Haiti:Anabaptist Pastor/Missionary, Andy Faller, Speaks Out

This morning someone sent me the attached (see link) written by Pastor Andy Faller from Haiti. I’ve never met him, but I recognize truth when I read it, hear it and see it. He has my deepest respect. I chatted with several friends about him and was told he is a very conservative Anabaptist pastor who is obviously ‘breaking rank’ to speak truth publicly.

Please pray for him and his family, for Simeon Shankster and his family, and all those rising up to address the current crisis honourably from inside the culture. We all know that does not happen without a price tag, usually a high one, and usually paid by those speaking truth. May God give them grace and strength.

Read the letter here (or scroll down to images, which may not be as clear): Andy-Faller-Public-letter

My heart is many things this morning. Saddened. Grateful. Broken. Healed. Grieving. Weeping. Rejoicing to see men rise up…. Thankful that Jesus is in this crazy mess, and that he was willing to speak into deception, to show that it can be done.

In over 9 years of working with sex crimes in our Anabaptist communities I have never seen men of God rise up like this publicly and stay standing. I have watched them rise, and then bow to the system, cave to the pressure. I’ve been gaslighted. Lied to. Lied about. That is normal in my line of work.

When the sacred cow gets poked, those who draw milk from her and revere her, without fail, turn to deception and blinding the public. This case is no different on that front.  But this time men are rising up. Standing tall on truth. Refusing to cater to religious politics or protect rank.

In the past few days I’ve sat and stared at hard evidence of things said by those who now declare my blogs are lies. I listen to the audios.  Their words. That is what I wrote about. They are either truth… or they are  lies of the ‘authors’ of the words, whether spoken or written. I try to reconcile this with the cry to forgive, the loud screams (figuratively) — “Trudy is the most wicked woman in all the world! She is evil! She is not a Christian!” — while those declaring these things (and there are many) brazenly lie, and destroy evidence (a bit too late because others have it) that might reveal to the world their lies.

Tell me… Who is God? Who is Jesus? What is truth in a religion such as that?

(No, I’m not broadly painting all Anabaptists. I’m sharing what has happened repeatedly in 9+ years).

Those are the ‘norms’. What is happening this time is not my ‘norm’.

I’ve never watched men rise up and boldly, speak truth without wavering in the crazy of abuse being exposed. And, in this case, even posting publicly what they know is truth. That kind of backbone, and not slipping to jargon about ‘unity’ and making it about everything but the issue at hand … this is a new thing. And I thank God for this day.  I am sorry it took such an extreme situation and such a public exposure to get here. But even this is a thing God is using powerfully.

No, these men don’t align with me. They’ve offered no illusions of such a thing. I’ve had blunt disagreements with at least one. But they stand for truth. And they know truth. So they are rising up, and speaking out.

It gives me hope… Not for myself, because I am not in the conservative Anabaptist system of churches. It gives me hope for healing among them. For the ‘system’ to crumble so that Christ is made stronger. And not just stronger, but central in all things. Because He said, “I am the Truth”, so for Him to be fully alive in us, and fully present in our churches, Truth and truth must take their rightful place.

Today I thank God that men are rising up in truth and in their God-given authority. I bless the men, their wives and their families. I know there are others, there are many, and not all will ever need to take a public stand, but I understand the price attached to such a stand.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Screen Shot 2019-06-14 at 12.14.04 PM

Screen Shot 2019-06-14 at 12.14.58 PM

On becoming a grandma and God interrupting a prayer for our unborn grand-baby…

There I was, praying for our family. I had just started a prayer for our unborn grand-baby, when God interrupted. And He seemed quite off-topic, at that. I mean, I’m praying blessing over the next generation, and asking Him to keep His hand on this child, and all kinds of good things, and He says, “You keep taking your eyes off of Jesus”.

Wait… what?

It took me off guard. “You keep taking your eyes off of Jesus,” He said again.

Let me tell you, when God interrupts a prayer for a grand baby, you listen. Because it must be important. After all, He knows all about how we grandparents get on about grandchildren, from the day you find out about the first one being on the way, until the great-grand-babies and great-great-grand-babies show up. He wired us that way. (And you never interrupt a first-time grandparent prattling on about the baby, and how the mama is doing, and “he’s going to be such a good daddy”…. You just don’t. You let them chatter and you celebrate with them.

