CAM Releases 2nd Public Statement

Thank you CAM Board of Directors for acting responsibly. I say that understanding that two of the three men who knew of the crimes are on “administrative leave”, pending an investigation into their involvement. This is a reasonable place to start.

I am hopeful that the victims will be acknowledged, and that the truth will continue to surface. In light of the current response by CAM, I will refrain from posting any evidence, for the present, to give CAM time to proactively seek out the evidence available and respond to that evidence.

(Note: I did promise several victims I would share what they wish to communicate, and I will keep my promise to them).

To read the statement, click the photo:
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It is my prayer that this will have a powerful impact on the response of my Anabaptist heritage to sexual violence against children, at home and abroad.

May God forgive us all.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Haiti: Sex Trafficking? Anabaptist Sex Offender Watch Lists & Pastors Admit to Broad Leadership Corruption

ANABAPTIST SEX OFFENDER WATCH LIST:

This week I’ve thought a lot about how to address the thing of missionaries in our Anabaptist culture going to other countries, and then molesting children there. (Yes, I realize it happens in other cultures too. But I don’t work in those cultures). I don’t know the rates and percentages, but knowing the vast number of offenders who go unchallenged, and unreported, and then hearing the news of Jeriah Mast’s crimes in Haiti, I find no comfort in sending missionaries. No, I don’t think most of our men and women are offenders, but the rates are higher than many admit to. And too many of them are especially interested in ‘doing the Lord’s work’ where they are most sure they won’t be spotted. To allow it to continue seems, at least to me, to be a form of sex trafficking. Since it is almost impossible to get offenders in our culture to stand trial, let alone on a sex offender registry, there is no protection. And if we include leaders who enable and look the other way, even better.

As I hear of counsellors and support people being sent to help those who were victimized by Jeriah, I am concerned that opportunistic child molester will be more than happy to give their time. Such a list would hopefully make every child molester across our Anabaptist churches especially disinterested in mission work, if they knew they were marked going in. And leaders who land on the list as looking the other way would hopefully think twice as well.

As I contemplated this, an idea struck me. If we all work together, we can create a Watch List of our own TO SHARE WITH HAITI GOVERNMENT and other countries, so they can flag potential high risks missionaries. Since the American and Canadian governments leave Anabaptists to more or less deal with their own people’s crimes (ie; Amish Steering Committees, Crisis Intervention Committees etc.), why can’t we also create our own version of the sex offender registry, through an OFFENDER WATCHLIST focusing specifically on child molesters?

Other than law enforcement and government officials, to whom the list would be voluntarily sent, the list would not be available to the public, or anyone outside the team managing it. It would be up to the country to investigate and interrogate the individual upon entering or attempting to enter their country. 

That in mind, I am appealing to every victim out there to send in the name of every person over age *16 who sexually molested you when you were a minor (excluding states/provinces where minors must be protected until age 18). Please include both male and female offenders and send the information to: REPORT ANABAPTIST SEX OFFENDERS, with a subject line of “Anabaptist Sex Offender Watchlist“.

UPDATE: Someone has reached out to suggest we form a team to manage the list. I am reaching out to a medical doctor and several other professionals to seek such support. 

NOTE: Please do not send ‘speculation’ cases. There must be at least one confirmed victim, and the victim(s) must be willing to confirm. Send cases only if you are the victim, or the victims’ immediate family or if the victim has requested you send the info. Only credibly accused will make the list, and the more information that is included, the more credible. Vague, rumour-based accusations with no specific information will not be included. (Church confessions to ‘immoral failure’, in which the deviance is known to be against a child, is not speculation. That’s about as solid evidence as gets produced in our culture).

In the body of the email copy and paste the following and fill in all information, especially what has asterisks:

  1. Name of offender:
  2. Gender of Offender:
  3. *Citizenship of Offender:
  4. Date (or year) of offence:
  5. Offender’s church at time of offence: 
  6. Was the offender a church/ministry leader (YES/NO):
  7. If yes, what was the name of the church/ministry:
  8. * Is offender currently in leadership:
  9. If yes, what church/ministry:
  10. *Age of offender at time of offence: 
  11. *Age of victim at time of offence:
  12. *Offence committed (ie: rape; molestation etc):
  13. *Any confirmed current minor victims (YES/NO):
  14. *State/Province & Country of offence:
  15. Reported to law YES/NO:
  16. Handled by (Church Discipline/Law/Both):
  17. Name of church leader(s) who knew:
  18. Address of church leader (if known):
  19. Approximate age of church leader (DOB if known):
  20. *Name of church:
  21. Address of Church:
  22. *Church Affiliation (Eastern; BMA; Charity etc):
  23. Any additional information that may be helpful:

NOTE: Include ministry leaders (male and female) and counsellors who engage or have engaged in practices of ‘holding’ – whether heads lying on laps, sitting on laps or other physical touch, massaging etc – as these are not safe for working with vulnerable individuals.

