Forgiveness; Compassion; William McGrath a Conservative Anabaptist Leader and Sex Offender, and all the Things

FORGIVENESS
In all the Christian talk about the beauty of forgiveness, we have made the mistake of teaching and believing that forgiveness and justice are at odds. They are compatible. It is not ‘forgiveness *or* justice’. It is ‘forgiveness *and* justice’. God loves both.

The problem is that we really do not understand what forgiveness is and means, and we really don’t understand what justice is and means. (I do not propose to have the understanding either! But to think they are at odds is evidence we are missing something). As a result, most teachings on forgiveness are imbalanced, saying you must choose ‘only’ forgiveness. Many even teach that to forgive means “I am taking the consequences of your sin on myself.”

I would propose that we release ourselves from the consequences of their wrongs and sins when we forgive. Forgiveness is a matter of releasing my heart from the burden I carry as a result of the evils done against me. The greatest longterm ongoing consequence for most sins committed against me is what I believe as a result of that wrong. (There are exceptions. If a drunk driver kills my child, the longterm consequences is my grief, the loss of that child and all that goes with it. I speak here specifically to my experience and most wrong committed against me).

My forgiveness cannot free the other person; only God’s forgiveness can do that. In fact, if handled in such a way that the other person never truly comes to grips with their wrongdoing, ‘forgiveness’ (as taught by many) keeps that person in bondage. There is a kindness in a person being confronted with their own capacity for evil, when paired with compassion, mercy, grace and consequences that holds him/her accountable. If the offender is truly repentant, this encounter is life altering and a gift to him/her and those in relationship with them.

I believe in forgiveness. It transformed my life. It continues to transform my life. It is what set me free to live a whole life, to pursue my calling. And it is what breaks the power their actions had over me. It does not impose on me any code of silence. It does change the way I speak about it. I still call out evil. I still call out corruption and manipulation. I do not hate. I do not call for beheadings, literally or figuratively. I still support going to the law and ensuring offenders cannot continue to hurt people. That’s part of justice.

There is no justice in leaving children vulnerable to predators. None. Nor is that forgiveness. That is ignorance. But true justice never calls for the destruction (death or other) of the wrongdoer. Because true justice recognizes that I, too, am fallen humanity who deserves judgement, and the grace I have received is the grace I pass on. God did not remove this life’s consequences; I continue to live with those to this day. But He did offer me eternal life and removed from me the consequence of eternal death.  That is a gift I offer others, along with restoring their humanity, seeing them as having both capacity for good and for evil, and treating them with dignity even while holding them accountable for that evil.

***

Over my mother’s funeral several of my offenders showed up . One, in particular, stood out. He looks but a broken shell of humanity. Though he is not a family member, I’ve seen him at numerous family events such as weddings and funerals — I anticipate I will see him again tomorrow — and always what it stirs in my heart is grief. Not for what was done against me — I’m done with that grieving and am healed — but of what sin robbed him of. That’s not to say he hasn’t made his heart right before God. I’m not one to judge that. But the eyes tell a story…. and the story his tell… 

I saw him there… So I walked over, stood behind the gentleman talking to him and waited ‘in line’ to speak with him. When my turn came, I shook his hand, and thanked him for his expression of sympathy by coming to mom’s funeral. Admittedly, he looked relieved when my thanks was all I had to say to him.

Whatever he took from me when he molested me, it does not compare with what he lost within himself, and the consequences he has to live with for his choices. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not downplaying his crimes; they had a huge impact on me. Truth is, odds are high I would still be conservative Anabaptist if he had not done what he did. That is where and when I started feeling lost in the culture to such a degree that I knew I could not stay. I saw myself as a misfit who would never survive, and whose dreams would never come true ‘among them’. Trust me, I do not bemoan the outcome, but at the time, as a young teen who dreamed of marrying a Mennonite man — ideally a farmer — it was devastating. I saw only ‘old rejected spinster’ in my future, and that belief isolated me.

