A former conservative Anabaptist (CA) pastor speaks; A meeting with a few godly men (including a CA pastor); And a glorious shattering

Before sharing the main blog, I want to address a few things that that have surfaced a few times through this process.

WHAT ARE CREDIBLE ALLEGATIONS:
Does ‘credible allegations’ mean I am telling my readers that everything that was/is reported is exactly 100% as reported? Am I saying with unquestioning certainty that “all allegations are true”?

I have said it numerous times, “I am not God. I make no claims to know exactly what was done.” What I am saying is the allegations are not fluff and there is merit to them to the point that there should be a deep investigation. It is in this that CAM and LIFE Literature failed.  I have never asked anyone to unquestioningly endorse as absolute truth what they hear. But I have and will continue to insist that independent third party investigations must be done when such allegations are brought forward, by someone trained in handling victims in a sensitive manner. Such allegations must never be ignored.  And those against whom allegations have been brought should not be sent out on the mission field. It will backfire.

LET’S WAIT UNTIL THE COURTS DECIDE INNOCENCE OR GUILT
This would be a brilliant idea if the cases had been reported before the statute of limitations was up. Sadly, because leaders failed to listen and report years ago, that is no longer an option, so it is my vote that those same people don’t get to give the advice of silence until the courts decide. The courts will never decide on the Daniel Herr case because he was disregarded for approximately 30 to 40 years, and the whispers and allegations were excused.  So, no, we don’t wait. We do the right thing and let the public know.

There are more, but I will leave it there for tonight.

*****

The following is a conversation I had with a friend on Facebook Messenger. I asked his permission to share here, including his name: 

STEVE LAPP (not with LOH, for clarification):
Just read your update on “ Grandpa “ .. The coverups that continue to be exposed are beyond comprehension to me. I am convinced there is no limit to the blindness that accompanies the attitude of moral and spiritual superiority. ( God help us ) PS : I thought there was no statute of limitations on sexual crimes involving minors.
MY RESPONSE:
[As I understand it, the statute of limitations now is] age 50, [for any] victim [who] was under 18 in 2006. It formerly was 18 years […], plus 12 years. (So [age] 30). In 2006 that changed. But the [alleged] victims [in this case, other than those in Haiti] are over 50.

What makes me so sick is that they didn’t bother talking to victims and report to the law. None of them. Not in that many churches, leaders or organizations. And then, rather than deal with it when it gets exposed, they gaslight and say “Trudy is just trying to destroy mission organizations”. And for what earthly reason would I do that?! Ignorant. (Not that I care they say it. I just further exposes their ignorance).

STEVE LAPP:
It’s dark [the abuse]… My childhood was so happy , so secure, filled with love and laughter. There were no dark clouds in the sky for me as a child. I trusted , and never found a reason to mistrust.
Nowadays tho, I do lots of reflecting, and I realize how stunningly stupid and ignorant we become when we blindly trust a “ movement “ of any sort , and particularly a religious movement. I was once a follower of the Charity churches ( for a short time ) . Only when I began to question some of the “absolutes” in the Anabaptist community did my eyes begin to see into some of the darkness that was there. It’s been a journey “out” for many years now , yet I struggle to grasp the enormity of the problem among my people.
It seems to me as long as we hang on to even a trace of the idea that we are spiritually superior as a group ie: Anabaptist , (although it’s true in any group) we will never be able to see clearly. It’s incredibly blinding and should shake us to the core of our being , for it’s a mindset that is a breeding ground for gross immortality and wickedness.

Yes, there’s much progress been made among Anabaptist leaders as far as enlightenment, but until we are broken by our sin of “ spiritual superiority “ I fear this monster ( sexual immorality ) will always be present and thriving. We need more than enlightenment. We are in desperate need of brokenness that goes beyond admitting we have a “ problem “ with immortality. We have a pride problem that we need to own up to, and repent of .

 

***

This evening I had coffee with 3 conservative Anabaptist gentlemen (one was my brother), and later Tim joined in too. It was good. It struck me, at one moment before Tim arrived that the last time I met with 3 (or more) conservative Anabaptist men by myself I was 18, a brand new Christian, and was being grilled about my sexual history. The memory flashed through my mind and it struck me how safe I felt tonight. These are three honourable men.

