Mennonite-raised man with EXTREMELY strong ties to wealthy Mennonites threatens to sue me with their backing… and advice I gave his wife

THE THREAT:
On Sunday September 22, 2019, a man contacted me in a bit of a sour mood. Initially he was irritated about a status I posted, in which I wrote: “If a man had molested his own daughters (or anyone else, for that matter), in the past, is he ever the right choice to be in leadership (board of directors or other) for an organization offering support for troubled young women? To give context, he has only been dealt with quietly and has never been reported.” I don’t know context for his frustration, exactly, but he’s entitled to his opinion. I’m entitled to mine. And I’m entitled to post what I wish on my FB, as long as it does not violate FB rules… or my own conscience before God.

In any case, whatever bothered him about this status, his response was to launch into an attack on me for allegedly wrecking their marriage with the advice I gave his wife. (Advice that I have posted below). In reality, I listened to his wife, and was careful not to give advice, as you will see below.

The man then launched into threats to sue me: “If you continue to communicate with my wife I will sue you. That’s not a threat it’s a statement. [Ummm…No… It’s a threat]. You have caused enough unnecessary drama and I have the backing of a lot of plain people and major funds. Have a good life and I hope the Lord works a miracle with you.

Baffled by the allegations and not able to recall what advice I gave, beyond my usual, “I care… you’re not alone… seek professional counseling…”, I went back through my conversations with his wife to see what ‘drama’ I had created. The only ‘drama’ I can figure out is that I gave her a place to share her fears and concern…

THAT DAMNING ADVICE:
The following is the kind of counsel I gave, (with all identifying information removed, and removing all comments except my own):

I went through [something similar to what you’re describing] and didn’t even think to discuss any of it with my doctor. [identifying information redacted]. It might be good to talk to your doctor about it […]

You are not alone. Many of us have pushed through these same struggles. It is hard, but worth fighting through. Twenty-five years later, Tim is my best friend. And to think we almost didn’t make it a few times, if only because I felt I couldn’t push through anymore. I felt unloved, abandoned and worthless.”

Do you tell him he’s a good dad, and all the other qualities he has?

[Tim & I] pushed through the ‘waves’ and ‘cycles of confusion’ [in our marriage]. I tried always to build him up and speak to his strengths, and he is by nature very faithful. That helped a lot. But eventually we also had to learn to ‘fight well’ and really get to the bottom of the main hurts. There is a right time, and right way to ‘fight’ and there is a right time and right way to get to the bottom of key issues. We Mennonite women have mostly not been taught to do that well.

You can get through this, and be best friends again. I’m not going to lie. It is hard work. But it is so worth it!

Do you know each other’s love languages?

(T)he the more depleted each partner gets, the harder it is to meet the needs of the other. Hang in there. I will pray for you

So here are the professional counselors my friend would recommend:
[redacted to remove location and identifying information]..

I can’t give advice, per se, but I can encourage you to keep seeing your counsellor and hopefully get the support you need to get through this. I will pray for you.

I’ll keep praying for you, trusting God to heal and restore what has been lost.

I’m so glad [they] are healing, and I trust God will move in unexpected ways for you and [your husband], healing you individually, and relationally. I’m not a fan of ‘formulas’, but have heard couples who were transformed with the guide of Love Dare (a book). I don’t know if it would be beneficial and supportive for you, or not, but I’ll leave that with you to contemplate.

These are examples of the kind of advice I gave. And he claims I gave damaging advice that caused drama, and is threatening to sue me if I don’t stay away from his wife… even though she is the one who reached out to me! (While he has the privilege of asking me to stay away from his wife we don’t live in a country where a man can sue someone for responding to their spouse when she reaches out. It isn’t 1819. And this is USA and Canada..) Should the wife ask me not to contact her,  I presume there might be some room for harassment charges…. except that I wouldn’t contact her. Also, there’s always the ‘unfriend’ and ‘block’ or ‘block messages’ buttons on FB. That would be another option if it’s drama he is trying to avoid.

CONSERVATIVE MENNONITES AND LAWSUITS:
Back to the issue of lawsuits…
The man initially threatened to sue me if I contact his wife again. Later, in a moment of of sanctifying his threats, he told me it would be to help others….

