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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

 

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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As always…

Love,
~ T ~

*****

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

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

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

© Trudy Metzger

 

 

What Hope is There, Then, If Sexual Abuse is So Prevalent?

When I first started speaking openly about my story, and writing about it, I believed strongly that the particular ‘brand’ of Mennonite I was born into–the Russian/Mexican/Old Colony Mennonites–was infested with sexual abuse. And of the ‘white bonnet’ Mennonites, I believed the ‘brand’ we joined–a specific Conservative Mennonite group–and particularly the congregation we were in, was also affected to epidemic proportions.

For years already I knew it existed other places but couldn’t imagine that what happened in our church, community and family was familiar to others. We were the worst. The extreme. The exception. Or so I believed for those years. And even when I first started writing and speaking, I believed that to an extent.

Since then I have had individuals, from every congregation that I know of in Southern Ontario and a few further out, within our particular ‘brand’, come forward and expose it in their home congregation. And they are not all just the ‘I am a victim’ stories. These are stories of multiple victims, within one school, within one church. Occasionally told by the friend of a victim looking for ways to help that friend, and asking, “What do I do? How do I help?”, but most often told by the victims or a family member.

I will never forget the first ‘bold’ email that came through after I started ministry, from someone in my cultural background. I believe it was in 2010, before I had even blogged openly about my story. I read that email just before leaving for work and what the victim shared shook me up. I wept most of that half hour drive to work. I was aware already that there were other victims, because some had spoken to me, but I had not heard of even one victim in their congregation. That email exposed a case of multiple victims within that congregation and it overwhelmed me.

I do not know how bad it is in other ‘brands’ and ‘conferences’, as some call themselves. I know it’s there because I hear from them, but I don’t know to what extent. I did have a someone tell me in the last three days that, being of a less conservative Mennonite background, people ask her if what I write is true. Is it really that bad?

Being of very different Mennonite backgrounds, I wondered what the answer would be. In their family’s experience in the church, did it even exist? Was it unfathomable to them?

“So what do you say?” I asked.

“I say, ‘Yes, it is that bad!'”

I am very aware that it is not a Mennonite problem. It is a people problem, a ‘humanity’ problem, and it is ‘everywhere’, in every culture. But I stand by my claim that silence escalates that human problem, and therefore the rates increase in any closed culture where the topic is off bounds and victims are told not to talk, for the sake of image.

If it is true, as I believe, that at least 50% of the homes in my cultural background have been directly impacted by sexual abuse–meaning that there is at least one or more victims–then what hope is there? Should we all lay down and die, because the situation is hopeless, beyond redemption? Should we all turn a blind eye and live peacefully with them, and never dare to bring it to light? By no means! If there was no hope, I wouldn’t bother open this can of worms.

Jesus is the ‘hope’ for the epidemic. And I’m not talking only of the ‘neat and tidy’ Jesus we like to talk about. We need to know the Jesus who loved, who sacrificed, who had compassion. We need the gentle touch to heal as victims, and even to offer grace, forgiveness and hope to the perpetrators. It’s necessary for me, as a victim, to offer that to my perpetrators, and any other perpetrators with whom I meet.

But not without confronting the darkness of the sin and the crime. When it comes to confronting the hidden sin in the church, and the people who intentionally and blatantly cover it up, whether as leaders (accomplices through silence), or perpetrators, we need a bold Jesus who does not hesitate to confront religious pride. I’m talking about the Jesus who pulls the whip, chases out darkness, drives away evil and shouts boldly, “NOT IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE! HE ISN’T OKAY WITH THIS…. GET OUT!!”

We need the Jesus who calls out the religiously arrogant, those who are all about control and abuse of power, and image, while ignoring the broken hearts of people. (And it doesn’t matter whether that is 5%, or 30% or 80% of the church leaders or members.) We need Him because that Jesus isn’t afraid to expose generational sins. He doesn’t tiptoe around trying to make it sound palatable for the ‘well-meaning’ religious audience, who–God bless them–don’t know better.

No… That Jesus declares things boldly, and publicly in Matthew 23, and calls it as He knows and sees it where anyone within earshot can hear it. He didn’t take them aside for a private, one-on-one consult. He exposed evil and corruption and I have no doubt that He would do the same with the sexual abuse hidden in many of today’s evangelical and other churches.

I think Jesus would still say, “…all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments…. woe to you… hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you… hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. ….Woe to you… hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. …Woe to you… hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. …Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes:some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.”

Jesus confronts boldly, so the victims will know whose side He is on. Only those who had bought the lie of religiosity were offended by His boldness. Only those who had something to hide had cause to silence Him. He was, without question, on the side of those who were abused.

And Jesus is still the hope for healing. He is the hope for truth to be revealed and lies to be exposed. He is the source of our identity, our value, our worth. In every situation, in every experience, He is the truth that transforms. He is the One who breaks those chains, and takes the shame on Himself. But the truth of our experience must be brought to light so that the lies are exposed, and the Truth of our real identity can be restored.

To that end I will continue to speak and give voice to those who cannot speak, so that hope is kept alive.

© Trudy Metzger

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