Since  leaders who look the other way are as dangerous as the offenders themselves, I have included information on them. We will take the information, create a list and release it to the Haitian government, as well as other countries where missionaries tend to exploit children including Guatemala, Mexico, Romania, Thailand, Cambodia, and any other country that is interested. This will allow them to flag these individuals, and keep them out of their countries.

We will make it clear which cases have been proven guilty by law, which ones were handled by church, and which ones are allegations with neither law or church discipline.

If you know of church leaders or leaders of other ministries who have covered up, or are ‘looking the other way’, please send them through. (The victim should not be named if you are not free to disclose).

All cases involving minors will be reported to the law. The list is available to law enforcement internationally and in the state/country crimes took place.

Emails sent to this address are managed by volunteers, and messages that are not on topic are not guaranteed a response. Hate mail will be deleted. Threats will be forwarded to authorities.

Offenders who would like to report themselves and get support, will be responded to. We have connections with several gentlemen who offended in the past who are willing to help you navigate the process of taking full ownership and walking you through genuine repentance. I am willing to help also, as needed, and support you and these gentlemen in the process.

Together we can stand in the gap and stop the exploitation of children.

Please be aware: I will be sending in the name of every leader (this includes some ASAA leaders) involved in the cover up and dreadful handling last year’s case, related to David Denlinger, and giving access to the evidence I hold of such mishandling. Not one leader, to date, has had the integrity to own their wrongs and the gaslighting. I will not stand by and watch them get sent to other countries until  such a time as that issue is resolved and full ownership taken for the mishandling, gaslighting and leaving the victims unacknowledged to this day.

***

CHURCH LEADER CORRUPTION:

There is a network of people in our Anabaptist communities who are skilled at keeping truth tightly ‘managed’, and sex offenders carefully protected.  They know each other, and they work together. Make of that what you will.

Oh, and some are very ‘nice guys’, so don’t go imagining it’s all the ultra conservative ones. It’s not. Most are the charismatic, people-drawing ones.

In the middle of that, this week pastors and their wives across multiple ‘brands’ of our Anabaptist culture reached out. They are weary. It is a lonely place to serve, and knowing which leaders to trust is difficult, when they feel surrounded by wolves. Yes, they are saying those things. How can they connect with other like-minded leaders who love Jesus and want to serve the people, rather than be dominated by power-mongers?

My dilemma is this, I am happy to be here to support you as leaders in whatever way I can. But the truth is there is only one way to find each other, and that is by you each boldly taking a stand. Some leaders who reached out have already resigned due to corruption. Others see the corruption of power and feel helpless to influence change, having watched how the power was taken.

Church, we have a problem.

This is not the Jesus Way.

Leaders, I urge you to stand against the wolves among us at all cost. Do so wisely and thoughtfully, but do so. Leave, if you cannot walk in truth among them. Confronting them rarely works. (Which does not mean that you should not, but be forewarned that you will be stripped). They will get up on Sunday morning and go into lengthy manipulative speeches about your divisive spirits, about how your are in rebellion and sowing discord. They will shame you and make it look like they love truth.

I have received messages – including audio recorded evidence – from California to Florida, to my little corner of the world, of how such leaders attack their people when you try to confront them. What I’ve stated is not even the tip of that iceberg. They are bullies. They are abusive. They care about image. And they care about themselves and their power.

Church members and attendees, I urge you to be aware. Be discerning. Watch for the signs. And be there for the wounded. These leaders are leaving trails of (spiritual) corpses in their wake. Watch for those ‘corpses’ and don’t by the ‘he’s just divisive’ line. Any time that is used in relation to a wounded person in the care of the leader speaking is a great time to lean in and hear the wounded.  It’s a sign the leader is spiritually abusive.

And if they’re throwing around the Jezebel line.. it’s pretty much a given, that you are dealing with an abuser. I’ve not met one man or woman who flings that term around who isn’t spiritually abusive. It’s a glorified way of demonizing people so they can be dismissed, and especially to silence the voices of godly women. And it’s demonic. It’s certainly not biblical.

***

CLARIFICATION ON BLOG RELEASED JUNE 13, 2019, REGARDING MR. SHANKSTER:

Some of you have asked for clarification regarding the blog in which Simeon Shankster withdrew from CAM. To read the blog click here: Anabaptist Missionary Takes Stand

They partnered together in various ways; he was not part of CAM.

