Silent Screams of Divorced Men

Silent Screams of  Divorced Men
Aching loneliness
I lay in bed nights, often crying bitter tears about my wounded, sad children, wondering if they were going to be taken to Johannesburg along with their mother and her (then) skulking, married lover. I was nursing deep anger, which for many long months threatened to spill over into melodramatic and uncivilised acts of retribution against the adulterous pair. To this day, I regret not succumbing to at least one manly, honest impulse of anger. A smashed car windscreen, for example, would’ve made me feel a lot better, and that’s the simple truth of it. I hung on grimly to sanity and purpose. After work, walking home in the rain on a dark winter’s night, back to a large gloomy, empty, childless house was misery itself. Loneliness is like an aching cancer of the soul.
With at least one in three or more marriages in South Africa ending in divorce – most of them involving the wrecked lives of children – men are, as never before, facing the brutal challenge of rebuilding their lives and somehow staying connected to their children. Few get it right.
Ongoing loss
The devastation that a man feels when he loses his wife and children after divorce is convulsed outwards in a silent scream that society seldom seems to notice. Often society doesn’t want to hear it and men themselves are not equipped to articulate their agony and sense of ongoing loss and failure, much less deal with it. Most divorced men feel that everything is against them – their ex-wives, the legal system, society itself. Unfortunately, this perception is often rooted in reality. Even now, in this modern age, men are summarily ordered into the role of an absent guardian parent who is only given permission to see his children every second weekend, while his ex-wife almost routinely gets custody of the children and expects regular payment for the maintenance of his children in someone else’s home. A home that is often led by a rival male.
Minimal support for men
“Frozen anger leads to depression, a sense of worthlessness and hopelessness, leading many men into dysfunctional behaviour patterns, depression and stress-related diseases,” says the Rev Lathicia Klackers of Port Elizabeth, whose Divorce Recovery workshops have helped tens of thousands of men and women across South Africa cope with the hell of divorce. “About one-third of the people I’ve counselled through the workshops have been men – and the proportion of men seeking help is growing steadily, year by year,” she says.
Australian Michael Green’s book, ‘Fathers after divorce: building a new life and becoming a successful separated parent’ is arguably the best book, secular or Christian, on this subject – certainly there is no South African counterpart, an indication of an amazing lack of focus on the problem.  (The book is published by Finch Publishing, Sydney).
In South Africa, as in many other countries, there is still a lack of support services for men. For years, women have been offered a wide range of services via an assortment of welfare agencies and a range of NGOs.  A lot of money, research and publicity have been given to women’s issues.  Without a doubt, this has been good for women.»
“Until recently it appears to have been the accepted wisdom that men needed no such thing,” says Green. “So many reports point to the need for specialised medical, psychiatric and counselling services for men.” It is true to say that men are generally less healthy and do not live as long as women do. “But it goes further than that – men are about four times as likely to commit suicide and have a higher incidence of hypertension than women but are far less likely to have it diagnosed and treated. They are generally heavier smokers and drinkers and lead less healthy lifestyles,” notes Green.
An unbearable burden
The unbearable burden of divorce has several parts, not the least of which is financial. “Even today, in a supposedly non-sexist legal framework, women in nine out ten cases receive custody of the children, even when custody is disputed by the father,” says Rev Klackers who has interviewed many divorced men for her book, ‘I’m Divorced, I’m OK’.  The road to victory in custody battles is usually a brutal one. Rev Klackers knows of one case where a man spent R300 000 in legal and psychiatric fees over a period of 18 months in his efforts to gain custody of his children and prove that his ex-wife was unfit to raise their children.  In the end, he won the case. Is such justice only for the rich?  It is probably much wiser to use mediation than go the expensive and acrimonious route of lawyers in custody and financial battles. FAMSA can direct you to qualified mediators. Stuart Horn, a clinical psychologist who specialises in the challenges that men face, says: “In my experience single and divorced men are the most vulnerable group in relation to successful suicide. Men who lose their wives, lose a family life as well as contact with their usual social context, such as socialising with other families. One must never underestimate what a big void in a man’s life divorce brings. Although the social and legal landscape is changing slowly for the better for divorced men’s rights, men still believe that the decks are stacked against them.”
