in tune with the Holy Spirit. It was evident that God rescued our family and used The Hope of Survivors in His healing process.”

Praise God for answered prayers!

So, my friends, if you are ever discouraged, wondering whether God will accomplish what He has placed on your heart to do, please take courage in the promise in Hebrews 6:15: “And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” What God has said He will do—He will do!

We are amazed at what God has done and how He has opened so many doors of opportunity for The Hope of Survivors. But our focus is on the wounded lambs that God wants to heal and restore. By His grace and with your support we will continue to lift Him up for these victims to behold, and The Hope of Survivors will continue to fulfill its God-given mission.