PLEASE SHARE! URGENT: US MARSHALS issue warrant for MELODY BANNISTER’S Arrest!! (The other side of the story)

If the news articles released regarding Melody Bannister’s children being in danger — the case I wrote about a few days ago — is all people know, they will report when they see them and put the children back in alleged danger!

The news stations are only reporting what they have been told; they don’t have the bigger backstory. Therefore I am pushing it as hard as I can, so they and the public are forced to contemplate WHAT THE CHILDREN REALLY NEED. HOW IS THAT NOT HIGHEST PRIORITY HERE?

WMBF News shared an article stating the children of Melody Bannister may be in danger, according to deputies. This is utter nonsense. The mother fled with them after they disclosed horrific abuse by their father (who was then granted custody), their grandfather, and other men.

WPMT FOX43 released a statement saying the US Marshals have issued a warrant for her arrest.

SHARING THE FOLLOWING LINKS IS NOT INTENDED AS AN ENDORSEMENT OF THE CONTENT, BUT TO ALERT THE PUBLIC TO THE BACKSTORY. AND HOPEFULLY ASK OURSELVES WHAT IN THE WORLD WOULD MAKE CHILDREN BRING ALLEGATIONS THIS HORRENDOUS (EVEN IF NOT ALL TRUE) AGAINST THE FATHER AND GRANDFATHER IF NOTHING  IS WRONG. THIS IS THE PART THAT NEEDS TO BE INVESTIGATED. (AND BY ALL MEANS, IF MOM IS GUILTY AND THE CHILDREN DID NOT SAY THOSE THINGS, MOM SHOULD BE DEALT WITH BY LAW). FOR NOW, THE KIDS NEED TO BE CARED FOR AND IF THERE IS TRAUMA WITH DAD, HE SHOULD NOT HAVE CUSTODY.

BANNISTER STORY PART ONE

BANNISTER STORY PART TWO

BANNISTER STORY PART THREE: TRIGGER WARNING!

AND IF YOU FIND THAT STORY UNBELIEVABLE, AND WONDER HOW THE ABOVE ATROCITIES ARE EVEN POSSIBLE, READ THE GHOST RAPES OF BOLIVIA. IT SHOWS CLEARLY HOW SUCH A THINGS *WOULD* BE POSSIBLE, WITHOUT A MOTHER EVER KNOWING. (This is not to say that every allegation made is true. I repeat that this is not my point. My motive is to get people to realize the extent of wickedness that is possible).

UPDATE: People are messaging and asking how it would be possible to use the bullwhip and physical abuse without leaving marks. It’s not that hard. Here is my response to them:

All the abusers have to do is put a protective layer over the children to prevent bruising/scarring, and still have the terror an a bit of pain. It’s not hard. The greatest power these sadists have is controlling the mind, instilling debilitating fear, and making their victims sound ‘crazy’ and their stories not believable. It is their best cover.
 
The Charity church in Ephrata PA (where Mose Stoltzfus was formerly a leader) had a paddle especially designed with holes in it, which they kept in a soundproof room. This, to increase aerodynamics, decrease risk of marks and bruising, and cause serious pain. (And I spoke with a family member of the individual who created it. That’s how I know the purpose and details). In that sound proof room I have numerous testimonies of babies being beaten until they went limp, including infants under a year old.
 
If a *church* (Anabaptist and ‘peace-loving’ at that) can be this conniving, why should we be surprised when others are creative in their sadism?
I reiterate that I do not know what all went on, and what each alleged perp is guilty of.  And I reiterate that even if only 10% is truth, the children need to be protected and heard. (And even IF the mom is whacko and making things up, the children need to be heard). But to write the allegations off as the imagination of children is irresponsible.
*****

WPMT FOX43: US MARSHALS ISSUE WARRANT FOR BANNISTER’S ARREST

DEPUTIES TELL WMBT NEWS: BANNISTER CHILDREN MAY BE IN DANGER (THE BANNISTER CHILDREN ARE NOT IN DANGER. I KNOW THIS WITH CERTAINTYTHIS IS INTENDED TO PLAY ON THE EMOTIONS OF THE PUBLIC. DO NOT FALL FOR IT. PLEASE DO NOT REPORT THEM IF YOU SEE THEM). What has changed in recent days? Mrs. Bannister is blogging. She is telling the children’s stories. And suddenly news stations everywhere are being alerted that her children are in danger! On what grounds?

LIVE PD WANTED Video:
DETECTIVE JAMES WRIGHT (Transcribed verbatim): “We believe they’re in danger because they’re… they be..uh.. be.. belong to a religious organization that … ah… in it’s clandestine nature we just don’t have a whole lot of information on.. and… we’re concerned about the welfare because they’re unable to take care of themselves.. they don’t have any means to take care of them… Melody doesn’t have any means to take care of them…

Given the vast number of cult-like groups where children are being raped, abused, and cases still left for the community to have say, this ‘concern’ is bizarre, in my opinion.

OTHER STATIONS ISSUING THE WARNINGS WHO DO NOT LIKELY HAVE THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY (IN ABOVE LINKS), AND WHO NEED TO DO INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING ON THIS, ARE:

LEX 18 NEWS
WYFF 4

WHSV

That seems like a SILENCING TACTIC! So I did my own investigative work. The children are safe. (I will repeat this several times).  I don’t know what of the allegations are true, or if all, but (and I will repeat this) something is wrong. And that something needs to be looked into. 

TO SIGN A PETITION ON THEIR BEHALF: SAVE THE BANNISTER CHILDREN FROM SEX TRAFFICKING

 

*******

No matter how well-intentioned, this appeal to the public to ‘help the children’ is not because the children are in danger. (I have personally confirmed they are safe). It’s because a mother defied the law to do what she genuinely believes is best for her children. I have not yet saId, nor will I say that every allegation these children made is 100% as they say it was. I do not know this; I am not God. But there is nothing believable about young children whose father provides well (over six digit US dollars) and gives them ‘the good life’, making these extreme allegations if they are 100% unfounded.

