Sophia Lawrence’s mother sat quietly in the front row of her small church and listened in silence with other congregants as her daughter testified how she was raped at just 8 years old. When her daughter told the church who her abuser was, however, Lawrence’s mother exploded from her seat and threatened her child with death from God and the “blood of Jesus.”
“The devil! My God! God will kill you for that!” Lawrence’s mother screamed with a thick Jamaican accent.
“I was raped at 8-and-a-half years old. I kept it to myself because I didn’t know who to trust….I was 8-and-a-half when my mother’s boyfriend took my childhood away from me but God,” Lawrence said, explaining she wanted to talk about what happened to bring awareness about the effects of rape in the church.
The emotional confession was recorded in a video shared by entertainment website MediaTakeout on Monday.
“The blood of Jesus is against you,” Lawrence’s mother continued to scream at her daughter as she defiantly tried to continue her testimony in which she alleged that her mother is also a rape survivor.
“My mother knew about it. My mom came to me two days ago. My mom was raped. It’s not that, I’m bringing awareness,” Lawrence continued.
As the church service devolved into a scene of shock and denial, the pastor of the church took the microphone from Lawrence’s hand and several church sisters moved in to end the testimony and quiet her mother.
Her upset mother continue screaming in protest: “No, no, no! The blood of Jesus. She is lying. And the blood of Jesus against you.”
The mayhem continued until the pastor told the church, “We’re dismissed,” near the end of the video.
The clip has since gone viral with nearly one million views and sparked a huge debate about how the church responds to uncomfortable testimonies for the second time in a month.
Earlier this month, another church was criticized for abruptly ending the testimony of an ex-prostitute at a New Year’s Eve service.
Pastor Jamal Bryant of Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple church said of the way the ex-prostitute was dismissed: “So the saints could not handle the testimony because you shouldn’t say that in church. I shouldn’t say what He delivered me from because my testimony is too raw and too real for the saints who watch fights on ‘Love and Hip Hop.’ You don’t want to hear what God has done, you just want to hear what He is doing. Stop treating church like Disney World — that everybody’s testimony got to be pretty and polished. And understand that some testimonies are ugly, nasty, vile, dirty, but that’s the wonder-working power of His grace. The wonder-working power of His love.”
The name of the church in the latest video appears to be Agape Life based on screen displays but its location was not immediately known. The Christian Post was unable to verify what happened after the woman’s testimony was abruptly ended.
Many people do not appear to agree with the way in which the church handled the testimony based on the most popular reactions to the video.
“This is so common in many households where mothers turn a blind eye to sexual abuse because they fear being alone. I am proud of this woman and she needs to remove herself from that s***hole of a church,” wrote Claros Agnatic Morean in a comment that has garnered more than 1,000 reactions.
“I don’t need to know her. I grew up and live in the Caribbean in a Caribbean household,” wrote Eboni Brandon of Lawrence. “This s*** happens and our families act blind, deaf and dumb and would rather not deal with it. And this doesn’t just happen in homes where mothers are turning a blind eye for a buck from a man. It happens in respected middle class homes like the one I grew up in where it’s better to hush the whole thing up to avoid scandal. I don’t take back a damn word of what I said. In the Caribbean if it didn’t happen to you, it sure as hell happened to someone you knew.”