My husband had gone to a meeting at church and my children were asleep down the hall when an intruder entered my bedroom, waking me from a deep sleep. In the dim light reflecting from the hallway, I saw his silhouette—and vaguely perceived that a tall man with bulky arms stood just a few feet from my bed.

I didn't scream. For a few naïve moments, I didn't understand what was happening. "Who are you?" I asked. The ugliness of his laugh shocked me into wakefulness. I sat up quickly, and he yanked a knife out of his pocket.

"Oh, no," I whispered, holding my hands up toward him. "No—don't do this."

Some have suggested that the church was partly to blame for my rape. They have a point. My husband and I had moved into the inner city as penniless college students, planning to leave as soon as finances allowed. But we began attending a neighborhood church that had a vision for community development and racial reconciliation—and we were hooked.

With transformed attitudes, we began sitting on the front porch of our home instead of hiding behind shuttered windows. We invited kids who once broke our tulip stems to join us in weeding, and we organized block parties and community rummage sales. The hood became our home. There's no denying it: If it weren't for the church, I wouldn't have been living in that place four years and two kids later.

It was the church that I immediately called when I broke free from my attacker's grip that night. I first ran into my kids' room and touched their beautiful, sleeping heads—then crunched myself into a corner and dialed the number I knew by heart.

The man who answered was a dear friend of our family. "I need my husband!" I cried. Those were the only words I could choke out. At ...

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