The White Umbrella was written by one of the founders of Wellspring Living; a fundamentalist christian organization in Peachtree Georgia that is aimed at assisting girls and women who are survivors of childhood sexual assault, and sex trafficking. The book reads like a p.s.a. for their organization, sharing the experiences that some of the women/girls have had there, however I would have liked to have heard the “voices” of the women/girls more. It was very apparent that their testimonials are altered, and it even says in the back of the book in the acknowledgements, “I am also grateful to Jim Lund, who has the phenomenal gift of editing and expanding stories to make them come to life for the reader.” I honestly was hoping to find more perspective of the pervasive problem of sex trafficking in America, from the survivor’s point of view, and what is being done to help. Though it is a part of this book it’s a small percentage that is overshadowed by the sense that I am being sold a membership to a mega church.
I was however inspired by the strength and compassion of the author and the staff and volunteers of Wellspring Living; as well as the young women who are overcoming horrendous adversity and surviving the epidemic that swept them up in its tidal wave, destroying their innocence and tearing apart their beautiful precious hearts.
This is not a journey for the faint of heart. I know that in Muskegon we have a couple of organizations that are aimed at helping women and girls in this type of situation. However, to my knowledge there are not any facilities that follow this model of specializing in the recovery and healing from sexual assault and I would like to see a secular organization that can do that. Though I agree that spirituality is one wonderful avenue towards healing, I also believe that it should not be mandatory that anyone should have to endure religious indoctrination at all, but most especially in order to receive help surviving such horrendous trauma. To me it’s just another form of abuse and it’s unjust. We should all be free to worship or not as we see fit, and the people who are suffering in this world are no exception to that.
In order to find deep healing, that healing must include an unconditional love for oneself. How can that be achieved when you are asked to move away from your personal beliefs, for the beliefs of others, no less the people who are claiming to be there to help you? It makes me wonder how many women have been in abusive situations and chose to stay in the persecution that they are familiar with, rather than choose to enter themselves under the persecution of strangers. It may seem like choosing to deal with the indoctrination would be better than the abuse, but what if your abuser was a member of clergy, or a religious family member?
Overall, the book was not what I expected, but it was a good read. I found myself emotionally involved in the stories of the women who had shared their experiences, as well as frustrated by the religious doctrine that is pervasive in this book. It was very inspirational in such that I was inspired to create a space for women of all faiths to heal. I was made to think, and any good book should do that.
I also want to say that I am not against christianity or any religious belief for that matter. I am saying that having an organization such as this, that is focused so heavily on one perception of faith can sometimes do a lot more harm than good. It inadvertently excludes girls and women who are very much in need and to me that is travesty. Let your faith inspire you to love, to help, to heal. But if your love for your faith moves you to force others to join, then it isn’t love that moves you it’s fear. Love means that you can accept that others can think and be different than you and still be good. It’s fear that makes people think everyone must believe the same.
I am Jessica Necamp, and I dream in red.