He might not have personally been abused, but Dr. Don Woodard understands how to help those who have.
The pastor of Beacon Baptist Church on North Bruffey Street in Church Salem has for more than 24 years listened to, prayed with and counseled survivors of abuse.
Now his latest book, “Restored: Living and Loving After Abuse,” gives people who have been abused proven principles they can use to rise above hurtful experiences to feel worthy, whole and loved. They can take back their lives, he says.
This part of his ministry was first laid on his heart, he said, when he met a teenager who tearfully explained how she had been sexually abused in her own home by her mother’s lover. Over the years Woodard has realized abuse is “the not-talked-about topic of today.”
He studied how to help abused people, and sought help from others who had been through abuse.
For the book, he had a team of people who read the chapters as he developed them who had been abused. “They all said, ‘This is what we need. These are the questions we have been afraid to ask all our lives.’ ”
Survivors of abuse struggle with guilt, anger, bitterness, fear, feeling like they are not worthy of being loved, self-value – which is different from self-esteem, he believes. “Self-value comes from the idea God created us because he wants to love us.”
One of his later chapters in “Restored” is “Confronting Giants.” He explained what he meant: “Another thing I like a lot when confronting something in your life, is not to confront your enemy with the enemy’s weapons – use love and forgiveness instead of hatred. You cannot approach them with the hatred they have,” he said.
His goal for “Restored” is to reach people “who have been abused, never even told anybody about the abuse, who don’t know how to deal with the trauma in their hearts…I want them to know they can sort out their emotions, they can have a productive life, they can change how they process it,” Woodard said.
“I want to equip people, to help them have that confidence to change from victim to victor, to emotionally dethrone that person who hurt them, who has them in bondage,” he added.
Woodard uses Biblical principles throughout chapters that have such hopeful titles as “Questions from the Heart, Answers from God,” “What I can Change,” “Trust,” “Personal Peace” and the closing one, “Beauty for Ashes.”
He has done a lot of Biblical counseling over his 30 years as a pastor. “I believe the Bible has that kind of healing power, that can heal the emotional wounds that people sometimes go through their whole lives,” he said.
Woodard and his wife, Debbie, live in Troutville. They have five grown children and five grandchildren. “Restored: Living and Loving After Abuse” is published by Ambassador International and available for $15.95 on Amazon and $9.99 for a Kindle edition.