Bill Miller: A Bold Open Letter & Admonition from a (former) Beachy Amish Gentleman

The following blog post has three components, all written by Bill Miller. He has given me permission to share his email address for those who wish to reach out to him. I spoke with Bill’s son before I communicated with Bill. In the son I ‘met’ a man who cares deeply for the wounded children. (His son is also a ministry leader who forwarded their ministry’s protocol for handling abuse. I have never been more impressed!) He told me about his father, and some time later Bill reached out.

The first part is a letter of introduction, followed by admonition from James 5. And finally is a response to some concerns shared in response to CAM.

***

I am 67 years old and have been a member in the Beachy Amish Mennonite church from age 16 to age 63. I have observed the rules of the church faithfully. I have failed and have been restored. I have been loved and rejected. I have held offices and sat silently. I have watch this same thing in many other brethren in the church as well. And I believe this is quite normal for the church of Jesus Christ. We are, after-all, human and “we hold this treasure in earthen vessels.” I have been under numerous church administrations, what with moving, bishops dying or being silenced, or moving away and being replaced, and church outreaches.

But there is one issue that I have never been able to understand. This is the issue of elevating the ministry onto a pedestal and thereby they become untouchable by anyone. I have heard bishops say that “There is no other bishop that has any authority over me.” I have heard bishops say that “The laity has no right or responsibility to ever question or rebuke anyone in the ministry.” I have heard bishops say that there is an absolute hierarchy in the ministerial circles. “You do as we say and we will have your back. We will make sure that you are protected in the event that you would get into trouble. We will make sure that you will have all the speaking engagements and that your name will be recognized.”  We have seen numerous times where minister’s children get to keep their sins covered under the proverbial carpet and not under the “BLOOD”. All this in order to protect the minister’s name. In Matthew 20:20-28, Jesus clearly condemns this program as from the world, saying in verse 26, “But it shall not be so among you:” 

I personally know of numerous bishops that keep a written file of every member’s failures. I have seen some of these files. Who keeps a file of their own failures? What are they going to do with these files when they turn their office over to the next generation? Do they not know that one drop of blood took care of ALL these files? Do they then wonder what happened when the church house becomes empty? Do they not know that conflict of interest always leads to loss of trust and confidence? And last but not least, is no body learning from the history of the last 75 years?

I was taught that any group that leaves a fellowship, a conference, a constituency, and go out on their own, have lost their way. But in the last 30 years the number of unaffiliated churches has mushroomed. People are tired of the the old program where the highway is littered with the broken and bleeding, the neglected and hurting, those lost and dying, all from the heavy hand of power of the ministry and executive boards, who themselves are quite comfortable in their own wealth and prestige. 

Is it any wonder that we now have the arrogance and pride exuding from the pulpit and executive boards that are doing so much damage? The longer it goes the more the next generation of officials feel entitled to the same level of grandeur, and the more the name of our Lord and Savior is mocked. Wake up! There is coming a day of reckoning, a day of persecution, a day where the sons will turn their own fathers and mothers over to the authorities of the land. And we have brought it on ourselves. Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

It is with these thoughts that I was led by the Holy Spirit to write a message on James 5:1-6. Then I wrote a remedy for the sad situation from James 5:7-12.

Written with Love and a concerned heart.

 

Bill Miller
miller5254@gmail.com
****

James 5:1-6

Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries shall come upon you.

Wake up, you wealthy, powerful, influential, well known, ministers, charity organization leaders, and big, powerful business men, you better start weeping and howling, because your miseries are coming your way. There shall be no escaping the consequences.

Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.

You riches are filthy and rotten. They are no longer of any value. They will not buy your way to more power and influence. The game is over. Your riches are worthless in your pursuit of power. Your clothes are rotten and full of holes. Your arrogant deceit has eaten your façade as surely as moths eat old garments. People can see your nakedness through the holes in your self-righteous garments. Your plain clothes are a fraud and the people around you are ashamed to be in your presence. You would be better off dressing like the world than to look like some do-gooder Pharisee who hates when the light of truth shines into their dark, corrupt hearts. Your cover is gone and your riches and power are nothing but disgustingly filthy rags.

Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

Your riches, your fame and power, your influential positions, and business leadership positions have turned to battery acid in the hearts of the common folk. It will continue to eat at the very fiber of your heart and life as you watch the once grand positions and power disappear in the fog of people who at one time held you in great esteem. The battery acid that is eating you alive is also burning up the very lives of your victims, as they testify of your ingrained, accomplished, corruption. You have quite the treasure chest saved up for your last days. Your last days are here and your treasure chest will do you no good. It will only stand in judgement against you as you grovel alone in misery, rejection and isolation. Your acquired riches that you must spend to defend yourself, stands in judgement against you, as testimony of your guilt.

Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.

Behold, the people that have been doing the hard work for you, those who have been exposed to the elements of the world of evil, those that are working in obscurity, those that are in the ditches and misery for you, making sure your name stays on top, those that are accustomed to hearing commands and arrogance from you; are not getting their dues. You are neglecting them and calling it your privilege to treat them as those that are disposable and replaceable. You knowingly allowed your victim’s children to be brutally raped and emotionally destroyed by your own workers, while you are busy telling them of the love of Jesus, and feeding them from your hand. They are crying to the Lord and the Lord is hearing them. The Lord has a tender heart for the down trodden and he will hear the anguished cries of your victims, that you consider as “disposable”.

Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in the day of slaughter.

You have enjoyed the life of pleasure, ease and excess, while dismissing the needs of your subjects. You have required your own people to satisfy your extravagance. You have lived in the desires of your own hearts as though you have a fatted calf every day. Nothing is too extravagant for you. You expect and demand it.

Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doeth not resist you.

Whenever a person tries to shine the light of truth into your life, you berate, condemn and assassinate his character. You have no qualms about completely destroying any one that dares to question your integrity. You don’t care how it affects his health, his livelihood, or his name. You will put forth every effort to destroy that person.  You know you can because of your clout. You know you can because of his status and lack of resources. You know you can because you know  he is too timid to resist. Your victims are endless and you arrogant brutality knows no limits. Just like the “Generation of vipers” Jesus talked about.

You are where you are because of choices you made, each step of your successful life. That’s what brought Hitler and Stalin where they ended up being. You chose to allow HURT to grow and by your negligence you fostered it.

With all your riches, you are able and willing to hire lawyers to protect your assets, something your victims are not able or interested in doing. You reject the very Savior that you preached about for many years, and choose to defend your position with a worldly lawyer. How are your victims and past parishioners supposed to have faith in your past messages? The only winner in this situation will be the lawyers. You don’t need a lawyer, you need a Savior.

