Photo courtesy of M.J. Lucas
Keith Edmonds, founder of the Keith Edmonds Foundation, and M.J. Lucas with WANT FM98.9/WCOR AM1490 share smiles. The duo will appear on the Christian Television Network’s ‘Bridges’ next year to share their child abuse survivor stories and help combat child abuse.

Two Wilson County child abuse awareness advocates will join forces next year to help spread their message and continue the battle against child abuse.

M.J. Lucas, host at WANT FM98.9/WCOR AM1490, will join Keith Edmonds, Keith Edmonds Foundation founder, for a segment on child abuse on the Christian Television Network’s show “Bridges,” with Monica Schmelter.

When Edmonds was 14 months old, an abuser held his face to an electric heater, resulting in third-degree burns and scarring to his face. 

He had numerous surgeries on his face. He endured the abuse and the taunting of schoolmates, and as a result turned to substances and alcohol to cope.

Edmonds said he eventually found Christ and decided to live life as a survivor instead of a victim, and raise awareness of child abuse.

Lucas’ story was first told in an article called Silence No More in 2012 in The Lebanon Democrat, but this year was the first time she told her story in front of an audience during the second Child Abuse Awareness Panel held by the 15th Judicial District Child Advocacy Center.  

Lucas said a family member abused her from when she was 6 years old until she moved away from home in Florida. 

Edmonds appeared on “Bridges” earlier this year and was asked to re-appear on the show for a segment to air in April for Child Abuse Awareness Month. Edmonds said producers asked him if he knew someone who would also share their story.

“Initially, I thought of M.J. I almost forwarded the email immediately,” said Edmonds, who said he knew Lucas recently started coming forward about her abuse. “She’s also been someone who has been by my side for the last four or five years – ever since I started doing this. It was a no-brainer to reach out to MJ.”

“My goal is to help others heal and to give them hope. It was my faith and hope for something better in my life that helped me through those early years,” Lucas said. “My hope is that by sharing my story, I will make a profound and positive impact on another wounded soul who feels lost and alone. For me, it’s all about awareness and healing.”

Lucas said she learned through her situation that “secrets” and feelings must be expressed and learned there’s power in telling them. Edmonds said he believed Lucas’ situation brings reality to child abuse.

“When we talk about raising awareness, we need to talk about reality. It’s not always some random person walking down the street. It happens in the family dynamic and home environment,” he said.

“I am a true believer that through something bad, something good can happen. I made a promise to myself and to God that I would make a difference with my life and my story,” Lucas said.

By Xavier Smith

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