Love, wrapped in a sandwich: Anabaptist church in Bronx NY, serves healthcare workers at Medical Centre

Rich Schwartz, the lead pastor of BELIEVERS IN JESUS CHURCH, a small Anabaptist-type outreach church in the Bronx, NY, shared the following last evening:

** On my way back from a site inspection in Manhattan, I stopped in at the ER at Jacobi Medical Center here in the Bronx. I had some very helpful interactions with a police officer who has been stationed there 18 years, a nurse who is a 30 year veteran, and two H.R. people with 30 and 16 years experience. All of them said they have never faced such difficult times at the hospital as they are facing now. There is a very real shortage of every kind of PPE. As the police officer walked me from the main building over to Building Four, we passed a refrigerated tractor-trailer that had the back open. The police officer grimaced a bit as we saw dozens of bodies taking up probably 70% of the floor of that trailer. They weren’t stacked on top of each other, but it was surprisingly full of bodies in body bags. Eerie.

Tomorrow (03/31/2020) at 12:30 p.m., we are hoping to bring in individually wrapped sandwiches, coffee/tea, and juice to the nurses and doctors at the ER of Jacobi Medical Center. I have a contact there who said they would welcome this. Rich **

This is church. Living. Breathing. Giving. Loving. No walls. No pews. Those things have their place for encouragement. But this is church that I can get behind, 100%.

This morning, interacting with Rich via Messenger, he added this:
I would advise the public to pray, meditate on Psalm 121, and look for ways to love others well.

It takes courage and compassion to walk into such a space surrounded by death, when you are under no obligation to o so, humanly speaking. When practical, hands on, frontline duty could be left, by virtue of their training, to doctors, nurses and others who ‘signed up’ for this through their profession. This pastor’s visit to the Jacobi Medical Centre opened up doors to serve and show love in practical ways, so that his congregation is now making food for the healthcare providers at the medical centre. (I asked if there was a place for people to donate. The following email is the church’s PayPal, if you would like to help with the costs of this ministry: bjcgive@gmail.com).

After my exchange with Rich, I received the following message from his wife:  This is Sandy, Rich’s wife chiming in. 😀 There is a possibility that we will be able to video call patients in the hospital to pray with them. Pray that we can do that! Such an awesome opportunity!

Let’s pray for them as they reach out to the sick and hurting, and the medical team looking after their needs. To step into the suffering of others is not easy. Pray for the church as they show the love of Jesus to those around them.

We can’t all go to medical centres and offer assistance. For one, it would be counterproductive and become saturated, creating extreme and unnecessary risks. But we can all listen to the nudging inside of us, and do the next right thing, and care for that one person within our reach. We who are believers ‘signed up for this’ when we accepted Christ as our Saviour and Lord, and committed to walking in the Way of Love.

*****

COVID-19 THOUGHTS, MUSINGS & NUMBERS:
I’ve followed the numbers closely from the start. There is much public speculation about whether the numbers of cases are ‘real’, and comments like, ‘most of these people would have died anyway’, and that kind of thing. Or, ‘they’re fudging the numbers to scare us’ and take away our freedom. Or, we can’t stop it anyway, we might as well let it run its course, live our normal lives and see what happens.

We’re all entitled to our thoughts. That’s one of the beautiful things about free will. We are even granted freedom of speech (at least in relation to this, for the most part, as far as I have seen and know). We won’t all agree, and that is ok too. Ideally we disagree respectfully.

For all the memes and jokes we’ve seen (or created) about the toilet paper shortage — because that truly is funny, at least until you run out of TP in your house and are left to scramble — the disease itself is not funny. It is ruthless and harsh. Whether the people all would have died or not is not the question. Based on what friends in healthcare are seeing, the answer to that question is, “no’.  A friend who works in a hospital watched an otherwise healthy individual, almost ten years younger than me, succumb to COVID-19. There was no underlying heart disease, diabetes, or other disease that made this person high risk. No medical reason for someone so young to die. Young. Healthy. Gone.

Reading Rich’s experience, how he saw the truck with bodies lined on the floor… That’s not a normal death rate. That’s not a ‘they would have died anyway’ situation. That is the outcome of a high risk disease spreading at unmanageable rates, taxing the healthcare staff. We can’t afford to have our medically trained professionals burning out. For that reason alone, exercising caution is the most respectful and loving thing we can do for our neighbours.

On the other hand, hearing  Rich’s experience, what he saw on that truck, is no reason to live in fear. I do not say this for that reason. I say it as a call to ‘love in action’ and to encourage respect for others’ wellbeing during this time. Just because I am not afraid to die does not mean I have the right to impose such risk on others.

The restrictions by governments across the world are to protect the public, by preventing rapid spread and unnecessary infecting of countless people. To the argument that they don’t protect the unborn, making them hypocrites for pretending to care now, my question is, “What bearing does their failure in one area have on our duty to protect life in every situation?”  Regardless of the failure of government in any area, my duty is to protect life always, as much as I am able. If they are comfortable killing babies, I should be no more comfortable causing unnecessary death and harm to others. My duty is to Christ, first and foremost, and to show love and grace in whatever situation I find myself. Right now, the best way to love those around me is to not put them at unnecessary risk.

I’ve seen strange claims that this is an attack by government on our faith and religious freedom as believers. No it isn’t. It isn’t persecution against the church. We are not victims here. God is not taken off guard by the scenario, and I have a hunch He’s trying to speak to the church, but some of us are too busy playing the victim to hear him. If it really was persecution for the sake of Christ, we should rejoice, not fight for our freedoms. But it isn’t that. We are all shut down together, along with our friends who are atheist, Muslim, Sikh, and every other religion.

So saying we are being persecuted is a bit of an embarrassment to Christianity, as though somehow we should have special rights. First of all, it isn’t persecution. Secondly, a life of ‘special privilege’ is not what Jesus said His life would offer us. Thirdly, in everything that happens, God is about pursuing hearts, and if we align ourselves with His vision, we don’t have space to play the victim. We have only an opportunity to love well.

Sin and death have done a number on us, on our world. Disease is part of the curse of sin. But God…

These difficult times are an opportunity to show love to others in ways we do not normally see. We tend to be so busy about our own lives that we don’t see opportunities to share the love of Jesus in practical ways. Right now, if we stop fussing long enough to see and hear, there are countless opportunities to bring the love of God to people, even from the quiet of our homes. Seize the moment, as a Jesus-believer. Show His love and grace.

Let’s pray for the countless sick across the world and in New York. New York been hit hardest in USA, with over 75,000 sick in that state alone, with over 180,000 across USA infected. New York, alone, has almost as many cases as have been reported in all of China. Even with fudging numbers, if such a thing would be happening, there is a staggering number of sicknesses and death, with evidence Rich writes about to validate that it is a significant and traumatic number of infections. They need our care and our prayers.

And let’s pray for the many struggling with suicidal ideations as a result of fears surrounding COVID-19. There have been numerous high profile suicides — including the finance minister of Germany’s Hesse state, and a nurse who feared she had infected patients — which has the potential for ripple effects. The hopelessness that comes from not being able to see their way through the present pandemic and inevitable aftermath speaks to a deep need within the human heart. Our desire to feel safe, secure, cared for is normal.  When that is shaken, we need a deeper hope. We need to know that in our need we will not be abandoned. In Jesus we have that hope. And if we are in Him, and carry His hope, we have something to offer. Not in preaching condemnation. But in loving generously and in prayer.

Admittedly, there are moments I don’t know what to say to God, or how to pray, in all of this. And the simple prayer that rises from my heart is this, “We need you Jesus. We need you. The world needs you.”

We need Him desperately. And the world needs Him. We are His hands and feet, ‘living among them’; the brokenhearted.  It is our opportunity to show the world that Jesus is kind and generous. He is hope. He is peace. He is love. He is present. … present, through our love.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2020

Filling freezers, Statistics, Glass Houses and ‘Why do we want to believe in miracles?’

