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

What I Wish You Knew About Childhood Sexual Abuse (A Husband’s Perspective)

In the past few weeks I’ve posted blogs written by my friends and readers. These were writings shared with me that I found helpful and thought the public may benefit from, so I asked each of them for permission to post what they wrote to me. 

I have a few more that I’m hoping to share but still need permission, and several lined up that have granted permission. Some choose to be anonymous while others are comfortable using their names. I respect the wishes of each individual. Some of those sharing I’ve interacted with for years, some I just ‘met’ recently. 

Today’s blog is the voice of an Anabaptist husband. It is powerful, tender, touching, challenging… It is a call for understanding and compassion, and awareness of the incredible damage done to children (for life) when they are sexually assaulted. In his wife’s case, as you will read, she was raped in childhood. 

TRIGGER WARNING:
While the following is an incredible read, please be aware that the content may be triggering for trauma survivors and those who feel deeply what they read. This is not all bad, as facing triggers is part of the healing process for many. And for non-survivors, it creates deep understanding of the victims’ suffering. Each reader should be aware of what you can tolerate.

***

I get the feeling that people think childhood sexual abuse is not as bad as it is painted – that there are few long term effects.

But I know that’s not true.

I know, because I am married to a survivor of childhood rape.

I know what it’s like to get married but not be able to have sex because grown men decided to rape and abuse my beautiful bride when she was a little girl.

I know what it’s like to lay my hands on my wife of nearly 3 months and beg God to heal her vaginismus – and see Him do so instantly.

I know what it’s like to have her burst into tears in the middle of sex because something triggered a memory of the rape – and for this to be somewhat a “normal” occurrence.

I know what it’s like to hold my wife in my arms, and as she shakes with grief and anguish, hear her ask, “What did I ever do to deserve that kind of cruelty?”

I know what’s it’s like to pull the covers up over her head as she curls up in a fetal position – trying to protect herself as yet another flashback appears out of nowhere.

I know what it’s like to lead my wife in prayer – hundreds of times – to forgive the “Christian” men who did this horrific evil to her.

I know what it’s like to see her disassociate while giving birth, and wonder if I was going to lose her.

I know what it’s like to call my boss to say that I will be an hour or two late for work because it is not safe to leave my wife at home alone.

I know what it’s like to get home from work and meet a teary eyed wife with many hard questions, and after much listening, discussion, and prayer, realize that the house looks worse than when I left in the morning.

I know what it’s like to hear our chiropractor tell me that my wife regularly visits the office with her back, neck, pelvis, hips and ribs out of place – and “she walks like nothing is wrong” because her body is still in shock from trauma that happened 20 years ago.

Don’t tell me that sexual abuse doesn’t affect people in real ways. Don’t tell me that forgiveness takes care of the pain.

I know better.

Spare me all the usual idiotic things said about abuse. The little girl who is now my wife did not ask for it. She was not dressed immodestly. Yes, she said “no”. (She even cried out to Jesus to help her!) No, it’s not something she can “just get over”. No, she’s not bitter or unforgiving. And no, it’s not just “all in her head.”

Furthermore, please stop saying ignorant things about the beautiful concept of forgiveness. She has forgiven these men more times than we both can count, but flashbacks still come. Memories are real and cannot be controlled. Forgiveness does not mean she (actually, “we”) stop paying for the consequences of the sin done to her.

These men are not “brothers in the Lord”. You cannot do this kind of evil and be a Christian. It is the opposite of everything Jesus is. Jesus implies that anything less than death is mercy for an offender. And there are days when only the mercy of God keeps me from taking justice in my own hands.

If all of this surprises you, you’ve never sat close enough to hear a victim speak. You’ve never listened without judgement. Contrary to what you may think, abuse victims are not looking for attention. They just want to be heard and seen as people whose pain and voice matters.

I know, because I am married to one.

If you want to see a victim of sexual abuse blossom and heal, you have to be a safe person. Listen instead of trying to “fix” them. Do not put healing on a timeline. The broken parts of them are not something you can fix anyway. Just love them like Jesus loves. Lay down your life like Christ laid His down.

Believe me, it works.

I know, because I am the husband of a childhood rape survivor.

***

Tomorrow the blog will be from this gentleman’s wife, sharing some deep soul musing and struggles. Those who dare to enter the raw struggle of the soul are especially misunderstood in church.

Observation has taught me that those who wrestle most have deepest faith. It takes no faith to speak of, when life is a breeze and everything makes sense. But when nothing makes sense, we either run, or we enter into an intimate struggle.

It is in this wrestling with God, in struggling for answers, in asking the hard questions that we draw most near to Him. It is in this wrestling, like Jacob did in the night. (And as I type this, I recall a talk I did some years ago that was recorded that some who fear the struggle may find encouraging: Invitation to Wrestle with God).

When you read her blog tomorrow, remember this. She is a woman of incredible faith who has inspired me, challenged me and encouraged me. She is a warrior. She is a child. She is an outstanding woman of God.

***

Remember the victims! Remember Haiti! Pray for their redemption and healing.

Pray for the church, for eyes to be opened, for truth and justice with mercy to matter again. For an awakening to the depth of depravity we have allowed in church so that genuine repentance will rise out of this darkness, and children will be protected.

Pray for Jeriah and CAM, to truly, completely come clean and repent, without self-preservation driving the process. What is money in light of the wellbeing of children? What is humanitarian aid with the misrepresentation of Jesus, and without the protection of children? Pray that these realities would sink deeply into the leaders of CAM.

***

As always…

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

Response from Emanuel Lapp, a non-victim Anabaptist Male to CAM & Jeriah Mast Crimes

A deeply moving email landed in my inbox addressing the CAM and Jeriah Mast abuse case. Tears flowed as I read his message. As someone who had no experience with abuse – neither as victim nor as offender, and whose idyllic childhood left him with no understanding of it, he put into words something I, as a female, had never thought of or heard from anyone. He put to words the shame that he as a man feels after hearing of Jeriah’s crimes.

I don’t know if that response is common, but it made me realize again how victimizing children violates so many, even beyond those who are sexually abused. Certainly not int the same way, and the assault victims are and always should be prioritized, but the ripple effect creates trauma and suffering that extends far beyond the initial crime. I’ve been told that for this reason the crimes should not be publicized. I would propose that it is the reason we must speak out and make the crimes known so that accepting as ‘moral failure’ and a ‘slip during a weak moment’ is no longer acceptable. (And the Old Testament, which documents slaughterings of humans and sexual assaults, would give testimony to the need to speak out).

Thank you to Emanuel Lapp, the author of the following letter. And special thanks for permission to post the letter. I do not know him, or what group he is affiliated with, but appreciate the care and compassion shown in the letter.

