Critical Item #1: Amish Steering Committee
In my first blog on the Haiti Abuse Case involving Jeriah Mast (J), I mention the Amish Steering Committee (ASC). I say precisely what the people who are responsible for Jeriah were telling people to assure them he was/is being held accountable; that ASC and the Restoration Committee are involved. And that they’ve had over 100 cases with only two imprisonments. It is a fact that those Jeriah is accountable to said these things. I did not pull it out of a hat. I have multiple evidence sources.
Two days ago I posted a blog stating what the Amish Steering Committee State Director told me. I share how, in that conversation I am told that they were not involved, and that the Shining Light Christian Fellowship Church (SLCFC) leaders got their hands on a Restoration plan designed for another offender. SLCFC leaders then presented a copy of this to a Restoration Committee member for review, with redacted names. After this they asked the Restoration Committee member to call the police station and set up an appointment. I learned that there were indeed over 100 cases, but at least 6 imprisonments. I also learned that many cases are situations other than sexual abuse.
Note that SLCFC did reach out to the Restoration Committee, which works in partnership with ASC. Note that the Restoration Committee member did help with those details.
I tried to portray a fair picture and added to the information the part that ASC contributed after I was able to reach them. I did not retract the information that came from J’s family and the team responsible for him because they actually said it to multiple people in an effort to assure them they are ‘taking care of it’ and holding J accountable.
SLCFC said (even if a stretch) that ASC is involved.
ASC says they were not involved
Trudy reported both.
Conclusion: Trudy is a liar. Do not trust her. She doesn’t wear a bonnet.
Critical Item 2: Allegations that Stanley Fox Knew
I very intentionally avoided analyzing Mr. Fox’s statement even though there are discrepancies with my evidence and his statement. I chalk this up to imperfect memory and human error. I have no doubt that, were I to sit with Stanley and go over the evidence I have, he would be willing to acknowledge that. (I did not have that confidence prior to releasing my statement and seeing his response, given the track record in this case. I do have that confidence now).
Before I go further, I will say again, that he is the first to break rank and I respect him for that. I sincerely thanked him for the acknowledgement/apology. I still sincerely thank him for that.
On Monday I received word and evidence that Stanley Fox knew about J’s abusive behaviour. The information was much more in-depth than what I shared publicly. In a nutshell I stated that Mr. Fox knew since “2016/2017”. He also stated publicly that he knew since 2017. He further states “I had no knowledge Jeriah was a pedophile when he was sent home in 2013…” What gets the focus is “(he) had no knowledge” yet in that very sentence Mr. Fox admits he knew there was *something* in 2013.
He did not know what it was but he knew there was something big enough to be sent home for. The adult friend was a young adult, not an ‘adult friend’ who is a peer, or anywhere near J’s age. Subtracting the years since being sent home (4 years) from this young man’s age would definitely confirm he was a minor. Mr. Fox stated regretting he did not do more.
Mr. Fox admitted he knew. Trudy said he knew. Trudy has evidence. Mr. Fox does not mention evidence, but still agrees with Trudy’s statement that he knew since 2017. (Albeit, the evidence states 2016/2017).
Since Trudy and Mr. Fox are saying the same thing, this one should be easy. Even so, it is determined by some that, even though his statement confirms what Trudy said, that she should not be believed.
CONCLUSION: Trudy is a liar. Trudy hates men. Trudy is trying to destroy Mr. Fox. Trudy is using this as an outlet to transfer all her anger against the conservative Anabaptist men who molested her.
This is called of critical thinking. Please apply it when you read what I write. And apply it when others write. But don’t make us liars if there is imperfection. I do not consider Stanley Fox a liar for not including all the details I hold in my possession. I hope he does not consider me a liar either. I have not asked him.
But I do know this:
Silence is not the answer.
This topic needed to land in the forefront; we have an epidemic.
Our culture has taught us we must be perfect.
Perfection will never happen; we are messy humans with flaws.
Information will not be perfect no matter the effort.
Searching for truth is messy.
Addressing sexual abuse is messier.
Challenging deeply-embedded norms is probably messiest of all.
Jesus does miracles in messy places.
I welcome a miracle in this mess.
The Anabaptist Men Who Abused Me
This point is not so critical, but may be of interest to those who believe I am taking out my wrath on Anabaptist men because of the many who abused me. So here it is, posted publicly for all the world to see.
Trudy’s list of conservative Anabaptist men who abused her.
- (name withheld… because he was a minor and his identity is protected by law)
Yes, that’s right. Not one Conservative Mennonite *man* abused me.
Only one teenage boy, or, more accurately, ‘young man’, I believe he was around 16, molested me.
…. young man
…who was around age 16.
Yes, he was and is responsible for his actions. No, I was not his only victim. There were others. In fact, what he did against me, though damaging, did not hold a candle to the trauma others suffered. No it wasn’t dealt with properly, not by law nor by church.
He, too, was terribly violated. I am sorry for that. It doesn’t excuse what he did, but I am still sorry.
I am sorry he molested others. I am thankful God has healed my heart. I hope the hearts of his other victims are healed, or healing, too.
I believe in redemption. I don’t believe in looking the other way. Not even with minors.
If he had not molested me, I would have no Mennonite abusers. The others were all prior to attending Mennonite church, or after, during my rebellion.
My father, at whose hands our family suffered terrible violence and some (family and others) were molested, was Old Colony Russian Mennonite. He certainly never achieved “conservative Mennonite man” status in my world, and is the last person to come to mind when I think of them. He made a solid attempt for a few years, and failed. I don’t know if he spent more time being a member or more on probation and excommunicated. That’s how successful he was.
So, there you have it. The “list of conservative Mennonite men who violated Trudy” that drive me take it all out on the entire Anabaptist population.
I do not hate Anabaptists, and men in particular. In fact, my book “Between 2 Gods: A Memoir of Abuse in the Mennonite Community” lists some of the amazing conservative Mennonite men who did not abuse me.
Peter Steckle was an outstanding leader with a gentle heart, and his wife Rita was my friend. I no longer see them, but hold them in high regard. I cared for his elderly failing mother for several years, so I saw their home ‘up close and personal’. It wasn’t perfect, but they were kind. Sure, they corrected me on ‘church standard’ issues, but Rita also confessed honestly her struggle with some of the rules.
I encountered them at a funeral, May 31, 2015, soon after my book came out. Rita gave me a hug and said how good it was to see me. Peter shook my hand and, with tears in his eyes, said he feels they don’t deserve the kind words in my book, and added, “As your ministry, we failed you…”.
They’re not my only ‘heroes of faith’ in the conservative Mennonite church. There are more, both men and women. It is not the Anabaptist community I hate; it is the abuse that is destroying the community that I hate. I hate it with a fierceness. I hate it because it is destroying a people I love. I hate it because I see it destroying children, and their relationships with family and friends, and causing them to struggle for life in their faith, and robs them of wellbeing. I hate it because I see old men scrambling for a cover of deception when truth is revealed and years and years of evil come to light. I do not hate those men. I hate what they have done. I hate it because it robs them of goodness. I hate it because I watch women, first silenced, rise up to silence those who try to speak, because it touches too closely to their own pain… or their own crimes.
It’s too frightening to face truth.
I hate it with fierceness, the abuse, because it is eating the souls of a beautiful people and leaving behind a valley of dry bones. Before we can speak life into a valley of dry bones and command the flesh to be restored, we must first acknowledge the dry bones and the plague that took us there.
I do what I do out of passion for Jesus and truth, and compassion for victims.
Behaviours of public figures who rely on any public funding are analyzed to death may lose donors if they tell the truth and stand for justice. While I have never considered myself a ‘public figure’, I do acknowledge that I have a platform that reaches many thousands, and influences them. It would be irresponsible not to acknowledge that. Even so, I make no effort in creating a ‘public image’, ‘fan base’, platform or ‘tribe’. I don’t have interest or energy for that.
As for losing donors, we have less than ten donors who give regularly, and by regularly, I mean (all but one) “one donation annually” donors. These consistent annual donations amount to about $2000 to $3000 combined. Other donors contribute throughout the year, which fluctuates from year to year. So we have no huge donor base to lose. Yet, if I was booking a flight tomorrow, I have no doubt the funds would be available in a matter of hours, if it was safe and right for me to go. I trust my God.
In light of all of this, my prayer this morning was, “God to help me take it like Jesus did when I’m called a liar for speaking the truth.” I prayed it because I desperately need help. Many things do not cause me much distress, if any at all, in the backlash. But when I hold evidence that I cannot release and am called a liar by the people of God, that trips me up so often. And I don’t want to respond wrongly. I want desperately to trust that God has a purpose, even in that.
I want to learn to dance in the rain of that aftermath, like a little girl in her Father’s love, knowing I am not perfect, but I am perfectly loved…. to let others near enough to my heart to wipe off the tears and the dirt when I stumble…. and ultimately to fall, naked and stripped at the foot of the cross, where He appears; the sacrifice for the people. That place where Jesus bleeds on me and I am made whole… where He bleeds on you and you are made whole, even in this mess. And where the tears of all of us wounded in this horror – and it is all of us, really, who are wounded – flow like a river of repentance that heal the land.
I don’t think everyone who calls me a liar is evil. I think they are confused and hurting. I don’t believe that everyone who defends me does so for righteousness sake. I don’t believe that everyone who defends those I’ve called out for neglecting the abused do so for righteousness sake. I don’t think all who speak out against those I’ve called out do so for righteousness sake. I think many want truth, many want this thing wide open so that God can bleed life into the church where death long has had a grip. I think some want revenge, but that is not what I hear from most on my side of this tragedy.
