Jeriah Mast sentenced to 9 years in prison

Jeriah Mast, Millersburg Ohio, was sentenced to 9 years in prison for sexually assaulting minors.

The judge addressed the church before sentencing, citing that Jeriah started molesting before heading to Haiti and was still left to molest 30 or more poor children. “Why?!”

Accolades of his transformation spoken, and the assurance that Jeriah is repentant and safe around children, left that one question unaddressed.

“Why?”

It is a question the church and para-church organizations need to take seriously, and account for. Because it is an ongoing problem. And what a tragedy that it is a judge who has to ask it, when it should be every pastor and leader and Christian.

We can do better. We must do The one victim who spoke showed great courage. It has been a hard road for all victims. And his family count among such victims.

Pray for them. Pray for all involved.

God is just. He is love.

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Post Gazette Article: Ohio ex-missionary sentenced to 9 years in prison in child sex abuse cases

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

Events and Announcements:

Emmanuel Missionary Church

Elmira Ontario Canada

2 Day Training: November 28-29, 2019.

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PSA: Jeriah Mast, charged with molesting 5 young Ohio boys, out on Bail (No charges yet for Haiti Crimes)

JERIAH MAST OUT ON BAIL
Numerous individuals contacted me earlier this morning to say that someone posted bail and Jeriah Mast is out. This comes as no surprise to me, as I anticipated it. The only thing that is surprising is that they waited this long.

For Jeriah’s church and family, this is an answer to much praying and pleading with God. To victims of abuse, this is a nightmare.

Bail was posted by Judy Skelley of Sly Bail Bonds. UPDATE: (It is confirmed that Mast is required to wear a GPS monitor, he must report weekly, turn in his passport (if he had not already), and have no contact with victims. The prosecutor is also filing a motion that he have no unsupervised contact with any juveniles). That they used a bondsman (or woman) was also expected. It is unlikely the same amount of funds have been invested in helping the victims, and knowing who posted bond would not look good.

***

Also, just a reminder, that the present arrest and bond are specific to the five known victims in Ohio. There are, as of yet, no charges filed for the Haiti crimes, and the alleged 30 plus boys Jeriah Mast sexually assaulted while serving as a missionary through Christian Aid Ministries. That investigation, I understand, is ongoing.

To date Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) has not mailed out any notification of the Jeriah Mast’s crimes, to donors who are on mailing lists only. I applaud those individuals are taking it upon themselves to print off news articles and blog posts to distribute among those who do not have internet. Donors have the right to be informed.

***

OPPORTUNITY TO HELP HAITI VICTIMS WITH LEGAL COUNSEL AND MEDICAL AID
In the meantime a first responder, Rick Ashley, is in Haiti meeting with victims and helping them with legal aid. Rich adopted a young nameless boy of unknown age (approximately 8-10 years old), after the child sought treatment following the earthquake almost 10 years ago. Rick has provided for this young man ever since. The boy was found near the CAM site in Titanyen, chained up and and sold for sex by a woman who, they say, was obviously mentally unwell. She beat him with a machete, leaving him physically scarred for life, and the sexual assaults left him mentally scarred.

To learn more, and help with funding their legal counsel, here is the link to the GoFundMe Account: Sexually Abused Haitian Boys, Urgent Need.

Remember the victims.

***

NOTE: The follow up blog post, to yesterday’s powerful word from a husband, will come out this evening.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

***

THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at  THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

(More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)

***

 

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Of Gnats & Camels: 2012 or 2013? And the Amish Steering Committee’s Role in the Jeriah Mast, Haiti, CAM Case

Seems there’s a lot of Christians straining their water these days, to avoid choking on gnats, while swallowing camels whole. (What wise man said that again?) And, what were His words just before using satire to make His point? “Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees”… He then calls out on tithing even on their spices, but adds, “[you] have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel…”

It turns out that me being told that Jeriah was sent home in 2012 is a serious stumbling block to Christians, that I would lie like that. It seems elementary, but let me inject here that having a jot or tiddle out of place, I mean, having the date wrong – and that because I was told the wrong date … by one of the men who knew and did not report – is not known as lying. It is known as “Oops, Harold wasn’t quite sure which year it was, and Trudy relayed his imperfect memory.” That kind of nitpicking is the very thing that takes the focus off of helping victims, acknowledging we have a serious problem and dealing with it.

Several have also kindly informed me that I pretty much have it wrong about Jeriah’s early years. It seems to me that testimony of numerous ‘early years’ victims and friend  (from unlinked sources that tell similar stories)… they might actually be worthy of acknowledgement. That said, I said very little about his early years.

As I’ve responded to some, I will state here. I am keenly aware that what I shared is incomplete. Very incomplete. It is my hope that the Mast family, as well as other victims and offenders in the inter-linking scenarios that were excluded will appreciate my reasons for this. My goal here has been to call a religious organization to accountability for egregious errors in judgment in the Haiti victims case, and hopefully prevent this type of violence from continuing against anyone. Especially the impoverished who have no recourse, and depend on the very source of their abuse for  survival.But I will not go further at this time.

My goal here is to sweep up a few gnats I’m told are distracting people from caring for the victims. I don’t really believe gnats do that. I believe some look for excuses to downplay things, for other reasons. But I don’t mind sweeping gnats, just in case. It would be a tragedy to have children being raped and molested be downplayed because I was given a few inaccurate details by key people in the story.

Nitpicking about details to discredit the truth and pretend there isn’t an epidemic shows how willingly we allow abuse to continue.

The Gospels – four authors, four views –  each tell the story of Jesus. Each tell the same stories on several occasions, but tell them differently. This is called ‘perspective’. If we stand by a wall and describe the scenery, the ones facing the bricks will have a very different account (perspective) of what they see than the ones facing the garden.

And the one staring at bird poop on the table… Yeah, that’s a whole ‘n’other perspective completely that no one wants to hear while trying to enjoy dinner.

I think many people are trying to eat dinner right now, as this case unfolds….

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Jesus used an exaggerated scenario to make His point. If I was not as clear, feel free to ask questions.

***

Almost a month ago, when I first heard the Amish Steering Committee was involved in the Jeriah Mast case, I attempted to track down their number. I reached out to Dell Sauder in Pennsylvania, who has many connections and whose wife has Amish background, hoping they would be able to help. I also reached out to friends in Ohio who did some asking around. But the information seemed no where to be found.

Soon after my first blog came out, several people kindly reached out to correct me, saying they were not involved. I requested that they forward my number to the ASC and ask one of the to call me. Another person forwarded a contact number, which I tried immediately, but was not able to get through.

This week, Tuesday I was finally able to speak with one ASC member. I wished I could see his eyes, because phones are limiting that way. However, he was honourable and kind. I learned that what my sources — statements  Jeriah’s immediate family made, which then were forwarded to me out of concern by friends — was not reflective of facts.  I have yet to figure out why his family believed what they believed, but that is theirs to tell truth about. I have this evidence, but will not release it without the permission of those who sent it.