Building a new future
For a year after my divorce, I articulated a health and recovery strategy that included:
• Reading the Psalms over and over again. The great Davidic discourses 
   include timeless literary passages, which wrestle honestly with anger, 
   hatred, guilt, rejection and failure in a decidedly masculine manner.
   Prayer to the Father is a lifeline in times of trouble (and in times of 
• Riding my mountain bike regularly, pedalling up hills and verbally raging
    against my ex-wife and my life, crying until I was blinded by tears, and
    screaming like a lunatic at the passing scenery. It felt great.
• Rattling on about my problems to nearly everyone. I sought out good
   counsellors and mentors in my church, especially men who had handled
   divorce trauma successfully.
• Eating well, ensuring that I had plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and
   brain-rejuvenating fish in regular and reasonable quantity.
   All the above meant that I became clear-headed and better able to cope
   with the rigorous demands of my new role as divorced, non-custodial
Those who are coping with separation
• Been willing to talk about it
• Brought themselves to accept the changes in their lives
• Worked at re-establishing a network of support
• Set up a decent home and routine for themselves
• Stayed as close as possible to their children
• Accepted some responsibility for what has happened
Have not
• Denied that things are now different
• Refused to accept their change in status
• Stayed angry for too long
• Persisted in blaming their wives
• Turned away from their children
• Pretended that they were coping brilliantly
* From Michael Green’s book: ‘Fathers after divorce’
A few practical home remedies for depression:
Oats. Have a bowl a day. Oats are an excellent antidepressant and restorative nerve tonic.
Borage. It is a restorative for the adrenal cortex and eases depression, encouraging the body to produce adrenaline.
Basil. Use this herb liberally in your salads. It stimulates the adrenal cortex, reduces blood sugar levels and lowers blood pressure.
Helpful advice:
According to a clinical psychologist:
• Your usual personality style will probably become exaggerated during the time of great stress. If you’re aggressive, you’ll become more so; if you’re withdrawn, you’ll become more so. Guard against that and be prepared to counteract this tendency.
• Be careful of increased alcohol and substance abuse – this clouds decision-making and can escalate impulsive behaviour. If you have an aggressive tendency, ask a friend to look out for you until you have a sustained emotional equilibrium.
• Make sure you fully understand the legal jargon and processes involved in the divorce process. Consult a professional.
• Consider mediation as a way of settling disputes with your divorcing spouse.
• Put your children first – think of what is best for them under the circumstances.
Where to get help

• N.B. Seek advice from your church leaders
•  Rev Klackers’ week-long Divorce Recovery workshops are held fairly regularly all over the country.
I would add, remember that fatherhood is as important as motherhood and your children need and deserve a present, involved, loving, God-fearing father.

Kay Warren: What Happens When You Say Yes To God?

Kay Warren: What Happens When You Say Yes  To God?
If you ever wondered who the strong, yet incredibly gentle, woman is who is married to Rick Warren, famous author of ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ then the answer is quite simply, Kay.  She is far more than simply the wife of a high profile ministry leader, however.  She co-founded the Southern California’s Saddleback Church with Rick and in 2004 she began the HIV/AIDS Initiative at the church, now serving as its executive director.  She frequently travels around the world to engage with HIV+ men, women and vulnerable children and she is a powerful, global advocate on their behalf.  She also established an online community offering resources and inspiration for churches involved in HIV/AIDS ministry.  Most recently she has written a book titled ‘Dangerous Surrender’ which tells her story and seeks to help others discover God’s plan for their own lives.
How it all started
In 2002 Kay was reading a magazine when she came across an article about the 12 million African children who have been orphaned by AIDS.  At the time she didn’t know a single person infected with the HIV virus and she asked herself how there could be problems this big that hadn’t touched her personally in some way.  She immediately began coming up with ideas to confront the global crisis in very practical ways.