SOMETHING,.. SOMETHING IS VERY, VERY WRONG! Kids who are loved and respected by parents, and well provided for, don’t give up everything to live on the run ‘just because’. Think it through. Do the math. Be logical. And then bring in SEX ABUSE PROFESSIONALS to help these kids and their mother! 

It may be true that the law found no evidence. That does not negate the validity of the children’s allegations. Children who have not experienced trauma do not have such extreme nightmares, and traumatic aftermath. These children have been interviewed by professionals who say their stories are true. I still maintain none of us are God to know with certainty every detail. But I have worked with sexual violence against children for over 10 years, and I insist further investigation is necessary. At the very least, if the children are that traumatized by their father and grandfather and other men in the community, they should not be returned to the source of their trauma. That is irresponsible.

Anyone who knows me, knows I am 100% FOR REPORTING TO THE LAW.  And I have much respect for many law enforcement officers. But, I will say this… I have yet to meet a law-enforcement officer who is truly an expert in sex crimes. I am not saying they don’t exist, I am saying I have yet to meet one. There is no way they should be the final authority on these children going back to what they say is the source of their trauma. Especially when several professionals have interviewed the children and said they are not lying. Child safety takes priority over the law, and every other thing. We, as adults across the world, HAVE A DUTY TO PROTECT THE CHILDREN at all cost.

Have we learned nothing from the Epstein case… and others? Those with means to commit crimes and ‘make them go away’ are very difficult to prosecute. And I’ve been involved in cases that ‘fell by the wayside’ with undeniable evidence (recorded confession etc). I have evidence for these cases that, if victims would ask me to do so, I would blow wide open and expose what really goes on behind the scenes. (And we all saw how the CAM/JERIAH MAST case was impacted and held accountable when I leaked evidence to the public and the media got hold of that story this summer). We, the public, have a lot more influence than we realize. Let’s use it for the most powerless among us: the children. And if even half of these allegations… nay, if even one tenth are true, these children must be protected! 

PLEASE SHARE!!
Let the public know the other side of this story. Force it into the spotlight. I am only interested in truth and the safety of these children. We owe it to them to LET THEIR CHILD VOICES BE HEARD

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

A mother flees with children after they disclose being ‘shared’ (for sex) by their father, grandfather; Virginia Law enforcement looks the other way

A mother is told by her children of the horror they have endured at the hands of those they trusted most, and the law blows them off. She asks the following questions in her blog post:

Why in the world would an upper-middle-class child, in a picture-perfect community complete with good schools, a social life, a backyard in-ground pool, and even a friendly neighborhood ice cream truck, concoct such a tale? What could possibly motivate them to whisper soul-crushing horrors to their mother on the back deck swing, when they knew what it could cost them: their home, their friends, their beloved cousins, their bedrooms and nearly all their worldly possessions? All this they would trade for a life on the run, hiding like frightened cottontails in the tall grass?

When the law fails like this, chalking up childhood reports of vile abuses to ‘active imaginations’, and continues to give abusers access, we, too, need to ask some hard questions.

Why are children not heard? (Not only out there, but ‘among us’).

What frame of reference do children have for concocting extreme and outlandish stories of sexual assault?

And, maybe most importantly: How many people with influence are involved in the abuses with a vested interest in making this go away? Or, how many benefit from relationships with such high profile abusers in other ways, including judges, law enforcement and others?

To read the rest of that blog, and the tragic story unfolding: MILLSTONES OF JUSTICE. And consider signing the petitions and sharing.

This is one story I hope go viral, drawing the attention of reporters and the general public who must hold the legal system accountable.

Doing nothing is never the right option. We have a moral obligation to stand in the gap for children.

To sign the petition: https://www.change.org/p/save-the-bannister-children-from-sex-trafficking.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

True forgiveness leaves offenders in their own noose… And a sneak peek at survey results

We Anabaptists say that for a Catholic priest to forgive a penitent sinner is false doctrine. He has no such authority, we say, to stand in the place of God and forgive sins.

We then turn around and teach that victims of sexual abuse and violence must forgive their offenders. It is his/her Christian duty. And we teach that it brings freedom not only to the offended but also to the offender. Moreover, we have members’ meetings in which the guilty are singled out, and the congregation stands to declare forgiveness.

Tell me, if the Catholic priest has no such rights and authority, how can we say that we do? Do we not also stand in the place of God, and encourage victims to do so, when we make forgiveness about the offender? (I understand the priest ‘absolves’ the sinner, which sounds much worse, but only means to set free from guilt or responsibility. So, same thing as forgiveness. Same doctrinal practice).

Forgiveness is one of the most crucial aspects of *our own healing*. It has nothing to do with setting the other person free from their sins or wrongs. It sets *us* free from *their* sins and wrongs. It’s like it cuts the rope of the noose the offender placed around our neck, and allows us to truly live, completely released from him/her and the crimes committed against us.

Part of that noose is vindictiveness; entertaining the urge to retaliate. Part of that noose is vengeance; the act of getting even and letting them have it. Part of that noose is hatred; despising the person rather than the vile acts they committed. When we cut the noose, we release hatred for the person, and we release vengeance and vindictiveness. We are no longer obsessed with getting back at them. We trade those things for compassion, and maintain a desire for truth and justice, and to protect the vulnerable. The latter qualities do not evaporate with forgiveness. In this exchange, when we forgive, we become whole and the noose about our neck is severed.

When we cut that noose, however, offenders are no more free from their noose than before we forgave. He/she must come before God taking full ownership and in full repentance to be freed from the noose around his/her neck. Both ‘cheap forgiveness’ — the kind that quickly tidies things up to look good,  and lack of forgiveness — that keeps us constantly seeking vengeance, hold offender in bondage and do nothing for the freedom of the victim. It is a gift to the offender to be held accountable.

