BY TODD WAGONER, GRACE ATTENDER
My story begins in the spring of 2017 when I reached out to Pastor Dave to learn more about your Six Broken Places. As a social worker, the Six Broken Places speaks a language of injustice, pain, and isolation that was a part of my professional training during my years at Taylor University and current experience as a geriatric social worker through the Community Health Network. In March, I reached out to Pastor Dave to better understand the history and vision of the Six Broken Places and he graciously offered to meet with me for breakfast. After we met, I was further inspired and energized to learn more about our brokenness and the world’s injustices to be a better Christian and social worker.
As I dove deeper into the Six Broken Places something began to happen. I began to see my own brokenness and pain as well as my own alienation and isolation from God. In fact, some of these injustices I had experienced as a child. What happened next was truly an example of God’s redemptive grace extended to me as He helped me to begin facing an ugly wound that festered within much of my life. So, through Grace’s mission and Dave’s willingness to meet with me, I reached out to dear, dear friends of mine, Pastor Scott & Emily Sutherland, to begin a road where I was able to confront and begin healing from child sexual abuse. This took place when I was roughly 7 or 8 years old and I just turned 50 this past December. I’ve never had the courage or the ability to deal with this ugliness in my life but I finally did when Grace was able to give me the refuge and safety I needed to allow myself to be vulnerable.
Now, I am meeting with a psychologist on a regular basis who specializes in child sexual trauma (who also attends Grace 146…and that’s no coincidence!). I got baptized last month with the help of Pastor Scott and my wife, Wendy, of 27 years. There is some irony to this baptism because, you see, I accepted Christ as my Savior when I was a teen while attending a church camp. That experience was wonderful and glorious but the pain was still within me. The other wonderful (and tragic at the same time) part of this story is that I am a pastor’s kid and grew up in a Christian home. These facts along with the sexual abuse I endured left me feeling shamed and having no ability to find my voice. I found that voice when God enabled me to see the depth of my wound and, today, He leads me to pray this prayer daily: “Search my, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious (ways); see if there be any hurtful way in me and lead me in the everlasting path.” – Psalm 139: 23-24 (NLT). Today, I’m learning to walk in the Spirit with a newfound sense of freedom. This recovery and healing is not easy, but I look forward to each weekend at Grace because it’s where I find refuge.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my story.
What About You
If you're moved by my story and have a story of your own to share...the time is now. You NEVER know how you might transform another person through your own testimony.