Mr. Shankster is 100% for reporting sex offenders to the law and not interfering with the legal process. Hence, no nonresistant Christian should interfere with legal justice for the offenders, nor should they try to force it. (He does not agree with my advocacy methods. However, he also does not condemn me as a Christian. We come out at a different biblical understanding on this matter. I would not hesitate to work for the government or the law — apart from the fact that I’m lousy at following politics, and am much too independent a thinker to cow-tow to the system – and Mr. Shankster would not believe that is appropriate. I respect his opinion and understanding. And I most certainly respect him as a man of God).

Mr. Shankster believes “We ought to obey God rather than man” and that for Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver to not speak out about their knowledge (since at least 2012) of Jeriah’s crimes, is unbiblical. This is part of the ‘two kingdom’ doctrine he refers to. Ultimately, lawyer or no lawyer, CAM board of directors or no board of directors, he insists these men owe the public the truth. And at least three of us hold hard evidence of truth.

I have responded based on my personal conversation with Simeon. I have spoken as truthfully and accurately as possible, given my understanding of what he said in our conversation. If he sends any corrections, I will update.

If you have any further questions please send them to: Trudy Metzger.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

Haiti:Anabaptist Pastor/Missionary, Andy Faller, Speaks Out

This morning someone sent me the attached (see link) written by Pastor Andy Faller from Haiti. I’ve never met him, but I recognize truth when I read it, hear it and see it. He has my deepest respect. I chatted with several friends about him and was told he is a very conservative Anabaptist pastor who is obviously ‘breaking rank’ to speak truth publicly.

Please pray for him and his family, for Simeon Shankster and his family, and all those rising up to address the current crisis honourably from inside the culture. We all know that does not happen without a price tag, usually a high one, and usually paid by those speaking truth. May God give them grace and strength.

Read the letter here (or scroll down to images, which may not be as clear): Andy-Faller-Public-letter

My heart is many things this morning. Saddened. Grateful. Broken. Healed. Grieving. Weeping. Rejoicing to see men rise up…. Thankful that Jesus is in this crazy mess, and that he was willing to speak into deception, to show that it can be done.

In over 9 years of working with sex crimes in our Anabaptist communities I have never seen men of God rise up like this publicly and stay standing. I have watched them rise, and then bow to the system, cave to the pressure. I’ve been gaslighted. Lied to. Lied about. That is normal in my line of work.

When the sacred cow gets poked, those who draw milk from her and revere her, without fail, turn to deception and blinding the public. This case is no different on that front.  But this time men are rising up. Standing tall on truth. Refusing to cater to religious politics or protect rank.

In the past few days I’ve sat and stared at hard evidence of things said by those who now declare my blogs are lies. I listen to the audios.  Their words. That is what I wrote about. They are either truth… or they are  lies of the ‘authors’ of the words, whether spoken or written. I try to reconcile this with the cry to forgive, the loud screams (figuratively) — “Trudy is the most wicked woman in all the world! She is evil! She is not a Christian!” — while those declaring these things (and there are many) brazenly lie, and destroy evidence (a bit too late because others have it) that might reveal to the world their lies.

Tell me… Who is God? Who is Jesus? What is truth in a religion such as that?

(No, I’m not broadly painting all Anabaptists. I’m sharing what has happened repeatedly in 9+ years).

Those are the ‘norms’. What is happening this time is not my ‘norm’.

I’ve never watched men rise up and boldly, speak truth without wavering in the crazy of abuse being exposed. And, in this case, even posting publicly what they know is truth. That kind of backbone, and not slipping to jargon about ‘unity’ and making it about everything but the issue at hand … this is a new thing. And I thank God for this day.  I am sorry it took such an extreme situation and such a public exposure to get here. But even this is a thing God is using powerfully.

No, these men don’t align with me. They’ve offered no illusions of such a thing. I’ve had blunt disagreements with at least one. But they stand for truth. And they know truth. So they are rising up, and speaking out.

It gives me hope… Not for myself, because I am not in the conservative Anabaptist system of churches. It gives me hope for healing among them. For the ‘system’ to crumble so that Christ is made stronger. And not just stronger, but central in all things. Because He said, “I am the Truth”, so for Him to be fully alive in us, and fully present in our churches, Truth and truth must take their rightful place.

Today I thank God that men are rising up in truth and in their God-given authority. I bless the men, their wives and their families. I know there are others, there are many, and not all will ever need to take a public stand, but I understand the price attached to such a stand.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

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In Harold Herr’s own Voice… CAM/Life knew; Jeriah tells the Law & Repentance Pizza Party


During my time in Haiti I met with Harold Herr. I did not seek out this meeting, but was advised by several people to meet with “Grandpa Harold’ to talk about this case. I was completely disinterested. I do not know him. Nonetheless, after some nudging I agreed to have him answer what others could not. Who knew?