We are set free when we forgive, and we release them to accountability before God and the law.

In other words, forgiveness is an act of faith in God. Through forgiveness we recognize that the offender remains accountable before God for his/her sins/crimes, not to us. Vengeance is not ours; it is Gods.

Forgiveness also does not fulfil the demand of law and government. That is a separate accountability structure. (Romans 13). We have no more authority to ‘forgive’ the offender and ‘free them from responsibility to the law’ than we have to offer eternal life through forgiveness of sins.

False doctrine surrounding forgiveness keeps both victim and offender in bondage to the sin/crime committed. It keeps the victim in bondage to the consequences of the offender’s sins/crimes. We were not designed to carry the consequences of our own sins, let alone the sins of another. We can only choose to take ownership of our healing needs that result from those sins/crimes.

Forgiveness leaves the offender, right there in his/her own noose, before God. Because that noose has nothing to do with the victim. It has everything to do with his/her heart before God. It leaves the offender with the choice to reach up and cry out for forgiveness from God, and turn from the wickedness, or to slowly strangle the life out of him/herself. Our false doctrine of forgiveness leaves the offender to strangle, not realizing that’s what is happening.

True forgiveness, separated from the offender and his/her story, sets the victim free from the offender. It sets the victim free from the offence. It sets the victim free *from the consequences of the offence*. It releases the victim *from* being a victim *to* being empowered.

True forgiveness frees the victim to become an overcomer. And it frees the victim to take ownership of his/her own healing.

That’s what real forgiveness does.

***

SURVEY:

Currently we have a survey looking at Conservative Anabaptist Leaders’ Responses to Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence.  We have 77 responses in under two days, which is outstanding. We are also collecting data on relationship of offender(s) to victims. Some of the results, as usual, are pretty much what we expected. Others are startling. For example:

SNEAK PREVIEW OF SURVEY RESULTS BASED ON 78 respondents:
• 40% of victims have been assaulted by their brothers
• 31%  of victims have been assaulted by family friends
• 27% of victims have been assaulted by their fathers
• 10% of victims have been assaulted by their mothers
• 15% of victims have been sexually assaulted by more than 5 offenders
• Roughly 57% of victims who suffered only SA or only DV left the conservative; When the two are combined — SA & DV — that number jumps to nearly 70%
• 30% of SA victims (no DV) who left the church say leaders played a significant role in their leaving the church; coincidentally 42% of all SA victims (no DV)  would recommend going to leaders
• 36% of DV victims who left the church say leaders’ response played a significant role in leaving the church; 87% advise victims NOT to go to leaders for support
• 42% of SA & DV victims who left the church say leaders’ response played a significant role in leaving the church; 100% advise victims NOT to go to leaders for support

NOTE: While the numbers are startling, it should not be assumed that 10% of all CA survivors (outside of this study) were molested by mothers. There are many factors that could contribute to this representation in this particular survey.
….

There is much more emerging, and when we have enough participants to feel fairly confident in the data, I plan to do a deep analysis and share some of the graphs and stats here. I’m hopeful that we will have around 200 participants with a bit of time. (Currently we are at 78, so climbing even since writing the last two paragraphs).

I have fine-tuned that survey, and will release the improved version on our new Survey’s Page shortly. (Hoping later tonight). I plan to update this page with new surveys as I get then ready, so check back. While this blog is the sole ownership and responsibility of myself, Trudy Metzger, the data gathered will be used by Generations Unleashed to better understand sexual abuse in our culture. I will also share surveys for other individual i trust, and who are researching sexual abuse.

I am hopeful that as the conversations continue, professionals and support persons alike will be equipped to give better advice and support sexual abuse survivors in our conservative Mennonite culture. For example, if professionals are encouraging victims to go to their leaders, but victims are finding their leaders to be abusive, then such advice should stop.

But it should not end there. Leaders should be trained and equipped to respond in more effective ways. Looking at the results above it appears (and has consistently throughout the survey) that leaders’ response to DV is even more neglectful than sexual abuse. There are many things that play into responses, including silence surrounding the topic. Respondents talked about ‘seeing change’ and ‘being hopeful’ that there is improvement. And some referenced ‘the last 10 years’.

This makes sense to me. The last 10 years is when we’ve started addressing sexual abuse more and more openly. It is anecdotal evidence that conversation is necessary for change. So let’s keep talking!

And, lest I’ve completely distracted you from good intentions, you can take the survey Conservative Anabaptist Leaders’ Responses to Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence and let your voice make a difference. Also, for more accurate results.

As always,

Love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Should survivors of sexual abuse or domestic to go to church leaders to report and/or seek support?

Survivors of SEXUAL ABUSE and DOMESTIC VIOLENCE in ANABAPTIST COMMUNITY:

Should professionals advise survivors of sexual abuse or domestic to go to church leaders to report and/or seek support? Would you advise them to go to leaders, based on your experience? Why, or why not?

In the past I’ve said (and probably will again in the future) that it is not fair to put it on leaders to counsel victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. They have no training for it. They are not counsellors or psychologists. Not usually, anyway. And how do they effectively support 1 in 3 to 4 women and 1 in 5 to 6 who have been sexually abused, and the domestic violence cases besides? Is it reasonable to expect this? Is it even wise?

Some say it is their duty. Others say it does more harm than good to have those with limited (or no) training and knowledge on these topics be the ‘go to’.  I have my thoughts and opinions, formulated through ten years of working with sexual abuse and occasionally domestic violence victims.

I would love to hear your thoughts, either for or against. To take the survey visit: Conservative Anabaptist Leaders’ Response to Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence. The survey is completely anonymous.

