The Term "Wounded Pilgrim" Explained

Mark Campbell

I know that some don't like the idea of calling those who were involved in the Assembly "wounded pilgrims". It might suggest to them the idea of eternal victim-hood, and a unhealthy preoccupation with how hurt we may be --  kind of whining that seeks to be noticed for all the wrongs that have been thrown at oneself.

What has intrigued me about this term, since I first discovered it ten years ago on an internet bulletin board for cult recovery, was understanding the dynamics that allowed me to fit into the Assembly system. I consider these things, not to continue my victimization, but to find God's message in the experience that will lead to a healthy pilgrimage with Christ. What a waste it would be to spend 20 years in a group like the Assembly and to ignore the past and to "just get on with my life."

I would like to suggest that there is a wealth of value from looking at our past sojourn in the twisted paths of the Assembly, as my story of the Good Samaritan shows, to find that Jesus is the answer.

Indeed, for the pilgrim who was so wounded, a special depth of comfort, solace, knowledge, and compassion toward others can be discovered, that will yield riches of blessing, not only for the pilgrim, but for others who never went through a similar experience, but who pause to hear our message.

God Bless,
Mark C.

Readers' Comments

Mark had more to say about this on the Assembly bulletin board on the "Wounded Pilgrim" thread on August 20, 2006:

Many...were pulled into the life transforming (in a negative way) group dynamics that have deeply hurt them---- even though it has been many years since they left the group. Just because we accept the facts that we have been damaged and the injuries from the past still are bothering us, this does not mean to be a "wounded pilgrim" is to be an eternal victim---- my view is not to support a continual recollection of the pain that keeps one forever a victim of their past. However, if you presently have trouble in your soul, as a former member, you need to try to face the facts and find some solutions. This is the opposite of "victimhood," and would be better characterized as facing the facts and taking responsibility for my past.

This means, as it did in Paul, that we can use these past weaknesses as a way to discover God's grace working in us in a very practical way. It is one thing to have a theoretical understanding of sin and grace and another altogether to see that sin in your own life and experience through God's help and healing in daily life, as in, identifying in my own life how I violated my conscience in the group by keeping silent when I should have spoken out, covered up the sins of the leaders, hid my own sin in an effort to earn acceptance of the group, etc.

Some may object to my opinion re. the need for identification of how an individual went along with the program (i.e. identifying their own sin) because they don't feel responsible, asincethey were deceived by GG into doing what they did. If we didn't have any responsibility, then we could claim to be 100% victims, but a cult is made up of leaders and members and each has a part to play. In other words, there is a fit between those that make and those that are made. (I don't mean to say all are equally culpable-- there are abused and abusers in this scenario.)

We may be afraid to look at this honestly because we want to believe better about ourselves, but this desire to feel better about self is at the root of the whole problem. It's okay to accept the fact that you were deceived, a coward at times, dishonest, etc. because you are just admitting the truth about what it means to be human. We, of course, had some noble and good motives working in us as well, and if we have the Holy Spirit in us we can be thankful to God for that, and acknowledge this fact as well. The truth is, it is a wonderful discovery to know that we don't have to pretend anymore and that God values you not because of your good/strong character traits, but solely on His unconditional love for you-- the sinner!

This, in the end, is a very positive discovery and one that we should not avoid, because in avoidance we will miss a wonderful opportunity to learn from our mistakes and this insight from our past will make us a repository of blessing for other Christians who will see in us the mighty working of grace!

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