The following blog post has three components, all written by Bill Miller. He has given me permission to share his email address for those who wish to reach out to him. I spoke with Bill’s son before I communicated with Bill. In the son I ‘met’ a man who cares deeply for the wounded children. (His son is also a ministry leader who forwarded their ministry’s protocol for handling abuse. I have never been more impressed!) He told me about his father, and some time later Bill reached out.
The first part is a letter of introduction, followed by admonition from James 5. And finally is a response to some concerns shared in response to CAM.
I am 67 years old and have been a member in the Beachy Amish Mennonite church from age 16 to age 63. I have observed the rules of the church faithfully. I have failed and have been restored. I have been loved and rejected. I have held offices and sat silently. I have watch this same thing in many other brethren in the church as well. And I believe this is quite normal for the church of Jesus Christ. We are, after-all, human and “we hold this treasure in earthen vessels.” I have been under numerous church administrations, what with moving, bishops dying or being silenced, or moving away and being replaced, and church outreaches.
But there is one issue that I have never been able to understand. This is the issue of elevating the ministry onto a pedestal and thereby they become untouchable by anyone. I have heard bishops say that “There is no other bishop that has any authority over me.” I have heard bishops say that “The laity has no right or responsibility to ever question or rebuke anyone in the ministry.” I have heard bishops say that there is an absolute hierarchy in the ministerial circles. “You do as we say and we will have your back. We will make sure that you are protected in the event that you would get into trouble. We will make sure that you will have all the speaking engagements and that your name will be recognized.” We have seen numerous times where minister’s children get to keep their sins covered under the proverbial carpet and not under the “BLOOD”. All this in order to protect the minister’s name. In Matthew 20:20-28, Jesus clearly condemns this program as from the world, saying in verse 26, “But it shall not be so among you:”
I personally know of numerous bishops that keep a written file of every member’s failures. I have seen some of these files. Who keeps a file of their own failures? What are they going to do with these files when they turn their office over to the next generation? Do they not know that one drop of blood took care of ALL these files? Do they then wonder what happened when the church house becomes empty? Do they not know that conflict of interest always leads to loss of trust and confidence? And last but not least, is no body learning from the history of the last 75 years?
I was taught that any group that leaves a fellowship, a conference, a constituency, and go out on their own, have lost their way. But in the last 30 years the number of unaffiliated churches has mushroomed. People are tired of the the old program where the highway is littered with the broken and bleeding, the neglected and hurting, those lost and dying, all from the heavy hand of power of the ministry and executive boards, who themselves are quite comfortable in their own wealth and prestige.
Is it any wonder that we now have the arrogance and pride exuding from the pulpit and executive boards that are doing so much damage? The longer it goes the more the next generation of officials feel entitled to the same level of grandeur, and the more the name of our Lord and Savior is mocked. Wake up! There is coming a day of reckoning, a day of persecution, a day where the sons will turn their own fathers and mothers over to the authorities of the land. And we have brought it on ourselves. Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
It is with these thoughts that I was led by the Holy Spirit to write a message on James 5:1-6. Then I wrote a remedy for the sad situation from James 5:7-12.
Written with Love and a concerned heart.
Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries shall come upon you.
Wake up, you wealthy, powerful, influential, well known, ministers, charity organization leaders, and big, powerful business men, you better start weeping and howling, because your miseries are coming your way. There shall be no escaping the consequences.
Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.
You riches are filthy and rotten. They are no longer of any value. They will not buy your way to more power and influence. The game is over. Your riches are worthless in your pursuit of power. Your clothes are rotten and full of holes. Your arrogant deceit has eaten your façade as surely as moths eat old garments. People can see your nakedness through the holes in your self-righteous garments. Your plain clothes are a fraud and the people around you are ashamed to be in your presence. You would be better off dressing like the world than to look like some do-gooder Pharisee who hates when the light of truth shines into their dark, corrupt hearts. Your cover is gone and your riches and power are nothing but disgustingly filthy rags.
Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
Your riches, your fame and power, your influential positions, and business leadership positions have turned to battery acid in the hearts of the common folk. It will continue to eat at the very fiber of your heart and life as you watch the once grand positions and power disappear in the fog of people who at one time held you in great esteem. The battery acid that is eating you alive is also burning up the very lives of your victims, as they testify of your ingrained, accomplished, corruption. You have quite the treasure chest saved up for your last days. Your last days are here and your treasure chest will do you no good. It will only stand in judgement against you as you grovel alone in misery, rejection and isolation. Your acquired riches that you must spend to defend yourself, stands in judgement against you, as testimony of your guilt.
Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
Behold, the people that have been doing the hard work for you, those who have been exposed to the elements of the world of evil, those that are working in obscurity, those that are in the ditches and misery for you, making sure your name stays on top, those that are accustomed to hearing commands and arrogance from you; are not getting their dues. You are neglecting them and calling it your privilege to treat them as those that are disposable and replaceable. You knowingly allowed your victim’s children to be brutally raped and emotionally destroyed by your own workers, while you are busy telling them of the love of Jesus, and feeding them from your hand. They are crying to the Lord and the Lord is hearing them. The Lord has a tender heart for the down trodden and he will hear the anguished cries of your victims, that you consider as “disposable”.
Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in the day of slaughter.
You have enjoyed the life of pleasure, ease and excess, while dismissing the needs of your subjects. You have required your own people to satisfy your extravagance. You have lived in the desires of your own hearts as though you have a fatted calf every day. Nothing is too extravagant for you. You expect and demand it.
Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doeth not resist you.
Whenever a person tries to shine the light of truth into your life, you berate, condemn and assassinate his character. You have no qualms about completely destroying any one that dares to question your integrity. You don’t care how it affects his health, his livelihood, or his name. You will put forth every effort to destroy that person. You know you can because of your clout. You know you can because of his status and lack of resources. You know you can because you know he is too timid to resist. Your victims are endless and you arrogant brutality knows no limits. Just like the “Generation of vipers” Jesus talked about.
You are where you are because of choices you made, each step of your successful life. That’s what brought Hitler and Stalin where they ended up being. You chose to allow HURT to grow and by your negligence you fostered it.
With all your riches, you are able and willing to hire lawyers to protect your assets, something your victims are not able or interested in doing. You reject the very Savior that you preached about for many years, and choose to defend your position with a worldly lawyer. How are your victims and past parishioners supposed to have faith in your past messages? The only winner in this situation will be the lawyers. You don’t need a lawyer, you need a Savior.
A Beautiful and Assuring Promise for the Meek and Humble, Faithful Children of God
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
You, the person that has truly become the brother of Jesus Christ, has the full attention of the Lord who is watching the fruit of our “earth,” our flesh, which is under His direction and guidance. May the Lord receive the 100 fold fruits of our humble, faithful, and loving work in the Kingdom of God, as the early and latter rains fall.
Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
You, brother of Jesus Christ, be patient. Don’t run ahead of God’s direction or get frustrated when you don’t see immediate results for your faithful labors. Let your faith in God grow deep. Trust in Him for He cares for you, His child. Let His Word dictate your life. The more you do this the closer you get to the Lord and the closer He gets to you. He loves you.
Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold the judge standeth at the door.
Forgive those who have hurt you and sinned against you, otherwise God cannot forgive you. Granting full forgiveness to those is the exact way Jesus forgave you. He allowed your sins to kill Him, while He trusted His Father to raise Him back to life, so that you can have a Father-Son relationship with His Father. Forgive those that have hurt you so that your Heavenly Father can show His love by forgiving you and you can love Him. Otherwise the greatest judgement against you is the Father not being able to relate to you because of your unforgiving heart.
Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
“Take”. Receive the prophets. Receive the real people who speak and teach the real truth of God. Do not listen to those that speak truth so that they can wield power and influence. But listen to those that present the truth with love, accuracy, and dedication, and also lead a life of holiness in spite of what others think or circumstances in life that you have no control over.
Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
When we look at Job, it was when he proved his dedication to God and the devil, that God restored all that he had lost. God was full of tender mercy throughout Job’s experience. It was the devil that challenged Job, and once Job declared the truth, his life was in total dedication and praise to God. Let’s endure and be happy and joyful in the midst of these experiences. What greater joy can we potentially have than to endure for our Savior’s sake, after all He has done for us. He is patiently waiting while we declare and prove our dedication to Him.
But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.
Let’s not place our trust in anything except Jesus and His Word. May our yes to Him and His cause, be a full YES, and our no to the devil and his evil ways, be a solid NO. Amen.
My Brethren, You are where you are, because of choices you made each step of your life. Abraham, David, Daniel, Paul, and all the thousands of martyrs, ended up where they did because of choices they made, every step of their life.
Willing, Obedient, Humble, service is a CALLING and a CHOICE between two options.
PRAISE GOD, WE HAVE MANY EXAMPLES OF THESE, BOTH IN THE SCRIPTURES, OUR ANABAPTIST HISTORY, AND IN OUR PRESENT DAY.
After thinking over the statements made by those that feel that somehow the effort to recompense the victims would just bring more “victims” out of the woodwork, I say “So what?”
First of all what was the offence and who caused it?
Should the offender and his supporters not be willing to take whatever reaping that comes as a result of his sowing?
Does the offender and his supporters not see Jesus hanging on the cross and asking the Father to forgive him, the offender, long before the offender was even born?
Does the offender and his supporters not see that Jesus was completely and totally innocent and yet chose to accept the whatever the ungodly world of sinners could and did place on his shoulders?
Does the offender and his supporters not see that the possible falsified requests for remunerations of some extra supposed victims is not even measurable in compared to the iniquities of the whole world placed on Jesus’ shoulders?
Does the offender and all his supporters not realize the good that would come to themselves by willingly and totally forgiving those that would possibly “unfairly” ask for rewards?
Does the great organization of CAM not understand that they would benefit great and innumerable blessings form God by turning this whole thing over to a different Christian organization, that would have the right and responsibility of acting on the behalf of the victims, on behalf of the victims families and on behalf of the communities of the victims, regardless of the monetary cost? That’s exactly what Jesus did!
Does the offender and all his supporters not realize that there is nothing in the world that is cheaper than money? It is our most precious commodity but we are willing to part with it in exchange for anything else we want, except in the event that someone might get an undeserved advantage. How foolish and ungodly for us to begrudge the potential event that someone in Haiti might take undue advantage of a reward!
Oh how the great and mighty have fallen, both in deeds and theology! Oh how awful the results of this great fall! Oh how awful the fact of this fall, in light of the fact of the last 75 years of revival meetings, church plantings, ordinations, mission works and outreaches, Sunday Schools, summer Bible Schools, winter Bible Schools for the youth, and all kinds of teaching seminars. How many more teachings do we need in order to get back on the TRUE BIBLE WAY? Do we even realize where we are in relation this True Bible Way?
I am encouraged by these compassionate men of God, who care for victims. I have never met Bill or his son, but hope one day to have that opportunity.
~ T ~
*** See below: early ‘concert only’ registration for abuse survivors Nov. 2, 2019. ***
The young woman who was assaulted at age 7… Five donations have come in so far with enough funds to cover . (We are still waiting to confirm the fee, so not sure just how many). Thank you for contributing. Every bit helps, as this is will require ongoing support. If you wish to contribute, you may do so through the following link: Support for Rape Survivor.
She continues to be amazed by the support that she has felt and seen, and extends her thanks and appreciation. It has been encouraging for me to see ‘the church’ enter into her story and care for her well-being in word, prayer, and helping with her counseling costs.
ONLY 2 MORE WEEKS TO REGISTER WITH LUNCH AND CONCERT INCLUDED!
(ENDS AUGUST 1, 2019)
THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief. It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.
NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.
Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.
(More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)
EARLY CONCERT REGISTRATION FOR ALL SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE:
If you are a sex abuse survivor – Anabaptist or not – and are not a sex offender, who wishes to attend the ‘concert only’ portion of The Gathering, we will allow for early registration before tickets are released to the public, August 1, 2019. For link to register for the concert only, email AslanHasHeard@gmail.com. Subject line: “Concert link for survivors”.
If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.
That hits the nail on the head with some powerful blows. Now… are we going to reject (and “hang”) our “prophets” (who are just ordinary men) among us? I mean what do they know? They’re full of flaws themselves… Or are we going to hear God speaking directly to us through them? Times haven’t changed. People haven’t changed. The robes of self-righteousness are the hardest to remove.
-a fellow Anabaptist follower of Christ
I one clarifying comment. Not all Beachy churches operate like the one(s) Bill Miller experienced. In fact, I know of many humble leaders who are accountable to the Body. I agree that when the leaders have that mindset, ruin is the result. Sharon Mast
Sharon, I don’t know you or your church, and I am glad you have good leaders who do not function like this. It is quite possible that they are the majority.
Sadly I have received countless letters from others whose stories echo Bill’s story. Maybe yet more sad is the letters “humble leaders” have written, telling me that if they speak up for truth, they will be (or already have been) kicked out. When leaders plead for ‘understanding from the public’ (and from me) for not doing the right thing because they fear what those in power will do to them and their families, we have crossed a whole knew line of darkness. And those are the messages coming in from leaders.
How seriously we should heed these warnings! I realize that these things have the potential to be viewed by some as harsh and judgmental, but in light of eternity, may we consider them as a possible act of God’s mercy.
If the early apostles, who actually walked with Jesus, would have embraced the inordinate view of mercy, forgiveness and love that many “professing” Christians do today, the story of Ananias & Saphira would have a very different outcome. After all Peter, didn’t you deny Christ 3 times? How can you be so hard on them?
Doctrines and practices based on 1 Cor 13 outside of the context of the rest of New Testament leads to a heresy that is largely responsible for the lack of the fear of God that so many people lament. The suppression of truth spoken in Roman 1:18 is the gateway to the path that leads to a reprobate mind and a perverted lifestyle.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Romans 1:18–19 (ESV)
But the righteous STILL live by faith in what God has said, NOT by the dictates of secular lawyers…
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Ro 1:16–17 (ESV)
– Neither “modern” Anabaptist nor Protestant, but a fellow citizen of the Kingdom of God
This was not intended to be directed toward Sharon. Not sure how it got to be a reply to her post.
Love it! If you’ve never met Bill or his son, I recommend you do. Both are passionate about restoration.
Thank you Jonathan. That is good to know, and encouraging.
Thank you Bill for sharing your heart. I heard every past frustration and triumph poured into this essay as I read over it. God bless you for your boldness! For those of you who don’t know Bill, he is not a perfect man yet in my short life I’ve never seen one as old, willing to confess his faults as quick. I grew up fatherless and it is a blessing today that I can call Bill my father. Blessings!