I sat with him and another gentleman and said, “I was told Paul Weaver knew. I was told Eli Weaver knew. And … I was also told that you knew.” To this he replied, “I’ll tell you exactly how it is…”

Rather than transcribe it, here I’ll let you listen for yourself:

Note: What is troubling is that some people will be more outraged that I recorded this information than they ever were or will be that Jeriah molested so many children. I know the drill.

EDIT: To avoid it being a distraction to readers, I will add this. I checked with a lawyer about Haiti law and if I am within legal boundaries here with this recording. I am. Had CAM told the truth, there would have been no need for sharing this.

***

It seems a follow up blog addressing some of the events of Jeriah Mast’s first three weeks back on USA soil would be appropriate. I’ve heard from numerous sources – both public and private – that I failed to present the full story. As I stated in my previous blog, there are things I cannot say, related to more crimes unrelated to Haiti. There is an investigation, and I will do my best to leave that to law enforcement.

Then there are things I chose not to say, simply to keep the focus on the case and the boys. Now, with word having reached nearly 50,000 people – plus the email copies that were made and sent via ‘mass email’ through CAM… well, who really knows how far it went – and given CAM feels I have not been forthcoming, I will tell some of those details. (Still excluding info regarding stateside crimes). It is my expectation that CAM will wish I did not know what I am about to tell you. Yet, you, the donors and fellow believers, deserve to know the other side of the story.

***

The following is what I wrote to law enforcement before posting the blog:

I am most interested that truth is told and that this will not be another case that slides under the proverbial rug. Having done my best to cooperate with the law, whether Jeriah gets jail time or not is not my problem. Whether the American (including Canada) church is informed or not is my duty, just as reporting to the law is.”

My personal thoughts are that a serial sex offender/pedophile/child molester who has duped the public for 20 years would do well to spend time in prison. We are not talking about a 14-year-old who has looked at a child and returned to plead forgiveness, unsolicited. We are talking about a man who has completely pulled the wool over the eyes of many, many people. With the help of leaders who reduced the crimes to ‘moral failings’, he was able to do this. Had they named it, he would never have gotten by with it. So, yes, prison is a reasonable outcome. But my responsibility is limited to reporting and giving information to the law. I have done that. As more reportable info comes in, I will continue to do just that.

***

I will now create a bit of a timeline, with less storytelling than the previous blog:

Friday May 3, 2019: Confronted by Pastor Eris:

Pastor Eris confronted Jeriah regarding allegations of molesting many Haitian boys. Initially Jeriah denies, but with enough pressure, he admits to the crimes.

(There is some discrepancy in reports. Some say Jeriah is immediately ‘let go’ (aka fired) from CAM. Others say this is not true. The only relevance to the case is that if they fired him, there was at least one person taking it serious… or at least trying to protect CAM).

May 3 to May 4, 2019: Jeriah Flees Haiti:

Realizing he is exposed, Jeriah takes his family in the middle of the night and flees to Dominican Republic, rather than flying out of Haiti. He has an accomplice for this, and takes a vehicle that is not his usual transportation.

May 11, 2019: Jeriah and Marian renew wedding vows:

Six days after fleeing Haiti for the crimes he committed, Jeriah and Marian renewed their vows. (This ‘ceremony’ to be somewhat known in Ohio, where I was only days ago). When I asked why, I was told because of his moral failings and unfaithfulness to her.

May 6 – May 21, 2019 (approximately and throughout):

Visits stateside victims:

Jeriah apologizes and learns that none are interested in pressing charges. This information is useful. He plans to turn himself in after these visits.

Connect with Amish Steering Committee (ASC) for help:

A ‘restoration plan’ is put in place including accountability and professional counseling.

Regarding ASC  & the “restoration plan” one of the family in Ohio says the following:

It is basically doing what the law would do, but it’s in a church setting, and it also includes professional counseling and all that.  Basically, it’s a Restoration Plan to bring restoration and healing to the situation… Through the ASC working with the law enforcement they have been able to keep these people from having to pay the consequences…” And, regarding the crimes they say, it’s definitely been an addiction. I think looking at it from that perspective helps everyone understand more how some of these things could happen.

Also during this time period, there was great enthusiasm and encouragement brewing that God would redeem this mess and that Jeriah would be used powerfully in men’s ministry after the “Restoration Plan”

Somewhere in these weeks, they also prayed daily for the victims. I am told the prayers were by name. I’ve been told that they maintain that all sins are equal, and that those talking are sinning.