***

Dear Trudy,

I suppose i’m sending this to an open forum, so if I am, then hello to all of you. I don’t know much about blogs, or whatever this is, not because it looks hard to learn, but because I’ve had so little time to invest in one more thing to take up more off the extra time that I don’t have. But I do at times use the computer at the local library, which is where I stopped in to get a news update on the Mast/Haiti/CAM situation.

I was aware that I had unanswered questions about homosexuality in the back of my m ind, but first, a disclaimer and then a little background about myself. In the following paragraphs, I use the umbrella term of “Anabaptists” loosely and do not wish to imply that “Anabaptists” of today would be accepted by original Anabaptists. They were recognized for their exemplary lives and for their firm stands against sin in the church. Now for my background in short form:

I was born at home, in a farmhouse on a peaceful dairy and crop farm in Lancaster County PA. Being Amish, I, as well as my ten siblings, were taught good work ethics and high morals from little up. Growing up, I knew nothing of immorality among our people, and would have been devastated had I found out. Mine was indeed an idyllic life and a protected childhood. I was never abused as a child, neither sexually nor otherwise, and have never been a perpetrator.

However, I was exposed to sexual sin at the young age of 10 or 11 when I overheard a 13 year old boy being a self-appointed teacher on human sexuality to a small group of his peers in a corner of the school playground, explaining it all, including masturbation, in graphic detail, only without exposing himself.

About a year later, as I was working a field in preparation for planting, I came upon a pornographic magazine lying in the roadside ditch. For years afterward I vacillated, never quite sure masturbation was wrong, but feeling dirty afterward.

As a teenager, I loved music. Gospel music. Then Country and Bluegrass. Then Rock & Roll. Then heavy metal Rock & Roll, and by that time, give over to the Rock & Roll rebellion of the 70’s, I indulged in drinking, dancing, and pot.

But perhaps because of the strict training of my Mom, or the warnings from Dad, coupled with their prayers, my first experience of having sex was at age 21 with my 19 years old bride. Now my wife of 37 years, going on 38, she is the only one I’ve ever had in that way. Which is a wonder that I ascribe to God and to praying parents, for during my “wild years” I had various girlfriends and many dates.

That is a little briefing on my background, now for the unanswered questions in the back of my mind.

One; How can men have sex with men?
Two; Or little boys?!?! Impossible! my mind screamed.
How could I not know? It’s 2019. I’ll be 59 years old this month.

The answer is that I have studiously avoided finding out. I’ve known sin.
I know natural temptation. And I knew how defiling sin can be to the mind. So I avoided perversion life the plague that it is. When the Scripture tells us “there hath no temptation taken you but that which is common to man,” it is referring to natural sin, not the perversions of Romans Chapter One. Those are in a class by themselves.

So then, the first reader response that I read to your blog was the one from Jay Voder. It was disturbing. Thank you for your level-headed response.

The next letter was the one from […] the experience of a victimized 12 year old boy. And I read….oral sex….anal sex…the pain of sitting in school the next day….I cried. And then I was filled with shame. “Anabaptist” shame, for though I’m no longer Amish, I’m still “Anabaptist” at heart and part of a church so identified. Masculine shame, almost ashamed to be a man. I don’t know that the above incident was “Anabaptist” nor do I know how far Jeriah fell, that is now up to the courts to discover, but to think that men can, and do, fall that low brings shame upon my gender. And no matter how far Jeriah fell or didn’t fall, we do know that little boys were defiled.

I had known of the Catholic scandal about their priests, knew it involved little boys, found the thought disgusting and shoved it aside. But now….it hits close to home and cannot be shoved aside.

Nor should it.

Then I got angry.

And discouraged.

And then sorry. For little boys. Especially in comparison to my idyllic childhood. Unprotected little boys. Exploited little boys. Defiled little boys.

And then I searched the news.
Sex abuse perpetrated here by a school teacher.
There by a coach.
Over here by a Pastor.
Over there by a Priest.
I read back over your response Jay.
And got mad.
Again.

And got over it. Maybe you’re just naive. I hope so. I hope Jeriah didn’t go as far as some do, but even if he didn’t, where is God in this unfortunate way of allowing a young man with a history of perverse sexual attraction to children, to have children in his care? Even at night. I understand the need for forgiveness and trusting God to change the hearts and lives of evil men, but even trustworthy men can fail by trusting people, including themselves, too far.

So now, as we pick up the pieces, let us also pick up those neglected pieces under the rug. So we can finish the puzzle and have the big picture, seeing where we must change. The puzzle pieces under the rug so often are the victims, or so I am told.

And so it seems.
They need a voice.
We need to allow them a voice.
We need to be a voice for them.
And as we hear them, may we say, as the Nations said of the Holocaust after WWII:
Never Again.

Because these young victims have their own personal Holocaust to live through. And as our Never Agains upset failed methods, may our faith be ignited with personal Pentecostal fire.

May the perpetrator, his family, and victims alike, find the grace of God to face life as it is now and be made whole, again or for the first time, through the power and love of Jesus.

Thank you Trudy, for being a “voice crying in the wilderness.” A voice for the victims of sex abuse.

And to my fellow “Anabaptists,” how can we ever trust again? Must we eye each other from here on with suspicion? Or may we call for a deeper level of transparency? Indeed, I believe I hear the Word of the Lord, through the Voice of Exposure and through His Word calling us to a deeper level of transparency.

To a deeper love and kinder help for abuse victims.
To tougher love for perpetrators.
No matter how close the emotional or relative ties.
God is calling us back to the Bible.
May we, together, heed the call.

The call to finding Exposure Redemptive.

Because Jesus Lives,
Emanuel Lapp

 

***

I am so grateful for men and women who are rising up to stand with victims. To see such a broad positive response, and encouraging the community to see exposure as redemptive, this is an answer to prayer. And to hear men – even those who have not been victimized or victimizers – rise up and call for the victims to be remembered and heard… this is healing for many!

Remember the victims! Remember Haiti!

As always…

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

Sex Abuse Podcast with Titus Kuepfer & Asher Witmer, Male Survivors Speak, And Can’t we just move on from the CAM Conversation?

PODCAST DISCUSSING CAM, JERIAH MAST, AND SEXUAL ABUSE:
On Saturday July 6,  Titus Kuepfer and his co-host David Russel  interviewed blogger and author of “Live Free”, Asher Witmer, and myself on the CAM/Jeriah Mast sex abuse scandal. It was good to connect with these gentlemen and hear their concern and care. (You can listen to the clip on “Proselytize or Apostatize”). Asher addresses male sexuality from a Christian perspective on his blog.

It was encouraging to engage honest dialogue and explore hard questions surrounding this case with these gentlemen.

Asher Witmer
Blogger and Author of “Live Free’, Asher Witmer with his wife and family

MALE SURVIVORS SPEAK OUT:
KIRK DANIEL’S BLOG:
Kirk Daniel is a male survivor who recently shared a very moving blog on Lucinda Miller’s blog. (Read “Was It A Boy?” here). This blog has resonated powerfully with other male survivors and is opening a door to much needed connection among them.  It is also encouraging for female survivors to see the men find the courage to speak.

