JD Shrock: In Fear & Trembling An Advocate is Born

A few weeks ago, a gentleman I had never heard of before, called. He had some questions, and wondered if I would take a few minutes to respond. He had heard of me through the CAM scandal, and out of curiosity purchased my memoir “Between 2 Gods; A Memoir of Abuse in Mennonite Communities”.

In its pages, he was quite certain he had found “the moment”…

Not only was I shocked speechless to have a stranger see so deeply into my story – because I knew what moment he spoke of, before ever he mentioned what he had found; I was moved to tears. When he paused for me to respond. I could not speak. It was all I could do to hold myself together.

He paused momentarily, and then continued…

In his blog he posts an excerpt from my book, and I will post an ‘excerpt of the excerpt:

I found myself standing there alone, at age thirteen, wanting to pick a fight with dad, just to distract him. I never fought with dad, at least not willingly. This was different. It was my baby brother who had meant no harm. I would take a stand against dad’s violence.

I began clearing the table – not a task I typically help with. My chores were in the barn, working with animals and all the fun stuff that goes with that. It was one of my favourite places in the world. When it came time for dishes, I scattered and preferred not to return until it was all done. The house, and keeping it, was my least favourite thing in the world. Cleaning stalls in the barn, and shoveling manure, was far more fun. But not that night. That night the kitchen was my priority.

I made a silent vow that if dad beat Abe, I would pick up the phone and report him, or take matters in my own hands. I had held his rifles when he wasn’t around, just to see if I had it in me, should the need arise. One way or another, it would be his last act of violence in our home, if I could help it.

I stopped clearing the table long enough to look him in the eye. The warning look that says, “If you do, there will be a price”. It’s a look most parents use – especially mom’s – though without the threat, when a child is crossing a line. A look I should not have had to use on my dad.

He looked at me. “Well, what are you staring at?” he asked.

He had taken the bait. Fear surged through my body, deeper and harder than I anticipated. I pushed it down and said nothing. Picked up a few more plates. Stopped, now and then, and looked at him. But I never spoke a word to him in confrontation.

To read the rest of the excerpt, go to “In Fear and Trembling an Advocate is Born.” To read the rest of the memoir, go to: Amazon Canada or Amazon USA.

***

Later today, or tomorrow, depending on the timing of things, I plan to release a blog written by Bill Miller. He is a conservative Anabaptist who appreciates his culture, and whose heart is devastated by the ongoing poor handling of sexual abuse cases within that culture.

***

***  See below: early ‘concert only’ registration for abuse survivors Nov. 2, 2019. ***

The young woman who was assaulted at age 7… Five donations have come in so far with enough funds to cover . (We are still waiting to confirm the fee, so not sure just how many). Thank you for contributing. Every bit helps, as this is will require ongoing support. If you wish to contribute, you may do so through the following link: Support for Rape Survivor.

She continues to be amazed by the support that she has felt and seen, and extends her thanks and appreciation. It has been encouraging for me to see ‘the church’ enter into her story and care for her well-being in word, prayer, and helping with her counseling costs.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

***

ONLY 2 MORE WEEKS TO REGISTER WITH LUNCH AND CONCERT INCLUDED!
(ENDS AUGUST 1, 2019)
THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at  THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.

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

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

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

EARLY CONCERT REGISTRATION FOR ALL SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE:
If you are a sex abuse survivor – Anabaptist or not – and are not a sex offender, who wishes to attend the ‘concert only’ portion of The Gathering, we will allow for early registration before tickets are released to the public, August 1, 2019. For link to register for the concert only, email AslanHasHeard@gmail.com. Subject line: “Concert link for survivors”.

***

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

 

 

 

Podcast: Conversation on Sexual Abuse with Asher Witmer & Answering Questions

Last week I had the honour of chatting with Asher Witmer about sexual abuse in conservative Anabaptist settings. It was a delight to engage in such a meaningful and respectful manner. He has posted the link on his podcast:

Unfeigned Christianity: Episode 2

***

Today I will take a few moments to answer a few questions I’ve been asked many times, and especially recently in light of the shocking news of Jeriah Mast’s crimes in Haiti, and CAM leaders’ knowledge and failure to act responsibly:

  1. What are rates of victimization in Anabaptist communities?

    We know rates of victimization are high. Is it 10%, is it 90% or somewhere in between? We don’t know.