A Beautiful and Assuring Promise for the Meek and Humble, Faithful Children of God

                                                                        James 5:7-12

Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

You, the person that has truly become the brother of Jesus Christ, has the full attention of the Lord who is watching the fruit of our “earth,” our flesh, which is under His direction and guidance. May the Lord receive the 100 fold fruits of our humble, faithful, and loving work in the Kingdom of God, as the early and latter rains fall.

Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

You, brother of Jesus Christ, be patient. Don’t run ahead of God’s direction or get frustrated when you don’t see immediate results for your faithful labors. Let your faith in God grow deep. Trust in Him for He cares for you, His child. Let His Word dictate your life. The more you do this the closer you get to the Lord and the closer He gets to you. He loves you.

Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold the judge standeth at the door.

Forgive those who have hurt you and sinned against you, otherwise God cannot forgive you. Granting full forgiveness to those is the exact way Jesus forgave you. He allowed your sins to kill Him, while He trusted His Father to raise Him back to life, so that you can have a Father-Son relationship with His Father. Forgive those that have hurt you so that your Heavenly Father can show His love by forgiving you and you can love Him. Otherwise the greatest judgement against you is the Father not being able to relate to you because of your unforgiving heart.

Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

“Take”. Receive the prophets. Receive the real people who speak and teach the real truth of God. Do not listen to those that speak truth so that they can wield power and influence. But listen to those that present the truth with love, accuracy, and dedication, and also lead a life of holiness in spite of what others think or circumstances in life that you have no control over.

Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

When we look at Job, it was when he proved his dedication to God and the devil, that God restored all that he had lost. God was full of tender mercy throughout Job’s experience. It was the devil that challenged Job, and once Job declared the truth, his life was in total dedication and praise to God. Let’s endure and be happy and joyful in the midst of these experiences. What greater joy can we potentially have than to endure for our Savior’s sake, after all He has done for us. He is patiently waiting while we declare and prove our dedication to Him.

But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

Let’s not place our trust in anything except Jesus and His Word. May our yes to Him and His cause, be a full YES, and our no to the devil and his evil ways, be a solid NO. Amen.

My Brethren, You are where you are, because of choices you made each step of your life. Abraham, David, Daniel, Paul, and all the thousands of martyrs, ended up where they did because of choices they made, every step of their life.

Willing, Obedient, Humble, service is a CALLING and a CHOICE between two options.

PRAISE GOD, WE HAVE MANY EXAMPLES OF THESE, BOTH IN THE SCRIPTURES, OUR ANABAPTIST HISTORY, AND IN OUR PRESENT DAY.

Blessings,
Bill Miller

***

After thinking over the statements made by those that feel that somehow the effort to recompense the victims would just bring more “victims” out of the woodwork, I say “So what?” 

First of all what was the offence and who caused it?

Should the offender and his supporters not be willing to take whatever reaping that comes as a result of his sowing?

Does the offender and his supporters not see Jesus hanging on the cross and asking the Father to forgive him, the offender, long before the offender was even born?

Does the offender and his supporters not see that Jesus was completely and totally innocent and yet chose to accept the whatever the ungodly world of sinners could and did place on his shoulders? 

Does the offender and his supporters not see that the possible falsified requests for remunerations of some extra supposed victims is not even measurable in compared to the iniquities of the whole world placed on Jesus’ shoulders?

Does the offender and all his supporters not realize the good that would come to themselves by willingly and totally forgiving those that would possibly “unfairly” ask for rewards?

Does the great organization of CAM not understand that they would benefit great and innumerable blessings form God by turning this whole thing over to a different Christian organization, that would have the right and responsibility of acting on the behalf of the victims, on behalf of the victims families and on behalf of the communities of the victims, regardless of the monetary cost? That’s exactly what Jesus did!

Does the offender and all his supporters not realize that there is nothing in the world that is cheaper than money? It is our most precious commodity but we are willing to part with it in exchange for anything else we want, except in the event that someone might get an undeserved advantage. How foolish and ungodly for us to begrudge the potential event that someone in Haiti might take undue advantage of a reward!

Oh how the great and mighty have fallen, both in deeds and theology! Oh how awful the results of this great fall! Oh how awful the fact of this fall, in light of the fact of the last 75 years of revival meetings, church plantings, ordinations, mission works and outreaches, Sunday Schools, summer Bible Schools, winter Bible Schools for the youth, and all kinds of teaching seminars. How many more teachings do we need in order to get back on the TRUE BIBLE WAY? Do we even realize where we are in relation this True Bible Way?

A concerned Brother,
Bill Miller
miller5254@gmail.com

***

I am encouraged by these compassionate men of God, who care for victims. I have never met Bill or his son, but hope one day to have that opportunity.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

JD Shrock: In Fear & Trembling An Advocate is Born

A few weeks ago, a gentleman I had never heard of before, called. He had some questions, and wondered if I would take a few minutes to respond. He had heard of me through the CAM scandal, and out of curiosity purchased my memoir “Between 2 Gods; A Memoir of Abuse in Mennonite Communities”.

In its pages, he was quite certain he had found “the moment”…

Not only was I shocked speechless to have a stranger see so deeply into my story – because I knew what moment he spoke of, before ever he mentioned what he had found; I was moved to tears. When he paused for me to respond. I could not speak. It was all I could do to hold myself together.

He paused momentarily, and then continued…

In his blog he posts an excerpt from my book, and I will post an ‘excerpt of the excerpt:

I found myself standing there alone, at age thirteen, wanting to pick a fight with dad, just to distract him. I never fought with dad, at least not willingly. This was different. It was my baby brother who had meant no harm. I would take a stand against dad’s violence.

I began clearing the table – not a task I typically help with. My chores were in the barn, working with animals and all the fun stuff that goes with that. It was one of my favourite places in the world. When it came time for dishes, I scattered and preferred not to return until it was all done. The house, and keeping it, was my least favourite thing in the world. Cleaning stalls in the barn, and shoveling manure, was far more fun. But not that night. That night the kitchen was my priority.

I made a silent vow that if dad beat Abe, I would pick up the phone and report him, or take matters in my own hands. I had held his rifles when he wasn’t around, just to see if I had it in me, should the need arise. One way or another, it would be his last act of violence in our home, if I could help it.

I stopped clearing the table long enough to look him in the eye. The warning look that says, “If you do, there will be a price”. It’s a look most parents use – especially mom’s – though without the threat, when a child is crossing a line. A look I should not have had to use on my dad.

He looked at me. “Well, what are you staring at?” he asked.

He had taken the bait. Fear surged through my body, deeper and harder than I anticipated. I pushed it down and said nothing. Picked up a few more plates. Stopped, now and then, and looked at him. But I never spoke a word to him in confrontation.

To read the rest of the excerpt, go to “In Fear and Trembling an Advocate is Born.” To read the rest of the memoir, go to: Amazon Canada or Amazon USA.