He also told me that he is not a Mennonite, but claims to be an advocate for them. Fair enough. Being a ‘not Mennonite’ is neither here nor there to me, though, last I heard he still attends a conservative church, with his wife in covering …. so he’s ‘culturally’ a Mennonite. His father is a conservative Anabaptist leader, last I heard. And he alleges to have the backing of wealthy conservative Mennonites in his endeavours against me.

I took this to mean he was saying the threat of lawsuit doesn’t reflect badly on Mennonites, though I’m not sure what his point was, because he claims to have the backing of wealthy Mennonites to sue me, and a list of 10 people who want to sue me. (And those communications could all be subpoenaed for court. That would be fun). That, if true, puts it all right back on people in the conservative Anabaptist culture.

Following are some of the comments he sent. His messages are italicized. My response are plain text, and my added thoughts are in brackets:

“I have the backing of a lot of plain people and major funds.”

(I… SEEE-EEE…!)

(I’m constantly reminded that by taking crimes to the law I am not a forgiving person, and I obviously don’t believe in redemption. But suing me? That’s okay because, well, exposing sex crimes disrupts … well, a whole lot of things. So suing me is non-resistant? Forgiving? Turning the other cheek? Or has life really become all about money and power?  All of these threats might scare me if money was more powerful than God, or a prerequisite for getting into heaven. But…. Well…. The good news is that God is still in control and if He sees fit to use a lawsuit against me to unearth more buried corruption, so be it. I am His servant. And He will take care of me. Of this I am confident. Losing everything would only scare me if I didn’t have Him. And I don’t have that much to lose, so there’s that.)

He continued:

“I got other people talking to me about you and you know as well as I do I have EXTREMELY strong ties to the plain churches. Heck I have relatives in about every one.”

(I… SEEE-EEE…!)

(What more can a person say? Is he actually saying having “EXTREMELY strong ties to the plain churches” is a threat? What are they in his mind, the mafia?)

AND THEN THE RANDOM COMMENT WITHOUT CONTEXT:
“I was told to talk about it to you along time ago but I never did because I don’t wanna be that guy. No need to go into detail. Your a smart person and you know.”

(No I don’t know because I don’t know who said he should talk to me, or why.  And like it or not, you are “that guy”, whatever that means, because you just did it).

AND THEN THERE WAS THE POLISHING OF THE HALO:
I don’t care about myself. I care about others that are being hurt.
The Lord has blessed my business and I intend to use the funds to help others. I wouldn’t do that if I only cared about myself. God bless

My response:
“And suing blesses people how? There is nothing of Jesus likeness in your messaging today. And then end with “God bless”? Don’t use His name in vain and try to spiritualize the profane.”

His comeback:
Protects the innocent
Even if I go to hell I’ll at least have protected some people

My response:
“You don’t have a leg to stand on. I have done nothing to you or your wife, and to sue me makes no sense.”

His comeback:
It wouldn’t be on behalf of me and my wife. I would be supplying funds to someone else that has contacted me. Oh well if you have done nothing wrong then you don’t need to worry

My response:
I’m not worried. Feel free to provide funds for others. But initially you said if I continue to communicate with your wife you will sue me. So which is it? Suing on behalf of someone else or because I respond to your wife?

His comeback:
It can be either.
That’s on you

(So it seems he doesn’t care so much what method he uses to get at me, or whether his own behalf or someone else’s. He just cares that he finds some way to sue me. That should stand up well in court. “Yes, Judge, I am determined to somehow bring harm to this woman who was there for my wife when she was going through a hard time. I don’t care how. I just care that I get it done. And, as you can see, Mr. Judge, her advice is terrible! She encouraged my wife to find my strengths and praise me. She recommended speaking with her family doctor and professional counselors. She also connected her with a woman who had contacts for professional counselors and a pastor she thought might specifically help our marriage. And then she had the audacity to tell my wife she and her husband walked through similar struggles and came out as best friends! Unbelievable! So, yes, Mr. Judge, I’m going to sue her, and I’m going to give money to other conservative Mennonites who want to sue her! I’ve had quite enough of this!”  (SIDE NOTE: If you are conservative Mennonite and want to sue me but need funds to do so, let me know. I know a guy with deep pockets and a pile of money who would help you)).

But the whole thing didn’t end there. He returned with more bullying a day later, after I posted a status saying that after I posted about getting lawsuit threats, I had learned of three conservative Anabaptists wanting to sue me. That inspired the following:

His message:

“you only know of three. I have written proof of at least 10
But it wasn’t right of me to say everything I know yesterday and I apologize.

My response:
“I can’t recall a thing you said that amounts to ‘everything you know’ or what others might have told you. No need to apologize. And I’ve updated the status to include the 10 🙂

His comeback:
Basically I got derailed for the things you told my wife. You have only heard her side of the story. [Redacted for confidentiality and protect their marriage]. You made it worse. Even if you can see that you will never admit it. Also you have no respect for men otherwise you wouldn’t feel the need to text me wife to cover your tracks when I asked you not to. Good day

[Redacted for confidentiality and protect their marriage]

[Redacted for confidentiality and protect their marriage]

My response:
“I went back and read all conversations between me and your wife. I don’t know what you think I ‘advised’ or told her, but you have it very, very wrong. I didn’t text your wife to cover my tracks [yesterday after being accused of causing drama and bad advice]. I messaged her to apologize for anything I did to cause harm, and I asked if she could point out what I did/said to cause that harm so I might learn from it. How you think that is me covering tracks is beyond me. You sound paranoid, at best.

His comeback:
I’m not paranoid. At all. We are currently doing a roof for the retired police commissioner of Chicago and he went down over your timeline, you should here what he has to say…..oh wait you would probably call him paranoid also.”

My response:
lol! I’m talking about [being] paranoid over my conversations with your wife and what advice you think I gave. I have hard evidence of what kind of advice it was, and I would comfortably post it on a blog. [as I have now done here]

As for the police commissioner… I shared the stage with an LAPD Sex Crimes Officer (currently off due to injury) this weekend who does the same work I do [of confronting and exposing sex crimes]. And I have lawyers, doctors/psychiatrists and other professionals on my friend list who give me feedback on my writings. And I would welcome hearing the Chicago commissioner’s words and opinions.”

(COMMENT: Interesting fact. What is public on my profile would not raise any concerns for any law enforcement officer. This was a power play. So, yes, Mr. Retired Commissioner, please forward your concerns about my Facebook Posts via my Contact Page).

His comeback:
Well you definitely made our marriage worse. *Everyone that reads our texts agrees.”

My response:
“Take some ownership, [name redacted]. You haven’t read the advice I gave. If you did, you’d know it was good advice.”

His comeback:
“You got a big head. You made a mistake and you can’t own up to it”

My response:
“Own your wrongs. Stop blaming other people. Don’t use your “I’m rich and powerful” to attempt to intimidate people.”

[insert “deleted comment”]
NOTE: I shared the advice I gave his wife — same as above — but decided to delete and share on my blog instead as I was not interested in further private dialogue with him. He opened the next comment before I was able to delete it:

“Those are direct copies of advice I gave your wife. [referring to same as above]. I’d tell her all of those things again. Shame on you for trying to blame your failure in your marriage on me.”

His comeback:
There is a special place in Hell for people that wreck marriages. No fingers pointed. Only cowards remove messages. No fingers pointed

(A day ago he was the one who deleted messages. Of course the rules are different for other people in the lives of bullies).

My response:
“Then stop wrecking your marriage and avoid that special place in hell. Take ownership.
I removed the messages because I decided it can go in a public blog instead.”

His comeback:
Btw I’m not a Mennonite. Just a advocate for them.

My response:
“You are abusive. And you are a bully.”

“You’re mennonite.
It’s a culture. And you are definitely in it.
Now you can stop harassing me.”

His comeback:
Thanks for that one message calling me names. Libel lawsuit grounds.

My response:
“You mean calling you a bully?
Libel, my friend, is not based on a private message.
It is based on public statements.”

With this, I closed comments so he could no longer message me. I can take a lot, but there’s a point where the bullying is a waste of time that could be spent elsewhere. As for libel, there’s not grounds for a libel suit even with me posting all of this publicly. For one, I have not named him, and he is not identifiable. Besides, it is truth I’m posting, and not lies. I have quoted his own bullying here, and how he uses his money as power to destroy. Money is fleeting. By tomorrow morning, if God saw fit to let some tragedy befall any of us, we’d be a pennyless beggar. I do not wish that for him or anyone. But I do pray God gets hold of his heart and he uses his finances for the Kingdom of God not the work of the devil.

Having blocked his messages, he wasn’t done. He went to my other account and sent the following:
70608893_2379340202393682_2696355712237305856_n.jpg

My response was to block him there completely. As for how many people he has spying on me, I really couldn’t care. Spy all you want…. bring in an army of spies. I’m used to be watched. I’ll still tell the truth.

I told him to stop harassing me — because he was the one reaching out to me, and he follows that up by telling me not to harass him or his wife? He’s been hounding me, and I’m asked to stop harassing? (Gaslighting much?) And he includes more litigation threats. That’s harassment. He reminds me again of how much money he has. (Yeah, yeah, buddy, I heard you the first time. You’re filthy rich. So?) And he ends by saying money goes a long way in the judicial system. Huh? Is he saying the system is corrupt and he will use their corruption in partnership with his own corruption to try to sue me unjustly? Like… is he saying US judicial systems are so corrupt that he can use money to win a case against me that’s not legit?

Even if true, here’s the problem. I’m Canadian. An American would have to sue me in Canadian court because Canada has jurisdiction over me. And, frankly, I don’t believe our judicial system is so corrupt that an American can come prancing in here with a lawsuit (based on what, again?) and a bag of money to buy favours.

So, dear Mr. I-WannaSueHerPantsOff, you should start by researching how to sue a Canadian who has broken no laws and committed no crimes, and brought no harm. And then you shouldn’t tell me you plan to sue me. You should just do it. That is, if you can find a lawyer desperate and crooked enough to take your money when the case has no grounds for a lawsuit.

Never play poker with your cards facing the other players.

And never ever use empty threats to bully people. In particular people who would reveal in court that, in fact, they were helpful and supportive to your wife, and encouraged her to get professional support and advice. That giving such advice is such a threat to any husband is very concerning.

In closing, I know you are wealthy. No need to remind me.

Truth is, for me ‘stuff’ in this life is not that important. I’m halfway to 100. Anything God needs me to do in the next 20 to 50 years (or week or two, since we are not promised long life), He will provide. Unencumbered by ‘stuff’, usually makes people more passionate and committed to their calling. And passion and commitment to a calling makes stuff less important. Win/win.

My prayer is that those who are offended at truth telling and exposing wickedness take a step back, and check their hearts. What is it about telling the truth that offends you so deeply? What about it makes you hate me and wish me dead? What about it makes you want to sue me?

To those threatening lawsuits… Some of you claim to know Jesus. Some claim to be non resistant. If war should arise and you would be drafted, you would seek to be excluded on religious grounds. And some of you stand behind a conservative Anabaptist pulpits preaching Jesus on Sundays. (Or is it Him you preach?) Yet, Monday through Saturday you think about suing me and even talk about it? If I am so far gone astray, should you not reach out to me to draw me to Christ? And if you are not interested in the Jesus Way, why bother holding on to a culture and religion that claims His name, and defame both Jesus and the religion?

I will unapologetically continue to expose sexual abuse and violence. No amount of empty lawsuit threats will stop me from my calling, and bullying and threats will be called out publicly. I am careful to speak truth. If ever I get things wrong that I have posted, I apologize. I never function out of hatred or a desire to destroy people, but rather to stop abuse and corruption.

If that is so wrong, then go ahead and do what you need to do.

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

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.

A reader’s response: “One young boy’s hell”, And Paul Yoder’s “The Silent Curtain”

TRIGGER WARNING:
The following is difficult to read. But this is the other side of the story. The forbidden words of the ones who suffered at the hands of perpetrators. It is harsh. It is somewhat graphic.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, if we as adults cannot handle knowing this horrific truth, we shouldn’t expect children to walk through this hell in silence. We should be doing everything in our power to stop these atrocities, and not trying to silence those who cry out. And never, never should we be caught looking the other way, casually doing life, while this goes on.

The gentleman who wrote the following is also conservative Anabaptist, with a veiled wife…. for those to whom that makes a difference. He understands both the culture and the horror of victims.

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ONE YOUNG BOY’S HELL

Trudy, I penned the following response to “Haiti: A concerned Anabaptist’s letter & my response“, but soon realized that I had better run it by you before posting… if you think there is any value in sharing a testimonial like this, please feel free to do so. If so, would you please share anonymously? If this is too rough to share, I respect that.

“…the biggest loser of all is the person that you are negative about the most, Jeriah Mast…

This statement is disgusting and shocking, causing in me at first sheer disbelief that the person is serious, followed by deep anger. Yes, I want to be ‘respectful’ to the person that penned this, but have to admit that when angry I wish for a split second that people like this could just have a taste of the devastation that being raped causes… to see how absolutely asinine and ignorant their words are. While all rape is bad, there are dynamics that come into play when a boy is raped by a man that are tragic in a very unique way.

I remember a 12 year old child being told when performing oral to “try not to spill a drop” then looking at the gun sitting on the dashboard of the pickup. At 12 years old, learning the best positions to take that make the pain of anal penetration most bearable, finding ways to sit in class later without sitting funny so that peers didn’t suspect you were being raped anally.

I remember that same boy hitting puberty, and the confusion he has when he realizes that he is an expert at gay sex, but has not so much as held hands with a girl. As he thinks this through, his very confused and trauma-foggy mind concludes he must therefore be gay, leading to an adolescence filled with seeking to answer the question as to whether he is gay.

Imagine the self-worth of this young boy as his parents take him to a counsellor to “fix him”, but don’t continue because “it is too expensive, insurance wont cover it”.

By 14, with this sexual violence having continued for a year and a half, and all of these issues raging in the adolescent’s mind, he turns to alcohol, drugs and illicit sex to try and ease the mental anguish, to drown the raging hate that has filled his heart against the perpetrator and against those who should have protected him.

Imagine this adolescent at 16 with a driver’s license and a car, drinking himself to blackout 200 nights per year, yet still driving home.

Imagine this teen, in his sober moments, fixating on finding the evil man and killing him, but only after torturing him. And consider that this idea isn’t a fantasy, but is something that would have happened had the teen run across the man again.

Imagine this young man, who had straight A’s in school up until the ongoing rapes, all of a sudden failing every subject in every grade – completely failing grade 7, grade 8, grade 9, and grade 10. Finally the guidance counsellor tells the young man as he enrolls into grade 11, “you’re nothing but trouble, you’re a waste of our time. You don’t belong here. Why don’t you just drop out of school? You’re old enough to drop out if you want.”

Imagine how the youth now feels, with the school giving up on him, and in fact now all of society looks at him as a worthless, dangerous young man who seems destined to spend his life behind bars. The same way the young man now also feels about himself.

Imagine this young man, after dropping out of school, drinking 20 to 30 beer a night to drown the pain. When drunk he acts like he has a death wish, becoming aggressive, getting into fights that he cannot win, fighting huge men, fighting 5 to 10 men at once. He does anything to try and escape the mental pain, unable to process the past, and painfully aware that he has lost his childhood, adolescence, and has zero hope for the future. At 21, this young man is keenly aware that he will not be alive for long, given the fights, the black-out drinking, the reckless devil-be-damned life.

This is only a small sliver of my personal experience.

As a teen, I was driven with the overwhelming desire to catch this man and get even with him, make him pay. And believe me, had I found this man in my late teens or early 20’s, I would have taken my revenge, even if it meant spending the rest of life in prison.

So when I read Mr. Yoder’s sentence that says, “…the biggest loser of all is the person that you are negative about the most, Jeriah Mast”,

I feel that anger again. I remember the pain, loss, desperation, confusion. I remember like it was yesterday how the man used my mouth, used my anus. How he scared me into not telling anyone. And I just cannot accept that a man can be so unaware of the cost to the victim… so wrong, so ignorant, so unaware of the lifelong cost that the victim of rape pays.

Even as born a again Christian father, the experience worked its way into my life, and for years I consciously dealt with it, over and over, and over again.

(Name Withheld)

***

A year ago this month I first met the gentleman who wrote this. He reached out to offer support and encouragement in what was then a rather hellish experience for me. His kindness and wisdom was one of the ‘kindnesses of God’ in my life at that time, and my respect for him has deepened as time went on.

With time he shared that he had been abused. But this is the first I heard his story and the extent of his suffering. I had slipped out to run some errands yesterday and checked my messages in the parking lot.

I began to weep. This is the story of many a little boy, many a little girl. Most never tell it so graphically, nor is that always necessary. But every now and then this harsh truth must be told.

God forbid that anyone would judge this young man harshly. And God forbid that we would be so deceived as to believe it is the offender who suffers most, or loses most… At least in the way that is often presented to guilt trip someone into silence.

Maybe the offenders do lose most, in the end, because they lose themselves somewhere in that process. But it certainly is not the doing of those speaking out, that such loss happens. It is the direct result of unspeakable crimes committed, often in the name of God or the guise of relationship with him.

God forbid that we would silence this cry, or shy away from the horrible and uncomfortable truth. And, worse yet, somehow make the offender the victim when silence no longer works.

***

This blog was ready for posting when a friend sent me a link to a post by Paul Yoder regarding the case of Jeriah Mast and Christian Aid Ministries (CAM). I do not know Mr. Yoder’s connection with the Anabaptist community, or whether he is still part of it, but his words (I am hearing) are bringing hope and healing to victims within.

He ends the post with the following very blunt thoughts:
You must recognize that these are not only sins but crimes, heinous crimes, crimes on the level of murder. For a preacher, pastor, or counselor to decide that the criminal shows enough regret that they won’t be reported to law enforcement simply makes no sense. They have absolutely no authority to make that decision. No good can come from harboring these people and protecting them and their secrets.

Will it change? I pray that it will. When I look at my young children, I can’t help thinking of the horrors that many children their age suffer with no way out. The young victims’ innocence, emotional health, and even physical health are all destroyed by evil people who are protected by a religious system. I feel indignation, disgust, and anger that institutions, doctrines, and a way of life are more important than the individuals within those systems.

If the Amish and Mennonite communities are not willing to protect their weakest and most vulnerable members, then they deserve to be dismantled and become a thing of the past. If, on the other hand, they use this opportunity to evaluate themselves and their beliefs and practices, then this can be a golden opportunity to make things better than they have ever been.”

Here is a link to his blog: The Silent Curtain.

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November 2, 2019, we have a day set aside to acknowledge the crimes of sexual violence in our Anabaptist culture at THE GATHERING.  It is exclusively for survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons. 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 by victims. (More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

 

PS. Plans are coming together for the next two trips, to take place shortly. Thank you to all who have donated.

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work, you may send funds (via PayPal or e-transfer) to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

A Conference for Sex Abuse Victims With The Anabaptist, the Baptist, and Me

God willing and the crick don’t rise, on May 19 – 20 we plan to do a conference at Erb Mennonite church, Lititz PA, for survivors of sexual abuse, as well as those who offer support. This includes pastors, teachers, friends, family, mentors and anyone who wishes to offer understanding.

poster

Some years ago, when going through a particularly dark time in dealing with the abuses in my past – the sexual, physical and spiritual abuse – I cried out to God, as I have often done over the years. I don’t expect God to write on the wall, take away my grief or pain, or even say a whole lot in those moments. It’s mostly just a trusted place where I release my heart and know I will not be brushed aside, judged or disregarded; He always listens and always loves me just the same. But somewhere in that time He whispered something to me. And I just knew it was Him, and I just knew it would happen. Deeper healing would come from the place of my suffering, but the ‘how’ of it was not revealed. I shared it with Tim, a bit hesitantly. I didn’t know what it meant, but believed someone from ‘within’ would play a role in that healing and acknowledge that the problem is real. I didn’t hold my breath, but I held on to hope, knowing such a thing would have significant impact on many.

Being told it doesn’t happen or isn’t so bad, thus downplaying the impact of sexual violence, adds to trauma while also escalating the problem. And maybe it is the latter that makes it the denial so hard; we who were once victims know it continues and there’s no way to stop it from happening to other children. That thought torments us. So for someone within my culture to boldly acknowledge the problem, without excusing the offender, minimizing the trauma, or blaming victims, would have been enough. But what happened was so much better.

The note came at a difficult time. The challenge of helping victims is wearing, because exposing it disrupts people and systems, and anger is directed at those trying to help. And exposing the darkness is particularly exhausting when I’d rather be friends with everyone and believe there isn’t any evil in religious cultures. The fatigue of that resistance had set in when the note came from a conservative Anabaptist lay pastor; a simple apology for the attacks on our ministry, and on me as a person, simply for following God’s call, a thank you for daring to follow that call, and then speaking into that calling and affirming it.  I was overwhelmed.

Weeks earlier someone shared an incident where they heard a leader in our local community speak evil of me and our ministry. Because they are a couple I held in high regard, I contacted them and asked to meet and try to come to an understanding. They declined and till all was said and done, I felt inadequate and genuinely believed maybe God was telling me to walk away from my calling, that I was unqualified.  On the heels of this, I was astounded to receive the random note of encouragement, apology and blessing from the conservative Anabaptist leader. He even included the very verses God used many years ago to define my calling; verses which are documented and engraved in every phase of this ministry, and which always seem to resurface from random places when something is at stake.

That conservative Anabaptist leader was Kenny Kuhns.

Some time later, when I heard Kenny speak, I wept. Hearing a leader from ‘among my people’ speak such life and hope into the harsh reality of my past, and the past of every survivor of sexual violence in a religious setting, deeply moved me and gave me hope. For a second time, God used Kenny to bring deeper healing into my own experience. I’ve been in ministry a long time, and sometimes people ask if the past ever causes struggle. The answer? Of course it does. From time to time, something triggers the trauma. While this ever less frequent, the truth is that humans have moments when we are confronted with the past, and we must grieve, or run. I used to run. Where there is grief and pain, there is a need for healing, and that is something we need never be ashamed to admit, no matter how long we are in ministry, or how ‘healed’ we become. I believe with all my heart that Jesus is enough for me, and the power of the past is broken. I am not a victim. And I believe just as confidently that He sends representatives to unveil His love in new ways to bring deeper healing when needed.

After seeing Kenny’s heart, we invited him and Irma to join us at our upcoming conference at Erb Mennonite church in Lititz, to speak to the victims as a ‘voice from within’ who understands both the magnitude of sexual abuse in our culture and the cost to those who were victimized. Having worked with survivors for many years, he sees the damage done, but also sees the potential, the place for hope, and the power of Christ to restore and renew. His compassion for survivors serves as a life-line for those often misunderstood and unheard in churches, as he acknowledges the deep suffering. But he doesn’t leave us in our suffering; he honours the hard spiritual battles we fight and acknowledges speaks the life and hope of Jesus into that darkness.

We’ve also invited Pastor Dale and Faith Ingraham from New York to join us again. We’ve had the privilege of working with them numerous times in the past five years, and are always blessed and encouraged. Faith’s story of overcoming abuse at the hands of her father, also a Baptist pastor, while painful, is also a story of resilience, courage and faith. Their heart for the wounded is as genuine as any I’ve encountered, and the gentle message of hope God has given them, brings healing and life.

We are honoured to partner with Kenny and Irma Kuhns for the first time, and especially thankful for the long-term support and friendship of Dale and Faith Ingraham. We look forward to what God will do. It’s going to be good!

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All are welcome to attend. We acknowledge sexual abuse, however, what we focus on and talk about is God’s love, His grace and His redemption; that is something we all need. Registration is by donation until May 5. After May 5 it is $65. Refreshments and a noon meal will be provided on Saturday May 20, but attendees must preregister for this. This is to make meal planning possible, and avoid last minute stress for the organizing team. Register online: http://www.generationsunleashed.com/events or by snail mail to: Generations Unleashed 15 Coral Gables Crescent, Elmira Ontario N3B 3P4.

For further information, call Dave Miller at: 519-669-3126.

Love,
~ T ~

Ps. Because of the unusual nature of this conference, in that we have invited a conservative Anabaptist leader to come speak, we are aware this may stir up questions, concerns and even fears for some who have suffered abuse at the hands of leaders within the culture, whether spiritually, sexually or otherwise. We acknowledge this risk and are open to questions, concerns and addressing those fears. Please feel free to contact any of our speaking team at:
Trudy: trudy@generationsunleashed.com
Kenny: kenkuhns@nls.net
Dale & Faith Ingraham: dfingraham@speakingtruthinlove.org