As always…
Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Supporting Survivors & Offenders… And Former offender shares his story

Tomorrow and Friday, November 28-29, we are doing a training here in Elmira, Ontario. Thursday’s focus is on supporting survivors of abuse well, and Friday is supporting offenders responsibly.

This will be the third time we’ve had a former offender coming for an interview to share parts of his story in an interview on the second day. Both previous times the feedback was very positive, with attendees saying it is helpful to hear from someone who offended who takes full ownership, especially sex abuse victims.

Even so, please be aware that for some survivors this can be triggering. We do not recommend you register if that is your situation. 

Screen Shot 2019-11-05 at 11.55.12 AM

While survivors of sexual abuse are welcome, we do not advertise this training as being for survivors. It can be hard for survivors to hear behavioural symptoms of abuse talked about in a more clinical matter of fact way. By this I mean that conferences are designed to support the abused, and acknowledge their suffering, and we speak gently to the victims. Training, on the other hand, addresses some of the pitfalls and risks associated with helping victims, and negative behaviours victims exhibit. One example is the manipulation that many victims adopt to survive, and how this can become a dysfunctional part of the mentor/mentee relationship. We discuss how to manage those well when supporting survivors, and in such a way that it does not damage both parties.

Though the gentleman makes no excuses for his choices — he owns those — it can still be triggering for survivors to hear someone who has offended share their backstory.  In the interview I ask him about his childhood, and how it shaped him, because early life experience inevitably influences us, our identity (or perception of ourselves — not our true identity), and the trajectory of our life. As part of his sharing, we will talk about extreme sexual addictions and his journey to facing those addictions and taking ownership.

The more we understand this, the more we can work toward both prevention and healing. Is there a place for those who have offended in the Kingdom of God? How do help them responsibly? What can we do to help those who have offended without compromising the wellbeing of victims and the vulnerable? We will talk about offenders’ needs — accountability, consequences (different from ‘punishment’, though church and legal consequences can be part of that), and community of support. 

Training days are typically attended by a small group — 15 to 20 individuals is common — which is great for discussion and interaction. If you prefer smaller groups with vibrant Q&A discussions, and opportunity to contribute, this is a great event to attend.

To ensure there are no surprises for survivors who consider attending, the former offender plans to serve lunch both days.  However, he will only be in sessions on Thursday. 

To register: Generations Unleashed Events

Hope to see you there!

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Forgiveness; Compassion; William McGrath a Conservative Anabaptist Leader and Sex Offender, and all the Things

FORGIVENESS
In all the Christian talk about the beauty of forgiveness, we have made the mistake of teaching and believing that forgiveness and justice are at odds. They are compatible. It is not ‘forgiveness *or* justice’. It is ‘forgiveness *and* justice’. God loves both.

The problem is that we really do not understand what forgiveness is and means, and we really don’t understand what justice is and means. (I do not propose to have the understanding either! But to think they are at odds is evidence we are missing something). As a result, most teachings on forgiveness are imbalanced, saying you must choose ‘only’ forgiveness. Many even teach that to forgive means “I am taking the consequences of your sin on myself.”

I would propose that we release ourselves from the consequences of their wrongs and sins when we forgive. Forgiveness is a matter of releasing my heart from the burden I carry as a result of the evils done against me. The greatest longterm ongoing consequence for most sins committed against me is what I believe as a result of that wrong. (There are exceptions. If a drunk driver kills my child, the longterm consequences is my grief, the loss of that child and all that goes with it. I speak here specifically to my experience and most wrong committed against me).

My forgiveness cannot free the other person; only God’s forgiveness can do that. In fact, if handled in such a way that the other person never truly comes to grips with their wrongdoing, ‘forgiveness’ (as taught by many) keeps that person in bondage. There is a kindness in a person being confronted with their own capacity for evil, when paired with compassion, mercy, grace and consequences that holds him/her accountable. If the offender is truly repentant, this encounter is life altering and a gift to him/her and those in relationship with them.

I believe in forgiveness. It transformed my life. It continues to transform my life. It is what set me free to live a whole life, to pursue my calling. And it is what breaks the power their actions had over me. It does not impose on me any code of silence. It does change the way I speak about it. I still call out evil. I still call out corruption and manipulation. I do not hate. I do not call for beheadings, literally or figuratively. I still support going to the law and ensuring offenders cannot continue to hurt people. That’s part of justice.

There is no justice in leaving children vulnerable to predators. None. Nor is that forgiveness. That is ignorance. But true justice never calls for the destruction (death or other) of the wrongdoer. Because true justice recognizes that I, too, am fallen humanity who deserves judgement, and the grace I have received is the grace I pass on. God did not remove this life’s consequences; I continue to live with those to this day. But He did offer me eternal life and removed from me the consequence of eternal death.  That is a gift I offer others, along with restoring their humanity, seeing them as having both capacity for good and for evil, and treating them with dignity even while holding them accountable for that evil.

***

Over my mother’s funeral several of my offenders showed up . One, in particular, stood out. He looks but a broken shell of humanity. Though he is not a family member, I’ve seen him at numerous family events such as weddings and funerals — I anticipate I will see him again tomorrow — and always what it stirs in my heart is grief. Not for what was done against me — I’m done with that grieving and am healed — but of what sin robbed him of. That’s not to say he hasn’t made his heart right before God. I’m not one to judge that. But the eyes tell a story…. and the story his tell… 

I saw him there… So I walked over, stood behind the gentleman talking to him and waited ‘in line’ to speak with him. When my turn came, I shook his hand, and thanked him for his expression of sympathy by coming to mom’s funeral. Admittedly, he looked relieved when my thanks was all I had to say to him.