    In two schools I am aware of (each during a very particular timespan) the rates of students were over 50%. This was circumstantial in one of those settings, where the teacher molested many of the students. The other case was a mix of various abusers; a mix of adult abusers and teenagers. In a third setting several minors (all under 14) abused many children.

    In contrast, I’ve been in communities that remain relatively free of abuse, by all appearances. People seem to speak freely enough about it, and there is a ‘sense’ that they really do have a protected community.

  2. Do I believe all conservative Anabaptists are sex offenders? (especially males?

    Not at all. I don’t know the rates. Statistically the number lands at 117 per offender, based on self-reporting by sex offenders in prison. In our Anabaptist communities, I do not see the rates that high very often, but I do see between a dozen and twenty victims far too frequently. More than that, I see ‘trails’. Uncle ‘so and so’ molests his niece. The niece later molests a male child she is babysitting, and so on. Multiply that by 5 victims per offender and you have an epidemic, if those patterns are replicated. I could draw many ‘maps’ of abuse that span 4 generations, simply because victims have come to me spanning across the years.

    Also, there are missionaries (not referring to Jeriah Mast), who are said to have many victims in several countries, as well as at home. But, again, the number of victims is unknown. And confirming that the details takes deep, deep investigation. (What made Haiti unique is that a few came forward, and several missionaries believed them, and soon realized it was a massive crime case.In other cases, while I do report to law enforcement as soon as I have reportable information (which has to be more than a rumour without names or location of offender), I often cannot report. There’s simply not enough information. All of the leads I have with even a hint of a trail that can be followed have been reported in 2019. Approximately half before the Jeriah Mast became public.

    As more and more cases come forward and are exposed, I think we will get a clearer picture of how widespread this is. And if we can respectfully also name those who have taken ownership, we might be able to get ahead of this thing.

  3. What about those who have apologized for past offences, and are now church leaders who never turned themselves in to the law? 

    My role is to work with what is known, and to take my queues from victims.

  4. Is there no place for redemption in the life of someone who has offended?

    Absolutely! I hold the grace of God in high regard. In light of the spiritual and eternal, the moment they genuinely repent they are free before God.

    The grace of God, however, does not let me avoid the consequences of stealing a million dollars without repaying or doing prison time. Who of you, if someone took all that you had, would begin an outcry for everyone to forgive?

    Are we really willing to say that a child’s life holds less value than money?

    When a child (or adult) is sexually assaulted, the core of all of who they are is impacted; emotionally, spiritually, psychologically. Many, many victims struggle deeply with faith in God. Many walk away from their faith.

    Are we really willing to say that a child’s soul is worth less than money?

***

These are a few of the questions I’ve been confronted with in recent days. There are more. Many more. And I am working towards either addressing them, or having someone address them.

Some take considerable work and research, which I don’t currently have time for.  I have asked Hope Anne Dueck of A Better Way to pull together a post to address what signs to watch for that might indicate a child or teen has suffered abuse. She kindly agreed to work on organizing this.

If you have questions you would like addressed, please send them to info@generationsunleashed.com with the subject line “Blog: Question”. If I am not able to answer, or the time factor is more than I can commit, I will do my best to find someone willing to write an article.

If you are in ministry for the victimized and would like to submit an article appropriate to the topics addressed here, please send your idea to info@generationsunleashed.com with the subject line “Blog Article Idea”.

If you have resources to recommend for churches or for victims, please send them to info@generationsunleashed.com with the subject line “Victim Resources.” (NOTE: these will be screened. Content must be sensitive to the suffering of victim. Furthermore, resources cannot be the product of organizations or leaders and authors who *are known* to be abusers or to enable offenders, cover for them in any way, or neglect to address abuse appropriately in their own sphere of influence.

***

By way of update on the young woman who was assaulted at age 7… Today was ‘search for a counselor day’. Two donations have come in so far with enough funds to cover the first few sessions. (We are still waiting to confirm the fee, so not sure just how many). Thank you for contributing. This is will require ongoing support. If you wish to contribute, you may do so via PayPal through: aslanhasheard@gmail.com.

She extends her thanks and appreciation. One day, when this all comes to light, I pray that you will continue to hold her in prayer and support. And I pray that you will see the powerful redemption God brings to the most horrific of places and stories.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

***

ONLY 2 MORE WEEKS TO REGISTER WITH LUNCH AND CONCERT INCLUDED!
(ENDS AUGUST 1, 2019)
THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at  THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.