***

Later today, or tomorrow, depending on the timing of things, I plan to release a blog written by Bill Miller. He is a conservative Anabaptist who appreciates his culture, and whose heart is devastated by the ongoing poor handling of sexual abuse cases within that culture.

***

***  See below: early ‘concert only’ registration for abuse survivors Nov. 2, 2019. ***

The young woman who was assaulted at age 7… Five donations have come in so far with enough funds to cover . (We are still waiting to confirm the fee, so not sure just how many). Thank you for contributing. Every bit helps, as this is will require ongoing support. If you wish to contribute, you may do so through the following link: Support for Rape Survivor.

She continues to be amazed by the support that she has felt and seen, and extends her thanks and appreciation. It has been encouraging for me to see ‘the church’ enter into her story and care for her well-being in word, prayer, and helping with her counseling costs.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

***

ONLY 2 MORE WEEKS TO REGISTER WITH LUNCH AND CONCERT INCLUDED!
(ENDS AUGUST 1, 2019)
THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at  THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

(More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)

EARLY CONCERT REGISTRATION FOR ALL SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE:
If you are a sex abuse survivor – Anabaptist or not – and are not a sex offender, who wishes to attend the ‘concert only’ portion of The Gathering, we will allow for early registration before tickets are released to the public, August 1, 2019. For link to register for the concert only, email AslanHasHeard@gmail.com. Subject line: “Concert link for survivors”.

***

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

 

 

HAITI: 2nd Court Hearing Jeriah Mast & CAM (July 18, 2019)

On July 18, 2019, the second court hearing was held in Petit Goave, on behalf of some of the victims of Jeriah Mast. One of the individuals who sent me updates, was a gentleman from USA who has guardianship over a young man in Haiti, who sent short updates during the procedure, and more after the hearing was over. I also received photos of the hearing.

The following is a statement from one of the lawyers for the young men represented in this case:

Mr. Emmanuel Louicéus:
A warrant was issued by the public prosecutor’s office against Pastor Erisse Labady who did not appear at the hearing although he was expected for this purpose.

We, the attorneys for the victims of Jeriah Mast, requested that the prosecutor defer the lawsuit to the office of investigation for an investigation to be conducted on this subject. We also asked for the arrest of the CAM representative, which was not done by the chief prosecutor.

We continue our battle in favor for the victims so that justice will be rendered to them.

***

The hearing was intense according to those who have sent updates. Two CAM representatives showed up; Dan Hooley and James Mullet. Mr. Hooley is relatively new to CAM in Haiti as Field Director in Titanyen, and Mr. Mullet was placed in Eli Weaver’s position when Mr. Weaver was put on administrative leave, I am told. (If nothing has changed, James Mullet will be working with Eli Weaver’s support during the transition. Though further details have not been made public).

When questioned on the stand, CAM’s Mr. Mullet denied CAM board having any knowledge of the abuses in the past. Simeon Shankster was in the audience and knew this information was not accurate. He approached the stand (I was not told if summoned or voluntarily) and informed the courts that Eli Weaver and Paul Weaver both knew.

Jeriah’s victims were supported by other missionaries present at the hearing.

In an exchange after setting the record straight, Mr. Mullet stated that he misunderstood what they were saying. The following was one of the updates sent to me from Haiti:

The magistrate asked James Mullet, “Was any members of the board aware that Jeriah was doing these actions in Haiti?” And James said, “No, none of the board members was aware.” […]  After Simeon sat down, [he asked] James “Do you know what I was talking about?” And James said, “No I don’t.” […] James was answering for, “Did any of the board members know about these specific four victims.” So he felt like he was answering honestly. 

One informant wrote that it did not look good for CAM to have a representative on the stand who was not informed. Mr. Mullet had to keep telling the commissioner over and over that CAM did nothing for the victims and sent no one to find them or check on them.

Whether blatant lies, strategy or ignorance, it showed disrespect for the Haitian authorities.

Throughout the proceedings the magistrate stressed repeatedly that this thing is NOT a joke. It will NOT fall through the cracks. The ball will NOT be dropped.

When it was over, one informant wrote that the hearing was shut down for the day because the head Haitian Pastor (Erisse Labady) for CAM was ordered to be present, but never showed up. “Purposely is the charge.”

***

On the heels of that, someone sent me a statement from CAM leaders… (or is it former leaders if on administrative leave, but allegedly still helping behind the scenes?) Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver:

img_0408-1

***

On another front, the gentleman from USA was in Haiti to support victims in another area of Haiti, near where his son – the young man of whom he was granted guardianship – and advocate for them.

A gentleman in the community there told of the portable tent Jeriah Mast carried with him; a tent he allegedly used to lure young boys. His supplies of food drew them. Allegedly, if they refused his advances (at least in some instances), Mr. Mast refused to give them food.

He also had a tent he set up on the roof of a house, where he would molest young boys, within sight of a beautiful new church. And I find myself wondering…

How many victims look out their ‘window’ and see a ‘beautiful church’… just beyond the reach of their need for safety and protection?

***

***  See below: early ‘concert only’ registration for abuse survivors Nov. 2, 2019. ***

The young woman who was assaulted at age 7… Today was ‘search for a counselor day’. two donations have come in so far with enough funds to cover the first few sessions. (We are still waiting to confirm the fee, so not sure just how many). Thank you for contributing. This is will require ongoing support. If you wish to contribute, you may do so via PayPal through the following link: Support for Rape Survivor.

She extends her thanks and appreciation. One day, when this all comes to light, I pray that she will be able to tell her story in full, and you will continue to hold her in prayer and support. And I pray that you will see the powerful redemption God brings to the most horrific of places and stories.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

***

ONLY 2 MORE WEEKS TO REGISTER WITH LUNCH AND CONCERT INCLUDED!
(ENDS AUGUST 1, 2019)
THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at  THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

(More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)

EARLY CONCERT REGISTRATION FOR ALL SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE:
If you are a sex abuse survivor – Anabaptist or not – but are not a sex offender, and wish to attend the concert only portion of The Gathering, we will allow for early registration before tickets are released to the public. For link to register for the concert only, email AslanHasHeard@gmail.com. Subject line: “Concert link for survivors”.

***

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Podcast: Conversation on Sexual Abuse with Asher Witmer & Answering Questions

Last week I had the honour of chatting with Asher Witmer about sexual abuse in conservative Anabaptist settings. It was a delight to engage in such a meaningful and respectful manner. He has posted the link on his podcast:

Unfeigned Christianity: Episode 2

***

Today I will take a few moments to answer a few questions I’ve been asked many times, and especially recently in light of the shocking news of Jeriah Mast’s crimes in Haiti, and CAM leaders’ knowledge and failure to act responsibly:

  1. What are rates of victimization in Anabaptist communities?

    We know rates of victimization are high. Is it 10%, is it 90% or somewhere in between? We don’t know.