Whatever he took from me when he molested me, it does not compare with what he lost within himself, and the consequences he has to live with for his choices. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not downplaying his crimes; they had a huge impact on me. Truth is, odds are high I would still be conservative Anabaptist if he had not done what he did. That is where and when I started feeling lost in the culture to such a degree that I knew I could not stay. I saw myself as a misfit who would never survive, and whose dreams would never come true ‘among them’. Trust me, I do not bemoan the outcome, but at the time, as a young teen who dreamed of marrying a Mennonite man — ideally a farmer — it was devastating. I saw only ‘old rejected spinster’ in my future, and that belief isolated me.

The greater harm was the sexual confusion it threw me into. Feeling things for which I had no words or teaching, and the ensuing years of deep shame it cost me. And because word got out, I had no idea who all knew. Every time a young man looked at me, I was sure he was thinking “slut”. So I would sit through special meetings at other churches, blushing and ashamed, whenever a young man looked my way. Yes, the cost was significant.

But I saw the consequences in his eyes at mom’s funeral, and felt only compassion. Since seeing him at mom’s funeral, I’ve said to Tim from time to time, “I think I need to go visit him and his wife. I need to have a conversation with them….”

We will see. If and when the time is right, I will do it. And that visit won’t be for my own good or healing; it will be for his redemption. Not relational restoration. That is not necessary. But his deep soul redemption and freedom.

If I do it, I do it of my own choice. And that choice has nothing whatsoever to do with forgiveness, other than to give me the courage to do it. Forgiveness is something I did in my heart before God many years ago. These things should not be confused with forgiveness, because they are not a requirement of the forgiving process.

COMPASSION
I felt that same compassion standing in the courtroom at Jeriah Mast’s hearing. First, and foremost, I felt deep grief for those whom Jeriah victimized. When the judge read the list of crimes Jeriah confessed to committing, it was all I could do to hold myself together and not begin sobbing. When the judge read how only weeks before the sentencing, Jeriah still said his sexual assaults (at age 25) of minors under 13 was ‘consensual’, I felt frustrated that he still doesn’t ‘get it’ how incredibly vile it is to use children and that there is no such thing as ‘consensual’ when adults take advantage of children. And when the judge handed down the sentence and explained why he chose the 9 years instead of a lesser sentence– because Jeriah is an ongoing risk to the public, in part because he doesn’t get it — I felt a mix of sadness and gratitude. Sad that it is a judge who ‘gets it’, not the church, and gratitude that at least someone does.

And when I saw Jeriah handcuffed and taken from the courtroom before a numb audience (his church and family, by all appearances), I felt compassion and deep sorrow. Sorrow that Jeriah’s crimes caused so much loss and harm to the victims, his wife and family, and his friends. Sorrow that so much of religion doesn’t grasp the harm and rallies for the offender. (I was one of less than a handful of people – and that’s a generous number – who were there to support the victims in a courtroom so full that people were standing around the room). And compassion for Jeriah’s soul and the things that took him down this path. It came out in court that he had been sexually abused by an older brother. This in now way excuses his evil deeds. To commit them was a choice, and he must own that before God and man.

Some say he has owned it. I reiterate that his comments not long before sentencing, minimizing his crimes to ‘consensual acts’, are revealing of his lack of grasping the severity of his crimes, which means he isn’t safe around the vulnerable, but the rest — repentance and forgiveness — I leave between him and God. And leave it with God to fully break him and help him understand how evil and far reaching the crimes/sins are. And to understand that children should be protected by 25 year old men; they should not need to be protected from them. 

***

William McGrath. The name evokes many and various responses, depending who is in the audience. Those who hold him high, and idolize this cultural trophy with his charismatic (so some say) personality, it evokes high praise and reverence. For his victims, and those near them, who watched a religious culture idolize him, then (some) question him, followed by deafening silence and cover-up, the name is a reminder of loss and suffering without proper acknowledgement of truth, and certainly a lack of justice. For the Beachy Amish leaders who investigated and then fell short of being honourable, I imagine the name brings shame.

For the woman whose husband — a victim of McGrath — committed suicide… I cannot imagine the deep suffering she has experienced at the silence, and at not hearing McGrath’s name where it should have been spoken, and where his actions should have been unequivocally condemned. And I can’t imagine how healing it must be for her to know that someone has heard her cries.

And ‘that someone’ who heard is the author of Anabaptist Medical Matters, a Conservative Anabaptist (CA) Medical doctor who has recently written several articles addressing the epidemic of sexual abuse in the CA community, including a current one on McGrath. He is forthright, gentle, honest, and — from what I see at a distance — seems to live honourably. (I have never met him, but still hope to one day).

In this article he tells of the case of William, and dares to speak to that which lies carefully buried. But the truth does not die with the body, and the consequences ripple throughout the generations, when sex crimes are left unaddressed. Especially when it is at a religious leadership level. To read the article, visit, “Blessed Are They That Mourn“.

(Warning: The article may be triggering for survivors. Trigger or not, I would read it for the gold that is in it. By giving you a heads up, I hope it will prevent extreme triggering and make it possible for you to push past the triggers. The first potential trigger is in ‘mourn for the offenders’. I agree with the author, but have worked long enough with survivors to know the general consensus is that offenders’ needs are always placed first. If able, push past this and read on. The second trigger is in addressing Jeriah Mast. The author may not be aware that only weeks prior to his sentencing, Mast was still defending/excusing his actions against boys as young as 11 — when he was 25 — as consensual. For those who know this, the author’s statement “By all accounts, he has sincerely repented, even expressing a desire to be rebaptized” could be very triggering).

I do not agree with everything written here, and that’s ok. I see a sincere and honest acknowledgement of deep failure in the CA community, in this writing, and bless the author for daring to go there. It is not a popular move in that culture.

Frankly, until survivors have permission to speak, and those who remain (whether family or culture) repent for the coverups and abuses, there is no changing the course of history. But God forbid that the abusers be the ones to ‘stand in the gap’ and repent for other offenders, if they have not first done so with their own offences. If you are godly, and if you have taken ownership for your wrongs and repented at a personal level, only then have you any right to stand in that gap without making things worse.