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

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

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

***

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

© Trudy Metzger 2019

On being banned from MennoNET, and Does non-criminal sexual deviance ‘among us’ pave the way to group rape?

Before I get into the ‘bulk’ of this blog… I learned that my blog content has been banned from MennoNET due to the blatantly graphic content. I respect that. Not everyone can stomach the harsh, graphic, blatant reality of what is happening in church. I have boundaries on my FB page too.

Like yesterday, instead of showing any concern or compassion for a woman who shared how she received 104 ‘straps’ at a Charity school, a new follower told her she was looking for attention. I told him if he is going to speak that way to survivors of horror, he is not welcome in my space. He made a few more rude comments, told me I am abusing him, and then unfriended me.

To me that is sheer ignorance. No compassion for a woman who received 104 straps in a religious setting and then cries ‘abuse’ at someone setting boundaries? Ummm… No. So I blocked him to make sure he could not follow the conversation, lest he would decide to bully them privately. (I still need to go back and read the remainder of the comments. Admittedly I wasn’t expecting almost 400 comments on a post about spanking. Seems I opened another fresh can of worms! And I have marking to do for University! But that can of worms is for another post, on another day, when we will talk about the horror stories surfacing out of the Charity churches).

So I understand boundaries, and bless MennoNET for making the call they feel is right for them and their people. I wouldn’t have known about it, had no one told me, as that is one site I do not visit. Not even tempted.

***

EXTREME GRAPHIC CONTENT TRIGGER WARNING:
I’ve heard all manor of stories for years, so no longer deal with that shock factor. All situations are not the same. The case of 3 adults raping a child is shocking, as it should be. There is no consent.

Other scenarios, that are not criminal, I seldom delve into, simply because my work is with victims, not because I don’t find it tragic. There is only so much a person can do. Even so, there is a time to address it so in this blog I tell snippets of such stories, most briefly, because people seem to have trouble grasping how a group would collude together to commit such an act. And that question is an important one to ask. The answer I think lies in some of the non-criminal activities that are brought to my attention by those who participated in them, or family members and friends who know and cannot contain it.

A group of young men, all minors, stand in a circle, each masturbating the one in front of them. This is North-Eastern Ohio. Some are from the conservative Anabaptist community (not Amish), others are not identified by the person sharing, nor their church setting.

Some of my readers, I expect, will recognize this scenario, or another like unto it… maybe down by the river… maybe changing your clothes on Sunday afternoon, or some other ‘scene’ entirely. If you do, and wish to get it off your chest, I know honourable men of God near you who I am confident would mentor you. … even now, after all these years.

Another day, another situation…

I am a young married woman, sitting with someone ‘a long journey away’ from where we live. We are not in ministry. I don’t yet work with abuse victims. But, like everywhere else we go, people just share…

Amid tears the man (whose wife is also present) tells of the ‘group orgies’ that were prevalent in his youth among the young men in church.

Yet another situation…

A group of young men gather around a cell phone and watch porn together….

A young man recruits a young teenager to rape a preschooler, while he watches and laughs… The teen is a victim of the older recruiter. The preschooler is a victim of both.

HOW DO A GROUP OF MEN COLLUDE TOGETHER TO ASSAULT A CHILD?
Moving back to the victimization of a child by a group.. Let’s start with those orgies… If a group of young men get together for those orgies (and I know of plenty more in other communities), why not to molest children and rape them?

A young woman in US tells me of her experience being assaulted, in a barn, as a group of teenage boys take turns “playing bull and cow”, using her, on her hands and knees, to rub themselves against her. She is clothed. She doesn’t understand. She is younger, they are older. Later she remembers… and suddenly the weight of what that group did to her, even with her clothes on, leaves her traumatized.

She is one of many who have told me this story. Some were not so fortunate to keep their clothes on.

Is it really such a far leap, to imagine that those boys, having sex with each other or group-assaulting a little girl, reaching adulthood and finding more perverse ways of assaulting children?

With the amount of this that goes on, I’m astounded at how many can’t fathom the sexual assaults.

Shaming those who tell the graphic, blatant truth demonizes truth-tellers and thus enables darkness. That’s another reason it is not so hard to imagine how darkness stoops to this level.