God knows this. And He still interrupted me. Funny thing, I didn’t have to shift from grand-baby chatter to ask, “What are you talking about?” I knew. But to make sense of it, let me tell the backstory…

****

It all began few months ago, toward the end of ‘the crazy’ of things with the ASAA, and the other two guys, whom I shall not name. (And if you don’t know the story, just settle for knowing there was some conflict surrounding a young woman who was molested, which intertwined with a lot of other insane stuff, and I was involved. I had hard evidence — and still do — of things that needed addressing. And still do. But, alas, male power and religious dominance shall prevent such things. As for the law, some of the details could go either way at this point, form my understanding).

But it began there, when I realized the darkness of the way things were handled was getting to me, and I decided “I’m out”. I intended never to address it again, publicly, and respond in private to people by offering evidence and letting them deal with that, rather than taking my word for it. And that is what I did. Until this week. Over the weeks and months emails, phone calls and facebook messages trickled in. One of the two ‘other guys’ involved was saying “…..” and is it true? Or “From what (the one guy said), you [….]”

Other messages were kind-hearted souls wanting us to ‘kiss and make up’ and play nice in the church sandbox again. The pain of us leaders not being in relationship was/is almost too much. And some shared what they had been told were the issues. Peripheral things… I was just trying to destroy the one guy. I was jealous of his ministry, some said. Whatever trickled in, trickled out my left ear about as pick as it slipped in the right. When tempted to tackle it, I reminded myself, “I’m out”. Until this week.

I’ll confess up front that when I first heard it, I laughed. It was, in my mind, the most absurd accusation to date. I don’t recall when someone first said it, but it was some weeks ago, and I ignored it. Until I learned more details (which would require half a dozen blogs to explain, and it isn’t relevant, so I’ll not bother about that), and the story behind it. I forgot completely that “I’m out”, and I addressed it.

The story was pulled out of thin air that I wanted to be on the ASAA board, and being offended, I started spreading lies about the aforementioned group and people. In January I was asked by the then-vice-chair of the ASAA board if I had any advice for them. Not other than one thing, I said, and that was to vet their board, interview each one personally and make sure there is no history of abuse or molestation that is not taken care of. With so many ministries associated through board members (Life Ministries, Strait Paths, Kenny K. – as a pastor and counsellor, the Reed brothers, and others) I urged them to be thorough so it would not damage those ministries. He let me know that the board was fully in place and nothing could be done about it, and if that were to take place, he would also be disqualified. I said that since it has nothing to do with me (by extension not Generations Unleashed), it was merely advice and up to them. However, Tim and I talked and decided that if they did not vet their board members thoroughly, we would not have anything to do with any formal or informal involvement, beyond attending.

Based on that interaction, he decided I wanted to be on the board, or so he said when I confronted him about spreading the lie that I wanted to be on the board. That’s how he took our interaction, he said, and he was sorry *if* he had misunderstood. There was exactly three days between that conversation and our falling out, which happened about the time I asked him to explain what he meant when he said he would be disqualified from ASAA leadership if they vetted those with unresolved abuse/molestation history. ( I won’t get into those details.) From that point forward, things in our relationship deteriorated, with some attempts to work through things.

That’s the backstory, but the reason I laughed when I heard it was two-fold. First, I tried to picture me working with a team of conservative Mennonite men that closely. Somehow, as much as I’ve learned to respect many of them in healthy relationship,  including leaders, the picture makes me giggle. Knowing me and my story… Nope… I just can’t see any formal ties like that working well for either side. And I’ve never had any such ambitions. I’m happy to help them in any way possible, and support them, but a partnership?

While I wasn’t so much ‘put off’ as humoured, it was that tie to the organization (ASAA) that bothered me.

In fairness, I had taken information that was brought to me and I believed to be true, and shared it publicly (regarding the break and enter). Immediately upon discovering it could not be proven with evidence, I apologized both publicly and privately to him.

 

img_5408  .       img_5409 .     img_5410

 

I was content to leave it at that, assuming he really had nothing to do with it, and feeling badly for ever having brought it up with no evidence.

And all I was hoping for from him when I approached him about the unfounded rumours of me wanting to be on the board, was to own up that pulling such an assumption out of the context of our January conversation — when our conversation was really only focused on addressing vetting board members and his comment — was neither right nor justifiable. No such apology was forthcoming.

****

Truth is, I’ve hardly thought about any of this since starting school apart from tending to the messages and questions that come in, as I was able. Somehow PhD work is not easier than the Masters was, and leaves little time for worrying about past kerfluffles. But, having confronted the source of the rumours/lies, and receiving no acknowledgement, it is hard not to shift at the waves.

