Mr. Herr & Life Literature Treasurer, Mr. Fox, Go Shopping….

Before I say what I have to say here, I want to make it quite clear that I do not believe the bulk of conservative Anabaptists (CA) are this lacking in transparency. I certainly hope not. So, please, when I ‘tell it as it is’ in a given case, don’t apply it to every CA you have ever known, or take offence if you are CA. I hope I am calling out that which is the anomaly.

My personal experience has been mixed, But the behaviour I call out here, I have seen repeatedly in those who have offended sexually and are covering up, as well as those who knew and did nothing, and who still have no remorse for that sexual abuse, or for covering it up, as the case may be. If there is nothing to hide, there is no need for games and lack of transparency.

The next thing I want you to know is that Lamar Nolt and Earl Fox are strangers to me. I do not know them, have never met them, and have one interest here; Truth. And that doesn’t seem to be particularly forthcoming. Which, again, is reminiscent of the CAM/Jeriah Mast case. There is a predictable pattern of behaviour among those who are not forthcoming, and it is always there when something is buried, hidden and/or not taken care of. It’s why I could write a blogJanuary 17, 2020 telling people how to ask questions to confront truth. I’ve done this for 10 years.

In that blog !!Critical detail Update on Life Literature & Lamar Nolt!!, I encouraged people to ask very direct questions of Lamar Nolt. That advice was based on established patterns I’ve observed in other cases of ‘technical truth-or-lie-telling’. When responses are such as Lamar’s were, that’s a pretty good sign they don’t want to tell what really happened.

Various people who started asking more direct questions wrote me (and sent me copies of their communication with Life Literature). Of that group, none received a response to those direct questions, of the ones who responded to me. After numerous attempts at calling them myself, I emailed and still got no response. There was no answer forthcoming regarding their knowledge and involvement in Harold’s plans to go to Haiti to train a replacement. No answer…

But God…

Funny thing about Him. He knows everything. Sees everything. And if He is so inclined, He will shout from the mountain that which was whispered in the shadows…

God cares about the oppression and victimization of the little ones, and the vulnerable being taken advantage of. He cares a lot.

There I was, this morning, minding my own business (again) when I received messages confirming that my gut feeling indeed was right. Life Literature, for all their “he’s not going through Life Literature” knew good and well that Harold planned to go back to Haiti. Whether going ‘with them or through them or under them or around them”, they knew he was going. In fact, they knew so well that one of their own, went shopping with Harold Herr to buy supplies at PaulB Hardware in Lititz PA.

This would be blatant surmising to assume Harold and Earl shopping together had anything to do with Harold’s (now allegedly cancelled) trip to Haiti, if they had not been heard to say they are getting supplies “for Harold to take to Haiti.” In their own words, that was the intent and purpose of the shopping outing.

Life Literature knew. Lamar Nolt refused to acknowledge that. Why?

It is a certainty that Life LIterature knew the allegations against Harold a long time ago. And they completely disregarded those allegations, insofar as allowing him to work for them. No investigation. No hearing the hearts of the alleged victims first hand. This is years into knowing about the allegations. Years!

And even after the Jeriah Mast scandal, there wasn’t an eye-opening moment of revelation that, “Goodness, maybe we should look into this. Jeriah claimed to be innocent of allegations and he was guilty. Maybe when there are so many allegations (or not that many), we should exercise wisdom and discernment and suspend workers with allegations and have an independent third party investigation done.”

Nope. They waited until September, at which time someone (or a group) from Haiti Benefit Auction put pressure on, and they ‘let him go’. But did they? What does ‘letting someone go’ look like?

Does it mean they are removed from payroll? Was he removed or did he stay on payroll after being ‘let go’? (I know the answer to when he was taken off, or if he was. But I will leave it to the public to do some homework on this and contact Life to find out if HH was removed before I published my blog. If he wasn’t, how could they claim he was ‘let go’? )

Does ‘being let go’ mean he is no longer allowed to do any training for them? Again, was he restricted from doing training? Let’s see… he recently told his family he would be going to Haiti to train his replacement. He went shopping with Life Literature Treasurer, Earl Fox. And no one wants to be forthcoming about the whole deal. That offers more questions than answers, and it sure does not speak of transparency.

As a highly respected and honourable  Conservative Anabaptist licensed counselor said to me this week: It is very rare for adult children to accuse their parents of sexual abuse and it not hold truth. (Worded as close as possible to the counselor’s wording, based on notes taken during the phone call).