The greater harm was the sexual confusion it threw me into. Feeling things for which I had no words or teaching, and the ensuing years of deep shame it cost me. And because word got out, I had no idea who all knew. Every time a young man looked at me, I was sure he was thinking “slut”. So I would sit through special meetings at other churches, blushing and ashamed, whenever a young man looked my way. Yes, the cost was significant.

But I saw the consequences in his eyes at mom’s funeral, and felt only compassion. Since seeing him at mom’s funeral, I’ve said to Tim from time to time, “I think I need to go visit him and his wife. I need to have a conversation with them….”

We will see. If and when the time is right, I will do it. And that visit won’t be for my own good or healing; it will be for his redemption. Not relational restoration. That is not necessary. But his deep soul redemption and freedom.

If I do it, I do it of my own choice. And that choice has nothing whatsoever to do with forgiveness, other than to give me the courage to do it. Forgiveness is something I did in my heart before God many years ago. These things should not be confused with forgiveness, because they are not a requirement of the forgiving process.

COMPASSION
I felt that same compassion standing in the courtroom at Jeriah Mast’s hearing. First, and foremost, I felt deep grief for those whom Jeriah victimized. When the judge read the list of crimes Jeriah confessed to committing, it was all I could do to hold myself together and not begin sobbing. When the judge read how only weeks before the sentencing, Jeriah still said his sexual assaults (at age 25) of minors under 13 was ‘consensual’, I felt frustrated that he still doesn’t ‘get it’ how incredibly vile it is to use children and that there is no such thing as ‘consensual’ when adults take advantage of children. And when the judge handed down the sentence and explained why he chose the 9 years instead of a lesser sentence– because Jeriah is an ongoing risk to the public, in part because he doesn’t get it — I felt a mix of sadness and gratitude. Sad that it is a judge who ‘gets it’, not the church, and gratitude that at least someone does.

And when I saw Jeriah handcuffed and taken from the courtroom before a numb audience (his church and family, by all appearances), I felt compassion and deep sorrow. Sorrow that Jeriah’s crimes caused so much loss and harm to the victims, his wife and family, and his friends. Sorrow that so much of religion doesn’t grasp the harm and rallies for the offender. (I was one of less than a handful of people – and that’s a generous number – who were there to support the victims in a courtroom so full that people were standing around the room). And compassion for Jeriah’s soul and the things that took him down this path. It came out in court that he had been sexually abused by an older brother. This in now way excuses his evil deeds. To commit them was a choice, and he must own that before God and man.

Some say he has owned it. I reiterate that his comments not long before sentencing, minimizing his crimes to ‘consensual acts’, are revealing of his lack of grasping the severity of his crimes, which means he isn’t safe around the vulnerable, but the rest — repentance and forgiveness — I leave between him and God. And leave it with God to fully break him and help him understand how evil and far reaching the crimes/sins are. And to understand that children should be protected by 25 year old men; they should not need to be protected from them. 

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William McGrath. The name evokes many and various responses, depending who is in the audience. Those who hold him high, and idolize this cultural trophy with his charismatic (so some say) personality, it evokes high praise and reverence. For his victims, and those near them, who watched a religious culture idolize him, then (some) question him, followed by deafening silence and cover-up, the name is a reminder of loss and suffering without proper acknowledgement of truth, and certainly a lack of justice. For the Beachy Amish leaders who investigated and then fell short of being honourable, I imagine the name brings shame.

For the woman whose husband — a victim of McGrath — committed suicide… I cannot imagine the deep suffering she has experienced at the silence, and at not hearing McGrath’s name where it should have been spoken, and where his actions should have been unequivocally condemned. And I can’t imagine how healing it must be for her to know that someone has heard her cries.

And ‘that someone’ who heard is the author of Anabaptist Medical Matters, a Conservative Anabaptist (CA) Medical doctor who has recently written several articles addressing the epidemic of sexual abuse in the CA community, including a current one on McGrath. He is forthright, gentle, honest, and — from what I see at a distance — seems to live honourably. (I have never met him, but still hope to one day).

In this article he tells of the case of William, and dares to speak to that which lies carefully buried. But the truth does not die with the body, and the consequences ripple throughout the generations, when sex crimes are left unaddressed. Especially when it is at a religious leadership level. To read the article, visit, “Blessed Are They That Mourn“.

