Anabaptist Pastor (CC Matthews): Sex Abuse & Telling Young Women Sell Body for Sex

When a pastor and his wife take in a vulnerable young woman (in this case no longer a minor), and that pastor begins to coerce, seduce and molest, something has gone pretty far off the rails. When he then suggests she sells her body for sex, pays her to sext him, suggests a threesome, and the like, and continues in leadership (Mission board) – and other pastors and leaders have knowledge of it, that is a much bigger problem.

We are not talking an affair with two people of similar age and power – which, when a person is a pastor and given revered status is really not possible anyway. We are talking about a married man – a pastor at that – with a family, and young women with difficult stories and situations who look to that pastor for guidance and protection, not seduction and to be sold or bought for sexual thrills.

Someone reached out to me just over a year ago, in May 2018, concerned and stating they have evidence of Matthews’ indiscretions. That was all I knew until a blog was sent to me Sunday August 18, 2019, with survivor stories.

The story is a tragic blend of an abuser coercing, manipulating and sexually assaulting. It is a story of being told ‘no’ and not respecting the ‘no’.

My concern is that a pastor does any of these things in the first place, and then continues in religious leadership with influence over minors and the vulnerable. Allegedly he was in a Charity-type church. Not Charity, they said, but similar. I do not know which state. Allegedly at least one or several leaders at the church confronted Matthews. Sources say he was removed him from leadership.

Matthews relocated within weeks, in fall of 2015, and started serving on a mission board fall of 2017 with another Anabaptist church affiliated with Biblical Mennonite Alliance (BMA) group. (I say “affiliated with” because I am not particularly familiar with them, or how intertwined they are from region to region). He was later removed from the board.

As a parent, this mess is something I would want to know if my children were going to be under his leadership. Well, they wouldn’t be under that kind of leadership, if I could help it… and I’d want to know to make sure of that!

***

A gentleman I spoke with, involved with the case early on, offered the following timelines of church involvement:

Fall 2015: Matthews was confronted by his leaders and removed from leadership
Fall 2015: Matthews moved abruptly within weeks of being confronted
Fall 2017: Matthews was placed on the Mission Board. (His church had believed he had an affair between consenting adults).
Fall 2018: Matthews was released of duties when more information came forward regarding his sexual abuses.

***

TRIGGER WARNING:

⚠️ Please note the trigger warning if you choose to read the blog in which several stories are shared: Grace Unashamed ⚠️

PLEASE NOTE: Given the public outcry over me sharing the blog link originally without asking, the blog owner has given me permission to share her blog.

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In other, more pleasant news, we are doing a training and conference in Dayton Virginia, October 9-12, 2019. Would love to have you join us!

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To read a recent 5-part series addressing victim healing and forgiveness for offenders, click: HERE.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

Some time ago, a friend told me of a medical doctor (Anabaptist) who is doing research into sexual abuse in Anabaptist communities. To take his survey visit:
Anabaptist Medical Matters

***

JASON GRAY CONCERT:
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster PA
7:00pm
CONCERT TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC: Here

NOTE: Due to the concert being the celebration for survivors of abuse,
we ask that any who have sexually abused as adults not attend out of respect

November 2, 2019:  THE GATHERING, held at Lancaster Bible College, is a place where survivors of sexual assault, together with our support person(s), collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse and trusted support persons to gather for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering and sexual violence among us. We will cry out to God, together. Come as you are in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. We welcome you! The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to grieve and 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.

NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.

***

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.

(Part 5 of 5): Is there hope for the offender?

…Continued from Part 4...

OPPOSING VIEWS ON OFFENDER TRANSFORMATION
If forgiveness, and the abusive teachings surrounding it, make it the Christian F-word to many survivors of trauma and horror, the topic of hope for the offender is hard for many to stomach. For those who are in the thick of deepest trauma, this blog may not be the one to read today. It’s a topic that needs to be addressed, but it is one that — due to the dreadful mishandling of sex crimes by both church and state — is extremely traumatizing for many.

There are several popular streams of thought related to whether there is any hope for offenders at all, either in this life or the next. And the two most popular ones are also the most extreme and not the least bit healthy.

One is that if the offender says “I’m sorry”, he/she should be offered unconditional forgiveness, with no consequences or boundaries. And that is true whether caught in the act or if they come forward on their own. The minute they cry their tears and say their sorry’s, they are embraced with great rejoicing, and anyone who dares to ask questions, speak to the inherent risks with this kind of response, or fails to join in the celebration, is deemed a faltering Christian, at best. A wicked person, playing the devil’s hand, at worst.

The response at the opposite end of the spectrum is “once a child molester, always a child molester”, with no hope of them ever stopping. Some apply this broadly. If a child, pre-teen or teenager is caught (or comes forward after) molesting a child, they are doomed and destined for a lifelong curse of molesting and should be cast from society. Others apply it to adult molesters only. Anyone who believes that offenders who take full and complete ownership with no excuses or justification and humbly accept consequences and accountability, may change, is irresponsible.

I am opposed to both extremes. I believe in God, and I believe He is who He says He is. I believe He is capable of what He says He is capable of. Therefore, He can transform the life of the offender. Absolutely. And when He has, we will know it.

MANIPULATION CAUSES DOUBT TRANSFORMATION IS POSSIBLE
If victims manipulate to survive, predators do it for the thrill, and to protect whatever image they have or think they have. The religious ones will lie on technicalities. They can’t flat out lie, some of them, so they find some loophole to appease the conscience and mislead people.

For example, I sat with an offender last year and asked, “Did you molest ____ in your car?” He looked me full in the face, without flinching, and said, “No.”

This bewildered me. He claimed to be open and transparent, and willing to talk. (Which means nothing, in many cases). He said he had repented and deeply regretted his crimes. I knew he had assaulted the young woman in a very specific vehicle. I paused a moment, puzzled. And then it struck me…

“Did you molest ____ in her car?” Again, he looked me full in the face and with the same ‘honest’ expression said, “Yes.”

I’m pretty good at spotting liars. There are little signs in their body language. Little flickers in the eyes. And that first ‘technical truth’ but still a ‘technical lie’ threw me. He looked as honest with that answer as with the second. Suddenly I remembered that he had given the vehicle to the victim — one of the many thousands of dollars worth of things he gave not only her, but other women too, in his grooming — so he could say no and convince himself he is telling the truth.

There is nothing of that kind of game that speaks to the repentance he and his ‘buddies’ claimed he experienced. He was arrogant, deceptive and all manner of manipulative.  That case was a crash course on how to spot the likes of him, and those who cover for them.

Contrary to his claims fo repentance, that was not the ‘fruit of repentance’ shining through. That is a master manipulator and high-risk predator at play. And I say play because it is all but a game to them. The more players they engage, the bigger their ego and the more exciting the game. They are narcissists with no capacity for caring for anyone other than themselves.

This behaviour is common, and it is this group of offenders — the majority of them, based on my experience — that make it difficult for the general population, especially abuse survivors, to believe any can ever be trusted to repent. (Which is different than being trusted to be around the vulnerable unsupervised. That should never happen).  And it makes leaders who insist people trust them lose credibility too.

THE BARRIER TO TRUE FREEDOM:
The problem with offenders among us, and the rare event of such open and thorough repentance, is that many Christians — especially leaders — stand in the way of it. The deep shame surrounding the crimes they have committed  — which are first sins in the eyes of God and then crimes against the victim and the laws of the land — makes it difficult for offenders to tell the whole truth of what they have done. It takes courage and commitment to sit with them and invite them to ‘tell all’ and then walk with them through the consequences.

Few leaders are willing to offer that, it seems, based on what I have seen. Some are willing to an extent, but when push comes to shove, they abandon the process at the consequences part and protect the offender. I’ve seen this up close. My theory is that they can’t follow through because they have their own history of molesting children, often in their teens, and they feel guilty standing by the consequences when they got off scot free. (Most often still having their own story hidden, or partly hidden).

I have seen this in cases that are not well known. And I’ve seen it in cases that got the spotlight. It is a common pattern that seriously needs to be addressed. If a leader groped breasts and grabbed buttocks in his youth, how is he to stand by consequences for the man who is caught doing the same thing? When a leader downplays breast-groping as not being abuse because of his own history, how will the offender trying to take ownership be helped? How will consequences be taken seriously?

IS THERE HOPE FOR CHANGE AND HOW CAN WE KNOW REPENTANCE IS REAL?
Yes, there is still hope. It is up to those of us who are aware to insist on accountability. If leaders refuse to do their part to protect the vulnerable and hold offenders accountable, the congregation needs to address it. It shouldn’t ever be only the leaders’ responsibility in the first place. But if they actively protect and defend offenders, they are standing in the way of their freedom and are no longer serving the kingdom of God effectively. It is the duty of the congregation to intervene.

Jesus says you will know them by the fruit they produce. That doesn’t mean you give them a chance to be with children so they can prove they have changed. That’s absurd. (And, yes, I’ve heard such arguments. Sheer ignorance, that is). That’s way past ‘watching for fruit’. That’s giving them opportunity to plant and sow rotten seeds. The fruit appears long before that.

Don’t mistake fake meekness for repentance. The same dude that said he didn’t molest the girl in her car — lying on a technicality — also meekly said he is willing to go back to the one person he remembered saying something in appropriate to, when I first confronted him. In reality there was a long list, and the assault victim besides.

Beware of the offender who is quick to admit and then throws in the disclaimer that there is one victim, but only one, and is super anxious for your to tell the name of that victim so he can ‘make it right’. This urgency is part of controlling the narrative to ensure the public does not find out the truth.