Kirk’s blog is These Ashes.

MALE SURVIVOR’S LETTER TO THE EDITOR, WOOSTER DAILY RECORD:
Daniel Eichelberger shared a glimpse of his story in some great wisdom in his response to the CAM/Jeriah Mast scandal and the response of CAM and the community to the present crisis. He echoes the concerns of many in his letter titled “Focus Should Be On Victims“. It is an uncanny thing how the world revolves around offenders.

The public, in all fairness, deserves to be warned. The victims usually want privacy. The church wants to appear as whole as possible. Organizations want to protect their money, rankings and image. And the end result is that it’s all about everything and everyone except the victim.

This letter calls people back to those whose wellbeing should be at the heart of the decisions made by all involved.

It is encouraging to see so many gentleman coming forward and giving voice to the suffering of male victims. When the truth of their horror is spoken, and they support each other (and hopefully find support from the Christian community), healing will come. Cycles are being broken, and new legacies are being established.

This is a beautiful thing happening!

CAN’T WE JUST MOVE ON ALREADY?
There are people who are now at the point where they just want to move on and let this situation take care of itself. No one should talk about it anymore. CAM and Stanley Fox have put out their statements. Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver are on administrative leave. (Which, I am told, means quietly continuing to do some work behind the scenes after being ‘released’).  An investigation is in progress, both by law and allegedly by CAM.

So…. “Let’s let them take care of it now.”

Part of me understands this. It’s messy to talk about this case. I mean, it’s messy to talk about sexual abuse in any case, but this case especially. CAM is a trophy organization. (And a much larger trophy than I realized at the beginning of this story!) And we don’t know how to reconcile this level of evil hidden by those within their employ… or consider that a missionary with so many years abroad has used the organization to access the vulnerable. And we certainly don’t want to acknowledge that there could be others, maybe even closer to us than this.

That messy part of the conversation makes it uncomfortable, and we don’t like the discomfort. It disrupts our safety. And that is precisely why we need to talk about it. Because that disruption to norms, that loss of safety, that messy uncomfortable reality… that is the reality of every sex abuse survivor.

They’ve been robbed of their safety. They live daily with the knowledge that what their abuser did — be it an older sibling, uncle, aunt, parent, grandparent, minister, schoolteacher or other abuser — could happen again. The person they trusted, no longer deserves trust. And, the quick call to trust CAM again is nothing more than a reminder that what was done against them never really mattered to anyone, or to very few people, in religious community. (NOTE: This ‘reminder’ is how it feels to the victims. It is not that no one cares. Many, many of us do. But in their experience, that was not felt nor was it lived ‘among them’ by those with power).

Conversation changes that. Conversation invites people to enter the uncomfortable and listen to the horror in hopes of offering the healing love of Jesus in practical ways.

And, as one fatherly conservative Anabaptist gentleman said yesterday on a call, it’s going to be us common folks with no power or position who refuse to be silent who influence change.

So keep the conversation going. Allow for some squirming and shifting eyes. And even the ‘do we have to talk about it?’ question.

Truth is, Jesus came and brought discomfort and division. With purpose. This conversation brings discomfort and division. And it has purpose. It compels us to move beyond preserving image to applying Isaiah 61, and caring for the brokenhearted and the captives.

It calls us to remember the victims, to care for the neglected and oppressed, and represent Jesus well to them.

As always…

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

Jeriah Mast Arrested for Ohio Crimes

Right there, in grocery store, I wanted to pause and weep when the news came in last evening. It was a simple message announcing that Jeriah Mast is in custody at Holmes County Jail. The heaviness of such a thing is too real to feel particularly victorious. The right thing is often the hardest thing.

And sometimes the right thing is only the right thing now because a different ‘right thing’ wasn’t done in the past. … or because many past right things were missed. Some out of lack of knowledge, some out of willful ignorance, some out of naivety. And the end result is today.

A warrant was issued July 2, 2019 for the arrest of Jeriah Daniel Mast, age 37, of Millersburg Ohio. He is facing seven Felony-3 charges and seven Misdemeanor-3 charges involving 5 victims. As of late evening, July 2, he was being held in Holmes County jail. Note that these charges are for his crimes on US soil only, not his crimes in Haiti. (To read more in local news Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Former aid worker indicted on sexual abuse charges in Ohio. And the Daily Record: Former Ministry Worker Charged With Sexual Abuse in Holmes County)

The consequences for these crimes and years of hidden sin are now imposed on his family and loved ones; especially his wife and children. The ripples continue to impact countless people.

My heart is heavy, and deeply saddened. I find myself asking God, “What will it take for things to change? How often must this happen, again, and again – first the abuse, and then the legal battle – before this topic of sexual violence becomes a priority for ‘church’, where abuse runs rampant? Before children are protected and their wellbeing and safety prioritized?”

My confidence that exposing this case was the right thing has not lessened; it is stronger. It brought more victims forward in US, and made the broader church aware. (Though I do not know if the victims referenced on the indictment are those that came forward after exposure). It has created awareness that there are consequences when victims speak out. It also clearly communicated that there are those of us standing in the gap for victims, who are asking for organizational transparency, accountability and responsibility.

Our priority is caring for the victimized and simultaneously preventing further victimization. To this end we will press forward and continue to address abuse cases that are brought forward.

It is my hope that the ripples of this tragedy and the tremendous consequences will not be wasted. I pray the church and para-church organizations will repent for the dreadful handling of things — whether deliberately or out of naivety and ignorance — and offer a more responsible handling of sexual abuse and violence going forward. And I hope the next generation has less victims as a result.

On that note… many have prayed for Jeriah and his family, and continue to. Please also remember to pray for the victims. Religious communities have a tendency to band together to apply ointment on their own and each other’s wounds, and to mop up the proverbial spills around them, to the neglect of the victims of horror and terror whose lives have been forever altered.

Remember the victimized.

 

As always…

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

Wailing Wall in Church; Godly Anabaptist Men Rise Up; Anabaptist Sexual Abuse Survivors Reclaim What Was Stolen

A LOUD CRY ROSE UP IN THE LAND
Repeatedly, in light of the present exposure of sexual violence in religious community, and specifically in our Anabaptist culture, I’ve heard the question, “Are there no righteous men among us? Who will rise up?” These cries come from survivors of horror, as well as their parents, grandparents and loved ones.

The cry is loud. It is miserably uncomfortable. It has the church squirming and wondering what to do. This time, singing the hymn a little louder isn’t enough to drown it out. Another message on forgiveness isn’t going to cut it. Telling others the allegations are unfounded… we slipped past that solution too.