As a two-time cancer survivor, Kay knows firsthand how a life-threatening diagnosis alters one’s daily life.  Her own bouts with suffering have motivated her to serve others who are sick.  She has come face to face with the hurting as a volunteer in her own community; at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying in Kolkata, India; at the leper colony and AIDS hospice in Manila, Philippines; and with World Vision and International Justice Mission in Thailand and Cambodia. In Africa, she’s ministered to those living with HIV/AIDS through several organisations, as well as through Saddleback Church’s partnership with churches and government leaders in Rwanda. She has become a student of AIDS and attended the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto and the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand.  Now she is challenging the worldwide Church to take on not just AIDS, but other global issues through the P.E.A.C.E. Plan.
What is the P.E.A.C.E. Plan?
The P.E.A.C.E. Plan is a massive effort to mobilise one billion Christians around the world into an outreach effort to attack the five global, evil giants of our day – Spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic diseases and rampant illiteracy. These are the world’s biggest problems, affecting billions, not just millions, of people.

These giants all work together to constrain people, cutting them off from knowing the saving grace of a loving God who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for their sins allowing them eternal hope and security. There is no organisation or government that can effectively eradicate these giants. The only successful solution is the global Church of Jesus Christ.  To find out more about this initiative, visit
Huge success, yet still humble
Kay has achieved enormous success in her 54 years.  In 1980 she helped her husband, Rick, begin Saddleback Church in their condo living room. Now the second largest church in America, Saddleback Church has given the Warrens a platform for influencing Christians and other leaders worldwide.  She is also an accomplished speaker and writer.  Her doctrinal study,’ Foundations’, won a Gold Medallion Award in 2004 and she has also written for CNN and various magazines and her first book has just been released.  In 2006 she was among eight women honoured at the CNN Inspire Summit, which recognised women for their impact on global issues through political, social and humanitarian efforts that have inspired others to get involved.  Her impact on these global issues is perhaps her most tremendous achievement.
This is not what moves this mighty woman of God, however.  She has chosen to completely surrender to the Lord, no matter what the cost.  She remains humble and real and she seeks the glory of God in all she does, which is probably why the name Kay Warren isn’t even well-known.  She would much rather wash the feet of an African woman dying of AIDS than win an award, and this is what makes Kay extraordinary.
After establishing the HIV/AIDS initiative at her church she challenged the evangelical community to deal with HIV in a compassionate way. She then began travelling through Asia and Africa to minister to the sick and dying herself. Even as she battled breast cancer and melanoma (she’s now in remission), she never wavered in her mission to bring attention, time and help to a world crisis. In fact, she says: “Going through cancer has made me more empathetic. I know what it’s like to lie awake at night and wonder if you’re going to live.”

When asked how she manages to travel to far off places and deal with what she sees and how she copes with people who are ravaged with disease, she answers:  “You have to try to put yourself in their shoes. I always ask how would I want to be treated? What would I want someone to do for me in this circumstance? Even though you’re asking about what you would want, you’re doing it so you can serve them. You can’t consider your own comfort. So it really is about dying to self.”  Her love for others is evident whenever she speaks of those she meets and ministers to.  She is not deterred by the predictions of how bad the AIDS pandemic will end up being.  She is positive, hopeful and full of faith.  She says, “I don’t know if it will happen in my lifetime, but my goal is to end HIV—that people will say, ‘Remember that scourge? Remember that disease that took so many lives?’ And ending it requires local churches getting involved.”

What can we do?
Kay urges others to do something, anything, for those who are afflicted by the HIV virus, or any other illness for that matter:  “Send clothing or a card. Visit with someone. Sit with someone. The smallest steps matter.”  In ‘Dangerous Surrender’ Kay aims to break down barriers that have kept conservative Christians away from the issue.  “I hope this book is disturbing to people,” she says. “There are situations in the world that I cannot tolerate for one more second.” 
Many conservative Christians consider the illness a punishment from God – for same-gender sex, prostitution and drug use. The Barna Group conducted a survey in 2006 and found that two out of five born-again Christians said they had more sympathy for people with cancer than for those living with HIV.  This is just shocking.
