Letter to Bruxy Cavey

Bruxy,

My first contact with you was when I reached out to see if you would be available to speak to a group of (roughly 250) women at a conference for survivors of sexual assault and molestation. I wrote the following to you:

I am inviting 4 individuals to make confessions to the women on behalf of men in general, fathers, mothers and pastors. My husband has lived with integrity and honour in my life and will address sexual abuse on behalf of all men. Our lead pastor died of cancer in May and he also lived with the same honour [in my life] on a spiritual level. I come from a deeply religious culture (Conservative–white bonnet–Mennonite) where our family suffered deep abuse so I cannot go back to those leaders. The other pastor I had is not available that night […] So, here I am, asking you if you would consider driving to our church […] to make a confession to a group of women at a conference. It’s not glamorous but it is a great honour. I recognize that I’m asking you to speak in a church when your calling is to minister to those who are sick of organized religion and its politics but so many of us have been ‘spiritually mutilated’–as one young lady said recently–and need someone to stand in the gap. I know you ‘walk the talk’ because three of our neighbours go to The Meeting House (Cambridge) as do some friends who left our church and my former doctor and his family and they all speak with respect and honour of you” (Messenger, August 30, 2010).

Your schedule was full. You did not fill the role. Within approximately two years of that, you violated a young woman’s trust and sexuality.

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When it became publicly known that there are allegations against you, the shock left me reeling. I had not fully recovered from the allegations against Ravi Zacharias….

I met you and Ravi Zacharias in the hall when we took our youth to Fluid Gathering the first year it was held. There was no one else present; you and he were in conversation.

It was brief, our meeting; nothing memorable …. to you, I imagine. It was but a passing greeting. You seemed to not be the most social person I had met and looked relieved when you could offer a quick ‘hi’ and escape. That did not offend me. I had listened to your teachings which made it memorable for me. I had also heard quite a number of friends speak highly of your teaching style and personality. So I was not surprised when you seemed reserved; I already knew this about you.

Ravi was charming and clasped my hand in both of his. He leaned in and kissed me on both cheeks as he spoke ever so graciously; for one moment I was the only person in his world. I bought many of his books, either hard copy or ebook, and listened/read with fascination.

Starting in 2012 we attended The Meeting House (TMH) when I wasn’t traveling internationally, in ministry to survivors of sexual assault within religious communities. TMH was our place to land while I did my degrees at UWaterloo (overlapping with ministry); a place to sit and absorb teaching with no ministry duties, to avoid burnout.

In 2015 I wrote a second time: “[I]t is ministry that inspires me to write today… Until recently I had a ‘personal pastor’ in [USA], who was my ‘go to’ in the ministry[…]. That pastor is going through a very dark time […] and has retreated completely, not even responding to my encouraging notes. […] I do ministry to sexual abuse victims[…] and find it necessary to have a personal pastor1 with whom to connect, from time to time, with whom I can be honest and raw.” (Messenger, May 21, 2015).

That request led to semi-regular meetings with our site lead who was, from what I could tell, one of the most transparent pastors I had ever encountered. This was a huge support during a time when I had very few support systems in place while doing the hard work of listening to survivors, almost daily. I am so grateful for time he invested in me.

I recall well some of your messages. I can’t say that for a host of pastors, though there are others. But the one thing that stands out most is a statement about interacting with the opposite gender. You talked about acknowledging beauty, and honouring the person as God’s creation, never objectifying or using and dishonouring them. (I don’t remember your words. I only recall what they communicated). You were speaking my language. (My Blog Post on the topic: Every Erection Is Not Lust).

Over the years since you taught that, I brought it up to my husband from time to time, and shared it here and there. Finally a pastor who addresses the subject and honours women….

When allegations against you of sexual impropriety were made public, I felt numb. My heart sank. I held out ‘hope against hope’ that they were not true. If true, I held out hope that you would humbly acknowledge, resign and step down.