That should be taken seriously and taken into account here.

Why would a son, a daughter or other family member make accusations that are not true? Especially when the risk of the culture disbelieving them and shaming them is so high. What do they gain? They might get cut out of the will. They will likely be accused of lying. They pay for it in family dynamics. And if proved to be lying, those who are professionals — true professionals — in the work force could lose that too.

None of these things are positives. None. All outcomes lead to huge losses even if telling the truth, and even more so if lying. For what earthly reason would someone choose that, if not true? Truth is a compelling force, and some will sacrifice anything to stand for truth.

As the counselor said, It is very rare for adult children to accuse their parents of sexual abuse and it not hold truth.

Blow me off if you want, but take that counselor seriously. He is human, but I’ve heard him to be highly honourable over the years. And if he says allegations from adult children of the accused generally hold credibility, then we need to pay attention. (And for those who were told by HH or others that his family has retracted all allegations, I can assure you with 100% certainty that is not truth).

There is no excuse for a mission organization looking the other way,  deceiving the public about their involvement and how they ‘let go’ the accused individual. Just own up already.

Once we start dealing with truth, we can make progress.  The games don’t speak well of the players.

 

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

 

 

 

 

(Part 2 of 5): Healing: Acknowledgement, Lies & Truth

….Continued from Part 1

There is no formula to healing for sex abuse survivors, but there are certain things, in no particular order, that bring deep healing. The following are some of those steps far from exhausting the list.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
What is not acknowledged, cannot be healed. It can be suppressed. It can be buried. It can be downplayed and ignored. But it cannot be healed. And it will surface, one way or another.

Many female victims talk about misplaced rage and anger. Others talk about being shut down and feeling nothing at all. Yet others talk about resenting their husband’s touch, or feeling disdain for all males – if abused by males — including their own sons, husband and other male friends. Others talk about a constant desire for male attention that is not theirs to have. (Referring to married women struggling with the need to seek the attention of other men; often the husbands of close friends). Many talk about obsession with body image. And sometimes the fear that they will do to children what was doen to them. Those are some of the ways buried abuse resurfaces in females.

My experience with male victims is more limited, but I have seen a few patterns. Among them are men shutting down after being sexually abused. Disdain for sexual intimacy with spouse, if the abuser was female, and disgusted by female anatomy. Desire for sex with other males, if the abuser was male…. or deep disdain for their own sexuality, because their own anatomy is like the weapon used against them. Escaping life through addictions, whether porn, alcohol, drugs… or work. Fear they too will molest someone one day.

Many of the patterns that are there in lives of victims who are in denial, are also there in those who acknowledge the abuse. The difference is that what is acknowledged can be worked through and healed. Once healed, there is a whole new level of peace, and when those same struggles come up, there are strategies for handling them in a healthy way. In contrast, what is buried will continue to negatively impact the individual and those around, with no hope of healing or change.

Acknowledgement alone is not enough. While it is the first step, therefore a critical one, to stay there with no further hard work does not offer hope. It opens the door to finding hope, but it only admits darkness exists, and darkness can never produce light.

UNRAVELING THE LIES & REPLACING THEM WITH TRUTH
I’ve heard it said that the only real power Satan has is ‘the lie’. I’ve pondered often on this, and am more and more inclined to believe it. In every circumstance of my life, spiritually, it has not been the circumstance that caused the deepest mind and soul struggle; it has been the lies. But there is a practical this-world-reality of humanity and the physical mind and body that must be considered or we will destroy victims’ faith yet further.

We must separate the traumatic aftermath of violence, assault and terrifying experience from how we deal with those lies. That human element of struggle – ie; flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety – are not based on lies. They are reality. (Often unacknowledged and/or unresolved reality, but reality nonetheless). Many people in ministry demonize these human responses to terror, and that, in itself, is spiritual abuse. It imposes on the victim the sense of being in the devil’s grip when in fact they are responding as the human brain and body are wired to respond. God created our minds and body to live in a Garden without pain, suffering or sorrow. This thing we were hurled into, we are not designed for.

With gentle healing, these things generally resolve themselves. No hypnotherapy. No manipulation. No casting out demons. Just patiently living the love of Jesus in their world. I make this claim based on my work with survivors these past 9+ years. This is not scientific research, or any other research, for that matter. There have been two exceptions with victims I worked with, who did not find deep and ongoing relief from the triggers, nightmares and flashbacks just from having someone listen, care and speak life. And most of the rest did not take years to get there. On average, I worked with clients for 3 to 6 months, after which most were equipped to handle the aftermath both spiritually and practically.

