*They* never cut communication? And what happens to crushed mustard seeds?

Apparently ASAA never cut communication….

I promised that when rumours/questions with faulty information come forward, I will publicly respond. So far I’ve done that. But I need to withdraw that, going forward, after keeping my commitment this final time…

I can say in good conscience that I have never intentionally misled, or told anything less than truth. I have tried to speak only to that for which I hold evidence. When I failed, I owned it.

***

About cutting communication:

Received August 8, 2018, this is the email that I initially interpreted as cut communication, without explanation, or any indication as to why:

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About a week later – before I shared with anyone besides Tim, a mentor, two pastors and wives – and before their letter arrived — I received messages saying that Jeremy Sensenig had told several people ASAA cut me off. Only then did I speak out, and I did so publicly, and only then did I call it ‘cutting’ communication… because that is what ‘they’ were saying.

Here are the screenshots of the one of those conversations. It was shocking, to say the least:

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(Name redacted)

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On August 22, 2018: I received the ‘statement’ they promised :

copy ASAA letter_August 22a

(Tim and I both would love and explanation (with or without evidence) as to what ‘personal communication’ I shared, besides the blog about ‘cut communication’ on October 14 – which you will note is the day those text messages came in, making it the third witness that Jeremy was spreading it, and several others were talking about it.)

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They invited me to respond to their letter, but gave no indication that other communication was welcome.

Odd too, how I brought forward concerns, for which I hold the evidence, and they started trying to control me. But, then again, they are a band of Anabaptist men… I am an ex-Mennonite woman.

I did respond:

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Until they cut communication (and I feel like I have to remind readers that their board member first called it that), I trusted them. After the letter came, remaining trust shattered. Because of my ongoing trust in them, and at the same time my determination to hold their toes to the fire, I lost most people on both sides, leaving me rather isolated. (Also why I thank God I’m back in school, where encouragement and support and teamwork exist.)

Hearing they now deny that communication was cut is…  well, it just feels like another form of gaslighting…. much like when the message came from their Chair, saying  that I had it all wrong about D’s confession that was orchestrated by a group of men, without any clarification about what the truth was/is. A day later the author admitted he was involved in constructing the confession, and gave an excellent explanation. (Albeit, his advice was disregarded, so he just helped with a bit of the wording). And then a day or two later I heard he had shared at an event that he was part of ‘shutting Trudy down’, and when I confronted him about it, he admitted he may have come across as pleased about it – because he thought I needed to be shut down.

Even after that… I trusted. And I mean, I really trusted. One “I’m sorry”, and I’m back in the race with that person.

I would have been the perfect abuser’s wife. Especially to someone who gaslights. At least until my mind snapped. (Because even now, having posted proof, I question my own mind. For that reason I have to run like hell is after me, or this thing will consume me and destroy more than just me and my faith in God.)

Sadly, if this whole mess had been properly addressed in a timely manner, and with open communication, we wouldn’t be in a position of still having this hanging over our heads, like a tonne of rocks, waiting to crush hundreds, if not thousands of people, in some way.

Ah well…

Maybe God will still redeem … somehow… even if it feels like hell… and I’ve lost most of that faith, and see no good can come from the blood on this ground on which I will die (figuratively)…

***

Only those who have ever pulled the cover off a nest of rattlesnakes and poked – intentionally, or believing it was something else – know the venom they hold…

It all but kills you, that experience.

And that’s if it ends well.

I hope it ends well.

***

Because I promised, I am posting this blog.

But, honest to God, I cannot take any more gaslighting. For the first time in all this hell, I regret speaking out. I am finished. I have lost… too much….

***

Faith, like a mustard seed, Someone once said, is enough. But if that mustard seed gets stomped on by those you trusted… Is a crushed mustard seed still enough?

