I hope all of you are well.
I hope you enjoyed the article by Annie O’Sullivan, author of Can You Hear Me Now. She shared a part of her life and gave us the opportunity to see how Relationships and the Survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse are difficult but doesn’t have to decide our future relationships. We look forward to part-two from Annie in November.
I am always excited about the men and women who take the time to write meaningful articles for And He Restoreth My Soul Project. The information they share meet the goals to educate, inform and enlighten. Our writers share their experiences with us and they are to be commended.
I say this to introduce our next writer, Dr. Paul Schroeder and Invitation Ministries. Dr. Schroeder willingly shares his experience and how and how Nehemiah Ministry, a segment of Invitation Ministries, addresses the issue of sex addiction. Though the ministries addresses many issues I wanted to know more about the issues that destroys marriages, families and homes. In addition, we are Highlighting Invitation Ministries and hope you are enlightened, educated and that you will walk away more informed.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, it is my pleasure to be in your presence.
Darlene J. Harris
Biography for Paul Schroeder
Paul is the Director of Invitation Ministries, a non-profit Christian organization which offers support in marriage, addiction, and sexual addiction counseling, as well as acute trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Invitation Ministries also consults in the development of peer mentoring groups, counseling, training, and provides speakers for ministry related issues. Paul is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor, a Certified Pastoral Sexual Addiction specialist and an Advanced Diplomat in Biblical Counseling.
Paul is a professional member of the American Counseling Association (ACA), the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), the Association for Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling (ASERVIC), and Chaplain Fellowship Ministries International. Paul is supported and encouraged by his loving wife, Karen, and his two sons Kyle and Karl.
Our vision is to see men find their healing, then carry it back to their churches to lead their own groups. We’d like to see this spread through Houston, and for it to become known as a city of God, instead of the human trafficking capital of the US.
I also pray one day that God would raise up a woman to lead a group so that other women could find equal healing. We know this addiction does not discriminate when it comes to gender.
Nehemiah Project is a division of Invitation Ministries, a Texas Non-Profit Corporation, which is dedicated to helping men who are struggling with sexual addiction and purity. It began only nine short months ago, but has already blossomed into two distinct groups of men who meet weekly. While these are groups dedicated to the recovery from addiction, they are unlike any recovery group you might have ever experienced before.
The Genesis of Nehemiah Project began with my own struggle with recovery. I developed PTSD as the result of childhood physical abuse. While raised in a Catholic home, I rebelled against the Church and left it as soon as I left home. I struggled to understand how such a loving God could allow such pain and horror in a child’s life. I was angry and resentful…and a little scared. I lived my early adult life chasing girls, drinking and enjoying life by society’s standards. I could have been a commercial for any beer label on TV today. After all, this is just what men do, right?
As I left the military after a decade of service, I also divorced my first wife because of adultery on her part. I didn’t realize it then, but I struggled mightily with my identity. I was no longer a soldier, no longer a husband and father…who was I? I was able to find a good job in sales, which paid quite well. But instead of helping to define my identity, all it did was help me fund my medicating behavior. I began to drink excessively, and my search for love and companionship became desperate. I began to believe the lies of an addict; I am genuinely a bad person, and if you really knew me you couldn’t love me.
I was able to meet and marry a beautiful woman, who I am proud to say is still my beloved wife today. I am not proud to say that I put her through hell to get where we are today. She saw my struggle and recommended I see a counselor for help. I was diagnosed with PTSD, but I was too ashamed (and really too afraid) to do the hard work of healing. It was easier to isolate and medicate. I began to lie as well. Since I felt no one couldn’t love the real me, I’d just create a persona I felt deserved your love. I lived a public life of success and control, and then came home to a quiet life of desperation and self-imposed solitude. I lied about my military service. To me, it was less shameful to have PTSD from military service than it was from childhood abuse. As a veteran, I was a victim. Child abuse made me weak. These are the lies I continued to believe. Until one day, I met a young pastor.
