Ray Rice – Liberty University

Ray Rice – Liberty University


>>DAVID NASSER: Hey, tonight we will have
our final Campus Community for this particular semester. We’re going to have a Christmas Campus Community,
all right? So, it’s going to be a whole lot of fun. Buckle up. It’s going to be a lot of fun-
7:30 in this very room. I’ve been here at Liberty University on staff
now for a little bit over three years, and the very first week that I sat down with the
Convocation staff, we began to dream and talk, and write down not just guests we wanted to
have, but conversations that we knew we wanted to have. I knew right off the bat that I wanted to
have conversations about things like racism, about sex trafficking, about world hunger. I knew that we wanted to have conversations
that many times people just kind of turn up the volume and walk away from. But we wanted to address-and not just be made
aware of-but say, hey, how can we become the solution as the people of God? And one of those topics was domestic violence. There are two topics that I have had a really
tough time, honestly, helping our team wrap an entire Convocation in shedding that kind
of spotlight on. And one of them is mental health issues. The Church doesn’t really know a lot of time,
sadly, what to do with mental health issues. It’s an exhausting topic for the church to
tackle. And the weird thing is, a lot of churches
have a lot of infrastructure to help with all kinds of communities, but they don’t know
how to come along side of a mom and dad who have a child, maybe who has mental health
issues, or they don’t sometimes know not to Jesus juke somebody and say, just get over
it, or fix it, when somebody actually needs help. They need medication. And that’s not a lack of faith if they’re
taking medication for example to help them with mental health issues. So, we need to get better at that, and we
want to be the kind of people who address that. We’re always looking for people who can give
us that kind of platform to talk about that. And another one that’s been very tough has
been the topic of domestic violence. As a pastor, I can tell you the reason it’s
tough is the church, the church isn’t equipped with the counselors it needs. The average church in America spends over
90% of its budget on staffing and facilities. So, by the time you take that other 10% and
you do missions, and you do other things that people think are important-that are important-
a lot of times there’s not a whole lot of resources left to tackle something like domestic
violence. And the Church, honestly, a lot of times again
doesn’t understand how to take someone who is a villain, and to walk them and disciple-make
them to become someone who finds victory. A lot of times the guy that’s, you know, domestically
abusing his family might be a church member and might be confused. And a lot of times, people don’t know how
to deal with a tithing elder at their church who has all the right Bible verses, but yet,
at home turns into a monster. And so, we’ve got to get better as a church
at addressing that. A friend of mine came to me a few months ago
and said, hey, I want to tell you about a young man who has recently in the last three
years, almost four years, taken the hard road of redemption in his life-
a young man by the name of Ray Rice. And when he said that name Ray Rice, instantly
I thought about football, but I thought about what many of you think
about. I thought about that video I saw that TMZ
released and sold about Ray Rice hitting his fiancé at that time, Janay. And it went viral, and all of us were angry
as we saw it. And my friend said here’s a man who made a
horrific mistake, but what people don’t know is post that, it has been a beautiful story
of redemption in the life of this young man. He’s now married to the young lady, and he’s
a great father, and a great coach. And, honestly, their faith has been, their
walk with God has been the platform, has been the foundation by which he’s bene able to
build out so much of his restoration story. And my friend said this to me. He said, I think it’s an important story to
hear, because they need to hear that they’re bigger than their one big mistake. That although they might excuse themselves
or although they might disqualify themselves from a job or certain things, right, because
of a mistake, they never disqualify themselves from the
love of Christ. They never disqualify themselves from the
power of the Gospel. And, honestly, every one of us need to hear
that, because the question isn’t “if” we ever make a mistake. The question is “when”? And I’m talking all of us, right? All of us are consistent in being inconsistent,
and it might not be as drastic as the one that Ray committed. But, certainly, we all need to understand
that God never gives up, never gives up on us. Now, that said, as much as I love that story
and we wanted that, I have been wanting for three years to do something on domestic violence,
you know? And I knew that October was that month, Domestic
Violence Awareness month. So, I asked my friend, could he come in October? I said we could use that platform to talk
beyond Rays story. And he said, no, he actually volunteers and
coaches at a high school and travels and speaks to teams like Notre Dame, and Alabama, and
South Carolina. And he goes with the NFL and talks to freshmen
coming in about choices, and talks against bullying. And so, October is a month where he’s kind
of locked and loaded already for serving in those contexts, but… But, he said, we can maybe get him this semester
still. And that’s why he’s here instead of October. But I want us, today-look at me-
to not just hear his story. I want you to put a mirror in front of yourself
and ask yourself, ask yourself are there things in my life that are setting me up? Are there sins in my life that I’ve underestimated? And I’ve overestimated my own ability to deal
with those sins. Are there things in my life that I am a part
of that are setting me up for that kind of a failure? And I think that past that, there’s also a
lot of handles on today, because we have a panel including several students who are going
to give their stories on the panel anonymously that are going to address this that’s going
to go way beyond Ray’s story of victory. Here’s why that’s important. Let’s me just say this to you before we watch
this intro video. There are people in this room who do not receive
today from a posture of victory. Praise the Lord that God has allowed Ray,
right, to be able to find victory in Christ, to be able to find restoration in his marriage. Praise the Lord that his daughter will watch
a video like today on top of videos like the one where TMZ released in the elevator. But-look at me-there are students here that
are sitting here who are never going to get, “I’m sorry,” who are never going to get restoration,
because the person who harmed them is no longer even in their life and not interested. Or they’re in the middle of that, and they
need to hear this today to be reminded about the power of God. But they also need to hear clearly-look at
me-that the church, the church, does not help someone when they uber spiritualize it and
say, well forgiveness means forgiveness in that there is no repentance or accountability. Some of the godliest things that can happen
out of something like today is for someone to just finally call the police department,
for someone finally have a tougher conversation to say I’m going to honor the person who’s
hurting me by holding them accountable to the action. And so, today has multiple layers in it. And I believe you have the maturity to walk
out of here today and say how can I be a part of the solution, honestly, in the life of
some of the very people that are in the hallways and the dorms of our very university? We are not immune to this. We are not. Many, many cases this semester of domestic
violence and cases of it here on our campus. So, I know you have the maturity to sit through
this and listen to it, but I’m praying that you have the fervency and the heart to say
I want to be a part of the solution, all right? Let’s watch this together.>>VIDEO ANNOUNCER: On the left side Rice
breaks through-touchdown! All the way in the end zone is Ray Rice!>>BRIAN WILLIAMS: Video of a football player
punching a woman and knocking her out cold inside a hotel elevator.>>VIDEO ANNOUNCER: The Baltimore Ravens terminated
Ray Rice’s contract.>>VIDEO- TAMALA EDWARDS: The team moved quickly
to cut the running back as a video of Rice and his then-fiancé, now wife, went viral.>>NASSER: And so obviously, there’s a gravity
when we watch that video. And there is a heaviness, I think, in our
hearts when we see that, because it’s very personal for a lot of us. I was not immune to domestic violence in my
own history, and certainly the Lord has used that tragedy to turn it into testimony. I want you to, right off the bat, Ray, tell
our students why you decided to come here today. This isn’t three weeks after the event. This is three years after. You’ve spoke on much bigger platforms than
this whether you were on television in front of millions of people to tell the story. But a lot of people make a mistake, and then
go into the shadows. They just get bitter and angry that people
are not even willing to hear them out, or give them a chance, or exude grace-sadly,
even the church. And then they just walk away and go into hiding
and anger. And you’ve done the opposite. You’ve taken three years to work on your walk
with the Lord. You and Janay have gotten married. You quit drinking. You’ve gone to counseling. I heard that you were supposed to go to a
certain amount of counseling, and when it was done legally, you continued to go past
that, because you were like, I still need to be broken down and rebuilt back up by God. So, brother, why are you here today? Why are you putting yourself out in front
of us and the football teams you go to speak to? Why have you decided to speak out?>>RAY RICE: Quite frankly, just to save lives. I think that being in my situation, you know,
coming from my background, you put me out there to be a super star. And I think today’s super stars get mistaken
for godly figures. I realize that in my life, everything that
I have been through, that number one: I wasn’t perfect. And my story, I know, just from everything
that I went through as a kid- without making any excuses-
definitely tied in with where I’m at today. Definitely a different place, you know, but
this is truly here to help you guys out, to save lives, to be transparent. First and foremost, everything I will say
today is without making excuses. This is just more of my journey, and my journey
might be different than your journey. But the one thing I do know is I will be real,
and I will be honest with you. And everything I do tell you today, as much
as it’s about domestic violence, I think that in life what I really learned was the decision-making
process that we all go through at certain points of life that you know. I used to preach to kids. I still do. I still do go out and talk to kids. I talk about, you know, one or two bad decisions
in life, you know, your dream. I believe you can live your dream;
I really do. Whatever you set your mind out to be, I do
believe you can do it. But I also say one or two bad decisions in
life, your dream can become a nightmare. Well, here I am today 30-years-old, having
lived the dream of being an NFL superstar. I won a Super Bowl, three Pro Bowls, financially
set, but I also lived a nightmare. That nightmare I talk about, as much as I
can talk about domestic violence, that nightmare is everything in my life that I kind of brushed
up under the rug. And me going through everything I went through
with domestic violence actually uncovered the brutal truth that I was just… I was actually becoming a better football
player, but I was becoming a, you know, a really bad person. And I do believe that God doesn’t make mistakes. And without making any excuses, I definitely
am in a better place today. You know, I have a young daughter who’s five,
and I have a son now that’s one. And I said in my career I did too much trying
to be “the man” instead of trying to be “a man.” You know, you can be the man for a moment. We all know those super stars. They’re only the man for a moment, you know? But you can be a man for a lifetime. And I think now I’m kind of walking a journey
of, you know… I can’t wait to start taking my daughter out
on dates, you know, so I can open the door for her, or pull up a chair for her. You know, just to show her kind of the finer
things in life that, you know how a man is supposed to treat her, you know, treat a woman. And, you know, those are just things that
I kind of, you know, where I had failed miserably beyond domestic violence. I just failed miserably in terms of my career
of putting my career first instead of putting my wife first. And I think that I had it all wrong. I had football, family, then God. You know, reverse that order. Anything in life is supposed to be God, family,
and then whatever else comes next after that. And as simple as that being said, I think,
you know… I know a lot of people who have that order
mixed up. And I had that order mixed up for a very long
time.>>NASSER: Yeah, Ray, wow. That’s raw and honest. Take us back to your childhood. I know that so much of your story of what
happened that night, like you just said, was really the fruit of stuff that was rooted
before. I mean, before that night you had never physically
been abusive to Janay, but certainly abusively. And you guys were pretty drunk that night,
and so much of what had happened in your psyche. So much of what had happened in your upbringing. So much of what somebody is signing multi-dollar
deals, and you have an entourage telling you how awesome you are working on… Tell us, take us through your childhood a
little bit. Some of the things, I think our students need
to understand, how those things shape even them in their own life.>>RICE: Well, before I take you back to my
childhood, I just wanted to tell you guys a little bit about certain things I learned
about domestic violence. And I think that, I wouldn’t call myself an
expert, but there are certain things about domestic violence I thank that, you know,
what you see is only the physical side of things. You only hear about someone saying somebody
got hit or this, this, that and the other. Domestic violence is shared in many forms. And it’s all forms of abuse, whether it’s
emotional, verbal, financial, you know? Somebody in the household is making more money
than the other. They kind of use that, you know, as a tool
to be divisive and things like that. So, when you guys understand domestic violence,
just understand that it comes in many forms. It’s not as much, I mean… We all know the physical side of it, but you
know they say “sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you.” Well, that’s not true. You know, if you love someone and you care
about them, you know, watch what you say to them. Because I think that was a big part of what
I experienced growing up in my household, growing up as a kid. I met with a group and they asked me had I
ever, you know, experienced violence before as a kid. Well yeah, I grew up in a bad neighborhood. I seen people fighting. I seen drugs. I’ve seen a lot of things, right? And they said, no, did you see any violence
in the home? So, I said, my mom… My father was killed when I was not even,
not even one. So, I never knew my dad, but my mom went through
a pretty bad marriage. And I remember the verbal abuse during that
time. I remember my mom, you know, basically becoming
something that she wasn’t. And what was my escape through that? And they asked me. They said, what did you do? I said I didn’t do anything. I played football. I went to practice. So, I kind of just played football. My mom could have been going through something
at home, and football was my blanket. Sports was my blanket for everything that
was going on at home. And I’m the oldest of four. I have two younger brothers and a sister. And if I fast-forward that and just get into
high school and college, you know, I blanketed all those problems with football. You know, home was just not, you know… It was the old saying of mom keeping the whole
roof over your head. And I love my mom dearly. She did, she’s my best friend. She does everything for me. Hard conversations I had were her. When I got in college, something was missing. And I played my last college game, and I realized
that, you know, I went home, and… Like I said, I didn’t like to go home much. But the last time I came home from college,
I didn’t have a bed. So, I was like, okay, something’s not right. I’m on scholarship. I’ve got a nice bed at college. I’m going back to school. Well, that’s when I made the decision to leave
college early. So, we go back to decision making, and this
is all without making excuses. This is just what went on in my life. I made a decision to leave college based on
financial reasons. I had negative 600 dollars in my account,
and I had a chance to go play in the NFL. So, when I think about that, that decision,
that decision right there really changed the whole dynamic in life. And this is when my wife comes into the picture. So, my wife I’ve known since high school. We’ve known each other since we were 15, 16-years-old. And she stuck with me throughout college. And she’d known me before everything. So, basically, when I got to the NFL, I left
college with negative 600 dollars in my account. And I got to the NFL, and now I have six figures
with massive problems at home. I’m now covering everything for my mom. Once I realized I was living better than her
in college, I left. The dynamic was that, that my wife, she easily
came on the back burner of things in my life. And I’m just not proud of that, because she’s
the one who stuck with me through thick and thin, when I didn’t have anything, you know,
when I was struggling to even wear a sweater in college. She would be the one to get me clothes and
things like that. So, it just goes back to decision-making. But my childhood definitely played a part,
you know. And the financial needs and all that stuff
played a part in me becoming financially abusive. You know, me, because I was making all the
money in the house saying things I’m not proud of. And that cycle went on for some years-just
not proud moments. And today I learned, you know, with or without
football, family is forever. And I put my faith first, faith first, and
got counseling. And a lot of people say, “What is counseling?” So, when you hear about counseling, they think
it’s just a method to kind of redeem your story. That’s not it. My counselor was the first… I dealt with a guy named Dr. Boil. He was the first guy who basically stripped
me of myself. He said we’ve got to get rid of the old. We’ve got to get rid of Ray Rice. We’ve got to get Raymell Rice. We have to get him back. You know, Ray Rice is the football player,
and that’s who you were. We have to create a new identity for you,
and I think that was the form of counseling that I took. I wanted to get rid of my old self.>>NASSER: Your story is such a reminder that
just money makes you more of who you are. If you’re broken and the dad issues in your
life weren’t solved, and all these things… There’s a lack of discipline. Then, finances come in, it just makes you
more of who you are. If you’re angry, it just allows you to get
more angry. If you’re inconsistent, money just gives you
the opportunity. But if you’re giving, it becomes that. And then this doctor comes in and starts talking
to you. At what point did faith become, your walk
with the Lord, become a big part of your marriage’s redemption? Back then you all weren’t even married and
you know, had a baby already. And then you also, that night you were drunk. And you can clean up the act again. You can stop drinking. You can stop the actions, but at what point
did God go beyond just the behavior and get into your identity? Tell us about your faith in the Lord Jesus.>>RICE: Well, it sounds cliché. I grew up in the church, and I had never really
understood everything that was going on as a young kid. And, you know, my counselor’s actually a pastor. And he’s a faith-based counselor, so everything
