Thursday July 18, 2019, is the next scheduled court hearing for victims of Jeriah Mast and CAM, in Petit-Goave, Haiti, which CAM officials and Jeriah Mast are asked to attend.
The attitudes toward Haitians (and other impoverished countries) among some in religious groups are despicable, to put it mildly. And they are among the contributing factors to the problem of missionaries assaulting vulnerable children and getting by with it. I will provide but one of the examples that someone sent to me:
In reality, these young men’s lives are so scarred and shamed by what Jeriah did, that victims have written me to tell me what happened, but pleading that their names not be released because of what it will cost them. When they go in the streets they are called “Madam Jeriah”, and are shamed, bullied and threatened. It is appalling to suggest they would come forward for a ‘free ticket’. Worst case scenario, if some would, I don’t see how anyone can say “my first concern in this whole thing” is that.
Some have been faced with death threats because they are seen as homosexuals (due to a male assaulting them) and for that reason should be offered asylum. The threats are serious enough that I was sent evidence in case the holder of it would turn up dead, in which case I am to release everything I have.
This arrogant, ‘better than you’ attitude towards them is dehumanizing, and sickening.
Maybe it’s time for people to stop ‘helping’ or ‘fixing’ or sending missionaries to ‘those poor people’ and start listening to them and valuing them.
As I write Rick Ashley – a first responder who took guardianship of a young Haitian boy almost 10 years ago – is in Haiti meeting with lawyers, a psychologist, and other professionals. He is paying for an arranging meetings for the known victims in one of the communities with these professionals, as well as medical care since some have developed health issues.
While I have no direct affiliation with Rick, or the services they provide in Haiti, I have spent enough time on the phone with him to hear his care and compassion. I do not know him personally, but hope one day to meet him. He has sacrificed much to reach out to the victims, and has set up a GoFundMe account to help with these expenses.
If you wish to read more and support his efforts, you may do so at:
URGENT NEED FOR HAITIAN BOYS VICTIMIZED BY JERIAH MAST & CAM
HAITI MISSIONARY ‘HELP’ FOR VICTIMS UPDATE:
The following images are an update for the proposed help to Haiti victims, organized by the men in Haiti. I offer no criticism of the plan itself, However, due to *ASAA being invited to be part of it, when they left a case completely unresolved last year*, and because the organizers explicitly excludes GU (and therefore me… or is that ‘excommunicate’), I will respect that and simply offer the outline they have prepared.
(In humour: A friend who saw the documents wrote to say “I see you’ve been black-balled!” To which I responded, “Yes… the curse of being a woman and not Mennonite!” But, on the bright side, the less relational entanglements I have on that front, the more free I am to continue investigating without the temptation of protecting relationships. I am ok with that).
And I genuinely hope that those who help are effective, qualified, no history of molesting children and sexual assault, and seek first to understand the needs of victims, rather than imposing their ‘fix them’ plan.
*REGARDING ASAA: Currently I am not prepared to release the documentation for this case publicly. It is convoluted and requires time investment to organize ASAA’s involvement, the gaslighting and handling of the case. I have not had any time for that. A link to the backstory (which does not include the details of ASAA involvement at this time) is available upon request, with full name, and all contact info, as well as reason for interest. It is relevant and I have been working toward addressing it for a few weeks, because I’ve received 3 complaints in the past month about the same offender).
In the past two months quite a number of people have sent messages stating that their abuser was never dealt with by their church, and then sent off to missions. In some cases the church was actively involved in helping them avoid the law. Sending them on missions is extremely high risk, and extremely disrespectful. But what if it’s strategic?
The question “Are known child molesters/rapists being sent on missions by the church because the church assumes impoverished countries have no resources to expose them?” has haunted me these past few weeks, and more so with every story forwarded. And, for that matter, are child molesters/rapists asking to go on missions for that same reason? The odds of getting by with the abuse is so much higher!
In America a serial child molester/rapist is far more likely to be caught. And if caught will tarnish the church image and more likely land behind bars. If they go on missions, all looks good, and life goes on.
This question has especially haunted me since learning other missionaries with serious and extreme allegations against them have also been sent, to Haiti and to other locations.
This question deserves serious consideration.
The number of conservative Anabaptist men whose names have come up since this CAM fiasco – some with , who molested in the past and are now in leadership, is startling. Ten conservative Mennonite pastor’s names were sent this weekend (some I had heard before), involved in churches at home or in missions, or both. On top of that, a list of the leaders who knew and looked the other way.
Either we have to admit the epidemic is so severe among us that a considerable percentage of those running missions and churches will inevitably have committed these crimes, or we have to look at why so many of them are sent out and ordained.
It is well known that many sex offenders are especially gifted in manipulating their way into favour and leadership. That, along with the ‘in house’ handling of things, and ‘back room deals’ with the law in some communities, makes offenders in religious communities yet more ‘untouchable’.
The matter of the vast number of offenders in leadership, and the ongoing ‘rise to power’ of these men needs to be further explored. Repeatedly leaders are saying, “Let’s work together. We’re all on the same team.” Yet there is an ongoing disregard for the needs fo victims.
I welcome any personal testimony of victims who have had experiences with these ‘backroom deals’ in which offenders were given special favour, and where victims were neglected. (Send to: email@example.com).
In the past week I have had several individuals share their stories of neglect, while leaders fight for the offenders to avoid prison, while silencing them. The testimonies I’ve heard are concerning, and make me more and more aware that this is no small matter.
If you want to share your story, anonymously, I welcome submissions. There must be enough details to make sense of the situation, but no need for identifying information.
I’m learning that your stories, your testimonies are reaching people far more and with more impact than my many years of working to bring light to the darkness.
PS: Emails sent without your full name included will not be read. I received one this evening after posting the blog… scrolled to the bottom, and saw no name and ‘filed’ it. I have no interest in the opinions of those who cannot sign their name. I connect with people, whether I agree with them or not, not with anonymous opinions. … whether I agree with you or not.
Matthew 18:6-7, 10
But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! […] Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.
~ T ~
THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief. It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.
NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.
Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.
(More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)
If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.
© Trudy Metzger 2019
My husband’s theory is that part of the problem is the lives of natives in other countries are not valued as highly as the “whites”. Therefore, if US church people have a problem, their church leaders will send them off to missions so they won’t make a problem at home.
i think a huge part of the problem even in the states is that many leaders are offenders or children of offenders. Therefore they identify with them and hence the “slap on the wrist” and the shaming and silencing of victims.
This is my theory too. And knowing the history of some of the people involved in these missions and mission boards, I’d say it speaks for itself. Even if they have apologized to their victims, they ‘cover’ for each other
I was under the impression that missionaries are called or choose to go out on the mission field. Maybe the leaders encourage them to go, but I think that in most cases it is the individuals who have the finale say, not the leaders. But possibly there are some leaders that do this, but all those I know on the mission field are there at their own choosing after being called to the work.
I do agree that there are those who do not value non-white people as much as they do white people.
In the conservative Mennonite churches I grew up in, I only ever heard people were asked to go on missions. At Mid-West/Mid-Atlantic ‘level’ that changed to my understanding. With Jeriah Mast I was told he was sent.
I should add, if he asked to go and they let him, knowing he molested children in his teens, that’s just as bad. But allegedly he was sent.
I agree with you @AnnWeaver on this. That is how I am familiar with it in the Amish Mennonite churches I know. It is voluntary for people to go even after they are asked. And in my personal experience it was completely voluntary on my part to put in an application to the mission after I was made aware of the need.
That being said, that does not discount the wrong of having anybody with such a history being allowed to go. I cannot describe the shock and horror I felt in knowing what occurred in Haiti. I am praying for the victims and others involved. I also truly hope that we respond to this wake up call! There are many, many of us followers of Jesus who are seeking to do His work and Will and do not want to have better than thou attitudes. May we be cleansed from all prejudices!
If he was “sent”, and with his history, that is appalling. I still can’t wrap my head around how much damage he and his enablers have done. What were they thinking ?
I am personally disgusted, offended and insulted at the inherent racism in Anabaptist culture.
Inherent: existing in something as a permanent, essential, or characteristic attribute. (Google dictionary)
Racism (as well as classism) clearly exists among anabaptists and this is both disgusting and offensive. Someday we will worship together with “all tribes, people, languages, nations” in Heaven and will be required then to face the self-evident fact that there is no white Jesus!
However, racism is not an essential nor a characteristic trait of Anabaptists, and I certainly pray it is not a permanent shame among us.
(I do understand your anger and often feel it myself. But please don’t paint us all with the same brush…)
Fair enough. You caught me making a sweeping generalization. And yet, I cannot fully retract it, because it is inherent in some communities of Anabaptist people.
Ask Trudy how the Old Colony Mennonites view the Mexican people. I lived in Holmes County, Ohio area for a number of years, and yes, it is prevalent there, though many would deny it.
Come on, they even look down their noses at the English people around them.
Here is a good test for inherent racism: would the group you are with sanction the marriage of a black and white couple, i.e. interracial marriage? Or would they be advised to “marry your own kind”?
Marrying is truly the litmus test, is it not?
“Our own kind”-the only race-is human. We, as a fellowship, are not entirely free of racism (we struggle with the same sins common to all humanity); however, I do believe the majority of our members understand the truth that marriage is a blessing open to any couple who are both believers. (We do have marriages between different people groups/skin colors in our fellowship. At this time, we continue to be mostly white congregations, but change is coming—Hallelujah!)
-I remain a Pietist/anabaptist mix and honestly know almost nothing about the different Amish/Mennonite groups, although I am often mistaken for one. 🙂