HOW DO WE STOP THIS MESS?
We start talking honestly, if we haven’t. And we keep talking honestly if we already are. Keeping silent is a curse. And it is the devil’s idea, not God’s. Certainly we won’t stop it by silencing people.

Stop calling ‘talking about it” pornographic & stop the production of this porn:
My blogs, I am told, are banned from MennoNet. I have long been banned by some of the conservative Mennonite private ‘internet’ providers. While this is terribly unhandy for people who have had to get my blogs printed off by friends or go to  ‘visit’ to read them, it does give me free advertising. So I appreciate that part.

REALITY CHECK:
If a baby, child or youth isn’t protected from a full grown man’s penis, or the molesting fingers and objects by men, women and teens, or is forced to perform oral sex (which is strictly forbidden by some when they give advice to young couples getting married) then shame on us for saying it can’t be talked about. How can we justify letting it go on in silence and condemning the truth-tellers?!

And if you wouldn’t be comfortable having it done to your child or grandchild in the front of church service, while the preacher is teaching, then stand against it. And if you’ve done things like that, I will say to you like Joshua said to Achan, “honour God this day and tell this thing that you have done” (based on Joshua 7:19).

If it’s too explicit to tell, surely it’s too horrific to have hidden in church. No? What am I missing here?

So, for the sake of the children who still find no voice, I will keep telling their horrors, and some will keep reading, and stand up to fight for these neglected ones.

And if they don’t, I’ll keep telling anyway.

Because the raped and molested children deserve to be acknowledged. And every single day I receive messages of thanks. All from conservative Mennonites. Ranging from teenagers to aging grandparents.

And they keep saying, “Don’t let them stop you, no matter what!”

Yes, they keep pleading with me to stay strong against the accusations, the name-calling and all that goes with exposing corruption.

But more than that, when I stand before God and account for my life, I want to have done what He called me to do.  First in showing His love to the victims, and secondly in exposing the evil to prevent more victims in the future.

And I am not alone. Thousands, and thousands are rising to take a stand for Jesus and against the abuse and corruption. Daily emails and messages are pouring in, from conservative Anabaptists across the world, and especially from USA. While it is thrilling to see, I don’t know how I will ever get caught up!

Praise God that finally, finally, finally there is a massive move across the Anabaptist community to speak out against abuse.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

***

ONLY 2 MORE WEEKS TO REGISTER WITH LUNCH AND CONCERT INCLUDED!
(ENDS AUGUST 1, 2019)
THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at  THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.

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

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

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

***

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

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Update on 7-yr-old group rape survivor & exposing rapists

CONCERNS AND OUTPOURING OF LOVE & CARE:
Communications continue between myself and the woman who was group raped by 3 Anabaptist men. Since posting her story there has been a public outpouring of both care and concern.

A huge concern – justifiably so – is the risk of there being other victims

Criticism and the whole “she should get over it” mentality was part of the smorgasbord (or should I say ‘pot luck’) menu. Like all good smorgasbords, you go back for second helpings only to some dishes, and avoid others if you can. This “should get over it” mindset is profoundly linked to the belief that becoming a Christian and inviting Jesus into trauma will remove the aftermath of trauma.

The gap and inconsistency in such teaching and thought regarding sexual abuse is directly linked to ignorance surrounding the physical damage that trauma causes to the brain. So to demand a person who has suffered extreme trauma to function as though nothing happened is much akin to asking the person with an amputated leg to walk as though they have two legs. It just does more damage.

The reality is Jesus enters our story and experience; He doesn’t always miraculously remove it. He said “The truth will make you free”. To ‘make free’ is different than to ‘set free’. One is ‘removing from’, the other is not necessarily. Some offer the “Jesus heals” (which I believe) in a tender and caring way that allows Jesus to ‘enter in’ without demanding the person pretend there is no leftover trauma, scars, PTSD, nightmares etc.

This latter group, they’re the keepers.

IS THE STORY TRUE?:
A few wrote to question whether such a thing could possibly be true. First of all, that’s disturbing, to even suggest it is not true, yet I understand the shock. Those who ask out of shock (albeit with ignorance) are one thing. Those who question the thing to death because they don’t want truth… that’s another thing entirely.

For me, I’ve heard these kinds of stories for years, so no longer deal with that shock factor. All situations are not the same. The case of 3 adults raping a child is shocking, as it should be. There is no consent.