***

Tomorrow is my 50th birthday. I feel blessed to be alive and doing so well. I’ve had some near-death encounters in my life — two in particular stand out — including numerous events this year that reminded me of the fragility of life. To have made it half way to 100 and thriving, is the mercy and grace of God.

I have no personal needs but have many in my life who do have needs, so to celebrate my 50th, I invite you to support the following:

  1. THE GATHERING, our second annual event offering survivors of abuse a safe place to gather and connect, a place to find hope, safety and healing. This year we were able to offer attendance considerably below cost, thanks to donors. It is our hope to continue making this event affordable through donations. To donate, visit Generations Unleashed Donate and scroll down to The Gathering 2020.
  2. Support for victims of Jeriah Mast in Haiti who did not accept payouts from Christian Aid Ministries. We started this fund just prior to my mother’s decline and death, with a team of people willing to help oversee it, and with reports. To date we have received two donations — one for $200 and one for $20 — but unfortunately holds were placed on both donations (presumably because it was a new PayPal account, since we could not put this through GU). One hold has now been lifted. Furthermore, the tragic events in Haiti have made it impossible for us to set up vendors where these survivors can go for prepaid supplies, whether groceries or other. As of this week, that has changed for some survivors who have relocated. We will now work toward arranging for their needs to be met, where they have relocated, but will require considerably more funding than the $220 we presently have. Donate: Here and scroll down to Haiti Victims.

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

***

UPCOMING EVENT, ELMIRA ONTARIO:
November 28 and 29
Emmanuel Missionary Church in Elmira Ontario

To see details and register visit: Generations Unleashed Events Page or print flyer (below)Thanks to donors, we are able to offer this training at discounted. If you have questions, please contact Generations Unleashed.

To read more about what to expect on Training day, click HERE and scroll down to the Elmira training announcement.

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© Trudy Metzger 2019

Religious community urges forgiveness after ‘foot shooting’ spree

To the pastor whose wife was shot in the foot:
A man wearing a navy hoodie walks into your house one night, shoots your wife in the foot. You read a few bible verses and pray for her. No hospital. No doctor. Just a simple bandage. No police officer.

The next night a man walks in, shoots her in the foot. You respond precisely as the night before.

The third night, same thing.

Each night you urge your wife to forgive. You suggest reading her bible and praying more. You ask her what she might have done to make the men shoot her in the foot. There must be some explanation. Men don’t just walk into a random houses and shoot women in the feet without cause.

Your wife tries to continue with her normal duties. She hobbles about on the festering wound, limping and wincing. It is an ever present reminder of the traumatic events.

You urge your wife to forgive. Once she has truly forgiven, her foot will stop hurting, and the limp will go away. With each improvement, you are relieved to be one milestone further from the shootings.

Some time later, your wife — still hobbling, foot still infected — sees a man walking in the lane wearing a navy hoodie. She freaks. It turns out to be a neighbour. You chide your wife. You tell her she’s overreacting. She must not have forgiven the other man if she’s reacting so strongly to the neighbour in his navy hoodie.

A broader epidemic & proposed solution:
At church you learn that other men’s wives have been shot in similar fashion. But it doesn’t end there. You learn that this has been happening in other churches too. It’s at epidemic levels. And women are freaking out at the sight of hoodies for no reason. What’s more, you discover the men doing the shooting are fellow church members. Several are even fellow leaders; pillars of the church who would never do such a thing! Now you are certain that the women are causing this!

Troubled, and uncertain what to do with it, yet not wanting your church to fall apart, you address it by preaching a series on Forgiveness. Five Sundays in a row you preach on Forgiveness. Surely, if all of the women who were shot could only forgive, things would not be as they are.

You then preach on what the women may have done to trigger such an epidemic. You point out that every woman who was shot was not in the kitchen at the time she was shot. If each had been in the kitchen, none of this would have happened. You urge the women to take ownership of their failure, thus protecting the oncoming generation from having their feet shot. And, though your message this Sunday is not about forgiveness, due to the critical role forgiveness plays, you put in a gentle reminder to forgive.

Following this you dedicate a Sunday to speaking against seeking attention. You point out how they are using emotional responses at the sight of hoodies to control the men and dramatize their experiences. You gently let them know that their exaggerated limping is a tool of the devil to shame the men and bringing great harm to the church.

A few good men and some wounded:
You meet with the men,
including those who did the shooting. Some admit to having at least held a gun and considered shooting, a few admit to pulling the trigger. Other insist they have never even seen a gun, let alone held one. The allegations are absurd! False allegations, most are! It is the women sticking their feet in front of the guns, asking to be shot, that is the problem.

Some who had no part in the shootings speak up in defence of these honourable men, echoing their sentiments; the women were wanting their feet shot. Others suggest that maybe it isn’t the women’s fault at all. The latter are asked to be silent or leave. Most of them leave.

Good riddance, you think to yourself… no one needs their bitterness and negativity. Until they see how divisive they are, it’s better they are gone.

And no one notices that half of the men who leave are limping. They too have been shot in the foot and have festering wounds. 

A gentle reminder to forgive:
You wrap it up with one final message on forgiveness. You share how meaningful your meeting was with the ‘brothers’. Some admitted to having thoughts of shooting feet. Yes, a few were guilty, but they are deeply sorry. Having learned from their mistakes, they are now more equipped than before; better men for having sinned and repented.

You cannot emphasize enough the importance of allowing the men in the navy hoodies return to leadership. God has called us to forgiveness and unity. We should receive them in full fellowship, restoring all relationships and supporting them in their positions, and trust they will never do it again.

You remind them of the Apostle Paul who murdered. He didn’t just shoot women in the feet. He murdered God’s people. Surely, if God can forgive him and have him preach, there is still a place behind the pulpit for men who shoot feet. 

And nothing has changed:
Women’s feet are still bleeding. Festering wounds are turning gangrenous. Slowly they die. The men who were shot, too.

The men who shot them, keep on shooting. Shooting other men. Shooting women. Shooting boys. Shooting girls. All in the feet so they must find some way to live, while they die slowly.

And then you hear that women are shooting boys and girls in the feet.

The children are shooting each other in the feet.

People are dying. Slowly. 

What went wrong?
You go back to your notes on Forgiveness and wonder what went so wrong. Why didn’t it heal everyone? Why didn’t it stop the shooting. The bleeding. The gangrene. The epidemic.

It never occurred to you to kneel down and get your own hands bloody. To pour ointment gently on their wound. To wrap her feet tenderly, and offer her a footstool. To teach your congregation to tend to her needs while the wounds heal. It never crossed your mind to lay aside your sermons for a few weeks, and instead pull up a stool and lean in to hear her heart. Truly listen. To wipe her tears, look her in the eyes and say, “I’m sorry. You did not deserve this. It is not your fault.” 

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A wounded bride, dying children and the Jesus who wept
And Jesus weeps. His bride’s wounds have become a cancer, slowly killing her soul. 

His bride’s tears flow uncomforted. Her infants lie scattered, lifeless at her feet. 

Jesus cries, again, from the cross, “I thirst!”

And the best we have offered Him is vinegar and gall, served on a hyssop branch — to numb His pain and purify His lips.

When all His heart cried for was that we love His bride enough to protect her, and care for her children; that we love Him.

 

***

The preceding story is a parable.

Sexual abuse continues, an epidemic in church. Allegations, carelessly labeled false without ever leaning in and listening to the victims.

Mothers are blamed for their children’s traumatic experience, and sometimes fathers. Unless the parents are ‘model’ members, then the children somehow removed themselves from protection.

Excuses abound. Forgiveness is treated with the care of a cuss word. Hearts even less gently.

And a few godly men rise up with their sisters, and wipe the tears of the Christ, in the eyes of the children, and the oppressed.

To those honourable ones, “Thank you.”

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

 ***

UPCOMING EVENT, ELMIRA ONTARIO:
November 28 and 29
Emmanuel Missionary Church in Elmira Ontario

To see details and register visit: Generations Unleashed Events Page or print flyer (below)Thanks to donors, we are able to offer this training at discounted. If you have questions, please contact Generations Unleashed.

To read more about what to expect on Training day, click HERE and scroll down to the Elmira training announcement.

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© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

 

Laying my Mother to Rest, and processing forgiving my Father

Farewell Mom:
When I wrote my last blog before my mom’s death, on September 25, I didn’t know that only two days later I would stand by her bedside as she stopped to take her first breath of eternal life. One deep breath of the eternal, and she slipped away from us.

It is a strange and sacred thing to have been birthed from her womb, with my grandmother coaching her through the encounter, and to now stand beside her fifty years later, coaching her through her birth into an eternal world we cannot grasp. A world we feel inside, but are not privileged to preview. “You’re almost home. Soon you will rest,” I whispered

I wished for one moment that I could see through her eyes, the glorious world beyond, as her final heartbeat faded… I felt it, the dichotomy of a ‘farewell’ and a ‘welcome here’ happening all in one sacred moment as we watched her slip away, while in another place I imagined past heroes cheering at her entrance….

“She’s gone”, we whispered, as those in the Great Beyond cheered, “She made it!”

The last heartbeat lingered on my fingertips. Mom was asleep.

And then I stepped out of the hospital room, and doubled over weeping. Weeping for the loss of that moment. And the loss of a lifetime.

I will write more one day, I expect, but not right now. It is raw. It is sacred. It is broken… this story of my life with her. Above all, it is redeemed.  And when the time is right, I will tell that part of my story, because forgiving her was the right thing to do and brought healing to my heart.

For now, “Rest in peace, Mom. I’m glad you discovered the real Jesus and could say with confidence that you are ready to go Home.”

***

Trigger Alert (Forgiveness):
Forgiveness has been used and abused in religious communities as far back as I recall, and no doubt long before that. For people who have been traumatized and had their suffering disregarded, and then are guilt-tripped into ‘forgiving’, it is the Christian F-bomb. (Keeping in mind that what some teach forgiveness to be is not what forgiveness actually is). Therefore the warning. The following is a snippet of my story, involving my dad, which I usually tell at training.

My dad spent his life abusing his family emotionally, spiritually, and physically, at least into his late 50’s to early 60’s, and blatant sexual assault into his 40’s. There was one incident in his mid-50’s of crossing boundaries without blatant sexual assault.

That’s the backstory.

As he aged, in his late 60’s, dad mellowed out. And somewhere in there he was diagnosed bi-polar and put on meds; a detail most of his children only learned after his death. In his 70’s diabetes got the better of him and dad ended up in hospital, eventually having his leg amputated.

During his hospitalization, I chose to drive the 90 minutes once or twice a week, to sit by his bed. I usually went in the morning when no one else would be there. I had learned that when it was just the two of us we could go deep. Sometimes I sat and held his hand. He wept on numerous occasions, a broken old man (not that old, really, at 71, but older than his years), discovering God’s grace. Always I gave him a goodbye hug and told him I loved him.

When dad asked me to forgive him, I told him I’d forgiven him many years ago. I had done so for my freedom, not wanting to pass on the generational cycles to our children. (I broke many chains, yet failed our children deeply with my anger and emotional disengagement). The violence, death threats, name-calling and sexual abuse were never part of parent-child relationships. The cost of my failing still huge for my family.

