PODCAST DISCUSSING CAM, JERIAH MAST, AND SEXUAL ABUSE:
On Saturday July 6, Titus Kuepfer and his co-host David Russel interviewed blogger and author of “Live Free”, Asher Witmer, and myself on the CAM/Jeriah Mast sex abuse scandal. It was good to connect with these gentlemen and hear their concern and care. (You can listen to the clip on “Proselytize or Apostatize”). Asher addresses male sexuality from a Christian perspective on his blog.
It was encouraging to engage honest dialogue and explore hard questions surrounding this case with these gentlemen.
MALE SURVIVORS SPEAK OUT:
KIRK DANIEL’S BLOG:
Kirk Daniel is a male survivor who recently shared a very moving blog on Lucinda Miller’s blog. (Read “Was It A Boy?” here). This blog has resonated powerfully with other male survivors and is opening a door to much needed connection among them. It is also encouraging for female survivors to see the men find the courage to speak.
Kirk’s blog is These Ashes.
MALE SURVIVOR’S LETTER TO THE EDITOR, WOOSTER DAILY RECORD:
Daniel Eichelberger shared a glimpse of his story in some great wisdom in his response to the CAM/Jeriah Mast scandal and the response of CAM and the community to the present crisis. He echoes the concerns of many in his letter titled “Focus Should Be On Victims“. It is an uncanny thing how the world revolves around offenders.
The public, in all fairness, deserves to be warned. The victims usually want privacy. The church wants to appear as whole as possible. Organizations want to protect their money, rankings and image. And the end result is that it’s all about everything and everyone except the victim.
This letter calls people back to those whose wellbeing should be at the heart of the decisions made by all involved.
It is encouraging to see so many gentleman coming forward and giving voice to the suffering of male victims. When the truth of their horror is spoken, and they support each other (and hopefully find support from the Christian community), healing will come. Cycles are being broken, and new legacies are being established.
This is a beautiful thing happening!
CAN’T WE JUST MOVE ON ALREADY?
There are people who are now at the point where they just want to move on and let this situation take care of itself. No one should talk about it anymore. CAM and Stanley Fox have put out their statements. Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver are on administrative leave. (Which, I am told, means quietly continuing to do some work behind the scenes after being ‘released’). An investigation is in progress, both by law and allegedly by CAM.
So…. “Let’s let them take care of it now.”
Part of me understands this. It’s messy to talk about this case. I mean, it’s messy to talk about sexual abuse in any case, but this case especially. CAM is a trophy organization. (And a much larger trophy than I realized at the beginning of this story!) And we don’t know how to reconcile this level of evil hidden by those within their employ… or consider that a missionary with so many years abroad has used the organization to access the vulnerable. And we certainly don’t want to acknowledge that there could be others, maybe even closer to us than this.
That messy part of the conversation makes it uncomfortable, and we don’t like the discomfort. It disrupts our safety. And that is precisely why we need to talk about it. Because that disruption to norms, that loss of safety, that messy uncomfortable reality… that is the reality of every sex abuse survivor.
They’ve been robbed of their safety. They live daily with the knowledge that what their abuser did — be it an older sibling, uncle, aunt, parent, grandparent, minister, schoolteacher or other abuser — could happen again. The person they trusted, no longer deserves trust. And, the quick call to trust CAM again is nothing more than a reminder that what was done against them never really mattered to anyone, or to very few people, in religious community. (NOTE: This ‘reminder’ is how it feels to the victims. It is not that no one cares. Many, many of us do. But in their experience, that was not felt nor was it lived ‘among them’ by those with power).
Conversation changes that. Conversation invites people to enter the uncomfortable and listen to the horror in hopes of offering the healing love of Jesus in practical ways.
And, as one fatherly conservative Anabaptist gentleman said yesterday on a call, it’s going to be us common folks with no power or position who refuse to be silent who influence change.
So keep the conversation going. Allow for some squirming and shifting eyes. And even the ‘do we have to talk about it?’ question.
Truth is, Jesus came and brought discomfort and division. With purpose. This conversation brings discomfort and division. And it has purpose. It compels us to move beyond preserving image to applying Isaiah 61, and caring for the brokenhearted and the captives.
It calls us to remember the victims, to care for the neglected and oppressed, and represent Jesus well to them.
~ 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.