Seems there’s a lot of Christians straining their water these days, to avoid choking on gnats, while swallowing camels whole. (What wise man said that again?) And, what were His words just before using satire to make His point? “Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees”… He then calls out on tithing even on their spices, but adds, “[you] have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel…”
It turns out that me being told that Jeriah was sent home in 2012 is a serious stumbling block to Christians, that I would lie like that. It seems elementary, but let me inject here that having a jot or tiddle out of place, I mean, having the date wrong – and that because I was told the wrong date … by one of the men who knew and did not report – is not known as lying. It is known as “Oops, Harold wasn’t quite sure which year it was, and Trudy relayed his imperfect memory.” That kind of nitpicking is the very thing that takes the focus off of helping victims, acknowledging we have a serious problem and dealing with it.
Several have also kindly informed me that I pretty much have it wrong about Jeriah’s early years. It seems to me that testimony of numerous ‘early years’ victims and friend (from unlinked sources that tell similar stories)… they might actually be worthy of acknowledgement. That said, I said very little about his early years.
As I’ve responded to some, I will state here. I am keenly aware that what I shared is incomplete. Very incomplete. It is my hope that the Mast family, as well as other victims and offenders in the inter-linking scenarios that were excluded will appreciate my reasons for this. My goal here has been to call a religious organization to accountability for egregious errors in judgment in the Haiti victims case, and hopefully prevent this type of violence from continuing against anyone. Especially the impoverished who have no recourse, and depend on the very source of their abuse for survival.But I will not go further at this time.
My goal here is to sweep up a few gnats I’m told are distracting people from caring for the victims. I don’t really believe gnats do that. I believe some look for excuses to downplay things, for other reasons. But I don’t mind sweeping gnats, just in case. It would be a tragedy to have children being raped and molested be downplayed because I was given a few inaccurate details by key people in the story.
Nitpicking about details to discredit the truth and pretend there isn’t an epidemic shows how willingly we allow abuse to continue.
The Gospels – four authors, four views – each tell the story of Jesus. Each tell the same stories on several occasions, but tell them differently. This is called ‘perspective’. If we stand by a wall and describe the scenery, the ones facing the bricks will have a very different account (perspective) of what they see than the ones facing the garden.
And the one staring at bird poop on the table… Yeah, that’s a whole ‘n’other perspective completely that no one wants to hear while trying to enjoy dinner.
I think many people are trying to eat dinner right now, as this case unfolds….
Jesus used an exaggerated scenario to make His point. If I was not as clear, feel free to ask questions.
Almost a month ago, when I first heard the Amish Steering Committee was involved in the Jeriah Mast case, I attempted to track down their number. I reached out to Dell Sauder in Pennsylvania, who has many connections and whose wife has Amish background, hoping they would be able to help. I also reached out to friends in Ohio who did some asking around. But the information seemed no where to be found.
Soon after my first blog came out, several people kindly reached out to correct me, saying they were not involved. I requested that they forward my number to the ASC and ask one of the to call me. Another person forwarded a contact number, which I tried immediately, but was not able to get through.
This week, Tuesday I was finally able to speak with one ASC member. I wished I could see his eyes, because phones are limiting that way. However, he was honourable and kind. I learned that what my sources — statements Jeriah’s immediate family made, which then were forwarded to me out of concern by friends — was not reflective of facts. I have yet to figure out why his family believed what they believed, but that is theirs to tell truth about. I have this evidence, but will not release it without the permission of those who sent it.
(Note: I released to law enforcement what I felt might be of help to them).
In conversation with the ASC leader I learned the following about them:
- they’re incredibly respectful to engage with (I sensed no manipulation, only respect)
- our visions align
- their purpose is to be a liaison/messenger between law/government and the Amish church
- they’ve been around in some form for 50-60 years, not only 2.5
- many of their cases are minors
- many of their cases have nothing to do with sexual crimes, incest and molestation
- if they are sexual crimes they are referred to the Restoration Committee
- they work cooperatively with the law (one ‘evidence item’ said they take the place of the law)
- they don’t interfere with law to keep offenders out of prison (again, many of their cases are minors)
And I also learned the following about ASC’s involvement in this case:
- No one contacted the ASC’s State Director for assistance in case
- someone at Shining Light church got their hands on a Restoration Plan that was drawn up for another offender from a few years ago
- the church reached out to the Restoration Team to look at the plan
- the name had been redacted, so they did not know it was for Jeriah Mast
- Shining Light then asked a Restoration Team member to set up the appointment with law enforcement
- Family told various people that ASC was involved, and stated that it was to “help avoid consequences” and “do what the law would do”, as well as hold Jeriah accountable
- This alarmed people who reached out to me.
- This, the State Director (who is the Amish gentleman I spoke with) is completely inaccurate and not what the ASC is about
The Restoration Committee Role and Purpose:
- hold everyone accountable when dealing with molestation and other troubled situations and “hold people’s feet to the fire”
- they guide processes and make sure proper processes are followed
- draw up restoration plans which are strict accountability plans to be followed
- offer teaching and education to help recognize abuse, and work toward prevention
- do NOT assume role of:
- they are contacted for help by:
- law enforcement
- Church Ministry
- Counsellors and therapists
- Individuals needing support in their church community
The information came to me via friends of immediate family, but how the family in this case came to believe the information they shared with people, I cannot speak to, nor do I wish to. It may have been a sincere misunderstanding. These things happen, and in the midst of stress and chaos that is yet more likely.
It is ironic that since my source is those with some of the highest stakes – the family – that I am the liar for repeating their words. (I would say I misunderstood if I did not have evidence).
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. The hate, the lies and all of that, I am not too worried about. If that’s what it takes for this epidemic to be addressed, so be it. I am far more concerned that I stand before God one day and, while imperfectly, have done what He called me to do.
What’s next in this case?
The law is doing the thing it is designed to do. I am doing the thing I am called to do, and cooperating with the law in the process. All information that is sent my way, that holds any meaning, I forward to the law. And sometimes I forward what I think is useless but might mean something to them. Charges will be forthcoming, at least for one ‘piece’ of this situation, in the relatively near future, I am told. We will see. That isn’t my part to follow up on.
I continue to interact with the people of Haiti who were impacted, including Jeriah’s victims and those near them. It is hard because of distance, and feeling helpless to do much given the language barriers, but I try to answer their questions and connect them with those who are able to help them navigate the maze of the legal system. (On that note, if anyone reading this knows of a Human Rights Lawyer who would be able to support these victims, that info would be much appreciated. Please send it to me at: Generations Unleashed.
What next for me?
Before this case went public, people were hearing there was a ‘big abuse case’ with an Anabaptist organization, and they reached out to ask what I know. I wasn’t ready to give information much, back then. As a result information trickled in about multiple organizations, in multiple countries. When three or more concerns trickle in, each holding pieces of a story, it is a strong sign that something lies buried.
It is my plan to follow up on these cases if doors open. I am very comfortable letting God open and close doors. If funds come in to cover the costs of travel, I go. If not, I don’t. It’s that simple and that black and white how I determine whether it is meant to be. And I listen to the niggling of caution, that radar for spiritual manipulation that goes off in my inner being, when determining with whom I will partner in these things. And I am thankful to say that there are thousands of conservative Anabaptists offering prayer support and encouragement in this.
I hope to fly out within the next two weeks to confirm details in another case, if funds come in to cover the costs. And if they do not, I will rest in this not being the right time. I am comfortable laying down calling any time God closes doors.
If you are able to contribute, and willing to do so, you may send funds to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit Generations Unleashed.
My commitment is to walk through the doors God opens. I will not force them. But I will not ignore the open ones. And if they crack open and stay there, I’ve learned that usually, sometimes years later, they swing wide open.
~ T ~
© Trudy Metzger 2019