When offenders are truly repentant, they won’t be asking you for the names of victims. They will know and offer names, and seek to make amends — as much as one can make amends for such horrific crimes — and will do so without excuse. They will make no demands. Not even for forgiveness. Or should I say, especially not for forgiveness. They long for it, of course, but recognize that imposing such a request on their victim is not fair and serves only to serve self. They recognize that forgiveness comes from God, and not humans, and draw their strength from that. They don’t speak out of both sides of their mouth — repentance on the one hand, and blaming the victim on the other.

TRUE REPENTANCE BEARS FRUIT
In contrast to lying on a technicality, the repentant offender comes forward on his own, turns himself over to the church for discipline and the law for whatever criminal consequences he may face. If shame has held him back, when the crimes come to light he humbly acknowledges his wrong and brings himself under leadership and the law, accepting consequences. I insert this part about shame holding offenders back because I have been involved in cases where offenders responded with repentance when confronted. No excuses. No blame. One wrote years ago and shared his story and how relieved he was when it came to light, and how long he had wished he had the courage to bring it to light, but feared the victim would not remember and therefore he  would impose trauma on her. While not as ideal as coming forward, if it is true repentance, it will be revealed shortly.

A repentant offender offers his remorse to the victim(s) without demanding forgiveness, admitting he does not deserve it. He is concerned for what the victims’ needs are, and respects their boundaries. If they attended the same church, he offers to go elsewhere and inform the new congregation of his past and places himself under accountability. He does not seek any positions that place him in authority over the vulnerable, and even declines them when asked. He recognizes that it is a small price to pay in comparison to what his victims have to carry for life, with the scars and pain he imposed on them.

That is true repentance. It is rare. It is unmistakably genuine. It invites trust, but also sets its own boundaries so trust will not be broken, and accepts additional boundaries, if requested. Such a repentant offender understands he/she has broken trust completely, and does not demand that people get over it, or demand silence. Their victims are free to speak without accusation, blame or shame.

Personally, I know only of three cases that were handled even close to this. (I do not doubt there are more, but I haven’t met them yet).

IS THERE A PLACE IN GOD”S KINGDOM FOR OFFENDERS?
Successfully integrating the truly repentant offenders is a community responsibility. If they were in a church with the victims, they should attend elsewhere out of respect for those they have traumatized. I would suggest this to be the ideal in all situations where victims are minors. Where they are adults, the victims’ should be consulted.

They should be accompanied by one or two individuals when in church or where there are children, if they are going to be there at all. Laws vary from region to region on this. And churches are subject to those laws. This means it is not always possible to prohibit someone from attending, even if they have a criminal record, but there are no laws preventing accountability.

They should not be placed in church leadership, or any kind of leadership with access to minors and the vulnerable, or authority over them. If we have such a shortfall of men who have not molested, that we have to put men in leadership over the vulnerable who have committed crimes, we have a bigger problem.

Families should be made aware of the individual’s history of molesting. Parents cannot protect their children if they are not informed and those who have molested – even repentant offenders — are free to roam ‘among us’ without supervision. Due to high rates of manipulation and reoffending, anything less is irresponsible.

A team should be formed to give leadership, and to ensure the social, emotional and spiritual needs of these individuals are met. The more connected they are to community with boundaries and accountability — and without access to minors or the vulnerable, the less likely they are to revert to abusing. Isolation and loneliness contribute to crime, addictions, and delinquent behaviours in general.

To counteract that, we do well to find some way to protect our children while also reducing the likelihood of repeat offences. You’ve heard it said, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” This, while ensuring no access to vulnerable and minors is critical. Never should children or minors be placed at risk in this process. If there are women willing to be part of social interactions with male offenders, this is healthy. (I am comfortable in such interactions as long as I know there are no minors/vulnerable at risk).  It gives them opportunity to learn healthy interactions. And visa versa. But, again, with boundaries and never putting anyone at risk.

There is a place for repentant offenders. Jesus died for all, and invites all to be saved. So there is not a question surrounding grace and forgiveness. However, practically speaking, that place should never invade, disrupt or threaten the safety or space of the victimized, the vulnerable, or children.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

Some time ago, a friend told me of a medical doctor (Anabaptist) who is doing research into sexual abuse in Anabaptist communities. To take his survey visit:
Anabaptist Medical Matters

***

JASON GRAY CONCERT:
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster PA
7:00pm
CONCERT TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC: Here

NOTE: Due to the concert being the celebration for survivors of abuse,
we ask that any who have sexually abused as adults not attend out of respect

November 2, 2019:  THE GATHERING, held at Lancaster Bible College, is a place where survivors of sexual assault, together with our support person(s), collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse and trusted support persons to gather for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering and sexual violence among us. We will cry out to God, together. Come as you are in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. We welcome you! The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to grieve and 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.

NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.

***

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.

(Part 4 of 5): What about forgiveness? (The Christian F-word?)

…Continued from Part 3

WHAT ABOUT FORGIVENESS?
Ah… forgiveness. The Christian F-word, and used almost as ruthlessly, sometimes even more so, than the F-bomb. The message it sends in the way it is often used, is not unlike flipping the birdie.

The thing is that, the F-bomb’s dreadful misrepresentation of what sex is intended to be — an expression of intimate love, not a weapon — makes intimate sexual love no less wonderful. It remains a deeply bonding act of love and intimacy. And that, in spite of it being used as a weapon by abusers.

The same is true about the way forgiveness is used and abused. It is a dreadful misrepresentation of what God intended to be one of the most freeing choices we can make. Forgiveness, when chosen by the victim without coercion, forced silence, or other religious manipulations — like the famous “you’ll go to hell if you don’t” — remains one of the most critical and beautiful steps in the victim’s healing journey.

I am asked why I don’t talk about it more in the public domain. The answer is quite simple. Because of further abuse imposed on many trauma survivors through false teaching on forgiveness, it is a topic best addressed in relationship when it comes to the intertwining with sexual abuse and victims’ healing. (This is also true of domestic violence and some other abuses of which I have less understanding). It is complex to address it in a way that is meaningful to them, so that their spirits do not shut down due to triggers and past trauma.

Sitting face to face, and speaking heart to heart creates space for interaction, exploring, inviting dialogue so that they can discover the beauty of forgiveness in safe relationship. To do it any other way is much like trying to convince a rape victim that sex is a beautiful and wonderful thing. It can’t be imposed on them. Through safety of relationship many rape victims discover safety with a spouse, and learn to love sexual intimacy. They may have ongoing flashbacks or nightmares and triggers, but in the safety of that relationship they are free to weep, to struggle and to find deeper emotional intimacy with their spouse in the process of the struggle.  I speak from experience. The emotional trauma of the past was very present at various times in our marriage, and it wasn’t unheard of for me to weep in my husband’s arms after intimacy. And it was ok. It was part of the healing for him to hold me, knowing I love him deeply while reconciling past trauma to a similar act.

When we walk victims through to a place of being able to extend forgiveness, that same gentleness, that same compassion and tenderness is necessary. To avoid sexual intimacy in our marriage would have served no good purpose. To have it forced upon me would have destroyed me. To avoid the discussion of forgiveness also serves no good purpose, but forcing it on the victim for whom it has been weaponized is deadly. Inviting victims into forgiveness is a delicate and relational process. And the trust to get there in a meaningful way requires deep listening, assuring them that what was done is wrong, and that we are willing to walk gently and patiently with them.

Forgiveness is not what most of us have been taught. It is not a commitment to silence. The Bible is full of bad stories we should know nothing about if it meant silence.

Forgiveness is not a commitment to reestablishing a relationship with the offender. Some victims choose relationship, and sometimes it is healthy. But forgiveness without reestablishing relationship is possible, and sometimes the healthiest option for the wellbeing of a traumatized person.

Forgiveness is not a promise to avoid reporting crimes to the law, or keep the offender out of prison. If a victim reports to the law, in most cases — in fact, all but one that I have been involved in — it is to prevent further victimization. I’ve heard one victim say they’re doing it to get back for the pain inflicted on them. That, in my experience with victims, is the exception. The thought of more children being victimized is overwhelming to victims, and is often the thing that drives them to report, knowing they will likely go through hell all over again, in the legal process.

Forgiveness is not saying “It’s okay”, and it certainly is not a commitment to giving a ‘second chance’ that puts others in danger. And it is not overlooking the wrongs committed. It does extend grace for the soul of the abuser to be redeemed, and even wishes that redemption for them.

Forgiveness is not a one-time choice. It is a struggle. It is choosing, day after day, with every nightmare, flashback and trigger, to say, “I forgive.” It is being honest about the depth of suffering the wrong has brought, without hating the person who wronged us. It is about acknowledging truth, and the severity of the violation.

Forgiveness is saying, “I refuse to be in bondage to the offender.” It is saying, “I release him/her from my retribution and I will see no revenge.” And that is something you can do even while sitting with a law enforcement officer to report. Because reporting to the law and doing what you can to stop the violence against the vulnerable is the right and responsible thing to do. It is not at odds with forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing in the life of the victim. So beautiful that it should not be thrown around carelessly in such a way that it only serves to further traumatize them and increase the struggle. Through relational exchange is the best way to invite survivors into a journey of forgiveness and a place of freedom.

Leaving anyone stuck in a place of bitterness is cruel. And, sometimes, throwing teachings like forgiveness at victims without relationship or without understanding of victimization — or even forgetting out own journey and struggle to get there — does exactly that. It serves to lock them in more deeply than before because they have not yet had their pain acknowledged and have not had opportunity to grieve.

That, my friends, is why a careless command to forgive, or a thoughtless criticism of victims who we perceive have not forgiven, is never welcome in my space.

My goal is always to move victims toward healing. Jesus confronted arrogant religious folks boldly. He never did so with the brokenhearted. And until we have tended to their broken hearts, we have no business preaching at them.