    In two schools I am aware of (each during a very particular timespan) the rates of students were over 50%. This was circumstantial in one of those settings, where the teacher molested many of the students. The other case was a mix of various abusers; a mix of adult abusers and teenagers. In a third setting several minors (all under 14) abused many children.

    In contrast, I’ve been in communities that remain relatively free of abuse, by all appearances. People seem to speak freely enough about it, and there is a ‘sense’ that they really do have a protected community.

  2. Do I believe all conservative Anabaptists are sex offenders? (especially males?

    Not at all. I don’t know the rates. Statistically the number lands at 117 per offender, based on self-reporting by sex offenders in prison. In our Anabaptist communities, I do not see the rates that high very often, but I do see between a dozen and twenty victims far too frequently. More than that, I see ‘trails’. Uncle ‘so and so’ molests his niece. The niece later molests a male child she is babysitting, and so on. Multiply that by 5 victims per offender and you have an epidemic, if those patterns are replicated. I could draw many ‘maps’ of abuse that span 4 generations, simply because victims have come to me spanning across the years.

    Also, there are missionaries (not referring to Jeriah Mast), who are said to have many victims in several countries, as well as at home. But, again, the number of victims is unknown. And confirming that the details takes deep, deep investigation. (What made Haiti unique is that a few came forward, and several missionaries believed them, and soon realized it was a massive crime case.In other cases, while I do report to law enforcement as soon as I have reportable information (which has to be more than a rumour without names or location of offender), I often cannot report. There’s simply not enough information. All of the leads I have with even a hint of a trail that can be followed have been reported in 2019. Approximately half before the Jeriah Mast became public.

    As more and more cases come forward and are exposed, I think we will get a clearer picture of how widespread this is. And if we can respectfully also name those who have taken ownership, we might be able to get ahead of this thing.

  3. What about those who have apologized for past offences, and are now church leaders who never turned themselves in to the law? 

    My role is to work with what is known, and to take my queues from victims.

  4. Is there no place for redemption in the life of someone who has offended?

    Absolutely! I hold the grace of God in high regard. In light of the spiritual and eternal, the moment they genuinely repent they are free before God.

    The grace of God, however, does not let me avoid the consequences of stealing a million dollars without repaying or doing prison time. Who of you, if someone took all that you had, would begin an outcry for everyone to forgive?

    Are we really willing to say that a child’s life holds less value than money?

    When a child (or adult) is sexually assaulted, the core of all of who they are is impacted; emotionally, spiritually, psychologically. Many, many victims struggle deeply with faith in God. Many walk away from their faith.

    Are we really willing to say that a child’s soul is worth less than money?

***

These are a few of the questions I’ve been confronted with in recent days. There are more. Many more. And I am working towards either addressing them, or having someone address them.

Some take considerable work and research, which I don’t currently have time for.  I have asked Hope Anne Dueck of A Better Way to pull together a post to address what signs to watch for that might indicate a child or teen has suffered abuse. She kindly agreed to work on organizing this.

If you have questions you would like addressed, please send them to info@generationsunleashed.com with the subject line “Blog: Question”. If I am not able to answer, or the time factor is more than I can commit, I will do my best to find someone willing to write an article.

If you are in ministry for the victimized and would like to submit an article appropriate to the topics addressed here, please send your idea to info@generationsunleashed.com with the subject line “Blog Article Idea”.

If you have resources to recommend for churches or for victims, please send them to info@generationsunleashed.com with the subject line “Victim Resources.” (NOTE: these will be screened. Content must be sensitive to the suffering of victim. Furthermore, resources cannot be the product of organizations or leaders and authors who *are known* to be abusers or to enable offenders, cover for them in any way, or neglect to address abuse appropriately in their own sphere of influence.

***

By way of update on the young woman who was assaulted at age 7… Today was ‘search for a counselor day’. Two donations have come in so far with enough funds to cover the first few sessions. (We are still waiting to confirm the fee, so not sure just how many). Thank you for contributing. This is will require ongoing support. If you wish to contribute, you may do so via PayPal through: aslanhasheard@gmail.com.

She extends her thanks and appreciation. One day, when this all comes to light, I pray that you will continue to hold her in prayer and support. And I pray that you will see the powerful redemption God brings to the most horrific of places and stories.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

***

ONLY 2 MORE WEEKS TO REGISTER WITH LUNCH AND CONCERT INCLUDED!
(ENDS AUGUST 1, 2019)
THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at  THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

(More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)

***

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

© Trudy Metzger 2019

On being banned from MennoNET, and Does non-criminal sexual deviance ‘among us’ pave the way to group rape?

Before I get into the ‘bulk’ of this blog… I learned that my blog content has been banned from MennoNET due to the blatantly graphic content. I respect that. Not everyone can stomach the harsh, graphic, blatant reality of what is happening in church. I have boundaries on my FB page too.

Like yesterday, instead of showing any concern or compassion for a woman who shared how she received 104 ‘straps’ at a Charity school, a new follower told her she was looking for attention. I told him if he is going to speak that way to survivors of horror, he is not welcome in my space. He made a few more rude comments, told me I am abusing him, and then unfriended me.

To me that is sheer ignorance. No compassion for a woman who received 104 straps in a religious setting and then cries ‘abuse’ at someone setting boundaries? Ummm… No. So I blocked him to make sure he could not follow the conversation, lest he would decide to bully them privately. (I still need to go back and read the remainder of the comments. Admittedly I wasn’t expecting almost 400 comments on a post about spanking. Seems I opened another fresh can of worms! And I have marking to do for University! But that can of worms is for another post, on another day, when we will talk about the horror stories surfacing out of the Charity churches).

So I understand boundaries, and bless MennoNET for making the call they feel is right for them and their people. I wouldn’t have known about it, had no one told me, as that is one site I do not visit. Not even tempted.

***

EXTREME GRAPHIC CONTENT TRIGGER WARNING:
I’ve heard all manor of stories for years, so no longer deal with that shock factor. All situations are not the same. The case of 3 adults raping a child is shocking, as it should be. There is no consent.

Other scenarios, that are not criminal, I seldom delve into, simply because my work is with victims, not because I don’t find it tragic. There is only so much a person can do. Even so, there is a time to address it so in this blog I tell snippets of such stories, most briefly, because people seem to have trouble grasping how a group would collude together to commit such an act. And that question is an important one to ask. The answer I think lies in some of the non-criminal activities that are brought to my attention by those who participated in them, or family members and friends who know and cannot contain it.

