Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review - black and white bible, black and blue wife by Ruth Tucker

I recently bought and read Ruth Tucker's book, black and white bible, black and blue wife. This book is a valuable tool in the fight against domestic violence and abuse in marriages, especially within the church. This candid account of a pastor's wife who was beaten and abused by her pastor-husband gives vivid insight into the trap of domestic violence and the role ministry can play.

One thing that resonated with me was that Ruth found her hope through her own, personal study of the Scriptures. I personally think this is the one key to all Christian growth, but I meet Christian wives who actually stunt their own spiritual growth, or allow it to be stunted by their husbands. This has to stop. We women need to pursue Jesus as individuals, not as a wives, not through our husbands and not allow our personal, spiritual growth to be slowed or stunted by anyone.

I highly recommend this book. I think pastors need to read it so they will know what not to do when they find out about abuse in their church. If a pastor thinks this does not happen among his members, he is sorely mistaken. It's more common than most people realize.

We can stop the cycle of abuse. This book can help by opening our eyes to the abuse often going on all around us. I admire Ruth's courage in writing this and am aware of the pain it must have caused to "relive" these events through writing.

This epidemic of abuse has to matter to all Christians. In light of the abuse recently revealed about Donn Ketcham and ABWE (Association of Baptists for World Evangelism), we can't keep our heads in the ground like ostriches and insulate ourselves from the effects of abuse. We can't declare that "it doesn't edify me" and ignore what our fellow Christians are enduring. Abuse edifies no one, but if Christian leaders dismiss it because they, personally, aren't "edified," they really don't belong in Christian leadership. Compassion hurts; it made Jesus weep. Where is it these days? 

Click here to buy Ruth's book and prepare to have your mind and your heart opened.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

By Request: More on the Culture of Abuse within ABWE

I have been asked to comment on the steps ABWE has taken since the Pii Report came out.

I was told they have made changes.....specifically, 1) they have put a child safety officer in the home office, 2) they now offer training both in the home office and on the field for child abuse recognition and reporting, 3) both missionaries and churches are being invited to "town hall" meetings in MI to answer questions about the Pii Report and 4) survivors of Donn Ketcham's and ABWE's abuse are receiving counseling at the expense of ABWE.

These 4 things might appear to be a good start, but they are certainly not enough. At least one victim has said they are glad to see ABWE "moving in the right direction." However, understand that even if they are moving in the right direction, they are far from being completely changed as an organization.

1. They need to recognize that they are operating within a culture of abuse, not just dealing with one sinful man and a host of enablers. Donn Ketcham is an evil man, no doubt, but he relished in the glory poured out on him by ABWE. Throughout the Pii Report, notes of concern and abuse acknowledgements were often followed by awards and gratitude doled out by ABWE onto Donn Ketcham. So, even though there were reports of abuse back to the 1960's and others on the field knew about these reports, Donn Ketcham continued to receive praise and accolades while his victims cowered in fear and disgust.

This present and ongoing culture evidences itself within the language used by those associated with ABWE. They frequently call each other and their leadership "godly" people. I have seen this phrase used as a way to attempt to silence many who have tried to speak out against ABWE. The label silences by making people feel that, since they are "godly," it's wrong to question them or anything they do or say. It's as though they are the "appointed godly ones" so they get to determine who is godly and who is not and they always choose themselves. This is humanism through and through. And it's not godly. Godly does not announce itself.

This practice is very common within cults and other organizations which are known for controlling their members. ABWE needs to stop this type of dialog, realize that any and all of them, at any time, could fall into sin at the drop of a hat and disqualify themselves in an instant.

Right now, communication with some within ABWE indicates they do not recognize their own culture of abuse, thus denying its existence. They don't believe a culture of abuse exists and some don't believe a culture of abuse ever existed. They are not recognizing the culture that allowed Donn Ketcham to practice pedophelia for decades. This means abuse will likely take place again.