Continued… (PART 5)

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

Some time ago, a friend told me of a medical doctor (Anabaptist) who is doing research into sexual abuse in Anabaptist communities. To take his survey visit:
Anabaptist Medical Matters

***

JASON GRAY CONCERT:
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster PA
7:00pm
CONCERT TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC: Here

NOTE: Due to the concert being the celebration for survivors of abuse,
we ask that any who have sexually abused as adults not attend out of respect

November 2, 2019:  THE GATHERING, held at Lancaster Bible College, is a place where survivors of sexual assault, together with our support person(s), collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse and trusted support persons to gather for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering and sexual violence among us. We will cry out to God, together. Come as you are in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. We welcome you! The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to grieve and 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.

NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.

***

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.

 

(Part 3 of 5): Healing; Boundaries & Manipulation

…Continued from Part 2...

THE ROLE OF THE SUPPORT IN VICTIMS’ HEALING
The most profound gift a support person can offer a survivor or horror is listening without judgement. This is not the same as listening without boundaries, but I’ll get to that. Listening without judgement grants the victim a safe place to begin to put words to terror that is stored in deeply emotional context rather than coherent and organized story.

This means that story is going to be messy. You might hear things you later wish you could unhear. You might be shocked when the F-bomb slides off the tongue of a sweet little woman in a cape dress and bonnet. You might not know what to make of her anger. Or her admission that she sneaks liquor into the house to self-medicate so she can survive parenting and wifely duties. But you have one gift to offer: listen without judgement. The moment you judge, that door will close and she will lock up and not trust you. And she will be loathe to trust another.

Listening without judgement does not mean you listen to details you cannot cope with or stomach. If you are sensitive but want to offer care, simply outline early in the relationship what you are able or willing to offer. (In the next section I talk about boundaries and manipulation. This falls in the boundaries department). It can be beneficial to sit together at the beginning of the relationship and write out what is agreeable to you, what you can handle, and have it available to refer back. Keep that boundary firmly and gently.

Listening without judgement also doesn’t leave someone in a place of addictions. It means you offer compassion for the suffering that led him/her there, and don’t focus on it at the moment. When the time is right, and you have given them your heart and compassion, when you have spoken truth and purpose over them, you will have permission to speak into addictions and destructive behaviours. It won’t be about ‘fixing their sin’. It will be about caring too much to leave them stuck. It will be about empowering them to overcome, rather than condemning them.

In every phase, listen and care. And do so with healthy boundaries in place to protect their wellbeing and your own.

BOUNDARIES AND MANIPULATION
Abuse victims who are forced or feel forced to hide and bury their story learn to manipulate. To keep something of that magnitude under wraps, requires lying to oneself and masquerading as healed and together when really we are falling apart. Protecting oneself also requires managing people and relationships in ways that will prevent opportunity for hurt. To do this effectively, victims master manipulation. They have needs that they cannot openly address, so to get those needs met without being forthright and honest; they manipulate the world around them.

Exemplifying healthy boundaries in relationships with victims is not only important, it is critical and it is a gift. (It is also something I wish I had known before I started meeting with victims!)

One of the ways victims manipulate is through disregarding boundaries. They often do this in such a way that they play with emotions, and make the person whose boundaries they are violating feel guilty for keeping boundaries. For example, you may say to them that you are willing to meet for coffee once a week for 90 minutes, but they are not allowed to send you text messages about their trauma because it invades your life when you want to be present with and for your family. They may disregard this and text to say something like, “I’m in a really bad space right now, and I don’t have anyone else… ” Or, more extreme, “I might as well go kill myself. No one cares anyway.”

When victims send a message like, “I’m in a really bad space right now, and I don’t have anyone else”, they are really saying, “I’m not comfortable with myself in my pain and I’d really like you to be here with me.” Critical to healing is learning to sit quietly with our pain. It is easier said than done, and easier for some than others. It takes time, for most victims of trauma to get there, so be patient, but don’t cater to the demands. It will become a habit if you do, and you will find yourself sooner than later, unable to be present for them at all… unless you are codependent, and that’s just unhealthy. But that’s another topic for another day.

Immediately upon facing a severe trigger — especially when we aren’t aware we have been triggered — we don’t see it. Reaching out in a moment like that is likely neither conscious manipulation nor conscious violating of boundaries. It is reaction to trauma, and a desperate cry. And in that moment, reassuring the victim that you care and they will be ok, might be enough. Tell them you are not available in the moment, and encourage them to journal what they are feeling and send it via email in advance of your next meeting so you can discuss it when you get together.

Alternatively, with a newer or deeply traumatized client, I gave the option of sending a request to schedule another session between regular weekly sessions. The reality is if we don’t have boundaries, we will burn out. We will begin to resent the demands of the victim, and sooner or later we will be of no use to them, and likely needing therapy ourselves. With healthy boundaries, they grow stronger and learn to be comfortable with themselves and trust themselves again, and we don’t wear out.

When the message is “I might as well kill myself”, you have to make a tough call, and how well you know the individual plays into that. Most victims know that other humans will respond to such a cry, as well we should. Whether the cry is urgent or not, makes all the difference in the appropriate response. It is one I have never ignored, and never will. However, the way I respond will in itself help with healthy boundaries.

In the past, if the victim was a young teenager, I made arrangements to meet face to face, if possible, when such a cry came in. Families have called me to come sit with youth in that place at ‘all hours’ and I made exceptions. There is a fragility to youth and especially youth in pain. They do not have the experience we have, even by age 22 to 25, to draw from and know they will be ok. Their pain really is the end of their world, and they tend to be more impulsive. They are also (in my experience) more responsive to having purpose, hope and life spoken over them.  Once with them, I ask the typical questions, “Do you have a plan?” if yes, “What is the plan?… When?… Where? …. How?” etc. If there is no plan, we have a conversation to help ground them.

When such a message comes from a known manipulator, there is a time when the best gift to give is to call in and report a suicide threat. It’s not that the person isn’t genuinely tormented and wanting to die. That can be very legitimate in manipulation cases. The problem is when they draw others into it in such a way that it causes compassion fatigue (aka burnout). It’s a form of self-sabotage that in the end costs them more than one visit from police to ensure they are ok. I have done this, and in most cases – not certain if in all – I have told the person I am making that call. If it is a game, it will end. If it is a genuine cry for help and a suicide plan, they will be offered that help.

There is so much that could be said about boundaries and manipulation in victims, that a book couldn’t contain it all. For many it has been a necessary tool for survival, and learning to undo those patterns is the best gift we can give. In all things, we need to respond with compassion and care as well as firmness and boundaries. One without the other is not a gift.

How we establish those boundaries, and when we introduce the various steps in the healing process is a matter of relationship and knowing the victim. Introducing the ‘next step’ (not meaning a particular order) before the person is ready is not productive. If they say they are not ready, respect that. Their boundaries are important too.

And that brings me to the one hot topic that has been used, abused, neglected and confused…

Continued… (PART 4)

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

Some time ago, a friend told me of a medical doctor (Anabaptist) who is doing research into sexual abuse in Anabaptist communities. To take his survey visit:
Anabaptist Medical Matters

***

JASON GRAY CONCERT:
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster PA
7:00pm
CONCERT TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC: Here

NOTE: Due to the concert being the celebration for survivors of abuse,
we ask that any who have sexually abused as adults not attend out of respect

November 2, 2019:  THE GATHERING, held at Lancaster Bible College, is a place where survivors of sexual assault, together with our support person(s), collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse and trusted support persons to gather for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering and sexual violence among us. We will cry out to God, together. Come as you are in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. We welcome you! The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to grieve and 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.

NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.

***

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.

 

(Part 2 of 5): Healing: Acknowledgement, Lies & Truth

….Continued from Part 1

There is no formula to healing for sex abuse survivors, but there are certain things, in no particular order, that bring deep healing. The following are some of those steps far from exhausting the list.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
What is not acknowledged, cannot be healed. It can be suppressed. It can be buried. It can be downplayed and ignored. But it cannot be healed. And it will surface, one way or another.

Many female victims talk about misplaced rage and anger. Others talk about being shut down and feeling nothing at all. Yet others talk about resenting their husband’s touch, or feeling disdain for all males – if abused by males — including their own sons, husband and other male friends. Others talk about a constant desire for male attention that is not theirs to have. (Referring to married women struggling with the need to seek the attention of other men; often the husbands of close friends). Many talk about obsession with body image. And sometimes the fear that they will do to children what was doen to them. Those are some of the ways buried abuse resurfaces in females.

My experience with male victims is more limited, but I have seen a few patterns. Among them are men shutting down after being sexually abused. Disdain for sexual intimacy with spouse, if the abuser was female, and disgusted by female anatomy. Desire for sex with other males, if the abuser was male…. or deep disdain for their own sexuality, because their own anatomy is like the weapon used against them. Escaping life through addictions, whether porn, alcohol, drugs… or work. Fear they too will molest someone one day.

Many of the patterns that are there in lives of victims who are in denial, are also there in those who acknowledge the abuse. The difference is that what is acknowledged can be worked through and healed. Once healed, there is a whole new level of peace, and when those same struggles come up, there are strategies for handling them in a healthy way. In contrast, what is buried will continue to negatively impact the individual and those around, with no hope of healing or change.

Acknowledgement alone is not enough. While it is the first step, therefore a critical one, to stay there with no further hard work does not offer hope. It opens the door to finding hope, but it only admits darkness exists, and darkness can never produce light.