(Warning: The article may be triggering for survivors. Trigger or not, I would read it for the gold that is in it. By giving you a heads up, I hope it will prevent extreme triggering and make it possible for you to push past the triggers. The first potential trigger is in ‘mourn for the offenders’. I agree with the author, but have worked long enough with survivors to know the general consensus is that offenders’ needs are always placed first. If able, push past this and read on. The second trigger is in addressing Jeriah Mast. The author may not be aware that only weeks prior to his sentencing, Mast was still defending/excusing his actions against boys as young as 11 — when he was 25 — as consensual. For those who know this, the author’s statement “By all accounts, he has sincerely repented, even expressing a desire to be rebaptized” could be very triggering).

I do not agree with everything written here, and that’s ok. I see a sincere and honest acknowledgement of deep failure in the CA community, in this writing, and bless the author for daring to go there. It is not a popular move in that culture.

Frankly, until survivors have permission to speak, and those who remain (whether family or culture) repent for the coverups and abuses, there is no changing the course of history. But God forbid that the abusers be the ones to ‘stand in the gap’ and repent for other offenders, if they have not first done so with their own offences. If you are godly, and if you have taken ownership for your wrongs and repented at a personal level, only then have you any right to stand in that gap without making things worse.

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Tomorrow is my 50th birthday. I feel blessed to be alive and doing so well. I’ve had some near-death encounters in my life — two in particular stand out — including numerous events this year that reminded me of the fragility of life. To have made it half way to 100 and thriving, is the mercy and grace of God.

I have no personal needs but have many in my life who do have needs, so to celebrate my 50th, I invite you to support the following:

  1. THE GATHERING, our second annual event offering survivors of abuse a safe place to gather and connect, a place to find hope, safety and healing. This year we were able to offer attendance considerably below cost, thanks to donors. It is our hope to continue making this event affordable through donations. To donate, visit Generations Unleashed Donate and scroll down to The Gathering 2020.
  2. Support for victims of Jeriah Mast in Haiti who did not accept payouts from Christian Aid Ministries. We started this fund just prior to my mother’s decline and death, with a team of people willing to help oversee it, and with reports. To date we have received two donations — one for $200 and one for $20 — but unfortunately holds were placed on both donations (presumably because it was a new PayPal account, since we could not put this through GU). One hold has now been lifted. Furthermore, the tragic events in Haiti have made it impossible for us to set up vendors where these survivors can go for prepaid supplies, whether groceries or other. As of this week, that has changed for some survivors who have relocated. We will now work toward arranging for their needs to be met, where they have relocated, but will require considerably more funding than the $220 we presently have. Donate: Here and scroll down to Haiti Victims.

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

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UPCOMING EVENT, ELMIRA ONTARIO:
November 28 and 29
Emmanuel Missionary Church in Elmira Ontario

To see details and register visit: Generations Unleashed Events Page or print flyer (below)Thanks to donors, we are able to offer this training at discounted. If you have questions, please contact Generations Unleashed.

To read more about what to expect on Training day, click HERE and scroll down to the Elmira training announcement.

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© Trudy Metzger 2019

CAM’s lawyer responds to reports of Haiti victim being offered money

ROBERT FLORES, LAWYER FOR CHRISTIAN AID MINISTRIES (CAM), CONFIRMS VICTIMS OF JERIAH MAST WERE OFFERED MONEY

The blog (below) was already written when the phone call came….

“It turns out you’ve been telling the truth all along,” he said.

Ten little words.

It was no surprise to me that what I said was true. I had followed the evidence, gathered testimony from multiple sources. Each offered the same story; money was offered in exchange for signing a “Withdrawal Form”.

What came as a complete surprise is that CAM’s lawyer, Robert Flores, acknowledged that money had been offered. I respect the honesty. As far as I know, he did not acknowledge that victims were required to sign Withdrawal Form before funds would be released. (It is possible he is not aware of it. But it is important that readers know this was not directly confirmed, even while evidence supports it to be true. It is also unclear to me if he knew CAM was making these offers  in the first place). He also did not acknowledge that money exchanged hands, though some recent shopping ventures in Haiti — of which I have evidence — and testimony from the community members would strongly suggest otherwise. Even so, I continue to say ‘allegedly’.