Having clarified that, I will address the lies. In every traumatic event, there is a lie…. or many. And there is usually truth entangled with it. For example, when a person is raped several things happen. Their safety is taken in an instant. But not safety only in the broad sense. It is their very body, which they must take everywhere they go, making the victims feel helpless.

Already there is a lie, and there is truth.The truth is, they were indeed robbed of safety. No one can argue that. Rape is not safe. The body is attacked physically, spiritually and psychologically. There is nothing safe about it. The person might carry aids or some other STD. Not safe at all. It could, in fact, cost the victims health or life. We must acknowledge that truth with the victims. Downplaying these harsh realities or minimizing them escalates trauma. A simple, “I am so sorry” is all it takes to acknowledge the suffering.

The lie is “I am helpless”. While safety has been robbed, the individual is not helpless. We feel helpless, and once upon a time I thought I was. (Imagine that!) It felt so real that I genuinely believed I as destined to a life of emptiness, worthlessness and that I had no purpose. I cried out to God in that place over and over, “Please don’t let what I went through be in vain. I can live with it if it has purpose. But I can’t live with it if that’s all there is.” I would tell Him I’m willing to go where He sends me, and do what He tells me. The only thing I couldn’t accept is purposeless suffering.

Little did I know then that God would answer that cry be asking me to do what goes against everything in my desire to be loved and it accepted by people. Had I known the cost then, I’d have been too afraid to pray half the things I prayed. I’m thankful I had no idea.

Another lie is, “this is all you are worth.” I’ve only encountered a few victims who did not struggle with this lie. Rape and other sexual assault communicate to the victim that they are not worthy of love; they are only worthy of being used and assaulted. They take on themselves the identify of the vile abuse – not even that of the abuser, usually – and live out of that. The truth is the offender chose you because of his/her own wickedness and depravity, not because there is anything wrong with you. It has nothing to do with your worth, and everything to do with their opportunistic depraved selves. You are beautiful, precious, beloved… made in the image of God. You are worthy. You have so much more to give. You are valued and cherished by God, and deserve that same gift from your fellow humans.

Sometimes offenders focus on making the victim’s body respond to his/her assaults. The power to force the victim’s body to respond via orgasm and stimulation is its own thrill. This leaves victims tormented on so many levels! Unlike rape at gunpoint, the victim is terrorized by his/her own response rather than a gun. There is guilt and shame. If I truly hated it, why did my body like it? If I didn’t want it, why did I orgasm? There is betrayal. It is as if the victim’s body has conspired against the victim to partner with the offender in the attack. If safety is robbed in every sexual assault, there is no case where such safety is more stolen than when the victim’s body takes the side of the offender.  The truth is the offender weaponized sexuality. Your body responded precisely as it was designed to respond to sexual touch, and the offender took advantage of that. It is not your fault. God created you to be loved intimately by your marriage partner, in safety. The offender stole that from you, and violated you.

The list of lies goes on, and on, and on. While I stopped taking clients in 2016, and no longer do 1:1 sessions while studying — and don’t know if I will ever again — when I did, looking at the lies was a key part of the healing process. I asked clients to write out what they believe about themselves, about others, and about God. Having done so, we picked out the lies, unraveled them, and replaced them with truth.

It wasn’t a formula. And it can’t be made into one. It is about listening at a gut/heart level, listening to the victim’s needs, and speaking truth into the lies. It is about showing victims how to do that in the day-to-day, and finding a new and healing mantra to replace the lies that attack our soul and being.  Every victim’s story is unique. So walking in with some agenda or preconceived notion of what it will look like – or should look like – is arrogant, at best. Abusive, at worst.

Every victim needs someone to listen without judgement…

Continued… (PART 3)

 

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

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

***

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

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.

***

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.

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

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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.

 

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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

The Crossroads… (Part 1: The Introduction)

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
~ Robert Frost ~

“The road was laced with hell and pain
E’en so it was the one I had to take
For it was led by the hand of God
And I took it for His sake,
Because HE chose a dark road stained with blood
…for me.”
~ Anonymous ~

***

When the word count in this blog hit over 4000, I divided it into several blogs to make it more manageable and allow readers to more easily read it in ‘sittings’ versus all at once. It is a bit overwhelming, to be honest. I tried to write without ‘story’, but that failed, so I wrote it all again. This is my third attempt. And even now, too much is left to guesswork.