Forty hours ago I logged out of Facebook and asked Tim to reset my password. He did. And I don’t have it. So I can only go on when he signs me in. I then went to WordPress and relinked my blog to my FB account so that I can post blogs automatically. While I do not spend a lot of time on FB, most days, it is easy to get caught up in the opinions and debates of current events. Some of that is good. Some of it is not. All of it is time consuming. And the fallout of various aspects is more than I have energy for in the middle of finishing up my PhD coursework.

Since posting it I have managed to squeeze an 836 pound beef in our freezer, canned 14 jars of stewing beef, and completed my final quiz for my Statistics course. (This beef will be shared, not hoarded. In fact, about 20 pounds already left the house this morning. And, for the record, it was ordered prior to this ‘craziness’ going on).  Now I’m working on my final paper for Stats course, and am about to start my final course, a reading course and research project to be completed between now and August. And then comprehensive exams. They will be the ‘make it or break it’ of my degree. The aftermath of medication last year, combined with a concussion after being rear-ended at 100km/h (65 m/hr) have made memory work a challenge. Exams require strong memory capabilities, or the determination to get everything into longterm. For stats, I overcame this by rewatching class lectures between 2 and four times, and rewriting notes 3 to five times. It has been extremely time consuming!

As I was doing all of these things, I’ve been contemplating why we humans reach for miracles. More specifically, why do I? I’ll admit, apart from taking Bible stories at face value, I’ve not seen many miracles and used to be a skeptic. And then one day a friend who knew I was having a lot of issues with my one knee ‘giving out’, and accompanying pain, called me up and invited me to church. We’re having a healing service, she said, and I think you should be there. I agreed, because she is my friend.

Nothing wonky happened. But I did muster the courage to ask for prayer, and a group of strangers gathered round me, and prayed. The problem left and never came back. That was about 14 years ago.

I am one of those who gets to have a colonoscopy ever 5 years. It started first in my 20’s, when I had significant rectal bleeding with no explanation. After the colonoscopy showed nothing, the specialist chalked it up to stress. That made sense. I was just starting to acknowledge and work through the trauma of my childhood. Nothing more was done.

In my 30’s, they started with the scopes every 5 years. Just keeping an eye on things after weeks of the same issues. At one point, I believe it was two weeks into another round of bleeding, we had a worship night. I had my eyes closed, hands raised, and when I opened my eyes i was surprised (and deeply moved) to be surrounded by a handful of individuals, including one of our elders, praying over me. A woman, who had no idea what was going on with my health, was among them. She placed her hand on my abdomen and began to pray. As she did so, I just knew the bleeding had stopped. That was around ten years ago. The bleeding has never happened again.

Were these miracle healings? Frankly, I don’t care what they were. I’m thankful for the outcome. Even so, I like to keep one foot firmly planted in the practical and scientific realities of this present world, while keeping the other firmly planted in the mystery of God and the spiritual realities that we cannot fully grasp. It keeps my faith in balance and rooted in the eternal, not the temporal. It helps me live in a place of trusting God, in the unknown.

And maybe seeing a loved one fighting a fierce battle with cancer right now, forces me to grapple with the absence of such mysteries as miracles. I have prayed. I have wept. I have tried to hold onto a fragment of faith in the miraculous, when the practical screams it is a lie. When the fight against cancer is a quiet,  persistent evidence of the absence of miracles. And when faith in God’s goodness boils down to knowing, “Even now. Even here. Even in this, He is good.” And to somehow reconcile myself with that certainty, when there is no evidence that good can or will be done in a given circumstance.

Maybe, hearing another’s ‘miracle’ offers us some borrowed hope in a place or circumstance destitute of such hope. It is a reminder that God is sovereign and He is goodness. It is the very essence of His nature. And where no miracle is granted to the naked eye, a greater miracle, reserved for the spirit to see, is born.

With the passing of time, my world has become more and more that of ‘living in a glass house’, thanks to my work and how public it is. I am ok with that, for the most part, as I have nothing to hide. I am human. When I fail, I will apologize. I aim for due diligence, and throwing in disclaimers in my writings, and apologize if I have erred. It’s who I am.

However, the standard of perfection that is required to function within Christian context is one to which I cannot live up. I never have. I never will.  It has been months of ‘off and on’ discussions with Tim, wondering how long I can do what I do, within the context and ‘audience’ of my work; conservative Anabaptists and ex-conservative Anabaptists. I’ve lived simultaneously the past four years in another (secular) world (university) that is, ironically, far more grace-filled. It is strange to say that out loud, but it is true. This contradiction has been challenging to process. It is in university I was trained to be culturally sensitive and separate the horror of sexual abuse I encounter from the Anabaptist culture in which it takes place. It is in university I was trained on Restorative Justice practices (that strangely echo the teachings of Jesus). It is in university I was taught to separate the crime from the criminal and remove crime labels from their identity. It is in university I learned to extend grace to myself, when profs would say, repeatedly, “Trudy,  you don’t have to be perfect”, and “It’s ok to make a mistake.” Most of my profs have said that, and several have gone above and beyond, entering into my world, my life, my story in ways that few people ever have. I never looked for it, and didn’t even realize how much that can do for a person, other than seeing what it did for others when I entered in. One prof (not a believer) in particular, sat with me for more hours than I can keep track of, and would say, “Someone has His hand on you.” I understand why people are drawn away from religion.

I could now do a list of things that do not align with Christian values, but I won’t, because I have no expectation that a secular entity will uphold my Christian values. Instead, I will thank God that He reveals His kind heart through those who do not believe. I will thank Him that He has protected my faith in Him, in spite of … in spite of so many things, even while He is eerily silent in the space of other prayers that are wanting in answers.

Today, while miracles are glaringly absent in the wilderness of many of my prayers, I will grieve those disappointments while holding on to this one thing: God is a God of miracles. Even if the only miracle is that I (or you) can somehow hold on to Him and embrace hope in spaces and experiences that, humanly speaking, should drive us to cynicism, atheism and rejecting God.

Maybe, at the end of the day, that is the greatest miracle. To live daily finding joy and hope in God. That my heart has not grown cynical, in spite of daily reminders that incredible evil lurks ‘among God’s people’ (along with goodness). To separate that evil from God and see Him is good and kind, and to separate that evil from the ‘personhood’ of the evildoer and still see him/her as holding value and being worthy of kind treatment (albeit good ad firm too). These are miracles of another sort.

I will trust Him as I process things what seem upside down in my world. Harsh judgement from the religious, Christ-like kindness from unbelieving professors and peers, sexual abuse blithely brushed off in religious community where children should be safe, and much more.

Because the thing about miracles is that they don’t make sense. They are the unexpected outcomes. So I will continue to believe that my God is a miracle working God.

As for Facebook… for now I will likely pop in from time to time. I care deeply about my friends. Hundred and hundreds of the 5000 are familiar to me. Many have engaged privately, so that you come to mind even in my day-to-day-not-on-Facebook work and world. You are not just ‘one of many’.  Your wellbeing, each one of you, matters to me. That does not change with my absence from Facebook. Maybe I’ll be back one day. Maybe sooner, maybe later. Or maybe I will find the world of real interactions is much more life-giving without it, even in a world suspended in time, with no gatherings. Either way, I am taking this time to be thoughtful, to live with grace, and to continue to seek the heart of God, and let Him seek mine. The processing of experience is my responsibility. The outcome of things that come into my life, good or bad, invited or not, is my responsibility.

And I choose redemption and grace.

As always…

Much love,
Trudy

 

© Trudy Metzger 2020

Update on Mennonite man miraculously healed in Tanzania

A happy Thursday (Edit:…just kidding… it’s Wednesday!  this sitting at home thing…!) to you all! What a delight it is to be alive! To see the sunshine, and hear the birds sing! I love these things at any time — and even the snow that many abhor — but especially now, when the world looks upside down. To see that God’s creation still sings and shines, that makes my heart happy!

And I have no doubt that is how Jason and Mel Hunt and their family feel, in Tanzania. A few days ago I shared the story of Jason collapsing, believing he was at the end, only to miraculously revive again. That is one of the best things I had heard in a week or two, so I shared it. I have no regrets about sharing his testimony of unexpected healing. It is truly good news.

My only regret , and there was one… though I don’t like that word, came when friends cautioned that many will take his experience as ‘the cure‘ and act irresponsibly because of it. I had not thought of that, and at first thought my friends were overreacting and their concern not warranted. Especially given I had put in a disclaimer that I was *not* promoting it as a cure, but rather because it seemed to me a story of hope in the midst of tragic times.  Nonetheless, I listened to their cautions and edited the post, removing anything that might hint at the experience being touted as a cure.

Others were less gracious and said he is a liar, to declare so boldly he had COVID-19 without test results. My response immediately to that criticism was that this does not make him a liar; it makes him overly enthusiastic.

Then, yesterday toward evening, I received word that test results for COVID-19 came back negative for their family. (Keep his wife and daughter in your prayers. Last I hear, yesterday night, they are still sick and in need of prayer). This means he did not likely have COVID-19 in the first place. The post was causing enough of a stir that I decided to remove it until such a time as I had time to edit out any ‘offending parts’. This is something I have rarely done, but in the interest of avoiding unnecessary offence, I removed the post entirely.

We can somewhat assume the tests are conclusive and he likely did not have COVID-19. But that is not really the bottom line, and his overstatement is not the greatest tragedy in the world.

It is only a tragedy that he was too sure of himself if:

  1. he is not humble enough to learn from it. Otherwise, is is an incredible learning experience, not only for him but for all of us, me included. Or maybe especially me and him, but I think all of us.
  2. the church has no grace for a testimony that is powerful but overly enthusiastic and certain of details that were not relevant to the miraculous outcome. To write off such a profound recovery because the recipient is human — as are we all — is to limit the work of Christ among humans. It means I can only see Him if you are more/less perfect. If I took that approach, given the hell and horror I see in Christian community, I would have turned to atheism long ago.

Before posting the original story I checked into the legitimacy of the claims, and again numerous times since. I added a disclaimer in the original blog, and I would have been wise to edit out any reference to COVID-19. In that I erred. Yet, I had and still have every reason to believe that the story told, happened as told.

In spite of the kerfluffle and humanity of his way of verbalizing it, I am no less amazed by God, and I think no less of Jason for it.

If there is not grace for his humanity, then the church has nothing left to offer the world. Nothing. Because that’s who Jesus is.

I have said many times, there is grace enough for the vilest sinner (including sex offenders) and if they are truly repentant they can receive that grace. I believe that with all my heart. (That does not equate to giving sex offenders free regn under the guise of forgiveness, but that’s another topic for another day).

What has baffled me in this is that it seems there is less grace for a man who is overconfident in a medical self-diagnosis and includes it in his testimony, than there is for the sex offender who sheds a few tears and does not change his ways. Surely, surely, there is grace for both, but especially in a case of ‘intending no harm or sin’ in the process.

I do not regret telling the story. If I did not think we can learn from it, then I would have regrets. I hope and pray that we can see past the humanity and see Jesus at work among us. If we can’t see Him in our collective brokenness, what have we got — what has Jesus got — that will bring any measure of peace and wholeness to us and those around us?

Having removed the original post, here is the portion of his testimony that does not make any assumptions about what his illness was.  Praise Jesus!

Last night as I desperately fought for breath to live, I just kept stumbling through the house around the fireplace and kitchen trying to hang on to a measure of breath. The rest were holding me up, crying and praying, (and probably wondering who was going to cart my body out to the coffee field). Finally at 3am I was really fading so wheezed out my goodbyes as I slumped up against the fireplace. I told them no one was to do mouth to mouth on me because I didn’t want the infection to increase in their lungs. As I sat there fading out to everyone’s amazement I got so hot from the fire at my back that I started to sweat buckets and my lungs suddenly started opening up and oxygen came into my lungs. God intervened.

[…]

The improvements over the last few hours has been exponential. Even Mel has made incredible progress. God is intervening.

[…]

I will mention the whole household came down with symptoms today. And the whole household has made exponential gains in the last eight hours. Most are sleeping peacefully now. […] We need to run forth knowing that love will always conquer fear.

[…]

All the prayers are being answered.

*****

My prayer is that you all stay safe and healthy, and if your health has been compromised, that God will heal and restore you.

Remember, God is kind.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger

Children Protected Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Without Scientific Explanation

Has anyone observed that, for once, very young children are the most protected in this COVID-19 crisis? So far,  not one death. Not one. I pray that protection continues.

Study involving children under 9 who fell ill to COVID-19

Children aren’t at great risk, WHO SAYS.

With my work I see the most vulnerable as those in the early years before they (some) can express themselves well or even have words to speak to the atrocities they suffer. This continues into the teens, but is more severe in younger. I see adults brush off their suffering — especially when that child is grown, but even before — as though sexual abuse and domestic violence are nothing more than a mere ‘test from God’ that simply requires ‘forgiveness’ — falsely so called. Religious institutions have done shamefully at protecting them. Let’s be honest about that. Protecting children is too often replaced with ‘trust’ for ‘repentant’ adults and the children remain vulnerable and continue to face abuse. Some, not wanting to go through the experience of being scolded or not cared for, sometimes conclude it is better to lie since ‘no one cares anyway’. If asked whether abuse is continuing, they will say ‘no’, just to avoid that experience. So the parents/adults are happy because the abuse has ‘stopped’ and the abuser is happy because he/she has a good reputation and is restored in the church/community. And the child lives through hell.

It seems no one cares. It seems the children are not protected.

So it makes my heart especially happy that not one child under age 9 has died. Some have fallen ill. At least one has been treated in hospital. But *not one*…. not even one, has died. The children are protected. And I say “Praise God! Praise Jesus!” For once, the littlest ones among us are the most protected. So far doctors and scientists can’t explain it (based on most recent documents I’ve read). I can’t either.

My mind wanders to Matthew 18, where Jesus makes it clear that children are valued and anyone who harms them would be better off tossed in the sea with a millstone about the neck. So, yes, children matter to God. They are not always protected from harm at the hands of evildoers, nor from the impact of disease. But at a time when sexual abuse is coming to light everywhere, and the unborn are being aborted, it is a delight to see children protected. 

My intent is not to make bold prophetic connections, or wax all political or judgemental. If it is judgement, I’ll leave it to God to make His point. (In which case if His anger is anything close to what I imagine, at the neglect of children, this is but the beginning of what is coming). I do not even wish to speculate that this is the case. It could be. Or maybe not. Making bold prophetic proclamations like that is not my role.

My intent is simply to say, “I noticed that the littlest among us are protected the most.” And it makes my heart so happy. Because in my line of work, prioritizing wellbeing of children is too often neglected. That’s all. Nothing more profound or bold than that.

For days I’ve been thinking about this. Privately I have said it. What has kept me from posting is the potential backlash. People may read deeper than what I’m not trying to say, or create their own ‘revelations’ and prophesies as to the why and wherefore of it all and either cheer for me or wish to stone me.  And, while those prophesies and revelations could be interesting, I haven’t the time to manage big conversations. I’m in the middle of my final major assignment, so I pop on FB to check in on a group or two and respond to a message or two, but I don’t spend a lot of time there.

Nonetheless, I am posting these thoughts, and will say in advance that I may or may not agree with analysis of prophetic meaning that are applied. (Which doesn’t mean I’m right and they’re wrong. It simply means I don’t see it). But I am just very happy to see the wellbeing of children so profoundly stated to the baffle of science. 

In closing, “Jesus loves the little children”. In a world that has neglected them, where sin has attacked their little bodies by evildoers, too often in the guise of religion… in that world, Jesus loves the little children. We do well to be reminded of it.

If you have been abused, God has not forgotten you. He has not overlooked the abuse further heaped on you by religious institutions you reached out to for help. He is a God who metes out justice, with mercy for the truly repentant, not based on church membership, or which denomination or strain thereof. He is a God who sees. He sees the abuses you suffer and have suffered… some in His name. And His heart is moved with compassion. He sees you.  And He looks upon you with great affection and compassion. If you are suffering horrendous things, or have in the past, and you have not been heard or loved with compassion in that suffering, know that your suffering breaks His heart. It broke His body too. And always remember…

… He is especially fond of you. 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

Holdeman Mennonite Man in Tanzania Experiences Miraculous Healing Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Due to the offence taken, harsh judgement and confusion, I removed the original post. To read the update on Jason and Mel Hunt, click the following link:

UPDATE ON MAN MIRACULOUSLY HEALED IN TANZANIA

*****

To all who are working the front lines — doctors, nurses, truckers, researchers and many more — thank you for your sacrifice and the risks you take to ensure people have their needs met. I pray God’s blessing and protection over you.

Remember to choose joy in your journey. Be kind. It shows character and grace. Laugh often. It builds up your immunity and is bonding. Give generously. It builds morale. And trust God. Faith is a powerful force.

In closing, one of my favourite hymns: How Great Thou Art, by Anthem Lights.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2020

 

Update: Melody Bannister arrested; Children safe

Six days ago I opened Facebook to numerous messages from a variety of friends, letting me know Melody Bannister had been arrested by the US Marshals. The children were with her in the car when she was found at a gas station in Plainfield Indiana. Rather than retell the story,  and since I have nothing to add, here is a link to the news article: Virginia mother at center of national manhunt arrested in Plainfield; children found safe.

img_2665

Since her arrest things have been very quiet, apart from a few conversations on a discussion group. Mostly speculations and wonderings… people worried and wondering. No one knows for sure where the children are. The last update I’ve seen on the children is in the news link (shared above) stating they are in DCS custody.

It is difficult to write a blog when there’s so little to say, so little known, yet many people have prayed and continue to, and care deeply for the Bannister children and their mom, Melody.

It is my prayer that truth will be fully brought to light, that the children will have a voice to speak boldly and clearly the truth of their experience. It is also my prayer that they will be fully heard and truth with triumph.

As I said in my earlier blogs, I will say again… I do not know what all the truth is in this story. I am not God. I was not there. It goes without saying that something is very wrong and the children have been through more than any child should go through…. Whatever that trauma is, these children need and deserve to be heard, and their voice honoured.

To that end I will continue to pray and ask you to pray for them as well.

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

*****

Trudy offers support conferences for survivors of abuse, and training to equip churches and the community in caring for victims and offenders, or if you would like to inquire about having a conference or training in your area, send an inquiry via Contact TrudyTo support Generations Unleashed, the charity Trudy works for, Donate Here.

SURVEY: Conservative Anabaptist (CA) Leaders’ Response to Abuse: If you are/were CA and have been sexually abused and interacted with a CA leader regarding the abuse, this survey is for you.

I am preparing several other surveys and will release them on our SURVEYS PAGE.

© Trudy Metzger

Is there grace for Harold Herr? His wife’s real cause of death… Why was he *really* let go from Life Literature? And a correction…

I’m sure the truth will come out,
if indeed that’s what we’re all interested in.

Matlock

*****

A correction/update to my previous blog:
Multiple people contacted me prior to posting my previous blog to ask if I heard Mose Stoltzfus and Darwin Hostetler, along with Harold Herr, met to discuss ‘what to do with Trudy’. That information came from someone closely linked to at least one of the men alleged to have been at the meeting. The individuals who contacted me each named Mose Stoltzfus, Darwin Hostetler and Harold Herr as being in attendance.

Since releasing the blog even more individuals have contacted me to say my sources had it wrong.

Allegedly, the meeting was not about what to do with Trudy. It is true that my name was brought up in relation to posting publicly the allegations. (It would be hard to have a meeting about this without talking about me, but the spirit in which this was done was not as understood and relayed to me).  It is not hard to understand how someone close to these leaders would have misunderstood that the point of the meeting was to discuss me and the problem I am. Just what created that misunderstanding, God only knows.

My interaction with the one gentleman who attended the meeting has been respectful and thoughtful, and I am taking at face value that the meeting was not to discuss ‘what to do about Trudy’. Furthermore, one of my trusted friends has spoken to the honour and integrity of the original source; therefore I do not believe that I was intentionally misinformed as a trap.  And I do not believe there was ill-will towards me by the source, or towards the people at the meeting. It was a sincere misunderstanding of facts brought to me.

The list of individuals said to be present at the meeting, were indeed present, but the list was incomplete. Present were: Steve Simmons, Darwin Hostetler, Mose Stoltzfus, Harold Herr, Nathan Zeiset, and Allen Hoover.

Having confirmed the details, and being confident that there was error in what was reported to me, I apologize for sharing the misrepresentation/misunderstanding of motive and intent of the meeting as shared with me. It is not my intention to ever misrepresent facts. I try my best to confirm what I hear. (Had I known Allen Hoover was present, with whom I have communicated  numerous times about various situations, I would have been inclined to contact him to ask questions).

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IS HAROLD HERR GUILTY OR INNOCENT & A THIRD PARTY INVESTIGATION:
I continue to maintain that I cannot declare guilt or innocence other than that to which Harold has admitted. (Nor can others. I hold more evidence than most of them). But, I can say with absolute confidence that the allegations are credible. (Credible does not mean true and confirmed. It means plausible and worthy of deep investigation and acknowledgement).

It is concerning that there has NOT been an independent third party investigation. It would be deeply concerning if a determination of either innocence or guilt was made by a committee made up of untrained ‘friends of the accused’, or even acquaintances. And lack of training and experience in investigating sex offence allegations makes the entire process traumatic for victims and family members. Particularly given the history of silence in our culture, and in their case in particular. Harold’s children are now being asked to trust an investigation to the very culture that has disregarded them for around 40 years, and some have even called them liars.

For truth and justice to take place, all cultural and friendship ties must be absent among those conducting investigations. Anyone who thinks they can speak to the ‘good character’ of the person in question, or the leaders who ignored the allegations for any reason at all — including the  assumption of mental illness in the mother, *from whom the allegations did not originate* — is not the right choice. For the sake of alleged victims and family members supporting them, this independent third party investigation team is important, as is extensive trauma sensitivity training. (*Daniel wrote the letter addressing the allegations in 1990. In our private interactions he disclosed that this was the initial disclosure even to his mother, to the best of his memory. See comments by his sister under previous blog for more insight. She is referencing the same private conversation that I reference here).

One alleged victim and one family member have requested such an independent third party investigation by trained professionals as a condition for meeting. [See copy of their request/response in following section).  They are not opposed to speaking of their traumatic history, and being interviewed, but they are not willing to meet with a committee of friends of Harold, or friends of the leaders who have looked the other way for years. Bias is inevitable simply because friends are, by nature, biased no matter how much they want truth. Therefore they  cannot possibly make a just determination, or make victims feel equally heard and cared for. Victims will inevitably feel cautious and on guard, as well they should. I would too.

Friends are the most likely to be manipulated and deceived by abusers. Abusers count on that.

And, now that another of Harold’s alleged victims wrote publicly this past week (also in comments under previous blog) this independent third party investigation, by a team made up of people with trauma sensitivity training and no ties to Harold whatsoever or the leaders who ignored allegations, is even more important.

Allen Hoover, Darwin Hostetler and Steve Simmons met with at least two of Harold Herr’s children. (If more were interviewed, I am not privy to that). There is overlap between this committee and those involved in the Jeriah Mast case. Whether that is good or bad, I offer no opinion, but I can say it does not feel healthy or safe to those [allegedly] victimized by Harold.

Following the one  meeting the committee reached out to Daniel Herr, who declined meeting with them as they are a committee of men untrained in sensitive investigations. His request was that they have an independent third party investigation done, by individuals not connected to Harold Herr. The following is a copy of what Daniel’s sister sent to the committee (Steve Simmons, specifically) on his behalf. Daniel later followed that up with personally contacted them to validate the message from Freda.

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I do not think Daniel’s request is asking too much. Particularly given the history of neglecting to hear victims. Neglecting such a direct and reasonable request continues the disregard of victims’ needs, and shows neither compassion nor care. That is true even with the best of intentions by any committee. If it is not sensitive to victims’ needs and requests, it is uncaring. It’s that simple.

If the tables were turned and the victims were bringing in a committee of their own friends and acquaintances, it goes without saying that Harold Herr, his daughter who defends him, and church leaders would not be particularly excited to share transparently and allow such a group to make a determination of innocence or guilt. So  they should not ask this of victims.

*****

Why was Harold Herr really let go from Life Literature in September, and more on an internal investigating committee 

I would urge this committee to also look into why Harold Herr was really let go from Life Literature (LL). They say that it was not because of pressure from Haiti Benefit Auction (HBA), as I reported…. (Which I reported because I knew of the pressure by HBA *prior* to Harold being fired in September!) HBA put pressure on LL, and Harold was released shortly thereafter.

However, now Life Literature says it was not because of the pressure from HBA, but their own reasons. My question is, Did the pressure from HBA trigger an internal investigation that resulted in concerns significant enough to release HH? Or what internal findings were so significant to justify firing Harold Herr? This really needs to be looked into, if it is truth we’re are after. It’s particularly important because of his history of sexual perversion, the impact of which he has never been fully owned up.

I have also confirmed that Harold Herr remained on payroll until after my blog came out. These are indisputable facts.

Couple those facts with the real reason Harold Herr was let go — info that doesn’t seem particularly forthcoming and should be, under the circumstances of unresolved allegations — and we will have a clearer picture of this whole scenario.

*****

Harold Herr’s Wife’s real cause of death:
Further to speculation that Harold’s deceased (estranged) wife, Anna Mary, committed suicide….

After posting what I did in my previous blog, about there being no autopsy, numerous people contacted me. They are quite certain she did indeed commit suicide, they said, and informed me that even the family believes this to be true.

I am aware of the speculation. I am aware that some family members have shared their questions . I am also aware that for some family members seeing the public speculate such a thing when they had never suspected such a thing has been very traumatic. There is an injustice in that, against the family. It is human nature to wonder what happened when we don’t have answers, but for someone to propagate such a thing as fact, when medical evidence does not support it… Well, I’d come back to this: What would be their motive? What could anyone possibly gain from the public believing it as fact, when it has never been anything more than questions in search of answers for the unknown? 

Before I present evidence (with permission), let me say the following: 

It is an absolute tragedy that some leaders and public are focusing on how Anna Mary died, rather than acknowledging the following:

  1. Organizations (and churches) have a history of not taking allegations seriously, and excusing that neglect. (We saw this in the Jeriah Mast case. And we see it in the Harold Herr case.
  2. Radical sexual abuse and bestiality allegations against someone in ministry have not been properly investigated and certainly not dealt with.

Those two things are what should be the focus. They are the reason the family went public with these allegations at this time; to warn the public about their concerns regarding Harold Herr and the potential risk to children, and to call CAM and LIFE Literature to account for their neglect to take allegations seriously and sending someone overseas with outstanding allegation that are not investigated and remain unresolved. And to hold church leaders to the same account.

That Anna Mary Herr has become the focus is a shameful continuation of the same abuse that she suffered by those who neglected her in her living years. (I recognize some of you contacted me out of shock that these rumours are circulating, including people who knew her quite well to a time.  This is not directed at you. It is directed at those who use this as a deflection from the allegations of sexual abuse).

In response to the speculation, I can say with certainty that it is not reflected on her death certificate. I can also say with absolute certainty that no autopsy was done and the death certificate states that she died of “cerebrovascular accident”, also known as “stroke”. I have a copy of the death certificate in my possession and have personally confirmed this as her cause of death.

And a more close up with date and cause of death highlighted:

Shortly before her death, Anna Mary became very ill and was hospitalized for approximately one week. Sometime in that timeframe it she was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm. During her one-week hospital stay she improved and was released to go home. Within approximately a week  she passed away in her home, having suffered a cerebrovascular event, more commonly referred to as stroke.

What caused that stroke?

From what I am told by her children, no one is certain what caused it. Was it coincidental that after Anna Mary got ill and almost lost her life, she improved in the hospital, but became ill again at home? If she showed signs of suicidal tendencies, would medical staff not have documented this? And would they not have kept her in to ensure her safety? Was there some toxin in the home that she was sensitive to and no one knew existed? Stroke has been linked to asbestos, arsenic, and cyanide, to mention but a few environmental possibilities.

Speculations of this nature have come to me from numerous sources, yet none have anything whatsoever to do with the allegations of abuse. What judge or lawyer would write off abuse allegations because of the accused’s spouse’s cause of death?

Speculation surrounding Anna Mary’s death should be not be the focus. If the family wants answers, there are ways for them to find out, but that is their private concern. As far as the public, I do not see value in speculating that which cannot be proven about a deceased woman, when the real issue is that there are allegations that have been disregarded for 40 years.

The more I hear this kind of deflection, from the abuse allegations at hand to Anna Mary, the more my red flags go off. I agree with the request of some of the family to have  an unbiased third party investigation team pursue the case. There is truth to be found, but it will not be found by those closely connected to the family or culture. No matter how pure of heart, it is not right to put the victims and family through that.

For anyone thinking I am also not the right person, I agree. I am biased. Definitely biased. I’ve seen the evidence, heard the testimony, and seen the deflection and neglect. I am very much the wrong person to investigate. But I am the right person to push for a bit of accountability. And what makes me the right person is that some family members asked for my help. That’s good enough for me. But if they asked me to deeply investigate it, I would decline.

*****

For the first time since interviewing Harold Herr in summer of 2019, and asking about the allegations, I listened to that audio again last week. When I mentioned Detective Ortenzi, Harold acts surprised, and says, “You say there were charges against me back then?!” as though he knew nothing of it. I later learned that, not only did Harold know there were allegations back then, the detective actually met with him in person. (i have evidence in possession of Ortenzi’s involvement in the case).

Why did Harold act as though he had no knowledge of the allegations or that a law enforcement officer was on the case? Either he was trying to intentionally deceive me, in which case I ask, “Why are leaders trusting him if he is being deceptive?” Or, maybe he doesn’t remember? Though unlikely, if true, why do leaders take at face value anything he says? If he can’t remember a police officer confronting him about sexual abuse and bestiality, why should we assume he is remembering truth about the abuse? It is neither logical nor responsible.

So is there grace for Harold Herr? Yes… generous grace if he humbles himself completely, tells consistent truth, and repents for thing he has not yet acknowledged.

“By their fruit you will know them,” said a wise Man some 2000+ years ago. And, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free!”

He was a truly wise Man. We could learn from Him in our handling of sexual abuse in religious communities.

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

*****

Trudy offers support conferences for survivors of abuse, and training to equip churches and the community in caring for victims and offenders, or if you would like to inquire about having a conference or training in your area, send an inquiry via Contact TrudyTo support Generations Unleashed, the charity Trudy works for, Donate Here.

SURVEY: Conservative Anabaptist (CA) Leaders’ Response to Abuse: If you are/were CA and have been sexually abused and interacted with a CA leader regarding the abuse, this survey is for you.

I am preparing several other surveys and will release them on our SURVEYS PAGE.

© Trudy Metzger

 

 

 

Preacher Mose Stoltzfus, Harold Herr & Darwin Hostetler meet to discuss what to do with Trudy; More details on Harold Herr allegations

“A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right.
A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice.
A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ~

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QUESTIONS CONTINUE TO TRICKLE IN, SO I WILL ADDRESS THEM HERE, INCLUDING THE MEETING WITH MOSE STOLTZFUS, HAROLD HERR AND DARWIN HOSTETLER:

  1. Q: Does Harold’s own daughter defend him and say the allegations are false? 

    A: Yes, one of Harold’s three daughters, Rachel Herr Weaver, insists the allegations are false. She, however, is not an alleged victim (to my knowledge), and therefore has no authority to declare her father’s innocence or guilt. (That would only change if she saw him molest someone, heard him admit to molesting someone, or was molested herself). We have authority to speak with certainty to our own experience, not the experience of another.  My father molested numerous children, starting when he was only 13 (from what we know), with several victims being his own children to varying degrees. Many of his 16 children were never sexually abused by him. Rachel’s experience (or lack thereof) has no bearing on her brother’s or any other alleged victim’s story. My experience does not negate the experience of my siblings, nor theirs mine.

  2. Q: More specifically, some are saying Rachel says allegations of him having fathered a child are false; is this true? 

    A: I have been told by numerous sources that Rachel insists it is lies and false allegations that Harold fathered a child. Again, apart from a DNA test, that is not a question she can answer. Nor can I. But it sure begs the question how many godly innocent men have to provide DNA tests… And even then, a DNA sample does not prove a lack of sexual contact. It merely proves a lack of conception when there was contact, if there was contact.And that provides a perfect segue into the next question…

  3. Q: Did Harold Herr have a DNA test after allegations first surfaced, to prove a child alleged to be conceived by him was not his? 

    A: As far as I know, after contacting one of Harold’s children for confirmation, there was never a DNA test done.  (If there was, the whole family is not aware. And, given the dynamics, it is highly likely that they would have known. So if it was done, that info was withheld from some). I have not spoken with the mother of the child in question, and for the sake of her wellbeing I have no intentions of going there, or disclosing her identity. My focus has been and remains on allegations made by Harold’s son Daniel, and the fact that church leaders, missions and community members did nothing when there was ample cause for concern.

  4. Q: (a). Are you sure Harold Herr and Earl Fox were shopping together, or did they just happen to stumble upon each other at Paul B’s Hardware? (b). And did they say they were shopping for supplies for Harold to take to Haiti, or did the person who saw them assume this? 

    A: I am told Harold and Earl was heard to say that they are gathering supplies for Harold. And that they explicitly stated the supplies were for Harold to take to Haiti.

  5. Q: Are you sure Harold was going to Haiti to train his replacement, or was he just going to live there? (Note: He owns a house there). 

    A: Harold Herr told his family he is going to Haiti to train his replacement. He was with LIFE Literature, previously. That is where a replacement would be needed.So “do I know for certain?” . No, because I don’t know if Harold Herr is a blatant liar who would tell his family he is going to train his replacement or not. Either he is a blatant liar and he was not going to train his replacement, or he was telling the truth and that was precisely what he was doing.

    If that is what he was doing why does Life Literature not own up? (And also acknowledge the shopping trip to buy supplies, while at it).

    If he was lying, then tell me, how do we believe him anywhere else? If he lies about ‘little things’ (like innocent trips to Haiti), why would he not lie about bigger things?

  6. Q. LIFE Literature pleaded with Harold *not* to return to Haiti; is it possible they did not know he was going? 

    A: Is it possible? Absolutely.Either way, it raises questions:
    a).  Why wouldn’t they put out a statement publicly to that effect instead of Lamar Nolt responding in ‘beat around the bush’ kind of answers that don’t ever tell the facts as they are?
    b). Why did they continue paying him after he was fired back in September, until after my blog came out?
    c). And a random other question… Them firing him overlapped with Haiti Benefit Auction allegedly raising concerns about Harold…. What hidden stories lie beneath all that silence?

  7. TRIGGER ALERT:
    Q: Was Harold Herr’s wife crazy, psychotic, or mentally ill?

    A: This is a very interesting question. And one we cannot answer with certainty in the clinical sense.  There was definitely signs she was depressed,  based on information I have gathered. She would be some special kind of woman — somewhat super human, really — if she wasn’t depressed after discovering her husband was having sex with animals. I think most women would struggle, don’t you? I mean, another woman you can find a way to confront. But… animals? That makes anything fair game.After Harold Herr was released from the school he had somewhat of a breakdown and they went to Phil Haven for family counseling.  His son Daniel, in the presence of others, said to Harold, “I saw you with the chickens.” His wife (who was allegedly the crazy one, according to rumours), was forced to contend with the fact that her husband was not faithful to her. Not only was he unfaithful to her, he didn’t choose another woman, he chose chickens. Pause, for just a moment, and process that. As a wife, honestly, wouldn’t you struggle just a smidge? It’s almost beyond human comprehension.

    Now add the fact that her son saw his father using the chickens for sex and at age 14 had to be the one to speak out.* Any mother who wouldn’t struggle wouldn’t be healthy and normal. If that stuff doesn’t make your mind spin, as a wife or a mother, and even more so depending what other traumas she had in her life…

    The following letter was written by Isaac K. Sensenig to Freda Herr.

    August 17, 1988

    Dear Friend: 

                I received your letter, and it is shockingly informative.  Harold had poured his heart out to us as a Centerville ministry some years ago.  He confessed to taking something from the place he worked that did not belong to him.  He also confessed to beastiology [sic], and we had him make a public confession concerning the matter.  We feel he had repented of the matters involved including necessary restitution.  We knew nothing of the items of incest you refer to in the letter.  They may have taken place since.  I am sorry to hear this and pray for his repentance and deliverance.

                Since he is no longer a member with us, you probably should write to Earl Horst or Edwin Gehman.  I am surely willing to be used to help him, like all other persons.  We as a church surely would not cover anything up to spare such a person.

                I would like to see him repent, and their marriage corrected as well.  I have a deep-felt concern that the items mentioned will not hinder you nor your mother from being saved people.

     Sincerely,

    Isaac K. Sensenig

    *More later on what it means that Daniel, as a youngster saw his father raping chickens, and at age 14 spoke up about the bestiality, but was not believed when he spoke out later about his fathers heinous crimes. Yes, raping chickens, in and of itself is a crime. (To all who cry ‘it’s under the blood’… more on that later as well).

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  8. Q: Are you aware that a group of men (named to be among them were Preacher Mose Stoltzfus, Darwin Hostetler) met in PA recently to discuss: “What do we do with Trudy?” 

    A: (Following a hearty laugh. This brings to mind a certain song in Sound of Music: How do you solve a problem like Trudy… I mean, Maria?) I did not know, and then I did, after several people contacted me…To the question at hand: What to do with Trudy? That is a very good question. If the men in this group are looking to silence me, they will have to kill me. It’s that simple.

    I am called to expose this corruption. And expose it I will until God says ‘be silent’ or someone here takes matters in their own hands and puts me to rest. Even that they cannot do until my death serves His kingdom purposes more than my life.  He holds my life in His hands.

    I have suggestions for other less extreme measures that could be tried, some that have already been threatened by other ‘godly Anabaptist world-changers’ … like a lawsuit. But that would only confirm the true character of the individuals involved. So, as much as no one wants that stress, I do want to see the true character revealed, and if that is what it takes…. so be it.

    There are a whole host of victims who were beaten and whipped, molested and otherwise abused under the advice and under the leadership of Preacher Mose and Charity (Ephrata) leadership. I have no doubt there are many who would welcome their day in court. So in the end,  if it will all serve the desired end of revealing truth of all the corruption buried,  I am willing to go through whatever I must for that to happen.

    So my advice? Do what you need to do to show us who you really are. Because there are godly Anabaptists — leaders and lay people alike — who will rise up against corruption when they see it. Some sincere ones don’t see it yet. But they will.

    Alternatively, there would be the much better option of coming clean, fully repenting and moving toward Christ-like redemption.

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  9. I do have one closing question to leave here, hanging in thin air:  What devilish thing lies hidden that makes me such a threat that I am worthy of these men meeting to figure out what to do with me? If there is nothing hidden to be unearthed, why not just let me rant and let it blow over? What wickedness do they not want exposed that would inspire them to gather together to discuss what to do with Trudy, or how to get rid of her? 

    That alone sounds like the work of demons and devils. It most certainly is not the least  bit reflective of Jesus Christ, who suffered false accusations in silence. He was the one the Pharisees sought to eliminate because He was an affront to their hidden wickedness. Jesus was never the one seeking to rid His world or His space of those who spoke out, whether speaking truth or not. It simply is not the Jesus Way

    The fact is, I am not throwing around false allegations. At least one Eastern leader has confirmed to a friend that some of the allegations are true. I have said, and continue to say, I do not know what all is truth in this story. I was not there. I am not God. What I do know is that Harold engaged in bestiality and his young son could only have known to address it if he saw the crimes committed. In that act alone, laying aside every other detail, the then-young-Daniel was extremely sexually violated. Extremely victimized.*

    Who of you would let your young son witness his father having sex with animals and walk away concluding he was not sexually victimized? (And if even one of you said yes, shame on you!)

     

  10. Q: Is it true that Harold Herr’s wife committed suicide? 

    A: Since no autopsy was ever done, it is impossible to say with certainty one way or the other.  Given what I’ve shared of what she was living with, and the fact she was not heard and the church made her the crazy one,  it certainly would not be a shocking outcome, but I would hesitate to surmise such a thing without proof. To my knowledge it was not ruled a suicide. (I welcome updates if there is evidence to support such a thing).

  11. Q.) How do we know the letters written by Daniel and dated some 30 years ago is/are legit?
    A: Let me repost the letter (with Daniel’s permission) after the last question, showing the list of all who received a copy at that time. It speaks for itself and is well documented.
     
  12. Q: Lastly, is it true that I redacted a portion of the letter (shared next in full) to hide the fact that Daniel stated some uncertainty regarding details in his memories? 

    A: No. I posted the very redacted version because I had promised Daniel to post nothing revealing. I kept that promise. As for uncertainty about all the details, that is the most normal thing in trauma memory.Today I sat with a friend whose child was tragically killed a few months ago. Not forty years ago. A few months ago. As she told me the story of the events of that day for the first time (she is in another country and it was our first time meeting since her child’s death), she would pause and say she’s uncertain about something. She would share a detail, then pause and question her memory. And she would pick up the pieces of the story, through the trauma, and keep talking.  She didn’t doubt whether her son died. That fact was a certainty. She did question details.It is the height of idiocy to write off someone’s traumatic experience based on a most normal trauma response. To be confused about the details of vile acts committed against you as a child is normal. To question the horror — especially when there is an evidence trail (ie; Harold admitting to bestiality and his young son speaking up about it), and then to believe the abuser, (yes he is that, what else do you call someone who rapes chickens?) while disregarding the son and the wife…

    That is the game of people who are pursuing self-preservation, not truth. It is the game of the guilty. It is a game of those covering evil. It is barely worth entertaining such nonsense in a blog. And I certainly don’t do it for them. I do it for those who sincerely want to know the truth.

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*****

ABOUT CRITICAL THINKING AND SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT:
We hear and use the statement “don’t check your brains at the door”. In essence, we are hearing, “Apply critical thought to the information you hear/see.” That includes right here, on my blog. And it should include the teachings you’ve been handed and told are truth. If you read the evidence I post through the lens of what you’ve been told to believe or out of thoughtless belief that what I say is true, rather than through critical thought and spiritual discernment, then you have checked your brains at the door. I urge you to think deeply and analyze what I write. (And I’m not talking about having a minor detail wrong. That’s just petty).

Spiritually, we call this discernment, using both brain (thought) and spiritual awareness, or the ‘sensing of things’. Spiritually, we my not have a solid thought process to offer, but something just ‘feels off’, or ‘feels right’, not an emotional sense of ‘feeling’, usually, but an awareness. A quiet ‘knowing’. This should be held with humility and caution; the human mind has great influence and it is easy to assign spiritual significance to human thought, or hold as certain that which may not be. This can be deadly. (For example, when a spiritual ‘guide’ – whether counsellor, pastor or other – ‘senses’ that a person has been abused and even by who, and then plants such a thing. There are people who have brought false allegations against individuals this way. It is not wise, and it is not right).

Critical thinking can be intertwined with discernment, or it can be a most practical non-spiritual exercise. It can be ‘looking at the facts with a deeper ‘below the surface’ kind of critique’. What I plan to share today focuses on the latter; a practical exercise in looking at information I posted in the blog Timeline of ‘Grandpa Harold’, and purpose for revealing his identity…. Evidence that is easily missed apart from applying critical thinking, combined with knowledge of at least some details, and if or how there might have been an admission of guilt by the accused. In this case, that admission is documented.

A series of question every individual must ask in a case like this is:

  1. Is it wrong (abuse) to have sex with an animal? (Known as bestiality).
  2. Is it wrong (abuse) to have sex with an animal in the presence of a child? 
  3. Is it wrong (abuse) for a parent to engage in sexual activity of any sort in front of child?

Anyone who who professes Christianity and answered any of the above ‘no’, I’d like to hear your justification. You may send me your argument via the “Contact Trudy” page. And if you do these things, please include details of your acts, as well as your full name, date of birth, full address. These acts are all crimes. But, I cannot imagine that anyone said the above are ok.

On that assumption, we have established:

  1. Sex with an animal is abuse.
  2. Sex with an animal in front of a child is abuse, of both the animal and the child.
  3. It is wrong for parents to have sex in front of their children.

The next series of questions is:

  1. Can we establish that any such acts took place?
  2. Can we establish that any of these acts were admitted by the accused?

The first question was answered in the timeline.  It tells us that, when speaking with Detective Ortenzi, Harold Herr tried to shift focus away from the allegations of sexual abuse and admitted to engaging in bestiality. (There is also a letter from a church leader who acknowledged Harold did indeed admit to bestiality).

For the sake of argument and in honour of a few of my heckling Facebook friends, let’s grant it that Harold ‘repented’ of bestiality at Centerville church, as per the letter. Let’s say that moment it indeed was “under the blood” (as these same men like to repeat in every allegation). In that case, “Praise Jesus!”

If true! Praise Him indeed! This means there is no more reason to hide, to walk in shame, to manipulate… 

But, alas, that ‘repentance‘ took place around 1975, give or take a year or two. Those dates are approximates, lest anyone feels compelled to use this uncertainty of which year to distract from the real issue. It is hard to ask dead men for confirmation. Also, séances are forbidden by God, so we won’t go there.

At that time Daniel Herr was approximately 14 years old. After his father, Harold Herr, was released from teaching school, they went to Phil Haven for help. While there, in the presence of others but addressing his father, the young Daniel made the statement that he had seen his father engaging in bestiality. (This was not told to me by Daniel, but by someone else who was present at that time and heard it).

We have established that Harold Herr engaged in sexual abuse of chickens. He admitted to bestiality and *allegedly repented. (*I will explain this ‘allegedly’ momentarily).

We have further established that Harold Herr sexually violated his son when he engaged in bestiality in front of him. We have also established that his young son first spoke out as a very young teen,  in the presence of multiple witnesses. (For them what thinks there has to be a few witnesses for it to count).

The problem is, Harold Herr did not repent of this abuse of his son. Sins cannot be “under the blood” as many like to say Harold’s are, when they are denied and not repented of.  It is not possible. They can be covered up, denied, ignored and excused. But they cannot be under the blood when they are denied.

Harold’s son, Daniel, deserves a humble apology from his father and humble repentance for his sins and crimes. At 14 …. think about it… at 14 he spoke up. And still he is being viewed the liar and his father the saint by some. I can’t even wrap my head around what level of religious perversion that requires… Religious perversion, and religious arrogance. And I pray that is but a small (albeit vocal) group ‘among us’.

Furthermore, even after his ‘repentance’ in the mid 70’s, Harold’s son saw him engage in ongoing sexual assault of animals over the period of numerous years.

It is easy for some in religious community — usually those with a vested interest in silence and not having something discussed or exposed — to grab the widest brush possible and say, “He has repented. You should not speak of it again. That sin is under the blood.”

I say, “If it’s under the blood so thoroughly, by all means, let’s talk about it!” Let’s be honest about what was done, how it impacted others, how we pursued healing and redemption on behalf of those we harmed and victimized. Let’s not focus on our own self-preservation.

If we truly believe that Jesus came to do what He said He came to do, then let’s be like the Apostle Paul and not hide our sins. And let’s make sure that those we victimized, and their families, hear us acknowledge our wrongdoing.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2020

 

 

 

A former conservative Anabaptist (CA) pastor speaks; A meeting with a few godly men (including a CA pastor); And a glorious shattering

Before sharing the main blog, I want to address a few things that that have surfaced a few times through this process.

WHAT ARE CREDIBLE ALLEGATIONS:
Does ‘credible allegations’ mean I am telling my readers that everything that was/is reported is exactly 100% as reported? Am I saying with unquestioning certainty that “all allegations are true”?

I have said it numerous times, “I am not God. I make no claims to know exactly what was done.” What I am saying is the allegations are not fluff and there is merit to them to the point that there should be a deep investigation. It is in this that CAM and LIFE Literature failed.  I have never asked anyone to unquestioningly endorse as absolute truth what they hear. But I have and will continue to insist that independent third party investigations must be done when such allegations are brought forward, by someone trained in handling victims in a sensitive manner. Such allegations must never be ignored.  And those against whom allegations have been brought should not be sent out on the mission field. It will backfire.

LET’S WAIT UNTIL THE COURTS DECIDE INNOCENCE OR GUILT
This would be a brilliant idea if the cases had been reported before the statute of limitations was up. Sadly, because leaders failed to listen and report years ago, that is no longer an option, so it is my vote that those same people don’t get to give the advice of silence until the courts decide. The courts will never decide on the Daniel Herr case because he was disregarded for approximately 30 to 40 years, and the whispers and allegations were excused.  So, no, we don’t wait. We do the right thing and let the public know.

There are more, but I will leave it there for tonight.

*****

The following is a conversation I had with a friend on Facebook Messenger. I asked his permission to share here, including his name: 

STEVE LAPP (not with LOH, for clarification):
Just read your update on “ Grandpa “ .. The coverups that continue to be exposed are beyond comprehension to me. I am convinced there is no limit to the blindness that accompanies the attitude of moral and spiritual superiority. ( God help us ) PS : I thought there was no statute of limitations on sexual crimes involving minors.
MY RESPONSE:
[As I understand it, the statute of limitations now is] age 50, [for any] victim [who] was under 18 in 2006. It formerly was 18 years […], plus 12 years. (So [age] 30). In 2006 that changed. But the [alleged] victims [in this case, other than those in Haiti] are over 50.

What makes me so sick is that they didn’t bother talking to victims and report to the law. None of them. Not in that many churches, leaders or organizations. And then, rather than deal with it when it gets exposed, they gaslight and say “Trudy is just trying to destroy mission organizations”. And for what earthly reason would I do that?! Ignorant. (Not that I care they say it. I just further exposes their ignorance).

STEVE LAPP:
It’s dark [the abuse]… My childhood was so happy , so secure, filled with love and laughter. There were no dark clouds in the sky for me as a child. I trusted , and never found a reason to mistrust.
Nowadays tho, I do lots of reflecting, and I realize how stunningly stupid and ignorant we become when we blindly trust a “ movement “ of any sort , and particularly a religious movement. I was once a follower of the Charity churches ( for a short time ) . Only when I began to question some of the “absolutes” in the Anabaptist community did my eyes begin to see into some of the darkness that was there. It’s been a journey “out” for many years now , yet I struggle to grasp the enormity of the problem among my people.
It seems to me as long as we hang on to even a trace of the idea that we are spiritually superior as a group ie: Anabaptist , (although it’s true in any group) we will never be able to see clearly. It’s incredibly blinding and should shake us to the core of our being , for it’s a mindset that is a breeding ground for gross immortality and wickedness.

Yes, there’s much progress been made among Anabaptist leaders as far as enlightenment, but until we are broken by our sin of “ spiritual superiority “ I fear this monster ( sexual immorality ) will always be present and thriving. We need more than enlightenment. We are in desperate need of brokenness that goes beyond admitting we have a “ problem “ with immortality. We have a pride problem that we need to own up to, and repent of .

 

***

This evening I had coffee with 3 conservative Anabaptist gentlemen (one was my brother), and later Tim joined in too. It was good. It struck me, at one moment before Tim arrived that the last time I met with 3 (or more) conservative Anabaptist men by myself I was 18, a brand new Christian, and was being grilled about my sexual history. The memory flashed through my mind and it struck me how safe I felt tonight. These are three honourable men.

We sat and talked about my work, and one of them (the pastor in our midst), referring to the conservative Anabaptists in relation to my work, asked thoughtfully and gently, “How did you become our adversary? We need you.” He went on to say we should be partnering together, not fighting one another, in addressing the epidemic. 

In that I didn’t hear him say, “I endorse every detail of how you do your work.” But on the other hand I didn’t hear him judge. He simply acknowledged that there is an abuse problem that needs to be addressed, and he acknowledged God’s calling on my life and the gift He has given me to do what I do. He also acknowledged pride (religious pride and arrogance) as a contributing factor to the problem at hand. 

There is something humbling and empowering, sitting in the presence of men of God with such humility. It is touching, and a reflection of the heart of God. 

And this, my friends, is why I do not fight against ‘the Anabaptist culture’. It is a problem of individuals who are arrogant and selfish, not a problem of a culture in and of themselves. I have honourable and true-hearted friends, so very many of them, within the culture. They don’t put their faith in the culture or any of the practices; it is a way of life, not a way of salvation. The bulk of my friends, prayer warriors and supporters are conservative Anabaptist. They are the people whose love and prayers carry me through the the ministry I do. 

Then, to have encounters such as this evening — or like when I sit with my Amish friends in USA and one of their ministers comes to ask question — and I sit and talk heart to heart with conservative Anabaptist leaders who genuinely cares about addressing the epidemic of sexual abuse in a redemptive and forthright manner, my heart is filled with gratitude.

The Spirit of God is alive and well among my people. Change is coming. Be encouraged.

A line has been drawn in the sand, and people will choose whether they will stand for truth and honour, or continue to bow to the idol of ‘good image’… will they rise up against this evil and bring healing to the children, or will they preserve self and reputation?

It is a painful shattering of illusions, but beyond that shattering lies glorious freedom and healing for victims and offenders.

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As always…

Love,
~ T ~

*****

Trudy offers conferences for survivors of abuse, and training to equip churches and the community in caring for victims and offenders. If you would like to inquire about having a conference or training in your area, send an inquiry via Contact TrudyTo support Generations Unleashed, the charity she works for, Donate Here.

SURVEY: Conservative Anabaptist (CA) Leaders’ Response to Abuse: If you are/were CA and have been sexually abused and interacted with a CA leader regarding the abuse, this survey is for you.

I am preparing several other surveys and will release them on our SURVEYS PAGE.

© Trudy Metzger