Tiffany reported on her blog this weekend that Darrell Gilyard, former pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church, has agreed to a plea bargain in his case involving lews and lascivious conduct against a 14-year old. This is very good news - according to Tiffany, Gilyard has admitted guilt, and will serve 3 years in a state prison, and will carry the "sexual predator" label for the rest of his life. This plea bargain will save the horrific ordeal of a public trial and his victims having to testify.
Tiffany had her faith and a deep conviction that a person standing for truth and justice COULD make a difference. She started a blog to call out an abusive pastor in this city, and demanded justice - and she encouraged victims to come out. She used her blog as a vehicle for victims to share their stories. Information provided to Tiffany via her blog was shared with the State Attorney's office, and this aided their investigation.
Tiffany started her blog about the Gilyard case back in December 2007 when this news about Gilyard's abuse at Shiloh first broke. Tiffany was brave enough to come forward and share her testimony of how Gilyard tried to seduce her as an 18-year old back in the early 1990's when she was at First Baptist Jacksonville. She shared how Gilyard operated, what his sickening tactics were - and no doubt this caused other victims to recognize they weren't alone, and needn't be ashamed to come forward, that this guy was a monster who had preyed on many others.
Wade Burleson has written an excellent article on his blog about Tiffany, "Walking Where SBC Leaders Fail to Tread". It is true that many SBC leaders back in the 1990's who supported Gilyard and helped him to his meteoric rise - they absolutely failed to keep this man out of any positions of power - and their silence since Gilyard's arrest has been deafening. Thank the Lord that Tiffany wasn't trying to avoid controversy or wasn't afraid of being labeled as a troublemaker - she spoke the truth, and called for others to stand with her, and she took the arrows that came her way. Tiffany didn't complain about the attacks against her from people supporting Gilyard, she maintained a spirit of love, always expressing a desire for healing for Gilyard's victims and for repentence and justice in Gilyard's life.
And most importantly, Tiffany didn't cave into those cowardly voices that told her that her blog was harming the cause of Christ, that it was beauty-shop gossip and should be shut down. No way - Tiffany stood strong, knew that truth was on her side, and she KNEW that God was pleased with what she was doing. You see, for far too long, people inside baptist churches have been afraid to call public attention to abusers, especially pastors. They have used the illogical excuse that to do so would harm Christianity - that people would be turned away from Christ if light were shone on the abuses of pastors, that things should be kept quiet. They've even used lame excuses like the pastor is God's man, and "touch not thine annointed", or "just let God handle it."
The realilty was back in December 2007, God WAS handling this matter, and to help Him accomplish His will, God was looking for someone in Jacksonville. Not someone to hush it up, but to rise up and call for justice. God was looking for someone to shine the light on Gilyard to help bring about justice and healing. To call for others to demand justice. To encourage others who had been abused by Gilyard to come forward.
And He found Tiffany.
And Tiffany said "Yes, Lord".
Thank you, Tiffany.