A group of young men, all minors, stand in a circle, each masturbating the one in front of them. This is North-Eastern Ohio. Some are from the conservative Anabaptist community (not Amish), others are not identified by the person sharing, nor their church setting.

Some of my readers, I expect, will recognize this scenario, or another like unto it… maybe down by the river… maybe changing your clothes on Sunday afternoon, or some other ‘scene’ entirely. If you do, and wish to get it off your chest, I know honourable men of God near you who I am confident would mentor you. … even now, after all these years.

Another day, another situation…

I am a young married woman, sitting with someone ‘a long journey away’ from where we live. We are not in ministry. I don’t yet work with abuse victims. But, like everywhere else we go, people just share…

Amid tears the man (whose wife is also present) tells of the ‘group orgies’ that were prevalent in his youth among the young men in church.

Yet another situation…

A group of young men gather around a cell phone and watch porn together….

A young man recruits a young teenager to rape a preschooler, while he watches and laughs… The teen is a victim of the older recruiter. The preschooler is a victim of both.

HOW DO A GROUP OF MEN COLLUDE TOGETHER TO ASSAULT A CHILD?
Moving back to the victimization of a child by a group.. Let’s start with those orgies… If a group of young men get together for those orgies (and I know of plenty more in other communities), why not to molest children and rape them?

A young woman in US tells me of her experience being assaulted, in a barn, as a group of teenage boys take turns “playing bull and cow”, using her, on her hands and knees, to rub themselves against her. She is clothed. She doesn’t understand. She is younger, they are older. Later she remembers… and suddenly the weight of what that group did to her, even with her clothes on, leaves her traumatized.

She is one of many who have told me this story. Some were not so fortunate to keep their clothes on.

Is it really such a far leap, to imagine that those boys, having sex with each other or group-assaulting a little girl, reaching adulthood and finding more perverse ways of assaulting children?

With the amount of this that goes on, I’m astounded at how many can’t fathom the sexual assaults.

Shaming those who tell the graphic, blatant truth demonizes truth-tellers and thus enables darkness. That’s another reason it is not so hard to imagine how darkness stoops to this level.

HOW DO WE STOP THIS MESS?
We start talking honestly, if we haven’t. And we keep talking honestly if we already are. Keeping silent is a curse. And it is the devil’s idea, not God’s. Certainly we won’t stop it by silencing people.

Stop calling ‘talking about it” pornographic & stop the production of this porn:
My blogs, I am told, are banned from MennoNet. I have long been banned by some of the conservative Mennonite private ‘internet’ providers. While this is terribly unhandy for people who have had to get my blogs printed off by friends or go to  ‘visit’ to read them, it does give me free advertising. So I appreciate that part.

REALITY CHECK:
If a baby, child or youth isn’t protected from a full grown man’s penis, or the molesting fingers and objects by men, women and teens, or is forced to perform oral sex (which is strictly forbidden by some when they give advice to young couples getting married) then shame on us for saying it can’t be talked about. How can we justify letting it go on in silence and condemning the truth-tellers?!

And if you wouldn’t be comfortable having it done to your child or grandchild in the front of church service, while the preacher is teaching, then stand against it. And if you’ve done things like that, I will say to you like Joshua said to Achan, “honour God this day and tell this thing that you have done” (based on Joshua 7:19).

If it’s too explicit to tell, surely it’s too horrific to have hidden in church. No? What am I missing here?

So, for the sake of the children who still find no voice, I will keep telling their horrors, and some will keep reading, and stand up to fight for these neglected ones.

And if they don’t, I’ll keep telling anyway.

Because the raped and molested children deserve to be acknowledged. And every single day I receive messages of thanks. All from conservative Mennonites. Ranging from teenagers to aging grandparents.

And they keep saying, “Don’t let them stop you, no matter what!”

Yes, they keep pleading with me to stay strong against the accusations, the name-calling and all that goes with exposing corruption.

But more than that, when I stand before God and account for my life, I want to have done what He called me to do.  First in showing His love to the victims, and secondly in exposing the evil to prevent more victims in the future.

And I am not alone. Thousands, and thousands are rising to take a stand for Jesus and against the abuse and corruption. Daily emails and messages are pouring in, from conservative Anabaptists across the world, and especially from USA. While it is thrilling to see, I don’t know how I will ever get caught up!

Praise God that finally, finally, finally there is a massive move across the Anabaptist community to speak out against abuse.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

***

ONLY 2 MORE WEEKS TO REGISTER WITH LUNCH AND CONCERT INCLUDED!
(ENDS AUGUST 1, 2019)
THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at  THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

(More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)

***

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Update on 7-yr-old group rape survivor & exposing rapists

CONCERNS AND OUTPOURING OF LOVE & CARE:
Communications continue between myself and the woman who was group raped by 3 Anabaptist men. Since posting her story there has been a public outpouring of both care and concern.

A huge concern – justifiably so – is the risk of there being other victims

Criticism and the whole “she should get over it” mentality was part of the smorgasbord (or should I say ‘pot luck’) menu. Like all good smorgasbords, you go back for second helpings only to some dishes, and avoid others if you can. This “should get over it” mindset is profoundly linked to the belief that becoming a Christian and inviting Jesus into trauma will remove the aftermath of trauma.

The gap and inconsistency in such teaching and thought regarding sexual abuse is directly linked to ignorance surrounding the physical damage that trauma causes to the brain. So to demand a person who has suffered extreme trauma to function as though nothing happened is much akin to asking the person with an amputated leg to walk as though they have two legs. It just does more damage.

The reality is Jesus enters our story and experience; He doesn’t always miraculously remove it. He said “The truth will make you free”. To ‘make free’ is different than to ‘set free’. One is ‘removing from’, the other is not necessarily. Some offer the “Jesus heals” (which I believe) in a tender and caring way that allows Jesus to ‘enter in’ without demanding the person pretend there is no leftover trauma, scars, PTSD, nightmares etc.

This latter group, they’re the keepers.

IS THE STORY TRUE?:
A few wrote to question whether such a thing could possibly be true. First of all, that’s disturbing, to even suggest it is not true, yet I understand the shock. Those who ask out of shock (albeit with ignorance) are one thing. Those who question the thing to death because they don’t want truth… that’s another thing entirely.

For me, I’ve heard these kinds of stories for years, so no longer deal with that shock factor. All situations are not the same. The case of 3 adults raping a child is shocking, as it should be. There is no consent.

Other scenarios, that are not criminal, I seldom delve into, simply because my work is with victims. But, later today, I will tell snippets of such story, most briefly, because people seem to have trouble grasping how a group would collude together to commit such an act. And that question is an important one to ask. The answer I think lies in some of the non-criminal activities that are brought to my attention by those who participated in them, or family members and friends who know and cannot contain it.