Before reading this series of blogs, I suggest reading up on HOW PREDATORS GROOM. (Not all info is necessarily endorsed by me or applicable, but having a bit of understanding about this will help you understand why I am adamant that one character in this blog is a predator.)

Before going further, I will say what I’ve said before. There is grace for offenders of sexual crimes, no matter how heinous, how devastating the outcome. I hold the grace of God in high regard. But never, never, never… Not in a million years, is it acceptable to offer blind trust or look the other way when a predator is on the prowl. To favour the person who has offended (or even one who displays grooming behaviour), over the safety of others, is wrong. God takes protecting the vulnerable very seriously, and Matthew 18:6-9 summarizes how He feels about it. I am with God on this, so much so that I am willing to put myself out there for stoning, if that’s what it takes to warn and expose.

***

I understand now why many leaders choose not to touch the topic of sexual abuse. Why it is easier to be silent than to speak out in some cases. Why there comes a moment when you weigh silence against the potential outcome of speaking against power, and the scale appears to tip heavily in favour of silence. And you can’t tell if it is real, or an illusion. But, like Tim said this week, “We made a promise that this stops with us.” And we will keep that promise. I recognize that I do most of the communicating – I am the writer, I am the speaker – but Tim is my steady rock in ministry, the one who keeps me ever before our Heavenly Father, and guides me to Him and through the challenges of ministry. I am eternally grateful that God gave us each other in this battle against silence in the church, re-victimizing of those who have suffered sex crimes, and the persistent tendency to hear the voice of the offenders over the voice of victims. That day must end. That darkness must be shattered.

Some readers may be tempted to stone me. Some may be tempted to stone the people in this blog. I ask you to suspend judgement of people, and let God work with hearts… all of our hearts. Judge what is wrong without apology, judge what is not Godly, but don’t judge hearts. Mistrust our hearts, if you need to, question our hearts; these are normal responses to breaking silence. But I ask that you not respond with hate or destruction, especially against those I write about. Destructive comments against them will not be approved. If you must hate me, then hate me. And if you must speak that hate, then speak it.

There is extreme polarization of positions involved here, with both the other leader and myself trying to protect values we feel we cannot compromise without compromising ourselves before God. (That is my position, and it is what I ‘hear’ from the other side.) We both believe with certainty that we are taking our stand for the sake of God’s kingdom. The other leaders wants to protect ‘the Kingdom’ from damage (my interpretation is damage in the present), and I see an inevitable and extreme devastating outcome in the future. Furthermore, silence simply isn’t an option for me when I know of a predator, which is a very different thing than an offender who repents and displays only humility, not arrogance and ongoing predator behaviour. What I am about to share has been addressed with  with  by me and by other people before me, in both this particular situation and with similar concerns about other situations.

My first appeal to this leader dates January 11, 2018, sharing concerns I had (and have) not directly related to this. Little did I know that by February 3, when asking another man to explain his indecent phone calls to women  and help me reconcile that with his public religious image, that I would find myself in deeper much than I ever wanted to go….  Never did I imagine I would be writing this blog. While I am certain it is what I am supposed to do, and at peace, I tremble…  I tremble because all before me who have tried to address these issues, who have contacted me, took the fall. I have no reason to believe the same will not be my lot. I have not bolstered my defences or called on anyone to defend me, nor will I. And I am keenly aware there are masses who will struggle with my choice to do what I do here, and I can appreciate that. But I am confident in ten years, looking back, we will see God will have done some good thing…  Hopefully in all of us. This is my prayer.

Nonetheless, the path immediately before me looks rough. And, to my shame, I am tempted to take the paved hi-way and be silent – and at this point even resigning from what I do looks more appealing than this – but I know without question that God has spoken.

Before I go further, there are a few things you need to know. #1. I speak from the place of truth and facts I know; facts I have heard or seen – screenshots of messages sent by various parties in this blog, with ‘parties’ including the unnamed victims. #2. There is always more ‘story’ than the evidence presents. I do not profess to have a full understanding, but I have been thorough in verifying what I know. I was presented with false information, and I weeded it out. It is not included in this blog. #3. I have chosen to use initials of the various individuals, because the whole world does not need to know every bit of those details. Those to whom it applies or who have been or could be impacted by it need to know. #4. I have the permission of numerous victims to share what I write of their stories, though I do not name any. #5. The offender never has been, and never will be, my client. Circumstantially, that is not an option.

…To be continued…

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

Proverbs 31:8
“Open your mouth for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all who are destitute.”

© 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