A handful of leaders in our Convention, as detailed here last September, 2008, neglected to fulfill their God-given responsibilities to shut down Gilyard's ministry and provide help to his victims. Alas, a young Southern Baptist woman, a Gilyard victim herself, approached the unenviable task of bringing Gilyard to justice with the zeal of a modern apostle. Tiffany Croft began her blog with the goal of treading where we Southern Baptist pastors and leaders feared to trod. With all the negative press from official channels in the SBC regarding blogs, it would be great to see someone like Tiffany be given credit using a blog to bring about good in our society.
It has been my privilege to speak with Tiffany on a couple of occasions, and I have followed her blog with interest over the past couple of years. She has sent an email to her friends about the plea agreement, and I reproduce it here, with her permission, to express my heartfelt gratitude to Tiffany.
Thank you so much for your prayers, encouragement and support - you will never fully understand how much it meant to me! I have really struggled in this journey as it was exhausting and so many things I would rather not even know (details and the depths of this garbage) and though there were many times I wished I could just lay it all down, and forget it all - I am so thankful that we saw it through. I have had the opportunity to "be there" to help carry the weight for so many and I know that it has helped me to heal as well, and has also made sense of the past.Kudos Tiffany Thigpen Croft. May your tribe increase.
Many of you already know that the blog became a huge source of leads and lead to many other witnesses and victims (many were still to scared to testify) - all of these were passed along by me to the State Attorney and they acted on each and every one, in the early days it was a whirlwind. Eventually it settled into waiting as they pieced all of the pieces together and figured out how the case would actually look. The blog then became a place for people to vent, to ask questions and get information about court hearings etc. It served its purpose, I believe that it was meant to be a tool, and I am thankful.
When I had my dealings with Gilyard all those years ago, as a 17 year old girl, I felt so ashamed and wondered how I could have been so blinded, how could I have trusted so completely this man? I also believed fully in the sovereignty of our Savior, so I questioned Him one night, "I know you have plans for me, I don't understand why you allowed this to happen to me. I can either be angry with you that you allowed this, or I can acknowledge that you allowed it for a purpose that I can't understand." I decided the latter. I dealt with my pain, anger, trust issues, shame....and I decided that I was not going to carry it any longer - whether I ever knew the purpose for it or not, I was surrendering it. All of these years later, it has not consumed me through the years (Hallelujah), I rarely even thought of it other than in ways that I have shared it to help others. When I saw him preaching on television, I was not consumed with anger, I felt fear (for any unwilling victims) but I also felt pity for him, living a lie.
But the night I saw him on the news over a year ago after having been arrested, I felt such a surge of strength rise up within me and I KNEW what I needed to do. I released tears that I hadn't cried in years (as memories surfaced) but I felt so strong and I knew that something had to be done this time to make sure that everyone knew and did not let him get away again - it was time. The warrior within me cried out, not for vengeance, but it was as if my warrior cry lined up and joined the cry of our Heavenly Father - it was time for David to face Goliath, and I was never once afraid - the Rock and my fortress were all around me and I knew that you were all covering me with prayer! So you have all had a mighty hand in all of this. Thank you and God bless you!
In His Grace,