So here I am, now, having spent several days looking back at the mess of this past year once again. Nothing resolved or appropriately addressed. The man who was sending inappropriate texts over the past few years and who molested one young woman, as recently as October still offered massages to someone via text and voice mail. (To his church’s credit, they have finally acted on the allegations and put him out of membership). The leader with whom I had a falling out … well, that remains as it was. And ASAA… besides my alleged disappointment at being excluded, it all sits as it was, and so shall it remain by all appearances.

And that is where that interruption came in… Having spent a day with our daughter, shopping all things young mama for her birthday, seeing her round tummy, hearing her tell about the kicking and the changes, and loving life. And suddenly finding myself back in the muddle of things gone by that stand no chance of resolution, no hope of relational redemption… And the only good having come so far being that, while fluffy popularity dropped this past year (thank you Jesus! I don’t do fluff and bandwagon), the truth is we have become surrounded by countless warriors and hundreds of new people we never knew before have stepped up to support us in so many ways. I’ve never had such a thing before. Total strangers, over and over and over again, writing to say they are praying. Some also contributing to the costs of all the travel this past year, and all saying we are in this together. (Thirteen out of country trips in a year add up… So, again, thank you to those who contributed).

Those are beautiful and meaningful things, for which I am so grateful! And I value each new friend and partner in this war against sexual violence with deep appreciation. But none of those things replace loss of trust and loss of relationships that have fallen by the wayside as a result of this past year. They do not replace the loss that comes when things are not handled in an open and forthright manner; when politics and polite society is more important than truth. These things are huge losses I grieve from this past year, and the zero-hope-of any future redemption, saddens me. But I embrace the redemptions that have come out of it, and accept that those may well have been some of the purpose in the first place.

But the losses… They are the things that, when the waves start to rise — sometimes because someone dropped a giant boulder in the water, sometimes for other reasons — and the waters get unsteady, those things distract me. And I struggle to see Jesus in the chaos. The waves of discouragement at how things unfolded. The waves of lost trust. The waves of my own failures and mistakes in it — especially getting it wrong and speaking out about the break-in with no evidence, and the harm and injustice toward so many of the wounded out there..

These waves rise and fall….

And through the waves, in the middle of that prayer for our grand-baby, where the heart is quiet and tender and undistracted by the ills and evils of life and the world….

There God whispered. And I am now deliberately, determinedly, yet humbly turning my eyes away from the waves, once again, to the Master of the waves; the Creator of the Universe, the One who made the heaven and the earth….

And our sweet grand-baby.

Because I want my heart to be quiet and tender, undistracted by the ills and evils of this world. And God and grand-babies, even unborn ones, they offer that.

As always…  with another shift in focus…

Love,
~ T ~

Psalm 23 English Standard Version (ESV)

    The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

 

UNSPOKEN HOPE

Hope rises.
Silence falls.
Hope shatters.
Her tongue cut out.
Pieces on the floor.
Pieces of her, of him… of me, of them
Strewn here and there

Walking here and there,
People stepping on
Pieces on the floor.
Tall people. strong people. Powerful.
Crushing flesh pieces on the floor.
Flesh, dragging here and there.
Red.
Dry blood on black shoes.

“Only trust Him… Only trust Him… Only trust Him now…
He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now…”

Songs.
Prayers.
Tears
Helpless children.
Raped.
Used.
Cast away.

“Only trust Him… Only trust Him… Only trust Him now…
He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now…”

Children weep.
Wail.
Hell licks their feet.

People walking.
Away.
Where has Jesus gone?
Why do angels weep dry tears?

Trust withers.
Silence falls.
Hope…

Dead.

Religion.

Hell wins.

;

Truth rises,
Tongue cut out
Oh hell be warned!
Death gives birth to unmatched power!
Wordless.
Silent.
Thunder shakes the strongest tower.

No more politics.
No flow’ry speech.
Truth will stand in ruthless silence,
Shouting without sound
Crying from the highest mountain
And all will hear
As, Truth, forced to silent grave,
Rises from the ground.

No white flags.

No powerless surrender.

Silence moves
Stealthy
Wise
Calculated.

Invisible hands,
Wrapped about my throat.
I cannot speak.

But I have my sword.

Truth.

;

Jesus walks into the room.

What will you say now?

Did silence pave His way?

Or was it the voice of those who cried against the norms:

Make a path in the place of death… the wilderness… where nothing of life has ever grown.
Where children’s souls are laid bare by reckless men!
Make way!
Behold! He comes! The Son of God! Make way
!”