So the wailing and the hollering continues. Loud. Bold. Whimpering. Broken. It comes in so many forms. None of them easy to ignore.

In our discomfort we rationalize and minimize, downplay and trivialize… scold and attempt to shame into silence, the source of our discomfort.

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The loud and bold, well they’re just obnoxious and seeking attention; probably not victims in the first place, like they claim. The whining broken ones, they’re stuck in a rut of victim mentality. Can’t help ’em if they don’t want it. Hopeless cases. Lost causes.

If the whole lot of them would just forgive and heal, we could make progress. And shut up, of course… if only they would shut up after forgiving. That would prove the healing. (And it would make us more comfortable).

But God forbid we let them don the sackloth and ashes of King David’s sorrow, or Job’s loss… those righteous men of God who dared to feel and grieve. The former, a repentant offender who did not hide his sin from the nation, but announced it publicly and let it be written in a book. The other a victim of terrible suffering and loss, feeling alone. Both welcomed by God.

How have we landed at this place of stoic, emotionless, oppression of the wounded? How do we dare proclaim it as a godly thing?

GODLY MEN MAKE A SHAMELESS SCENE
Apostles Paul and Barnabas tore their clothes when they were placed on a pedestal and worshiped (Acts 14:14). Why? they were not willing to take the worship and glory that belongs to God. Would to God that men and women of God today would not hesitate to tear their clothes for such a purpose. Imagine that.

Josiah tore his clothes when the book of the law was read (2 Kings 22:11). Why? That question is answered a few verses later, “…Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book…” (2 Kings 22:13). There’s no hand-washing about the matter. No excuses. No “it wasn’t our problem,” … “It wasn’t the whole nation,”… “It wasn’t every leader.”

These men showed humility; they were grieved that humans would worship them. They showed leadership; even though others failed they rose up, without excuse and took ownership. They showed emotion. Ripping clothes is generally not seen as rational response. (Picture your Anabaptist leader ripping his straight cut suit coat in church Sunday morning as a display of sorrow for all the atrocities committed in God’s name, under the care of His leaders. I expect in some churches he’d be ousted in a day).

Now let’s go to Apostle Paul. In Acts 18:9 God speaks to Paul in a vision and tells him to be bold and not hold his peace, and adds “I am with you, no one will hurt you.” We love peace. Anything that disrupts it, many call out as evil and ‘not of God’. Yet… here God commands Paul to not hold his peace even though it will disrupt the religious, and then adds, “I will protect you; I have many people in this city.” It goes on to tell a really amazing story of the people rising up to take Paul for judgement, but God totally has Paul’s back.

Jump ahead to verse 18, and randomly it throws in a line about Paul having shaved his head because he made a vow. There’s no real explanation for the vow, just this little interesting comment that “by the way, he shaved his head before leaving the area because he made a vow.”  If tearing a suit coat won’t get your pastor removed from ministry (silenced, we call it), throw in a shaved head and he’s out. If he brings a container of ashes and sits in that…

APOSTLE PAUL REALLY BLOWS IT… AND THEN SHOWS TRUE LEADERSHIP
Just for good measure, let’s look at a particularly human moment with Apostle Paul, when he addresses the high priest with, “God shall smite thee, thou whited wall…” Now that’s not a noble way to speak to someone in authority. Granted, he doesn’t realize it’s the high priest he’s talking to but was that really necessary? Where was his discernment? The man clearly had some authority if he was ordering Paul to be whipped.

But it’s the next part…. Paul realizes his wrong and immediately apologizes. Not only do we see his humanity as a leader; we also see his vulnerability and humility in his apology. That, my dear friends, is the mark of a true leader. The one who cannot own his or her faults, and it matters not for what reason, is not a leader at all. Not until leaders relinquish the ‘right’ to power and self-preservation are they truly leaders. This doesn’t mean they won’t fail; they will. And, having failed, they might, at moments and at first, hold their power in tight-fisted grip. But then they will see, “I was wrong. I sinned. I failed.” And at that moment, when they realize it, that is when they are defined as a leader, or not, based on their response.

Alas, we live in a world where such a thing is difficult. Secular society advises ‘lawyering up’ and carefully guard our wording in an effort to calm the loud cries without admitting failure. The church simultaneously hollers at those who dare point out wrongs of those held high, as if it is blasphemy. Thus, a leader who is going to stand up with honour and humility, and speak the truth without careful editing, must do so with blatant disregard for image, and amid the shouting of those who hold them high.

Wailing Wall

WHAT IF…
What if it’s okay for leaders to admit to failure. What if this obsessive search for perfection is not how it was ever supposed to be. What if ‘holiness’ is not about perfection after all, but rather an intense reliance on God’s grace and forgiveness? A ‘taking on’ His righteousness even in our imperfection, with the humility to face the consequences for our actions in this life. What if knowing that His grace has given us eternal life was enough, and we surrendered all entitlement in this life?

Wouldn’t that change everything?

Leaders wouldn’t need to pretend that things aren’t a mess. The image of perfection would hold no meaning. Instead of looking the other way when unspeakable crimes are revealed, they would acknowledge them. God’s grace would be held in high regard. Rather than lifting up the image of religion, the name of Jesus would be held in purest light.

And in that light, those who commit heinous crimes would repent with such humility that they would lay aside rights and demands. They would see that anything they can do to bring ‘rest’ and healing to the victims is a small price for the suffering and horror they caused. Here, in such a place, deep repentance would take on a whole new meaning.

The people crying out would be heard, not scolded and silenced. Not dissected, analyzed and judged. The cry would be recognized and the suffering acknowledged. Because, really, how bad must things get before anger and a loud cry are warranted?

Tamar, having been raped, wept loudly in torn clothes and ashes. Her father, King David was very angry when he found out but did nothing about it. I suppose at least he was angry. That’s more than most victims get as an appropriate response.

It is time to welcome an outcry that is not neat and tidy. The blood of generations past cries out from the ground, blending with the cries of the living. Our grandmothers and grandfathers, their sons and daughters, the single and the married… countless souls whose blood is on our hands…

God has heard the weeping. He has seen the tears and devastation. And the time for exposure has come.

It is an act of His mercy that this is brought to light. In that mercy, men of God are rising up to hear their sisters… and their brothers weeping. They are bending their ears and bowing their hearts, to acknowledge the suffering, terror and trauma, without demanding they be polite. They are acknowledging the anger as justified…. and seeing it is the language of those who have had to protect themselves, and behind that anger is a flood of pain so deep they cannot fathom it… a flood held back by a weakening dam. As these godly men lean in and listen, a beautiful thing is happening.

The damn is bursting, but it is a good thing. The tears are gushing over parched lands and territories, and life is bursting from places long deadened.

