Missionary Kid: How I Learned to Say Goodbye by John Haines

“You see, dear reader, the past is never far from any of us. Its presence has a way of growing as more and more time goes by. Like a continuous but imperceptible whisper, the past is always there. ”

In his book Missionary Kid: How I Learned to Say Goodbye, John Haines gives a humorous and heartfelt account of his early life and adult journey as a hobo jetsetter, also known as a missionary kid. I found it to be so entertaining, filled with dry wit and humorous descriptions, as well as some photographs and John’s original sketches. At the same time John poignantly captures the sorrows, regrets and longings that we have all experienced.

John’s parents served with North Africa Mission. Today this organization has incorporated two other missions – Southern Morocco Mission and Algiers Mission Band – changed their name to Arab World Ministry and joined with Pioneers. He was born in Morocco, moved to Marseilles for most of his childhood, and eventually attended Black Forest Academy, the international Christian boarding school in Germany.

After high school John was steered towards a Christian college, as is the tradition for many missionary kids. During his journey as a young adult he learned to question his beliefs, and constantly felt the urge to move on, from a couple of Bible colleges, to a State University in Minnesota, to graduate school in Toronto, with several stints of employment along the way. The sadness of the goodbye is described so eloquently in this passage:

“Have you ever had to say goodbye to a house or country, to a lover or friend whom you knew you would not see in a long time, possibly ever again? If you have, then you know that this goodbye is the hardest goodbye in the world, because when you come back, if you ever come back, this person or place will have changed beyond recognition. You too will have changed. And so, whether you know it or not, this goodbye is the last goodbye.”

And yet, like other MKs, John uprooted himself by choice many times during his adult life, moving like a nomad between schools and jobs, states and countries. After a childhood of being uprooted and forced to leave people that we love, you might think an MK wants nothing more than to settle down and live in one place, but for many of us the reality is very different. The constant urge to move on creates more necessary goodbyes, which seems to create a vicious cycle.

The book is addressed to three groups of people: Believers, Unbelievers and Innocent Ones. If you feel like you definitely don’t fit into any of those categories, you are probably a member of a fourth option, the Missionary Kid.

You will recognize many common features of missionary life, no matter which country you grew up in. The housekeeper and babysitter, whether man or woman, who would be a luxury to an American family, was commonplace among African missionaries. The prayer letter, which as John explains had a primary goal of fund-raising, was how missionaries kept in touch with their supporters, family and friends before the days of facebook, email and blogs. On a personal note, the prayer letter had a secondary function of documenting every awkward and unphotogenic moment of our childhood and adolescence, which would then be mailed far and wide to all the people we would meet when we came home on furlough.

We all participated in plenty of sword drills, and who among us cannot speak fluent “King James?”

I can relate to the stigma of the “missionary kid” label, and having to explain to people that our lives were not like “The Poisonwood Bible.” John does not buy the definition of third culture kids, but maintains that we are not defined by some mythical third country, but by the lack of a country. A missionary kid is missing a home.

There is an undercurrent of sadness in this story that will also feel familiar. Longing for someone that you were torn away from at a young age, like John’s beloved ‘ummy. The sorrow of not knowing your grandparents. The disconnect that missionaries and their kids feel when they return to their home country. The realization that the country which held so many promises is not what you expected.

Although this is not a story of abuse, the theme of the past being always present in your memory, and the needs to finally grapple with it, is relevant to many readers of this blog.

“It may fade, but it never disappears. Wherever we are, wherever we go, no matter how long we ignore it and no matter how hard we try to shake it, the past has been waiting, patiently waiting. Lying quiet and breathing still, it has been waiting for that moment when, finally, we give in and embrace it with all of its fury and affection.”

This is a circular story – it tells of lives that have traveled around many paths only to wind up in a starting place. John finally settles in Canada, the beloved home of his maternal grandparents. He ends with a story of “coming home” to Morocco at the age of fifty, for a visit. An encounter with some children on the street, the very sort of children that his parents ministered to for all those years, ignites a spark. “I looked into their eyes and felt the love of God,” another full circle for a missionary kid who bounced from evangelical to apostate and back again.

