Sanctuary in community : principles for building sanctuary in community for persons affected by gender based violence
MetadataShow full item record
Rural Bangladesh has been my ministry setting for the past twelve years. The culture is rich and colorful, but also often institutionalizes practices of gender based violence. My desire is to establish experiences of sanctuary in community, offering a safe alternative to the violence and a place where people can encounter the glory of God. After exploring the biblical theology of sanctuary, chaplaincy staff at our mission and I designed a visual model to communicate the concepts. Through Bible studies and discussions with chaplains and adolescent girls, we explored the usefulness of the theology of sanctuary in crisis intervention and in prevention of violence. This information helped to inform continued exploration of what it meant to feel "safe" amid experiences of gender based violence. We interviewed the founders of a shelter for women who were experiencing violence, the women in the shelter, and women who had transitioned from the shelter back into community along with their family members. The findings suggest principles for ministry groups who wish to establish experiences of sanctuary in community for those involved in gender based violence. The principles are standards which can be applied in a variety of ministry settings and give direction for effective practice of sanctuary in community.
Narrative inquiry allowed for hearing the stories of the shelter founders, women, and their family members first hand. Open ended questioning and listening allowed their stories to be told/ heard without over imposing specific direction or bias. Valuing their stories is a first step in valuing the abused for the gifted people they are- already offering a contrast to the objectification they have experienced in the past. It is my hope and belief that the principles can be applied and help inform other ministry groups in providing alternatives to the violence.