He enters.
Holding no regard for rules.
Honouring no politics.
Crying louder for the lost
the wounded
the weak.
Standing silent only to accusation.
Crying out against their sin,
He eats of the forbidden grain.

I eat. 
With no regard for silence.
Breaking all the rules
of polite society.
Hearts are not healed
by
U
N
S
P
O
K
E
N
HOPE.

*************************************************************************************

 

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018

write your name in red, be true to your heart & dare to stand alone

Growing up, there was a lot of pressure to be accepted, to be in the in group, and to perform well. From peer pressure at school, to family life at home, to church rules and expectations, everything taught us to please people, to fit in and not be the one to break rank and stand out like a sore thumb. To do so meant to be excluded, isolated and looked down on, or be marked in some way.
It took many years to unlearn this, and find the courage to stand alone, hold tight to my values – and do so with grace for others – and risk the inevitable rejection. That learning process was painful, and at times I reacted out of my fear of rejection and let it all get inside my spirit, when the resistance came. But, having learned it (and continuing to learn it) I thank God for the freedom it brings.
I had been fairly warned, before doing my Masters, that secular education would possibly, even likely, leave me bankrupt of my values. On my first day in one of my courses in the program, we were asked to write our names on the board. Two dry erase markers lay on the ledge in front of the board, one green and one blue. At an awkward distance away was a red marker, and to use that one meant asking the prof for it. When it came to my turn, I chose that one, and added my name to the collection. The class continued with blue and green, and when it was over, my name stood out like a sore thumb.
names_Stand out
I chose the red that day to remind me never to lose myself in a crowd, to always be true to my heart before God, true to myself, and never prioritize blending into accepted norms. It probably felt more awkward to me than to everyone else, though I recall the professor looking surprised, and felt the class staring…. though it was likely more a ‘feeling’ than a reality. They didn’t understand why I chose red. Nor did it matter. In that moment I wanted to accomplish one thing, and take that one thing with me through my education, through my day to day interactions with people in my personal life, and ultimately through life.
To my intrigue, throughout the program we were encouraged to express ourselves and be critical thinkers, but also to honour others with whom we differ. There were some interesting and intense conversations, but there was respect. Contrary to what I might have anticipated, given the concerns shared, I came through the program more confident in my spiritual journey, not less. I embrace my faith more firmly than before. But I also developed skills in really hearing the other person, and honouring and caring for them without feeling like I need to endorse their beliefs.
I think back often when I ‘swim against the tide’, whether in religious communities, in university, or in my own mind and thought processes. And I choose again to pick up the red marker. Getting lost in a sea of other people’s expectations is a curse. Whether those expectations are secular society or religious performance, they steal something from us. Standing true to one’s heart (before God for the Christian), and to personal values and beliefs, while difficult, builds confidence, as long as it is done without attacking or belittling the other.
When I live life with that authenticity and grace, I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I am trustworthy.  This is my goal in life, to live in such a way that people experience compassion, love and grace in my presence, even when we are worlds apart on an issue or in beliefs, and even when we openly disagree.
I encourage you, don’t be afraid to write your name in red… to stand out in the crowd… to be different, and swim upstream. Let your name stand boldly for what your heart holds dear, and for the truth your spirit embraces. But, in that, let love for all be your mantra as you view them through the eyes of God’s grace, as worthy, beloved, and deserving of respect even in those difference.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018