This pastor worked for a private organization treating veterans with PTSD. He was the first person who ever gave me permission to be mad at God. He was the first person who didn’t offer a quick, Christian cliché. And he was the first person who told me I didn’t have to do this on my own. I thought about my belief in God. I knew who Jesus was, and I believed He existed, but I never had a personal relationship with Him. I was too angry…and too scared. Yes, I was scared. I knew the lifestyle I had lived. I knew it was almost all considered ‘sin’. And I knew one day I would be judged for it, and I was afraid. Thankfully, this young pastor taught me what I always ignored as a young adult. He taught me the true nature of God, the whole picture if you would. Yes, He was the Almighty, the Alpha and the Omega, the one true Judge. But He was also my Father; the Perfect Father, the father I never had. He was the Author of Salvation, He was loved and He was the Father of the prodigal son who would unashamedly run after me, ME, if only I would turn to Him. That was the day I poured my last drink into the sink. It was the first day of the rest of my life. It was my awakening, my alive day, my sobriety date! I began to work a program of healing from PTSD, and began to help other veterans do the same. That was almost six years ago.
In that time, I have become a licensed and ordained minister. I received my Masters of Theology in Christian Counseling, and a Ph.D in Biblical Counseling. I became a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor, and a Certified Pastoral Sexual Addiction Specialist. I am answering God’s call upon my life, and giving purpose to my pain. This is not to say there haven’t been trials along the way. I was convicted of a misdemeanor and served thirty days in jail as a consequence of my lying about my military service. There was also a lot of counseling and work to be done rebuilding the trust in my marriage as well. I also began to realize I had also struggled with a sexual addiction. I never even knew there was such a thing until I came across a course on it. Although I had never had an affair, I realized I had medicated just as much to pornography and the ‘fantasy’ it created as I had done with alcohol. I wanted to learn more. I was introduced to a brilliant man named Dr. Mark Laaser, who had dedicated the majority of his adult life helping men conquer sexual addiction and find purity in their relationships. I knew this is where The Lord was leading me. As my healing became complete, I began to feel the tug on my heart to help other hurting men. I met with the senior pastor of my church and asked for permission to serve in ministry again. I was so encouraged when he told me, ‘it’s about time you got back to work’!
The Lord introduced me to a man also searching to minister to other men, specifically regarding sexual purity. I knew instantly this was a Divine appointment. For three hours over lunch we discussed our histories, our thoughts on ministry, and our passions for hurting men. God knit us together, and Nehemiah Project was born.
One thing we immediately recognized was the almost total correlation between childhood abuse (whether physical, emotional or sexual), and sexual addiction. In almost every respect, men were either using sex to medicate a pain in their lives or sex had become the only way they knew to receive affection. We recognized that the sex was just a symptom of a deeper relational wound. We quickly agreed Nehemiah Project would be dedicated to healing those wounds, not just the symptoms of sexual brokenness. To do so, Nehemiah Project would have to balance extremely high accountability with an abundance of Grace. I knew, from my own experience, I wouldn’t surrender my lie until I was accountable to other men; men who I was safe sharing my darkest sin with, and my most raw emotions. Nehemiah Project needed to be such a safe haven for men.
In the last nine months, Nehemiah Project has become such a ministry. It has become a brotherhood of men; a ministry that speaks the Truth in love. It is a brotherhood of men who desire to bring honor to God and their families. We have helped men discover the full nature of God; men who like me, needed to connect with God on a more intimate level and see Him for the Father they never had in their lives. We have also helped men begin to heal the generational wounds in their lives; helping men to become the father that they never had to their own sons, as well as helping men to forgive the sins of their fathers by seeing them as broken men not unlike themselves.
Finally, and quite possibly the most rewarding and validating aspect of the ministry is this. It is reaching the young men in our community. These young men are hearing about the growth of the older men in Nehemiah Project. They are men no longer willing to be measured by the standards of today’s society, and are coming forward to seek God’s standards of purity in their lives. So, Nehemiah Project now has a new group for young men. This group is learning proper coping skills, Biblical principles for living, and the full nature of God. Those who have suffered childhood abuse are getting Christian counseling intervention early. With this knowledge, we are confident they will not need to medicate the pain of their past, but instead they will be able to move forward having healthy, intimate and God-honoring relationships with others.