Other scenarios, that are not criminal, I seldom delve into, simply because my work is with victims. But, later today, I will tell snippets of such story, most briefly, because people seem to have trouble grasping how a group would collude together to commit such an act. And that question is an important one to ask. The answer I think lies in some of the non-criminal activities that are brought to my attention by those who participated in them, or family members and friends who know and cannot contain it.

Question if you must. Nothing wrong with that. But writing off a horror story just because you want to and can, within your own mind, makes you part of the bigger problem.

EXPOSING & DEALING WITH THE OFFENDERS;
One of the most common cries was regarding ‘outing’ these men so others can be protected. This is, of course, a big concern for me. As I said in yesterday’s blog, I don’t have enough information to do anything, nor is it likely I could given she is an adult.

After some conversation with her about what it would take to be ready to deal with this, and some conversations between her and her husband, we came up with the beginning of a plan. To be strong enough, she will begin meeting with a counselor to work through the trauma.

In the meantime and overlapping with this counseling, a few individuals will meet with her to come up with a workable plan. Part of that is a desire on this woman’s part to have the support of a few godly Anabaptist men/leaders and their wives, along with my support. She is conservative Anabaptist and within the setting it is critical to have that support. But on the other hand offering such support can be an invitation for serious persecution against those who offer it.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

  1. PRAY
    That may sound trite, but I believe prayer is the only way this is going to happen.
    Those of us who are Jesus followers draw much strength from prayer
    So please pray for
    • ongoing healing from the trauma and strength to face this
    • that we are able to find a Christian professional counselor who is a good fit
    • peace in the process and wisdom for the counselor
  2. CONTRIBUTE FINANCIALLY TO HER COSTS
    • initially there is only the cost of the counselor, childcare while she goes to the counselor and meets with law enforcement, and travel
    • with time, depending on what plan we all work out we will raise funds for other

If you wish to help with costs for counseling, childcare and travel, you may do so through aslanhasheard@gmail.com. Please mark it clearly for “Survivor of Group Rape”. From time to time people contribute to other causes, so this is important to avoid confusion.

If you wish to contribute to Generations Unleashed expenses, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

***

We are looking for recommendation of solid Christian counselors (professionally trained) in California, Missouri, Montana, and Tennessee. If you have suggestions, please email them to: info@generationsunleashed.com with subject line “Missouri counsellor” (or other state, as the case may be). They must be professionally licensed.

An understanding of Anabaptist culture is ideal as it is cumbersome for victims to first need to explain their culture before the unique aspects of trauma makes sense. Counselors cannot be in any way affiliated with ASAA or Strait Paths.

***

ONLY 2 MORE WEEKS TO REGISTER WITH LUNCH AND CONCERT INCLUDED!
(ENDS AUGUST 1, 2019)

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

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

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

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

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

But I know that’s not true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know better.

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

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

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

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

I know, because I am married to one.

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

Believe me, it works.

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

***

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

***

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

 

***

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

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

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

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

***

 

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

© Trudy Metzger 2019

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

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

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

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

***

ONE YOUNG BOY’S HELL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is only a small sliver of my personal experience.

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

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

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

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

(Name Withheld)

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

***

November 2, 2019, we have a day set aside to acknowledge the crimes of sexual violence in our Anabaptist culture at THE GATHERING.  It is exclusively for survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons. Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified by victims. (More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

 

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

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

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Haiti: A concerned Anabaptist’s letter & my response

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

Name: JAY YODER

Email: anonman030612@gmail.com

Website:

Subject:: HAITI

Comment: Trudy

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

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

***

Dear Mr. Yoder,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wish you peace,

Trudy

***

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

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

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

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

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

***

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

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

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

HAITI: Stanley Fox Issues Statement & One Victim’s Response

EDIT: I am being contacted with assumptions that I am retracting my statement that Stanley Fox knew since 2016/2017.  I am not retracting my previous concerns. His apology states that he knew. Therefore, because his statement confirms my evidence He only identified it as homosexuality and wasn’t concerned enough to pull a worker for it. I said I appreciate his apology, and I do. It does not change the fact that he knew and did nothing. Why would a troubled young man approach a pastor about Jeriah, if it was consensual relationship? Why would that not alert a pastor to find out what is going on?

***

Several people sent me links to Stanley Fox’s Apology Statement last evening. I was out with a friend for a few hours and didn’t see it until late. He has my respect of ‘stepping out of the lineup’ to speak without a lawyer and without permission. He is the first to do this in this mess.

