15 December 2017

MASKquerade

A True Story of Unmasked Freedom

Rejoice Always interviews Danny Wallace who tells his very powerful story of surviving severe childhood abuse, and his subsequent healing and deliverance. Readers should be advised that while this article is very timely, it is hard to read without being affected by the nature of the content.

Danny, tell us a little about your home life growing up as a child, including your spiritual journey and when you came to faith.

I grew up in rural Alabama, a state situated in the southern United States. I was born on December 28, 1954 the first-born son of a man his peers considered to be the finest man who they had ever known. My father was a humble, shy, and hard working man who provided well for his family. However, there was another, more sinister side to Malcolm Wallace.

From the time I was 5 until I married 12 years later at age 17, I was the victim of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of my father and the many men he chose to sell me to across those years. There had been so many men who would abuse me between the ages of 5 and 10 that I lost count.

A redeeming factor in my childhood was the fact that at age 6, I began to teach myself to play piano. Music became a place of retreat to escape the horrors of my secret childhood as I carefully formed the mask of “Danny Wallace, little gospel music star.”

At age 10 my father had come home from work one day to say that a man had given him a load of wood that was stored in an old barn. He said if I would help him load the wood he would pay me. As we left our home that fateful afternoon it was already getting dusky dark outside. I remember turning off a gravel road onto a dirt road that slithered like a winding snake into the deep woods. However, I will never forget the feeling that struck me as I went through the doors of that old barn. There was no wood in the barn. There was only a stained and filthy old mattress that was lying on the dirt floor in the very centre of the barn. I was in a panic! I remember hearing this very sinister voice in my head that said, “You stupid little fool. You fell for a load of wood in this barn? You’re everything your father says that you are. Not only that…you’re just plain stupid.”

As I turned to run from the barn I realised I was already surrounded by about 15 big strong men who had paid my father for a little fun. On that fateful afternoon, every single man had his turn with me sexually. One of the men in the circle asked my father, “What are we going to do with him if we kill him?” Without missing a beat my father said, “We’re going to get rid of him.” My heart was crushed. For you see, up until that moment I had gone to bed every night with one thought on my heart and mind. I thought that if I could figure out what was wrong with me and if I could get it right, just maybe my father would love me again. But when I heard how easily he would throw me out like yesterday’s trash, I knew in that very moment that he would never love me. There was nothing I could do to change that.

In that moment my heart grew hard and cold. I was tired of trying to be loved. I had come to believe that I was everything my father said I was. I resolved right there in that old barn that I would never shed another tear. My father could continue to rape me, sell me to as many men as he liked and I would not break. I vowed I would never cry another tear for him.

I held to that promise for a solid year. But God had other plans for me. At age 11 my uncle called to our house on a Friday afternoon to say there was a revival service in progress at a Baptist church not far from our home. Since the pastor had heard me play piano on several occasions he wondered if my uncle could persuade me to play for their service that night.

I attended that service and played for those people as if I was the guest star at Carnegie Hall in New York City, New York. When the song service was finished I slipped in the pew about three rows back from the pulpit. The old evangelist who walked to the platform was a man I had heard preach before. He had one style of preaching. He preached Hell Fire and Brimstone so hot it would make you feel that the soles of your shoes were melting. But as I said before, God had a plan for me that night.

For when the old man walked to the pulpit he spoke in the softest voice. He said that if he had a title for his sermon it would be: “Would you like to know a Father who loves you?” He had me from his opening line. I was mesmerised as he shared of a Papa in Heaven whose heart skipped a beat every time I walked into the room. When he gave the invitation he simply said, “If you would like to know this Father who loves you, step out.” I literally ran to the altar that night and fell on my face in tears. The little boy who had held to his promise to never cry another tear was now crying a river.

It was at that moment when I came face to face with the only Father I have truly ever known. In that altar the sweetest voice I have ever heard said to my heart, “Danny, you have finally found a Father who will never leave you or forsake you. No matter where you go from here – highest mountain or lowest valley – I will always be with you.” My Father has kept that promise.

You obviously were exposed to severe abuse. How did this affect you in your teenage and later years?

The abuse destroyed my self-esteem. I became a mirror image of what my father said I was. I came to believe that I was worthless and unloved. I spent my teen-age years in an emotional search for that male love I had missed as a child. By the time my puberty development came I already had one foot in a homosexual world and one foot in a heterosexual world. I didn’t know how I got there, and I had no idea how I could ever be free. I was also a young man who was full of hatred and resentment. I had huge emotional walls built around my heart designed to keep people from getting close enough to hurt me. It is the nature of abused children. When you have been violated by the very one you should be able to trust the most you will be reluctant to let others get close enough to hurt you all over again.

What kept you from telling about your abuse and seeking help? How important was it for your healing process to eventually speak out?

I did not tell of my abuse for a long time because my father threatened to kill me if I did. After he raped me the very first time in his workshop he knelt down in front of me and said that if I ever told a living soul he would bury me on our property and they wouldn’t find me for years. I believed him.

