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Secret Survivors

by in Culture, Features

Secret SurvivorsBook: Secret Survivors
Author: Jen Howver & Megan Hutchinson
Publisher: Zondervan & Youth Specialties

Veteran youth workers Jen Howver and Megan Hutchinson give us eight real-life stories of people who have been handed with some pretty difficult stuff in their lives – date rape, cutting, physical abuse, porn addiction, incest, abortion, eating disorders and drug and alcohol addiction. They share these stories so that others out there carrying secrets like these will find hope and healing. As secret survivors themselves, Jen and Megan are transparent as they share some of their own journey from pain to healing.

I have lived a wonderful life and I am grateful everyday for my parents and those who have influenced my life. No family is without issues and I have first hand experience with a family member who experienced many years of addiction with drugs and alcohol. When I was 12, my friend and I were at home one night when the police came to the door to do a search for drugs that this family member had hidden in our home. There was jail time as a result of this and times of estrangement from our family. Thankfully, this story has a hopeful ending. For a long time it was a story we never talked about but when the healing started there was lots of talking and as a family we were able to give and accept forgiveness. The stories in Secret Survivors are similar to my story although these stories are written in the first person by young people like you. None of us are immune from the tough issues of life. The real-life stories in this book are proof of that. In fact, chances are that you may be carrying a secret about one of these very issues in your own life.

In the final chapter, the authors asked a couple of questions that are sometimes difficult to ask – Where was God and why did God allow this to happen? I like that they were vulnerable with their own stories and struggles with these questions. They tell us that while there are no easy answers, the truth is He was right there with you. While it’s easy to say, it’s another thing to look into your story and see where God was. While walking through your story may be difficult, it’s good to know that God is able to help us overcome the tough stuff and find the hope and healing we need. Knowing that these questions are difficult, they have included a section of the book that will help you walk through these questions with God.

I really enjoyed reading this book especially because the stories had hopeful endings! These endings came because of the hope they found in knowing and following Jesus Christ. On the other hand, I felt sad because these individuals had to keep the pain they suffered a secret. This makes me aware of how important it is for me to be approachable and available to listen to hurting young people and help to give them hope. This book includes a list of additional resources at the back about where to look for help with particular issues and has a chapter with guidance about how to write your own secret survivor story (Editor – see below to download your own worksheet!). This book is not just for those who have experienced some form of abuse or addiction though. It’s a book that can be passed on to someone who is struggling and if you and I read it, we may be able to help someone else and give them encouragement or direct them to someone who can help.

- Do you know of anyone(or suspect someone) who is a secret survivor?
- How have you been(or can you be) a support to them for healing?
- Am I approachable
- Am I carrying a secret?
- Who can I share it with and when will I do that?
- How does God view my pain? What does he want for my life?

There is hope! All of us have a story and we all need the hope and healing that God wants to give us. Find someone who is willing to listen (parent, counselor, pastor or youth leader), start writing your story or seek out the help you need.

Write Your Own Survivor Story! – download worksheet here and begin the healing process
(to download: right click & select ‘save as’ or ‘save link as’)

:: by Darlene Burt of Edmonton, Alberta
I am an Salvation Army pastor who gives leadership to children and youth work in Alberta & the Northern Territories. I love music, reading and scrapbooking/card making. I read lots of books and am keeping a record on Facebook visual bookshelf. The latest one I read that I enjoyed was “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd

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