This book will both entertain you and tug at your heartstrings. You can find it on Amazon.com.


The Influence of Missionary Parents

By the time I had lived through elementary school I was emotionally disconnected from my parents. It was necessary, since I only got to see them four months out of the year, and had by then weathered many, many trials without their help. Those of you who were sent to boarding school at the age of six know what I am talking about. We still love and respect our parents, but the emotional dependence of normal kids was severed when we flew away on that plane in September. (Some kids went home to parents who were abusive, and that is a whole other conversation.)

One thing all of our missionary parents have in common is that they are dedicated, determined and disciplined. In fact they are formidable people, who left their homes and traveled to Africa at a time when travel wasn’t easy, often by themselves, to embark on a life that was dangerous and uncertain. I think we all grew up with a lot of respect for our parents, if not actual fear. They set a high mark for us to follow. These are larger-than-life people who did some miraculous things, but we lost the chance to have a close relationship with them when they sent us away at such a young age.

Fast forward to the present day, and many MKs are stuck in a dysfunctional parent-child relationship. We long for a bond that can never be put back together, and we are careful not to do anything to upset what is there. We don’t want to get our parents in hot water with SIM by talking about abuse, especially if they are a resident at an SIM Retirement Home. We certainly don’t want to go into that dark place of grief with our parents, because it is like a chasm that will swallow us both up. We know now about the pain of separation from our own children, we can guess at how our parents suffered when they sent us away, and nobody wants to relive those emotions.

Some MKs have only begun to speak out about abuse after their parents passed away. My own father passed away before I started gathering information for this blog. It seems their passing opens a door that compels us or allows us to grab onto childhood experiences. Some MKs whose parents are still alive will only speak anonymously about abuse, or flat out deny having any issues with boarding school. We MKs are a very independent bunch, so why do our parents still have so much influence on this conversation?


I recently had a chance to read An Open Letter to Missionary Parents, by Rachel Steffen. Rachel is an MK who went on to the mission field and so also has the perspective of a parent. Rachel and her husband served for 27 years on the mission field with New Tribes, where they raised four children. This is not easy reading for an MK, and I imagine it is not easy for parents to read either, but I believe what she says is necessary, important and true.

SIM Missionaries, many of you have children who were abused or abandoned. Do you even know what happened to your children while they were at boarding school? Do you dare to ask? Perhaps you can give your children permission to take the steps that lead to healing. You can be advocates for your children with SIM, and you can ask SIM to investigate abuse and provide care for their wounded MKs. You can let your children know you support them. Please read An Open Letter to Missionary Parents, written by another missionary parent to YOU.

If you are an MK who was abused on the mission field, how do your parents influence whether or not you speak out?

ABWE Plays Games With Abuse Investigation

Did you ever find yourself close to winning a game of checkers or chess, when your opponent shakes the board, moves all the pieces and declares that nobody won and you will have to start over? That is essentially what the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) has done with their abuse investigation. Maybe it is not great to compare it to playing a game, and winning or losing. It is certainly not a game to the victims of abuse who were looking for some justice. However ABWE seems to have a much lighter view of the investigation, which they have tossed out and restarted with barely even any notification to the people involved.

If you want to refresh your memory or are just finding out about this case, I wrote about it back in April of 2011. You can also read the official blog of the Bangladesh MKs, Abuse By ABWE Mission Doctor in Bangladesh. In May of 2011 ABWE hired Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E.) to investigate sexual abuse on their mission field. After almost two years, when the final report was just a few short weeks away, ABWE now shakes the board and topples the pieces, terminating the contract with G.R.A.C.E.

In their news release ABWE states that the process was “fatally flawed” and paints G.R.A.C.E. as incompetent and inexperienced. The truth is that G.R.A.C.E. is made up of former child abuse prosecutors (and others) who have seen hundreds of court room cases, testified as expert witnesses in court and before Congress, developed courses for law schools and even taught thousands of classes on, believe it or not, best investigative practices. ABWE must have hired them in the first place based on this expertise, and it is really surprising that they are now claiming G.R.A.C.E. did not know what they were doing.