Steve Haas, vice-president for church relations at World Vision, put it succinctly:  “James 1:27 states that pure and unadulterated religion is that you take care of the orphans and widows in their distress.  The greatest orphan and widow creator of all time is upon us.  It’s called AIDS.”
Let us follow Kay Warren’s example and start doing something, no matter how small, to fight AIDS or any other cause that God is leading you to.  It is time for us to completely surrender to God and get past our own prejudices.  Discover what can happen when you say ‘yes’ to God.


Anyone in military service knows and understands the importance of submitting to authority. Any outfit that is divided is one that will be defeated. God’s Word shows us that His servants will not be divided in the final battle of the Church Age; rather they will be of one accord and victorious. So in order for the Lord to enlist us for any position in His service in these final days of the Church Age, we must be completely submitted to His authority, whether it is His direct or delegated authority. We must remember all legitimate authority is from God, as Paul tells us in Rom 13:1-2.
I find that western believers are some of the most difficult people to teach the Word of God. It is for one main reason. We are a people trying to understand Kingdom principles with a democratic mind-set. For this reason the western Church will go through some of the most difficult trials in the days to come in order to bring us to a place of brokenness. When we speak of broken, we don’t mean battered, beaten, or hopeless.
To understand ‘broken’, we need to look at a war horse. A horse can be the most gifted, fastest and strongest of all, but if he is not broken, he is not fit for battle. When war time comes, less gifted horses will go to the battle because they are broken and he is not. What does brokenness deal with? When the rider commands the horse to ride full gallop into the battle, the horse will not deviate for his own protection or benefit; he is completely submitted to authority. The broken horse obeys and doesn’t need an explanation.
True obedience can best be seen in the life of Abraham. After waiting years for the child promised to him, Abraham finally had the promise fulfilled in Isaac. Everything seemed to be going great. “Then God came to Abraham one evening and said, ‘Abraham, I want you to take a three day journey and then offer your son as a sacrifice.’” Can you imagine this command? Here is the son that was promised to you, that you waited years for and now God is commanding you to sacrifice him with no explanation? How many of us would have gone back and forth with God for days, weeks, or even years before we obeyed? But look at how Abraham responded in Gen. 22:3: “So Abraham rose early in the morning…” Notice his instant obedience.
It took Abraham three days to get to the mountain where he was to offer as a sacrifice the most valuable thing in his life, his son Isaac. The three day journey gave Abraham time to think things through. If he was going to turn back, he would have done it during this time. But he didn’t. He continued obeying all the way to the top of the mountain and bound his son on the altar to sacrifice him. Only when he raised the knife to slay Isaac, did the angel of the Lord stop him.
Abraham obeyed to completion. He didn’t stop short, even by letting go of the most important thing in his life, Isaac, his heir and home, his promise from God. Abraham proved his passion for obedience outweighed even his desire for the promises. For this reason he is called the father of faith and the friend of God. Abraham was fully submitted to the authority of God.  We need to fully understand this idea of authority in order for us to be able to be effective on the earth. The early Church started from 120 persons in the upper room. Interestingly Jesus ministered to thousands. After He was executed by a criminal death and resurrected, there were only five hundred. (See 1 Cor 15:6). What happened to the thousands? Jesus told the five hundred to go to the upper room, and I personally believe all did, but after ten days three-fourths went their own way. Why? The reasons were probably numerous, but all of them dealt with looking back and not remaining under God’s rule. They were not broken; they were not fit.
Even in the upper room they were tested. Peter, the leader, made many mistakes and so often was totally out of sync with Jesus. He wanted to build tabernacles for Elijah and Moses; he was rebuked for seeking the desires of men rather than God; his greatest reach of love was to forgive seven times, but Jesus multiplied it by seventy… and the list continues. However, he continually submitted to Jesus’ correction and stayed loyal.
