It is Thursday, February 10, 2022. We have a vision day with a group of 9 people who are involved in Royal Mission’s education. The goal is to think about the healthy growth and development of all our schools and courses. Although our time is valuable and everyone should do their best to schedule themselves free, the conversation is about something completely different for the first 40 minutes. The subject that affects us is the news surrounding Marc Overmars and the wave of stories of inappropriate behavior that have recently become public.
A man who seems to have everything in terms of money, fame, status and success appears to have been secretly looking for more attention, respect and influence. What he was willing to do for this is beyond our understanding. It is extremely painful for the women who are dragged into this power game. They have fallen prey to a man for whom boundaries were blurred in his desire for something he missed or desperately wanted. Hopefully they will be well taken care of and the pressure will now be gone, allowing them to tell their stories and heal their wounds.
What also touches us in those first 40 minutes is the impact on Marc’s wife, his children and on himself. They can barely show themselves at the moment and the once important surname Overmars is suddenly a burden to bear. Who will take care of them and give them the chance to recover and get healthy? Maybe it’s strange that we care about the man who literally messed up ( sorry for the word ). But Jesus is concerned about the men and women who know that they have made a mess of things. They almost always sat at the table with Him.
A few weeks ago, a replacement councilor of the Christian Union was suspended because he had agreed to have sex with an 11-year-old girl. He’s been arrested. This man was a leader in youth work 12 years ago, which I led. When I heard this story, I couldn’t even fathom what made such a man tick. Yet the desire immediately arose to visit him in prison. Why? Because people who mess up need grace and an intense encounter with God’s love so they can become whole. They often know better than anyone that they need it.
The world around us hardly solves transgressive behavior. Just look at Bilal Wahib. Almost a year ago, Bilal asked an underage boy to show his genitals in a livestream on Instagram for a fee. The boy did this too. Since then, almost all companies associated with Wahib have severed all connections and radio stations have stopped playing his music. More than six months later, Bilal is back at the top of the charts. Because his music is apparently more important than his behavior. Maybe in a year or two Marc will be back at the helm of a foreign club, because he is such a good director of football affairs.
But where society simply puts people back on a pedestal, Christians often do the opposite. Once in the fog and you can never go back. Who knows what’s going on with Bill Hybels? Who dares to praise the great books this man wrote? How do we deal with a leader who has made a major misstep? I don’t know all the answers, but I do know that Jesus doesn’t throw stones and that people can be renewed when they are overwhelmed by repentance and heavenly love. Then every hole in your soul will be filled and every wound healed.
It is up to directors, leaders and managers to build a culture in which it is safe enough to come forward with your stories. This starts with being vulnerable yourself, so that others can also express their choices that they are ashamed of or in which they feel used.
Recently I confessed something to Karin, my wife. Compared to Marc or Bilal it is nothing. Yet it is important to do because I want to be and stay healthy. And because I want a culture in our marriage, in my environment and within our ministry in which we share about the things in which we struggle or stumble. This way, the sting will be removed, recovery will occur and we will not go off track.
I invite you not to condemn the wave of stories of transgressive behavior from a distance, as if you yourself do not make any mistakes behind closed doors. But clear up your mess by talking about it. Don’t just stand on the side of the victims, who certainly need support and help. But also realize that the perpetrators just as well need a profound experience with God’s love and restoration. And respond immediately if things go wrong in your own life, then we will prevent so much more misery and pain. And God’s goodness is given the space to heal you.
For the King!