Knowing what she knows now, a well-known Winnipeg pastor says she still would have said yes to helping a woman after she was harassed and manipulated by her.
Wilma Derksen is confirming rumours circulating that she had died are false, saying they were made up by a woman on the other side of the globe who was upset Derksen did not want to work with her anymore. Derksen also alleges that the woman was behind many fake emails, impersonating people in the media.
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"It is just horrifying. It is just a feeling of vulnerability that we cannot even live our own truth anymore. We have no control over our own truth. And if we don't have control over that what do we have control over?" Derksen asks in an interview.
In August, a pastor in Australia contacted Derksen, saying there was a woman who needed someone to talk to as she went through a murder trial. The woman claimed she was going through a murder case, saying her father stabbed her mother to death and then killed himself. Derksen, whose daughter Candice was murdered at the age of 13, has spent a long time helping families going through these situations and jumped to help.
"We need to just courageously continue and take that chance, even if we are humiliated and feel embarrassed or stupid like I did. It was a chance worth taking because what if I hadn't?"
Conversations quickly got darker, with the woman saying she had gone through a miscarriage and tried to commit suicide during the time they were in conversation.
"The drama started to get more and more involved," she says. "I realized right then and there I was probably over my head and that I was not even close to her. I did not know the response teams, I did not know the resources in Australia and I started to get alarmed."
Derksen backed away and eventually broke off contact after the woman shared she could get help in Australia.
"She turned on me and started to say 'no, we need to continue' and started to harass and threaten. (She) started to play the media and impersonate other people, and call my friends and tell them that I was in trouble and to stir up rumours."
Not long afterwards, Derksen would begin receiving emails from people claiming to be in places like New York and California, interested in sharing Derksen's story.
"They were fooling. They were impersonators. When I responded to it I found out she was at the bottom of it."
Now, people were getting messages, being told she had died.
"My husband got a call asking if I was alive. It is nice to know people still want me alive. That is the upside of that" Derksen laughs.
She has later learnt that everything the woman told her was a lie.
Derksen says she is embarrassed by the situation but decided to take her own advice about rumours: be on the offence and publically debunk rumours, finding courage in God.
"I don't want this to intimidate me, I will take a call, I will listen to anybody, and I will believe anybody until proven otherwise. And I don't regret what I did in trying to support her," she says. "It was a chance worth taking because what if I hadn't?" There are still other people to contact me and have these horrific stories that are true and I need to be there for them."
Derksen says looking back she would still agree to help and step back when she needed to.
"We do need to know ourselves. We do need to protect our inner being so we do not become angry and take it out on our parishioners," she says.
She has found many pastors are going through a difficult time, with some spilling out those emotions or becoming unable to serve others. Derksen is encouraging church leaders to take care of themselves and to know when to take a break.
"My mother is such a caring, giving person and so she will go above and beyond in that way, is the kind of person that can get caught up in something like this, not that she did anything wrong," her son, Dr. Syras Derksen says.
Syras, who is a psychologist and pastor, is encouraging people to identify and set their limits when helping others.
"Christians have a lot of trouble with boundaries because it feels like it is not a Christian thing to do. It feels like we need to be everything for everybody, and I don't actually believe that is biblical at all," he says.
He says while it can be hard to set those boundaries, it can also be hard to know what people are capable of.
"We are human beings, we have limitations on what we are able to do. If we do not respect that, we can kind of be hurt."
He suggests connecting with people who can help, such as a prayer team.
With files from Mike Thom