I’m not interested in destroying these men, CAM, ASC, or JM. I am advocating for change. Spiritual change that will play out in the practical. If ever there is going to be a radical shift, the public does need to be informed of these things and how they are overlooked, neglected, disregarded or missed (pick your word) at a leadership level…. even if not intentionally.
Quietly sending them home (whether permanently or longterm) is not the solution. Several years a young parent contacted me to share how their pastor had crossed boundaries with them and seek advice. They did not wish to go to the law, so there was nothing I could do. This week I learned that he was sent home from the mission field not long prior to the account that individual shared with me.
Is this really the best we can do? Is it really so unimportant to protect our youth and children? We would never say that, but actions speak louder than words, I was always told growing up. And actions right now scream that we care little for the children, and a whole lot for power.
Leaders are a part of the revolution that needs to come, but leaders only hold the power we willingly give them. We, the lay people, have far more influence in bringing change than a few leaders will ever have.
We do need to partner together, all of us, to get there. And that may mean sitting in a room with people we would rather send over Niagara Falls in a barrel, or those who would rather see us in that barrel. We don’t have to like each other. We don’t have to like each other’s ways and methods. But we DO need to face the truth.
And, above all, we need to fall, at the foot of the cross, naked and bleeding… together. Me… Stanley Fox… Paul Weaver… Eli Weaver… CAM… and (insert names of other leaders who have failed similarly)… as well as every one of us who is ‘the body of Christ’. And there we need to repent and begin anew, and lift up Jesus Christ in the midst of this ‘hell’, rather than lifting up humans or looking to them to be our saviour, or to get it perfect. We cannot. We will not. We have all failed the wounded. We can do better. But we must look to Jesus.
That is the only hope, going forward.
It is the place I land alone, or with my husband, or with a friend. It is a place we are invited together, yet stand accountable, alone before God.
I am willing to meet in a place of truth and repentance, and work toward a more noble handling of things on the part of both sides going forward. Transparency with the public must be part of that process.
That is my broken Olive Branch, which I extend sincerely to all conservative Mennonite leaders – whether church leaders or ministry leaders – who are willing to work together for truth, prioritizing care for the victims, and with a commitment to transparency. Guidelines would need to be agreed on, in writing and signed by both parties.
Leaders interested in negotiating a healthy plan for working together, going forward, are welcome to email me at: Trudy@GenerationsUnleashed.com, with subject line: “Broken Olive Branches: A Healing Path Forward” for easy identification.
This is not an offer to compromise on truth or on prioritizing victims’ needs. It is reaching out to those leaders who, though we may not see eye-to-eye, still:
- Value truth and are willing to look at the evidence and facts
- See that those who are victimized and powerless must first receive care and support, while caring for all involved
- For the sake of truth, shun being idolized and revered by the masses
- Are humble enough to own up to failure publicly without excuse (and are approachable)
- Agree that not every situation needs to be broadcasted publicly, but do not cover for abusers. (I have gone public with two situations in 9+ years that I can recall, as well as one that I was not directly involved with)
- Where a leader has molested/assaulted someone, it must be made known
- Prioritize protecting the vulnerable, and giving them a voice in the process
- Are willing to apologize to the extent of their sphere of influence for past failure
- Report to the law without holding back information in order to protect from prison
- Agree an adult who has molested anyone should not be in church leadership or be sent on the mission field
- Don’t label as ‘gossip’ when there is public exposure (as commanded in Ephesians 5)
NOTE: Leaders are NOT required to like me. Some who have openly despised me have reached out for help in the past, and I have helped them.
There are more items that could be added, but these are some key basic items. Leaders who are willing to uphold this, I am willing to work with peaceably when abuse cases are brought to me on the condition that victims are comfortable with this, and willing to engage their leaders and me. It doesn’t have to be me. I am making myself available, because the fact remains I am committed to this messy calling. But there are others who will help and will mediate honourably.
Victims, especially, are welcomed to reach out for mediation (between them and their leaders) to assist in being heard, in hopes that leaders will learn from those who have walked this path of brokenness. While their grief, and how abuse has impacted life, is messy, they are the best teachers to learn a more healing way forward. I am almost 100% confident that the most dynamic shift, besides what comes from repentance at the foot of the cross, will come from this move toward validating suffering.
This broken olive branch is for those who love Jesus and whose calling aligns with a similar vision – even if not perfectly the same. It is not intended for those with other goals and values that are in direct conflict.
~ T ~
PS. Plans are coming together for the next trip, to take place shortly. Thank you to all who have donated. It’s coming together.
If you are able to contribute, and willing to do so, you may send funds (via PayPal or etransfer) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit Generations Unleashed.
© Trudy Metzger 2019