We sat and talked about my work, and one of them (the pastor in our midst), referring to the conservative Anabaptists in relation to my work, asked thoughtfully and gently, “How did you become our adversary? We need you.” He went on to say we should be partnering together, not fighting one another, in addressing the epidemic. 

In that I didn’t hear him say, “I endorse every detail of how you do your work.” But on the other hand I didn’t hear him judge. He simply acknowledged that there is an abuse problem that needs to be addressed, and he acknowledged God’s calling on my life and the gift He has given me to do what I do. He also acknowledged pride (religious pride and arrogance) as a contributing factor to the problem at hand. 

There is something humbling and empowering, sitting in the presence of men of God with such humility. It is touching, and a reflection of the heart of God. 

And this, my friends, is why I do not fight against ‘the Anabaptist culture’. It is a problem of individuals who are arrogant and selfish, not a problem of a culture in and of themselves. I have honourable and true-hearted friends, so very many of them, within the culture. They don’t put their faith in the culture or any of the practices; it is a way of life, not a way of salvation. The bulk of my friends, prayer warriors and supporters are conservative Anabaptist. They are the people whose love and prayers carry me through the the ministry I do. 

Then, to have encounters such as this evening — or like when I sit with my Amish friends in USA and one of their ministers comes to ask question — and I sit and talk heart to heart with conservative Anabaptist leaders who genuinely cares about addressing the epidemic of sexual abuse in a redemptive and forthright manner, my heart is filled with gratitude.

The Spirit of God is alive and well among my people. Change is coming. Be encouraged.

A line has been drawn in the sand, and people will choose whether they will stand for truth and honour, or continue to bow to the idol of ‘good image’… will they rise up against this evil and bring healing to the children, or will they preserve self and reputation?

It is a painful shattering of illusions, but beyond that shattering lies glorious freedom and healing for victims and offenders.

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As always…

Love,
~ T ~

*****

Trudy offers conferences for survivors of abuse, and training to equip churches and the community in caring for victims and offenders. If you would like to inquire about having a conference or training in your area, send an inquiry via Contact TrudyTo support Generations Unleashed, the charity she works for, Donate Here.

SURVEY: Conservative Anabaptist (CA) Leaders’ Response to Abuse: If you are/were CA and have been sexually abused and interacted with a CA leader regarding the abuse, this survey is for you.

I am preparing several other surveys and will release them on our SURVEYS PAGE.

© Trudy Metzger

 

 

Conservative Mennonite missionary “Grandpa” accused of molesting minors: 4 decades, 2 countries

Note: This blog was proofed and approved by the four critical parties who are referenced in documentation and/or who brought documentation forward.

EDIT/ADDITION: In the next blog ‘Grandpa’ is named. To avoid confusion, we are adding the link here: Timeline of Grandpa Harold and Purpose for Revealing his Identity.

****

It was late summer 1989, if memory serves me right… maybe 1990. I had returned to my Conservative Mennonite church about 2 years prior, after several years of pretty harsh living. Now, a young adult roughly two years into my conversion, I faced my 20’s with new-found faith and freedom. Life was good.

The conversation took place on one of many trips to US, where I had many friends and dated a young man for over several years. I don’t recall which year it was, exactly, but the moment lingers in my memory…

A group of youth, myself included, visited an Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite church that summer Sunday night. I don’t recall who preached. I don’t recall about what. But I do recall the startling moment of standing in a group of youth discussing a school teacher who had allegedly molested his students. He then had left the Eastern Mennonite Church, moved to another conservative Mennonite group, and was ordained there. That this was acceptable, horrified me. And that adults couldn’t see the risk of such a thing baffled me.

Nonetheless, the information came, and it went. I did nothing with it. Not beyond maybe another conversation or two. And then I laid it aside. What is a barely-past-teens adult to do about that which they’ve never been taught; that which many only whisper in the shadows, but have no clue how to address? Especially in the ’80’s and ’90’s, and in our setting… long before the topic was welcomed. (Not that it really is now, but we’ve made progress).

Spring 2019, the topic resurfaced… Not from one individual, but eight including documentation from an alleged victim, as well as documentation dating back to 1970’s with verifiable timelines. Besides messages, several individuals spoke with me about this alleged abuser, wondering if there was some way to expose him and warn the public. The first messages started trickling in shortly before Jeriah Mast was exposed for his sex crimes in Haiti and Ohio, completely unsolicited, and they continued coming after. The most recent contact, from a total stranger, was December 2019. 

*****

Circumstantially, I met with the alleged abuser to discuss another matter, and in that conversation I told him of the allegations against him, and asked what he had to say for himself. He made one significant error that day. He lied. He said the individual(s) bringing the allegations had withdrawn them. I knew for a fact that was untrue. Whenever a person has to tell an untruth to convince me of innocence, it tends to raise my concerns. (Ironically, he spoke with someone soon after my meeting with him, and next thing I know, I allegedly sent a woman  in Canada to prison for not changing her baby’s diaper often enough. I sure hope that woman who went to prison wasn’t me!).

A second troubling tidbit was that he boasted having proof that a child he was alleged to have fathered in USA (or was somehow in question) was not his. If he never assaulted the mother, or touched her, why would he need proof the child is not his? And since that proof was not a DNA test, it would hold no weight in court. The child would need to be found and a DNA test done to prove his claims. (I will refrain from disclosing what item the ‘proof’ was/is, as it becomes too revealing of story I cannot yet share).

We shall call the alleged abuser Grandpa, without using his name at this point.  It is not critical that the public know his name until I am asked, by victims, to make his name public. So a nameless Grandpa he will be.

*****

Initially, when told of the allegations and asked how to stop him, there was nothing I could do. I had been given allegations from numerous sources, but none by witnesses or alleged victims. No documentation. But as more information trickled in, that changed.

Three particularly compelling testimonies caused me great concern. One stood out in particular, of those three, because it allegedly transpired over the ocean, in a remote area, far away from the allegations dating back four decades.

A man was traveling on the mission field with this Grandpa in the vehicle when a man from that remote community approached their vehicle. He was irate and called the Grandpa an unrighteous man. The traveling partner did not know why they called him unrighteous; suffice it to say, he had a bad reputation.

On another occasion, a missionary was in the area without the Grandpa, standing at a small shop where they purchase drinks and snacks. He was in a group of men and boys, natives of that country, when a few youngsters walked by. Pointing to one of them, someone in the group said, “That one is [the Grandpa’s] [child].” (Note, the name of the grandpa in question was spoken, and the gender of the child was revealed. I am not comfortable sharing that information here). Not only were there claims that Grandpa had fathered a child, but that he had fathered the child with a minor (an exceptionally young minor) in their community.

What’s more, the minor who was allegedly assaulted gave birth to a child at around 9 months after the time Grandpa visited the community. And it was confirmed that Grandpa was indeed in the community, over night and without anyone else to hold him accountable, at the time the alleged assaults took place.

It is very possible the child is not his. I make no claims one way or the other. But certainly, if he did assault the young girl, it is also possible the child is his. However, even if the child was not his, it does not negate the allegations against him.  It is uncanny that a man, who has allegations in his home country dating back more than 4 decades, winds up with allegations in the mission field. Allegations from someone with no knowledge of former allegations.

What is more, the Grandpa reportedly kept in contact with that young mom and her child, ensuring provision for them on various practical fronts. Either he is an incredibly good-hearted man, or he has his own worries that maybe he’s responsible for the child… or at least that he harmed the mother. I can’t tell you which it is. I don’t know.

The following is evidence sent to me, again with no solicitation on my part, of allegations made against this Grandpa.

Note the date on the following letter. Tonight is the eve of the 30th anniversary of when it was written. Coincidence that I expose it this at this time, and that I did not realize it was exactly 30 years? I think not:

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A list of all individuals to whom the letter was sent has been removed, as it is too revealing.

Not only did international allegations (referenced above) came to my attention this past year; I discovered that many people knew of these allegations dating back to the 80’s. It remains almost common knowledge, it seems, in some communities.

One of the items sent to me includes leaders that were spoken to at various times, which organizations, which churches. All who did not act on what they heard. (Ironically, that is just the thing Judge R took the church to task for in Jeriah Mast’s sentencing. Someone must have known. Someone must have said somethingand no one did anything. (Not sure if wording is exact).

That these allegations were never reported, adequately investigated or pursued, and that he was allowed to (just like Jeriah Mast) to work with the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, is shameful at best. The quote in the newspaper article (below) “I’ve heard [Grandpa/John – not his real name] repeatedly say, and supported by his Christ-like lifestyle, that he never abused anyone.” (Hmmm… that’s what Jeriah Mast said too, until he couldn’t anymore). The article is worth reading. Other quotes show the mentality in leaders who refuse to interview family of the accused, or their victims. They simply accept the testimony of the accused.

The knowledge of allegations crosses over 4 decades, at minimum 3 organizations, and at least 3 churches. (The timeline is very detailed, however, I do not know what churches some of the leaders affiliate with). And NOT ONE… NOT ONE did the right thing. How does this go on… and on….. and on… ?

The following account was published in the newspaper, and one of the situations mentioned, refers to the man in question. The journalist covers several cases in the article, including referencing ‘Grandpa’:

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Sadly, as always, there is much more tragedy to the story than can be adequately shared. Not only of the Grandpa’s alleged crimes, but also how it negatively impacted his alleged victims, and others under his influence, and the ripple effects it caused.

I was just informed that Grandpa is about to embark on another mission trip to do some training….

Some things, it seems, we are slow to learn…

*****

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger 2020

****

SURVEY

Conservative Anabaptist (CA) Leaders’ Response to Abuse: If you are/were CA and have been sexually abused and interacted with a CA leader regarding the abuse, this survey is for you.

I am preparing several other surveys and will release them on our SURVEYS PAGE.

 

True forgiveness leaves offenders in their own noose… And a sneak peek at survey results

We Anabaptists say that for a Catholic priest to forgive a penitent sinner is false doctrine. He has no such authority, we say, to stand in the place of God and forgive sins.

We then turn around and teach that victims of sexual abuse and violence must forgive their offenders. It is his/her Christian duty. And we teach that it brings freedom not only to the offended but also to the offender. Moreover, we have members’ meetings in which the guilty are singled out, and the congregation stands to declare forgiveness.

Tell me, if the Catholic priest has no such rights and authority, how can we say that we do? Do we not also stand in the place of God, and encourage victims to do so, when we make forgiveness about the offender? (I understand the priest ‘absolves’ the sinner, which sounds much worse, but only means to set free from guilt or responsibility. So, same thing as forgiveness. Same doctrinal practice).

Forgiveness is one of the most crucial aspects of *our own healing*. It has nothing to do with setting the other person free from their sins or wrongs. It sets *us* free from *their* sins and wrongs. It’s like it cuts the rope of the noose the offender placed around our neck, and allows us to truly live, completely released from him/her and the crimes committed against us.

Part of that noose is vindictiveness; entertaining the urge to retaliate. Part of that noose is vengeance; the act of getting even and letting them have it. Part of that noose is hatred; despising the person rather than the vile acts they committed. When we cut the noose, we release hatred for the person, and we release vengeance and vindictiveness. We are no longer obsessed with getting back at them. We trade those things for compassion, and maintain a desire for truth and justice, and to protect the vulnerable. The latter qualities do not evaporate with forgiveness. In this exchange, when we forgive, we become whole and the noose about our neck is severed.

When we cut that noose, however, offenders are no more free from their noose than before we forgave. He/she must come before God taking full ownership and in full repentance to be freed from the noose around his/her neck. Both ‘cheap forgiveness’ — the kind that quickly tidies things up to look good,  and lack of forgiveness — that keeps us constantly seeking vengeance, hold offender in bondage and do nothing for the freedom of the victim. It is a gift to the offender to be held accountable.

We are set free when we forgive, and we release them to accountability before God and the law.

In other words, forgiveness is an act of faith in God. Through forgiveness we recognize that the offender remains accountable before God for his/her sins/crimes, not to us. Vengeance is not ours; it is Gods.

Forgiveness also does not fulfil the demand of law and government. That is a separate accountability structure. (Romans 13). We have no more authority to ‘forgive’ the offender and ‘free them from responsibility to the law’ than we have to offer eternal life through forgiveness of sins.