Parenting: What we should have known…

“...it feels like the heart gets ripped out in little pieces, and somehow is supposed to keep on beating… and it hurts to breathe. And I think these honest conversations are generations overdue.
        Those were my words to a parent earlier today; a parent I have idolized from afar and wished I could measure up to. A parent who is hurting, grieving mistakes, longing for the best for their children. If you are a dad… If you are a mom… Most likely you understand this. We fail, and there are consequences. We misunderstand our children, and they misunderstand us. We don’t do conflict because it’s not polite to fight, and Christians just forgive quickly and silence the chaos and messy of conflict. So we ‘forgive’ and expect to be so easily forgiven, but scars remain on our hearts and one day those scars rip wide open and bleed years of pain, or they thicken the walls of our hearts so we cannot feel. The former is harder, the latter kills.
        I, for one, fear pain. I am terrified of relational pain. That’s just the truth. But I am learning, slowly, deliberately, to let the scars rip open. It is the only way to heal and stay tender… or become tender. And I’m sharing this because I have heard story, after story after story of parental grief in recent weeks, from professionals, from church leaders, from friends. Some just sharing a story, not knowing if I will get it. Some seeking advice… at which point I simply confess, “I get it. I blew it so often and am living in the aftermath of that” and the advice I have for them? Face it and hurt like hell, so you can heal; don’t run and die. Because you will die – something in your spirit will die – if you run. I came pretty close… and it’s a hard recovery.
        Why share this? Because it should have been openly discussed many generations ago. I never knew, and because I didn’t know, I was completely blindsided and lost more than I could afford to lose when I turned to survival. And I don’t want that to happen to you. So know this. I made early vows, and I mostly kept them. They were many vows. Vows of all the things I would not do, all the things that were not ideal in my story. I would not let a child molester near them if I could help it. I would not call them degrading names, or say they are useless and never amount to anything. I would never take their money; if they worked, they would save up for school and their future. There were many things I vowed I would not do. But there were many things I should have done; things that I missed. And I expect, if you are a parent, you understand some of this.
        Parenting is the most beautiful, the most painful, the most rewarding, the most devastating and the most wonderful thing you will ever do. You will fail your children terribly. And they will fail you. And if you don’t talk and face the conflict, a day will come when it will cave in on you and you will have to stay and dig yourself out of the rubble, or you will outrun the debris, and lose everything worth fighting for.
        So start young. Start now. Face the hurts, the betrayals, the misunderstandings (on both sides… it’s not just them and it’s not just you) and fight for your family like you’ve never fought before. Fight *for*, not *with*. Maybe you think they hate you, maybe they think you hate them. Fight with truth, and fight with love. Fight against the hate and the darkness that steals relationship and joy. Fight resentment, and fight for honest conversation, and deep listening. Dare to go to hard places; don’t retreat in passivity and comfort yourself with being a peacemaker.
        That is’t peace. I thought it was. I hate conflict. I hated it when I saw my parents fight. I hated it when dad threatened to kill us, or mom threatened to beat us. I hated it when a parent and one of my siblings threatened one another, or when a sibling threatened me. I became the master of forgiving and letting go, of avoiding the conflict, and expected the world around me to be as ‘gracious’ and ‘forgive’ as easily; but it was neither grace nor forgiveness. It was a blend of fear and apathy. For me, more the former than the latter.. It isn’t worth it. It communicates dreadful things to our children. To my children.
        In the past year I have studied Conflict Resolution, Conflict Analysis, Restorative Justice, Negotiations (a lot of mediation focus), and have learned good ‘fighting’ (aka conflict management) skills. And I am convinced we Christians need to unlearn a lot of the passivity we have adopted and learn a new way of facing conflict, especially as I face the consequences of years of avoiding conflict. Avoidance – even with ‘cheap forgiveness’, as I call it, that doesn’t resolve the deeper story – kills meaningful relationship. Conflict, well managed, is a good and beneficial thing.
        So fight for your family relationships. Get a mediator or support person involved to prevent escalation if that’s something you can’t manage. Do it for them – especially for them, do it for you, and do it for the next generation. A cycle will continue; you choose which one it will be.
family conflict
        I promise you, avoiding the conflict isn’t worth it. Choose your pain; the pain of working through conflict, or the pain of feeling your heart torn as you decide whether you will run as far and as fast as you can, or stay and let your heart bleed back to life, as you face what you ran from in the past.

© Trudy Metzger 2017

Is There Life After #Denial About #Sexual Abuse?

canstockphoto14749489 (1)

Denial. That ability to survive in a state of extreme trauma, by living as though that reality does not exist. It is a gift in childhood, when our young minds have no understanding of that trauma, and cannot formulate words to express it. A natural response, it sustains life for a time.

But there comes a time, as we grow older, when living out of a place that is not reality robs us of experiencing life to the fullest. The energy we invest in survival, and keeping the truth of trauma buried, leaves us with little to offer in the way of life and hope to others. Spouses live with walls in between, children with a disconnected parent.

And if that denial is the offender’s manipulation–his or her way of avoiding responsibility–it pierces the heart of the victim. Twice victimized, is how it feels when offenders play that game.

Denial forces victims to retreat in lifeless existence, dieing in the shadows of buried trauma and painful memories. But truth is life and freedom. Truth breathes life into the soul. Because all truth is God’s truth, and all truth makes people free. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

canstockphoto25089939 (1)

And when Truth breathes, it coaxes life from death itself, offering hope in the shadows of nothingness that are left in the wake of molestation and abuse. And all that denial and lies tried to suffocate, breathes with new purpose. And in a sudden and ironic twist, life suffocates death, as the thing designed to bring death is redeemed and brings life to others trapped in denial.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger