EDIT: I am being contacted with assumptions that I am retracting my statement that Stanley Fox knew since 2016/2017. I am not retracting my previous concerns. His apology states that he knew. Therefore, because his statement confirms my evidence He only identified it as homosexuality and wasn’t concerned enough to pull a worker for it. I said I appreciate his apology, and I do. It does not change the fact that he knew and did nothing. Why would a troubled young man approach a pastor about Jeriah, if it was consensual relationship? Why would that not alert a pastor to find out what is going on?
Several people sent me links to Stanley Fox’s Apology Statement last evening. I was out with a friend for a few hours and didn’t see it until late. He has my respect of ‘stepping out of the lineup’ to speak without a lawyer and without permission. He is the first to do this in this mess.
I said to several other leaders this past week that if even one would have the integrity to step forward and say, “We knew…. I am sorry… And, for the record, Trudy is telling the truth,” that would go a long way. This is closer to that than I expected to see. I don’t need them to say for my sake that I’m telling the truth.
People are messaging, encouraging me to reach out to Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) to work with them regarding other allegations that have come forward, and at least practice Matthew 18. (My question is “which part of Matthew 18?” Mostly I assume they’re not talking about the millstone verse and the part that says the angels of a child are always before the face of God). Personally, I think Matthew 18 is applied too much like a bandaid on a heart attack, making it a perfect tool for keeping things hidden that should be brought to light. And like the heart attack, it’s killing the church.
To work in any level of ‘togetherness’ there first needs to be transparency – this apology is a huge leap forward, and comes on the heels of the Public Statement by CAM. There also needs to be a common goal of not keeping the church, the public and donors in the dark. And, finally, it requires giving victims a voice in this.
For this reason, before posting this link to Mr. Fox’s apology I reached out to one of the victims who made me aware on Monday that Mr. Fox also knew, to get his feedback. He was gracious and appreciative, but with some unanswered questions.
His response was:
“It rises a few questions but I am happy he made it. That is the person he has make people in Haiti believe he was. […] If he, initially in 2013, thought he was sent back to the US for homosexuality, who did Jeriah confessed to then? as a pastor that has served on campus at the same time as Jeriah, what have he done to find out the whole truth, they had many accountability meetings? So for him, it’s ok for someone that was sent home for homosexuality to come back and serve? I don’t think he would teach that. […] Also, it is confusing for a victim to know Stanley knew (at least in 2017), and didn’t do much to help the victims heal (He talked to name redacted about forgiveness once and prayed with him, in that meeting. He never said a word to me about such a thing), or to make sure Jeriah wasn’t doing it to any other kids and at the same time say that he cares/ love the wonderful people of Haiti. It makes us scratch our heads.”
I’m glad it meant something to the victim. That in spite of his questions about the message this sends regarding homosexuality being acceptable on the mission field, when it is taught against so strongly.
This doesn’t negate Mr. Fox’s apology. It simply raises deep theological questions for the conservative Mennonite groups who punish harshly those who become sexually active, engage in heterosexual relations outside of marriage (albeit with significant grace for adultery and child molestation).
This argument that it was believed to be consensual homosexual relationships has come up repeatedly, so my response here now moves away from his apology. I am truly thankful he spoke out, and respect his willingness to stick out his neck.
Thank you for that, Mr. Fox.
Youth of the church are rising to attention and asking the same questions this young man asks. They, who have been disciplined, forced to confess sexual immorality when caught. Youth who see a double standard, based on class, power, connections and various other influences. Youth who have been ‘shunned’ (informally) for clothes being not quite right. For listening to the wrong music. Youth, whose parents funded CAM through this (and, again, CAM has done many wonderful things), and who now defend those who knew and did nothing.
These youth are not dumb. They see through the hypocrisy. Ruled with an iron thumb, some of them, they watch as this unfolds with excuses, as thousands rise up to defend the organization, as leaders say no one knew (besides a few). They watch as it surfaces that there were blatant signs, not only of sexual sin, but bold crimes. Signs that no one pursued. And yet it was the whisper of a rumour that landed them before the congregation to confess kissing and making out? Or, God forbid, got the girl pregnant.
The one thing many thousands are asking for is transparency. The other thing is consistency. If homosexuality is not a big deal here, then it better no longer be the thing we preach against and condemn others for. If our position on it has changed, then it is time to apologize to the homosexuals whom we have bullied, shamed and excommunicated when they came out, or even reached out for help.
If that is not our position, then we have to confess to inconsistency and repent before God.
God forbid that we simply hope this goes away. It won’t. The world of conservative Anabaptism has forever changed, and it will never be able to return to what it was. Our 6/10 is the 9/11 that changed the world forever.
And, God forbid that our response to this be the thing that drives the children of yesterday and tomorrow away from the heart of God.
Such life-altering events demand a response.
There is only one response that will have the desire we all long for. Repentance. Deep, deep repentance.
We can grieve.
We can be angry; “be angry and sin not”… “Don’t sin in your anger” assumes anger is part of life. “Let not the sun go down on your anger” assumes anger but gives instruction to not let it control us. So we can be angry. Angry at the men who knew and looked the other way. Angry at Jeriah for assaulting children. Angry at Trudy for speaking out…. because this really does hurt, and if this hadn’t been spoken out…
So we can hurt. Hurting is honest.
We can weep.Tears are inevitable in our suffering.
But, in the end, if we want God to move we must repent.
Not only three men who knew and did nothing. Yes, them too please. But not only. We, as a culture have enabled this kind of thing. There are systemic factors that allowed this to happen.
Those who understand this will rise to repentance. And those who repent will go deeper. They will be instrumental in revival.
Revival cannot come without repentance.
We have prayed for revival, but we kick and scream when God invites us to the brokenness from which revival flows.
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~ T ~