False doctrine surrounding forgiveness keeps both victim and offender in bondage to the sin/crime committed. It keeps the victim in bondage to the consequences of the offender’s sins/crimes. We were not designed to carry the consequences of our own sins, let alone the sins of another. We can only choose to take ownership of our healing needs that result from those sins/crimes.

Forgiveness leaves the offender, right there in his/her own noose, before God. Because that noose has nothing to do with the victim. It has everything to do with his/her heart before God. It leaves the offender with the choice to reach up and cry out for forgiveness from God, and turn from the wickedness, or to slowly strangle the life out of him/herself. Our false doctrine of forgiveness leaves the offender to strangle, not realizing that’s what is happening.

True forgiveness, separated from the offender and his/her story, sets the victim free from the offender. It sets the victim free from the offence. It sets the victim free *from the consequences of the offence*. It releases the victim *from* being a victim *to* being empowered.

True forgiveness frees the victim to become an overcomer. And it frees the victim to take ownership of his/her own healing.

That’s what real forgiveness does.

***

SURVEY:

Currently we have a survey looking at Conservative Anabaptist Leaders’ Responses to Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence.  We have 77 responses in under two days, which is outstanding. We are also collecting data on relationship of offender(s) to victims. Some of the results, as usual, are pretty much what we expected. Others are startling. For example:

SNEAK PREVIEW OF SURVEY RESULTS BASED ON 78 respondents:
• 40% of victims have been assaulted by their brothers
• 31%  of victims have been assaulted by family friends
• 27% of victims have been assaulted by their fathers
• 10% of victims have been assaulted by their mothers
• 15% of victims have been sexually assaulted by more than 5 offenders
• Roughly 57% of victims who suffered only SA or only DV left the conservative; When the two are combined — SA & DV — that number jumps to nearly 70%
• 30% of SA victims (no DV) who left the church say leaders played a significant role in their leaving the church; coincidentally 42% of all SA victims (no DV)  would recommend going to leaders
• 36% of DV victims who left the church say leaders’ response played a significant role in leaving the church; 87% advise victims NOT to go to leaders for support
• 42% of SA & DV victims who left the church say leaders’ response played a significant role in leaving the church; 100% advise victims NOT to go to leaders for support

NOTE: While the numbers are startling, it should not be assumed that 10% of all CA survivors (outside of this study) were molested by mothers. There are many factors that could contribute to this representation in this particular survey.
….

There is much more emerging, and when we have enough participants to feel fairly confident in the data, I plan to do a deep analysis and share some of the graphs and stats here. I’m hopeful that we will have around 200 participants with a bit of time. (Currently we are at 78, so climbing even since writing the last two paragraphs).

I have fine-tuned that survey, and will release the improved version on our new Survey’s Page shortly. (Hoping later tonight). I plan to update this page with new surveys as I get then ready, so check back. While this blog is the sole ownership and responsibility of myself, Trudy Metzger, the data gathered will be used by Generations Unleashed to better understand sexual abuse in our culture. I will also share surveys for other individual i trust, and who are researching sexual abuse.

I am hopeful that as the conversations continue, professionals and support persons alike will be equipped to give better advice and support sexual abuse survivors in our conservative Mennonite culture. For example, if professionals are encouraging victims to go to their leaders, but victims are finding their leaders to be abusive, then such advice should stop.

But it should not end there. Leaders should be trained and equipped to respond in more effective ways. Looking at the results above it appears (and has consistently throughout the survey) that leaders’ response to DV is even more neglectful than sexual abuse. There are many things that play into responses, including silence surrounding the topic. Respondents talked about ‘seeing change’ and ‘being hopeful’ that there is improvement. And some referenced ‘the last 10 years’.

This makes sense to me. The last 10 years is when we’ve started addressing sexual abuse more and more openly. It is anecdotal evidence that conversation is necessary for change. So let’s keep talking!

And, lest I’ve completely distracted you from good intentions, you can take the survey Conservative Anabaptist Leaders’ Responses to Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence and let your voice make a difference. Also, for more accurate results.

As always,

Love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019