UNRAVELING THE LIES & REPLACING THEM WITH TRUTH
I’ve heard it said that the only real power Satan has is ‘the lie’. I’ve pondered often on this, and am more and more inclined to believe it. In every circumstance of my life, spiritually, it has not been the circumstance that caused the deepest mind and soul struggle; it has been the lies. But there is a practical this-world-reality of humanity and the physical mind and body that must be considered or we will destroy victims’ faith yet further.

We must separate the traumatic aftermath of violence, assault and terrifying experience from how we deal with those lies. That human element of struggle – ie; flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety – are not based on lies. They are reality. (Often unacknowledged and/or unresolved reality, but reality nonetheless). Many people in ministry demonize these human responses to terror, and that, in itself, is spiritual abuse. It imposes on the victim the sense of being in the devil’s grip when in fact they are responding as the human brain and body are wired to respond. God created our minds and body to live in a Garden without pain, suffering or sorrow. This thing we were hurled into, we are not designed for.

With gentle healing, these things generally resolve themselves. No hypnotherapy. No manipulation. No casting out demons. Just patiently living the love of Jesus in their world. I make this claim based on my work with survivors these past 9+ years. This is not scientific research, or any other research, for that matter. There have been two exceptions with victims I worked with, who did not find deep and ongoing relief from the triggers, nightmares and flashbacks just from having someone listen, care and speak life. And most of the rest did not take years to get there. On average, I worked with clients for 3 to 6 months, after which most were equipped to handle the aftermath both spiritually and practically.

Having clarified that, I will address the lies. In every traumatic event, there is a lie…. or many. And there is usually truth entangled with it. For example, when a person is raped several things happen. Their safety is taken in an instant. But not safety only in the broad sense. It is their very body, which they must take everywhere they go, making the victims feel helpless.

Already there is a lie, and there is truth.The truth is, they were indeed robbed of safety. No one can argue that. Rape is not safe. The body is attacked physically, spiritually and psychologically. There is nothing safe about it. The person might carry aids or some other STD. Not safe at all. It could, in fact, cost the victims health or life. We must acknowledge that truth with the victims. Downplaying these harsh realities or minimizing them escalates trauma. A simple, “I am so sorry” is all it takes to acknowledge the suffering.

The lie is “I am helpless”. While safety has been robbed, the individual is not helpless. We feel helpless, and once upon a time I thought I was. (Imagine that!) It felt so real that I genuinely believed I as destined to a life of emptiness, worthlessness and that I had no purpose. I cried out to God in that place over and over, “Please don’t let what I went through be in vain. I can live with it if it has purpose. But I can’t live with it if that’s all there is.” I would tell Him I’m willing to go where He sends me, and do what He tells me. The only thing I couldn’t accept is purposeless suffering.

Little did I know then that God would answer that cry be asking me to do what goes against everything in my desire to be loved and it accepted by people. Had I known the cost then, I’d have been too afraid to pray half the things I prayed. I’m thankful I had no idea.

Another lie is, “this is all you are worth.” I’ve only encountered a few victims who did not struggle with this lie. Rape and other sexual assault communicate to the victim that they are not worthy of love; they are only worthy of being used and assaulted. They take on themselves the identify of the vile abuse – not even that of the abuser, usually – and live out of that. The truth is the offender chose you because of his/her own wickedness and depravity, not because there is anything wrong with you. It has nothing to do with your worth, and everything to do with their opportunistic depraved selves. You are beautiful, precious, beloved… made in the image of God. You are worthy. You have so much more to give. You are valued and cherished by God, and deserve that same gift from your fellow humans.

Sometimes offenders focus on making the victim’s body respond to his/her assaults. The power to force the victim’s body to respond via orgasm and stimulation is its own thrill. This leaves victims tormented on so many levels! Unlike rape at gunpoint, the victim is terrorized by his/her own response rather than a gun. There is guilt and shame. If I truly hated it, why did my body like it? If I didn’t want it, why did I orgasm? There is betrayal. It is as if the victim’s body has conspired against the victim to partner with the offender in the attack. If safety is robbed in every sexual assault, there is no case where such safety is more stolen than when the victim’s body takes the side of the offender.  The truth is the offender weaponized sexuality. Your body responded precisely as it was designed to respond to sexual touch, and the offender took advantage of that. It is not your fault. God created you to be loved intimately by your marriage partner, in safety. The offender stole that from you, and violated you.

The list of lies goes on, and on, and on. While I stopped taking clients in 2016, and no longer do 1:1 sessions while studying — and don’t know if I will ever again — when I did, looking at the lies was a key part of the healing process. I asked clients to write out what they believe about themselves, about others, and about God. Having done so, we picked out the lies, unraveled them, and replaced them with truth.

It wasn’t a formula. And it can’t be made into one. It is about listening at a gut/heart level, listening to the victim’s needs, and speaking truth into the lies. It is about showing victims how to do that in the day-to-day, and finding a new and healing mantra to replace the lies that attack our soul and being.  Every victim’s story is unique. So walking in with some agenda or preconceived notion of what it will look like – or should look like – is arrogant, at best. Abusive, at worst.

Every victim needs someone to listen without judgement…

Continued… (PART 3)

 

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

Some time ago, a friend told me of a medical doctor (Anabaptist) who is doing research into sexual abuse in Anabaptist communities. To take his survey visit:
Anabaptist Medical Matters

***

JASON GRAY CONCERT:
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster PA
7:00pm
CONCERT TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC: Here

NOTE: Due to the concert being the celebration for survivors of abuse,
we ask that any who have sexually abused as adults not attend out of respect

November 2, 2019:  THE GATHERING, held at Lancaster Bible College, is a place where survivors of sexual assault, together with our support person(s), collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse and trusted support persons to gather for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering and sexual violence among us. We will cry out to God, together. Come as you are in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. We welcome you! The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to grieve and 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.

NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.

***

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.

(PART 1 of 5): Should abuse victims sue? And what about healing & forgiveness?

SHOULD VICTIMS SUE?
My previous blog “Why Anabaptist Sexual Abuse Awareness (ASAA) Founder Hopes Conservative Anabaptist Church Gets Sued…” left some questions unanswered, I’ve learned. In it I addressed a conversation with ASAA founder, Randal Martin, and his wife, and him saying he hopes the conservative Anabaptist church gets sued, as he believes it is the only way they will take the ongoing problem of sexual abuse seriously. What was unclear in my blog, and left people with questions is my position. Where do I stand on victims suing abusers?

I’ve worked with survivors for nearly a decade. None have ever, to my memory, expressed interest in launching a lawsuit. And I have never suggested such a thing. But I do tend to agree with Randal’s statement, and am concerned the issue will never be taken seriously by some churches and communities until such a thing happens. Will it then? Possibly. Or will they revert to the cry of, “We’re being persecuted for righteousness sake.” The latter is more likely, but, Sunday after Sunday they will think about victims when they pass the offering plate to cover the lawsuits, I imagine. They won’t think kindly of them, or compassionately… but they will part with their hard earned dollar and remember…

I’m also fairly certain if the problem of sexual abuse hits the wallets they will have a vested interest in functioning differently, going forward. So, while the heart wouldn’t necessarily change, the methods might, and children be more protected. I mean, how often can you afford a massive lawsuit? A recent case against the Jesuits, whose missionary Mr. Perlitz abused around 150 victims in Haiti, cost them a whopping $60 million. The similarities to the current Jeriah Mast case are uncanny. I’m suspicious the Jesuits will be screening their missionaries better, going forward. And that, I would expect, will happen with our culture too, when a massive lawsuit hits. It seems that might be a positive outcome, regardless of anyone’s personal opinions about suing.

While suing has never come up with my clients, if one were to express interest in launching a lawsuit, I would definitely not interfere or try to talk them out of it. And I would continue to support them as I did before. They’ve been robbed of their voice and thrust into deep struggle against their will. Finding their way back out is messy.  And whether they sue or not in that process is none of my business. I trust God will allow what needs to be done to bring accountability to the church, and bring the people of God to their knees in true repentance. And that may well include this kind of thing, given other cries have been long disregarded by religious communities.

That said, what I would tell any client is that the lawsuit will not bring you peace. It can’t. It might provide the funds to afford the help you need, but it won’t heal you. It might make it possible for you to relocate to a new start. But it won’t remove the hell you must walk through. That hell will follow you. It may distract for a while, but sooner or later you will have to face the truth and walk through the healing process. Much like grief, it comes in stages and phases.

There will be anger, for most. There will be tears and sorrow over the loss. There is, most often, phases of denial. There is despair. There’s the overwhelming sense of lost identity.

Money doesn’t address any one of those things. It can’t. But that doesn’t mean God won’t allow – even orchestrate – a series of events to shake up His people through lawsuits. He’s been known to do things like that and use uncomfortable means and methods to call His children back to truth and what really matters. And right now money and power matter too much. Don’t be surprised if God strips those idols.

So I let those things play out as they do, knowing God has a higher purpose, and in all things He pursues all hearts. That is who He is, it is what He does..

HOW THEN DO WE HEAL?
Every victim has his/her own journey to walk toward healing. I’ve not met two people whose stories were identical. None that could be turned into a calculated formula to apply to every individual. There are steps and layers. And how they bringing healing, or what order, is dependent on so many things, such as temperament, the nature of the crimes committed against the victim, and by whom.

Sometimes it is non-victims who offer more compassion and understanding than other victims. It is easy for victims to get down on each other for how the other is not healing their way. I see comments and statements by victims directed at other victims that are not helpful. And when I ask the nature of their stories, the one may have been a rape victim at the hands of a father, pastor or brother, the other had someone pull down their panties and looked at them.. sometimes touched. Or, they may not have suffered sexual abuse at all, but suffered emotional abuse, and somehow feel all healing should follow the path that worked for them. And, sometimes, once victims are healed, they forget their own struggle and have no grace for others to walk the journey they themselves walked.

It isn’t realistic to expect victims to arrive overnight where we took 20 years. Not even if we impart our wisdom. Is it possible they can avoid 20 years of agonizing struggle with healthy support and guidance? Yes, by all means! This doesn’t mean they will never struggle or have tough moments even after healing, but there is a far cry between living in that dark pit and slipping over the edge at moments, or being triggered. But, no matter what, they still deserve space to walk the messy process of healing.

While there is not a formula, there are certain steps that must be part of that process, for deep healing to be achieved. …

Continued… (PART 2)

 

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

Some time ago, a friend told me of a medical doctor (Anabaptist) who is doing research into sexual abuse in Anabaptist communities. To take his survey visit:
Anabaptist Medical Matters

***

JASON GRAY CONCERT:
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster PA
7:00pm
CONCERT TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC: Here

NOTE: Due to the concert being the celebration for survivors of abuse,
we ask that any who have sexually abused as adults not attend out of respect

November 2, 2019:  THE GATHERING, held at Lancaster Bible College, is a place where survivors of sexual assault, together with our support person(s), collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse and trusted support persons to gather for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering and sexual violence among us. We will cry out to God, together. Come as you are in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. We welcome you! The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to grieve and 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.

NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.

***

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.

 

Why Anabaptist Sexual Abuse Awareness (ASAA) Founder Hopes Conservative Anabaptist Church Gets Sued, Mr. Hoover on Mandatory Reporting, & the Porn and Sex Trafficking Problem

Screen Shot 2019-08-12 at 10.18.52 AM

***

When I met face-to-face with Randal Martin, founder of ASAA, and his wife at a Panera Bread in Lebanon PA, he said he hopes victims will sue the conservative Anabaptist church to force them to take sexual abuse seriously. His message was that if they have to pass the offering plate to collect money to pay for those lawsuits, they will be forced to take abuse seriously. Until it hits the pocketbook, he said, he is concerned that the issue will not be given serious attention. I agreed. Said that I fear, too, that victims will never be truly heard until this happens.

I had no notion on doing such a thing then (and still don’t), but I told him I know of someone who mentioned launching a class action against the Eastern Mennonite church. Randal gave me the name of the lawyer who  handled the Haldeman church lawsuit, to pass on.

It seems that this wish for a lawsuit – or was it a prophecy? – is coming to pass in the current CAM case. Ironically it is in the very case in which ASAA is being asked to help the victims in Haiti. God has an uncomfortable sense of humour, in the timing of things.

It is my hope that ASAA will support the victims in Haiti who wish to pursue litigation, even if it is against Christian Aid Ministries rather than the Eastern Mennonite Church. It is the only non-hypocritical thing to do in light of Mr. Martin’s comments.

***

The following article on reporting sexual abuse is well written. Excellent, really. I’ve heard criticisms of details like, Is reporting really only important because it is a legal duty.. like, what about moral obligation? I’ll speak for myself and say this. Dealing with sex crimes is always a moral duty. Always. But how we deal with them is influenced by the laws of our land. Knowing Mr. Hoover a bit better than I did a few months ago, I know he also feels a sense of moral duty to get involved and does so. He and I do not agree on some of the ‘how’ of what he does, and he knows I have some grave concerns, but he does feel a sense of moral duty. Also, in fairness, he has disagreements with me as well. I am comfortable with that, and far as I can tell, he is too.

Some time ago I asked Mr. Hoover for permission to share it on my blog; permission he granted. He is on the Advisory Board for the Anabaptist Sexual abuse Awareness (ASAA). I have interacted with him a fair bit in recent months, and have been forthright with him about my concerns, both in ASAA handling of events last year — details he still knew nothing about — as well as ongoing concern over how offenders are being prioritized to the neglect of victims. (For example, victims’ voices are not yet being invited into the legal processes, nor are they being represented with skilled and informed support persons who know the legal processes. This support is still being given to offenders). In my honesty about my concerns, I have felt he tried to hear me in spite of disagreement. He has been honest with me too, from what I can tell, and I have tried to hear him.

Where truth is spoken, I appreciate it. The following article is truth.

***

How can Conservative Anabaptists reconcile the command of Matthew 18, “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone,” with the reporting requirements in Pennsylvania?

The entire issue hinges on the words, “If thy brother shall trespass against thee”. What sins would this include, this “trespass against thee?”

Perhaps he trespassed by having moved the line-fence and thereby taking some of his neighbor’s land, or borrowing something and returning it broken, or slandering a brother’s name by repeating unkind gossip. There are many ways that a brother may trespass against a brother personally, and we then need to go to him alone to see if we can come to an understanding.

But what about serious sins that are much more than a personal trespass against an individual? Did Jesus also imply that if my brother murdered his neighbor or raped my wife that I would need to go to him between me and him alone, and if he hears me I have gained my brother?

God forbid! Such a sin needs to be reported immediately to the proper civil authorities, who do not carry the sword in vain (Romans 13:1-6, 2 Peter 2:13-17), then to the church.

Yes, we believe that if a brother has trespassed against us, we should first approach him alone. But if we discover that he has seduced a neighbor’s 13-year-old child and ended up violating her (either emotionally or physically), we do not believe that Jesus would direct us by this command to keep it “between thee and him alone.” Such a brother has not only trespassed against his neighbor, but he has broken the laws of God himself as well as the laws of the land. This is not only a trespass against an individual, but a heinous crime. We are duty bound, both for our brother’s sake and for our daughter’s sake (as well as possible future victims), to report him.

Today we know of the terrible hold of sexual addictions. We have seen perpetrators who have been found out, and who “repented” and made their sins right with the church, and life supposedly went on as usual. But, life did not go on as usual. The sexual addiction had not been dealt with, and later there were relapses, with more cover-ups, more victims, and more children whose lives were forever changed, because we did not deal with the sin in an appropriate and timely manner. 

We need to acknowledge and recognize the difference between a trespass against a brother that can be taken care of “between thee and him alone,” and serious sins that are much more than just a trespass against a brother. This is why we believe that it is good, proper, and indeed necessary to obey state laws on mandated reporting.

The offender can only be brought to redemption if he or she takes full ownership of his or her iniquity, transgressions and civil responsibilities. Using civil authority is a part of that not a power play. We are loving the offender when the sin is exposed to authorities because he/she is in bondage to their sin and full of deception – and an emotional response to exposure and a few words of apology are no sign of repentance. The offender is self-injuring, not just injuring others. No habituated sin is easily stopped. If we are honest, we all know this on a personal level.

~ Allen Hoover, Advisory Board for ASAA ~ 

***

I was surprised that ASAA advisory board wasn’t even made aware of the details surrounding last year’s fiasco, in which a man admitted to their vice-chair having assaulted a young woman and the young woman was not offered care while the offender continued in close relationship with the board member. And I am just as surprised that the Advisory board didn’t think it was important to know details or get involved, being too busy with other things.

As I said to Mr. Hoover, it is this sort of lack of engagement that created the dreadful abuse situation we have in Haiti, and I struggle to grasp how a group can help others overseas if they don’t first deal with their own situations appropriately at home. When victims are blatantly neglected in cases at home, how are they equipped to go to Haiti and help there. I would hope they can and will do better. Especially since Mr. Hoover’s statement so clearly states that “an emotional response and a few words of apology are no sign of repentance” as was proven true in last year’s fiasco. The offender at the centre of that case has continued with inappropriate connections with women. This summer I heard from three more women regarding the same offender, proving Mr. Hoover’s words to be accurate.

In light of this, while I support what is written by Mr. Hoover and promoted by ASAA, and I am posting it as I had told him I would after he granted permission, I appeal to them to live up to their own words and teachings. I appeal to ASAA to first deal with their own issues honourably at home, before going overseas. Don’t just teach better ways of responding; live it. When that happens, I will be happy to support ASAA efforts.

Disclaimer: When I asked permission to post the above, I did not yet know that the ASAA founder and the board of directors had not informed their other committees thoroughly of my concerns. This only came up in communication with Mr. Hoover on August 5, 2019.

***

ASAA also posted the following video on their Facebook page. (It was from their site that I took my featured image, to give credit of sources). It is a powerful video addressing pornography. If you are into porn, you are part of the sex trafficking industry. You are funding it. Advertisers rely on your addiction to evil, to fund this industry. 

 

***
***

If you have the stomach for it, the following news report is a powerful, powerful news report on sex trafficking. I submit that political agenda is intertwined, quite obviously. Tune out the jargon and listen to the problem of sex trafficking. It is real, and it is closer to home than you would imagine. I know of conservative Anabaptist youth being used as prostitutes, where one ‘user’ (Anabaptist adult male, in one case) will alert others to the girl being vulnerable. I know of them being offered money for sex. I know of one case where money was exchanged. This is not so far out there.

The video clip is hard to watch, admittedly. But this is based on the true story of a young woman who was trafficked.

Her brother speaks after the video clip. He shares a lot of wisdom on the problem of sex trafficking, and how it works. He isn’t about fear-mongering. He gives solid information. He addresses the fallen morality of the nation of USA. He talks numbers of what pimps make.

And he makes this gut-churning statement, “You can almost order a child like you order pizza.” And later he says, “This shouldn’t be a conservative issue or a liberal issue […] children should not be for sale.”

He also states, “It starts with a pornographic culture. Soft porn. It’s the objectifying of women. Which, we as a country have done a great job at completely objectifying women into sex objects and emasculating men.”‘

These statements should startle us. According to several studies, a high rate of men in church admit to porn use

There is no child immune. No culture protected. This wickedness is something we need expose. And we, as the people of God, ought to be leading the way. But I challenge you to consider that sex trafficking in a different form is happening among us. Just as in the country structure, in religious structure the top most powerful are protected. There is grace for these offenders, and protection, while those ‘sold out’ are mistreated to keep them in line. The similarities are startling.

Like our sexualized culture, we are desensitizing church culture to child sexual assault, but we are doing it through treating victims shamefully and protecting offenders. The culture is such that abuse thrives, the oppressed have no voice, and sexual violence against children is viewed as ‘moral failing’ and ‘a mistake’.

Children are being trafficked among us, and it starts with the cavalier attitude toward child exploitation that allows adult men and women to call it ‘moral failing’, or ‘a mistake’. It starts by dehumanizing the victims in the eyes of the congregation or community. It starts be silencing victims. And it starts by leaders hearing things and shrugging them off rather than digging deeper and doing their due diligence in cases such as Jeriah Mast. (Using one that is public of the hundreds or thousands I could choose from). Because when abuse is handled this way in church, it is the exact same thing as sex trafficking, with different players and a far more deceptive mask.

All of these things teach the ‘pimps’ and abusers that it isn’t really that big a deal to use and abuse the vulnerable. They do not take it seriously. I had one man say, after molesting his daughters, “I only did it for 60 seconds.” His church gave him a short proving period and then life went on as before. He had a history of sexually assaulting starting in his teens, right up to his late 40’s when I confronted him. The church blinked. Didn’t report. Bishop from PA intervened in TX to help navigate it. And life went on as before. (I tried to report. The social work I was communicating with who was passionate about the case, when I called back a few weeks later, was told, “She is no longer with us”. The church leaders talked with the Sergeant, and he stopped responding. I will never know why. I have solid evidence and an open confession in my possession, legally obtained. And the law does nothing. The church does nothing more than they have to.

That, my friends, is how sex trafficking continues in church.

These things have desensitized many in the church culture, and silenced others for many years.

And while all of that is going on, and children are being stripped, destroyed, raped and programmed… on the streets and in church… We can’t get our act together to stand firm against this wickedness….

God help us…

God help the children… And He will.

Someday, He will come and set the children free…

He will come…

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

Some time ago, a friend told me of a medical doctor (Anabaptist) who is doing research into sexual abuse in Anabaptist communities. To take his survey visit:
Anabaptist Medical Matters

***

JASON GRAY CONCERT:
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster PA
7:00pm
CONCERT TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC: Here

NOTE: Due to the concert being the celebration for survivors of abuse,
we ask that any who have sexually abused as adults not attend out of respect

November 2, 2019:  THE GATHERING, held at Lancaster Bible College, is a place where survivors of sexual assault, together with our support person(s), collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse and trusted support persons to gather for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering and sexual violence among us. We will cry out to God, together. Come as you are in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. We welcome you! The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to grieve and 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.

NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.

***

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.

Convicted Pedophile Epstein Dead, Apparent Suicide

The first message I opened this morning was a friend sending an article to say that  Billionaire convicted child molester Jeffry Epstein is dead of apparent suicide.

The greatest tragedy, even in light of such news, is when these criminals destroy a child’s life. The next greatest tragedy is when they are not man or woman enough to face the consequences, and choose instead to commit suicide.

While it is not totally uncommon for child molesters to commit suicide, foul play is always a possibility when there are links to other big names. This case is certainly no exception. Though it is also plausible that going from the kind of power he had to exploit everyone around him, especially children, to sitting in prison was just too much to face. In either case, my heart goes out to his family and loved ones, and especially to his victims.

When offenders commit suicide, or when they become suicidal without following through, often the people exposing are blamed and shamed, which usually includes the victims. I’ve been up against that myself after exposing a horrific case – of which I have an audio recording that law enforcement has in their possession – where the child rapist became suicidal. The recording was evidence that I was not unkind or harsh; I merely appealed to the offender to own up to all his crimes, and informed him I would be notifying the law.

Sad truth is, the same people who blame victims and those of us who expose criminals don’t worry that the victims might struggle to the point of committing suicide. (As was the case with one of William McGrath’s victims. Yet McGrath, who victimized many, is idolized in conservative Anabaptist culture to this day as some hero and saint, and the suffering of the victims is disregarded).

What’s more, when victims become suicidal, they are told they are bitter and unforgiving. There’s the shaking of the heads, and the clucking of the tongues, with little to know compassion or understanding, in too many cases.

But when the offender is exposed and struggles with depression (whether to the point of suicide or not), those of us exposing are thoughtless and bitter people. And in those cases, groups of men gather (as was the case in the DD case last year) to support the offender and try to make their suffering go away. (As was the case in the confession a group of men helped DD draft to post on social media in order to quiet the public. That ‘drafted confession’ was the work of a handful of men, including a Beachy Amish church leader, a leader of a ministry in PA that ‘helps victims’, and several other men. And those of us exposing were called names, such as “Matriarchal woman” and “Matriarchal Witch”, to name a few).

This habit of protecting offenders and making victims and advocates villains, while insulating offenders from facing the reality of their crimes, is a significant part of the problem. And the leaders who do it, are too.

Here are the facts. Child molesters choose to commit heinous crimes. The best thing we can do for them is help them face the truth and the consequences of their crimes. Their freedom depends on it.

And child molesters who commit suicide choose the cowardly way out. It’s that simple. There is always a way to own up, without excuse, and face the harshest of consequences for their own actions.

Some choose suicide. Some do the right thing and face honestly what they have done, and accept the punishment they deserve. And they recognize the grace of God as an undeserved gift that is for their eternal benefit, not a way to manipulate their way out of consequences in this life. Which way they go is on them, not on their victims, and not on those who expose them.

If you are tempted to go there, think Judas. It was not Jesus’ fault Judas committed suicide, for not finding some way to stop him. That’s on Judas. There would have been forgiveness for him, had he repented, I have no doubt. And there is forgiveness for sex offenders too. But there is never an excuse.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

JASON GRAY CONCERT:
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster PA
7:00pm
CONCERT TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC: Here

NOTE: Due to the concert being the celebration for survivors of abuse,
we ask that any who have sexually abused as adults not attend out of respect

November 2, 2019:  THE GATHERING, held at Lancaster Bible College, is a place where survivors of sexual assault, together with our support person(s), collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse and trusted support persons to gather for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering and sexual violence among us. We will cry out to God, together. Come as you are in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. We welcome you! The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to grieve and 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.

NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.

 

***

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

HAITI: 4 New Charges Filed Against Jeriah Mast & CAM, and an Analysis of CAM Statements & Timelines….Was it Perjury?

Christian News released an article stating that four more young men have come forward, pressing charges against Jeriah Mast and CAM in Cabaret, Haiti. The article, More Young Men Come Forward as Being Sexually Abused as Boys by Amish-Mennonite Aid Worker also mentions the possibility of a fifth young man filing charges.

A fifth charge may additionally be filed, but the young man is no longer living in Haiti as the societal mistreatment from the scourge of being abused forced him to have to make a life for himself elsewhere.

A source who has been in contact with a sheriff’s office in Ohio told Christian News Network that he believes federal officials are pursuing criminal charges against Mast in the states to hold him accountable for his crimes in Haiti.

Read the full article HERE.

The information regarding this case was sent to me July 29, however, I was not able to gain access to documents to confirm, so I declined reporting. If I have learned one thing, given the intense scrutiny by Anabaptist readers, it is the need to be thorough and ensure I have evidence to support every little thing I write. To the best of my ability, I do this.

***

Prior to this news coming in, I had already written a brief analysis and overview of CAM statements and timelines. There are some rather glaring questions hounding the analytical folk in this whole CAM and Jeriah Mast case. I am not alone. The following outlines just a few of those questions.

The first item is a very short clip in which Harold Herr states that in 2013, soon after 3 victims came forward to Steve Simmons (Gospel for Haiti), he told Jeriah “If you’d be in the states, you’d be in jail now.” (The detail of “three victims” is important to remember. These three were in Port au Prince).

While claims continue by CAM that it was believed to be homosexuality, it is clearly documented that in fact it was known to be a crime, as evidenced in Mr. Herr’s statement to Mr. Mast in 2013. No one in USA gets put in jail for homosexuality! To state now that Mr. Mast was told in USA he would be in jail, and at the same time claim it was believed to be homosexuality is contradictory. By the time a missionary is told “If you’d be in USA you’d be in jail“, there must be admission that, “in fact, we knew a crime was committed and still did nothing”.

Listen to the following audio clip, just over a minute long, and hear it for yourself:

After the three victims came forward in PaP with allegations against Jeriah, Harold Herr of LIFE Literature had a meeting with Eli Weaver of CAM and Lamar Nolt also of Life Literature.  This was not thought to be homosexuality by Steve Simmons of Gospel for Haiti or Harold Herr of LIFE Literature; it was known to be a crime. The following are quotes taken directly from Harold Herr’s comments on a recording posted on the second blog regarding this case, “In Harold Herr’s own Voice… CAM/Life knew; Jeriah tells the Law & Repentance Pizza Party”:

“.… so (the one victim) reported these things to Steve Simmons […] he told some of the things that were happening in the past by Jeriah, at… some… various locations. […] When this came out, Steve was distressed about this…

If there was no crime, why distressed? But there’s more…

This needs to go to CAM […] this is serious!”

I told Jeriah very plainly, this is very serious. If you’re really repenting, you need to go back to these boys’ fathers and confess and ask forgiveness. And I went along with him to do that.”

EVIDENCE STILL IN TACT, JUNE 7, 2018:
As of the day I sat and talked with him, Harold Herr still had a copy of the communication. (Hopefully still does. Otherwise that would be tampering with evidence). “To the best of my ability I’ve shared what transpired. And I read [the report written by Steve Simmons and passed on to CAM] on purpose [before you came tonight] so that I could answer … the best I can.” 

CAM’S PUBLIC STATEMENT – Haiti Investigation

(My comments are underlined and not in italics.)

June 11, 2019

As a supporter and member of our larger community we know that you have questions. This information is provided for your benefit and to help understand our efforts to date:

In response to serious allegations that a former CAM staff member sexually abused minors while serving in Haiti, CAM has initiated an investigation into this conduct. We recognize that any form of abuse of a child is both a horrific sin and a serious crime. We are actively working to investigate and address this situation and to care for those who have been harmed. At CAM, leadership and staff join the larger community in Haiti in their sorrow and concern about what has happened and the human lives impacted.

CAM has and is gathering information about these allegations. CAM can report the following:

  • Without CAM’s authorization or prior knowledge, the individual left Haiti and returned to the United States.
  • The individual was promptly discharged from CAM. (“Promptly discharged is misleading. Two key leaders, Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver had known of concerns for at least 6 years – Harold Herr states late 2012 to 2013 in his recording, they say 2013 – and had not taken allegations seriously enough to report or discharge Mr. Mast. It wasn’t until rumours reached CAM that victims were coming forward to press charges that Mr. Mast was ‘promptly discharged’. Mr. Lebady acted immediately upon Mr. Mast’s admission on May 3, 2019. It is inconsistent for CAM to take credit for a “prompt dismissal” and not take responsibility for at least 6 years of top leaders in Haiti knowing and doing nothing to protect victims.)
  • We understand that the individual made a confession to leaders in his local church in the U.S. and has reported himself to Ohio state legal authorities. (This, again, is misleading. Mr. Mast had no intentions of turning himself in for his Haiti crimes. And, in fact, he did not. He was confronted about those crimes upon turning himself in for Ohio crimes, when an FBI Liaison was present, to his surprise. To leave the public believing this was repentance and willing confession of Haiti crimes is not accurate and serves to sway the public in seeing Mr. Mast as far more forthcoming than he was in reality.)
  • CAM’s representatives are still investigating what took place and who was affected. (This is all well and good. But it’s never wise to have a fraudster audit his own books. An independent third party — and dare I say one who has no Mennonite or Anabaptist affiliations in this case — is necessary. There is far too much cover-up and collusion to preserve image for anything less to be trustworthy.)
  • CAM’s representatives have already communicated to one U.S. federal government agency about the situation and have been in communication with another federal agency with greater authority to investigate the situation. (Because the individual’s conduct took place in another country, state governmental authorities have limited ability to investigate and respond.)
  • CAM has been working inside Haiti to make contact with those who have been affected by the individual’s actions and actively pursuing ways to help them. (At the time of this statement, all 12 victims with whom I was in contact informed me that they had not heard from CAM. This remained the case until my most recent contact with them a few weeks ago).

As you consider this situation, first, please pray fervently for all those who may have been harmed or otherwise affected by this conduct. Please also pray for CAM and our Haiti staff to walk through this very difficult situation with godly humility and integrity.  (Godly humility would include asking victims what their needs are rather than imposing prescribed ‘help’ that may not meet their needs. Numerous victims have stated that they have no interest in having Anabaptist men ‘counsel’ them when it was an Anabaptist missionary who violated them. To insist on such a thing is extremely disrespectful. One of the greatest evils following the sexual violation of an individual is to impose on them the prescribed ‘help’ that potentially further victimizes them. Integrity would include allowing a third party of the victims’ choice, or at least with whom they are comfortable, do the investigation). The exploitation of anyone, especially children, is devastating to the trust in and impact of any ministry or NGO. Moreover, such abuse by one individual damages the reputation and ministry impact of all those who have worked selflessly over many years to help care for the Haitian people and who have not been part of any harmful conduct. (Frankly, it is not ‘one individual’ who does this level of damage when, in fact, at least five grown men in ministry were aware of the crimes, three of whom were CAM high level staff).

Going forward, CAM will work to keep our community appropriately informed about progress in this case. (Last I heard, CAM had not yet notified their donor base by mail, and merely responded to the public online outcry enough to hopefully appease them). Because the situation involves ongoing responses by the U.S. federal, state, and Haitian courts and government agencies, CAM is limited in what it can say and do. However, since being made aware of these allegations several weeks ago, CAM has fully cooperated with governmental authorities and has taken appropriate steps to report the matter to federal government agencies, to cooperate with the legal process, and to pursue care for those affected by the individual’s wrongful conduct. (CAM has cooperated with US officials, not Haiti, which is further disrespectful. While CAM formally announced placing Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver on leave, at least one of the men continued some duties for CAM after being placed on ‘leave’. Lest CAM would say what Weaver and Weaver do is not on them, as representatives of CAM they, in fact, were not cooperating with Haitian government. Being on leave – particularly with ongoing duties – is not the same as being fired. These technicalities do not speak to integrity.)


Christian Aid Ministries (CAM)

ISSUED:   Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 12:25 pm

 

*****

 

An Open Letter from the Board of Directors of Christian Aid Ministries Regarding the Case of Jeriah Mast

Thank you to the many believers who are praying and waiting patiently for our team to find its way. This case has strained our human ability to process and comprehend why anyone would harm children and abuse trust. We humbly ask for your continued fervent intercession as we respond.

In light of the magnitude of this case, we are in communication with government officials in law enforcement in the United States to ensure that we do not unintentionally impact any ongoing investigation. We continue to piece together the details of what took place.

It is already well known that our former employee, Jeriah Mast, has confessed to molesting boys while working for our organization in Haiti. It is also well known that he has fled the country of Haiti and is residing in the United States. It is understood that he is wanted in Haiti for his crimes.

The question that many have asked is this: What, if anything, did the board of directors and executive management know about Jeriah prior to his deplorable sexual abuse exposed in May 2019?

1. Is it true that CAM management allowed Jeriah Mast to continue working with CAM after they knew that he had sexually abused minors?

CAM’s Board of Directors was not aware of any sexual conduct between Jeriah and minors until 2019. (The public has not yet heard from Director David Troyer, clearly stating whether he knew or not. The public and donors deserve a forthright statement from Mr. Troyer addressing this concern. Anything less lacks transparency and integrity). Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver are two men who have faithfully served the Lord and our ministry for many years in management roles. (Management roles, in this case, is the executive board that includes the Director, David Troyer and others). Unfortunately, they allowed Jeriah to continue to work in the field even after his confession in 2013 of sexual activity with young men that had taken place several years prior. Both men recognize that their failure to properly investigate and inquire into Jeriah’s conduct was a serious failure in judgment and should have severe consequences.

2. Is it true CAM is trying to cover up this case by providing settlements?

The board of directors has not authorized any settlement payments and has no interest in covering this up. (Yet it is CAM lawyers approaching victims to this effect. Since the lawyers are NOT footing the bill from their own pockets, but rather CAM’s coffers. it is the responsibility of CAM to know what is happening under their noses. To ‘not know’ is not the same as being ‘not responsible’, as we see in the Jeriah Mast case. Pilate washing his hands did not make him innocent). 

3. In light of the circumstances, what is CAM going to do with respect to Jeriah?

Although CAM no longer has any control over Jeriah, the board believes it would be the right thing for him to appear in Haitian court to answer for his confessed crimes. However, this needs to go through the proper judicial and extradition processes of the United States and Haiti.

4. Will CAM take any personnel action in this case?

CAM is placing Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver on administrative leave pending a full investigation of their role in this matter. (As noted earlier, being placed on leave did not prevent at least one of the men from continuing in some role with CAM). The Board and leadership of CAM understand the gravity of the situation and have mutually come to realize it would be difficult to work through this case with their involvement.

5. What is CAM doing to care for the victims?

We are deeply committed to the long-term goal of ensuring the boys Jeriah molested will receive the help and support they need. CAM is still attempting to understand the scope of the tragedy. We realize there are no easy solutions and any steps we take will require extensive preparation. We will be seeking counsel and support from those in Haiti and the larger Anabaptist community.

These are just the first steps in our journey to find God’s direction for this situation.

We close by repeating our request for your prayers, most of all for the victims, and also for us as we agonize over the tough decisions to be made in the coming days.

Sincerely,

The Board of Directors

Christian Aid Ministries (CAM)
ISSUED: Monday, June 17, 2019 at 10:45 p.m.

 

*****

The following is a statement released by Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver the same day as the previous statement by CAM was released to the public, with this one addressed to Missionaries in Haiti, not the general public.

June 17, 2019

Fellow Missionaries of Haiti,

As leaders of CAM Haiti management, we are deeply sorry for our part in the decision in 2013 to allow Jeriah Mast to continue to serve with CAM in Haiti.

We have asked God for forgiveness, we ask the victims for forgiveness, and we ask you fellow missionaries for forgiveness.

Following is information about what took place in 2013. We are not saying this to excuse ourselves but to clarify our knowledge of this situation until May 2, 2019.

In 2013 Jeriah confessed that he had homosexual involvement with four youth in Haiti several years prior. (This statement flies in the face of Harold Herr’s statement that Jeriah Mast was told he would be in jail if he was caught in USA doing what he did in Haiti. USA does not imprison people for homosexual relations. Therefore, we must conclude that they knew it was criminal activity *if* Harold Herr relayed the extent of his concerns to Eli Weaver, as he says he did. Furthermore, in 2013 Jeriah was 30 years old and the young men were in their late teens, and as stated here the “homosexual involvement” was several years prior. The most basic of math here is evidence that crimes were committed, and it was not homosexual relationships). After his confession and restitution, we met with him to verify his repentance, brokenness, and present walk. (How does a child molester make restitution on the mission field for sexually assaulting boys, and then continue on the field and victims being forced to encounter him, to their **expressed distress** with victims’ expressed needs being completely disregarded? It is documented that such distress was expressed to leadership, and dismissed based on ‘it being taken care of’ by Jeriah. And how do leaders ‘verify repentance, brokenness and present walk’ with a man who has deceived them for years?) We then allowed him to return to Haiti, believing that everything had been resolved. Looking back, we realize we should have asked more questions, gotten more details of what took place, and reported the matter to legal authorities. (I reiterate, was the distress expressed by Mr. Simmons and Mr. Herr not enough? Hindsight is 20/20, but the honourable thing to do – if indeed Mr. Herr relayed the extent of his concern, as he claims to have done –  would be to to go beyond stating “we should have done more investigating” to admitting “we knew more than we wish we knew and we failed to take it seriously. For this we are deeply sorry.“)

No information surfaced between 2013 and 2019 that was brought to our attention. (A discrepancy comes into play here. There were three young men in Port au Prince,  and there were four young men in Petit Goave, who approached Pastor Brucely and for which Jeriah was excommunicated and sent home). 

As we consider the loss of purity in the young boys who were victimized by Jeriah, their shame, their reproach, their fear of being found out, their concept of Christianity and missions overall, and we again consider that we were a part of the decision to allow Jeriah to continue working for CAM, we feel deep remorse. (These young men did not lose their purity. They were robbed brutally of their innocence. Their purity remains in tact, based only on being violated. To impose ‘impurity’ on the abused is further abuse, albeit out of ignorance. On this front we are all learning, and do well to take note of the difference).

In closing, we ask for your forgiveness and prayer for the victims and for CAM. We need your prayers.

Eli Weaver

Paul Weaver

NOTE: This communication from Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver was sent June 17, 2019. These men were placed on leave at that time, and several days later I learned that James Mullet – who formerly served in Haiti and at that time served on the Board of Directors – was to take over in Haiti. If this communication was not sent to the Board of Directors, it was either irresponsible or intentional failure to communicate. If it was sent out, then Mr. Mullet perjured himself in court, because this letter clearly states Paul and Eli knew of the four boys – which were the four in Petit Goave, which were not the same victims as the three boys in Port au Prince. It is inexcusable to not do proper homework before going to court to testify, and adds to the disrespect of the Haitian authorities. Critical thinking and analysis is necessary. Blind trust is one of the things that has allowed abuse to flourish in our culture. Criticizing those who take time to analyze and apply critical thinking is part and parcel with that spreading of an epidemic). 

 

***

Prayer needs for Haiti situation

Jul 9, 2019

Thank you for your prayers, words of advice and correction, and notes of encouragement. We need your prayers! Here are some specific ways you can pray:

• Victims and their families. Sexual abuse leaves victims in a wake of trauma and difficulty. Pray for their healing and restoration.

• CAM Haitian and American staff and other mission staff in Haiti. Both CAM staff and those from other Anabaptist missions face many pressures in relation to this situation. Pray that God will give them strength and grace for today and the days ahead.

• Board of Directors and CAM management: We have been meeting frequently to work through this situation. Pray for us as we make decisions and take action to care for those who have been affected. Much discernment is needed as we review policies and practices, work to heighten staff awareness of abuse, and create better ways for staff members to communicate questions and concerns. We want to continually improve mechanisms to protect children and other vulnerable people.

• Victim care groups: Pray for all those who are seeking to respond to the needs of victims. Independent Anabaptist groups who have experience in dealing with sexual abuse victims are organizing themselves to help victims in Haiti. CAM also needs wisdom in fulfilling its responsibility toward victims.

Thank you for praying.

Sincerely,

The Board of Directors

Christian Aid Ministries (CAM)
ISSUED: Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at 7:00 A.M

 

****

Unrelated to these statements by CAM, one of my biggest concerns is the number of men involved in leadership in various ways, who have themselves sexually offended in the past. On staff with CAM in key leadership are at least three men with such history – granted, with one of the three coming forward on his own to apologize but with all three never having faced legal consequences. A second apologized when he was confronted. The third I do not know if he apologized or not. Besides this, there are allegations against another leader that I continue to investigate and document.

Why is this information important? (Especially when they have apologized!) Two reasons:

  1. Jeriah Mast also apologized but continued to molest youth and abuse power with the information being kept secret. To keep this information hidden is to risk the abuse continuing. If these men are truly repentant and forgiven, being forthcoming and transparent about this gross past failure should be expected, in particular in relation to working with the vulnerable. In particular, in this case, those who are delegated to be part of the Haiti Crisis Operations team should not have any such history, anywhere in the past. At least one individual who was proposed for consideration to help with Haiti’s crisis has such history. My question is, how can a man who has molested children in the past justly be part of a team to meet the needs of victims?How is this not being screened? Is no one sitting face to face with these men and boldly asking “Did you ever sexually assault anyone, molest a child or engage in sexual misconduct that victimized another human? Did you ever touch a child or minor in the breast, groin, or anus area? Did you ever expose yourself sexually without mutual consent to anyone, or to a child or minor (in which case consent is irrelevant)? Did you ever force a child, minor or unwilling adult participant to touch you sexually? Did you ever undress a child/minor or unwilling adult participant and look at his/her genitals?” Those who have done such things should be disqualified from providing care for victims. That is simply common sense.
  2. The second reason is because those who have done these things in the past and not faced legal justice or exposed their own crimes – having never turned themselves in to the law – will not likely insist on such legal justice in cases such as Jeriah Mast. If they think they can hide it from the law, many have proven they will try. They may be willing to cooperate and even accompany an offender with turning himself in once the offender is caught and his hand is forced but it is likely that they will attempt to keep it quiet and ‘in house’. After all, their crimes were never exposed, and the programming to “let him who is without sin cast the first stone” runs deep. That is problematic when dealing with sex crimes against children within a culture that avoids going to the law. It allows crimes to slip under the proverbial rug, and continue in the guise of repentance.
  3. The third reason is to encourage analytical thinking, since a lack of it has opened the door to all manner of evil among us.

So why am I not naming these men publicly? Because their victims have not given me permission to do so. And it is for that same reason that I am not offering any identifying information beyond saying that three of the men are in leadership in CAM. That is also problematic.

When it comes to missions and going to vulnerable countries, those delegated to go should be of all men most honourable, presently and historically. As it stands, given the number who have been exposed in leadership in relation to this case, we are forced to contemplate the following:

  1. Either we have such an epidemic among us that we should expect a percent of leaders on a board are past offenders…or …
  2. We must admit that offenders are drawn to missions….or ….
  3. Both….or ….
  4. It’s a fluke.

And that last one isn’t believable. There’s too many other situations with similarities to this to be a fluke.

In any case, no matter what conclusion we draw, we must admit we have a problem. And that problem needs to be appropriately addressed. To date it has not been. Proper screening is not yet happening, not even within CAM. Men ‘investigating’ either are not being screened to ensure they never victimized minors, or they are getting the ‘go ahead’ to do so in spite of such history. How can men who have molested minors be appropriate candidates to send to investigate sex crimes against minors?

Surely we have enough men among us who never in the past, not in their youth and not in adulthood, molested children, and who are willing and able to take on roles in missions leadership! Surely there are enough without such history to lead in roles that gives them authority over the vulnerable! Surely we can do better, and start properly screening who gets sent, and where they get sent.

Totally unrelated to all of this, I recently learned that another missionary heading overseas sexually assaulted a teenager. … And I find myself in an ethical dilemma… To hold the confidence of the person who told me, or expose publicly what I was told, or report to the mission board (with little confidence they will hear me), or report to the law, or all of the aforementioned? Holding crime confidentially is not the right thing to do. Nor do I offer any such promise. I never have. I never will.

(On which note I will state: If you send me information that is ‘confidential’, if it involves crime, I will report. It’s that simple. I am frequently sent information with no opportunity to offer my preamble of “If you tell me of a crime, I will report it to the law. If you tell me of a minor who is abused or neglected, I will report. I offer no confidentiality by virtue of moral and legal obligation to report to the law.”)

In an effort to notify the mission board – for whom I have no contact information – I made a call to Stanley Fox. More accurately, I should say I attempted to make a call to Stanley Fox, because I was told explicitly the mission is affiliated with Mid Atlantic which is the “same church as Stanley Fox”. I figured if Stanley sincerely is as repentant and sorry as he stated, he is one man I should be able to trust to do the right thing. His wife answered when I called, and after telling Stanley who it is, said, very politely, that Stanley declines to speak with me if I can accept that. Certainly, I told her, I can accept that. Truth is, I wouldn’t want to talk to me either if I was in his shoes and exposed for not responding to an apparent sexual trauma and crime. I shared the information with another professional, reading the statement of what the man had done as sent to me by the person he admitted it to, and alerted the law. I do not know the victim, and therefore cannot do more without her knowledge or consent.

It is the responsibility of every adult to protect children. Hiding the crimes of anyone, especially those who hold this kind of power, will not serve us well, and it surely will not serve the vulnerable well.

It is my hope — even if ‘hope against hope’ — that people will learn from this and ask blunt, blunt questions. Very blunt questions. “Did you ever touch a minor sexually? Did you ever sexually assault anyone?” Sure, they can lie. And they might. But that’s no excuse to not do due diligence. And with any discernment at all, the Holy Spirit will speak and the interviewer, if indeed led by the Spirit, will have a niggling of unrest.

That niggling should never be disregarded. The safety and wellbeing of the children of the world depends on it.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

 

NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.

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.

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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. In light of having Generations Unleashed’s vehicle totalled in a crash on August 1, 2019, and insurance not covering the full replacement, your contributions are especially needed and appreciated.