And I’m told that Jeriah spent much time in prayer weeping. Good. But until we see repentance with fruit – and in this case it involves facing the people and the law where he committed his crimes, those tears don’t mean too much in the way of practical transformation.

May 22, 2019, Jeriah ‘turned himself in’ to law … with no intentions of admitting to crimes in Haiti:

To that end, the following details are critical when looking at the ‘turning himself in’ part of this story:

  • he intended only to report stateside crimes and tell the law the victims don’t want to press charges
  • he lined up Amish Steering Committee support and had a “Restoration Plan” to avoid consequences (Whether stated or not, those involved said they would request going to Whispering Hope or Fresh Start instead of prison)
  • was not going to talk about the Haiti crimes because CAM had a lawyer looking after that

That was the plan. But… alas…

Several people reported and made sure the FBI knew. (How the interview was scheduled I have not asked and do not know). But the FBI liaison was there for the interview, and what he was not planning to confess, ended up being confessed because it had already been reported.

This was followed by a pizza party to celebrate finding favour with the law. In attendance was CAM staff member Dwayne Stoltzfus and wife Lois.

Pictures of this event, I am told, are floating around USA… If you have photos, I’d welcome them as they would make a convincing addition to this blog post.

***

 That same day I reported to FBI everything I knew and had received from numerous sources; individuals who were concerned it would all be covered up again. This included missionaries, former CAM staff, and friends of Jeriah.

***

I have a very good friend who I learned early on is closely connected to the case. I told her two things:

1. I will do what is right, no matter how close this strikes. And I am so sorry if you get hurt in the process.

2. I will get information from other sources. It will come to me. And it did.

 

***

And, now, I am told, a public statement has been released by CAM… I will go and read that and possibly do an update after the fact, depending on how closely what is said there matches what I learned from Harold Herr.

I am interested in truth and justice, with mercy. In the face of lies, deception and coverup, not one of those can truly exist.

So let’s hope they’ve admitted they knew since 2012, that they did nothing for years, and only now that they are public exposed they finally are doing something. It isn’t good enough, for an organization to neglect crime so blatantly, but it is a starting point.

Until we get that level of truth, there’s nothing to work with.

To read part one: “Haiti Commissioner Order CAM to Appear in Court...”

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

 

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

 

What about the “victim mentality”?

The term ‘victim mentality’ is one I don’t use, because I have found the true ‘victim mentality’ is an incredibly rare phenomenon. I would dare to say that what we often call victim mentality is the aftermath of dreadfully under-acknowledged terror and trauma, rather than some notion of ‘wanting to stay there’. (More on what drives this being stuck in trauma later). In 9 years of interacting closely with them, I have watched most victims of abuse move ‘beyond survivor’ to truly thriving, with few exceptions. This includes those who were my clients, and many who were not my clients but stayed in close contact as they worked through their stories with other mentors and counsellors.

At least a percentage of these individuals would have been classed as having a ‘victim mentality’. Always needing sympathy or affirmation — or both — and seeming to feel ‘poor me’ at every turn with everyone around them always being out to do them harm, no one ever understanding them, and ever being on the fringe of an emotional crash (including threat of suicide etc).

Along with this there was, for some, the need to have somewhere between 6 and 8 people at any given moment whom they would hold on emotional string, as I call it, that they could yank at any moment to have people running from every direction to ‘save them’ from themselves. This is exhausting for everyone.

Sometimes we call it ‘victim mentality’ because we are tired, so that we can remove ourselves from the suffering, which is not productive. It is a sign of deep wounds that need healing. And those who have no concept of offering healthy support, make things worse by accommodating every yank of the string. And yet, ignoring them is not the answer; these victims do need support.

What has happened is that their boundaries have been brutally violated in the same act that left these victims of abuse so emotionally/psychologically, sexually, spiritually and often physically devastated. They, therefore, do not know how to respect healthy boundaries, and when their pain surfaces, for many the only survival skill they have is drawing emotionally from others.

We judge them for it, when the reality is that their suffering has never been acknowledged, and no one has ever said, “I’m so sorry. May I just sit with you in your pain, and love you where you are at?”

When we do that… When we stop judging their neediness… When we stop defining their place of suffering as ‘victim mentality’ …. When we pull up a chair at that preschooler’s table – or that pre-teen’s or teenager’s …now that young woman or man – something beautiful happens. They begin to heal.

To offer this support well requires having boundaries. Set specific times to meet. Have a limit on how many texts, emails, phone calls etc, and set time restrictions on how long those calls are. Or you will be consumed, and they certainly will not heal. We enter into their suffering, but must do so with wisdom.