***

Devastated beyond words…

Signing off…. And closing a door…

But, as always…  And in the only way I know how…

Love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger 2018

Communication breakdown with the Anabaptist Symposium on Sexual Abuse (ASAA) team

A week ago I was contacted by ASAA stating that “communications with Generations Unleashed, both individually(individual board members) and organizationally(ASAA) will be on hold”, but no further explanation. This was the first I heard from anyone since I turned evidence over to Diane Langberg, other than two brief exchanges related to giving her access. It came with the usual confidentiality notice, and I chose to honour that, sharing it only with my husband, two pastors (and their wives), and one mentor.

Needless to say, it was jolting to be contacted by someone from USA, almost a week later, asking if the rumours are true. This individual had encountered two separate acquaintances of an ASAA board member, and was told that this board member shared details about the situation. (The member was named, however, I am choosing not to name him here.) It is disturbing to me that they are all not allowed to speak with me, but can freely share details that I – as a key player in this, and the one who offered the evidence – am not allowed to hear from them. This board member also had some less than positive things to say about me to these various individuals. Things that, to date, he has not said to my face. (So much for Matthew 18… No one has come to me directly with concerns yet.) Frankly, I’d rather hear things directly than from behind my back, but that is between him and God. I then heard this evening from others about conversations with board members – both the main board and advisory board – about the situation.

Until today, I have honoured the request for confidentiality, but am posting this to clear the air about rumours they started. The best way to stop a rumour is to tell the truth, so there you have it. Yes, ASAA has cut off communication with me and Generations Unleashed. I have been given no reason for this. No explanation. I contacted their ‘outside investigator’ – to whom I gave access to evidence – who responded that she is not allowed to discuss the case with me or anyone else. If I wasn’t the person who handed over the evidence, that would make absolute sense to me. She is highly professional, highly regarded and – I am told – amazing at what she does. I can’t imagine she would ask for this without legitimate reason.

I have since also contacted an ‘outside investigator’ – a lawyer/mediator who specializes in conflict and works with sexual abuse in churches – to see if he would be willing to get involved and look at the evidence, including the current handling of the investigation. My relationship with this individual holds less conflict of interest than ASAA’s relationship with Diane L, who reportedly advised in setting up ASAA and is also a prof where one of the board members studies. I am hoping this second outside investigator will be help guide through the lack of communication, and help me see if I have completely misunderstood the evidence. My intent is redemptive here, not adversarial.

With communication being cut off, and no explanation or conversation leading up to it, this is one of only two options I have. The other is to publicly post all evidence, on every aspect of this including all private conversations that took place in the process of addressing things with the pastor, originally. I am not ready to do the latter yet.

For now, I am simply confirming that, yes, communication has been completely cut off. I do not know what their plans are. I do know this is not the end.

And I also know that the day before this communication came through, I wrote what you see in the following screenshots. This was in response to a group who were hurt and frustrated that a meeting was cancelled by ASAA, which they had offered to hold. There was confusion and hurt feelings, and I was tagged in the comments even though I was not part of the group planning to attend or watch via livestream (or whatever their final plans were). Had I not been tagged, I probably would have missed the details, but as it stood, I felt I had no choice but to respond. (I was given permission by the couple with whom the meeting was arranged to reference that meeting in this blog.) This is what I wrote in response to the concern and frustration:

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After being contacted, I had a conversation with a limited audience of people today – and not those already frustrated by cancelled meetings – regarding this, sharing only the barest of details, sharing that communication is halted without explanation, and asked them to pray.

By this evening I was contacted again, and that is when I decided to address the rumours publicly. They are true. It could be for the best of reasons and intentions, as one pastor in today’s conversation said. I don’t know. I’d find that easier to believe if the board was respecting the process rather than cutting off communication and then spreading rumours directly traced back to them, not through some long grapevine. (And before you ask if I have confirmed with them, remember I am not allowed to contact them. I did call one board member to clarify a concern *not* related to the details of the case, thinking surely they can answer whether two logistical questions, and was thoroughly reprimanded. And I also sent several emails in the first 24 hours of shock and stress.) In any case, when communication is ‘paused’ – whether as a form of pressure or punishment, or to protect the integrity of the investigation – it would be wise for those imposing it to also hold to that same standard I am asked to honour. (Not to mention that if they can’t talk to me but can talk to others… well, that just makes no sense.)