2. They need to address all questions, not just ones at town hall meetings where participants are invited. I know several people who have tried to contact ABWE with questions about the Pii Report and those people have been ignored. Not everyone is able to travel to MI to be part of a town hall meeting. Not everyone is invited, yet we might sit in a church pew and listen to an ABWE missionary ask for our money. How can we give our money when you won't give us time of day? For people's attempts to contact ABWE to go unanswered is disturbing. I, personally, have been ignored by "leaders" within Baptist organizations and it's a terrible feeling. It's downright abusive; it feels like the "silent" treatment. This has no place in the Christian world.

3. Male dominance has to go. The Pii Report says the following:

How is ABWE working to correct this? Their board has 16 men and only 3 women. This has to change. What about having 10 women, 9 men and a female president? What about an all-female board and a female president? Are they willing to "go that far?" It would certainly show the victims that real change is possible and they are willing to make those changes. There is no shortage of qualified women and there never has been. 

There is no Christ-centered practice in the Bible wherein women are so minimized as they are in Baptist organizations. There is no biblical foundation for its practice in a Christian organization. Male dominance was not something Jesus practiced, condoned or promoted. In fact, He practiced the very opposite, appointing a woman as the first evangelist after appearing to Mary Magdalene following His resurrection, assigning a woman to tell of His coming in revealing Himself to the woman at the well and using Priscilla to teach Apollos. The list goes on and on. Our mission boards, churches and other organizations need to look less like Fundamentalist cults and more like Christ. (At least Warren Jeffs went to prison for his pedophelia....)

4. Transparency has to be evidenced. When people are ignored or referred elsewhere for answers by ABWE officials, that shows a lack of transparency. A lack of transparency shows fear. A showing of fear makes one wonder what they are afraid of. Hence, a lack of transparency fuels a lack of trust.

5. Defensiveness within ABWE has to go. In talking to a few ABWE missionaries and one ABWE missionary appointee, I sensed a defensiveness with some which I found disturbing. In a sense of repentance, there is no room for defensiveness. Defensiveness indicates an unwillingness to hear more and an unwillingness to answer further. Every person who has ever given even a dime to help support  any missionary who serves with ABWE deserves answers, not defensiveness. 

6. ABWE missionaries, leaders and even office workers need to realize that trust has to be earned. After all that has happened, people are not going to just trust them again because they claim to now be humble. Abuse survivors recognize humility and don't need to be told who is humble and who is not. ABWE needs to realize that earning trust takes time and during that time, if they are defensive, trust will take even longer to earn. If someone tells you they are humble, you know they are not. 

I have indicated to those within ABWE who I have talked to that I have read the Pii Report (twice and some parts of it three times), yet they nearly always invite me to read it as though they assume I have not. Each time I review a portion, frustration and anger are rekindled. ABWE needs to realize that the report is relatively new, this information is new to most who are reading it and those with a conscience who are reading it need time to process its contents. This process takes time. It will take a good amount of anger and frustration to work through it and these are proper responses. ABWE has to show humility by being transparent, fixing the imbalance of power as a male-dominant organization and, if they financially survive the massive lawsuit brewing in MI, to proceed with obvious humility that is shown and not announced. 

They also need to show patience for those who are processing the contents of the report. Many of these people gave a whole lot of money, thinking they were giving to further the gospel. They had no idea that some of their money would actually be used as "hush money" to quiet people who might talk about Donn Ketcham's horrible crimes, then later to pay counselors to help victims. (Donn Ketcham and his many enablers should be paying that bill.) Many people spent hours in prayer, trusting ABWE to hold the Word out to a lost world. All Donn Ketcham did was take their money and hold himself up as a "demi-god" to young, vulnerable children, then ABWE spit on the prayers by covering it up. 

Processing this takes time. 
This is the tip of the iceberg.
More to come,

Monday, August 15, 2016

Hush! Keep Quiet about ABWE!

In their book, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen said,

"The difference between an abusive and non-abusive system is that while hurtful behaviors might happen in both, it is not permissible to talk about problems, hurts and abuses in the abusive system. Hence, there is no healing and restoration after the wound has occurred, and the victim is made to feel at fault for questioning or pointing out the problem." 

This statement is true and is showing itself within the Christian community concerning Donn Ketcham and ABWE. This speaks to the silencing of the victims right up to now with the attempted silencing of those of us who want ABWE to truly come clean and do the right thing.

It seems that some ABWE missionaries are towing a line of silence and attempting to hush those who would speak out - even now. They are accusing those who are speaking up of "caustic" speech and literally telling them to stop talking about ABWE. At least one of these missionaries has falsely represented the Pii Report and information contained within that report, claiming that nothing took place before the 1980s. Information from the Pii Report says differently:

A code of silence is part of the problem. WoodTV8 in Grand Rapids, MI, has helped some of Ketcham's and ABWE's victims have a voice and given them courage to speak up when previously they could not. They were silenced. They were ignored. They were hushed.

Unlike what some current ABWE missionaries are claiming, ABWE has not done everything they can do to help the victims. According to the Pii Report, they were withholding information and being non-cooperative even as close as one year ago. Where were they in the years the victims were silenced, at least one even with "hush money" and ignored? They only came clean when forced to and even then unwillingly. The victims, silenced for too long, finally found a voice through blogging, then ABWE could not ignore the blog.

ABWE and its sitting missionaries need to step up and invite people to talk about this, whether in chat groups online or blog posts. Instead, they are fighting the ones speaking up, then accusing them of causing division. They might tell you they invite people to talk to them - only them - about it, but people I know who tried to contact them received no response.

As for the accusation of "causing division," Donn Ketcham caused the first division by sexually abusing young girls. ABWE officials continued the division by kidnapping a young girl and carting her half-way around the world while coercing a forced "confession" out of her. They continued their drive of division by covering up their abuse and Ketcham's abuse and fighting the victims when they tried to have their voice.

If you are trying to hush those who are talking about this, you are part of the problem. Those of us who care about these victims will not hush and will continue to speak truth for their sakes.

Beware, you who try to silence the truth-tellers. You are revealing yourself to be on the abusive side. Take a step back and think again about trying silence anyone. This is America; we get to speak. We will speak. We will not be hushed.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

I Hope They Walk Away from "the Faith"

There has been much comment and even debate about the victims of Donn Ketcham, detailed somewhat here in an article and news piece by WoodTV8 in Grand Rapids, MI.

Debate? Why would there be debate? In several online discussions, the debate has been about Donn Ketcham's victims and how many turned away from God and "the faith" because of his abuse and ABWE's cover-up.

I would argue that their turning away from God and "the faith" is perfectly justified, if not desired. What they are turning away from is not the one true God or "the faith" at all. They are turning away from ABWE's god and Ketcham's god and "the faith" they portrayed, which is nothing more than faith in sinful man. They are turning away from a false representation of our real and loving God to a true understanding of what the God of the Bible is really about. And He is about justice and that is no small thing. He gave His only begotten Son to fulfill His mighty justice and Christians need to realize the sacrifice that involved and quit striving for easy forgiveness instead of justice.

They are turning away from "the faith" that demands they forgive before their souls can heal.
They are turning away from the false Bible teachings that ABWE practiced and followed which led them right to Ketcham's traps.
They are turning away from the lies that ABWE perpetuated for so many years.
They are turning away from the "hush money" that was given in exchange for a hope of silence.
They are turning away from "the faith" that ABWE used to justify their continued abuse of these girls and the unthinkable "confession" they forced from a young girl while kidnapping her half way around the world.

I hope they all give up all "the faith" that has led to this. The abusers - Ketcham and every single person involved with ABWE at the time - sat in their "holy" offices and medical facilities and not only took the innocence of these victims, but did it in the name of "the faith" and "god."

I don't see these people falling prostrate, willing to give it all up in order to help these victims. But, what did they do? They issued a carefully worded statement then shut the doors of communication. They have said nothing of this news report and Ketcham rudely shut his door in the reporter's face.

If I was a missionary with ABWE right in presently (note: I never would have been because they never would have had me because I question everything all the time and that is not tolerated), I would be frantically looking for a new mission board. I would refuse to be part of this shallow, inadequate response and distance myself as fast and as far as possible. I would be working to secure a retirement plan outside of ABWE, independently. If the law gets involved, as is likely in MI, ABWE won't stand a chance anyway. How many people are going to give their hard-earned money to pay legal fees instead of spread the gospel? People have already given money that was used as hush money. How many of God's real people are going to keep doing that?

No, ABWE, it's over. Pack it in; there is no return. You could have saved this, but it's too late now. The price is too high. You put a pedophile in the midst of a whole new set of victims when you refused to do the right thing in 1989 and now it's too late. As Ketcham showed in Bangladesh, pedophiles are never limited to one victim. There are more in MI, just as so many of us suspected when we heard this awful news in the first place several years ago. You, ABWE, are as guilty as Ketcham.

As for the victims, I hope they all abandon "the faith" and find the one true living God.  He is compassionate and full of grace for their hearts in an all-sufficient way that can heal. I hope they all walk away from Ketcham's and ABWE's "god" and see the true God of the Bible and His restful spirit waiting for them. He was never, ever part of any of their so-called "mission work" overseas. God was not there. It was all orchestrated by a sinful man, operating under a sinful board for sinful purposes.

People cite the "good" they say Ketcham did and the "good" ABWE has supposedly done over the years. But, they did no good. None. All their righteousness is as filthy rags. They did no good and they are not good.

Walk away, wounded ones, from this false teaching and "the faith" they scorn and find hope in our living, gracious God. And, for future reference, question everything. Out loud. Repeatedly. Always question everything. And know that when someone tells you they are godly, they have proven that they are not.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Bad Boy, Bad Boy, Whatcha Gonna Do?

A Grand Rapids, Michigan news outlet is tightening the screws on both Donn Ketcham and ABWE, and I am oh, so glad about this.

News Channel 8, did a full, investigative story and you can read it and see the video here.

What a great piece of investigative journaling! They literally went all over the country to gather facts, to let the victims speak for themselves and uncover the truth. I love it that they went to Donn Ketcham's house and made him face the cameras. Even though he rudely shut the door in their faces, they had the courage to go. They had the courage to expose him to the world. They had the compassion to listen to these victims and didn't make them beg to be heard.

Donn Ketcham's victims had to beg to be heard in the Christian community. They had to beg to be heard by ABWE. An independent investigation was only hired by ABWE in response to the pressure from these victims. The world is showing more compassion to these victims than any Christian organization that is even remotely involved. How pathetic is this?

What is wrong with Christians that they can't - or won't - face these things head on and do the right thing? I was banned from a Facebook college group for talking about Ketcham's crimes. The leadership of the group did not talk to me ahead of time; they just removed me from the group and said nothing...because they wanted to keep the conversation limited to the group leaders' interests. One of the group leaders said, not to me, but in a general statement, "I would like our BBC in the 70's group to talk about BBC, about our own ministries (good and bad), good memories of our time together, future Summit (BBC) events etc... Can we do that?" While feigning humility, he said he wanted us to share about "our own ministries (good and bad)" but that apparently did not include my ministry to the abused. (Later, I realized this man uses abusive language, so I was glad to be distanced from him. Clearly, there's something going on with him. Most abusers work to sideline people who might be able to expose them.)

When an abused person has to beg a Christian community to be heard, there is a deep-rooted problem that will not solve itself, no matter how much time goes by. When the world does a better job of showing compassion to a Christian, clearly the church, the para-church organizations and all their so-called leaders have failed.

More to come.