Then, when we have been there with them, in that dark place of their suffering, only then have we earned the privilege of being invited to speak. It’s not a right. It’s a privilege. And the best gift we can give, when we do speak, is an invitation to walk together. An invitation to share with them the Love of One who gives us life and hope. Not an invitation for us to ‘fix’ them. Or for us to help them arrive where we are. But an invitation to meet the One who is our life and hope. The One who defines us.

When we are given permission to speak His life, His hope and His purpose over them, they grow. They learn to trust. They learn to forgive. As we care, they become stronger. They heal. And when they heal, they no longer see only their own pain, but the pain of others.

Some fear healing. It isn’t that they don’t want to heal, most of them. But a few are terrified of healing. If they heal, who will be there? The only connections some have ever had, have been linked to their trauma and need. If they heal, who will be there? If they heal, will they be alone… lonely? And who will they be? They’ve never been anything other than in pain and suffering? What if being whole demands things they are not capable of. More than one survivor of trauma has admitted these fears to me.

It is easy to judge from a distance. It’s easy to say those fears are not reasonable. Yet they are very real for many survivors of terror and trauma. The shift from fear to thriving happens with recognizing we have something to give, that our need doesn’t have to be the source of our fulfillment.

When, having sat with them in their sorrow, we have earned the privilege to speak… And when, having earned the privilege to speak, we have encouraged, and believed, and spoken life and purpose… Then we can ask the hard questions…

worm to butterfly

What if healing didn’t mean you would be alone? What if healing meant that you could be there for others? What if healing meant that you would be more fulfilled than you ever imagined you would be or could be? What if…?

And when they dare to embrace that challenge, a courage rises up, and they reach out. And in reaching out to others, they are healed. Again. And this doesn’t mean they will never struggle. Tomorrow might be a hard day. Next week they might call their counsellor because they feel lost. Next year they might need someone to ask again, “What if healing doesn’t mean you will be lonely, or alone? What if you keep reaching out to others? What if…?”

It isn’t a victim mentality. Not usually.  And we do a lot of damage when blithely we write it off as that. Mostly it is fear. It is the aftermath of deep trauma. It is a failure to thrive because there has been a failure in those of us around them to sit with them patiently in their suffering, and acknowledge it. And it is a journey. A rising and falling. And rising again.

Only when we have walked through deep trauma, or dared to entered into the suffering of others can we grasp that battle.

***

When we reach out to others in hope and healing,
our healing comes more quickly.
~ Isaiah 58 ~ 

 

Love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Groffdale (Old Order Mennonite) Conference: A New Thief in Church?

While traveling in USA recently I met with friends in the Old Order church (Groffdale conference) and shared some of their current concerns and frustrations with me. They also gave me liberty to share with the public these concerns.

Two years ago the leaders told the churches they are giving them two years’ warning that they need to change computer systems to one approved by the leaders. (My friends referred to this as a castrated computer.) The Bishop, who I’m told is family  to the man who allegedly stands to gain several million out of this deal, signed for a 501-C3 charity organization so the money will not be taxed. (Edit: I was told brother-in-law by one person, and first cousin by another, but family member in any case.)

Rather than explain or discuss the situation, I am posting the letters my friends shared with me and encouraged/blessed me to share with others. This was investigated by Dave Crill of Archangel Investigators:

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What is my interest in this case? While not sexual abuse, and the uncovering and healing of it, to which I have dedicated my life, I have long believed and believe still that there is plenty of other corruption behind the abuse. Jesus says the love of money is at the root of all evil. When I see abuse covered up, when leaders look the other way, almost without fail there is incredible power linked to money involved. Not always, at least not blatantly so, but often. The lack of transparency here is spilling into other areas of the lives of those at the core of the corruption and it all needs to be unravelled so that healing can begin. True healing.

As long as there is corruption protected at a leadership level, there will be abuse of every kind of power. I don’t think we’ve begun to chip at the tip of an iceberg, and before this is over much more corruption will be exposed. I pray for it. So that God can once again be given His rightful place. Only then will Jesus be truly welcomed among us.

 

On becoming a grandma and God interrupting a prayer for our unborn grand-baby…

There I was, praying for our family. I had just started a prayer for our unborn grand-baby, when God interrupted. And He seemed quite off-topic, at that. I mean, I’m praying blessing over the next generation, and asking Him to keep His hand on this child, and all kinds of good things, and He says, “You keep taking your eyes off of Jesus”.

Wait… what?

It took me off guard. “You keep taking your eyes off of Jesus,” He said again.

