We are heartbroken by the number of women and men in our churches who suffer silently. For so many of us, the silence is deafening. Our hearts’ desire is that Treasure in the Ashes will be a voice of hope for those who suffer (whom we call learning friends) and a means of equipping those who want to help (whom we call leading friends). Our workbook is an instrument for local churches and Christian friendships to discover places of refuge and healing as we learn to bear one another’s burdens, not just emotionally, but purposefully.
Treasure in the Ashes was designed with the one another relationships of the Bible in mind, because we believe that lasting hope and healing are ultimately found with God and His people. “Bear one another’s burdens,” reads Galatians 6:2, “and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Ecclesiastes 4:9 tells us that “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up [her] companion. . . . And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
Our vision is for a leading friend and a learning friend to learn to walk together to and with Jesus to examine the experience of sexual abuse, to wrestle through the hard questions and doubts we have about God, ourselves, and the world, and to learn to identify lies, accept and embrace truth, and to find real and powerful hope “…that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous Light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
Our discussion orbits and explores six pivotal questions:
- What’s My Story? Exploring why our story matters
- Who Is God? Pursuing God in the context of sexual abuse
- Who Is Jesus? Discovering how Jesus makes all the difference
- Who Am I? Embracing our identity from God’s perspective
- Who Are You? Building and maintaining healthy relationships
- Now What? Finding meaning and hope in God’s story of Redemption
Working through these questions helps to identify destructive beliefs and lies and replace them with truth, providing a biblical and Christ-centered framework to lean upon as we walk with Jesus through the horrific effects of sexual abuse.
- Intended Use – This study can be used for individual or group* use, but the heart of Treasure in the Ashes is to facilitate one-on-one discipleship relationships.
- Pace – Flexible. Our workbook is designed to allow a healthy pace for each reader. The process should not be rushed.
- Interaction/Discussion – At points throughout this book we have included talking points and a treasure. The talking points are meant to help the reader interact personally with the text. The treasure is a summary of the main idea of the section.
- Voice – We take care to include ourselves (your authors) as part of the vast group of sexual abuse victims/survivors. The word “we” refers to that group more often than it refers to us as your authors.
- Stories – Along the way, we as your authors share from our personal experiences, as well as from the fictional stories of Dylan, Shanae, and Rayna, who represent a broader experience and response to sexual abuse.
We have brought our life stories to light to equip believers to do the Titus 2 ministry of discipleship and to engage the local church (which has stood on the sidelines wringing its hands for far too long). Treasure in the Ashes faces honest and weighty questions that are uncomfortable for the Christian community but drenches those questions in the robust hope of Scripture. We wrote Treasure as a tool for meaningful biblical dialogue that can help to overcome the devastation of sexual abuse by pointing our readers to Jesus Christ as the powerful source of help and healing.
“I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the LORD, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel.” —Isaiah 45:3
About the authors
Sue Nicewander, MABC, ACBC, BCC, has been counseling since 1994. She is founder and training coordinator of Biblical Counseling Ministries in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, and serves on the Council Board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. Sue has her MA in counseling from Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and is author of Building a Church Counseling Ministry Without Killing the Pastor and Help! I Feel Ashamed, and articles in the Journal of Biblical Counseling and Baptist Bulletin. Sue and her late husband Jim were married for 43 years. The Nicewander family includes two beautiful married daughters and six delightful grandchildren.
Maria Brookins has a BS in Biblical Studies/Counseling from Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny, Iowa. She and her husband, Corey, have been serving God together in ministry since 2004. They enjoy God’s gift of a vibrant and full life with four fabulous boys and two crazy dogs.
*The Group Study Appendix contains suggestions for facilitating a group study using this workbook.
This blog post also appears at the Biblical Counseling Coalition.