This is Beth Baker’s story. We appreciate her courage to share it.
I’m 36yrs old, married to a wonderful Christian man and have been blessed with 2 beautiful daughters. Most people that know me probably think I’ve had a pretty normal life. One thing that I’ve learned is that everyone has a story and everyone goes through different seasons in their life. My story begins in Seoul, Korea. When I was born, I was abandoned on the steps of a police station. From there I was taken to a local orphanage and 5 months later I was adopted by a loving, Christian family from Illinois. At 5 months of age, I flew on a 747 and met my family for the first time at Chicago O’Hare airport. I asked Jesus into my life when I was 8 yrs old and pretty much had an uneventful, almost mundane life til I headed for college in Tennessee. But after the summer of 1993, my life dramatically changed.
The year prior to that summer I really had been burdened about missions and knew that God was calling me to get out of my comfort zone. So in the spring of 1993, my freshman year in college, I applied to the North American Mission Board to be a student summer missionary. I was accepted and soon got my letter stating where I’d be serving for 10 weeks. Shortly after my summer began I had packed my bags and was off to Algonquin, Il – just outside of Chicago. I would be serving alongside my partner, Sally Anne from Georgia, at a local church doing anything and everything.
We lived with a middle-older aged couple from the church. It all seemed like the perfect environment – a chance to grow spiritually, a chance to experience something I’d never done before – but soon it all fell apart after the first 4 weeks. My partner was homesick the moment she got to our host home. She ended up so miserable that she went back to Georgia and I was left to carry on the work by myself for the next 6 weeks.
The couple that I stayed with, Bob and Janice, were a great family. They had kids of their own, but they were grown and out of the house. Even before my partner had left they made us feel like we were one of their own. But the day Sally Anne left, I noticed an immediate change. Bob was more carefree, laid back…”free” around me. Instead of going to bed early with Janice, he started staying up late with me when I would watch TV before going to bed. He started sitting next to me on the couch. He would ask me about my history of boyfriends and dating life. I now know this was his way of “grooming” me. And I fell for it. ALL of it.
I admit, I had grown up a very sheltered and naive teenager. Even though I was 18 yrs old, I was completely oblivious and naive as to what Bob was doing. It didn’t take long for the touching and physical advances to be an every night occurrence. He would even find ways to do things with his wife around, but do it when she wasn’t looking. Now I know what most people would be thinking about now. Why didn’t she tell somebody? Why didn’t she go to his wife about what was going on? Why didn’t she just say no? All good questions and I’ve even asked myself those same questions looking back.
Bob was an elder/deacon in the church. He and his wife were highly respected in the church. Here I was…basically a stranger – an outsider. Who would the church people be more likely to believe? Bob had a way of instilling in me somewhat of a fear. Fear of not wanting to make him mad and fear of not wanting to displease him. I was never “raped” in the sense that sexual intercourse had happened, but there was a time when I said “no” and wanted him to stop, but he didn’t. I learned very quickly how to hide emotions, put up a good front – I guess you could say I learned how to adapt and live under the circumstances.
Bob was actually very good to me the majority of the time. He bought clothes for me, was always giving me money to spend, let me drive his Volvo (everyone in the church said he must really like me to let me drive his car because he didn’t let anyone touch his car!) … and I fell for it all. Because I had all these “privileges”, the last thing I wanted to do was not make him happy. I wanted to please him – I wanted him to be pleased with me. When my 10 weeks were up, ironically, I didn’t want to leave. (Stockholm’s syndrome come to mind?)
I actually kept in contact with Bob and Janice for quite a while after I went back to college, but the main contact was between Bob and I. He would call me, send me gifts and write letters – very suggestive letters. After several months of this, I finally asked him if our “relationship” ever bothered his conscience because it ate at mine all the time. He told me loved me. I finally found the courage to tell him that we needed to stop communicating with each other. The communication stopped, but I knew he didn’t like it. For the next couple of years I never spoke of anything that happened between Bob and I to anyone – not even my parents.
Finally during my senior year in college I opened up to a couple of close people – one of my good friends and the guy I was dating (who I ended up marrying!). I never really sought any kind of counseling at that time. I graduated in May 1996 and 3 weeks later I was married. After about 6 months into my marriage I knew that what had happened with Bob was beginning to have an effect on me and my husband, Greg.
During our first year of marriage I entered a very deep depression. We were living over 14hrs away from family and that added to my depression. With the help of a very close friend and my husband, I was able to pull out of my depression slowly. Looking back, my issues with Bob were probably trying to resurface, but I had just pushed everything down. I didn’t really want to think about it all. Greg and I ended up moving back closer to family, and at this point we were talking about wanting to start a family.
We soon realized that having a baby wasn’t as easy as we thought it was going to be. I soon learned that I didn’t ovulate like I should be and so for the next 3-4yrs we were doing infertility treatments. We were constantly in and out of the doctor’s office. As we were getting close to our 4th year of the infertility battle, my doctor wanted to try one more treatment before we headed to Nashville to try for IVF.
During this time our church was also going through a “Building Campaign” to enlarge our sunday school space and build a gym. Our pastor had preached one morning on sacrifice – what could we sacrifice for a year in order to financially help during this “Building Campaign”? Many people had made the decision to sacrifice going out to eat, buying that new car they’d been wanting, giving up cable….but what would Greg and I sacrifice? We had prayed and prayed about it and knew that God would reveal what our sacrifice would be in His time. We finally had come up with the monetary amount, but still didn’t know exactly where that monetary sacrifice would come from. Greg was confident God would reveal all of this in His timing.
One evening, during worship service I was listening to the pastor preach and I could hear this voice saying “You’re going to give up the infertility treatments.” My heart sunk – I wanted to hide under the pew and just cry. I knew without a doubt God had just revealed the source of our monetary sacrifice but I just couldn’t believe He would want me to give up the one chance I had to have a baby. The one thing I wanted more than anything! That night I told Greg what had happened during the service and we looked at how much the treatment was going to be. It was exactly the amount we had agreed upon to give to the church! I still was somewhat unsure, but knew this was what we had to do.
I went to a good friend of mine, who just happened to be the pastor’s wife, and shared with her in confidence what was going on and my feelings about it all. I needed more than anything a person to pray for me and hold me accountable. She later asked if she could share it with her husband (our pastor) and then he asked to share our “story” with the congregation the next Sunday morning, which happened to be our dedication service to the building campaign. We agreed, but only if he kept our names anonymous.
After he shared our story, people went to him and asked if the couple actually did get pregnant, would he then share the name of this couple? I laughed because I knew it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon! I had actually resigned myself to the idea that we would never have children. One week later, on a Saturday, I wasn’t feeling well and Greg encouraged me to take a pregnancy test. I said, you’re joking, right?! Just to humor him, I took a test. It was positive! I asked Greg, “What does this mean?!” We were in shock (and ecstatic)! We, of course, told our pastor that next day at church and he was in shock! He couldn’t have been happier for us. That next day, we went to the doctor and had the pregnancy confirmed. It was announced to our church family a few weeks later. The love from our church family was overwhelming, not to mention we had some pretty excited grandparents. Our daughter, Makayla Joy, was born on January 11, 2002.