Let me tell you, when God interrupts a prayer for a grand baby, you listen. Because it must be important. After all, He knows all about how we grandparents get on about grandchildren, from the day you find out about the first one being on the way, until the great-grand-babies and great-great-grand-babies show up. He wired us that way. (And you never interrupt a first-time grandparent prattling on about the baby, and how the mama is doing, and “he’s going to be such a good daddy”…. You just don’t. You let them chatter and you celebrate with them.

God knows this. And He still interrupted me. Funny thing, I didn’t have to shift from grand-baby chatter to ask, “What are you talking about?” I knew. But to make sense of it, let me tell the backstory…

****

It all began few months ago, toward the end of ‘the crazy’ of things with the ASAA, and the other two guys, whom I shall not name. (And if you don’t know the story, just settle for knowing there was some conflict surrounding a young woman who was molested, which intertwined with a lot of other insane stuff, and I was involved. I had hard evidence — and still do — of things that needed addressing. And still do. But, alas, male power and religious dominance shall prevent such things. As for the law, some of the details could go either way at this point, form my understanding).

But it began there, when I realized the darkness of the way things were handled was getting to me, and I decided “I’m out”. I intended never to address it again, publicly, and respond in private to people by offering evidence and letting them deal with that, rather than taking my word for it. And that is what I did. Until this week. Over the weeks and months emails, phone calls and facebook messages trickled in. One of the two ‘other guys’ involved was saying “…..” and is it true? Or “From what (the one guy said), you [….]”

Other messages were kind-hearted souls wanting us to ‘kiss and make up’ and play nice in the church sandbox again. The pain of us leaders not being in relationship was/is almost too much. And some shared what they had been told were the issues. Peripheral things… I was just trying to destroy the one guy. I was jealous of his ministry, some said. Whatever trickled in, trickled out my left ear about as pick as it slipped in the right. When tempted to tackle it, I reminded myself, “I’m out”. Until this week.

I’ll confess up front that when I first heard it, I laughed. It was, in my mind, the most absurd accusation to date. I don’t recall when someone first said it, but it was some weeks ago, and I ignored it. Until I learned more details (which would require half a dozen blogs to explain, and it isn’t relevant, so I’ll not bother about that), and the story behind it. I forgot completely that “I’m out”, and I addressed it.

The story was pulled out of thin air that I wanted to be on the ASAA board, and being offended, I started spreading lies about the aforementioned group and people. In January I was asked by the then-vice-chair of the ASAA board if I had any advice for them. Not other than one thing, I said, and that was to vet their board, interview each one personally and make sure there is no history of abuse or molestation that is not taken care of. With so many ministries associated through board members (Life Ministries, Strait Paths, Kenny K. – as a pastor and counsellor, the Reed brothers, and others) I urged them to be thorough so it would not damage those ministries. He let me know that the board was fully in place and nothing could be done about it, and if that were to take place, he would also be disqualified. I said that since it has nothing to do with me (by extension not Generations Unleashed), it was merely advice and up to them. However, Tim and I talked and decided that if they did not vet their board members thoroughly, we would not have anything to do with any formal or informal involvement, beyond attending.

Based on that interaction, he decided I wanted to be on the board, or so he said when I confronted him about spreading the lie that I wanted to be on the board. That’s how he took our interaction, he said, and he was sorry *if* he had misunderstood. There was exactly three days between that conversation and our falling out, which happened about the time I asked him to explain what he meant when he said he would be disqualified from ASAA leadership if they vetted those with unresolved abuse/molestation history. ( I won’t get into those details.) From that point forward, things in our relationship deteriorated, with some attempts to work through things.

That’s the backstory, but the reason I laughed when I heard it was two-fold. First, I tried to picture me working with a team of conservative Mennonite men that closely. Somehow, as much as I’ve learned to respect many of them in healthy relationship,  including leaders, the picture makes me giggle. Knowing me and my story… Nope… I just can’t see any formal ties like that working well for either side. And I’ve never had any such ambitions. I’m happy to help them in any way possible, and support them, but a partnership?

While I wasn’t so much ‘put off’ as humoured, it was that tie to the organization (ASAA) that bothered me.

In fairness, I had taken information that was brought to me and I believed to be true, and shared it publicly (regarding the break and enter). Immediately upon discovering it could not be proven with evidence, I apologized both publicly and privately to him.

 

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I was content to leave it at that, assuming he really had nothing to do with it, and feeling badly for ever having brought it up with no evidence.

And all I was hoping for from him when I approached him about the unfounded rumours of me wanting to be on the board, was to own up that pulling such an assumption out of the context of our January conversation — when our conversation was really only focused on addressing vetting board members and his comment — was neither right nor justifiable. No such apology was forthcoming.