Question if you must. Nothing wrong with that. But writing off a horror story just because you want to and can, within your own mind, makes you part of the bigger problem.

EXPOSING & DEALING WITH THE OFFENDERS;
One of the most common cries was regarding ‘outing’ these men so others can be protected. This is, of course, a big concern for me. As I said in yesterday’s blog, I don’t have enough information to do anything, nor is it likely I could given she is an adult.

After some conversation with her about what it would take to be ready to deal with this, and some conversations between her and her husband, we came up with the beginning of a plan. To be strong enough, she will begin meeting with a counselor to work through the trauma.

In the meantime and overlapping with this counseling, a few individuals will meet with her to come up with a workable plan. Part of that is a desire on this woman’s part to have the support of a few godly Anabaptist men/leaders and their wives, along with my support. She is conservative Anabaptist and within the setting it is critical to have that support. But on the other hand offering such support can be an invitation for serious persecution against those who offer it.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

  1. PRAY
    That may sound trite, but I believe prayer is the only way this is going to happen.
    Those of us who are Jesus followers draw much strength from prayer
    So please pray for
    • ongoing healing from the trauma and strength to face this
    • that we are able to find a Christian professional counselor who is a good fit
    • peace in the process and wisdom for the counselor
  2. CONTRIBUTE FINANCIALLY TO HER COSTS
    • initially there is only the cost of the counselor, childcare while she goes to the counselor and meets with law enforcement, and travel
    • with time, depending on what plan we all work out we will raise funds for other

If you wish to help with costs for counseling, childcare and travel, you may do so through aslanhasheard@gmail.com. Please mark it clearly for “Survivor of Group Rape”. From time to time people contribute to other causes, so this is important to avoid confusion.

If you wish to contribute to Generations Unleashed expenses, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

***

We are looking for recommendation of solid Christian counselors (professionally trained) in California, Missouri, Montana, and Tennessee. If you have suggestions, please email them to: info@generationsunleashed.com with subject line “Missouri counsellor” (or other state, as the case may be). They must be professionally licensed.

An understanding of Anabaptist culture is ideal as it is cumbersome for victims to first need to explain their culture before the unique aspects of trauma makes sense. Counselors cannot be in any way affiliated with ASAA or Strait Paths.

***

ONLY 2 MORE WEEKS TO REGISTER WITH LUNCH AND CONCERT INCLUDED!
(ENDS AUGUST 1, 2019)

THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at  THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

(More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Why don’t I report the 3 rapists? And a word from an Old Order Mennonite Grandpa about touch

WHY DIDN’T I REPORT 3 RAPISTS:
On July 12, 2019 I posted a blog called ““Help me Jesus! Help me!”… a child’s cry as she is raped by full grown ‘Christian’ men“, in which three men are mentioned who raped a child of age 7. (This is written by the survivor). I had not explicitly said they are/were conservative Anabaptists, which led to questions on Facebook (and other social media, I am told) as to whether they may have been ‘outsiders’. For this reason I edited that part of my blog to create a clear image of how things were and are. I knew before posting it that two of the men are conservative Anabaptist leaders, and the other in leadership of another sort in a conservative Anabaptist setting. They were all conservative Anabaptists at the time of the group rape.

The second debate, or more like criticism, came from people asking if we know the names of these offenders. I said to my knowledge there are no leaders who have been informed, and I don’t believe the church is aware. And I also said that I know the names of all three offenders.

This led to email and private messages (via FB), of people asking why I don’t report them. Others a bit insistent that I should. And even asking how I can justify reporting Jeriah so swiftly and then do nothing here. The following will hopefully help you understand:

Jeriah Mast case:
• the victims had already come forward and spoken out before I said anything
• I asked 9 of the victims and a lawyer if I may share and was given permission
• I had court documents
• I was told that in Haiti there are victims who are currently minors
• I had been told that Jeriah turned himself in for Ohio crimes. Note that I didn’t focus on Ohio victims in my blog, citing the investigation. (I also had no court documents).
• I found out about Jeriah around May 10, but was not given a name, city, state or even what country he was in, or what organization. In short, I didn’t have enough info to report.

Case of 3 rapists:
• The victim, to our knowledge, is the only victim and not a minor
• The victim has said she is not ready to have me share or act
• There are no court documents
• We know of no minor victims, or other victims at all . (If anyone else was group raped, we welcome you sending in the names of the rapists and your story.)
• I don’t have a clue where these men live, or what churches they pastor or are in other leadership. In short, I wouldn’t know where to report and until the victim gives me that information, or the town, region or other identifying information, I can do nothing even if I am mandated to report. (You can appreciate that in a culture where the search for Robert Weaver in Ohio produces 184 records and David Stoltzfus produces 236 in PA. Please note, these are not the offenders’ names. I merely chose common Mennonite names).

No one asked to be assaulted in Haiti. The 7-year-old did not asked to be raped. The least we can do for them now that they are adults, is ask what their wishes are. There are victims in Haiti who have made it clear they do not want to be identified or part of court proceedings because of what that would cost them in shame and rejection. So, if they wish to speak, let them speak. If speaking out is too hard for them, then respect that, unless you are mandated to report when victims are adults. (ie: A pastor in PA told me they are mandated to report adults).

The reason for *not* reporting adult victims’ abusers, unless mandated, is because the law can’t (or won’t) do anything anyway. (I would say can’t, because they need a witness and don’t go digging for victims unless they have one, in most places that I am aware of).  So any reporting in such a case serves to  create further trauma to the victim, with no hope of it being dealt with, and leaves the victim feeling raped again.

In the case of the 7-year-old victim, several individuals have written to say they would be willing to help fund legal processes, if that would help to get these rapists behind bars. I have passed those messages on, and am leaving the ball in her court. She knows now that I, and a fine honourable army of you, are here to ‘have her back’ if ever she so chooses. That, alone, has been very empowering for her.

However, an organization like CAM would have an obligation in reporting the sexual abuse of vulnerable. Being aid providers to an impoverished people makes them vulnerable and gives us awful power! And we see this play out by Jeriah Mast allegedly withholding food from those who did not comply with his sexual demands. In that case the organization is morally and legally responsible to act.

The third concern came regarding questions surrounding re-traumatizing victims by posting and sharing the case publicly. These concerns came from several people, including one friend who forwarded screenshots. The answer to whether sharing is re-traumatizing is not easy to answer. I can speak only to the victims with whom I have been in contact, and from whom I received permission to share.

There was information that went public with the first blog that identified victims. I had attempted to ‘white out’ their names (even though I was told it was public record and didn’t need to be protected), but had not saved it right and missed that when posting. Another revealing snippet was there, and the victim contacted me within hours. I immediately offered to remove it, but was told to leave it, so I did.