Stanley Fox

I said to several other leaders this past week that if even one would have the integrity to step forward and say, “We knew…. I am sorry… And, for the record, Trudy is telling the truth,” that would go a long way. This is closer to that than I expected to see. I don’t need them to say for my sake that I’m telling the truth.

People are messaging, encouraging me to reach out to Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) to work with them regarding other allegations that have come forward, and at least practice Matthew 18. (My question is “which part of Matthew 18?” Mostly I assume they’re not talking about the millstone verse and the part that says the angels of a child are always before the face of God). Personally, I think Matthew 18 is applied too much like a bandaid on a heart attack, making it a perfect tool for keeping things hidden that should be brought to light. And like the heart attack, it’s killing the church.

To work in any level of ‘togetherness’ there first needs to be transparency – this apology is a huge leap forward, and comes on the heels of the Public Statement by CAM. There also needs to be a common goal of not keeping the church, the public and donors in the dark. And, finally, it requires giving victims a voice in this.

For this reason, before posting this link to Mr. Fox’s apology I reached out to one of the victims who made me aware on Monday that Mr. Fox also knew, to get his feedback. He was gracious and appreciative, but with some unanswered questions.

His response was:
It rises a few questions but I am happy he made it. That is the person he has make people in Haiti believe he was. […] If he, initially in 2013, thought he was sent back to the US for homosexuality, who did Jeriah confessed to then? as a pastor that has served on campus at the same time as Jeriah, what have he done to find out the whole truth, they had many accountability meetings? So for him, it’s ok for someone that was sent home for homosexuality to come back and serve? I don’t think he would teach that. […] Also, it is confusing for a victim to know Stanley knew (at least in 2017), and didn’t do much to help the victims heal (He talked to name redacted about forgiveness once and prayed with him, in that meeting. He never said a word to me about such a thing), or to make sure Jeriah wasn’t doing it to any other kids and at the same time say that he cares/ love the wonderful people of Haiti. It makes us scratch our heads.

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 12.08.05 AM

I’m glad it meant something to the victim. That in spite of his questions about the message this sends regarding homosexuality being acceptable on the mission field, when it is taught against so strongly.

This doesn’t negate Mr. Fox’s apology. It simply raises deep theological questions for the conservative Mennonite groups who punish harshly those who become sexually active, engage in heterosexual relations outside of marriage (albeit with significant grace for adultery and child molestation).

This argument that it was believed to be consensual homosexual relationships has come up repeatedly, so my response here now moves away from his apology. I am truly thankful he spoke out, and respect his willingness to stick out his neck.

Thank you for that, Mr. Fox.

***


Youth of the church are rising to attention and asking the same questions this young man asks. They, who have been disciplined, forced to confess sexual immorality when caught. Youth who see a double standard, based on class, power, connections and various other influences. Youth who have been ‘shunned’ (informally) for clothes being not quite right. For listening to the wrong music. Youth, whose parents funded CAM through this (and, again, CAM has done many wonderful things), and who now defend those who knew and did nothing.

These youth are not dumb. They see through the hypocrisy. Ruled with an iron thumb, some of them, they watch as this unfolds with excuses, as thousands rise up to defend the organization, as leaders say no one knew (besides a few). They watch as it surfaces that there were blatant signs, not only of sexual sin, but bold crimes. Signs that no one pursued. And yet it was the whisper of a rumour that landed them before the congregation to confess kissing and making out? Or, God forbid, got the girl pregnant.

The one thing many thousands are asking for is transparency. The other thing is consistency. If homosexuality is not a big deal here, then it better no longer be the thing we preach against and condemn others for. If our position on it has changed, then it is time to apologize to the homosexuals whom we have bullied, shamed and excommunicated when they came out, or even reached out for help.

If that is not our position, then we have to confess to inconsistency and repent before God.

God forbid that we simply hope this goes away. It won’t. The world of conservative Anabaptism has forever changed, and it will never be able to return to what it was. Our 6/10 is the 9/11 that changed the world forever.

And, God forbid that our response to this be the thing that drives the children of yesterday and tomorrow away from the heart of God.

Such life-altering events demand a response.

There is only one response that will have the desire we all long for. Repentance. Deep, deep repentance.

We can grieve.