that we did in counseling was based on principles of the Bible and understanding everything. And my walk with the Lord became a lot deeper
in counseling. It was the first time I really understood
the Bible. It was the first time I understood, you know,
what sacrifices meant, what forgiveness was- that someone else had suffered for us. That they really endured pain and agony. And it was the first time I really understood
it. Because you can hear about Bible verses. And you hear about different things, but it
was the first time where I actually read it and understood it. And, to be honest with you, my walk with God
and my faith was the first time in my life where I didn’t feel alone. It was the first time in my life where I wasn’t
afraid to ask for help. It was the first time in my life where, you
know, you hear, you know… I didn’t hear the term “man up” and things
like that. You know, “man up” is a very cliché term. How could you be a man and you never knew
what it was to be a boy? Because that’s essentially how I kind of tell
my story where I started paying bills at 11 years old. And I felt like I had lost my childhood, you
know, when I made it to the NFL. So, everything I didn’t do when I was a boy,
I did when I made it to the NFL. But it was the first time I didn’t feel alone. I didn’t feel vulnerable asking for help. It was the first time I actually knew it was
okay to cry. How many times as a man… I’m sure certain men in here, you’re afraid
to let out a good cry, because you feel vulnerable. Well, vulnerability is a good thing. You have to make yourself vulnerable to go
out there and actually understand letting yourself go. And I think that’s part of the message here
today, you know? Anybody that’s out there going through something-it
don’t have to be domestic violence. You’ve got to be courageous enough to ask
for help. I know this topic is not easy, but you have
to ask for help, and you have to know what help looks like. Because I’ll be honest;
I didn’t know what help looked like. I didn’t even know what help felt like, because
the only thing I realized that I thought was help was actually going to buy something. I thought if I bought something when I felt
bad it was going to make me feel better. Today, half of that stuff is at home collecting
dust. I might have to go put it on eBay.>>NASSER: Hey, before we ask a few of our
friends to join us in this discussion, you talk a lot about your daughter, Raven, growing
up. And when this happened almost four years ago,
she was an infant, and now she’s grown. And the other day, I saw a video where you
were saying she now has her own iPad, and you’re always thinking about the day where
she watches that video, that TMZ video that was released of that elevator moment. You talk about how you want to be able to
have that discussion with her. Talk to us about that would you, just as a
father dealing with this?>>RICE: Yeah, as a father, it’s definitely
a hard… It’s definitely going to be a hard conversation. But, you know, being that my situation was
so public, I think me understanding that, you know, today this community, our community,
I believe, we all are living in the scariest times. And it’s the social media era. And the fact that my daughter, now, can grab
an iPad. And she’s very intelligent. She can Google her father, and I think about
that every day. My walk in life now is basically, you know,
re-tracking the steps to be able to have that hard conversation with her, you know? I want to be open and transparent with my
daughter so that… I know she’s going to date. I know she’s going to grow up, and that stuff’s
going to happen, but I want to be able to at least have the “respectful” conversation
so she understands what it’s supposed to look like. And that’s something I think about all the
time. I do think about it all the time. And I also think about, you know, just her
being my daughter and the fact of the eyes- where we live in a society where we have to
understand that public opinion does matter, you know? It can sway that things go left, right. And you don’t want to be in a situation where
something that’s out there of you is not represented properly. But this is a place of forgiveness, and I
just want you guys to be mindful of the era that you’re living in. You are living in the social media era, so
just be careful what you put out there.>>NASSER: Including commentary on someone’s
life as a believer, and the opportunity that we have to speak life into someone who maybe
has made a horrific mistake. I want you to know something. I want you know that when your little girl
Googles her dad’s name, that a lot of football will show up. And yes, a press conference that you’re not
proud of or a moment in that elevator will show up, but I want you to know that this
moment will also show up, and that she’ll see that you’ve come to help us, brother,
understand this, learn from it. I’ve asked a few folks to come and join us
who honestly deal with this from a more clinical, professional level and have walked in this
with us. We also have a video of people who are going
to join us on the panel that don’t want to join us necessarily physically on stage, because
they want to stay somewhat anonymous in telling their stories. But then we have a student who’s been able
to, as a Community Group Leader, help out a student who’s in that video. But I want you to really pay attention to
this video, and then we’re going to walk out of testimonial mode here and really walk into
some practical things that we can do together, all right? Let’s watch this together.>>NASSER: We wanted to take a few minutes
and have a conversation with a few Liberty students. It’s one thing to hear the redemptive story
of the Rice family and to even slow down and talk about the horrific actions of Ray Rice,
and to learn from them. But it’s a whole other thing to have an honest
conversation with four Liberty students who, maybe, at this very moment have yet to even
find the restoration that the Rice family have.>>WES FRANKLIN: As brave as these students
are collectively, we have decided to make them anonymous, because many of them have
yet to see restoration in their situation.>>MELANEY DENNEY: But this isn’t just about
their stories. We believe every person that hears them share
today has a call to action and a responsibility to move forward in light of the things they
share. So, we’d love for you all to share your story.>>MALE STUDENT: I grew up in a home where
I didn’t see my parents argue until middle school. And I thought everything was great, and my
dad was my best friend. My dad was my role model. My dad and my uncle and my grandpa sat me
down and said, hey, your 13th birthday. Today you’re going to be a man. Here’s a shot of whiskey, and here’s a pack
of cigarettes. I can just remember from that point on, there
was a shift in the way my dad would interact with me where he would point out someone emotional
or someone crying and say, “That’s a lot of weakness. You’re acting kind of weak right now. You don’t want to be like that.”>>FEMALE STUDENT: The yelling and the terror
of my dad’s going to come storming up the steps, and I have no idea what’s going to
happen next. Not being able to fall asleep at night, and
just crying myself to sleep, because I didn’t know, as a little girl, where I’d gone wrong.>>FEMALE STUDENT: I grew up in a home where
it was normal for rage to be a part of it- screaming fights every single day. I would wake up to my parents screaming at
each other in the mornings. Or I would wake up to doors slamming or loud
footsteps. I remember telling my mom that I would never
grow up and treat my children the way my dad treated me.>>FEMALE STUDENT: So, I guess it started
back in elementary school when I would hear my parents just like yelling all the time. He was very verbally and physically abusive
towards my mom. And he never hit us, but he would put our
lives in danger for sure. I remember one time my sister and I were hiding
in my room listening to the screaming. And my mom came upstairs, bruises, crying. She was like, are you guys okay? We’re like, we’re going to be okay. And my dad comes up raging drunk, and he’s
like, you guys aren’t actually my kids. And then he like disappeared for three days. I haven’t seen him in five years now.>>MALE STUDENT: He just twists the Bible
and says, I’m your father. You don’t get to question me. Aren’t you a good Christian? Don’t you know what the Bible says about honoring
your father? And so, it’s just all this continual twisting
and manipulation. I can remember a specific point where it turned
in my head. Okay, maybe this is like what being a man
is about. Maybe, like, this manipulative way of dealing
with people to get what you want, maybe that’s what being a man is about. I can remember myself slipping into that manipulative
cycle with people that I had relationships with.>>FEMALE STUDENT: My dad got married to my
mom, and they had another daughter. And she’s incredible. It was really hard for me coming to college
and knowing she’s still going to be at home. It’s hard for me, because she’s still there
in the situation, and there’s nothing I can really do about it. And it’s kind of made me feel powerless and
almost like there’s guilt in my life, because I’ve left her behind.>>FEMALE STUDENT: Somebody who was so close
to me that was supposed to protect my heart and love me was, because of his own sin in
his own life, was misusing that. I would just tell my mom, like my dad will
be so lucky when I turn 18 if I ever speak to him again, because I want nothing to do
with him. And I think that’s where the bitterness and
the anger started to start taking root in my heart.>>FEMALE STUDENT: So, fast-forward a few
years later. After getting out of middle school, I met
this guy, and we ended up starting dating. And the first few months were okay, and then
as we got more into the relationship, the more I saw similar patterns from my dad, but
I didn’t want to admit it. There was a lot of just like yelling and just
a lot of verbal abuse. I’d like deny it up until the point we broke
up. I can remember going home and just crying
out to the Lord. And I’d be like, Lord, protect my heart. I don’t know what that looks like, but just
protect it. And then the next day, we broke up. And I just remember sitting in my room. And my mom comes, and she’s like, he was exactly
like your father. And I was like, well why did no one tell me? That would’ve been nice to know. Going forward from that moment, I wanted to
make sure I was not going to be in a relationship like that again.>>FEMALE STUDENT: I have watched in my own
life me become more easily angered when people do little things that just get on my nerves. And when I do become angry, I can tend to
be explosive with my anger, just kind of like I watched my dad over the years be like that. And it’s painful for me to look back and see
that I’m doing the very things that I’ve watched him do my whole life and hate.>>MALE STUDENT: I was so heavily focused
on, I’m not going to be my dad. I’m not going to be my dad. I’m not going to be my dad-
that he consumed my image of everything. And then there was a shift from that to now
my identity is I want to be like Christ. I’ve find my identity in Christ. I want to be an imitator of God.>>FEMALE STUDENT: My mentor was telling me
it’s okay to feel hurt. You have every right in the world to feel
those hurt feelings, to feel that deep longing for a father that loves you, because that’s
God’s design. And the way that this sin is manifesting and
this abuse is not God’s design for you. And it’s not God’s design for a family.>>FEMALE STUDENT: If we want something to
change, we want something to be different and the abuse to stop, I just needed to stop
allowing it. So, by that, I was just like, no. I’m not going to see you. I’m not going to go over there anymore until
this stops. Something has to give, and that just means
like not seeing my father until he can get the help he needs.>>FEMALE STUDENT: I believe that abuse is
abuse, no matter what form it’s taking on. It took me up until this year to really label
it as abuse at all. And it took my CGL to make me realize that. That’s just really the hardest thing, is calling
it what it is; it’s abuse.>>FEMALE STUDENT: So, hearing Ray’s story
gives me hope that I can have restoration with my father.>>FEMALE STUDENT: Hearing Ray’s story, I’ve
realized that shedding light on sin is loving.>>FEMALE STUDENT: So, hearing Ray’s story,
I’m grateful that God’s reminded me that no one’s out of God’s reach, and that everyone
and everything can be redeemed.>>MALE STUDENT: It’s easy to look at Ray’s
story and point a finger at his sins, but for me, in hearing his story, I’m able to
realize the sins in my own life and see the magnitude of them.>>FEMALE STUDENT: Looking back, I wish that
I hadn’t have normalized my situation, that I had someone to reach out to sooner, and
that I hadn’t have beat myself up and made it seem like I didn’t have control over the
situation.>>FEMALE STUDENT: If in hearing my story,
you connect with being abused, get help. Find community. You’re not alone in this, and the first step
of action is finding someone who can help you and reminding you who you are in the king.>>FEMALE STUDENT: If in hearing my story
you connect with the fact that there are things going on that you don’t want to talk about,
I want to ask you to not be afraid, to be bold in saying that something’s going on and
to be courageous in getting help for that.>>FEMALE STUDENT: It doesn’t matter if it’s
a fist, or if it’s words, or messing with emotions. It’s abuse, and it’s not right. That’s the bottom line.>>MALE STUDENT: If in hearing my story you
don’t feel that you connect with being abused or being an abuser, that doesn’t excuse you
or give you the right to be a passive bystander. You still need to be community to people and
be loving towards people who you see as struggling with that, who are going through that.>>NASSER: We asked our panel. We’ve asked our panel to just join us in this
discussion, and I’d love to just start with your Dr. D. This is your life-calling, equipping the saints
to do the work of this kind of ministry. And I would just love for you to just… Could you just slow down for just a second
and just define for us clearly? Because I think the enemy loves to confuse. As much as 1%, some statistics tell us, 1-5%
of those who are being abused even have the courage to speak up like these students and
even talk about it and vocalize it. You’ve got others who maybe sometimes label
abuse when it was just really discipline. And so, I’d love for you to give us a professional
definition of what abuse is for us.>>NICOLE DILELLA: Sure. Well, first I want to say thank you to those
students, because what they have done is one of the hardest things, if not the hardest
thing, is taking that first step and being courageous. And Ray, you alluded to this already, but
domestic violence, intimate partner violence, family violence, it has a lot of different
names, but it takes a lot of different forms. So, it’s not just physical abuse. It can also be emotional abuse. It can be belittling and criticizing. You’re never good enough. You’re never going to amount to anything. You know, taking down someone’s self-worth
and pulling them apart in that way can take other psychological forms. It can be financial like Ray alluded to where
one partner makes maybe more of the money, but then also controls all of the money. And there’s a lot of fear, and there’s a lot
of intimidation that’s used when someone is in a situation with any type of domestic violence. And what I would say to that is as many forms
as domestic violence can take, so can redemption and restoration. So, while we hear Ray’s story, and that may
be something that we hope for and pray for in our own lives, it may not look that way,
and that’s okay. What it may mean is that for you, taking that
step, being courageous, being bold and getting the help that you need-that’s the path to
redemption and restoration in your life. And that’s very, very powerful. It’s part of breaking the cycle.>>NASSER: That’s right. So, doctor, we have the definition that you
gave us for this that you teach, you know, as a professor here. Can you just expound on that? Would you read that for us and then give us
a little more practicality around that?>>DILELLA: Sure, this definition comes from
the US Department of Justice, and their idea here is that abuse, domestic abuse is a pattern
of abusive behavior in any relationship. It’s used by one partner to gain or maintain
power and control. And it can take all these different forms. It may be physical, sexual, emotional, economic,
or psychological actions or threats of actions that someone take in order to influence the
other partner. So, it may be behaviors that intimidate, criticize,
manipulate, humiliate, isolate-and that’s a real big one that we see-
frighten or terrorize someone from getting the help that they need. Or even believing that they’re worth that
help.>>NASSER: And so, the other day we were talking
about this, and you said it’s the perpetual action of that as well. It’s one thing if someone need help because
they just lost their temper or they made a mistake and it wasn’t a recurring thing. It’s another thing when it becomes a pattern,
and the enemy tells the victims it’s normal. Everyone else has this on their own. Everyone else is going through this. And you have to get help so that’s not emotionally
stuck in the cycle can speak into it. And it doesn’t even have to be that the first
step is someone who’s professional at it like the two of you. I just want to stop right here and talk about
that on a very practical sense. Nikki is a Community Group Leader here on
campus. Nikki, tell a little bit… One of the videos we saw, one of the testimonies
we heard is actually your friend. Would you talk to us a little about that? And I know you’re not a professional counselor. You’re just a godly young lady who noticed
something about a friend. Speak into that if you would.>>NIKKI EGGEMAN: Yeah, so I had multiple
conversations with her that led up to having this sit down. And it’s hard, because she wasn’t coming to
me. She wasn’t confiding in me, and I just had
a gut feeling. There’s thoughts that something was kind of
off. So, I called her into my room one day, and
I just straight up asked her how her relationship with this person that was abusing her was
like. And she had never labeled it as abuse in her
life. She, like you said, it was normal for her. And one thing that she said that stuck with
me was just that she said he’ll yell and scream or whatever, and he’ll always apologize afterwards,
so I know that he really loves me. I know that he doesn’t mean it. And I just kind of looked at her, and that’s
when it just clicked that that’s not normal, and that’s not okay, and just for him to say
sorry and then do the same thing over again is like that cycle that we were talking about. And so, it’s hard. It’s a hard conversation to have. It’s not easy. You don’t want to step over the line. You don’t know how they’re going to receive
it, if they will receive it, or if they’re going to shut down. But it’s a conversation that needs to be had,
and it’s very important.>>NASSER: You said two things I want to make
sure our students really grab onto. Number one, you pulled her to the side. You weren’t in a community group with nine
other ladies and asking her, where she would even feel more shame or more afraid to speak
up in a bigger… So, that has to happen more on a one-on-one
in the beginning, at the very least. Later on, then community can come in. And then you also said, again, and the church
gets this so many times wrong where forgiveness isn’t biblical forgiveness. It’s false forgiveness if it’s not rooted
in repentance. And so, the Bible tells us to forgive our
brothers as God has forgiven us. But God forgives us once we come to the end
of ourselves. Like your counselor said, we’ve got to get
rid of all this Ray Rice and make you the Ray Rice God has designed you to be. So, I love that you began that conversation,
but it goes beyond your pay grade, right? Because you’re just a friend, but you need
to then hold that friend’s hand and walk them into bigger conversations?>>EGGEMAN: Yeah, so it’s just cool to see
how the Lord orchestrated it all, because I had that conversation with her for about
an hour. And right after that, I was meeting with Melany
Denney, the LU Shepherd, and I was able to confide in her and just tell her all that
was going on. So, you know, you want to take on that burden
with them, but there’s also other resources that you can bring it up to that can actually
get them help. And one thing I want to say to people who
are being abused- just my friend, when we talked about this,
she said I don’t know how to get him help. I don’t know how to introduce this to him. I don’t know how to bring it up to him. I said the first step is that you need to
get help too. And, you know, you need to be selfish, and
you need to focus on yourself, because it’s not always going to be the way that is picture
perfect. And they’re going to get help, and it’s going
to be, at the snap of your fingers, it’s going to be better. You need to get help, and you need to go through
the healing process just as much as they do.>>NASSER: Nikki, my daughter is going to
be at Liberty in a few years, and I pray that God puts a community with people like you
in her life where she can walk out all the components in her faith, even the hardship
of her life, with another sister in Christ. Speaking of being sensitive, Dr. Hawkins,
we were talking about this, and you were talking about hardware and software. And explaining to me from a professional stance
how that plays out. I’d love for you to teach our students a little
bit of that language so that they can know. One of our students, as a matter of fact,
sir, who was giving his testimony in that said that whenever he smells tobacco, instantly
it triggers him to think about abuse from his father. Because he would see when my dad’s going off
the ledge again, he’s smoking even more. So, when he smells tobacco, there’s a trigger. When he sees violence that someone’s just
watching The Walking Dead, but to him it means more. He’s not on level ground. And he’s not everyone to walk on eggshells,
but yet, at the same time, be aware, you know, like Nikki was. Can you speak a little bit into that so that
we can…>>RON HAWKINS: Yeah, one of the things I
was thinking about sitting here was if you had parents and you grew up in a really safe
home and they did a good job, you need to give them a note today, and give them an “atta-boy.” But some of us who are here in this auditorium
this morning… Yeah, go ahead clap for them if you do. Because some of you were fortunate enough
to experience that, but some of us grew up in some really rough situations. And what I think is difficult, even as I’m
sitting here today and processing some of this, is to communicate the amount of pain
and shame that we experience. I remember, I was the oldest of seven kids,
and my dad was an alcoholic. He came back from World War II, and barely
ever drew a sober breath after that. And I remember at 10-years-old, I was the
oldest, so I felt the responsibility to protect my mother and take care of my brothers and
sisters. And he was drunk, and he was after my mother,
I remember. And I got in-between, and I remember putting
his… He had me down on the floor, and I was literally
blacking out. He was strangling me, and I remember hearing
the sound. Two things I remember from that. One is I remember the sound of a rolling pin
hit him in the head and knocked him out cold. My mother saved my life that day. But I also remember the smell of stale beer
as he was over top of me. And from that day to this, just the smell
of beer, it just kind of triggers that whole thing. So, those kinds of things are part of our
life. And when that’s happening, we either get angry
or we get depressed, depending on the kind of personality we have. And I got very angry, and so at about 17,
my dad started, one day again into punching me and hitting me. And I just kept saying, “Do it again! Does it feel good? Do it again!” And he did, and I turned around, and with
the clothes on my back, I walked out of the house, never looking back, never thinking
about what would my brothers and sisters be thinking the next day? I was into so much pain that all I could think
about was just saving my own soul, finding some kind of safety and deliverance. And I remember walking about 25 miles to a
family that I had met. They took me in. I lived with them my senior year, and what
was interesting was I was okay in the hardware. My brain was working, but swirling around
my brain was the software of anger and resentment. And I remember in school, I would feel victorious
if I could get a teacher mad at me. If I could get a male teacher mad at me and
come after me, I won. They didn’t realize what was going on, but
I was winning, because I mattered, you know? Nothing was worse than just being ignored. But something very redemptive happened. I was going to a little church. I was running track that year and wrestling,
and I was running past this church, and I met a pastor. And the pastor, one night I was there at church,
and I had my hand on the door. We were all by ourselves. I was getting ready to leave, and I remember
saying this to him like it was yesterday. Nobody loves me. And he looked at me, and for the first time
in my life, a man that I had respect for said, “You’re wrong, Ron. I love you.” And something inside of me literally broke. I started sobbing uncontrollably, and I was
so embarrassed, and I just went out into the night. But you know, when we have that kind of pain,
we have to medicate. And that gets us into all kinds of trouble,
because we make bad choices about what the medication’s going to be. Sometimes it can be athletics. Sometimes it can be academics. Sometimes it can be booze. Sometimes it can be sex or pornography. But you can’t be in that much pain without
medicating. And so, across this auditorium today, gosh,
so many of you are medicating. And you’ve made bad choices, okay? And you’ve got to stop. You’ve got to stop. I was reading in the Bible where Jesus was
saying to His disciples, things in life are not going to be the way you want them to be. You’re going to be persecuted. I’m leaving you. You’re going to be persecuted. You’re going to be killed. All kinds of things are going to happen to
you, but by endurance, take possession of your soul. And I want to share with you this morning
how important it is that you take possession of your inner self. There have been some bad decisions, and this
is something we can talk about. You can have conversations with your RAs and
your spiritual directors. You can come out, but until you start to talk
about it, it’s secret. The bad choices, the medications are secretive
and oftentimes not understood by ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with being a professional
football player and being really successful at it. But when it becomes your medication and you
become the man because of this, all of the sudden you realize at a point in life, something’s
not really working. But Jesus said in the Word of God, there are
three tremendous resources. First, the Word of God, the Spirit of God,
second, and working within a community of accountability. We have got to be accountable. Ray talked about a counselor who just was
faith-based and talked about God and responsibility. What Paul envisions is a whole dishabituation,
re-habituation process that results in the creation of a new person. I’m not who I was. There is a redemptive story in my life, and
in your life, and in Rays life, and we celebrate that. But somebody loved us. Somebody told us the truth. We got to a point of brokenness, and we began
to go back and look at the resources that were available. So, talk about it. If you’ve felt that pain, if you’ve felt that,
you know, that comes from abuse, talk about it with people. And you don’t have to be talking to an expert
or a clinician. You can talk to somebody who’s just a buddy
who can say to you “I love you.”>>NASSER: Absolutely, that was really the
biggest take-away from your peers. Your friends in that video, all of them had
one thing as an action point, and it was get out of the shell and have a conversation. Get into community, because that’s what the
work of the enemy always is-is isolation, confusion, division. And the work of the Spirit is always unity
and clarity. And so, that’s why that’s so, so vital. And, again, we have been working together
in preparation for this day-not just to come in and have this conversation with you, but
to say we know that this is going to, then, need attention from a professional level. So, from Pathways, to TRBC who offers professional
counseling for free, to our Title IX office, to our professional counseling office, they’re
all available. And this isn’t one of those moments where
we walk you down to the front to connect with a shepherd, because, again, that doesn’t happen
in a public setting where people can presume or be an inquiring mind that wants to know. In your hallways, there are people that just
want to listen. It might even just be your roommate who then
walks you over to the next step. But listen to me. If you’re off campus, the building 17 is where
the shepherds meet. And they’re… I think the first next step from a professional
sense from us as a staff to be able to listen and then walk with you, all right? And I know some of you are thinking I don’t
want it to be one of these things where somebody calls the authorities or someone calls a prosecutor. And certainly, no, we have the hurter in mind
as well as the hurt. And we believe the Gospel can redeem, because
we see the power in that. but that means sometimes the way we honor
someone is that we have to expose them. He was exposed, and it wasn’t on his own,
but that exposure has made you a better father, has made you a better husband. And today, you’re here to tell that story. And so, I’d much rather you get help than
your sin find you out in another sense. We’re going to close in prayer, and I want
to say that hurt people hurt people. Hurt people, and you hurt people. But hurt people hurt people. But at the same time, healed people, brother,
healed people can have the ability in the grace of God to also help heal people. And I believe that, sir, just as you’ve used
your story, and just as you told your story, that even though you’ve been through a lot
of hurt, and that might have even meant that you were a hurter, that God’s healed you. And God’s using you, even today, to help someone
take a step toward healing. And so, we’re grateful that you would be honest
and vulnerable. Doug, brother, would you come up real quick. Doug, Doug went through a lot of this in his
life, and he has a real redemption story in the end. But I want Doug, one of our shepherds-I know
this is personal for him. Doug, I kept looking over at you, brother,
and I could see that this was very, very personal for you. Would you just close us out in prayer? Let’s all stand together quietly. Don’t say anything. Just stand together. And I want to do something that a lot of us
sometimes think is cheesy a little bit, but I think it’s symbolically important for us
today. I believe it’s symbolically important for
us today to just grab a hand beside us, to grab someone’s hand. Don’t say anything. Just quietly grab the hand beside you. And here’s why I want you to grab somebody’s
hand, because I want you to know that if you’re hearing this today and your heart’s beating
really, really fast, and it’s just drawing up emotions, you’re not alone. First and foremost, you have the Lord. And second, you have the Lord’s people. And there’s an action point here today for
you to just go and grab someone’s hand in a dorm, or grab someone’s hand in dorm 17
and say, I want to talk to somebody about what we talked about at Convo today. Brother, pray us out and dismiss us.>>DOUG DAMON: Let’s pray. Thank You that You are the loving Father. Thank You that You are the healer of the hurt
and the hurter. Thank You, God, that You, that no one is ever
too far gone to receive your restoration. God, I stand here just as Ray, just as Dr.
Hawkins and others, as a trophy of your grace, that no one is too far gone. I thank You for the vulnerability. I thank You for the honesty for this hard
conversation. I thank You for Pastor David and putting it
on his heart to have this conversation. But I pray right now in the name of Jesus
for any individuals in this room-whether they’re the hurter or the hurt-that you would do profound
ministry through the power of your Holy Spirit. And that it would not end in this moment,
but God, if need be, that they would flood our offices as LU Shepherd or these counseling
offices- whatever it takes for them to take the next
step and start the process of healing. Let that be the case today. Let no one walk out of this room unaffected
by this conversation. God, we love You. We praise You, because You are our Savior
who all of us need desperately. May each of us recognize that need today,
celebrate it, and walk victorious in the love that You have given us. We praise You, Lord, for who You are and who
You will continue to be, because You are always faithful, and You are always the same. We pray these things in the strong name of
Jesus. Amen.>>NASSER: Amen. We’ll see you tonight, hopefully, at Campus
Community, all right? Hey, I am so proud of you. Thank You so much. Let’s go serve one another. You’re dismissed.

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