In the upper room Peter was true to form. He told those present that they had to select another apostle to replace Judas, for Scripture stated that another should take his office. So two were chosen and they drew lots. Now, God does not choose apostles by a lottery system. Again, Peter is out of sync, and we can see the fruit of his leadership as Matthias, the one chosen, is never heard of again in the New Testament. Paul said of himself, “Then last of all He [Jesus] was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” Cor 15:8. I personally believe Paul was God’s choice to replace Judas.
In any case, the amazing thing is that even though Peter was ‘out of sync’, no one caused a stir or left. Rather, we read in Acts 2:1, “They were all with one accord.” God had a group of people who were truly under His rule. Out of the thousands to whom Jesus ministered, only a small remnant could be used in His ‘special-ops’ force to bring the outpouring of His Spirit to the world.
Submit to authority
Can you imagine if Peter was in the western church today making a decision like that? Most likely there would have been a church spilt. Several groups would have emerged. The ‘anti lot-picking’ group, the ‘apostolic lot-picking’ group, the ‘no more new apostle’ group and more. These believers were broken – they were submitted to authority, whether it was Jesus’ direct authority (telling them to go to the upper room and wait) or His delegated authority (Peter picking an apostle by lots).
At this point let me interject this important point by asking this question: Where do we draw the line when it comes to authority? Does God expect us to obey authorities, no matter what they tell us to do? The only time—and I want to emphasise the only exception in which we are not to obey authorities —is when they tell us to do something that is sin, but even then we are to still keep an attitude of submission toward their authority.
Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, was brutal and destroyed many descendents of Israel as well as their homeland. Yet in Jer 25:9 and 27:5-7 God called him His servant, again confirming God is the One who gives authority to man. This king brought back a remnant of God’s people captive to Babylon. Among these were Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego.
Respect authority
This king made a decree requiring all the people to bow and worship a golden image when they heard the sound of musical instruments. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego did not obey this decree, for it directly violated the second commandment God gave through Moses and recorded in the Torah. They disobeyed the ordinance of man in order to obey the ordinance of God. It was only a matter of time before this came to the attention of King Nebuchadnezzar. He was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego and he had them brought before him for questioning. Listen to their reply: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if He doesn’t, Your Majesty can be sure that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up” Dan. 3:16-18, NLT.
Notice they stood firm in obedience to God’s command, yet spoke to the king with respect. They addressed him as “Your Majesty,” not “You jerk, we’ll never do what you say!” To speak in this manner of disrespect would have been rebellious, as we are to submit to authority (in heart and attitude) even when we must disobey their command.
Trust God
In returning to Peter’s exhortation of it being time for judgment to begin in the house of God, we discover that to truly understand what he is saying, we must read the preceding statements. In the previous chapters he discusses authority in depth. He writes about both direct and delegated authority.  He speaks of the intense trials that occur in obeying God’s direct authority as well as discussing the difficult issue that all authority is of God, but not all authority is godly. He even specifically tells believers to be submitted to leaders who are “harsh” (1 Pet. 2:18). The word harsh means “crooked, wicked, unfair, and unreasonable.”
I frequently run into believers who say, “I’m submitted to God, but I can’t submit to my pastor (husband, boss, etc.).” Sadly, these are very deceived people. It is God who commands us to be submissive to authorities, even if they are not godly. So in essence, these individuals are not submitted to God. By their actions they prove they don’t trust God.
After discussing trials that result from submitting to God’s authority, whether directly or indirectly, Peter then comes to the end of chapter 4 and in conclusion says, “For the time has come for judgment (a decision for or against…the choosing by the Commander who is fit and who isn’t)  to begin at the house of God.…Therefore let those who suffer according to the Will of God, commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” 1 Pet. 4:17-19.
In these days the Lord is searching for men and women who will obey God no matter the cost. They will recognise Divine authority and will be steadfast in their service as the faithful servant Jesus described working the fields of his master. They will be the ones who walk in great faith and do mighty exploits. They will manifest His glory, impacting their neighbours, their city, their nation and the world.

What is Your Worldview?

What is Your Worldview?