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I break silence today because I learned ASAA is already talking. Just as, on June 8, when I had been asked to be silent, I honoured it until one of them was involved with constructing a confession, and they were not silent. So today I speak to tell the truth, os you know it is not rumour – you are getting it directly from me.

Regardless what happens next, I know where I stand. As I said in my Facebook status yesterday – before I knew any of the rumours circulating:

I will say it again, amid the storm and the crazy…

If I am wrong, I will do two things:
1. I will say I am sorry
2. I will repent

But I will not say it to appease the masses. And I will not say it for personal standing. And I will not say it because of a guilt trip. I will say it because God and people with an agenda for truth – not those looking to defend or protect power or abuse – have spoken and shown me that I am wrong. And no one can do that apart from having seen the full evidence *and* communicated with all involved parties, and lined up [what is said] with the evidence. Blindly trying to convince someone they have it wrong is not effective, and listening to it is not responsible.

I also maintain that the only thing I want now, and ever wanted, is to bring accountability, ownership and change going forward.

Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. She no less led her people to victory. Sometimes the end of a warrior is the necessary reality for change. We should not fear such an end.

 

If I were to go back to the beginning, would I change some things? Absolutely! But I stand firm on what I saw and heard, and the writings and evidence I hold. It cannot be talked away. It can be addressed. It can be ‘owned up to’ and it can be forgiven. But it can’t be made to not exist. I pray it is addressed, so that healing can come.

As for this present pause, for the most part I am choosing to believe that good things still are and will be happening, all around, and that redemption will come.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018

Mommy, What Would You Do, If I Told You, I’m Pregnant?

My then-fifteen-yr-old daughter asked this question, rather casually, sitting on the floor beside me, leaning against the fireplace.”I would be very happy for me, because I would get to be a Grandma–(or Nana, as I hope to be called one day)–and I would be sad for you.”

Had I been at all concerned that this was her way of making an announcement, I’m sure my heart would have skipped a beat. My reply might have been worded a bit differently, I’m sure, but hopefully the message would have been the same.

Alicia went on to ask a few more questions, like what I would do if she couldn’t take care of the baby. I assured her that her baby would be our baby and we would never abandon her, or any of our children if they had a child out-of-wedlock. We talked about what it would mean for her, as a teen, to be a mom. What it would cost her on so many levels.

This conversation was Alicia’s way of processing the fact that many of her friends were sexually active and the reality they could potentially be facing, should birth control fail them. The conversation was not our first, and definitely not our last.

It is important for parents to make it safe for children to talk to us about anything, and that doesn’t happen over night. The younger they are when we open that door, the better off they will be, and the more likely that they will ask the hard questions later. This is not a guarantee–there are many factors that play in, including personality and temperament–but it does increase the odds.

There are seasons when some teenagers resort to grunts, and rolling of the eyes frequently, as their method of communication. They won’t want to talk about anything personal, let alone this kind of thing. It’s important to be sensitive to this need for personal space, but it’s not reason to give up on these talks. When they are bombarded with false information on every hand, we can gently let them know we are here. We can ask how they’re doing, without pressuring them to ‘tell all’, and offering a safe place if they need to talk.

Hopefully, if they are faced with the really tough stuff, like premarital sex or even pregnancy, they will trust us enough to open up. I have listened to numerous stories, of young women who became pregnant in their teens, and because they couldn’t face their Christian parents with the shame, they chose to hide it by having an abortion instead. Numerous women have sat across the table from me, in tears, spilling their pain, and their shame, grieving the loss of the child they aborted.

The first time a young woman shared her story with me, about ten years ago, I made a vow that my children would be loved, accepted and safe, should they ever have an unplanned pregnancy. I teach them abstinence, but their place in my heart, and my love for them is not dependent on that.

Pride, ‘image’, and the way some might gossip is secondary. What matters is that every child knows he or she is loved, that mom and dad are here to support them regardless what happens, so that their shame does not push them into deeper darkness.

That trust and communication does not begin when teenagers start dating. It all begins in the diaper phase….

© Trudy Metzger

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