However, when I was about 13 years old I shared my story with an elderly man at my school who was the Assistant Principal of the High School. I will never forget what happened when I broke down one day to trust him with my secret. I discovered that this old man was a closet homosexual who then spent the remaining days of my school years sexually molesting me in his office. I was devastated and more guarded of ever trusting another adult in the years that followed.

I would eventually come to share my life story, as I am telling it here, because of a distinct call of God on my life to do so. I was in my 40’s before I ever shared my entire story publicly and I did so not only to insure my continued freedom, but to inspire hope and freedom within others who had experienced similar secret shame in their own lives.

How hard has it been to remove the masks?

It was very hard to remove the first one. That first step is always the hardest. Satan convinces us that if we step from the secret shadows of our silent shame people won’t love us. There may be an element of truth to this lie, but nevertheless, that has nothing to do with why he does not want us to remove the mask and step into a place of transparency and truth. He doesn’t want us to go there because his kingdom is maintained in the shadows of silence. If he can convince us to stay there he has convinced us to keep our feet firmly planted on kingdom turf that belongs to him. But if we find the courage to remove our mask and step into the light of truth and transparency, we have stepped to a place where only Jesus Christ abides. It is God’s Kingdom and the enemy can no longer follow us there. The enemy knows that “if we step there,” our freedom is soon to follow. After all, we don’t find freedom by walking away from our darkness. We find freedom by walking “to” the light.

All of the subsequent masks have fallen easily. As a matter of fact, when freedom comes it is actually quite a “rush” to remove the masks. There is nothing in life to compare with the deep breath of freedom that comes beyond the MASKquerade.

Why did you choose to forgive and what were the consequences for your own healing? What message of forgiveness would you wish to share with our readers?

First of all, there is no freedom without forgiveness. Many people believe they can’t forgive because they are trying to forgive and forget. There is no such thing. If I had forgotten my father and the many people who hurt me across my childhood I would be of very little value to others who are hurting and hiding in shame and secrecy today. Rather, we forgive and remember just how much God has forgiven us. Forgiveness places us on a dry bridge high above troubled waters that were once pulling us under for the third, and final time. We can look down and clearly remember the waters, but forgiveness has placed us on a dry bridge of safety. The hatred we once felt has long passed away.

I chose to forgive my father first and foremost, because my heavenly Father asked me to. I will never forget the day that God stopped me in my tracks and said, “Danny, I need you to forgive your father. You will never fulfil the destiny I have for your life if you continue in the hatred that fills your heart. Not only that, but your hatred is holding me back from doing what I need to do to bring a level of healing and hope to your father.”

So, I let it go. I didn’t feel it at first. I forgave my father because I knew how desperately I had needed forgiveness for the things I had done. I did not want to go to bed or rise in the morning with hatred for my father defining my heart. The moment I let it all go the blues were bluer and the greens were greener. My life has never been the same since.

What message would you want to share to those who don’t have a good relationship with their father or is there anything you wish to say to those who are fathers?

The message I would like to share is that “today,” I am most honoured to have been the first born son of the finest man who ever lived in Madison County, Alabama. I chose to forgive him long ago. I realised that the greatest gift I have to give “any” man, even one who abused me so tragically, is to bless him and love him without conditions. There is no real power in forgiveness until we extend it unto the most “undeserved.” Surely, no one was more undeserving of my forgiveness than Malcolm Wallace. I can tell you that it has been my greatest honour to extend that forgiveness to him.

I knew in forgiving my father that we would never have the kind of relationship that I have enjoyed with my 3 sons. That ship had sailed long ago. However, I knew that I would never again be defined by the hatred I had once held in my heart for him. I knew that my choice to forgive him would free me to fly to a destiny that was mine in Christ Jesus.

Where are you now in your healing / faith / ministry journey?

Today I travel the world sharing my life story. It is so much more than a story of survival over childhood sexual and physical abuse or even a deliverance from homosexuality. My story is much more than my 2003 healing from AIDS. It is a story of honour and power; the honour and power that is released in our lives when we choose to love without conditions and forgive the most undeserving. If I could have only “one” healing I would gladly exchange my healing from AIDS for the glorious freedom I have found in extending a love without conditions and a forgiveness to the most undeserved. There is no comparison. I continue to write and am currently finishing my second book, “Man’s Cage Under God’s Tree,” to be released by Charisma House Publishing next year.

We all have secrets and shame in our past. Thankfully, we are not defined by where we have been, but rather, by where we go from here. It is my prayer that all who hear of my journey will shed their masks of the past for the glorious hope that lies before them with the transparency of “today”. Our Father is worthy of our love and praise. Not because He demands it; for He never would. But rather, because He has set us free! And if the Son sets you free… you are free indeed!

Danny personally responds to any queries relating to abuse/ unforgiveness/family break-up etc. If you have been affected by this article or have any enquiries relating to these matters please contact danny@mauricewylie.com

Danny is also planning to visit different parts of Ireland & UK later this year. For anyone seeking to host Danny to minister on the subjects named above please email media@mauricewylie.com and submit contact details.