To these men I offer deepest gratitude. Many of you have messaged me this past month. You have prayed for the children of Haiti, you have prayed for the brokenhearted. You have prayed for me. I have wept as your words validated the awful reality we have allowed to steal our children.. as you spoke life over this hell we are in… as you spoke life over me and encouraged me to never abandon this calling God placed on me. It is especially powerful and meaningful that all but one of you are still conservative Anabaptist. You, have challenged me, offered counsel and encouraged me. Most importantly, you showed me the heart of God.

Maybe it is time to let the dams break, and rather build a Wailing Wall. A place where people gather, unashamed, to grieve the horrors they have suffered. Where the unspeakable is welcomed.

A place God visits the brokenhearted through the awareness that they are not alone; they are many. And the grieving ones are able to leave notes for God – whether literally or figuratively, and their sorrows are etched on the doors of His heart.

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A place He takes the sorrows and broken identity, and offers, in return, a new name, a new identity even while He welcomes the tears, the pain and the sorrow. An identity that does not demand denying the depths of grief, but supersedes its reality. Not a ‘taking away’ of a reality, but a ‘taking on’ and entering in, by God and those who grieve with us.

***

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.)

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

 

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

 

A reader’s response: “One young boy’s hell”, And Paul Yoder’s “The Silent Curtain”

TRIGGER WARNING:
The following is difficult to read. But this is the other side of the story. The forbidden words of the ones who suffered at the hands of perpetrators. It is harsh. It is somewhat graphic.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, if we as adults cannot handle knowing this horrific truth, we shouldn’t expect children to walk through this hell in silence. We should be doing everything in our power to stop these atrocities, and not trying to silence those who cry out. And never, never should we be caught looking the other way, casually doing life, while this goes on.

The gentleman who wrote the following is also conservative Anabaptist, with a veiled wife…. for those to whom that makes a difference. He understands both the culture and the horror of victims.

***

ONE YOUNG BOY’S HELL

Trudy, I penned the following response to “Haiti: A concerned Anabaptist’s letter & my response“, but soon realized that I had better run it by you before posting… if you think there is any value in sharing a testimonial like this, please feel free to do so. If so, would you please share anonymously? If this is too rough to share, I respect that.

“…the biggest loser of all is the person that you are negative about the most, Jeriah Mast…

This statement is disgusting and shocking, causing in me at first sheer disbelief that the person is serious, followed by deep anger. Yes, I want to be ‘respectful’ to the person that penned this, but have to admit that when angry I wish for a split second that people like this could just have a taste of the devastation that being raped causes… to see how absolutely asinine and ignorant their words are. While all rape is bad, there are dynamics that come into play when a boy is raped by a man that are tragic in a very unique way.

I remember a 12 year old child being told when performing oral to “try not to spill a drop” then looking at the gun sitting on the dashboard of the pickup. At 12 years old, learning the best positions to take that make the pain of anal penetration most bearable, finding ways to sit in class later without sitting funny so that peers didn’t suspect you were being raped anally.

I remember that same boy hitting puberty, and the confusion he has when he realizes that he is an expert at gay sex, but has not so much as held hands with a girl. As he thinks this through, his very confused and trauma-foggy mind concludes he must therefore be gay, leading to an adolescence filled with seeking to answer the question as to whether he is gay.

Imagine the self-worth of this young boy as his parents take him to a counsellor to “fix him”, but don’t continue because “it is too expensive, insurance wont cover it”.

By 14, with this sexual violence having continued for a year and a half, and all of these issues raging in the adolescent’s mind, he turns to alcohol, drugs and illicit sex to try and ease the mental anguish, to drown the raging hate that has filled his heart against the perpetrator and against those who should have protected him.

Imagine this adolescent at 16 with a driver’s license and a car, drinking himself to blackout 200 nights per year, yet still driving home.

Imagine this teen, in his sober moments, fixating on finding the evil man and killing him, but only after torturing him. And consider that this idea isn’t a fantasy, but is something that would have happened had the teen run across the man again.

Imagine this young man, who had straight A’s in school up until the ongoing rapes, all of a sudden failing every subject in every grade – completely failing grade 7, grade 8, grade 9, and grade 10. Finally the guidance counsellor tells the young man as he enrolls into grade 11, “you’re nothing but trouble, you’re a waste of our time. You don’t belong here. Why don’t you just drop out of school? You’re old enough to drop out if you want.”

Imagine how the youth now feels, with the school giving up on him, and in fact now all of society looks at him as a worthless, dangerous young man who seems destined to spend his life behind bars. The same way the young man now also feels about himself.

Imagine this young man, after dropping out of school, drinking 20 to 30 beer a night to drown the pain. When drunk he acts like he has a death wish, becoming aggressive, getting into fights that he cannot win, fighting huge men, fighting 5 to 10 men at once. He does anything to try and escape the mental pain, unable to process the past, and painfully aware that he has lost his childhood, adolescence, and has zero hope for the future. At 21, this young man is keenly aware that he will not be alive for long, given the fights, the black-out drinking, the reckless devil-be-damned life.

This is only a small sliver of my personal experience.

As a teen, I was driven with the overwhelming desire to catch this man and get even with him, make him pay. And believe me, had I found this man in my late teens or early 20’s, I would have taken my revenge, even if it meant spending the rest of life in prison.

So when I read Mr. Yoder’s sentence that says, “…the biggest loser of all is the person that you are negative about the most, Jeriah Mast”,

I feel that anger again. I remember the pain, loss, desperation, confusion. I remember like it was yesterday how the man used my mouth, used my anus. How he scared me into not telling anyone. And I just cannot accept that a man can be so unaware of the cost to the victim… so wrong, so ignorant, so unaware of the lifelong cost that the victim of rape pays.

Even as born a again Christian father, the experience worked its way into my life, and for years I consciously dealt with it, over and over, and over again.

(Name Withheld)

***

A year ago this month I first met the gentleman who wrote this. He reached out to offer support and encouragement in what was then a rather hellish experience for me. His kindness and wisdom was one of the ‘kindnesses of God’ in my life at that time, and my respect for him has deepened as time went on.

With time he shared that he had been abused. But this is the first I heard his story and the extent of his suffering. I had slipped out to run some errands yesterday and checked my messages in the parking lot.

I began to weep. This is the story of many a little boy, many a little girl. Most never tell it so graphically, nor is that always necessary. But every now and then this harsh truth must be told.

God forbid that anyone would judge this young man harshly. And God forbid that we would be so deceived as to believe it is the offender who suffers most, or loses most… At least in the way that is often presented to guilt trip someone into silence.

Maybe the offenders do lose most, in the end, because they lose themselves somewhere in that process. But it certainly is not the doing of those speaking out, that such loss happens. It is the direct result of unspeakable crimes committed, often in the name of God or the guise of relationship with him.

God forbid that we would silence this cry, or shy away from the horrible and uncomfortable truth. And, worse yet, somehow make the offender the victim when silence no longer works.