****

Truth is, I’ve hardly thought about any of this since starting school apart from tending to the messages and questions that come in, as I was able. Somehow PhD work is not easier than the Masters was, and leaves little time for worrying about past kerfluffles. But, having confronted the source of the rumours/lies, and receiving no acknowledgement, it is hard not to shift at the waves.

So here I am, now, having spent several days looking back at the mess of this past year once again. Nothing resolved or appropriately addressed. The man who was sending inappropriate texts over the past few years and who molested one young woman, as recently as October still offered massages to someone via text and voice mail. (To his church’s credit, they have finally acted on the allegations and put him out of membership). The leader with whom I had a falling out … well, that remains as it was. And ASAA… besides my alleged disappointment at being excluded, it all sits as it was, and so shall it remain by all appearances.

And that is where that interruption came in… Having spent a day with our daughter, shopping all things young mama for her birthday, seeing her round tummy, hearing her tell about the kicking and the changes, and loving life. And suddenly finding myself back in the muddle of things gone by that stand no chance of resolution, no hope of relational redemption… And the only good having come so far being that, while fluffy popularity dropped this past year (thank you Jesus! I don’t do fluff and bandwagon), the truth is we have become surrounded by countless warriors and hundreds of new people we never knew before have stepped up to support us in so many ways. I’ve never had such a thing before. Total strangers, over and over and over again, writing to say they are praying. Some also contributing to the costs of all the travel this past year, and all saying we are in this together. (Thirteen out of country trips in a year add up… So, again, thank you to those who contributed).

Those are beautiful and meaningful things, for which I am so grateful! And I value each new friend and partner in this war against sexual violence with deep appreciation. But none of those things replace loss of trust and loss of relationships that have fallen by the wayside as a result of this past year. They do not replace the loss that comes when things are not handled in an open and forthright manner; when politics and polite society is more important than truth. These things are huge losses I grieve from this past year, and the zero-hope-of any future redemption, saddens me. But I embrace the redemptions that have come out of it, and accept that those may well have been some of the purpose in the first place.

But the losses… They are the things that, when the waves start to rise — sometimes because someone dropped a giant boulder in the water, sometimes for other reasons — and the waters get unsteady, those things distract me. And I struggle to see Jesus in the chaos. The waves of discouragement at how things unfolded. The waves of lost trust. The waves of my own failures and mistakes in it — especially getting it wrong and speaking out about the break-in with no evidence, and the harm and injustice toward so many of the wounded out there..

These waves rise and fall….

And through the waves, in the middle of that prayer for our grand-baby, where the heart is quiet and tender and undistracted by the ills and evils of life and the world….

There God whispered. And I am now deliberately, determinedly, yet humbly turning my eyes away from the waves, once again, to the Master of the waves; the Creator of the Universe, the One who made the heaven and the earth….

And our sweet grand-baby.

Because I want my heart to be quiet and tender, undistracted by the ills and evils of this world. And God and grand-babies, even unborn ones, they offer that.

As always…  with another shift in focus…

Love,
~ T ~

Psalm 23 English Standard Version (ESV)

    The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

 

INK SPILLS

INK SPILLS
Red ink
Spills on white paper
Paper thin hearts
Crumpled
Shredded
Cast aside
Crystal tears
Hit the ground
Shatter
Scatter
Left to die
Dying hearts
Bleed
Transparent tears
No one sees
No one cares
No one hears
Silent cries
Not a sound
As words
Bleeding pain
Carved deep
Etching tattoos
On wounded flesh and
Tender souls where
Red ink spills…

They button suits
Suit up in crisp white shirts
They tie their polished shoes
Walking carefully, they step in
Red ink, spilled on their floor…
They point to the noisy bleeding…
New shoes, with red footprints,
Crushing paper thin hearts
Broken
Crumpled hearts
Scattered here and there.
Who made this mess?
We didn’t know
They were there
Those angry
Bitter
Messy
Ones:
“Forgive
Forget
Move on!
You unforgiving souls!”

Aren’t those messy ones
So disruptive?

Have you noticed how good and kind I am?
Just like Jesus.
Do you see my beautiful new shoes?
These are my Gospel shoes
To spread good news.
We better go;
Go save souls
Do things that matter
For Jesus.

It’s such a beautiful day today,
Isn’t it?
The sunrise,
A brilliant red
Isn’t that cloud stunning?
Almost like a crumpled
Paper heart
Bleeding tears.

Have you ever wondered,
Does God cry?

***

God weeps
Crystal tears
Shattered
Scattered on the ground
His heart crumpled, crushed,
Stepped on
Bleeding
Red ink…
His blood
Staining
New shoes
His Love
Beating
Paper
thin
hearts
to life.

His life, His Love, His hope, etched in forever tattoos on my heart.

***

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018