David’s Sword, by David, Lee, and Marybeth Elliott. Tate, 2008, 38 pages, $7.99, paperback.
David’s Shield, by Dan, Lee, and Marybeth Elliott. Tate, 2010, 63 pages, $7.99, paperback.
Child sexual abuse is a profoundly solemn topic. It is not an anomaly either, but, unfortunately, too common of an occurrence in this broken world with broken people. In all likelihood, there are very few of us who remain untouched, in some way, by child sexual abuse—even right now. Maybe you were a victim as a child. Perhaps a colleague at your work place has a son or daughter who was a victim, or a school-friend of your own child has fallen prey. In fact, there may be some one in your life right now who is an ongoing victim of abuse and you are unaware of that tragic part of his or her life. Terrifying to face, yet, there may even be a child in your own church who is being abused—maybe even in your own household. This is the nightmare that suddenly pierced the Christian home of the Elliotts, permanently changing each family member in different ways.
Late one night, Lee and Marybeth Elliott were asleep in their bed when their youngest child, David, knocked on their door. Confused and frightened, David had been trapped in a terrifying secret for several months. And, so, begins the story of the victory of truth over evil, as told so compellingly by the Elliotts in David’s Sword and David’s Shield. The first book centers on David’s perspective, telling of God’s healing for the deep wound that gashed David with the complete exploitation of his innocence. It is the first of its kind written from a child survivor to other children in order to encourage them that it is safe to tell. Indeed, David uses his real name and a photograph of himself in order to demonstrate that it truly is safe to come forward and seek help. This remarkable example has proven to be a highly effective tool such that both children and adult victims have disclosed abuse more readily. The second book centers on Dan’s perspective, the older brother and protector of David, and tells of God’s healing for the myriad feelings with no emotional outlets that gripped Dan when he learned of David’s abuse. It further encompasses the unique challenges of helping a child with special needs, as the story also includes the oldest brother in the family, Mark, who has autism.
In David’s Sword, David is a trusting boy who enjoys playing with neighborhood children in the backyard and making people happy. A “trusted older brother of a friend” visits the Elliott family often and eventually becomes “like a brother to David.” This “Goliath” finds small ways to gain time with David while all of the children are playing outside. Eventually, Goliath introduces David to a “game” to “play” in the woods that makes David uncomfortable and scared. David is confused, and the abuser’s threats of “trouble” silence him. David needs to step out of the darkness and bring the suffocating secret—and Goliath—into the light. The sexual abuse continued for several months, and, then, God mercifully answered David’s prayers. He gave David the courage to tell, which provided a voice to conquer Goliath, with the faithful, patient help of his parents and of many other adults serving at the forefront. David’s Sword speaks of the way that God gave words to David and tells of the gentle steps taken by others both to listen to David and to diligently act to protect him. The story is one of hope for other victims, hope that they are not alone and that they may be free of the abuse, free of the shame, free of the fear that keeps them captive. The threats of abusers are very real and powerful, chaining the children to silence. This book changes that power and returns it, as well as extraordinary courage, to the child’s hand.
In David’s Shield, Dan struggles and wrestles with feelings of vengeance toward the abuser, and of guilt for having been stripped of an ability to help his younger brother escape the evil imposed on him. Dan now feels forced to idly stand by while the abuser seems to go unpunished and must learn to wait on the justice system. More so, Dan needs to learn how to wait on and trust in God. The tangled, knotted feelings of the sibling of a survivor can stay trapped inside the brother or sister, but David’s Shield offers that sibling hope and a better way, God’s way. The story tells of the beginning of Dan’s decision to take the first step—often the hardest step—in the journey of choosing to let go of the multitude of feelings and of learning to seek God for full healing, full trust, and full forgiveness of self and others. Siblings of survivors, too, have hope to find their voice, seek peace, and gain wholeness. This book also is the first of its kind on the market. Siblings deal with a host of deep and scary issues, and the Elliotts have responded to the need for a book that addresses these unique issues with the children. David’s Shield also helps parents understand how their other children may be suffering and provides insight and real help for coming alongside the siblings of survivors during the delicate process of coping and healing.
This book series shows the remarkable courage of the Elliott family, especially David, in publicly sharing their most private thoughts, painful experiences, and spiritual struggles. Each book serves as an excellent tool for educating ourselves on the journey of healing, and how we can be alert and ready to help when a need arises. The Elliotts help equip us on how to enter into another’s painful reality and assist with providing healing and wholeness for the abuse victim and family. Each reader will be blessed by the books and ever thankful that God gave grace to the Elliott family to use what Goliath intended for harm as good to accomplish God’s holy will (Gen. 50:20; 2 Cor. 1:3–4). These books would be well placed at church book tables and in pastors’ studies to be readily available as need arises. Please note that many people will not request help openly, and so, offering these books in visible places where they can be purchased outright will enable more families to be helped.
Both David’s Sword and David’s Shield have been endorsed by people in a variety of disciplines. The first has been approved by the top medical doctor in New Hampshire who is an expert on sexual abuse, a school counselor, a police captain, a guidance counselor, and others. The second has been approved by Don Davis of the New England Patriots, Natalie Grant who is an award-winning singer/songwriter, a school principal, and others. Also, the Elliotts have spoken by invitation at several conferences, churches, and other venues and have been both pleased and honored to do so in order to reach as many adults and children as possible. They speak as a family in order to bring strength and a comprehensive understanding for the difficult issues that families face.
Both books have been translated into French and German (Spanish will be forthcoming) and may be purchased directly through the Elliotts. David autographs each book so that the children may see, and be encouraged by, his personal message. To order, send an email to Silvertrumpets@comcast.net with “books” in the subject line. If you cannot pay and know of a child who needs help, please contact the Elliotts for assistance.
The Elliotts intend to write two additional books to complete the series. David’s Sheath will offer parents insight and concrete help for navigating the entire situation. David’s Soldiers, the fourth and final book, will address caregivers and professionals regarding the various services and support that they can seek out when promoting the wellness of the children.
 On a personal note, this reviewer shared both David’s Sword and David’s Shield with my youthful sons (middle school and high school age) to help them gain understanding about the terrible evil of child sexual abuse and prepare them to offer help when God calls upon them. We should be mindful that our children likely will be nearer to situations in which abuse is occurring and serve as a more direct avenue for immediate help.
Jennifer Foley is member of Amoskeag Presbyterian Church, Manchester, New Hampshire. Ordained Servant Online, June 2014.