Arecent nationwide survey completed by the Barna Research Group determined that only 4% of Americans had a ‘Biblical’ worldview. When George Barna, who has researched cultural trends and the Christian Church since 1984, looked at the born-again believers in America, the results were a dismal 9%.  Barna’s survey also connected an individual’s worldview with his or her moral beliefs and actions. Barna says, “Although most people own a Bible and know some of its content, our research found that most Christians have little idea how to integrate core Biblical principles to form a unified and meaningful response to the challenges and opportunities of life.”
What is a Worldview?
A worldview is the framework from which we view reality and make sense of life and the world. “It’s any ideology, philosophy, theology, movement or religion that provides an overarching approach to understanding God, the world and man’s relations to God and the world,” says David Noebel, author of ‘Understanding the Times’. For example, a 2 year old believes he’s the centre of his world, a secular humanist believes that the material world is all that exists and a Buddhist believes he can be liberated from suffering by self-purification.
Someone with a Biblical worldview believes his primary reason for existence is to love and serve God. Whether conscious or subconscious, every person has some type of worldview. A personal worldview is a combination of all you believe to be true, and what you believe becomes the driving force behind every emotion, decision and action. Therefore, it affects your response to every area of life: from philosophy to science, theology and anthropology to economics, law, politics, art and social order. It affects essentially everything. For example, let’s suppose you have bought the idea that beauty is in the eye of the beholder (secular relative truth) as opposed to beauty as defined by God’s purity and creativity (absolute truth), then any art piece, no matter how vulgar or abstract, would be considered ‘art’, a creation of beauty.
What is a Biblical Worldview?
A Biblical worldview is based on the infallible Word of God. When you believe the Bible is entirely true, then you allow it to be the foundation of everything you say and do. That means, for instance, you take seriously the mandate in Romans 13 to honour the governing authorities by researching the candidates and issues, making voting a priority. Do you have a Biblical worldview?
Answer the following questions, based on claims found in the Bible and which George Barna used in his survey:
• Do absolute moral truths exist?
• Is absolute truth defined by the Bible?
• Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life?
• Is God the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and does He still rule it today?
• Is salvation a gift from God that cannot be earned?
• Is Satan real?
• Does a Christian have a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people?
• Is the Bible accurate in all of its teachings?
Did you answer yes to these? Only 9% of born again believers did. But what’s more important than your yes to these questions, is whether your life shows it. Granted, we are all sinners and fall short, but most of our gut reactions will reflect what we deep-down, honest-to-goodness believe to be real and true.
What dilutes a Biblical Worldview?
Here is the big problem. Non-Biblical worldview ideas don’t just sit in a book somewhere waiting for people to examine them. They bombard us constantly from television, film, music, newspapers, magazines, books and academia.
Because we live in a selfish, fallen world, these ideas seductively appeal to the desires of our flesh, and we often end up incorporating them into our personal worldview. Sadly, we often do this without even knowing it. For example, most Christians would agree with 1 Thesselonians 4:3 and other Scriptures that command us to avoid sexual immorality, but how often do Christians fall into lust or premarital and extramarital sexual sin? Is it simply because they are weak when tempted, or did it begin much earlier with the seductive lies from our sexualised society?
Why does a Biblical Worldview matter?
If we don’t really believe the Truth of God and live it, then our witness will be confusing and misleading. Most of us go through life not recognising that our personal worldviews have been deeply affected by the world. Through the media and other influences, the secularised American view of history, law, politics, science, God and man affects our thinking more than we realise. We then are taken “…captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ”  Col 2:8.
However, by diligently learning, applying and trusting God’s truths in every area of our lives – whether it’s watching a movie, communicating with our spouses, raising our children or working at the office – we can begin to develop a deep comprehensive faith that will stand against the unrelenting tide of our culture’s non-Biblical ideas. If we capture and embrace more of God’s worldview and trust it with unwavering faith, then we begin to make the right decisions and form the appropriate responses to questions on abortion, same-sex marriage, cloning, stem-cell research and even media choices. Because, in the end, it is our decisions and actions that reveal what we really believe. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” Rom 12:2.