SELAH Team Members
“Now the Lord who created you says:’Don’t be afraid, for I have ransomed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.'” —Isaiah 43:1
My passion for starting SELAH was born out of my own personal experience with domestic abuse. I know firsthand the destruction, confusion, and fear that domestic abuse brings. It may surprise you to know that 1 in 4 women experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime. Women in every walk of life find themselves in abusive relationships. Often, women find themselves in an abusive relationship and know that something is terribly wrong, but they can’t explain it because abuse is generally so insidious in nature. It often starts with subtle behaviors such as jealousy, manipulation, or gaslighting and gradually increases to include isolation, threats, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and even physical or sexual abuse.
Women who find themselves in an abusive relationship often don’t know where to go for help. They feel very alone. They feel that nobody will believe them, and they often find themselves paralyzed in fear and unable to move forward. It’s my desire for SELAH to be a safe place for each woman to share her experience and receive the help and support she needs.
I currently work full time in church ministry, and throughout the years I have met several women who have found themselves in an abusive relationship. The numbers for women in the church in abusive relationships are the same – 1 in 4; however, some studies suggest that it can be as many as 1 in 3 because women in the church are often more afraid to speak up. There is no system in place to help them, and they are afraid that no one will believe them. Because of this, my heart was set on building a ministry that can educate, support, and walk alongside women as they sort through the complexities of an abusive and destructive relationship. With the encouragement of one of my pastors and a series of events that could have only been orchestrated by God, SELAH was offered office space and received a donation to help with start-up expenses. Sherry Norman, a licensed social worker and therapist, agreed to partner in developing SELAH, and together we trained at Safe Haven Ministries to develop an educational and support program.
My prayer is that, through SELAH, women will regain the value and self-worth that has been taken from them because of abuse, and that they will fully embrace their identity in Christ as they move forward in healing and into a deeper relationship with Him.
Shirley Ritsema came to Selah in January 2022 after a clear nudge from the Holy Spirit to learn more and offer her years of organizational and leadership experience. She now fills a behind-the-scenes role of Operations Manager and contributes insights and knowledge to lesson planning and group support from her personal experience with domestic abuse within a previous marriage. Shirley reflects that the restorative value of connecting with other victims and survivors is powerful whether abuse is ongoing or long passed.
Paula Wigboldy, the newest member of the Selah team, is also new to West Michigan. Her experience in marketing and business development has brought new insights and support to the team at just the right moment. Her passion for bringing hope to the broken fits especially well as she seeks to have those gifted with resources connected to those finding hope with Selah.
Group Support Facilitator
I came to Selah as a client referred by my therapist in the fall of 2018. Selah’s educational program and support rescued and transformed me from a place of hopelessness and worthlessness as a result of abuse to the discovery of my identity and priceless value as a daughter of my loving Creator God. As I grew in strength and healing, I felt a call to serve and support hurting women who came to Selah. I have been honored to co-lead evening classes, empowering women on their journey from the darkness and weight of oppression to become equipped women who pursue freedom, healing, and peace. I’m also involved in providing child care and emotional support for the children.
Community Educator & Class Leader
Shari Murdock joined Selah early 2021. Since then, she’s regularly mentored and co-led group classes. She is passionate in educating participants to learn in these confusing situations that each is experiencing the result of brokenness, not lack of individual effort. They are, in fact, precious and loved heirs of God and worthy of deep love and honor. Watching eyes opened, hearts filled, and experiences that bring hope brings joy to Shari’s heart! There’s victory when participants understand their value and worth in their Creator.