In 2005 SIM published a case study titled Adult Missionary Kids: How Missions can Facilitate the Process of Reconciliation and Reconnection. You can read the published version of the report here: AMK Booklet Final Copy Booklet Print.
The AMK Task Force was begun when an MK came into the SIM headquarters in Charlotte, NC and demanded that the Mission take a role in helping MKs who were struggling with unresolved issues. At that time Larry Fehl was the US Director for SIM, and he began to invite AMKs and Mission representatives to SIM headquarters for “consultations.”
All told, it appears that there were 10 meetings of MKs facilitated by the Task Force, two per year over a period of five years. These meetings were by invitation of the Director, and he decided who to invite based on referrals from the rest of the group. In my opinion, this creates a sort of exclusive club of attendees, and MKs who were very isolated or perhaps disliked would not have been included. This was a small group setting with I am guessing about 8 to 10 MK participants in a session. So overall the Task Force met with about 100 MKs during the 5 years that they were in operation. Someone please correct me if I am wrong!
From what I can gather, the Task Force uncovered two cases of serious abuse during their consultations. That’s a rate of between 2 and 3%, assuming that all participants remembered and disclosed everything that had happened to them. What’s the total number of SIM MKs out there, from all SIM schools? There are a lot more cases of serious abuse that haven’t been addressed.
In the last issue of Simroots, published in 2010, an article stated that the task force was disbanded 10 years ago. After a certain point the Task Force became an Advisory Committee, whose stated purpose was to be a resource to the SIM Director, but apparently didn’t do active “consultations” with MKs anymore. I do remember several years ago a Simroots article mentioned that the Task Force was hoping to reach out to MKs in an electronic forum, but I haven’t seen any evidence of them doing this.
Was the SIM Task Force helpful in resolving issues for the MKs that attended meetings? I’m certain that it helped a lot of them. I’ve also been told by some who attended that 10 or so years later they are still in the same rut they were in at that time, that it was only a temporary help.
What about the much larger number of MKs who were not invited to the meetings? The MKs who are isolated, who mistrust the Mission too much to travel to headquarters or welcome the Director into their home? Or the ones who are homeless, or mired in drugs, alcohol or despair? What has SIM done to facilitate for these MKs? I think they have just reached the tip of the iceberg.
When I read through the different things that the Task Force provided for the MKs that they met with, it is an impressive list. However I’m not sure why SIM feels the task is now done. They need to reach a much larger population of MKs and be open to hearing from all of them, not just the specially recommended and “safe” ones.
I am sure the success of the AMK Task Force was due to the fact that it was run by MKs instead of by SIM administrators. I find today that SIM is largely silent on the subject of abuse whenever it comes up in social settings like Facebook, and the only people who take an interest in discussing it are the MKs themselves. When I read through the “Issues to Consider” on page 6 of the document, it appears that SIM leadership had a lot of reservations back then about legal issues, fear of what they would find, and the costs associated. I don’t doubt that those reservations are all still very much in place today, and perhaps that is why nothing more is being done now to reach out to wounded MKs.