You were the third in a series of leaders I had (to varying degrees) respected, who had allegations brought against them. The first was a bishop, Howard Bean, in my former Mennonite affiliation. He had sexually assaulted a young woman when he taught school. I befriended her when I was 17 and she told me the tragic story, but withheld his name. When the story came to light in recent years, I was shocked to learn he had been a church leader in my denomination for years. Ravi Zacharias was second. Both cut to the core, leaving me shaken.

But when I heard the allegations against you, as someone who had attended TMH and sat under your teachings, and someone who works with survivors of sexual abuse… it about knocked the wind out of me. I still have no words for the shock. And how sick I felt telling my husband. The sadness. The sense of betrayal and loss.

When the allegations were confirmed as valid, I read your blog (My Confession). I saw the title and felt a wave of relief: you were owning the wrong committed and harm done. But as I read what you wrote, the sadness and betrayal moved to anger and trembling with grief.

I have worked for over 12 years with sexual abuse victims, and I have also sat with many who have sexually offended. I have heard true ownership. And I have heard self-preservation and blame-shifting or justification. I felt sick to my stomach — and do still as I recall — as you referred to the sexual impropriety as ‘an affair’.

(The following details, to the best of my knowledge, are fully accurate. I wish to be corrected if I have erred in anything). You were 46. She was 23. You a pastor in a large and growing church. She barely past her youth, looking up to a man in a position that (sadly) is often equated as representing God more than any other human; a pastor does lead the bride of Jesus, after all. You, experienced and exhibiting both knowledge and wisdom. She a young mind finding her path, embracing her beliefs, discovering who God is… who you portray him to be.

And you write that it was an affair.

The incredible power imbalance makes your claim so utterly shocking — from a man who has taught against abuse of power against cultures of less power; a man who has taught humble servanthood; a man who has taught sacrificing self for others…. The list could go on and on.

Yes, when I saw you were admitting that allegations of sexual impropriety were true, and especially when I heard of the age and power differentials, I expected you to humbly confess your wrong, own the harm, and free the victim from any responsibility.

Instead, you placed squarely on her shoulders the shame and the blame. You are a man revered to a fault; to some you cannot be guilty no matter what you did. Some defend you still. You have power on your side. You state you had confessed it to God, as though there was no need for any further action to free her from the power of the secret you carried… the weapon you became in her world. And the deception many of us feel, still. You had confessed. You were free. She carried the secret affair, as you called it, with a revered pastor.

The moment you freed yourself further from responsibility with a public ‘confession’ — that sounded like most offenders I’ve worked with, who self-justify and transfer blame — you also sentenced her to more shame, more blame, and more disillusionment with God. At 23 that’s a pretty heavy burden to carry, with life-long consequences. I don’t know her, or where she is in her faith today, but I do know many like her. And I have heard the struggle. If it isn’t impacting her that way, it is impacting others. I know because victims who admired you have contacted me.

My math tells me this took place soon after my request to represent pastors in the acknowledgement of sexual harm against women. You asked me to check with your secretary to see if your schedule is free. Surely you must have known the harm this would do…

If you had taken full ownership in “My Confession”, and stated you abused the trust of someone young enough to be your daughter, and called it pastoral abuse of power and sexual misconduct or sexual assault, it would have freed the young woman and set a noble example for others to also own their wrongs. Is Jesus not enough for that? What would He have called it?

Many of us counted on you to do this… to fully take ownership for taking advantage of youthful naivety. The added betrayal when you called it an affair, after all I heard you teach, shredded any trust that might have been rebuilt.

I have served as an investigator in a case not unlike this, as part of a team along with trained law enforcement and a pastor. I know what is involved and how exhausting it is to be thorough and call it what it is. What I can’t grasp is in what world a pastor at 46 and a youth at 23 have an affair.

If this was your daughter, at 23, with a well-known pastor with your level of power and influence (keeping in mind that influence is power) at 46, would you still call it an affair?

If this was an injustice involving the Indigenous and other Canadians, what would you teach God’s people to do? How would you address the power imbalance? How have you addressed these injustices in your peace teachings?

You have spent years teaching against violence. This is the most insidious of violent acts in the church, to prey on the vulnerable and young, and place the burden of that blame on their back.

Do not think that God will overlook when we, as leaders in His kingdom, take advantage of the powerless. Nor He will take His eyes off of those harmed. Spiritual Abuse and sexual violence to among the greatest harm in religious community. Especially when so intricately intertwined.

Amos 5

Praying, with hope, that you will rename your wrongs, call your actions by the power imbalance that this was (therefore, pastoral sexual abuse/assault), and publicly free her of blame.

There is grace. There is forgiveness. With truth.

Sincerely,
Trudy

© Trudy Metzger 2022

1. This is leftover teaching that I’ve long since abandoned, that each person in ministry must have a pastor under whose ‘umbrella’ they function. While I see the value of having someone with whom we share, who challenges, offers wisdom and simply listens, I no longer believe it needs to be a pastor. Nor do I believe it needs to be a male. In fact, as one pastor after the next after the next is exposed for sexual misconduct, or other betrayal, I find myself wondering how such power was ever given in the first place to such a position. Yes, there are noble and sincere pastors. But it certainly isn’t important to have a pastor over us in ministry. It is important to have strong relationships with fellow believers who can walk with us. I have Tim, for whom I am grateful, but he is also my lover and may just be a little bit biased. Sometimes we need not only our spouse, but a spouse and other mentor or friend who sees our blindspots. In any case, I am not interested in inadvertently promoting beliefs that I once held and now see to be destructive.

Jeriah Mast Arrested for Ohio Crimes

Right there, in grocery store, I wanted to pause and weep when the news came in last evening. It was a simple message announcing that Jeriah Mast is in custody at Holmes County Jail. The heaviness of such a thing is too real to feel particularly victorious. The right thing is often the hardest thing.

And sometimes the right thing is only the right thing now because a different ‘right thing’ wasn’t done in the past. … or because many past right things were missed. Some out of lack of knowledge, some out of willful ignorance, some out of naivety. And the end result is today.

A warrant was issued July 2, 2019 for the arrest of Jeriah Daniel Mast, age 37, of Millersburg Ohio. He is facing seven Felony-3 charges and seven Misdemeanor-3 charges involving 5 victims. As of late evening, July 2, he was being held in Holmes County jail. Note that these charges are for his crimes on US soil only, not his crimes in Haiti. (To read more in local news Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Former aid worker indicted on sexual abuse charges in Ohio. And the Daily Record: Former Ministry Worker Charged With Sexual Abuse in Holmes County)

The consequences for these crimes and years of hidden sin are now imposed on his family and loved ones; especially his wife and children. The ripples continue to impact countless people.

My heart is heavy, and deeply saddened. I find myself asking God, “What will it take for things to change? How often must this happen, again, and again – first the abuse, and then the legal battle – before this topic of sexual violence becomes a priority for ‘church’, where abuse runs rampant? Before children are protected and their wellbeing and safety prioritized?”

My confidence that exposing this case was the right thing has not lessened; it is stronger. It brought more victims forward in US, and made the broader church aware. (Though I do not know if the victims referenced on the indictment are those that came forward after exposure). It has created awareness that there are consequences when victims speak out. It also clearly communicated that there are those of us standing in the gap for victims, who are asking for organizational transparency, accountability and responsibility.

Our priority is caring for the victimized and simultaneously preventing further victimization. To this end we will press forward and continue to address abuse cases that are brought forward.

It is my hope that the ripples of this tragedy and the tremendous consequences will not be wasted. I pray the church and para-church organizations will repent for the dreadful handling of things — whether deliberately or out of naivety and ignorance — and offer a more responsible handling of sexual abuse and violence going forward. And I hope the next generation has less victims as a result.

On that note… many have prayed for Jeriah and his family, and continue to. Please also remember to pray for the victims. Religious communities have a tendency to band together to apply ointment on their own and each other’s wounds, and to mop up the proverbial spills around them, to the neglect of the victims of horror and terror whose lives have been forever altered.

Remember the victimized.

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

 

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THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at  THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to 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.

(More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)

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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.

© Trudy Metzger 2019

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.

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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