(Note: I released to law enforcement what I felt might be of help to them).

In conversation with the ASC leader I learned the following about them:

  • they’re incredibly respectful to engage with (I sensed no manipulation, only respect)
  • our visions align
  • their purpose is to be a liaison/messenger between law/government and the Amish church
  • they’ve been around in some form for 50-60 years, not only 2.5
  • many of their cases are minors
  • many of their cases have nothing to do with sexual crimes, incest and molestation
    • if they are sexual crimes they are referred to the Restoration Committee
  • they work cooperatively with the law (one ‘evidence item’ said they take the place of the law)
  • they don’t interfere with law to keep offenders out of prison (again, many of their cases are minors)

And I also learned the following about ASC’s involvement in this case:

  • No one contacted the ASC’s State Director for assistance in case
  • someone at Shining Light church got their hands on a Restoration Plan that was drawn up for another offender from a few years ago
  • the church reached out to the Restoration Team to look at the plan
    • the name had been redacted, so they did not know it was for Jeriah Mast
  • Shining Light then asked a Restoration Team member to set up the appointment with law enforcement
  • Family told various people that ASC was involved, and stated that it was to “help avoid consequences” and “do what the law would do”, as well as hold Jeriah accountable
    • This alarmed people who reached out to me.
    • This, the State Director (who is the Amish gentleman I spoke with) is completely inaccurate and not what the ASC is about

The Restoration Committee Role and Purpose:

  • hold everyone accountable when dealing with molestation and other troubled situations and “hold people’s feet to the fire”
  • they guide processes and make sure proper processes are followed
  • draw up restoration plans which are strict accountability plans to be followed
  • offer teaching and education to help recognize abuse, and work toward prevention
  • do NOT assume role of:
    • law
    • CPS
    • Ministry
    • Counsellors
  • they are contacted for help by:
    • law enforcement
    • CPS
    • Church Ministry
    • Counsellors and therapists
    • Individuals needing support in their church community

***

The information came to me via friends of immediate family, but how the family in this case came to believe the information they shared with people, I cannot speak to, nor do I wish to. It may have been a sincere misunderstanding.  These things happen, and in the midst of stress and chaos that is yet more likely.

It is ironic that since my source is those with some of the highest stakes – the family – that I am the liar for repeating their words. (I would say I misunderstood if I did not have evidence).

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. The hate, the lies and all of that, I am not too worried about. If that’s what it takes for this epidemic to be addressed, so be it. I am far more concerned that I stand before God one day and, while imperfectly, have done what He called me to do.

***

What’s next in this case?

The law is doing the thing it is designed to do. I am doing the thing I am called to do, and cooperating with the law in the process. All information that is sent my way, that holds any meaning, I forward to the law. And sometimes I forward what I think is useless but might mean something to them. Charges will be forthcoming, at least for one ‘piece’ of this situation, in the relatively near future, I am told. We will see. That isn’t my part to follow up on.

I continue to interact with the people of Haiti who were impacted, including Jeriah’s victims and those near them. It is hard because of distance, and feeling helpless to do much given the language barriers, but I try to answer their questions and connect them with those who are able to help them navigate the maze of the legal system. (On that note, if anyone reading this knows of a Human Rights Lawyer who would be able to support these victims, that info would be much appreciated. Please send it to me at: Generations Unleashed.

What next for me?

Before this case went public, people were hearing there was a ‘big abuse case’ with an Anabaptist organization, and they reached out to ask what I know. I wasn’t ready to give information much, back then. As a result information trickled in about multiple organizations, in multiple countries. When three or more concerns trickle in, each holding pieces of a story, it is a strong sign that something lies buried.

It is my plan to follow up on these cases if doors open. I am very comfortable letting God open and close doors. If funds come in to cover the costs of travel, I go. If not, I don’t. It’s that simple and that black and white how I determine whether it is meant to be. And I listen to the niggling of caution, that radar for spiritual manipulation that goes off in my inner being, when determining with whom I will partner in these things. And I am thankful to say that there are thousands of conservative Anabaptists offering prayer support and encouragement in this.

I hope to fly out within the next two weeks to confirm details in another case, if funds come in to cover the costs. And if they do not, I will rest in this not being the right time. I am comfortable laying down calling any time God closes doors.

If you are able to contribute, and willing to do so, you may send funds to info@generationsunleashed.com, or visit Generations Unleashed.

My commitment is to walk through the doors God opens. I will not force them. But I will not ignore the open ones. And if they crack open and stay there, I’ve learned that usually, sometimes years later, they swing wide open.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

 

 

Haiti Commissioner Orders Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) to appear in court with offender

Introduction:

June 6, 2019

The court hearing has come to a close. Le Commissaire (the commissioner) sits in the judge’s chair. The court summons sent weeks earlier, was signed by the Supreme Commissioner Me Jonas Bertrang, and Le Commissaire is here on his authority. Today he has the power to arrest and imprison.

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Le Commissaire speaks in (French/Creole), just as lawyers and witnesses have throughout. I do not understand either language and rely on interpreters. Le Commissaire has given CAM (Christian Aid Ministries) 15 days for their top officials to appear in court accompanied by Jeriah Mast, the sex offender, several interpreters tell me after court is dismissed. If they fail to do so, not only will they arrest a pastor who is present and hold him until they do so; they will also close doors to CAM in Haiti. Little do they realize that CAM is unlikely to be moved to action; it would have to be one of their own or one of Life Literature’s staff members for it to inspire action. Pastor has had no ties with CAM for years already.

Le Commissaire and legal representatives, alike, made it clear that failing to report crimes will not be tolerated; not even by an organization such as CAM. I find myself wishing I was hearing this in church.

The pastor they say they will imprison if CAM officials do not show up with Mast, has been placed in a holding cell, to the right of the courtroom, where he watches the proceedings. He bows his head, appearing to pray. The injustice is hard to stomach. While the offender rests and recovers on American soil, others pay the price. And those speaking out are already being judged as unforgiving gossips.

Pastor Brucely

Jeriah has admitted to the crimes, but only after first lying repeatedly when confronted by a pastor May 3, 2019. With enough pressure he has confessed that he has at least 30 victims.

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***

We, fellow Christians and fellow Anabaptists, alike, insist on transparency and honesty. For organization leaders to say “we knew, but didn’t know details” is not good enough. And if what these leaders did was so Christ-like, they should be ready to die for it and not avoid traveling to the countries where these crimes were committed.

Pedophiles and sex offenders, no matter how repentant, cannot and must not be left on missions. They must be reported. Under no circumstances will we look the other way, the lot of us who are rising up to bring to account the sex crimes, and the federal crimes committed in other countries by organizations looking the other was as something much akin to sex trafficking takes place in the guise of religious service. It is our duty to take a stand, and take a stand we will.

***

For me the story begins in Ontario Canada. Someone messages to say that a missionary has assaulted young boys. They are overwhelmed. The number, the offender admits are “too many to count”. Initially it is unclear if he came forward on his own, or if he was caught, but reports from within America’s Anabaptist community say he is broken and penitent. The few people who know offer him their support and prayer, grateful he is forthcoming. Fellow Christians are encouraged to be forgiving and not speak of the atrocities, now that they are repented of and forgiven. What few, if any, realize, is that the thirty victims to which he has confessed, is not representative of the true number. There are victims in numerous communities.

Initially, I am given no information. This appears at first to be a blessing. My intentions are to not get involved in the case. I am recovering from a spontaneous coronary artery dissection and minor heart attack, only weeks ago. Things remain relatively silent for a week, and I have no information to work with; nothing to provide leads. Not what mission organization. Not the name of the offender. Nothing.

Then, gradually, bits and pieces of the story appear in my inboxes and conversations trickle in. The name of family members. The state the offender lives. The organization. Like a puzzle in a box, as I look at the pieces, the details begin to shape into a coherent story. Still concerned about my health and suffering from fatigue, edema and other symptoms, I stand back.

Having been born into an Anabaptist family, and having worked for nearly ten years with Anabaptist victims of sexual violence, predominantly female victims of childhood sexual abuse, I am keenly aware of the crisis of epidemic proportions. As a donor many years ago, I am familiar with CAM Canada. I presume there is some connection between CAM USA and them, but don’t know the extent.

“I would hope they would do the right thing,” I tell someone. They are a massive organization. They know the law. You don’t get that far and that big through naivety. Besides, there’s enough conversations about sexual violence in our conservative Anabaptist culture that no one can easily claim innocence any longer.

I hope against hope that they will put out a public statement. I will give them two weeks from the time of his arrival in USA, I tell my informants, to do the right thing, and then I will do something if it appears the case will slip through the cracks. They have not given me enough details to report, but years of working with these crimes have taught me that lay members of the Anabaptist community are weary of these crimes; I will get the details sooner or later. Probably sooner.

As details of his time in USA trickle in from various sources – all of whom are forbidden to speak – I grow increasingly alarmed. He has spent two weeks in USA building a fortress that will serve him well, if law enforcement takes at face value, his repentance. His church and family have recruited the support of the Amish Steering Committee (ASC), a team of Amish men who come up with a Restoration Plan to be presented to law enforcement, to help Anabaptist sex offenders escape prison as consequences. A powerful committee, these men boast having had only 2 men sentenced to prison, of over 100 brought to them, in their two [edit: and a half] years since being implemented. People seem hopeful that the ASC will be able to keep this serial child molester out of prison.

Nearly twenty years of crimes, and this is the priority? My spirit grows restless.

***

A CAM leader, Dwayne Stoltzfus, who is also a leader at Mast’s home congregation, accompanies Mast to the police station. Nothing is heard of the victims, other than comments that CAM will reach out and help them; law enforcement likes to see that as part of a Restoration Plan. Word trickles out of Ohio stating that CAM has turned the case over to Mast’s church to handle, thus joining Pilate at the wash basin. This has been done before, when Life Literature staff, Harold Herr, was told of the crimes in 2012, four [EDIT: two] years after Mast was excommunicated from church in Haiti for molesting boys. [EDIT: The crimes were committed in 2008. Excommunication was 2010. Harold Herr was approached 2012 about crimes committed in 2011].

Stories surface stating there were more crimes in other countries, by other CAM staff members. Not all informants feel comfortable sharing names of alleged offenders, but some names and details by various informants begin to fill the gaps left by others. An orphanage. Three offenders.

These details, coming from unrelated sources, combined with CAM’s failure to address the current crimes publicly, compels me to speak out. Heart condition or no heart condition, I find myself committed. Some things, I have learned, are worth dying for. Giving voice to the victims of heinous crimes is one of those things.

We, the Western church, and more importantly to this case, the Anabaptist church, must learn from these tragedies to better screen our missionaries, to take seriously allegations against potential missionaries, and to respond more adequately when we fail. Victims should not bear the weight of crimes committed against them. Crimes, committed in the guise of presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ; that same Christ would unequivocally condemn such actions.

To learn from these tragedies, the darkness must be brought to light. And to do so, we must speak.

***

A former CAM staff member contacted me and asked if I would consider going to Haiti if CAM were to agree to fund such a trip. Sadly, I responded, I cannot align with their handling of things, and would not accept their funding. If I would go, it would need to be completely apart from their involvement. I remember well other cases of exposing crimes and how it worked out attempting to work in partnership. I would be willing to go, but it would have to be without CAM’s involvement.

The idea took root but, practically speaking, it was not feasible. I am still recovering from the heart attack, albeit steadily improving. I have many other commitments as a mother. I’m a PhD student and have ongoing medical testing, not to mention the financial commitment. However, as the time of the Haiti court case drew near, and I learned it was unlikely that CAM would appear as summoned, nor had they reached out to victims, I felt compelled to respond to the question, “Would you go…?”

Wednesday morning, June 4, I posted a status on Facebook, asking my friends – most of who remain conservative Anabaptists – if they would consider funding a flight for me to meet with numerous survivors of sexual violence at the hands of one of our own. Response was slow, and I understood that. I couldn’t offer any public information about the case, the organization, or the country. At 5pm we had almost enough for a one-way ticket to Haiti. The phone rang. A gentleman asked what we had raised and what we still need. “I’ll give $500,” he offered.

With that, I booked a one-way ticket to Haiti, trusting the remaining funds would come in. On Facebook, I offered an update. More friends responded. I decided to do a countdown, “.. now only need $375 … now $300…. ” and within minutes we had the funds. It was surreal.

***

June 5, 2019

The air is heavy, much like my heart, and surely the hearts of those we are about to meet; Haitian victims of an American missionary. I have come to Haiti to hear them; to give life and voice to their stories. This is more than a federal and international crime investigation for the Haitian government and FBI. It is that. And necessarily so. But it is more.

This is about lives, shattered and broken. Their stories matter. They matter. I have committed to do everything within my power to let them know this. My comfort is of little interest to me in the process. Truth must be told.

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Apart from several chairs and an old bench, and a few bags, the room is empty. Here we seat ourselves for the interviews. With the help of my interpreter, I introduce myself and explain why I’ve come. I have heard of the terrible tragedy Haiti communities have suffered at the hands of a professing Christian from my culture. I tell them how sorry I am, and that I am offering to hear their stories and share them with Christians in USA and Canada. They are under no obligation to speak if they would rather not.

Almost immediately they say they would like to tell their stories. I explain that we will do this with one victim at a time rather than as a group, with none sitting in as the other shares. Each tells their story. And to each I express my sorrow at their suffering and apologize to them for the crimes committed in God’s name. I remind them that they are worth so much more, that God loves them, and that there are people back home who care and are not going to look the other way. I promise to do my best to have the stories heard and used in a way to influence accountability and deep and lasting change.

They tell of all the lost. They tell of his crimes; how he manipulated and accessed them at sleepovers. His ‘Modus Operandi’ matches what I’ve heard in other testimonials from other communities. It is compelling. But it would be in any case. Their eyes. The grief and sorrow. The mother whose son told her and was spared further assaults. Other boys who did not speak, and endured years of abuse.

A Haitian gentleman who has filled the role of mentor and father shares briefly what it has been like for the community and for the boys. It has brought deep, deep shame, he tells me. The boys are called “Madanm Jeriah” whenever they walk the streets and are mocked for being ‘gay’ because of the abuse they suffered at the hands of a male. They were not able to attend school without being bullied, and they cannot find work because of the shame. They have no place in the community.

The mother speaks. She is angry, she tells me. Angry that her only child, is paying this high price for the crimes of a missionary. Angry that her survival depended on CAM’s support, and that she had to choose between silence about the crimes to survive, and her son’s wellbeing. Angry that CAM knew [edit: knew that Jeriah was a molester] and did nothing. She tells me how, in his hardest struggles, she couldn’t manage and had to reach out to the mentor gentleman.

I hear her anger, but I feel her broken heart. I tell her how fortunate her son is to have her. Fortunate that someone cares about his suffering and about him. He nods. The two share a bond in suffering, but it is more than that. I tell her, too, how very sorry I am.

I ask them if they have a message for the churches in USA and Canada. They plead for churches and organizations to screen people properly and not send child molesters. At one point a young man makes a comment that it seems like all missionary men are homosexuals. (Their word for molesting boys is the same as the word for homosexual). I don’t blame them for feeling that way. Even as we speak a missionary gentleman they trust is translating, so I know that isn’t how it really is, but they don’t need to hear that right now. It seems too often that is the story that plays out.

“If you could send a message to Jeriah Mast, what would you say to him?” I ask.

Most ask for Jeriah to really repent and come back to face the crimes he committed against them, in their country. They ask him to stop thinking about himself and start thinking about them and the harm he has done to them, if he is truly repentant. All ask him for restitution. They have lost all standing in the community and any hope of thriving as homosexuals. (Again, they are sexual assault victims, not homosexuals).

At one point in the interview, “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban, plays loudly. A young Haitian girl’s voice joins in. The laundry on the wash line moves gently in the breeze. The sweltering heat has become almost unbearable, and my head ache is getting worse.

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I ask permission to take photos, and they grant it, on the condition that I will not post them. I may post pictures of the empty room and those without people. They feel vulnerable. I make a promise.

Will I come back, they ask. I hope so. I truly hope so. Silently I pray. I ask God for health and life, and the opportunity to return, even as I feel the strain of the heat on my heart and observe the swelling it has caused in just a few hours. I will do everything I can, I say again. There are many things I cannot do, certainly not alone, but I can remind America that this is about victims, not about silencing crimes and protecting offenders from consequences. I can keep fighting for victims, and particularly for them. I can keep holding toes to the fire and press for accountability and insist that our religious communities stop looking the other way.

I thank them for being so gracious and sharing such vulnerable stories. They thank me for coming and giving them permission to speak the unspeakable.

We step outside. Here, a handful of children and youth gather around. A few linger, curious why this stranger has come.

The wash is off the line now. A lonely bird sings.

We are wrapping up our time in this community. Even as we do, I feel my heart wrapping around the community. A part of me is staying, right here. I will never forget these young men, this mama, and the gentleman who has fought for these boys.

***

Would to God that my culture, the conservative Anabaptists, could begin to grasp what we, collectively, have done to these children. Through sending pedophiles as missionaries, knowing they abused children. Through silence. Through looking away when the shame of their sin was more than we could bear. Through shaming those who speak out. Through perverting forgiveness to mean we dare not tell truth. To make any claims at all that Jesus would respond in kind. He would not.

The Bible is chuck full of bad stories that would have remained untold if such a God existed at all, and such a Gospel had even a sprinkling of truth to it. If such a Jesus had ever walked among us. Because that Jesus called for truth. He ripped the cover off the nest of vipers oppressing and subjecting the people to their own power. He flipped tables. He spoke with healing and gentleness to the broken-hearted. And never did he favour religious oppressors over the wellbeing of the wounded.

His Gospel… that’s what we need here. The Good News of Salvation that cries for truth, invites it… yes, even demands it, for the Gospel to be real at all.

That’s my Jesus. That’s the Gospel. Any other should never be spoken, and certainly not imposed on the wounded. And most definitely not taken to an impoverished people who rely on us for sustenance, so that we can take advantage of them.

***

JUNE 6, 2019

Outside the courthouse, prior to the hearing, the handful of victims pressing charges have initially declined to comment or have their photos taken. The lawyer forbids taking photos, saying is not permissible. I respect their decision. Instead, Pastor Blakely and I engage in conversation and he shares his story. He has been summoned to stand trial for knowing many years of Mr. Mast’s crimes against their children of Haiti and not reporting these horrific crimes. As a pastor, he says, he did the only thing he understood to do, and that was to excommunicate Mr. Mast and turn him over to CAM. If he could do it over with the knowledge he has today, he states, he would report Mr. Mast and support the families of victims in reporting. He grants permission to take a photo, and use it as needed to help them seek justice and acknowledgment of suffering.

My interest in the case is to give victims opportunity to share their stories, I explain, and hold churches and organizations accountable so that these crimes are not taken lightly. I do not wish to harm anyone, including CAM and Jeriah Mast, but assure the I will stop at nothing within my means to bring truth to light and have victims voices heard. I express concern that CAM did not immediately report Mast, and notify the public, their donors and all families and communities with whom Mast had contact. I also extend an apology, as a Christian and fellow Caucasian, for their ongoing failure to release a public statement condemning the actions and apologizing for their failure to respond adequately years ago when the crimes first became known. What has been done is very wrong, and hopefully accountability will ensure better protocol for screening missionaries, thus protecting children from such horrific crimes. Pastor Brucely expresses his appreciation.

***

Mast’s crimes did not begin in Haiti, though details of former crimes on US soil remain a closely guarded secret [edit: as far as the public is concerned. The law is aware. Hence my reticence to address them before charges are laid]. Mast’s church leaders – of whom Mast’s father is bishop – knew of crimes [edit: though not called crimes] many years ago, and still sent him as a missionary in Haiti, giving him access to many, many victims without accountability. When it was discovered he committed more sex crimes in Haiti, he was sent home and the community was informed there had been moral failure. Being allowed to return, they assumed it was likely porn; other missionaries had been sent home permanently for porn use. Never did they imagine that Mast, who was their friend and fellow missionary, was so skilled that even those closest to him did not see the signs. Having repented, Mast was allowed to return and continue his crimes, unchecked.

One community member told me of 25 victims in 3 communities. But the count is much higher, in numerous other communities. Mr. Mast allegedly admitted to 30, after initially denying the allegations when questioned by a pastor on Friday, May 3 2019. Within hours of learning that he was exposed, Mast packed up his family and fled to USA via Dominican Republic , leaving pastors and other staff members to face the consequences of his crimes.

According to some Haitians, Mast is a talented speaker who preached a fine message; he was as skilled at maneuvering and accessing victims. His position within CAM required him to visit many communities.  While some Haitians knew or suspected the crimes were taking place, they held little power to do anything, as they rely heavily on CAM for basic provision, and lacked the corporate and financial backing the CAM provides. An impoverished people are no match for such a massive organization (approximately  EDIT: $150m $130 budget). It wasn’t until a handful of courageous young men came forward with a lawsuit that there was any hope of the crimes coming to an end, victims’ voices being heard, or there being any semblance of justice in this case.

As people seek to come to terms with the news, in Haiti and across the world, the list of Haitian communities impacted by Mast’s crimes continues to grow. Missionaries who condemn Mast’s actions are concerned at CAM’s lack of response and have reached out to various communities. Testimonials from other communities confirmed that the Ti Goave was only one of many impacted.

Mast befriended young boys, mentored them and scheduled sleepovers, giving him access. The details of acts committed, were similar, with slight variation from community to community, case to case, but similar basic MO. Mast carried with him a bottle of oil for the purpose of the assaults. He went under the guise of loving children and mentoring boys. He offered some gifts and cash, thus using their poverty against them.

Mr. Mast has repented numerous times for ‘moral failure’, offering a vague statement leading those nearest him under the impression that he struggles with pornography, or some personal sexual struggle. Nearly all are shocked to discover that he has, in fact, sexually assaulted so many children or the course of almost 20 years, that no one is quite sure how many there are. That shock intensifies at the discovery that leaders knew and did not send him home or warn the public.

Yet more shocking to some, is the discovery that Mr. Mast used bribes to silence some of his victims. Others say they heard unconfirmed rumours prior to victims coming forward.  An attempted rape of one young man, sources say, resulted in Mr. Mast paying to build a house to silence him. (To this I ask, how did no one get suspicious of this type of ‘generosity’?) That gentleman’s brother also received a house. His story, for the most part, remains untold. A mother, whose son was assaulted, received a plot of land, but the deed was never given to her. And another young man was given money which was used to by a motorbike. And now, Haitians say that CAM’s lawyer has offered hush money, and even pressured victims to meet up for the purpose of silencing them.

After the court hearing it is announced that CAM’s lawyer and the victims’ lawyer have reached a tentative agreement. All that is needed is for CAM officials to sign off.

This is legal ‘hush money’, but hardly becoming of a transparent organization seeking to represent Jesus. Going to court against brother is forbidden, but paying off the victimized … I’ll leave that there. Again, if what was done by the organization is Christlike, there ought to be no need to pay off these victims to silence them. To help them, sure, but silence them? Never!

***

Now, sitting in court, I look at the pastor, behind bars. He has been temporarily arrested during the proceedings. He granted me permission to take photos of him and use them as needed. His trust is an honour, as they are in the thick of addressing trauma inflicted by my culture; my people. I promise to use them only to create awareness, help the victims, and ensure their story is told. I will not exploit them.

Prior to the hearing my interpreter has asked the Commissioner’s secretary permission to audio record, no video, and take photos. Permission is granted.

Much of the hearing is in French, some in Creole. I understand little, but several interpreters give me updates. I have read the boys’ testimonies, translated into English by several people, to cross reference and compare for accuracy, so while I do not understand, I know their stories.

***

Le Commissaire speaks in (French/Creole), giving CAM (Christian Aid Ministries) 15 days for their top officials to appear in court accompanied by Jeriah Mast, the sex offender, several interpreters tell me after court is dismissed. Mast has admitted guilt, albeit after lying repeatedly until backed in a corner.  If they fail to do so, not only will they arrest a pastor who is present and hold him until they do so; they will also close doors to CAM in Haiti.

Le Commissaire and legal representatives, alike, have made it clear that failing to report crimes will not be tolerated; not even by an organization such as CAM.

That, frankly, is how it should be. However, it should be the church rising up to say it, rather than the law.

***

NOTE: I have documentation of court records, as well as evidence that certain CAM leaders, Life Literature, and other individuals were aware of these crimes. I forwarded all information I have to FBI. I have also informed the FBI liaison of my intentions to write and expose what I learned in Haiti. There are many details I know about the USA side of happenings that I have chosen not to include here. This is to avoid interfering with the FBI investigation. What I have shared here is public knowledge in Haiti, and I was grated permission to share, by victims and their lawyer. Following translation of the victim testimonies I collected, I intend to post them here at a later time.

 

Love,
~ T ~

 

PS. To the best of my ability, I have portrayed truth. There is more information that I am not free to share. I have documents, recordings, and photos to support what I have exposed here. The following is one of the numerous messages I received from Haiti affirming the accuracy of the above information.

Sex-crazed men? Frigid women? (Let’s talk sex: Part 1)

TRIGGER WARNING: Content in this blog at moments addresses sexual violence in context of marriage. While I try not to be overly graphic, softening the truth gets us no where. Therefore, if you find such content triggering or traumatizing, I urge you to not read this blog.

***

What is with the notion that men are sex maniacs with no self-control, and for women sex is some obligatory duty to which she must subject herself to for his sake? Nonsense. Women are intensely sexual creatures, who enjoy intimacy.* And men are not sex-crazed morons.

I’m not here to make bold statements about percentages of which gender has the higher libido — especially since that isn’t the point of my blog. I’ve not done a broad study on the matter. What I have observed over the  years of working with victims of sexual abuse, and therefore having the topic of sex (not related to abuse) also come up frequently, is that when it comes to sex and sexuality, we’ve got it wrong. Long before I started working with sex abuse victims, after people knew my story, they would talk about sex with me and ask questions that I don’t think are normal conversation in conservative Christianity.

Are sex toys okay? Is oral sex sin? What about anal sex in marriage? Is it wrong for married couples to masturbate? (For that matter, is it wrong for singles?) When is desire healthy, and and when is it lust? How often is it okay for Christian couples to have sex? (One single woman, God bless her, went so far as to inform me that it is wrong for a married couple to have sex every day. Okay… ! Most of us couldn’t keep up with that pace if we wanted to anyway, so there’s that. But if both have the energy and want to? Have fun!)

Some of those questions were launched my direction before I was even married. (Albeit by friends who knew I had lived common law and had since embraced Christian values and were curious what I thought). They have been asked over the years by single friends, married friends, those who were young, and even little old grandmas. Sex is a matter of interest to most people, but with few places to discuss it without being judged for asking. The questions are legitimate. We have this notion that everyone will automatically know everything about sex — and embrace our opinions and values — without ever talking about it beyond a superficial purity culture teaching. “Don’t do it until you’re married. And then, wives, it’s your duty; do it.” Some were fortunate to get a bit more teaching than that. But for most of us, that’s kind of the sum total, besides the learning we glean from a heavy focus on modesty and not tempting men.

A big chunk of the takeaway from those teachings is this idea that men are so sexually driven that they have no self control. Among emasculated men that is probably a fairly accurate statement. And among sexually abused men. Which is tragic. But outside of those two factors, it’s nonsense. I have the … dare I say ‘advantage’ – because the promiscuity of my teen years has never felt like an advantage – of speaking from two vastly different places. One as a wounded teen with no boundaries searching for a place to belong and willing to pay whatever the selling price to get that belonging. And then as a Jesus follower, and now the wife of a godly man who treats me with highest honour.

In both ‘worlds’ the men in my life – those with whom I had relationships – did not demand sex from me constantly, nor did they rape, force or treat me in sexually abusive ways. And if you’re thinking to yourself, “All sex outside of marriage is abusive”, the fact remains, I was never treated in sexually abusive ways by men with whom I had relationships, which is more than many Christian women can say who ‘saved themselves for marriage. Sadly. That said, yes, I was raped. But that is not a relational act, nor was it ever committed against me by anyone with whom I had an established relationship.

My frame of reference, therefore, is from personal experience and countless conversations. If I said a dozen women had complained to me over the years of their husbands wanting sexual intimacy too often, I think I would be exaggerating. I can think of only a few. If I gave a number for those who, through tears, shared of sexual neglect while their husbands bury themselves in work, games, movies, technology, the number of women who have spoken out would be exponentially higher.

However, what I have heard, more than complaints of wanting sex too often, are complaints of abusive sex. Being raped in the night while asleep is especially common. Being forced to cooperate with sex, and being anally raped or otherwise ‘punished’ for noncompliance, ranks up there. Being told they are too ugly and no one else would want them happens too often. Demanding cooperation with the use of objects… And so on. These are abusive sexual behaviours that many women have shared, internationally, having suffered at the hands of their husbands[i].

These actions are not those of sexually driven men. They are the actions of emasculated men. They are also not the actions of men emasculated by women. They are the actions of men emasculated by systems and religions. (That’s another blog, but suffice it to say that men who are ’emasculated by women’ — unless it is at the hands of their mothers — are first emasculated by some other influence). Empowered men — those not emasculated — are not going to be emasculated by women. They lead like gentlemen, honour women and are a delight to partner with. They invite their wives into sweet sexual intimacy, and are safe to be invited by their wives. They are not insecure. They do not abuse, manipulate, degrade and humiliate. They bless and empower women to be all God created them to be, and that includes in their sexuality.

The words of a buggy-Mennonite friend of ours, many years ago, have stayed forever in my mind. Speaking of the scars his wife carried, and her struggle to enter into sexual intimacy, he shared that his deepest desire in intimacy was for her to experience arousal and climax, which was what she struggled with. She was willing to ‘be available’, but not able to ‘enter in’, in part due to past experience and in part due to the teaching of sex as bad, and lack of teaching regarding healthy sexuality. This devastated her husband, and he shared how guilty he felt even attempting intimacy for fear of using her.

That is the single most touching story of intimacy I’ve heard from a personal friend. There are others, stories of men who tenderly cared for their wives who had been abused. Stories of women empowering their husbands, speaking life and wonder over their sexuality when they came from broken histories. Stories of marriages restoring in each partner what life tried to rob and destroy.

But one thing men are not is sex-crazed morons who can’t control themselves. Nor are they sexually-driven saints whose wives’ duty is to meet those needs. Men are sexual creatures. That they are. But so are women*. And many women are neglected sexually because of the horrible things we’ve taught — formally and informally — in religious context, and beyond. This has robbed marriages. Men who believe that women have no interest in healthy sexual relationship, and who view sexual intimacy as a duty for their spouse, are in that very act emasculated. And they are robbed of the true wonder of relational and sexual intimacy. It is not fair to either party to be led to believe such things. For one, a woman who views it as a duty and a curse will find it much more difficult to enter in in a healthy way.

I propose that if we would do away with these nonsensical teachings and  replace religious ‘systems’ with empowering men to lead the Jesus way — like our buggy Mennonite friend — we’d see a powerful shift in sexual struggles among men. Empowered men walk gently beside their partners. It’s a hand-holding love relationship. They invite. The step in to protect. (And protectors don’t play the victim the way religious culture has conditioned men).

This would spill into the way women are treated and viewed by too much of Christian culture, and they would become valued partners in marriages, in churches… in God’s kingdom. And, in turn, it would spill right back into how men are viewed.

Women who are led by such men also empowered. They are safe. They bless and empower their husbands. (The same is true more broadly, not only in marriage, even though my focus here is marriage). I have watched this in Christian relationships, and I have watched it in marriages of those who are not Christians. There is a synergy. A grace. A working together. There is fulfillment and relational intimacy. There is a sparkle in the eyes and a light that is unmistakable.

I live in such a relationship. In 25 years never have I been forced or coerced sexually. We’ve both made sacrifices in various ways over the years, and Tim has done so with tenderness. There have been health crises for both of us when intimacy was completely impossible. He had H1N1 and scared the life out of me, back in fall of 2009. I had the first heart attack 2006 and the one last week. I’ve haemorrhaged twice, had two miscarriages and five childbirths to recover from. These are times of no energy, and nothing to give. Times of survival. And never, not even once, has Tim pushed for intimacy before I was ready.

This is as it should be. Sure, we’ve had our bumps and scrapes in our marriage. Some pretty serious ones that felt (to me) like we’d never survive. But we did survive. And I attribute that most to Tim’s faith and rock solid commitment, come hell or high water, to never give up on us or on God. And never have I been sexually disrespected or violated by my husband.

And there’s the good news. In spite of the aforementioned complaints shared by some — which are legitimate and deserve acknowledgement, there are many marriages where both partners invest deeply, make sacrifices and honour each other. Marriages where men are compassionate and kind as their wives struggle through past trauma that makes intimacy difficult. I’ve had the honour of helping survivors of abuse work through the barriers it creates, preventing healthy sexual relations, while husbands patiently supported their wives. I believe, and certainly hope, that this is still the greater percentage, by far, of marriages. While spousal abuse is rampant and needs to be addressed, I honour those men who are neither the stereotyped sex-maniacs, nor those who neglect their wives’ needs.

Now if we can just do away with those warped teachings, learn to talk about sex in a healthy way, and scrap religious abuse, we just might disempower the stereotype. Rather than each of us who have good husbands believe we have one of the rare ones, we will begin to see that there are a great many good men. And maybe we’ll even do better at raising more of them.

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

 

Notes:
[i] I do not discount here the relevance and prevalence of females being sexually abusive toward their husbands. I have not received many such complaints, possibly due to the fact that males rarely speak out as a result of the incredible accompanying shame, or possibly because I am female and it would be too frightening, but that does not mean it is as rare as it seems. I am aware it happens, and acknowledge that is very wrong.

* Not all women enjoy sex. Many would like to, but can’t for various reasons. Past sexual abuse is a common barrier, and a runner up, based on my conversations, is how the teachings on sexual purity are presented. (I’m working on another blog to address the topic of female sexuality in conservative Christian context. If you have thoughts you want to share anonymously — I will not use names, identities or location — I welcome emails at: trudy @ generationsunleashed .com)

Pow-wows, death curses and a happy dance

SATURDAY MARCH 16 UPDATE:
Last night was horrible. That’s just the truth. Chest pain/discomfort all night, and low BP, and the uncertainty of this condition I find myself in, looming over me. But symptoms constantly reminding me how fragile my life is.

Last night was incredible and beautiful. That’s just the truth. In my uncertainty, I was certain. Peace resting over the heaviness, and knowing I am okay; there is nothing to fear.

I prayed, again, a prayer I find escaping my lips these days when my heart is unstable. “God, You hold my life in your hands, and I trust You”… and I go on to tell Him that with all I have seen and know in this fallen world, the ‘forever peace’ of the other side is inviting. It draws me. I’m not gonna lie. But then I tell Him that for the love of my life – Tim, my children, grandchild, family, friends-who-are-family, and all my friends, not to mention supporting survivors of abuse, I would really like to live for quite a long while yet. And I prayed for a good friend and his family who have gone through a brutal health crisis in the past week, and has seen God do miraculous things.

Something like that is what I pray, over and over again, in the uncertainty that settled over me in January as symptoms progressed. Unbelievable fatigue, low-grade fevers, followed by crazy and unusual-to-me joint pain, irregular heartbeats (PVCs, for the medically inclined), and spikes in super high blood pressure. These eventually led to my heart racing the days leading to the dissection (SCAD) and mild heart attack. Those symptoms are not benign.

Now here we are, post ‘event’. This phase of adjusting meds while the dissection heals is especially volatile and uncertain, from a medical perspective. (The nurse’s parting words were, “I don’t want to scare you, but…” and then told of a woman who did well in hospital with SCAD and returned days later after a massive heart attack. Good to know. Being informed saves lives). And knowing my body with medications I expect some bumps. It does not like meds, and I do not adjust easily.

The whole experience is physically and emotionally exhausting, at moments, as I find myself contemplating the cost to family while I am not able to do much. (And, again, not gonna lie… I contemplate the cost of worst case scenario, and the thought of leaving is a bit overwhelming. Which is about the time I pray that prayer).

Yet, at no point have I been in fear. For this I am thankful. Growing up in violence and abuse, and always fearing for my life left me fearing death for many years. And then I had the first heart attack in 2006 on the eve of my 37th birthday. That day I learned that nothing but death can kill me, and there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. By the time death comes, I’ll be on the other side and then I will be more alive than ever I have been before here. That terror never returned. For twelve years I’ve lived with knowing my heart is high risk, by all human and medical standards, yet it has not limited me but rather propelled me further. I anticipate this round will do the same.

***

In the past few years I’ve been cursed with death wishes, and received messages that certain conservative communities held pow-wows to silence me and curse my life. A stranger wrote that she heard groups were “sending curses to you and doing witchcraft“, to which I responded “Believe it or not, this actually kind of excites me. It means that we are penetrating something in the spiritual realm that is far bigger and deeper than we could possibly imagine.” I feel that thrill no less today as I recover than I did then.

(One friend mentioned that there would be those who would throw a celebration at the news of my death. Ah well… Put that party on hold and blow out the candles. I’m still here and doing a happy dance. I didn’t mean to get your hopes up).

When I first realized my heart was in trouble in the past few weeks, and went through numerous doctor visits, ER visits and testing, I thought of the curses spoken. I wasn’t worried that they hold power, but it did occur to me that they who spoke them might claim having such power. (And that includes those who spoke these things in relation to me exposing things that needed to be exposed).

So it is no secret that there are those who would celebrate my end, but this is of no concern to me. I walk in strength. The hand of God rests gently on me, always. He is near and holds my life in His hands, firmly, kindly, and graciously. No curse or darkness spoken has any authority or power in my life; I put no weight or stock in it. And this event won’t silence me. It will enlarge my territory. That’s what it will do. And allow me to touch the hearts of more wounded. Therefore, I praise God for it.

In the middle of the physical pain yesterday, I found Psalm 71… This is my response to both the curses spoken (death wishes), and the events of this past week (and those leading up to it).

Screen Shot 2019-03-16 at 1.44.24 PM

Maybe I’m not quite ‘old and grayheaded’, but I did become a grandma (or Nana) almost three weeks ago, and I have seen ‘great and severe troubles’, so it fits. In any case, I love David’s candid conversations with God. He doesn’t much sugar-coat the harshness of people wanting him dead, and asking God to protect him to the shame of those who wish him evil. David shows us how to be honest, to say it as it is, and still walk away with a dance and praise. I like it.

***

SUNDAY MARCH 17 UPDATE:
So far today I’m feeling better than I have since before the episode. I’m still incredibly fatigued. My right arm still aches from the procedure. And my heart is still skipping to its own rhythm. (How appropriate!)  The sudden ‘zapping’ and piercing pains (milliseconds long) are still sporadically there. But the feeling of my entire heart and surrounding chest area are spasming and tense is all but gone. And that is a gift.

Whatever that was, and whatever caused it, I am very glad to have it behind me. It was this squeezing (but not same as heart attack pressure) inside my chest, wearing me out. Deep breaths, sighs and yawns… nothing made it better. So I would rest — as in sit/lie back, because how do you take a break from doing nothing?

In the middle of that but not knowing these details, a friend from PA sent this message, “All I know is that the Strong Hand of God is on you. Soon after you told us that you were hospitalized a heavy, heavy something fell on me and I literally went down on the floor and I entered into a deep intercession like I haven’t experienced in a couple years. […] I had such a sense and a picture of the Strong Hand of the Lord holding you in a strong grip, you are covered from head to toe by His hand so that no weapon formed against you can prosper and even when His grip feels tight and weighty, remember that it’s protection, it’s safety, it’s wine pressing and it’s life giving.”

Now, a day later, feeling no ‘heavy grip of death’ around my heart, I am encouraged and amazed by the kindness of God. The words in Psalm 72, the message from a friend, the awareness of curses spoken (again, they hold no power), and God’s faithfulness in the middle of it all. And peace. How grateful I am, that in every moment – from the first awareness that ‘here we go again’, to the doctor’s “you are aware that during the procedure there is a risk of stroke, heart attack and even death?” – I felt the peace and presence of God. Nonetheless, I’m particularly happy to be alive today.

First thing I did this morning, upon waking, was prop myself up and tell Tim that I have no pain today. None. That felt good. Throughout the day there have been small episodes, but nothing too concerning or alarming. Some of this is expected post event/procedure. As with yesterday, as the day progresses so do symptoms, and I find I need to rest more. (Since I don’t get up until noon, that means I last about 4 hours before symptoms start again).

Friends set up a meal train locally, and friends from out of country blessed us with a meal from a local restaurant. I didn’t expect this kindness. It never occurred to me to receive such a thing, but when offered and I was so exhausted, I said yes for Monday to Friday for one week. (And they booked two!) We are so grateful!

Tomorrow I see my family doctor, and we discuss what next and where to from here. We really don’t know what to anticipate. And, if there was a link to the meds I was on, they have been discontinued and the Lupus-like-symptoms should disappear. With that, I anticipate the risks will also disappear.

If that was not the cause, then we wait it out and ride the waves and watch the sunset. Because life is too short to waste the beauty found in either one.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

hearts, 911 calls, and ambulance rides…

Just over seventy-seven hours ago I looked at our youngest and said, “I don’t feel well.” And then I called 911.

*****

March 7 I posted some updates on health testing I’ve been going through. In spite of all tests coming back indicating there are no problems — EKG, heart stress echo, blood work etc — I knew something was wrong…. a matter of time. At least I was quite sure of it…

Sunday morning I woke up feeling very tired. If that had not become my new normal, since changing my meds a few months ago, this would have concerned me. A nondescript feeling of un-wellness niggled, so I told Tim I was going to stay in bed… My chest and my arm and shoulder were achy. He had to slip out — though I don’t recall him saying good bye, though he did — so I slept until sometime around 1:30 to 2:00. The pain persisted, and I wondered if I had slept funny… and was that hunger pains? I ate a bit, but rather than improving, the pain got worse, and I felt worse. I tried to focus but found myself constantly distracted by the pain. And then came that moment of awareness that something was very wrong…

That’s when I told our youngest I wasn’t feeling well, and asked him to get my BP cuff. It was 183/130… up from a normal reading before falling asleep. I called Tim, told him I wasn’t ok, and then called 911. At their order, I chewed my Aspirins, and waited. The first responder arrived within minutes, attached the heart leads and took my BP again. 206/140… The ambulance arrived moments later, and so began this next phase of my medical journey.

In 2006 a massive heart attack left me with a dead spot, and my cardiologist told me I may not feel the next one, if it comes. If I do, it may not feel the same. I never really worried about it. On Sunday, when it happened, I was both sure and unsure at the same time. I’ve had ‘episodes’ numerous times over the past 4 years. Always questioning, never certain. (In hindsight we are quite certain I’ve had numerous SCADs). The only thing that made me somewhat sure this time that it progressed to heart attack was the pain in my left arm, which by that time started radiating into my jaw, and at moments my back. And then there was that restless feeling of knowing something wasn’t right.

In hospital I was admitted, after some debate, for high blood pressure rather than heart attack symptoms since the pain had cleared up quickly when they brought my BP down. Within hours the cocktail of meds began, with adjustments over the next few days, including anti-coagulants to prep for investigating. Last night they did an angiogram and discovered I had a mild heart attack, due to a dissection (SCAD) toward the lower portion of my posterior descending artery. There is no sign of coronary artery disease, the doc said, all arteries – including the one that collapsed twelve years ago, and the stent they put in — are in excellent condition.

It is complex, to say the least. There is no specific known cause, though a highly stressful event could trigger it. If I had been through stress, that would make sense. There are also markers — a particular unusual blood vessel in the kidney — which he checked for with angiogram, and I don’t have. At the end of they day, the doc said he doesn’t know for sure what caused it. It is possible I may have an underlying condition contributing to these events, or maybe the symptoms coinciding with changing meds mean there is a link there. In any case, this is something that may never happen again, or could happen again, any time, anywhere in my body.

Just to keep it interesting, I nearly passed out after the procedure, as my BP dropped and the pain in my arm set in. Swelling at the site indicates potential bleeding below the skin, versus bleeding out, so the nurse had to put pressure on it. “Would you like to lie back?” she asked. “No. It’s okay, I’m fi… … I’m not fine,” I said as my world started spinning. And then came the visual disturbance with squiggly vision and partial blindspots, leaving me with tunnel vision. You realize in a moment like that how vulnerable life is, and what a gift health is, and how incredibly fascinating our bodies are.

Medications will be adjusted to manage the premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) that I have – which are more pronounced on certain meds, but always ‘present’ — and keep my heart from working too hard, as well as keeping my BP low to reduce as much stress on my heart as possible. And I will continue to do what I started some years ago, and be constantly be mindful of what stresses I can handle, and what I cannot…. but be even more strict about it.

After recovery — which they don’t anticipate taking too long — I plan to continue with my PhD and ministry, and live life to the fullest. In the meantime, I am grateful for the people who are rising up and stepping in to help survivors of trauma locally, as well as many in PA and across USA.

I trust God with the many broken hearts of those devastated by abuse. He will come to you, and heal you. He cares for you. I care for you. Many of us care deeply. You are not alone.

And I trust Him with my life. I am at peace. I have no fear. The purpose He spoke over my life when I was not yet conceived in my mother’s womb rests over me today with the same authority as it did then. And that cannot be taken away or altered. His Word goes through eternity, unchanged by life’s curve balls.

Until that is fulfilled, ya’ll are stuck with me.

Jeremiah 1:5

***

Tonight I am back home, thankful to God for His kindness and grace in my life. I am most thankful for the excellent care offered by the paramedics, and St Mary’s hospital (Kitchener) cardiology team — nurses, doctors and support staff. And with special appreciation for staff who were there the first time — especially NP Vera — for the blend of compassion and humour. (I promise, we were only snuggling and trying to nap…. not even kissing.)

As always…
Love,
~ T ~

Ps. Familiarize yourself with heart attack symptoms so you can help yourself or those you love. Familiarize yourself with abuse symptoms for the same reason.

© Trudy Metzger 2019