Update on Mennonite man miraculously healed in Tanzania

A happy Thursday (Edit:…just kidding… it’s Wednesday!  this sitting at home thing…!) to you all! What a delight it is to be alive! To see the sunshine, and hear the birds sing! I love these things at any time — and even the snow that many abhor — but especially now, when the world looks upside down. To see that God’s creation still sings and shines, that makes my heart happy!

And I have no doubt that is how Jason and Mel Hunt and their family feel, in Tanzania. A few days ago I shared the story of Jason collapsing, believing he was at the end, only to miraculously revive again. That is one of the best things I had heard in a week or two, so I shared it. I have no regrets about sharing his testimony of unexpected healing. It is truly good news.

My only regret , and there was one… though I don’t like that word, came when friends cautioned that many will take his experience as ‘the cure‘ and act irresponsibly because of it. I had not thought of that, and at first thought my friends were overreacting and their concern not warranted. Especially given I had put in a disclaimer that I was *not* promoting it as a cure, but rather because it seemed to me a story of hope in the midst of tragic times.  Nonetheless, I listened to their cautions and edited the post, removing anything that might hint at the experience being touted as a cure.

Others were less gracious and said he is a liar, to declare so boldly he had COVID-19 without test results. My response immediately to that criticism was that this does not make him a liar; it makes him overly enthusiastic.

Then, yesterday toward evening, I received word that test results for COVID-19 came back negative for their family. (Keep his wife and daughter in your prayers. Last I hear, yesterday night, they are still sick and in need of prayer). This means he did not likely have COVID-19 in the first place. The post was causing enough of a stir that I decided to remove it until such a time as I had time to edit out any ‘offending parts’. This is something I have rarely done, but in the interest of avoiding unnecessary offence, I removed the post entirely.

We can somewhat assume the tests are conclusive and he likely did not have COVID-19. But that is not really the bottom line, and his overstatement is not the greatest tragedy in the world.

It is only a tragedy that he was too sure of himself if:

  1. he is not humble enough to learn from it. Otherwise, is is an incredible learning experience, not only for him but for all of us, me included. Or maybe especially me and him, but I think all of us.
  2. the church has no grace for a testimony that is powerful but overly enthusiastic and certain of details that were not relevant to the miraculous outcome. To write off such a profound recovery because the recipient is human — as are we all — is to limit the work of Christ among humans. It means I can only see Him if you are more/less perfect. If I took that approach, given the hell and horror I see in Christian community, I would have turned to atheism long ago.

Before posting the original story I checked into the legitimacy of the claims, and again numerous times since. I added a disclaimer in the original blog, and I would have been wise to edit out any reference to COVID-19. In that I erred. Yet, I had and still have every reason to believe that the story told, happened as told.

In spite of the kerfluffle and humanity of his way of verbalizing it, I am no less amazed by God, and I think no less of Jason for it.

If there is not grace for his humanity, then the church has nothing left to offer the world. Nothing. Because that’s who Jesus is.

I have said many times, there is grace enough for the vilest sinner (including sex offenders) and if they are truly repentant they can receive that grace. I believe that with all my heart. (That does not equate to giving sex offenders free regn under the guise of forgiveness, but that’s another topic for another day).

What has baffled me in this is that it seems there is less grace for a man who is overconfident in a medical self-diagnosis and includes it in his testimony, than there is for the sex offender who sheds a few tears and does not change his ways. Surely, surely, there is grace for both, but especially in a case of ‘intending no harm or sin’ in the process.

I do not regret telling the story. If I did not think we can learn from it, then I would have regrets. I hope and pray that we can see past the humanity and see Jesus at work among us. If we can’t see Him in our collective brokenness, what have we got — what has Jesus got — that will bring any measure of peace and wholeness to us and those around us?

Having removed the original post, here is the portion of his testimony that does not make any assumptions about what his illness was.  Praise Jesus!

Last night as I desperately fought for breath to live, I just kept stumbling through the house around the fireplace and kitchen trying to hang on to a measure of breath. The rest were holding me up, crying and praying, (and probably wondering who was going to cart my body out to the coffee field). Finally at 3am I was really fading so wheezed out my goodbyes as I slumped up against the fireplace. I told them no one was to do mouth to mouth on me because I didn’t want the infection to increase in their lungs. As I sat there fading out to everyone’s amazement I got so hot from the fire at my back that I started to sweat buckets and my lungs suddenly started opening up and oxygen came into my lungs. God intervened.

[…]

The improvements over the last few hours has been exponential. Even Mel has made incredible progress. God is intervening.

[…]

I will mention the whole household came down with symptoms today. And the whole household has made exponential gains in the last eight hours. Most are sleeping peacefully now. […] We need to run forth knowing that love will always conquer fear.

[…]

All the prayers are being answered.

*****

My prayer is that you all stay safe and healthy, and if your health has been compromised, that God will heal and restore you.

Remember, God is kind.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger

David S. Smucker of PA, sentenced to prison (not Whispering Hope) for vile crimes against 4 minors

This morning David S. Smucker, 75, of East Earl PA, was sentenced to 38 years for sexually assaulting 4 preteen girls, starting when they were only around 4-5 years old. Reportedly, he showed no remorse or emotion and declined to comment, when asked by Judge Reinaker if he wanted to say anything. He offered no apology to his victims. Judge Reinaker had a few words to say, and was quite stern about it, as well he should have been. The lawyer allegedly requested house arrest, which the judge did not grant, thank God. That would have put Smucker right back in the community where he committed the crimes in the first place. Fortunately he also did not get sent back to Whispering Hope, the Anabaptist facility where he had stayed up to this time since his release from prison in 2018.

Just over a year ago, in December 2018, it came to light that David S. Smucker allegedly sexually violated 4 preteen girls. The Amish church did the right thing. They reported Smucker, and formulated a support committee for the victims and their families, to help in offering practical support. In this, the Amish community of Lancaster PA has done fabulously. To have a small team of people who are there for the victims and their families is an outstanding commitment, and I highly commend them for this. A case such as this brings incredible destruction to the children, but it also disrupts the community in unimaginable ways, as their commitment to forgiveness and the reality of severe ongoing damage and suffering meet in profound struggle. For a people who value forgiveness so highly, to admit the struggle to offer it is intense, you know the impact is brutal.

In conversation with a gentleman involved in the case,  back in Summer 2019, he expressed how forgiveness has not been an easy thing for the community. What impressed me in this case was the commitment to supporting victims, honest and raw struggle with forgiveness (and still choosing forgiveness… because Mr. Smucker disrupted an entire community, not only a few victims), but also working with the law to ensure safety for the children and to have an appropriate sentence for Smucker.

Even so, it is no secret that some were working to have Mr. Smucker exonerated for his sex crimes. (I have names and evidence to support that claim). Thankfully, that did not work.

Today a handful of advocates showed up in court, in a show solidarity with victims and their parents. I had hoped to be present, however my university schedule made that difficult, so I relied on friends to update me. (One had a notebook to jot down notes but was asked to put it away).

Audrey Kauffman, who attended the sentencing, wrote on Facebook: “While no sentence can ever redeem what these girls have lost, we witnessed justice today. I am grateful for a judge who acknowledged the lifetime consequences the victims will carry and gave no consideration for health or age to the perpetrator. He held the perpetrator fully responsible and publicly absolved the victims.

“I think he’s a coward. I don’t think he has a shred of remorse,” ADA Haverstick said in court. “He used (the girls) as sex toys. They existed for his sexual gratification.”

“You are the first who has refused” to take responsibility, Judge Reinaker said. An admission or showing of remorse, Judge Reinaker said, can assist victims in the healing process. “Your refusal… has deprived them of even that small measure of healing,” the judge said.

You may read various reports of the hearing at the following links:
Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office
Pittsburg Post-Gazette (Peter Smith)
Lancaster Online

I would call it a victory — and some will, which I understand — but there is no ‘victory’ or ‘winning’ in a case like this. Not through a court sentence, no matter how right that sentence is, and necessary. I support it 100%. Anything less would put children at risk. There’s no need for that.

However, when you know the backstory and the fine, nitty-gritty details of how those children have suffered and continue to suffer and struggle, it about rips your heart it. They haven’t won. They can’t. They’ve been robbed blind and as a result of Smucker’s vile and selfish acts, this is a lifetime of battle laid before them. That’s not winning, no matter how much the public is protected from further risk of harm.

That is what breaks my heart. Every time. The children. Some never recover. Some go on to commit crimes of their own, of various sorts.. Some go mental. Thank God that many heal. And that is my prayer for these little ones. I pray the heinous crimes committed against them will not rob them of their future on top of all they have already lost. They have lost all that was normal, all that was safe — not only that which should have been safe but also that which was safe — as their family life was disrupted, and remains disrupted. They have paid a higher price in their young years than about anything I have ever seen.

Pray for theses children, their parents and family members as they continue to seek healing.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Supporting Survivors & Offenders… And Former offender shares his story

Tomorrow and Friday, November 28-29, we are doing a training here in Elmira, Ontario. Thursday’s focus is on supporting survivors of abuse well, and Friday is supporting offenders responsibly.

This will be the third time we’ve had a former offender coming for an interview to share parts of his story in an interview on the second day. Both previous times the feedback was very positive, with attendees saying it is helpful to hear from someone who offended who takes full ownership, especially sex abuse victims.

Even so, please be aware that for some survivors this can be triggering. We do not recommend you register if that is your situation. 

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While survivors of sexual abuse are welcome, we do not advertise this training as being for survivors. It can be hard for survivors to hear behavioural symptoms of abuse talked about in a more clinical matter of fact way. By this I mean that conferences are designed to support the abused, and acknowledge their suffering, and we speak gently to the victims. Training, on the other hand, addresses some of the pitfalls and risks associated with helping victims, and negative behaviours victims exhibit. One example is the manipulation that many victims adopt to survive, and how this can become a dysfunctional part of the mentor/mentee relationship. We discuss how to manage those well when supporting survivors, and in such a way that it does not damage both parties.

Though the gentleman makes no excuses for his choices — he owns those — it can still be triggering for survivors to hear someone who has offended share their backstory.  In the interview I ask him about his childhood, and how it shaped him, because early life experience inevitably influences us, our identity (or perception of ourselves — not our true identity), and the trajectory of our life. As part of his sharing, we will talk about extreme sexual addictions and his journey to facing those addictions and taking ownership.

The more we understand this, the more we can work toward both prevention and healing. Is there a place for those who have offended in the Kingdom of God? How do help them responsibly? What can we do to help those who have offended without compromising the wellbeing of victims and the vulnerable? We will talk about offenders’ needs — accountability, consequences (different from ‘punishment’, though church and legal consequences can be part of that), and community of support. 

Training days are typically attended by a small group — 15 to 20 individuals is common — which is great for discussion and interaction. If you prefer smaller groups with vibrant Q&A discussions, and opportunity to contribute, this is a great event to attend.

To ensure there are no surprises for survivors who consider attending, the former offender plans to serve lunch both days.  However, he will only be in sessions on Thursday. 

To register: Generations Unleashed Events

Hope to see you there!

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019