Description: Poster for enditnow® Emphasis Day. [Photo provided by Women’s Ministries]

General Conference

Wolves in Sheep's Clothing: Unmasking Abuse and Fostering Safer Spaces

Enditnow® Emphasis Day 2023 addresses abuse within the Church community and highlights the need for awareness and action.

United States | Andrea Lavy, ANN

Within the familiarity of church communities, a sobering truth remains often overlooked – the presence of abuse lurking in the shadows. This year's enditnow® Emphasis Day is August 26, 2023 with the theme "Wolves in Sheep's Clothing." This enditnow® Emphasis Day takes a piercing look at abuse, particularly sexual abuse, especially within the context of spiritual authority and influence. Through this year’s theme, the Women’s Ministries Department (WM) of the General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists (GC) delves deep to address a critical aspect of abuse within the church community.

Recognizing the Unseen Threat of Abuse

Abuse takes on many forms, some so subtle victims may not even realize it’s happening. Nilde Itin, associate director of WM, sheds light on this often overlooked reality: “Wolves in Sheep's Clothing refers to any church member, whether a leader or a member in the pew. Like a wolf hiding in sheep's clothing, an abuser can be seen as a very friendly and affable person, one liked and loved by many church members but who is truly hiding a dark side." This stark truth is the heartbeat of this theme – exposing the treacherous underbelly of abuse concealed by familiarity.

Creating Awareness Around Abuse

This year's enditnow® Emphasis Day hones in on a particularly sensitive topic – sexual abuse among those who profess to follow Jesus. "Often we think that abuse involves violence," observes Itin, "however, there are some cases when 'victims' may not resist abuse because they do not recognize that they are a victim of abuse. Sadly, within our church, among our members are those who will use subtle and more insidious forms of abuse to hurt other church members, whether adults, youth or children." 

Itin continues sharing, "The main purpose of enditnow® Emphasis Day is to educate church members on the various aspects of abuse. It helps Adventist church members to understand that abuse is not okay and should not exist in our families, churches or communities. It is also an opportunity for church members to mobilize and take enditnow® into their church communities to reach all individuals.”

Women’s Ministries doesn't offer direct services focused on recovery, but equips local unions and conferences with the tools to aid victims. Itin notes, “The resource kit we send [to unions and conferences] each year contains a seminar which also includes time for discussion. Partnering with other departments such as Health Ministries, Family Ministries, Children’s Ministries, Ministerial Department, means that other professionals in the church are involved in enditnow© Day and can share information to assist victims.” 

This year’s resource kit contains a word packet with a sermon, children's story, workshop script, a PowerPoint for the sermon, a sermon video, a promotional video, and a workshop titled “Sarah’s Diary” which comes with a handout, discussion notes, and video. WM encourages members to use these resources in their church's enditnow® Emphasis Day program to create awareness and dialogue. 

Extending Support and Resources After Emphasis Day

The title "Wolves in Sheep's Clothing" highlights the subtle yet devastating impact of abuse committed by those who profess to follow Christ. The response, according to Itin, lies in the application of resources, guidelines, and awareness. With departments providing guidance including the Adventist Risk Management Agency (ADRA), Family Ministries, and others, churches are empowered to create a nurturing environment that guards against the subtle attacks of these metaphorical wolves. Itin notes "All this information, once utilized by our churches and leaders will help to foster a safer and more nurturing environment for our members. Of course, nothing is perfect. Abuse will happen in our homes, churches, and communities as long as sin is alive. But we can avoid some of the hurt and pain abuse brings if we utilize the resources available to us."

Addressing abuse isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. Itin shares, “Each division is given permission to adapt and contextualize the resources we send each year to ensure that the message is well received and acceptable." This approach respects the unique backgrounds and sensitivities of diverse communities.

Itin also emphasizes that the initiatives extends beyond this day, “Women in our churches around the world are applying many creative ideas and programs which focus on the three focus areas of Women’s Ministries: Nurture, Empower and Outreach.”

Through various initiatives like the GCWM Leadership Certification program, which equips women to serve and minister effectively, both within the church and beyond its boundaries, through Bible studies and women's retreats, these initiatives are not just words on paper, but empower women to create tangible change in their communities.

A Church United Against Abuse

As readers engage with enditnow® Emphasis Day and its message, they're invited to participate in a transformative movement. In a world where abuse often thrives in silence, this day is a beacon of light, breaking through the shadows of secrecy and empowering individuals to stand against abuse to create safer spaces. This isn't just an event; it's a catalyst for change, sparking conversations that can mend wounds, restore faith, and lead to a more harmonious community.

For more information about enditnow® Emphasis Day, or more information on enditnow©, visit For more information on Women's Ministries and their initiatives visit