I don’t know how many of you saw the airing of 700 Club’s feature “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” which came out Wednesday night on GMA News TV. But if you did see the segment, it might seem strange if I make no reference to it here. After all, this site has been so personal to me.
So, let me write this entry as someone considering two different readers. Some of your may know that I was a rape victim when I was 15, or you may be finding out for the first time. If you did not know this, here is the link to the feature that was done about me. Joy Tan-Chi: When Bad Things Happen to Good People
Some months ago, 700 Club Asia asked if they could interview me because they had heard about this story. After getting Edric’s go signal, I agreed to meet with them. This was the first time, in many years, that I had talked about what happened in such detail. I had done counseling for other women, my dad had shared about it from the pulpit, and I had given my testimony to church groups. However, the interview was quite emotional for me because I had to narrate and recall what happened chronologically, and I had the added challenge of expressing myself in Filipino. (I think I did a pretty good job with the Filipino, by God’s grace!)
I said yes to 700 Club Asia because I wanted everyone to know who Jesus is. He is real. He heals the wounded, the broken-hearted, the devastated. I came to him in my darkest hour — unable to understand what I had lost, but Jesus gave me his beautiful grace. (He did the same for my family and my two dear friends who were also a part of that frightening night). He gives that same grace to anyone who chooses to believe in him and follow him…grace to live again with joy, purpose, faith and hope.
In John 16:33 Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Somehow, I feel that this is a story that belongs to every person. We all understand human tragedy. We all know what it is like to feel sorrow, loss, disappointment, and pain. And while bad things may happen to good people, bad things don’t have to define who we become or who we choose to be. We can still choose to believe that God has a divine plan. We can still choose to love and forgive.
People said that I was courageous for sharing this story, but I must confess that I am NOT so brave. I haven’t felt this vulnerable and “exposed” in a long time. In fact, I couldn’t watch the 700 Club feature! (Edric and I will do so at some point, maybe next week…) A part of me did not feel like I needed to because I had seen the final script and I knew which parts of the interview they were going to include. I prayed instead that God’s name would be lifted high above the tragedy itself, that many would come to Jesus, that hurting people would be encouraged to trust in God’s goodness and forgive. My desire was that people would realize, “God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28) So when a good friend passed on to me the statistics after the show aired and my Facebook account was flooded with responses, I was rejoicing in the Lord. Thank you for using this story, Lord. It is not about me. It is about you.
Immediately following the night of February 7, 1995, my two friends and I didn’t know how God would redeem this tragedy. We made a decision, along with our families, to believe that God had a purpose and a reason for allowing something so horrifying. But we couldn’t see it then. So we clung to the truth about who God is — his sovereignty, goodness, love, and faithfulness.
Many years later, Ginny Owens wrote a song that captured how I felt during the aftermath, as I processed and came to terms with the reality of rape. The song is called, IF YOU WANT ME TO…
The pathway is broken
And the signs are unclear
And I don’t know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I’m gonna walk through the valley
If You want me to
Cause I’m not who I was
When I took my first step
And I’m clinging to the promise You’re not through with me yet
so if all of these trials bring me closer to you
Then I will walk through the fire
If You want me to
It may not be the way I would have chosen
When you lead me through a world that’s not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I’d never go alone
So when the whole world turns against me
And I’m all by myself
And I can’t hear You answer my cries for help
I’ll remember the suffering Your love put You through
And I will go through the valley if You want me to.
Sometimes, we can’t always understand the why, but if we understand the WHO, the why can wait. I didn’t know how God would use what happened. It seemed like a black hole in the timeline of my life when I was fifteen. But I remembered that God has an everlasting love for me — a love that was demonstrated at the cross through his son, Jesus, when he died for my sins and suffered for my sake. So I walked through that valley, a valley that felt exactly like Psalm 23 describes as “the valley of the shadow of death.” I thought I was going to die that night. But God let me live to proclaim victory in Him. The WHY came later for me.
I want to borrow the words of Joseph in Genesis 50:20, where he said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good…”
When I look back on my life, I have been the recipient of much good. How good the Lord has been! As for my two friends, who were also victimized, I remain in touch with them. They too would say the same thing. God has been good to all of us. We are happily married to wonderful, godly men. We are enjoying our children and the joys of parenting. We are serving God alongside our spouses.
God purposes to write each person’s life story. The question is, will we let him hold the pen? I am convinced that it is his authorship that makes a life beautiful. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, “the author and perfector of our faith,” we let him be the writer and the editor. (Hebrews 12:2) No matter how crooked or bent our way, no matter how ladden with hardship the journey is, if it begins and ends with God, we all have a story worth sharing.