We can be angry; “be angry and sin not”… “Don’t sin in your anger” assumes anger is part of life. “Let not the sun go down on your anger” assumes anger but gives instruction to not let it control us. So we can be angry. Angry at the men who knew and looked the other way. Angry at Jeriah for assaulting children. Angry at Trudy for speaking out…. because this really does hurt, and if this hadn’t been spoken out…

So we can hurt. Hurting is honest.

We can weep.Tears are inevitable in our suffering.

But, in the end, if we want God to move we must repent.

Not only three men who knew and did nothing. Yes, them too please. But not only. We, as a culture have enabled this kind of thing. There are systemic factors that allowed this to happen.

Those who understand this will rise to repentance. And those who repent will go deeper. They will be instrumental in revival.

Revival cannot come without repentance.

We have prayed for revival, but we kick and scream when God invites us to the brokenness from which revival flows.

***

***

Plans are coming together for the next trip to take place shortly. Thank you to all who have donated. We have a ways to go, but it’s coming together

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

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Pt 1: Are religious leaders (who offend sexually) untouchable?

One of my favourite things about university has been the freedom to guide my own path in the area of research. Returning to studying after years of experience it was critical that it fit with my work with sexual violence in religious communities. For most projects and all research I chose to look at various aspects of religion and crime – mostly sexual abuse – in a variety of contexts, including Latter Day Saints, Orthodox Judaism, and conservative Anabaptists. I grew up in a series of conservative Mennonite churches – thanks to parents who never found peace in any of the ones we tried – so I am not unfamiliar with the terrain of religion. But I was shocked by the similarities in function between other fundamental religious groups and my background. We are not the only ones structured to protect top leaders.

At first I questioned if it was actually structured that way (on purpose) or if it was merely the inadvertent and inevitable outcome of ultimate power given to bishops and leaders. But after a bit of digging and searching for answers, I concluded some are intentionally structured to make leaders untouchable. Why? I am not certain, beyond the need to make the religious culture look perfect and maintain image. (To see how this plays out in the Orthodox Jews, read Michael Lesher’s: Shonda and Concealment). And then there is this notion that those called to ministry are just a bit more sacred and holy than the rest. Here I would propose that the calling itself may be entirely holy, but the human executing that calling is entirely flawed, completely human and particularly vulnerable to corruption when placed at such a level.

Someone said, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, or something close to that. I would echo that. Power that is accountable to no one is absolute power, and it absolutely is corrupt. No human gets to play God, be untouchable by those they lead, and still stay human and flawed in their own mind. That kind of power leads to grandiose thinking, narcissism and idolatry. When people who follow such a leaders start believing they have a special kind of ‘in’ with God, and maybe it’s okay for them to do things others can’t, rather than exposing leaders’ crimes, we have a real problem. And these were the testimonies of some of the women in the studies I read; rather than exposing crime they saw leaders are having ‘special permission’ from God. This matches what I’ve heard from victims I’ve worked with.

Every spiritual leader and person in ministry I’ve known is prone to failure and sin, myself included. We all have to repent. Every last one of us. Knowing many others, and knowing myself, I have concluded we are all the same. All human, just like you. All sinners saved by grace. We, like the Apostle Paul, do the things we don’t want to do and don’t get done what we want to do. But true leaders do not justify sin and crime in their own lives.

Do away with the pedestals. They are not stable and only stay up as long as people are willing to hold them up. On a pedestal repentance is difficult, as is facing consequences for sin and crime. There’s the fear that if people discover how broken and human we are they will be destroyed by our imperfection and lose their faith in God. Even in this we raise ourselves to a God-like-status. But it’s not truth. They’ll be fine, believe it or not, if they see our humanity. And if they aren’t, the perception of perfection is better crushed. It’s their one hope of replacing leaders with God, and giving God His rightful place.

So how do leaders rise to that place in the minds of (their) people? Because, let’s face it, none are ‘all that and a bag of chips’ once you get to know them. They may be wonderful and nice, and all, but they are human. And I’ve not met one that isn’t somehow selfish, no matter who they desire to be. Me included. We are all human; you and I, and on the same level.

I can’t speak to the ‘how’ of every religious community, but it struck me in my readings for the research I did, that it is a taught and controlled path to the top. A path carefully laid out in the constitutions and rule books, including Anabaptists and Orthodox Jews among others. Of course my ‘knowing’ from experience and observation also gave me insights other ‘outsiders’ wouldn’t see. (Regrettably, I cannot use the material from that research publicly at this time, t is also part of my PhD application package.)

Some church constitutions state that charges or allegations can only be brought against a church leader if there are several witnesses. If there is one thing sex offenders and child molesters know, it is to never leave room for witnesses. The lengths to which they go in planning and scheming, or their skill at taking advantage of the vulnerable person at hand, would leave room for little chance of ever having even one witness, let alone two. They are opportunistic, and have an uncanny ability to sniff out the vulnerable ones who have no voice.

Now take those skills, give them to a revered church leader who knows who is who, and what church families struggles with, and who is vulnerable, insecure, abused (by parents, spouse or teacher etc), and you have a perfect storm. When sex offenders and molesters become preachers and bishops, or ministry leaders, and especially if they have that lovable personality, they have access to victims with a reputation that is well fortressed. Offenders in church leadership are often very charismatic leaders who ‘love’ people, and are loved and worshiped by their followers. They have no need to defend themselves, because they have built their empire so that no one will believe the allegations, and the people will rise to their defence so they need only to sit back and watch as their voiceless victims scramble for someone, anyone to hear them.

These offenders will likely have made certain to have enough trusted relationships with the demographic of their victims who can vouch for them as respectful and safe, to ensure that allegations sound foolish and far-fetched. (For example, students are often shocked when the teacher is caught molesting because the teacher was respectful to most students. The ministry leader or minister who violates the vulnerable wives of the abusive men they help may have the respect of many of the wives of these men, having never made moves or crossed lines, thus making the rest sound ridiculous when they bring forward their allegations. And the leader who molests girls may leave his own daughters untouched, so that the whole family can vouch for him. You get the picture.)

These are skilled criminals, not people who ‘fall’ into affairs in leadership. These are not pastors, bishops and ministry leaders; they are wolves. They are predators. They are power-mongers with lust issues; lust for power and lust for sex. They excommunicate and ostracize those who fail to live up to the constitution, and excuse their own sin. They  have no regard for the sacredness of sex and God’s laws, not to mention the laws of the land. They rape, overpower, molest and lust… and excommunicate victims for not being silent. (In any case, if a leader molests or abuses someone, he/she should be removed and dealt with, even if only a one time offence. They are not safe in positions of power.)

The more these allegations against church and ministry leaders come to light, in various communities and churches, the more certain I am that one of the key sources of the larger problem is the result of corrupt leadership. Be that 20% of the leaders, or 50%, or 5%, it’s too many. And, unfortunately, those leaders who are pure of heart genuinely struggle to grasp that a fellow-leader would/could do such a thing, and they too write things off as false allegations made by a troubled church member. This needs to change.

And that leads me to the the next thing in the constitution… The word of a member in good standing, according to some constitutions, is to be taken over that of those who are not in good standing. It takes little imagination to see that sex abuse victims are often very troubled and don’t do ‘constitution following’ very well, making their testimony easy to write off. And those victims who are faithful constitution followers are silent, because that’s what the constitution sets up. Some state that members are to first attempt resolving issues directly with those who wronged them, before going to leaders, meaning victims must first face their offender before seeking help. They further state that once communion has been observed and peace is expressed, a matter is to be considered forgiven and done.

The way these things are structures make church leaders – especially bishops, but also prominent ministry leaders and lay members of good rapport – almost untouchable. And that perpetuates the crimes both at a leadership level and among the people. Almost untouchable…

But God…

But God is not done. He will expose. He will bring to light. And He will give voice to victims so that these wolves will be stripped of their facades, and they will stand naked in their sins. And more than giving them a voice He will be their voice and He will speak boldly. And then there will be no constitution to manage damage control. There will be no hiding. The truth will be revealed.

What excites me is that God is raising up leaders ‘among them‘ who will not be silent.  Leaders who will not look the other way, and who will hold them accountable and turn them over to the law. These leaders and their wives have reached out to me, internationally, and encouraged me to never quit, never give up… And God is also raising up a network of law enforcement workers across USA who are listening. They are seeing the patterns, the cover-ups and the crime in the name of God.

Reckoning day is coming…

And that doesn’t even begin to account for standing before God with these sins exposed, their covers blown.

Victims have long been brutalized by organized religion, and have been silenced. But God…

(To be continued…)

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018