***

This blog was ready for posting when a friend sent me a link to a post by Paul Yoder regarding the case of Jeriah Mast and Christian Aid Ministries (CAM). I do not know Mr. Yoder’s connection with the Anabaptist community, or whether he is still part of it, but his words (I am hearing) are bringing hope and healing to victims within.

He ends the post with the following very blunt thoughts:
You must recognize that these are not only sins but crimes, heinous crimes, crimes on the level of murder. For a preacher, pastor, or counselor to decide that the criminal shows enough regret that they won’t be reported to law enforcement simply makes no sense. They have absolutely no authority to make that decision. No good can come from harboring these people and protecting them and their secrets.

Will it change? I pray that it will. When I look at my young children, I can’t help thinking of the horrors that many children their age suffer with no way out. The young victims’ innocence, emotional health, and even physical health are all destroyed by evil people who are protected by a religious system. I feel indignation, disgust, and anger that institutions, doctrines, and a way of life are more important than the individuals within those systems.

If the Amish and Mennonite communities are not willing to protect their weakest and most vulnerable members, then they deserve to be dismantled and become a thing of the past. If, on the other hand, they use this opportunity to evaluate themselves and their beliefs and practices, then this can be a golden opportunity to make things better than they have ever been.”

Here is a link to his blog: The Silent Curtain.

***

November 2, 2019, we have a day set aside to acknowledge the crimes of sexual violence in our Anabaptist culture at THE GATHERING.  It is exclusively for survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons. 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 by victims. (More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

 

PS. Plans are coming together for the next two trips, to take place shortly. Thank you to all who have donated.

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work, you may send funds (via PayPal or e-transfer) to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Haiti: A concerned Anabaptist’s letter & my response

A concerned Anabaptist sent the following message, but used an email that cannot be replied to, and my response to him bounced. Therefore I will respond here in the public domain:

Name: JAY YODER

Email: anonman030612@gmail.com

Website:

Subject:: HAITI

Comment: Trudy

I simply want to pass on my condolences to you. Just in skimming over your blog posts, I see a cynical, embittered person who is desperately lashing out at people. I truly sympathize with you because in your frantic attempts to condemn all people that may differ in their views from your own, the true motives of your heart are revealed. You have much less interest in helping anybody than you do in simply swiping and clawing and hurting all the names involved in this situation. There are no winners in this situation, Trudy, and the biggest loser of all is the person that you are negative about the most, Jeriah Mast. Why in the all-is-forgiven worldview that you endorse is there no room for forgiveness for people whom you decide are wrong?

I challenge you to do this: For the next 24 hours, when you think about this situation, pray fervently for Jeriah Mast as if he would be your son. Instead of blindly condemning him and all of us despicable Anabaptists, pray for him as if he would be a person that looks like you do and shares your worldview. If you can do this, I believe that your heart can rest from it’s current misery. You have no idea what kind of pain this situation is causing and your blatantly condemning remarks will not in any way ease anybody’s pain. May your bitterness find rest and peace that only God can provide

***

Dear Mr. Yoder,

Thank you for your Christian concern. Most of what you have written requires no response, as it is clearly your anger lashing out. What level of knowledge you have of the present situation I do not know. I will leave that and your anger between you and God.

It may be of interest to you that I do not know the people involved in this situation. There is no reason for me to be “swiping and clawing and hurting all the names involved in this situation”. My involvement has come at the request of Anabaptists who care for the victims.

As for considering how I would feel if it was my son… I would be devastated. That, however, would not change what is the right thing to do. I urge you to consider if it was your children who were raped, how you would feel about giving such a person access again and accepting a fourth ‘repentance’ as trustworthy and the ‘all clear’. … or your grandchildren, depending on what stage of life you are in.

As for my ‘all-is-forgiven’ views. You are right, I do believe that God is generous in His grace and forgiveness. Whether Jeriah Mast is repentant and forgiven or not is entirely between him and God. Whether he is allowed to continue the crimes of the past 23 years is the responsibility of many. Some of us have taken that responsibility seriously. I offer no apology for this.

“All is forgiven” does not mean there are not consequences for crimes. It would be arrogant of Christians to believe they can murder, steal, rape children and expect no legal ramifications.

We have a crisis of offenders continuing to molest children under the guise of ‘all is forgiven’. Many Anabaptists agree with this, and openly reject teachings that cause this, as they have watched countless family members and friends molested by repentant abusers. Many Anabaptists also take a firm stand against abuse, and the silence that accompanies these situations too many times.

It is concerning when, repeatedly, as in this case, the concern is not for the countless victims, but rather protecting the offender to whom you say I have done greatest damage and made “the biggest loser of all”.  That, my friend, is one of the biggest contributors to the problem we have at hand. I would suggest that the offender who violates countless children is responsible for his own loss when finally someone has the courage to confront such evil and ensure it is not just another repentance that allows the crimes to continue.

Exposing evil is not harmful. According to Ephesians 5:8-13, it is the thing that makes freedom possible. All harm is brought on the offender and his/her loved ones by his/her own doing. Responsibility for that harm does not fall on the one who points out that evil.

It is my prayer that transformation will come on many levels, and children be protected.

I wish you peace,

Trudy

***

To my Anabaptist friends, prayer warriors, and family who stand for justice,

I don’t need to tell you this if you are on that list who stand for justice, but I want you to know that I do not believe the vast majority of Anabaptists accept the ‘forgive and forego accountability’ mindset.

Thank you to those who stand for truth and justice, while still extending freely the incredible grace of God. While offering forgiveness to the repentant, you also expect accountability and compliance with the laws of the land. While honouring leaders, you do not bow to corrupt power.

Thank you for the countless messages, prayers, phone calls, and encouragement. Thank you to those who have made donations as well, so that our work can continue. Your kindness will not be forgotten.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

***

PS. Plans are coming together for the next two trips, to take place shortly. Thank you to all who have donated.

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work, you may send funds (via PayPal or etransfer) to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed.

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Haiti: Critical items, List of men who abused me, A few good men, A prayer, And a broken Olive Branch

Critical Item #1: Amish Steering Committee

In my first blog on the Haiti Abuse Case involving Jeriah Mast (J), I mention the Amish Steering Committee (ASC). I say precisely what the people who are responsible for Jeriah were telling people to assure them he was/is being held accountable; that ASC and the Restoration Committee are involved. And that they’ve had over 100 cases with only two imprisonments. It is a fact that those Jeriah is accountable to said these things. I did not pull it out of a hat. I have multiple evidence sources. 

Two days ago I posted a blog stating what the Amish Steering Committee State Director told me. I share how, in that conversation I am told that they were not involved, and that the Shining Light Christian Fellowship Church (SLCFC) leaders got their hands on a Restoration plan designed for another offender.  SLCFC leaders then presented a copy of this to a Restoration Committee member for review, with redacted names. After this they asked the Restoration Committee member to call the police station and set up an appointment. I learned that there were indeed over 100 cases, but at least 6 imprisonments. I also learned that many cases are situations other than sexual abuse.

Note that SLCFC did reach out to the Restoration Committee, which works in partnership with ASC. Note that the Restoration Committee member did help with those details.

I tried to portray a fair picture and added to the information the part that ASC contributed after I was able to reach them. I did not retract the information that came from J’s family and the team responsible for him because they actually said it to multiple people in an effort to assure them they are ‘taking care of it’ and holding J accountable.

Fact:
SLCFC said (even if a stretch) that ASC is involved.
ASC says they were not involved
Trudy reported both.

Conclusion: Trudy is a liar. Do not trust her. She doesn’t wear a bonnet.

***

Critical Item 2: Allegations that Stanley Fox Knew

I very intentionally avoided analyzing Mr. Fox’s statement even though there are discrepancies with my evidence and his statement. I chalk this up to imperfect memory and human error. I have no doubt that, were I to sit with Stanley and go over the evidence I have, he would be willing to acknowledge that. (I did not have that confidence prior to releasing my statement and seeing his response, given the track record in this case. I do have that confidence now).

Before I go further, I will say again, that he is the first to break rank and I respect him for that. I sincerely thanked him for the acknowledgement/apology. I still sincerely thank him for that.

On Monday I received word and evidence that Stanley Fox knew about J’s abusive behaviour. The information was much more in-depth than what I shared publicly. In a nutshell I stated that Mr. Fox knew since “2016/2017”. He also stated publicly that he knew since 2017. He further states “I had no knowledge Jeriah was a pedophile when he was sent home in 2013…” What gets the focus is “(he) had no knowledge” yet in that very sentence Mr. Fox admits he knew there was *something* in 2013

He did not know what it was but he knew there was something big enough to be sent home for. The adult friend was a young adult, not an ‘adult friend’ who is a peer, or anywhere near J’s age. Subtracting the years since being sent home (4 years) from this young man’s age would definitely confirm he was a minor. Mr. Fox stated regretting he did not do more.

FACT:
Mr. Fox admitted he knew. Trudy said he knew. Trudy has evidence. Mr. Fox does not mention evidence, but still agrees with Trudy’s statement that he knew since 2017. (Albeit, the evidence states 2016/2017).

Since Trudy and Mr. Fox are saying the same thing, this one should be easy. Even so, it is determined by some that, even though his statement confirms what Trudy said, that she should not be believed. 

CONCLUSION: Trudy is a liar. Trudy hates men. Trudy is trying to destroy Mr. Fox. Trudy is using this as an outlet to transfer all her anger against the conservative Anabaptist men who molested her.

***

This is called of critical thinking. Please apply it when you read what I write. And apply it when others write. But don’t make us liars if there is imperfection. I do not consider Stanley Fox a liar for not including all the details I hold in my possession. I hope he does not consider me a liar either. I have not asked him.

But I do know this:

Silence is not the answer.

This topic needed to land in the forefront; we have an epidemic.

Our culture has taught us we must be perfect.

Perfection will never happen; we are messy humans with flaws.

Information will not be perfect no matter the effort.

Searching for truth is messy.

Addressing sexual abuse is messier.

Challenging deeply-embedded norms is probably messiest of all.

Jesus does miracles in messy places.

I welcome a miracle in this mess.

***

The Anabaptist Men Who Abused Me

This point is not so critical, but may be of interest to those who believe I am taking out my wrath on Anabaptist men because of the many who abused me. So here it is, posted publicly for all the world to see.

Trudy’s list of conservative Anabaptist men who abused her.

  1.  (name withheld… because he was a minor and his identity is protected by law)

Yes, that’s right. Not one Conservative Mennonite *man* abused me.

Only one teenage boy, or, more accurately, ‘young man’, I believe he was around 16, molested me.

One.

…. young man

…who was around age 16.

Yes, he was and is responsible for his actions. No, I was not his only victim. There were others. In fact, what he did against me, though damaging, did not hold a candle to the trauma others suffered. No it wasn’t dealt with properly, not by law nor by church.

He, too, was terribly violated. I am sorry for that. It doesn’t excuse what he did, but I am still sorry.

I am sorry he molested others. I am thankful God has healed my heart. I hope the hearts of his other victims are healed, or healing, too.

I believe in redemption. I don’t believe in looking the other way. Not even with minors.

If he had not molested me, I would have no Mennonite abusers. The others were all prior to attending Mennonite church, or after, during my rebellion.

My father, at whose hands our family suffered terrible violence and some (family and others) were molested, was Old Colony Russian Mennonite. He certainly never achieved “conservative Mennonite man” status in my world, and is the last person to come to mind when I think of them. He made a solid attempt for a few years, and failed. I don’t know if he spent more time being a member or more on probation and excommunicated. That’s how successful he was.

So, there you have it. The “list of conservative Mennonite men who violated Trudy” that drive me take it all out on the entire Anabaptist population.

I do not hate Anabaptists, and men in particular. In fact, my book “Between 2 Gods: A Memoir of Abuse in the Mennonite Community” lists some of the amazing conservative Mennonite men who did not abuse me. 

Peter Steckle was an outstanding leader with a gentle heart, and his wife Rita was my friend. I no longer see them, but hold them in high regard. I cared for his elderly failing mother for several years, so I saw their home ‘up close and personal’. It wasn’t perfect, but they were kind. Sure, they corrected me on ‘church standard’ issues, but Rita also confessed honestly her struggle with some of the rules.

I encountered them at a funeral, May 31, 2015, soon after my book came out. Rita gave me a hug and said how good it was to see me. Peter shook my hand and, with tears in his eyes, said he feels they don’t deserve the kind words in my book, and added, “As your ministry, we failed you…”.

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They’re not my only ‘heroes of faith’ in the conservative Mennonite church. There are more, both men and women. It is not the Anabaptist community I hate; it is the abuse that is destroying the community that I hate. I hate it with a fierceness. I hate it because it is destroying a people I love. I hate it because I see it destroying children, and their relationships with family and friends, and causing them to struggle for life in their faith, and robs them of wellbeing. I hate it because I see old men scrambling for a cover of deception when truth is revealed and years and years of evil come to light. I do not hate those men. I hate what they have done. I hate it because it robs them of goodness. I hate it because I watch women, first silenced, rise up to silence those who try to speak, because it touches too closely to their own pain… or their own crimes.

It’s too frightening to face truth.

I hate it with fierceness, the abuse, because it is eating the souls of a beautiful people and leaving behind a valley of dry bones. Before we can speak life into a valley of dry bones and command the flesh to be restored, we must first acknowledge the dry bones and the plague that took us there.

I do what I do out of passion for Jesus and truth, and compassion for victims.