ABWE gives eight reasons why they terminated the investigation. They list them out very concisely and give little or no explanation or evidence for their complaints, aside from anonymous quotes by interviewees. On February 11 G.R.A.C.E. published a lengthy response. They go over the objections of ABWE point by point and defend their procedures in great detail. If you read the news release by ABWE, I strongly encourage you to also read through the response by G.R.A.C.E. before you form an opinion about this investigation.

For the record, G.R.A.C.E. states that ABWE had already breached the contract of their investigation by refusing to release documents and provide access to witnesses. They say that they had grounds to break off the contract themselves, but did not do so because of the pain this would have caused the victims. ABWE, on the other hand, makes it clear by their actions that they are not concerned about the feelings of the victims, despite their claims otherwise.

The longer an investigation drags on, the more it gets terminated and postponed and restarted, the more likely that it will just fade away. The evidence that is here today might not be available tomorrow. The victims might get exhausted and discouraged, the perpetrators might die, and the statute of limitations recedes into the distance. It has been over 30 years that missionary kids have been living with the effects of sexual abuse by certain ABWE missionaries, ABWE has known about the abuse since 1989, and MKs have been actively seeking justice in this case for the past 10 years. This mission has masterfully delayed any accountability on their part, and it seems they are once more kicking it down the road.

They have hired a new firm, Professional Investigators International (Pii), to “complete” the investigation, which must essentially mean gathering all the material again since they didn’t like the way it was done in the first place. I assume this will mean all the victims must undergo the difficult interview process again.

My heart goes out to all the ABWE MKs who were victims of abuse, who are once more being mistreated and denied justice by this mission.

ABWE announces they are discontinuing abuse investigation with G.R.A.C.E.

Response by G.R.A.C.E. to ABWE

Reading the “Abuse” Issue of Among Worlds Magazine

Interaction International is an organization based in Wheaton, Illinois, with a mission to provide resources for and meet the various needs of third culture kids and their families. They publish a quarterly magazine called Among Worlds, geared towards encouraging and empowering adult third culture kids (ATCK). The September 2012 issue of Among Worlds was especially interesting to me and will be to readers of this blog, as the topic was abuse, mainly on the mission field.

Each of the twelve articles deals with some aspect of abuse, and many are written by names you will recognize such as Dr. Wess Stafford, Michèle Phoenix and William Paul Young (author of The Shack). Then there are two very familiar names of SIM MKs who have stepped forward to tell their stories in this magazine. Both of these women attended Bingham Academy in Ethiopia and suffered abuse at the hands of a sexual predator who worked at that school. Neither article specifically mentions SIM or Bingham Academy, for that matter the names of missions and schools are carefully omitted from all of these articles. But hey, I know these women. I am so grateful to them, and to all of the authors here, for having the courage to write their stories and publish them.

I have to admit it took me a while to read through this magazine. That is why I am writing about it 4 months later. I did leave it behind on a trip and had to wait a couple months to retrieve it again. But even while I had it with me it was not easy. Maybe it is because I always have my defenses up when I read about abuse. Will there be a bias towards the missions, justifying their actions because they were doing God’s work? Will I be told once again to forgive, and just to be grateful for having such a rich childhood? Will I read things that are going to trigger my own unhappy memories?

Instead I found these stories were written with soul baring honesty. Several of the authors acknowledged how vulnerable it made them feel to tell their story, and yet they still told it, without glossing over any of the pain, confusion, anger and other emotions that are a result of abuse. Even though specific organizations were not mentioned, none of these articles is anonymous. Each has a real name attached, and lists the countries where that person lived.

There are common threads that run through these stories. The lies of the abuser, especially spiritual manipulation, often telling the victim that he will be responsible for sending people to hell if he jeopardizes the ministry by saying anything about the abuse. The burying of the pain to allow the victim to function in life, even though it never quite stays buried. The lifting of a burden when the victim finally lets go of the secrecy and speaks their story to another person. The suffering that stays with the victim throughout life, even after the healing process is well under way.

