The Sound of Silence

Hello darkness my old friend….

I’ve been involved in a lot of discussions in the last few months about abuse on the mission field, and one thing is always there – the overwhelming sound of silence coming from SIM.  Even though I open up my Facebook privacy settings to “everyone,” and in fact I have quite a few missionaries on my friend list, and SIM itself has a big presence on Facebook, not a single SIM missionary or employee will weigh in with an opinion.  The same is true of this blog.  All of the comments are from MKs of SIM and other missions, but SIM prefers to sit back silently and not participate, even though we are all talking about them. 

I understand the reasons that many MKs are silent on these issues.  Some do not want to delve into painful memories.  Some were both victims of abuse and abusers themselves.  Some don’t want the shame of sexual abuse to become public.  Some flat out don’t remember what happened to them in boarding school.  Some want to protect their parents from the pain of knowing what they experienced.  Some just don’t want their parents to hear that they are saying anything against SIM, after all many of our parents are all living together down in Sebring.  Some don’t want to have to confront their abusers, who are still alive.  Some believe that it is sinful to speak out against SIM, and don’t want to do this in front of parents and peers.

Why is SIM silent?  Are they sitting back with arms folded, waiting for this to pass, hoping that nothing will be done before all the perpetrators have passed on, so there won’t be any unpleasantness of having to discipline their own people?  Are they afraid of acknowledging that anything happened, because of the cost of setting things right, or legal problems that might ensue?  Would they rather all of this just stayed hidden in darkness?  Are they actually oblivious that anyone is talking about these things?

Do they still regard MKs as a lesser priority, not really important to the work at hand of winning souls? 

Maybe you have stumbled across this blog while you were searching for information about SIM.  For anyone who is looking for answers, the new Child Safety Coordinator at SIM is Marge Prince.   (She took over the position from Dorothy Haile, who answered some questions for me in the past about SIM policy.)  If you decide to open an investigation into abuse in an SIM school, past or present, Marge Prince is the one who will likely be handling your case.  (Although you may be shocked to find out how a case of past abuse is actually handled.) I imagine you could also direct questions to her about what SIM is doing to reach out to wounded MKs.  Marge’s email is marge.prince@sim.org.

Marge Prince or anyone else from SIM is welcome to break the silence and join the conversation here.

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4 thoughts on “The Sound of Silence

  1. @ Mary D. ‘Muddy the waters’? Please stop insulting our intelligence. The facts are waiting to be revealed and there is certainly no ‘water to be muddied’. Silence is not confession or action; it is enabling evil.
    ‘Hiding the facts’, ‘being blind to it’, ‘covering up evidence’ are three series of three words you could have chosen more accurately, Mary D. If you poke your head in the sand the danger disappears, right, O Ostrich?

  2. Mary D, you ARE SIM, and should be concerned for its inner workings. You work for the darkness that is still trying to hide to this day and cover up its abuses both past and present. If you have read your Text Book, this continued disregard by SIM falls between the files “Fix ASAP” and “Your Ministry is Cursed Until You Remove its Sin”. Recall Leviticus 10, and don’t offer unauthorized fire. Do not attempt to make SIM look ‘ok’ until they clean house and take care of this issue. Do not attempt to throw us guilt for holding YOU accountable until You take care of it.

  3. Hi Liz,
    I’ve recently found your blog, and have subscribed to it. I’m behind on everything since we’ve moved to Charlotte and are staying with friends for now, so haven’t even seen blogs I’m subscribed to for awhile. Anyway. I am an SIM missionary, and wanted to make a comment in response to your blog.

    Just as there are many reasons SIM MK’s are silent on the issues, there are many reasons SIM missionaries and employees are silent. SIM is a bunch of individuals working in various roles. I’m guessing that many have not seen your blog. I’m guessing that many don’t know what to say. Many probably don’t know what has been said and done, and don’t want to muddy the waters.

    As a missionary, I can’t and don’t speak for the mission. I can only speak for myself when I say MK’s are precious to me, and to everyone I know who works with SIM. It breaks my heart to know that MK’s were hurt and abused.

    Praying for you as you seek healing for those who have been hurt.

    • I appreciate your reply, Mary, and thank you for sharing how you feel about MKs. I can very well believe that many SIM missionaries might not want to “get involved” with this issue, or might be waiting to see what the “official” response is, so it means a lot that you are willing to comment.

      This blog is really a recent development in things that have been going on for years now. An MK spoke out about abuse a year and half, maybe two years ago, and SIM did not take any action for at least a year, and since then it has been a begrudging process that sometimes leaves us wondering if there is even an investigation at all.

      In the last year New Tribes Mission had an independent investigation done of their Fanda boarding school and multiple cases of sexual and other abuse were uncovered. The MKs from that school set up a website and forum to post developments and give each other a voice. That doesn’t relate directly to SIM, except that on that forum there is a thread for Abuse in SIM Boarding Schools.

      Just this week, an SIM employee stated that they are “very much in tune to the situation”, and she has visited the Fanda Eagles web site and is aware there is a place there for SIM MKs to share their stories. Since I have posted the link to my blog several times in that forum, I am willing to bet that, if she has in fact read the comments in that forum, she followed that link and visited my blog. It would be hard to be “very tuned in” to this issue and not have stumbled across this blog at some point, as the link has been posted a few prominent places.

      So I can’t speak for other missionaries, but the administration at SIM claims to be “tuned in” to these issues. They cannot plead that they don’t know what is going on.

      It is interesting that SIM seems to have a different take on what is going on in New Tribes Mission as well. The SIM employee stated that New Tribes is “keenly interested in righting past wrongs”, but MKs who speak out on the Fanda Eagles web site have a much different perspective. SIM should get the real picture of what is going on at New Tribes, from the perspective of the victims.

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