Even though I had forgiven my parents, Tim and I made the choice to keep our children safe. None of our children had a relationship with my parents. We attended gatherings and tried to watch them closely. (In hindsight we wonder if we did enough). It never felt right to put them at risk. Even so, I chose to have relationship with my parents. I talked often on the phone with mom – especially after dad passed away – and occasionally chatted with dad. He wasn’t one to spend time on the phone with us. And I chose to pursue his heart in the hospital in his 70’s, and when he was arrested for uttering death threats in his 60’s. That was my choice. But boundaries for our children remained to the very end. With no apology, and no regret. I know with confidence my father never had access to our children.

Having shared this snippet at one of our training events recently, a delightful young woman contacted me not long after. She was happy for me, that I had been able to forgive so completely and sit there holding dad’s had. She’s not there yet, she said, but hopes one day she will be. 

Here is the thing, by the time I held my father’s hand, I had spent more than ten years healing from the damage he did to me, and had been away from home for over 15 years. By that time he was a vulnerable old man, broken by his own sin. I extended forgiveness many years earlier, but he remained a trigger for me at every family event we had while he was strong and healthy. I never trusted that he wouldn’t grab a gun one day and shoot us all. That fear never left until he was old and frail, and the nightmares haunted me even after his death.

Holding his hand had nothing to do with forgiveness, in and of itself. It did not make my forgiveness complete, though I could not have done it if I had not already forgiven him. It merely said, “I now feel safe enough to do this.”

Did it potentially help him grasp my forgiveness? That is possible. Even likely. But I was just as forgiving when we set up boundaries protecting our children, as I was when I hugged him and told him I love him, and when I held his hand.

Boundaries are not at odds with forgiveness. They should be part of it. That includes protecting our children from evil, and not putting ourselves in unnecessary harm. To force myself to hold his hand when I was in a place of trauma would have been a dreadful disservice to Tim and our children. They paid a high enough price for my journey. 

We all walk the path to healing differently. To be truly free from the offender’s grip, forgiveness must be part of that journey. Not the forgiveness taught by too many religious folks. The kind that looks the other way. That allows abuse to continue unquestioned and unchallenged. That silences victims and shames them. Forgiveness that lends a free pass to offenders, while sentencing victims to a life of bondage and guilt. Bondage to secrecy, and guilt if they dare to speak.

Not that kind of forgiveness at all. But the kind that says, “Your crimes/sins will not dominate my mind and my life. I choose to take back my ‘being’. I choose to heal. I choose to believe I have value, and the thing you did against me will not define me. So I forgive you, and set myself free. Free from your crimes, and free to speak truth without apology. And I leave you to stand accountable before God and the law.”

To forgive, when you go back to the original text in Matthew 6:12, means “send away, discharge, release, a separation…”

It’s time to reclaim forgiveness. The real kind.

 ***

UPCOMING EVENT, ELMIRA ONTARIO:
November 28 and 29
Emmanuel Missionary Church in Elmira Ontario

To see details and register visit: Generations Unleashed Events Page or print flyer (below)Thanks to donors, we are able to offer this training at discounted. If you have questions, please contact Generations Unleashed.

To read more about what to expect on Training day, click HERE and scroll down to the Elmira training announcement.

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As always,

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

Article by Hans Mast: A bold and thoughtful look at CAM’s handling of the Jeriah Mast case

Not hours after sharing Randal Martin’s facebook post, someone alerted me to a statement on the Anabaptist Sexual Abuse Symposium (ASAA) website. In their statement they include an article written by Hans Mast, for The Sword & Trumpet, in which he speaks forthrightly into the poor handling of a Jeriah Mast by CAM.

I engaged with Hans several times over the ordeal, and found him to be balanced, thorough and honourable. His pursuit of truth is commendable! Beyond this interaction, I do not know him personally.

To read Hans’s article: Christian Aid Ministries worker abuses dozens, CAM leadership implicated in coverup

It is a lengthy article, but worth the read. I am encouraged to see godly men continue to rise up against the epidemic of sexual abuse among our Anabaptist communities.

I’ll leave that right there and let you all peruse it. Frankly, I’m surprised ASAA posted it.

***

Around 8 years ago a woman contacted me. Her child made disturbing statements indicating the father had sexually assaulted the child. I urged her to go to the doctor, and report to CPS and the police. She did.

Given the graphic nature of the child’s allegations, I expected everyone to trip over themselves to help. Not so. The woman was accused of being a vindictive ex who planted ideas in the children’s minds. She was sternly warned if she did it again, she would risk losing her children. She was an angry ex; she made no secret of that; he was a man-whore who had done dreadful damage. But she swore up and down she would never plant ideas.

I believed her. Furthermore, I had met with the children and, while I didn’t ask any questions specific to the allegations, we did talk about feelings and struggles. All the signs were there.

Even so, the mom wasn’t about to risk losing her children.  She went silent.

I spoke to her a few months ago for the first time in years.

The ex-husband, she told me, had moved from woman to woman. Recently they learned that in every family, he molested or raped every child. Every. Single. One. Her own children had all come forward over the years, one by one. Now in their youth, they have had more than their fair share of struggles. Many of which could have been prevented if someone had believed their story and nor forced them to return to their father for years so he could assault them.

This is a true story, playing out as we speak. Frankly, I hope the mom wins the legal battle and lands the perpetrator in prison. And every person who told her she was a bitter ex — which, as I stated, she admitted she was — and used that to silence her children’s cries, has blood on their hands.

Let the cases play out. And if the only ‘proof’ you have that the children are making false allegation is the bitter mom, do the world a favour and keep it to yourself. Especially when there are children involved. They deserve better.

Worst case scenario, if they did make false allegations as a result of a bitter ex’s influence, they are victims. So, either way, they are victims, either of sexual abuse, or of maternal manipulation. And either way they need compassion and understanding and the space to come forward with the truth.

God forbid that God-professing adults make judgement calls without knowledge.

As always,

Love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

Events and Announcements:

Emmanuel Missionary Church
2 First St,
Elmira Ontario Canada
2 Day Training: November 28-29, 2019.

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