THE COLD STUNG my skin, even though I’d rubbed a protective layer of balm on my cheeks. Our breath mingled and condensed in a cloud of vapor. Doug and I grabbed hands and ran across the parking lot. He opened the driver’s door, and I scooted across the bench seat as quickly as I could. My long wool coat did not slide well. Doug climbed in after me and cranked the ignition, which caught immediately. His mustard-colored Volare was dilapidated, but a good starter. Who cared if the passenger door no longer opened? This was January in Minnesota.
Wordlessly, we listened to the engine rumble. Time was running out, and yet another church had failed to meet our hopes. The sermon had been lackluster. There’d been zero women in leadership. Nothing had clicked. We wanted more than a wedding venue; we wanted a church home.
“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” –Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States from 1933-45
“If we just sat with crossed arms, what would happen then?” is the question Denise, a Congolese civil rights attorney, asks us.
She has seen the destruction of her home through natural disaster and the pain of thousands of Congolese women who are raped every year. Still, she is faithful with the calling that she has been given—working to prosecute the cases she can to help rape survivors seek justice and find the hope to continue on.
Denise knows that to make peace, it is necessary to restrain and often punish the evil that humans do to one another.
“The Bible takes evil seriously and clearly says that evildoers should be held accountable for their deeds, and that the state has the legitimate role of bringing to justice those who perpetrate terrible crimes,” writes Jim Wallis in a July 2011 Sojourners’ column, “The Things That Make For Peace.”
But Denise’s work does not focus just on the punishment of those who commit rape but on the restoration of the survivors.
The House of Representatives passed on Wednesday a version of the Violence Against Women Act that would limit protections to immigrant, LGBT and American Indian abuse victims. House Republicans argue that Democrats are politicizing a non-issue, but stating fact is not partisan politics.
The new version of the bill not only deletes new protections that received bipartisan support in the Senate, but also eliminates ones that existed in previous versions of the Act. For instance, the new version could make it more difficult for immigrants married to abusive U.S. citizens come forward for fear of losing their residency.