(UPDATE: A source says they spoke with a CAM staff member who confirmed victims were required to sign a form before receiving funds. A source also reported that part of the funds were being taken from interest made on a cash reserve fund, so that CAM can say they did not use donor money. There was discussion about ‘tapping into the funds’ but whether they did so or not was not disclosed).

I have never asked God to vindicate me in any way, and I won’t. But, I confess in that moment, when I heard those ten words “It turns out you’ve been telling the truth all along,” I was grateful. I had not asked for anyone to investigate or prove my words; I simply reported what I knew to be true and what I knew needed to be exposed so that taking advantage of victims’ vulnerability stops. I am committed to doing what I am called to do, no matter what, but I am thankful for this confirmation.

PREVIOUSLY WRITTEN BLOG:
Questions continue to come in. Am I certain money has been offered? Is it true that the young men have to sign a form before CAM will release funds? Did they meet without lawyers present… How sure am I that this isn’t just rumour…

Very sure. Like, absolutely certain. These are facts: Money has been offered. Documents referred to as a “Withdrawal Form” (translated from Creole/French to English) are required to be signed before release of funds. Some victims refused to accept the funds and sign the papers. Allegedly several have signed and did accept the money. (This is supported by evidence that some of the young men have suddenly come by a windfall). And some admit it is tempting when money is being dangled in front of them and the day to day financial survival is so challenging.

Placing individuals already suffering in a situation where they feel they must violate their own integrity is not honourable.

Furthermore, if what CAM is doing is so good, and so honourable, why haven’t they made a public announcement, stating they are offering money to the victims and asking victims to sign the “Withdrawal Form”. Why is it so hush-hush? Why is it making victims feel like they are selling out their honour to accept?

If what CAM is doing is noble, they ought to make it well known so that it does not feel underhanded to the victims, to donors and … well, to people like me who advocate for victims and fight against the epidemic of sexual violence against children. There ought to be transparency. The documents being signed should not be such a secretive thing. (Nor should such documents now be destroyed. They are evidence). Victims who have lawyers should have their lawyers invited to the table. If there is nothing to hide, Homeland Security should be sent a copy of those documents, and be aware of what is going on given that there is an active investigation. If the latter has happened, I am not aware. And if Homeland Security knows and blesses what CAM is doing, then yet the more reason to inform donors and the public so that this shroud of secrecy is lifted.

By some I am told what CAM is doing is illegal, and by others I am also told it is above board. I have not made bold proclamations one way or the other, though I sincerely question it.  I have been given names of some individuals in Haiti involved in offering the money, and ironically they are all Haitians of the ones I have been made aware. No Americans. This raises its own questions. If it is illegal it is very possible these individuals are not aware of that fact. As one individual from Haiti said, “Everyone has a price… they’ve gotten support from CAM from the past… I doubt they know what it means legally.”

The gentleman said, “[What CAM staff/leaders] are doing is the same as what Jeriah was doing which is preying on the vulnerability and the poverty level to treat us victims poorly. Jeriah used to say if you don’t let me abuse you, I won’t buy you food tomorrow, nowadays CAM is saying if you don’t accept this little bit of money and shut up, you might die before justice is served in court, so for them, their abusive treatment is still the best we can get. If they really cared about the victims, they would of put a program in place to support the victims just so they can keep living while waiting that justice is served without asking them to sign the withdrawal paper.”

It is this dialogue with those victimized that compels me to stand against the corruption.

I am very aware that many religious men and women — and some leaders in particular — condemn what I do. This is ok with me. I have done my homework and know I am speaking truth. CAM knows I am speaking truth. Above all, God knows. And as long as I believe He is calling me to expose, the opinions of anyone other than those in leadership over me are not particularly influential. I hear them — whether concerns or attacks — and look for the truth bits and applicable tidbits.

That said, I do not, and I cannot take them to heart. I’d be in a constant state of disregarding God if I listened to every voice attempting to speak into my life or judge me. (Particularly those who condemn me for speaking out… while they do the same thing and speak out against me. Irony of ironies. I am not allowed to expose sex crimes but it’s okay to expose me for exposing? Not to mention it is ok for them to call me a liar for telling the truth, but I am not allowed to expose abuse of power? Not that I much care, because it says more about them than about me or anyone else.

And when all else fails they remind me I could be sued for defamation. My response to this is as follows:

  1. I knew this before I posted the first article and had that discussion with my husband. If I teach ‘be willing to go with truth at all cost’ yet do not live it, I am a hypocrite.
  2. There would need to be proof of malicious intent, and it does not exist. Calling out crime and exposing injustice is not malicious; it is helping the oppressed find a voice. Haitian victims would have no voice at all if no American/Canadian advocates got involved. In all my private conversations and public I have made it clear that I am advocating for victims not against CAM. I’ve not had any goal to ‘take them out’. Their transparency or the lack thereof will influence the outcome more than any other thing.
  3. What I have written has consistently been proven true. I am not making things up. I am not lying. I am not dreaming up allegations. When I hear things, I try to be thorough and have multiple sources for everything I make public.

I am repeatedly told this should not be aired in the public. Some Anabaptist leaders are boldly stating on Facebook that there is no biblical grounds for a Christian ever publicly calling out another Christian. Some are boldly stating that only leaders may call out leaders…. which, frankly, is a dreadful twisting of Scriptures that has led to this epidemic of abuse in the first place, while leaders hide their own past corruption and cover for others.

Besides, here’s the thing. Crimes were committed against the public. Covering it, or handling it quietly will not bring change. Look at history. So we are calling out criminals, not fellow saints. (With repentance, sure, they can be just that, but child molesters, rapists and those who cover for them are not particularly saintly. And those twisting God’s word to keep it under wraps are part of the problem. A big part). Furthermore, the ongoing less-than-forthcoming-and-honourable handling of things by CAM has been more than enough proof that public accountability is necessary. It’s the only way victims are ever going to be respected and cared for holistically.

Presently at least some victims have admitted to feeling like their poverty is being exploited through these attempts with payouts. That needs to stop. Making certain their needs are met in a transparent and honourable way would be appropriate. According to Peter Smith who wrote an article for the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, the lawyer’s statements indicated CAM will be looking at a more longterm approach and not trying to make this all go away quickly. It is my hope there will be follow-through, and that CAM will be transparent in these efforts.

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Read the article in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette: After criticism, mission agency seeks greater amends over Haiti abuse scandal

HOW CAN YOU HELP?
In the past three months I have been contacted repeatedly, people asking “What can we do? Where can we contribute? Are you helping victims financially?” And always I have turned away funds because we had no avenue for directing monies. I had previously posted other efforts but all have not been comfortable with the functioning of those plans, and lack of clarity where the money was going.

In response, we have set up a PayPal fund specifically to help the victims in Haiti with day-to-day survival needs.  It is a very basic and very transparent plan. We have made no promises or commitment to victims, and will in no case hand out large sums of money. However, it has become clear that the victims struggle to find work, even more than most in Haiti, because of the label of homosexual (Madam Jeriah) assigned to them. In at least one case we we have been told about, a victim was declined work after the job was offered because someone went to the place of employment and advised against hiring that victim. We are not talking luxuries. We are talking food on the table, and the most basic of needs. 

We will provide a monthly spread sheet with reflecting all funds paid out. These spreadsheets will reflect victims as “Victim 1… Victim 2” and so on, to protect their identity. At present we have a list of  victims whose allegations have been documented in various public record, as well as some confirmed by Jeriah’s own admission, or CAM staff and missionaries, with the awareness that that number could grow exponentially.

The initial proposal, based on feedback regarding monthly living costs, is to raise $200 monthly for victims with a spouse and family, and up to $75 for single victims. This would meet a portion of basic survival needs and support counseling costs. We will partner with victims, expecting them to contribute in meaningful ways to their community as part of taking initiative and responsibility for their own healing. Healing comes in many forms, and one of the most significant ways is by moving beyond our hardship and helping others (Isaiah 58). This would be a blessing to the communities in which the victims reside, thereby hopefully helping to reintegrate them into their communities. They will also need to be actively looking for work. We will ask them to update the committee in ways they have contributed to their communities, and job search efforts, which will help establish meaningful relationships with the team.

In total we hope to raise $2500 monthly, with the present victim count, which would a surplus for unexpected medical care, for new victims who come forward (and are confirmed), and to create a small reservoir. While we would not plan to send American representatives frequently, we would from time to time send someone, and would need funds for this. All such expenses would be reflected on monthly expense sheets. These expense sheets would be inspected and accuracy confirmed by a minimum of three individuals each month.  These individuals will be given names of victims being supported, but will be asked to hold those names in confidence.

Committee members will not receive payment for their services. We will provide a list once each one has confirmed. We are still waiting for several individuals to respond. Presently we have the following committed to oversee accountability of fund distributions:
Abe Harder
Elsie Kornelson
J. Anthony Hertzler
Tim & Trudy Metzger

Support is not dependent on any agreement with victims to pursue criminal charges or not pursue. No funds will be used toward litigations costs, should victims choose to press charges or sue CAM or Jeriah Mast.

Contact: victimsupport@aslanhasheard.com

Donate via: Victim Support 

PLEASE NOTE: This is completely unaffiliated with Generations Unleashed or any other organization or venture. We do plan to work cooperatively with missionaries on the ground in Haiti to delegate support to victims.

AS FOR WHAT I HOPE HAPPENS TO CAM:
“What do you want from CAM; are you trying to take them out?”

This question has been coming my way since the initial exposure of the Jeriah Mast case, in various forms from different people, including friends and enemies, acquaintances and strangers. The questions are fair. The answer quite simple.

What I hope for CAM is straightforward. Transparency and truth. I am told that what they have been doing is above board, it is honourable and completely legal. I am also told that what they are doing is bribery, silencing victims, and shady… at best, if not illegal.  I am told (by Americans who are not on the ground) that there are no documents to sign to receive payouts. I am also told by victims on the ground — including names of who is involved — that there are definitely documents that have to be signed before any money will be released. The latter has been admitted by CAM staff insider and consistently stated by victims who have been offered money.

In my previous blog I made shared very little of my opinion on what they are doing, beyond questioning it. I stated that there have been rumours of hush money dating back many weeks ago – and called hush money by multiple missionaries in Haiti – and that this offering money continues to the present. And I questioned the integrity of it.

I would like CAM to become transparent. To be Christ-like and open about this mess, if it is Him they wish to represent. They know I’ve been telling the truth. I don’t need to be vindicated, but the public deserves for them to acknowledge the truth to its fullest extent. I would like to see them work in partnership with the victims in Haiti to meet their needs holistically and big picture for the longterm. They have been physically/sexually assaulted. They have been spiritually abused (Jeriah Mast was a leader with power parading as a Jesus-representative). They have been psychologically harmed. The impact has brought death threats and other threats into some of their lives. It has made it difficult for some to find work, and in other cases opportunities they had were taken away. It has cost them more than we can imagine, in a culture where same gender sexual contact – even through abuse – is viewed as homosexuality, and homosexuality is condemned and the victims shamed for it.

So what would I like to see happen to CAM? Show sacrificial care for the victims. Lean in. Ask, “What do you need from us to help you heal from the sexual assault? What do you need to heal from the spiritual betrayal? What do you need to heal psychologically? What do you need to survive and thrive?” And that ought to include how to help them thrive where jobs are lost or impossible to get. Throwing a wad of money at victims in secretive and hidden ways does not bring healing. It never has. It never will. Offering calculated support can play a role while healing is pursued in other ways.

Partnering. Valuing. Acknowledging. Grieving. Supporting. Listening. Entering in… These things humanize the victim and their suffering, and bring healing.

This is what I would like to see happen to CAM. It is the only way trust will ever be rebuilt. My Anabaptist culture are a very forgiving people. To a fault, at times and in some cases to the point where forgiveness isn’t really forgiveness anymore and has turned to cover up. But certainly forgiveness, at its best, is a strength among us.