My aim is always to do my best to protect victims’ identities if they wish to have them protected and respect their wishes. There are going to be ‘accidents’, unfortunately. The key is to immediately correct it, own up, apologize, and take direction from the victims.

The tragedy is that exposing sexual abuse is fraught with risks. Not exposing is fraught with greater risks. In both situations the most critical part is humility, sensitivity, honouring the victims and taking ownership of failure.

***

Ponderings of an Old Order Mennonite Grandpa:
Last week I received an email from a ‘Grandpa’ who recently suffered the loss of a granddaughter, causing his world to forever change, in more ways than one. I don’t know if he is Old Order Markham Mennonite, or horse-and-buggy Old Order Mennonite. The following are his words, which I asked if I may share with you. Note: I have made minor wording adjustments for clarity.

In our Old Order churches we are very stoic – we had a teacher from the local Bible Chapel for many years [who attended] […] an ordination in our church […] She was most surprised to see the amount of emotion exhibited by speakers and the audience. 

Some years ago, a Mid West Mennonite cousin lost his wife. I was practically disgusted by the amount of hugging that took place at the funeral – not just men with men but mixed. Our church really discourages hugging. Fast forward 15 years and I have a 14 year old granddaughter that has been diagnosed with a fatal heart disease. I can’t help myself – the first time I met her and her 12 year old sister after the diagnosis, I hugged them both. I don’t care what I thought before and I don’t care who sees me; I will hug my granddaughters (and grandsons although that is much harder – they resist). At my granddaughter’s funeral I hugged my own daughter, as well as my sister. In our culture, this is completely improper! And of course I was hugged by a number of other women as well.

Until we overcome this fear or reluctance to show emotion; until we can freely and openly speak, we will not be in any position to successfully relate to or with the wounded. We have to overcome the urge to stifle our thoughts or words when the going gets tough (although there are times when no words are necessary) and learn to speak words of love and care. We have to overcome the older way of thinking; that there must have been a reason this happened. I would certainly like to see some good discussion on this topic.

~ Osiah Horst ~ 

***

Healthy touch should be part of life. The over-sexualization of touch along with the complete dearth of contact, creates a hyper-sexualized response to touch. When healthy affection is a normal part of life starting in childhood, it helps prevent sexual abuse in that all touch isn’t experienced as sexual.

When there has been no touch growing up, and no hugs or affection, and you get one hug (even without consent), there is something in it that shocks you, and something that draws you. I will never forget it…

We didn’t grow up with hugs and affection in our home. When we were little children, as siblings or friends we sometimes held hands walking and playing. There was plenty of abusive touch, beatings, and sexual touch, but not healthy affection. Therefore, when it came to abusive touch, it was familiar, though not talked about, and left me with not knowing how to stand against it.

As a teen girl a young man almost two years older than me caught me in his arms and kissed my cheek at school. I was shocked, fascinated and scared. I squirmed free, and he let me go. The second time he french kissed me, which I had never seen or heard of, and was totally grossed out and scared. The third time he groped my breasts, and tried to get me to reach in his pants, but I refused. Each time he took me by surprise, with the third time being most extreme, and less surprising, but more manipulative, in that he set us up to be alone by sending my brother away. He, my brother and I were together, and nothing could happen… until my brother left. Thank God my brother was suspicious of his intentions, and shortly after he was sent away, my brother returned to catch him in the act. (I write about it in my book, Between 2 Gods: A memoir of Abuse in the Mennonite Community)

I had no healthy frame of reference for what touch should be. And I had no voice to say ‘no’, until that moment when he crossed the line in ways that I understood as violating, when he groped my breasts and tried to make me touch his penis. That wasn’t happening. My ‘no’ was an ashamed, silent, down-cast eyes, shaking of the head and nothing more than a frightened whisper.

When healthy touch is taught and experienced, we are not on ’empty’ looking for affection. I wanted the attention of that young man, but I didn’t want the sexual touch. Until he hugged me, such a ‘craving’ didn’t exist in me. But, once awakened, it made me vulnerable going forward.

Years later, in marriage, I would learn that my main love language is physical touch. Between that and a serious deficit of affection, falling for every man willing to hold me wasn’t that surprising. (Add to that being a people pleaser, and I was toast. But that’s for another time).

This vulnerability to touch, especially in a culture where touch is not ‘the norm’ is one reason that counselors, pastors and person in trust should not be ‘holding’ their clients or parishioners.  To offer a brief hug as a greeting is appropriate if the client initiates and is comfortable, but ‘holding’ is a different thing. Leaders and those in a position of trust can quickly make clients and parishioners feel powerless to say no. Again, especially when there has not been healthy touch.

Touch, therefore, is a healthy part of life. We read in the Bible often about embracing, kissing necks etc. That we’ve arrived at so little healthy touch and so much sexual perversion is a tragedy.

Bringing back healthy touch with boundaries and respect, and doing away with teachings that overly sexualize touch and the body will go a long way in breaking this messy cycle.

Note: This is a bird’s eye view of a much bigger topic. If you have thoughts you wish to share on this matter, I welcome responses. 
Please be aware that if you send emails without your name attached, I will no longer be reading them. (One arrived yesterday soon after posting. I have not read it and don’t intend to). My life is far too full to invest in anonymous advice. I engage with people, not opinions.  I do post anonymous messages here sometimes, though rarely. 

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

***

ONLY 2 MORE WEEKS TO REGISTER WITH LUNCH AND CONCERT INCLUDED!
(ENDS AUGUST 1, 2019)
THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at  THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

(More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)

***

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

Haiti Update: Petit-Goave next court date, Help for CAM & Jeriah Mast victims, & the question we should be asking

Thursday July 18, 2019, is the next scheduled court hearing for victims of Jeriah Mast and CAM, in Petit-Goave, Haiti, which CAM officials and Jeriah Mast are asked to attend.

***

The attitudes toward Haitians (and other impoverished countries) among some in religious groups are despicable, to put it mildly. And they are among the contributing factors to the problem of missionaries assaulting vulnerable children and getting by with it. I will provide but one of the examples that someone sent to me:

Screen Shot 2019-07-15 at 3.51.25 PM

In reality, these young men’s lives are so scarred and shamed by what Jeriah did, that victims have written me to tell me what happened, but pleading that their names not be released because of what it will cost them. When they go in the streets they are called “Madam Jeriah”, and are shamed, bullied and threatened. It is appalling to suggest they would come forward for a ‘free ticket’. Worst case scenario, if some would, I don’t see how anyone can say “my first concern in this whole thing” is that.

Some have been faced with death threats because they are seen as homosexuals (due to  a male assaulting them) and for that reason should be offered asylum. The threats are serious enough that I was sent evidence in case the holder of it would turn up dead, in which case I am to release everything I have.