An ATCK from Japan writes “Even in the midst of my confusion and anger at the suffering of my fellow MKs, it has been hard to admit the name ‘abuse’ for my own experiences. It’s tempting to minimize things.”

An ATCK from Papua New Guinea talks about how hard it is to make the move from hopelessness and devastation, a situation we have been mired in all of our lives, into freedom. She equates the “comfort zone” of pain and misery to an addiction that she has to always be careful not to fall back to.

Another woman who lived in Indonesia and Malaysia, and was an editor of Among Worlds for many years, talks about how vulnerable it makes her feel to write her story, and wonders even as she is typing out the words whether she has made the right choice. She writes “We may talk in strong language against it, but how many of us are willing to openly admit we have been the actual subject of it? Why is there such shame associated with the admission of having been abused?”

An SIM MK talks about two types of abuse. Active abuse is an attack against a person that deliberately crossed the healthy boundaries of the individual. Then there is passive abuse, which is simply withholding or controlling the basic needs such as love, food, water, clothing and care for the purpose of dominating the will of another person. My own personal note is that passive abuse was a common tactic used at the boarding school I attended, Kent Academy. This type of abuse resides in a sort of grey area where there are no physical or outward signs and it could all be chalked up to discipline. Thank you for letting us put a name on it and call it what it is.

The last article in the magazine is by Becky Leverington, a licensed professional counselor who has served with Wycliffe/SIL since 1994, is currently their Child Safety Director and serves as the steering committee chair for the Child Safety and Protection Network (CSPN). I have reservations about CSPN which I have written about in other places on this blog, but Ms. Leverington’s article had some good points. She is a TCA, or third culture adult, meaning she has lived in different cultures as an adult but does not have the experience of growing up between countries.

She says denial is the number one agent of abuse, and mission organizations are more vulnerable to denial because staff members tend to trust one another (more than they should) because of their common faith. Parents also trust school staff and don’t safeguard their children as well as they would in a non-mission setting.

CSPN has been compiling statistics on abuse, and she talks a bit about their preliminary findings. One is that there is a substantial number of cases of sexual abuse between children. MKs who have been victimized sometimes repeat the behaviour with other children. This will not come as news to a whole generation of boys who attended Kent Academy while they were in junior high.

Ms. Leverington talks about adult MKs who are coming forward years later to report abuse. She says they most need the following, which I am paraphrasing in less detail than her actual words.

  • To be taken seriously.
  • To be listened to compassionately and in person as they share their account.
  • For their accusations to prompt a thorough, unbiased investigative response process by trained response team members, including at least one team member from an outside organization to ensure an unbiased response. (Personal note: I don’t think one is enough. No one on the team should be involved with the mission.)
  • To learn that due diligence was done to determine if there were other victims.
  • To have the outcome of the process shared with them.
  • To learn that appropriate agency discipline and reporting to civil authorities has occurred.
  • To hear a genuine apology by an organization representative.
  • To know preventative measures have been put in place for the future.
  • To be provided assistance for counseling.

Just for the record, it’s been my experience that SIM has not met the majority of these needs for their adult MKs.

If you are a victim of abuse on the mission field, or know a victim, or want a deeper understanding of what it means to be a victim, I encourage you to get your hands on a copy of this magazine.

If you want to read the magazine but don’t feel inclined to order it online, or are short on funds, please write to me using the contact link on this blog.

You can order a back copy of the September 2012 Abuse issue of Among Worlds for $6.00.

How Safe are Missionary Boarding Schools Today?

I am not involved personally with mission schools today. I don’t have children attending a mission school and I myself haven’t attended one for over 30 years. So when the Director of SIM talks about guidelines that are in place to protect children on the mission field today, I have to believe that the children are protected, right? Except that at the same time I receive messages from missionaries who do have children in boarding schools, and are telling me a different story.

A number of people contact me privately with comments about things I write on this blog. They don’t feel safe talking openly because they fear repercussions to themselves or their children. The fact is that some missionary parents whose children attend mission schools are afraid to speak out about things that are going on.

For example in one particular school the “advocate” designated to hear complaints of abuse or mistreatment from children is a member of the mission Board. How is that person going to be an impartial advocate who is truly on the side of the child, and not also looking out for the interests of the organization? This is a school attended by some SIM students, who are boarders. Even though SIM is not running the school, do they have a responsibility to make sure that conditions at that school are safe for their MKs?

Then there is the case of New Tribes Mission. As recently as the 1990s there was widespread and horrific sexual abuse at Fanda, one of their boarding schools.They are currently investigating some of their other schools due to many reports by MKs, and this was only after much dragging of their feet and pressure from MKs to start the investigation. MKs actually had to submit a petition to New Tribes to get them to investigate these schools. New Tribes currently has at least two lawsuits ongoing against them for abuse. And they are a member of the Child Safety and Protection Network which Mr. McGregor speaks of so highly.

Just because a mission joins up with CS&PN and puts out a child safety policy, that does not automatically mean they have the protection of the children at heart. Sometimes it is more the protection of the mission organization that drives their actions.

SIM Talks about Child Safety and Abuse in Latest Issue of Simroots

The latest issue of Simroots arrived in my email box this morning. I was pleasantly surprised to see an article titled SIM and Child Safety by Malcolm L. McGregor, SIM International Director. I have been involved in many a discussion about abuse at SIM schools, I have even written to Mr. McGregor personally (got no response), and this is the first time I’ve seen any of the SIM administration weigh in on the topic “on the record.”

Mr. McGregor is writing in response to concerns from some SIM Adult MKs about how SIM responds to child safety issues both past and present.” He also mentions that they have received reports from SIM missionaries of SIM beinguncaring, unresponsive and/or indifferent to the reports of child safety.” These impressions came from social media, Facebook of course, and web blogs.

The article starts out explaining how SIM has protocols in place to prevent child abuse today. The new full time International Child Safety Coordinator is Liz Ebeling. It is not clear whether she will also be handling reports of abuse that happened in the past, or coordinating any sort of care for past abuse victims.

Mr. McGregor issues a public statement concerning SIM’s stand on Child Safety. In that statement he mentions that SIM became aware of some cases of abuse in the 1990s. He says “We listened, investigated, and confirmed openly that these incidents had taken place. We moved quickly to offer care and recovery support for those who suffered abuse.” He also states “we have committed significant resources of personnel and finances to the education and care of missionary kids (MKs) for many years.”  

These two statements do not ring true with me, based on what I have learned in the past several years. I do know the AMK Task Force uncovered a few cases of severe abuse, but I don’t believe they were openly confirmed. When and where were they openly confirmed? Who were the perpetrators, and what were their consequences? Were any other MKs who were under the care of these people notified that this abuse had occurred? Many perpetrators have multiple victims. Was any effort made to contact others who may have been hurt?

What significant resources has SIM committed to help abused adult MKs? Where is the dedicated staff for this ministry? Where is the outreach? The AMK Task Force was run largely by MK volunteers, who donated their time and a good deal of other resources to help their fellow MKs. Then they somehow got the impression they had helped everyone who needed help. Or, perhaps what little funds they were working with dried up. Or, perhaps SIM decided it was best not to dig any deeper into issues that could turn into a huge liability for them. I think that all three of these reasons could have contributed to the disbanding of the Task Force over 10 years ago. An unmet need still exists.

The article concludes with this statement: We deeply regret and, indeed, grieve any occurrence of abuse, and we stand ready to respond if we learn of any current abuse or anyone else from the past for whom we could help bring a measure of justice and healing. We also protect the right of confidentiality for those who have made reports.”

Is SIM also protecting the confidentiality of the perpetrators? Are they imposing confidentiality on investigations to protect their reputation? How does SIM plan to help to bring justice and healing to abused adult MKs? I look forward to hearing more details about their plans.

This article by Mr. McGregor gives me hope that SIM is paying some attention now to the issue. I wonder what the response will be in the next Simroots and in the more immediate forum of the social media.

Read the latest issue of Simroots.  The article by Mr. McGregor is in Open Dialogue on page 3.

Tell Your Stories for Strength and Healing

This is a guest post by Audrey Martin.

My name is Audrey Martin and I attended a boarding school in East Africa in my childhood in the late sixties. My parents were not career missionaries but I felt the entire MK experience, but at the same time was able to see the issues a step apart.  I have watched my peers walk out many of those positive and negative aspects of the MK background and since I was in my twenties have taken the initiative to support with first, re-entry, and then other issues of identity and sadly, abuse.  Here’s my take on what is happening regarding boarding school and abuse issues.

At the very end of the film, “The Help,” the protagonist talks about the importance of telling her stories and how doing that can bring freedom.   Various female characters were afraid to tell their stories, afraid of the kickback. But they found that telling them and having them written down helped them leave the place of victim and move forward. That’s what those who suffered at boarding schools need to do today – tell their stories and write them down, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Currently, mission boarding school stories are dribbling out, often when some kind of legal action is taken. I use the word “dribbling” advisedly. But I think it’s time for one of those Southern Hemisphere downpours – the kind that blast down rain, clean the air and then clear up.

The time has come to shake off fear in order to tell the stories. These stories have strength and power in and of themselves. They don’t require finger-pointing or blame. The events, the impact and the emotions are real, as is the ensuing healing journey.  The focus for many seems to be on obtaining acknowledgement of the wrongdoing and to find someone to pay the debt. It somehow seems overwhelmingly important to nab a perpetrator and pin them to the wall.

But a better position of strength is to acknowledge that there was wrongdoing whether or not anyone acknowledges it or pays for it, and that in fact, no one could make it right. As an adult, one accepts the life given them and makes the best they can of it.  Of course it’s important to seek accountability from individuals and agencies, but this in itself does not bring healing.  Telling the stories for their own sake, however, can bring healing not just for oneself but for others.

It’s time for abuse victims to come out of hiding and lay it all out in as straightforward a manner as possible. My call is for no more “dribbling,” no more whispering or hiding in paranoia. It’s time to stop the fear cycle. The choice to put oneself supposedly at the mercy of a missions agency and its policies and decisions is in itself continuing the victim mentality when one no longer is a victim. And often the greater fear, of offending parents, can only be addressed from a position of strength. It is not our place to protect our parents’ sense of call and their worthy contributions. That is their place. Silence has always aided and abetted abuse. In telling our stories we help to dismantle the pain and bring truth and healing to light. But when we speak out, it needs to be in a strong, self-confident adult voice, not the fearful small one inside that is on the healing journey or the strident one seeking reparation or retribution.

When this voice speaks, whether verbally, online or on paper, more people will hear, and more importantly, more will listen.

Missionary Kids Speak Out in CBN News Interview

Three MKs who were abused on the mission field spoke out in an interview which was aired today on CBN News.  You can watch the interview on their web site.  Kari Mikitson is a New Tribes Mission MK who was sexually abused at a boarding school in Senegal.  Wes Stafford attended Mamou Alliance Academy, the school featured in the documentary All God’s Children.  Susannah Baker is an ABWE MK who was abused in the 60s and 70s while she was living with her family on a missionary compound in Bangladesh, by an ABWE missionary doctor.  Boz Tchvidjian, who heads up the GRACE organization which conducts abuse investigations, also appears in this interview.

I applaud all of these people for speaking out about their experiences, and helping to bring to light these things which mission organizations have been trying to keep secret.

I just want to say that even though the lead-in announcer says “those reports are now being investigated,” that is not completely true.  All the reports of abuse are not being investigated.  For example, I am not aware of any investigations going on at SIM right now, but I know of many reports of abuse that occurred at SIM boarding schools.

In fact, it saddens me that SIM is not included in the stories of abuse investigations, and not included in the list of resources that are offered at the bottom of the story on the CBN web site.  I think this is because there is no “official documentaton” of abuse at SIM schools, because whatever investigations have been conducted are being successfully kept confidential.

Way to go, SIM!  You have managed to keep yourself off the radar for this particular news story.

Because SIM was not mentioned in this story, should we assume there was no abuse at SIM boarding schools?  No, because I personally know of many MKs who were abused at SIM boarding schools.  I know of investigations that were started and then thrown on the findings inconclusive pile because the victim could not jump through all the impossible hoops that were presented.  I know SIM asks for a confidentiality agreement so that no one knows about the perpetrator, the abuse, the consequences, or that an investigation even took place.

The secrecy and refusal of SIM to acknowledge what went on in their schools is creating life long consequences for the victims, and also allowing the perpetrators to continue on with no accountability for what they have done, possibly racking up more and more victims over the years.

Fanda MK sues New Tribes Mission for Sexual Abuse

On July 29 the Orlando Sentinel reported that New Tribes is being sued yet again by an abused MK.  This is the second suit filed against New Tribes this year.  The first was filed last May, by a female MK from the Philippines, who attended Aritao school in the Philippines and named Les Emory as the perpetrator.

This latest suit is filed by a female, being referred to in the article as Jane Doe, who attended Fanda Boarding School in Senegal.  Although the suit names a male dorm parent as the perpetrator, it is being brought against New Tribes.  New Tribes is accused of not properly investigating abuse, and when it did find out about it, covering it up.

Fanda is the school investigated by the GRACE organization, who published their final report last fall.  You can read this report on the MK Safety Net web site, and also on the Fanda Eagles web site.  The investigation found that more than 50 MKs had been physically, sexually and/or emotionally abused at Fanda.  After the Fanda investigation was wrapped up, MKs from several other New Tribes boarding schools urged New Tribes to investigate their schools as well.  After much dragging of feet and a petition, New Tribes has opened investigations into their other schools.   This time around the investigations are being headed up by Pat Hendrix, who previously worked on the PC (USA) investigation.

A hearing is set for August 30 in the case of the lawsuit filed last May.  According to the Orlando Sentinel article New Tribes plans to argue for dismissal of the suit, because of the length of time before the victim came forward.  I hope and pray that this will not happen.  I find it interesting, and I hope Missions are taking note as well, that MKs are suing the Mission and holding them responsible, instead of solely going after the perpetrator.  I’ve been involved in discussions over whether a Mission is really at fault for abuse that took place in their boarding schools.  If they are told about the abuse and do nothing, they should be held responsible, just like any school would be held responsible under the law today.   Does the fact that it happened many years ago mean that it no longer needs to be reported and addressed?  The victims are still living with the very real consequences of the abuse.  If a Mission has files detailing stories of abuse, and they do nothing to help the victims or hold perpetrators responsible, they are at fault.  I hope these cases will drive home the responsibility of Missions for abuse that occurred in their schools.

Replacing Shame with Joy

Musings of a Christian Psychologist had a short and sweet post today that is worth sharing.

Many of us, especially the readers of this blog, are weighed down by shame.  Part of this is the result of growing up in a legalistic environment where we were expected to behave perfectly in order to gain the acceptance of our teachers and dorm parents, yes and even God himself.  And if you were abused and humiliated you may also be weighed down by the shame of your abusers, even though it happened many years ago.

The post I linked to above says: “It seems that the shame put upon us by abuse and maltreatment weighs us down the most. Often those who mistreat us do so in ways to make us believe that in fact we are worthy of shame or that they are righteous in their treatment of us.”

Victims are often treated shamefully as well when they step forward to tell their story and try to get acknowledgement of the abuse.  The burden seems to land squarely on their shoulders as they go through the long and sometimes fruitless process of getting someone to listen to them and investigate the abuse.

Remember, we were originally created to be free from shame.  Our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus, therefore we don’t need to feel shame for ourselves, and certainly not for things that other people have done to us.

Isaiah 61:7 says “Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance.  And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.”

Someday, we will all be talking about joy instead of shame.  I am looking forward to joy! How about you?