Many of my Anabaptist culture are also truth warriors. Goodness! We were raised to expect transparency. The way confessions were demanded over listening to ‘worldly’ music, wearing the wrong clothes, or other constitution violations… the way leaders pursued us to tell all… the way we were asked to report to leaders when someone violated church’s written and unwritten standards… Really, what choice did we have but to become hyper-vigilant about truth? I have said it often, the culture I come from trained me to do what I do. Not only in my quest for truth and transparency, but in being observant of details that are the ‘tells’ for what is really going on. That, combined with living in a home filled with violence and death threats… It is the best investigator training available, because it shapes it as an instinct so you don’t even know you’re gathering information until it is needed.

That is the culture now asking for transparency and truth from organizations and leaders at every level. And it should be forthcoming.

I pray it will be.

As always…

With Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Events and Announcements:

Dayton Virginia: Training and conference, October 9-12, 2019.

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To read a recent 5-part series addressing victim healing and forgiveness for offenders, click: HERE.

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ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

Some time ago, a friend told me of a medical doctor (Anabaptist) who is doing research into sexual abuse in Anabaptist communities. To take his survey visit:
Anabaptist Medical Matters

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JASON GRAY CONCERT:
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster PA
7:00pm
CONCERT TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC: Here

NOTE: Due to the concert being the celebration for survivors of abuse,
we ask that any who have sexually abused as adults not attend out of respect

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November 2, 2019:  THE GATHERING, held at Lancaster Bible College, is a place where survivors of sexual assault, together with our support person(s), collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse and trusted support persons to gather for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering and sexual violence among us. We will cry out to God, together. Come as you are in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. We welcome you! The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to grieve and 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.

NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.

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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.

WWJD with Child Molesters? And Are Public ‘Attacks’ Persecution for Faith?

(Part 3: The Forgotten Children)

The merchants sold things in the temple courtyard. There was no hidden crime, that we know of; they were right out there in the open, and obviously they thought what they did was fine. Even so, Jesus threw over tables, grabbed a whip and chased them out. The Pharisees made a host of man-made rules and imposed them on people as part of redemption, and Jesus called them hypocrites, a brood of vipers. He even declared them to be sons of hell. “You travel land and sea,” Jesus said, “to make one convert. And having done so, you make them twice the sons of hell that you are.”

Ouch. Definitely His outdoor voice, wouldn’t you say? And this isn’t the Old Testament God of wrath, talking here. This is Jesus, the gentle-hearted healer, speaking to those who defile the temple with ignored sin, those who defile God’s name by misrepresenting Him through external things, those who defile the temple by taking what is not theirs. That’s what thieves do; they take what is not theirs.

What would Jesus do with sexual abuse hidden in the ‘temple’? He would react. I know for certain He would not turn a blind eye, or shrug it off. The Gospels are full of Jesus’ response to sin, and the response of sinners to Jesus. When Zacchaeus encountered the Christ, he gave back 10-fold what he had taken. The impact Jesus had on him was not a, “thank God for grace so I can move on from my little mistake”… No, when Zac met Jesus, he was confronted by the wickedness of his own heart, and this stirred repentance in him. Repentance that included paying the consequences for his crime and acknowledging he had done great damage.

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I am also confident that Jesus would not say the offender (or their family) is being persecuted for their faith, if such sin came to light and the world around was angry and called them hypocrites. My confidence comes from the Word of God, which clearly states that if our suffering is the result of wrongdoing (sin, criminal activity, gossip) then we are not to rejoice in it, and it is not being ‘reproached for the name of Christ’. Jesus would most definitely stand by the Word. Yes, he would extend forgiveness to the repentant, which I also promote… with boundaries to protect victims, and following the laws of the land. (Romans 13:1-5)  I certainly can’t imagine He would run around saying, “This man/woman suffered dreadfully for my name’s sake”, when there is sin or criminal activity linked to the attacks. Fallout in the world around, as a result of those things is called consequences, and shames the name of Christ–even when/if it has been dealt with through repentance.