Behaviours of public figures who rely on any public funding are analyzed to death may lose donors if they tell the truth and stand for justice. While I have never considered myself a ‘public figure’, I do acknowledge that I have a platform that reaches many thousands, and influences them. It would be irresponsible not to acknowledge that. Even so, I make no effort in creating a ‘public image’, ‘fan base’, platform or ‘tribe’. I don’t have interest or energy for that.

As for losing donors, we have less than ten donors who give regularly, and by regularly, I mean (all but one) “one donation annually” donors. These consistent annual donations amount to about $2000 to $3000 combined. Other donors contribute throughout the year, which fluctuates from year to year. So we have no huge donor base to lose. Yet, if I was booking a flight tomorrow, I have no doubt the funds would be available in a matter of hours, if it was safe and right for me to go. I trust my God.

In light of all of this, my prayer this morning was, “God to help me take it like Jesus did when I’m called a liar for speaking the truth.” I prayed it because I desperately need help. Many things do not cause me much distress, if any at all, in the backlash. But when I hold evidence that I cannot release and am called a liar by the people of God, that trips me up so often. And I don’t want to respond wrongly. I want desperately to trust that God has a purpose, even in that.

I want to learn to dance in the rain of that aftermath, like a little girl in her Father’s love, knowing I am not perfect, but I am perfectly loved…. to let others near enough to my heart to wipe off the tears and the dirt when I stumble…. and ultimately to fall, naked and stripped at the foot of the cross, where He appears; the sacrifice for the people. That place where Jesus bleeds on me and I am made whole… where He bleeds on you and you are made whole, even in this mess. And where the tears of all of us wounded in this horror – and it is all of us, really, who are wounded – flow like a river of repentance that heal the land.

I don’t think everyone who calls me a liar is evil. I think they are confused and hurting. I don’t believe that everyone who defends me does so for righteousness sake. I don’t believe that everyone who defends those I’ve called out for neglecting the abused do so for righteousness sake. I don’t think all who speak out against those I’ve called out do so for righteousness sake. I think many want truth, many want this thing wide open so that God can bleed life into the church where death long has had a grip. I think some want revenge, but that is not what I hear from most on my side of this tragedy.

I’m not interested in destroying these men, CAM, ASC, or JM. I am advocating for change. Spiritual change that will play out in the practical. If ever there is going to be a radical shift, the public does need to be informed of these things and how they are overlooked, neglected, disregarded or missed (pick your word) at a leadership level…. even if not intentionally.

Quietly sending them home (whether permanently or longterm) is not the solution. Several years a young parent contacted me to share how their pastor had crossed boundaries with them and seek advice. They did not wish to go to the law, so there was nothing I could do. This week I learned that he was sent home from the mission field not long prior to the account that individual shared with me.

Is this really the best we can do? Is it really so unimportant to protect our youth and children? We would never say that, but actions speak louder than words, I was always told growing up. And actions right now scream that we care little for the children, and a whole lot for power.

Leaders are a part of the revolution that needs to come, but leaders only hold the power we willingly give them. We, the lay people, have far more influence in bringing change than a few leaders will ever have.

We do need to partner together, all of us, to get there. And that may mean sitting in a room with people we would rather send over Niagara Falls in a barrel, or those who would rather see us in that barrel. We don’t have to like each other. We don’t have to like each other’s ways and methods. But we DO need to face the truth.

And, above all, we need to fall, at the foot of the cross, naked and bleeding… together.  Me… Stanley Fox… Paul Weaver… Eli Weaver…  CAM… and (insert names of other leaders who have failed similarly)… as well as every one of us who is ‘the body of Christ’.  And there we need to repent and begin anew, and lift up Jesus Christ in the midst of this ‘hell’, rather than lifting up humans or looking to them to be our saviour, or to get it perfect. We cannot. We will not. We have all failed the wounded. We can do better. But we must look to Jesus.

That is the only hope, going forward.

At the cross

It is the place I land alone, or with my husband, or with a friend. It is a place we are invited together, yet stand accountable, alone before God.

I am willing to meet in a place of truth and repentance, and work toward a more noble handling of things on the part of both sides going forward. Transparency with the public must be part of that process.

That is my broken Olive Branch, which I extend sincerely to all conservative Mennonite leaders – whether church leaders or ministry leaders – who are willing to work together for truth, prioritizing care for the victims, and with a commitment to transparency.  Guidelines would need to be agreed on, in writing and signed by both parties.

Leaders interested in negotiating a healthy plan for working together, going forward, are welcome to email me at: Trudy@GenerationsUnleashed.com, with subject line: “Broken Olive Branches: A Healing Path Forward” for easy identification.

This is not an offer to compromise on truth or on prioritizing victims’ needs. It is reaching out to those leaders who, though we may not see eye-to-eye, still:

  1. Value truth and are willing to look at the evidence and facts
  2. See that those who are victimized and powerless must first receive care and support, while caring for all involved
  3. For the sake of truth, shun being idolized and revered by the masses
  4. Are humble enough to own up to failure publicly without excuse (and are approachable)
  5. Agree that not every situation needs to be broadcasted publicly, but do not cover for abusers. (I have gone public with two situations in 9+ years that I can recall, as well as one that I was not directly involved with)
  6. Where  a leader has molested/assaulted someone, it must be made known
  7. Prioritize protecting the vulnerable, and giving them a voice in the process
  8. Are willing to apologize to the extent of their sphere of influence for past failure
  9. Report to the law without holding back information in order to protect from prison
  10. Agree an adult who has molested anyone should not be in church leadership or be sent on the mission field
  11. Don’t label as ‘gossip’ when there is public exposure (as commanded in Ephesians 5)

NOTE: Leaders are NOT required to like me. Some who have openly despised me have reached out for help in the past, and I have helped them.

There are more items that could be added, but these are some key basic items. Leaders who are willing to uphold this, I am willing to work with peaceably when abuse cases are brought to me on the condition that victims are comfortable with this, and willing to engage their leaders and me. It doesn’t have to be me. I am making myself available, because the fact remains I am committed to this messy calling. But there are others who will help and will mediate honourably.

Victims, especially, are welcomed to reach out for mediation (between them and their leaders) to assist in being heard, in hopes that leaders will learn from those who have walked this path of brokenness. While their grief, and how abuse has impacted life, is messy, they are the best teachers to learn a more healing way forward. I am almost 100% confident that the most dynamic shift, besides what comes from repentance at the foot of the cross, will come from this move toward validating suffering.

This broken olive branch is for those who love Jesus and whose calling aligns with a similar vision – even if not perfectly the same. It is not intended for those with other goals and values that are in direct conflict.

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

PS. Plans are coming together for the next trip, to take place shortly. Thank you to all who have donated. It’s coming together.

If you are able to contribute, and willing to do so, you may send funds (via PayPal or etransfer) to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed.

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019