This arrogant, ‘better than you’ attitude towards them is dehumanizing, and sickening.

Maybe it’s time for people to stop ‘helping’ or ‘fixing’ or sending missionaries to ‘those poor people’ and start listening to them and valuing them.

***

As I write Rick Ashley – a first responder who took guardianship of a young Haitian boy almost 10 years ago – is in Haiti meeting with lawyers, a psychologist, and other professionals. He is paying for an arranging meetings for the known victims in one of the communities with these professionals, as well as medical care since some have developed health issues.

While I have no direct affiliation with Rick, or the services they provide in Haiti, I have spent enough time on the phone with him to hear his care and compassion. I do not know him personally, but hope one day to meet him. He has sacrificed much to reach out to the victims, and has set up a GoFundMe account to help with these expenses.

If you wish to read more and support his efforts, you may do so at:

URGENT NEED FOR HAITIAN BOYS VICTIMIZED BY JERIAH MAST & CAM

 

***

HAITI MISSIONARY ‘HELP’ FOR VICTIMS UPDATE:
The following images are an update for the proposed help to Haiti victims, organized by the men in Haiti. I offer no criticism of the plan itself, However, due to *ASAA being invited to be part of it, when they left a case completely unresolved last year*, and because the organizers explicitly excludes GU (and therefore me… or is that ‘excommunicate’), I will respect that and simply offer the outline they have prepared.

(In humour: A friend who saw the documents wrote to say “I see you’ve been black-balled!”  To which I responded, “Yes… the curse of being a woman and not Mennonite!” But, on the bright side, the less relational entanglements I have on that front, the more free I am to continue investigating without the temptation of protecting relationships. I am ok with that).

And I genuinely hope that those who help are effective, qualified, no history of molesting children and sexual assault, and seek first to understand the needs of victims, rather than imposing their ‘fix them’ plan.

79be5194-9889-4782-9717-1bd8f15c37cd

3fc95121-43d0-4f29-bf69-1cedfb375762

*REGARDING ASAA: Currently I am not prepared to release the documentation for this case publicly. It is convoluted and requires time investment to organize ASAA’s involvement, the gaslighting and handling of the case. I have not had any time for that. A link to the backstory (which does not include the details of ASAA involvement at this time) is available upon request, with full name, and all contact info, as well as reason for interest. It is relevant and I have been working toward addressing it for a few weeks, because I’ve received 3 complaints in the past month about the same offender).

***

In the past two months quite a number of people have sent messages stating that their abuser was never dealt with by their church, and then sent off to missions. In some cases the church was actively involved in helping them avoid the law. Sending them on missions is extremely high risk, and extremely disrespectful. But what if it’s strategic?

The question “Are known child molesters/rapists being sent on missions by the church because the church assumes impoverished countries have no resources to expose them?” has haunted me these past few weeks, and more so with every story forwarded. And, for that matter, are child molesters/rapists asking to go on missions for that same reason? The odds of getting by with the abuse is so much higher!

In America a serial child molester/rapist is far more likely to be caught. And if caught will tarnish the church image and more likely land behind bars. If they go on missions, all looks good, and life goes on.

This question has especially haunted me since learning other missionaries with serious and extreme allegations against them have also been sent, to Haiti and to other locations.

This question deserves serious consideration.

The number of conservative Anabaptist men whose names have come up since this CAM fiasco – some with , who molested in the past and are now in leadership, is startling. Ten conservative Mennonite pastor’s names were sent this weekend (some I had heard before),  involved in churches at home or in missions, or both. On top of that, a list of the leaders who knew and looked the other way.

Either we have to admit the epidemic is so severe among us that a considerable percentage of those running missions and churches will inevitably have committed these crimes, or we have to look at why so many of them are sent out and ordained.

It is well known that many sex offenders are especially gifted in manipulating their way into favour and leadership. That, along with the ‘in house’ handling of things, and ‘back room deals’ with the law in some communities, makes offenders in religious communities yet more ‘untouchable’.

***

The matter  of the vast number of offenders in leadership, and the ongoing ‘rise to power’ of these men needs to be further explored. Repeatedly leaders are saying, “Let’s work together. We’re all on the same team.” Yet there is an ongoing disregard for the needs fo victims.

I welcome any personal testimony of victims who have had experiences with these ‘backroom deals’ in which offenders were given special favour, and where victims were neglected. (Send to: info@generationsunleashed.com).

In the past week I have had several individuals share their stories of neglect, while leaders fight for the offenders to avoid prison, while silencing them. The testimonies I’ve heard are concerning, and make me more and more aware that this is no small matter.

If you want to share your story, anonymously, I welcome submissions. There must be enough details to make sense of the situation, but no need for identifying information.

I’m learning that your stories, your testimonies are reaching people far more and with more impact than my many years of working to bring light to the darkness.

***

PS: Emails sent without your full name included will not be read. I received one this evening after posting the blog… scrolled to the bottom, and saw no name and ‘filed’ it. I have no interest in the opinions of those who cannot sign their name. I connect with people, whether I agree with them or not, not with anonymous opinions. … whether I agree with you or not.

***

Matthew 18:6-7, 10

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! […] Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 

***

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

***

THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at  THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

(More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)

***

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

 

 

 

 

(From a Survivor) Dear World… Don’t Let Me Die Alone

Dear World…
See my heart?
Crumpled on the stony ground,
Torn open, thrown away,
Shattered and bloodied.
See my trust?
Gone, like the soul of a bird,
Feathers dull, lifeless body
Lying cold in the dust.
See this innocence?
No, you can’t; it’s gone too.
Stolen, by ugly lizard hands.
Devil hands.
See my anger?
I didn’t deserve this;
I’m burning up inside.
Hot anguish scorches the walls
Of me.
See this pain?
An ugly black chain
Coiled like a snake around my heart.
Aching, throbbing, pounding, crashing.
Every.
Beat.
Hurts.
Don’t look away from me!
Turn around,
Look at this broken mess
Called me.
See my story
Spilling from my eyes?
I am a child.
Frozen in horror,
Feeling the terror,
Living a nightmare,
And no one heard my
Silent screaming.
I can see you, world…
Do something, don’t walk away…
Don’t leave me here…
Pick me up and carry me!
Don’t leave me shattered
On the ground.
Shameful World!
Can you see Jesus?
I can see Him.
He is weeping, crying…
His tears are washing the blood
From the pieces of my heart.
Don’t let me die alone…
© Sharla Baer

All photos and art are copyright of Sharla Baer.

© Sharla Baer

Matthew 18:6-7, 10

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses!For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! […] Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. ***

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

***

THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at  THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

(More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)

***

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

© Trudy Metzger 2019