When I hear the cry ‘persecution’ associated with some of the recent ‘Christian sex scandals’, whether Gothard, Provencher, Duggars, or any other ‘Christian’ suffering ‘persecution’ after committing a crime, it makes me feel physically ill. It isn’t persecution. Does the world react differently to Christians being exposed in sex scandals or crimes? Yes. And they should. They have expectations of us, behaviours they hope for, and when our sins look just like their sins, they are bewildered, angry and call it hypocrisy. Sometimes it is hypocrisy, and sometimes it isn’t. But to the world it all looks the same.

Persecution, in terms of Christianity, is when someone suffers for the sake, cause or name of Christ. If I am bullied for dressing in a particular cultural fashion, it is not ‘suffering for the sake of Christ’. Christ didn’t ask me to dress a certain way. My church may have, or my parents, and it is perfectly fine for me to dress that ‘certain way’ associated with culture or personal preference, but that attire has nothing to do with the name of Christ, because my attire doesn’t represent Christ. My life, however, does represent Him or misrepresent Him, as the case may be. But, if I declare boldly the love and name and teachings of Christ, and I suffer for His name’s sake, that is Christian persecution.

So, as a Christian, if I commit(ted) a crime and it comes to light and collides with what I teach, and I am attacked, bashed or shamed because the crime came to light, it is not persecution. It is a consequence of sin. It is one of the reasons I chose early on to disclose my own past–the things I did and those done to me–so that the name of Christ would never be shamed because some hidden thing in my own life comes to light, and my past would not be used against me. And as part of my healing I shared every sin ever committed against me, and every sin I could remember ever committing, and have written about many of them. I desperately wanted to be free, and my greatest fear back then was that people would discover who I once was and use it to destroy me, or it would give Satan a foothold. (And now it’s out there in book form. Who would have thought it?!) But I will say this, if ever I get attacked by the world for what I disclose in my memoir, it will not be persecution. If I get attacked for presenting Christ and my faith in Him, that will be persecution.

That said, there is forgiveness for every sin and Jesus is more than enough, for my sins, for your sins and even the sins of celebrities. All sins are equal in needing grace,  but all are not equal in consequence to us or others. We say sin doesn’t have ‘grades’, and then hold up homosexuality as ‘a sin unto death’ while brushing molestation under the proverbial rug. It would seem that Jesus might disagree with our grading system. There is only one sin for which He declares it would be better for the offender to be dead than to face the consequences, and it is the very one I see hidden most often in churches; sinning against a child or causing a child to sin. (And I deal with the fallout of ‘causing a child to sin’, and think often of this verse.) May God have mercy on our warped grading system, and open our blinded eyes to the impact of silence.

Children who survived abuse have long been overlooked, their pain gone unacknowledged. Let alone the devastating aftermath of sexual abuse. Many are later disciplined by their churches for struggles that are the direct result of being sinned against. All of this must change if the church–the Body of Christ–is ever to have a voice of hope or authority in the world. In Amos 5 God says He will turn away from every form of worship, if we don’t first love justice and righteousness. And there is no justice in turning a blind eye to victimization, while trying quickly to cover up the crimes through ‘forgiveness’. And there is no righteousness in that pretense.  We, the church, have so much more to offer…

Victims need compassion–not pity; understanding, not ‘blaming’; and time and space to heal, not a mad dash to forgiveness and silence…. for the sake of image or any other wicked motivation. They need affirmation; to know they are not insane, even when they feel it. They need encouragement; to know they can make it. They need a listening ear, without judgement.

Victims need a church that does not overlook their trauma, but invites the Jesus who whispers to children in the night; “I am here. You will never be alone”.

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I will share this interview with Boz Tchividjian, on the last of the ‘Forgotten Children’ posts, because it is worth watching. Boz is a man of great wisdom on the topic of sexual abuse. He is a Christian and a former prosecuting lawyer in child abuse cases, who speaks with insight, compassion and offers balance. If ever you find yourself wondering if something is ‘sexual abuse’ or ‘normal curiosity’, have a listen.

Boz interview with CBN

Coming up… A few thoughts on the Duggar daughter’s interview.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger