Monthly Archives: October 2013

Power, Money, Control and Religious Abuse

From the Author: Words cannot express how proud I am of my son for approaching the subject of Religious Abuse and sharing his perspective on it. This is his first time addressing the issue and, what is even more amazing is that he has allowed me the privilege of putting it on my blog so that others may be helped by it. His name is not on it because he has asked me not to put it on it. He is also the one that put together this presentation to help victims of religious abuse escape. I simply put my voice to it. So, here it is. Please be sure to adjust your volume on the presentation!

religious abuse

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Introduction

Religious abuse is an evil which can be difficult to recognize and can lead to chronic depression, rape, intimidation, physical abuse, permanent emotional scarring, and even suicide. Corrupted church leaders of today can use their power and influence to control, extort money, manipulate, and sexually exploit their victims. The effects of religious abuse are vast, but the steps which can be taken to escape from them are not. When victims learn to identify signs of religious abuse in churches and realize that they have personal liberty, they can break free by leaving the abusive church immediately. Victims of religious abuse who completely cut ties and cease contact with the abusive church can recover what is left of their scarred lives.

Power, Money, Control, and Religious Abuse

            A dangerous, well disguised evil is sweeping across American churches like a dark beast of destruction, which preys on the lives of even the most devout. It is an evil which is most difficult to recognize, at first, and can lead to chronic depression, rape, intimidation, physical abuse, permanent emotional scarring, and even suicide. Some might argue that this evil originates from the very Devil himself, an attempt to destroy that which is seen by many as holy and pure – the church. This evil comes in the form of religious abuse and can be brought to life through corrupted church leaders in power, monetary greed, and demand for total control of people’s lives; escaping victims must learn to recognize the warning signs, be aware of their personal liberty, and take immediate action to leave the abusive situation.

What could cause such destruction in a person’s life? It’s simple; the impression of absolute power and authority supposedly given by the bible or Jesus can cause almost anyone tempted to become corrupted by it. Once that individual in power decides to abuse the “biblical authority” given to them, believers can become trapped under its rule. There are many ways that victims become trapped under this oppression, but according to David Johnson, two of the main reasons are “they are literally powerless to leave,” perhaps like children born into it, or “because the spiritually abusive system [itself] is a trap” (1991, p. 54). This may be difficult for those who haven’t experienced it to understand, but the cycle of abuse can look something like this: “Out loud shaming, focus on performance, manipulation, idolatry, preoccupation with fault and blame, and obscured reality” (Johnson & VanVonderen, 1991, p. 56-58). Once a person submits to the “authority” of an oppressive church leader, their own sense of personal liberty can be replaced with a sense to obey the “rules” and not to question what is said.

In some positions, a religious leader can become additionally motivated by monetary greed. With the cycle of abuse already in place, they use manipulation in their teachings to convince their victims to give exorbitant amounts of money towards their religious cause or even a personal salary; often attempting to bring guilt on those who do not (McClaskey, 2012, p. 106). Some victims are required to hand over more than 10% of their gross monthly income plus an extra equal or greater margin for regular “gifts” to the leadership, as tokens of their servitude or “commitment” to the organization (McClaskey, 2012, p. 75). This money is often used to build the personal wealth of the leader and to fund the church, continuing the cycle of abuse.

Corrupted power and monetary greed are directly related to a leader’s obsession with having total control over his victims. This begins with a church leader’s power and usurping the authorities they claim were given to them by the Bible, Jesus, or some other religious authority. Victims become convinced their leader has the authority to control them. The control doesn’t stop within the walls of the church; it often “infiltrates into the homes of their believers, with their strange doctrines and rules” (McClaskey, 2012, p. 36). Victims are intimidated, threatened, or in some cases physically beaten into submission (children, teens or spouses) if they don’t comply with the church leader’s rules (McClaskey, 2012, p. 56). Group conformity and total submission to the church “system” are ideas that are not allowed to be questioned in these abusive situations – questioning might lead victims to break free. In many cases, victims who escape are verbally attacked and scorned in front of the church; they lose all group interaction, including immediate family support. Many victims still feel the far reaching, abusive arms of control many years after escaping them. It is this corrupted power, greed and control within the abusive church system which leads to even worse damage in a victim’s life.

Religious abuse can also directly affect other areas of a victim’s wellbeing. If victims believe the abusive teachings, they can have a distorted view of God and spiritual ideas; thereby inadvertently abusing others themselves, like their own children. This often ushers in emotional abuse also; where love and trust can be based upon one’s loyalty to the church or its rules. Paranoia becomes constant, fear of being humiliated or punished is endless, and the pressure to perform and not fail is elevated (Johnson & VanVonderen, 1991, p. 73-77). Sexual abuse is another factor which often associates with religious abuse. A church leader with total control of his victims can easily manipulate them into rationalizing his sexual assault, rape, or exploitation. Sexual exploitation is one of the most common abuses linked to religious cult-like organizations across America (Lalich, 1996, p. 4). Emotional and sexual abuse, along with distorted thinking could eventually lead a victim to consider suicide as an escape, thus multiplying the destructiveness of religious abuse.

How can victims of religious abuse escape? First, they must learn to recognize signs of abuse within a church. David Johnson lists some signs as “power posturing, performance preoccupation, unspoken rules, lack of balance, paranoia, misplaced loyalty, and secrecy” (1991, p. 63-78). Some abusive churches are initially very friendly and appealing, that is also why their trap is effective. Victims often rationalize their abuse, so recognizing that it’s ongoing is vital. Second, recognize that the Religious control is based upon submission of those who believe in it; thus victims must understand their true personal liberty, and that they really don’t have to put up with the abuse. The final step is to break free from the abusive church, including everyone associated with it who could still affect the victim. Victims should completely and immediately separate from every area of interaction with the church. The victim should note that any attempt to change the church is usually futile. Attaining total separation will initiate a healing process.

Once on the outside, victims may immediately begin to recognize the traits of abusive churches. This can empower them to break the cycle of destructive control in their lives and begin to recover from commonly reported experiences such as chronic depression, rape, fear, physical abuse, permanent emotional scarring, and even suicidal thoughts (Lalich, 2013). Victims who have broken free also become some of the best people to help others escape abuse. Escape is one of the most difficult and painful actions that victims can take, but the freedom, healing, and fulfillment that comes afterward is worth more than money could ever buy.

In conclusion, religious abuse is more widespread than one may think. In 1996, there were over 5,000 religious cults in America with more than 185,000 new recruits reported annually (Lalich, 1996, p. 1). If victims are attentive enough to see the warning signs present in an abusive church and they understand that they don’t have to submit to abuse, they can escape and eventually heal from it. The dark, evil beast of religious abuse can be defeated, but only if its tactics and weapons are understood. There are many thousands today who are becoming new victims. When will it ever end?

References

Johnson, D., & VanVonderen, J., 1991. The subtle power of spiritual abuse: Recognizing and escaping spiritual manipulation and false spiritual authority within the church. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers.

Lalich, J. (1996). Dominance and Submission: The Psychosexual Exploitation of Women in Cults. Cultic Studies Journal, 14 (1). Retrieved from http://cultresearch.org/pdf/csj14-1.pdf

Lalich, J. (2013). The Violent Outcomes of Ideological Extremism: What Have We Learned Since Jonestown? Retrieved from http://cultresearch.org/2009/10/the-violent-outcomes-of-ideological-extremism-what-have-we-learned-since-jonestown/

McClaskey, C., 2012. Religion’s Cell: Doctrines of the church that lead to bondage and abuse. Bloomington, IN: Author House.

Bethany Leonard’s Story of Abuse

Introduction

            I want to tell my story, but where do I even begin?  How do I express, in a few short pages, the years of anguish and turmoil I now look back upon?   I guess I will start at the very beginning, since that’s where every story starts.  I was born into a Christian family.  We attended North Sharon Baptist Church in Grass Lake, MI.  My parents were very involved: my dad worked a bus route and was on the deacon board, and my mom was in charge of phoster club and involved in the music.  Whenever there was anything going on at the church, we were there.  The church is supposed to be a safe place – a place where you learn about God and how much he loves you, exemplified by the leaders in your life – but for me it was quite the opposite.  For me, it was the place where I was introduced to just how deep human depravity can go.

When I was little, I didn’t go to daycare or preschool like some of my friends did.  I was lucky; I got to stay home and spend every day with my mom – just the two of us.  In those early years, I learned a lot from my mom.  I learned how to wash dishes (those soap suds were so much fun to splash and play around in!).  I learned how to make my bed (as long as the top cover looked smooth, who cared about the lumps and bumps underneath?).  I learned how to dress myself, and how to pick up my toys.  I learned that chocolate milk tastes best when you drink it out of the cup with the cowboy hat on it.  I learned how to do puzzles, and I learned my ABCs.  I learned how to brush my teeth and how to fold the washcloths when mommy did laundry.  I learned how to do a somersault, and learned that hydrogen peroxide fizzes and bubbles when you put it on your scraped knee.  I sang songs and colored pictures.  I played outside and took naps cuddled up to my stuffed animals.  My days were carefree and filled with wonder and happiness.  But suddenly, that all changed.  A new teacher entered my world unannounced, and I began to learn other, different things.  This new teacher was our pastor, Bill Wininger, and the things I learned from him began the first time he sexually abused me.

He taught me what betrayal felt like.  He taught me the meaning of deep, deep sorrow.  He taught me a fear like I had never experienced before.  He taught me what it was like to wish I could die, to long for the pain to stop but instead it just kept burning deeper inside of me, a fire that would not go out.  Before I could tie my own shoes, he taught me the physical difference between a male and a female.  When I was still riding tricycles, he showed me what happens when a man is sexually aroused.  Before I could write my own name, he taught me that even though we have one body on the outside, there can be two different people hiding inside.  He taught me of a terror that freezes the brain and makes you stop breathing.  While I was still mastering the art of running, he taught me what it was like to flee a pursuer but never escape.  He taught me that little girls never get away from the big, strong man.  When I was still naïve to any darkness in the world, he taught me what evil was.  Thanks to him, I learned what utter panic felt like.  I learned that you could scream with everything inside of you, yet still make not a sound.  I learned that your throat could turn raw when you hadn’t even whispered, and your eyes could burn when you hadn’t cried a tear.  I learned that, when you get scared enough, everything goes white.  I also learned that, although there were two of him, there were also two of me.  He could hold down my weak body every time, but the other me would fly far, far away, into that sheet of white that surrounded me once everything else stood still.

From him, I learned that everything isn’t happy and lovely in the world.  From him, I learned that “safe” is a place that is impossible to find…ever.  From him, I learned that experiences from when I was a child would continue to haunt me, splinter me, and shatter me into a thousand pieces every day for the rest of my life.  And now, looking back…I have learned that he changed me forever.  I’ve learned that he reached into me and stole the position of utmost power in my life, warping the thinking of a young, developing mind, starting a battle I will fight for the rest of my life.  And it’s too late to change that.  And he will never be sorry.  And he will probably never stop teaching.  And the child in me weeps when I face this truth.

My Story

            When I was three years old, the music groups my mom was a part of decided to start meeting at the church for some of their practices.  This was convenient, since most of the people involved had their children in the Christian school.  It was easy to just stay after dropping off their kids to run over some songs.  There would generally around three to five people, including my mom, at these practices.  My two older siblings were both in school, so I was the lucky lone child who got to tag along with mom.  No one else at the practices had young children with them, so I would play by myself.  (Once or twice a little boy around my age came with his dad, but he had to sit on the front pew and wait.  His dad had no way of knowing what a wise decision that was.)  Since the adults would practice in the auditorium, I convinced my mom to let me go play in the upstairs nursery.  My mom is the most protective mother I have ever met, never one to let me out of her sight, but this time she agreed.  After all, the nursery was just off the main foyer a little ways away, close enough for her to hear me if I called for her…she never considered that I might not be able to call.  And what was there to worry about?  There was no one else in the building at that time, except perhaps the secretary downstairs and the pastor.  But that was the problem.  The secretary’s office was downstairs, and the pastor’s office was upstairs – right across from the nursery.  And that is how Bill Wininger found an opportunity to add another victim to his list.

I don’t know if the abuse started the first time I played alone in that nursery, or the second or third time, but I do know this – that nursery became a place of waiting and dread for me.  I will never forget sitting against the back wall, watching the crack of light between the top and bottom nursery doors for movement, listening to my breathing and the clock going tick…tick…tick.  My mom always told me to leave the nursery door open, but I couldn’t; I was too afraid.  I would close it as soon as she left, and cringe when it creaked or slammed, freezing as I listened for his footsteps and hoped he hadn’t heard.  The nursery also had bunk cribs with gates that lowered in the front, and I would crawl into the bottom crib that had the best view of the entire room, where I could see both doors.  To feel safe, I would lower that gate so I was in my little box where nothing could get in without me seeing it coming.  But those old crib gates were so difficult to lower; I would try to go as slowly and quietly as I could, but at the end I would always lose my grip and the gate would slam, invoking yet another episode of freezing with fear as my ears strained for sounds of him coming.  Of all my memories in that nursery, I don’t remember doing much playing.  I would just sit there with my little doll, holding her tight and telling her not to be afraid, because I would keep her safe.  I told lies to make both of us feel better.  But we soon learned that being brave doesn’t keep away the monsters; they come anyway.  And come he did.  And just like that, my innocence was stripped away at the hands of this man I once trusted.

I remember one music practice where I stayed in the auditorium.  Whether it was by my mom’s instruction or by my choice, I do not know, but I remember hearing the creak of the floorboards in the back of the auditorium as someone entered, and seeing him standing there, a silhouette against the open door behind him that led out to the foyer.  I froze and did not make eye contact with him, but watched out of the corner of my eye as he stood there with his right hand in his pocket, seeming to listen to the song being sung.  But I knew better; I knew who he was there for.  He was watching me.  After what seemed like an eternity, he brought his hand out of his pocket to squirt his breath mint into his mouth, slipped it back into his pocket, then walked out the door, closing it behind him.  And I started to breathe again.  It seemed like it was all in slow motion.  Whenever he was present or when the abuse was happening, time slowed down to a crawl.  It felt like I would be stuck in that moment forever.  Even now, sometimes I feel that way out of the blue – like I’m stuck in a moment that will not pass.  There is a massive weight on my chest and it gets harder to breathe.  I call it “monotony,” because it’s like never-ending time.

Even when we were not alone, I felt like he was always watching me from the shadows.  Whenever I’d be in a room and he’d walk in, even if there were 100 other people there, my radar picked up exactly where he was and I just knew he was watching me.  It was an eerie feeling.  He had no power because other people were present, yet my heart still thudded a little harder in my chest.  And it was a mix between pride in feeling like I was his favorite person in that whole room, and being afraid at the same time.  You see, I thought I was so special to him.  He called me his “little buddy.”  My 3 &4 year old mind was so black and white; either someone was good, or they were bad.  So I separated in my mind that there were two different sides of him: one was good, and one was bad.  Although they were completely different, I knew one could not exist without the other, because they were in the same body.  I so needed and craved the love, that I accepted the bad along with it as necessary.  I knew that if the bad went away, I would lose all the good along with it.  As in, if I told, I would lose every single person in my life who loved me.  I truly believed that.

One of the things I have struggled with the most is that, despite all of the things he did to me, I continued to go to him.  When the closing prayer was finished after a church service, I would make a beeline for the back door, wrapping my arms tight around his leg for a hug.  He would always either lean down and hug me, or pick me up and hold me, which made me feel so special.  I’ve asked myself, “How could I continue to go to the man who was hurting me?  Why didn’t I run from him or avoid him?”  But it’s because I saw him as two different people in the same body.  I literally believed that he could change into someone else inside.  When other people were around, he was the man who held the room captive, the man whom people looked to as a great “man of God.”  But when everyone else disappeared and it was just him and me, he turned into “the other him.”  Oh, how I feared and dreaded “the other him.”  The other him was eerily calm and frighteningly cold.  He was very matter-of-fact about everything he did.  I can still hear his voice saying to me, “Now Bethany, I’m going to have to……”  And I believed him.  He had to do it.  I was that bad; I had done something so horrible that his hand was forced, and he had to carry out this punishment.

There was no questioning him; he was never wrong.  You did not tell him “no”…kids, adults, nobody.  He had an anger that could send chills down your spine, whether it was the screaming from the pulpit or the intimidating words he could offer face-to-face.  So when he told me that I was bad, I knew he was right.  After all, in the IFB realm, the adults were always right.  They held all the power and the kids held none.  Parents were taught to always side with the authority, to never let their kids see adults be undermined.  No one told me that this was different, that sometimes the adult could be wrong.  So I knew from that fateful day forward that I was a very bad little girl.  I tried for years to be good enough to erase the “bad” label, but it was never enough to make me feel good inside…not even close.  I felt intensely ashamed and embarrassed about what happened when I was alone with him.  It was as though I was a repentant child afterwards, asking his forgiveness.  I was so relieved that he was benevolent enough to still love me after what I had supposedly done – I would do anything not to lose that love.  When it was over with, there was just an overwhelming sense of relief that I had survived.

Why did I never tell on him?  Why didn’t I go straight to my mom and tell her these confusing and extremely painful things that had happened to me?  It was because he convinced me that I was the one who would be in trouble, not him.  If anything, I was scared to death that he would tell my parents on me.  I was also convinced that if I told, everyone would be taken away from me.  This was reinforced when our church went through a massive ordeal and my dad spent a year in jail.  For a 4 year old, a year is a very long time.  I thought my dad was never coming back, and I knew the reason why.  My dad was taken away from me because kids said that he had hurt them.  It was just a given in our church that these kids were lying, which my mind translated into: All kids who say those things are lying.  I had already lost my dad; there was no way I was about to become one of “those kids” who tell lies and get people taken away.

Another reason is that I didn’t even have a name for what he was doing to me.  In my mind, I called it “killing people,” because I thought that’s what he was trying to do – kill me.  I am still haunted by the panic that would hit the moment I would feel him grab me, his hand coming around from behind and closing over my face.  In all my life, I have never experienced anything as frightening as that.  My mind would start racing a thousand miles per minute, “It’s happening again; it’s happening again; oh-no it’s happening again.  No, no, please no; just make it stop.  I just want to die; please just let me die quick, just let me die…”  And just like that, I would give in and resign myself, just pleading in my mind that it would happen fast.  My body would just go limp.  It felt like falling asleep instantaneously with no control over anything, only I was only half asleep.  From somewhere far, far away my mind was still aware of what was happening, but my body was disconnected.  I could still feel, but it’s like the message didn’t affect my brain.  They were separated.  The information was coming in, but my mind had no response for it.  I felt the pressure on my chest as I fought to draw in a breath of air, but did not experience the panic that should have accompanied it.  I felt my stomach churning as I thought I was going to throw up, but this did not worry me.  I heard his breathing and felt his body, but it was as though I were a third-party observer.  I was completely numb and resigned to my fate.  And I thought I was dying…every.single.time.

Thankfully, BW left our church when I was six years old when he feared his cover was about to be blown (not with my abuse, but someone else).  Obviously, I knew nothing of this at the time, but have learned it since.  Since almost nobody either knew about what was going on, or didn’t believe it, or wasn’t talking about it, he got away completely free of consequences and went on to his next church in Georgia, leaving many people in Michigan to lick their wounds in silence.  At the same time, many people wept and lamented losing this “wonderful pastor.”  Quite a few families even followed him to Georgia – that is the kind of power he had over people.  But thankfully, I was free of him.  So I kept on growing up and doing all the normal little girl things.  But something was still not right inside.  I wanted to escape the emotions that I did not understand.  But I did not know where the emotions were coming from, because I never let myself think about the abuse.

When I was 7 or 8 years old, I even concocted an elaborate story and tried to convince my family that I had actually been raised by an Indian tribe, not by them.  I explained it this way…”When I was a little girl, about 2 years old, mommy was rocking me in the rocking chair.  All of a sudden, time stopped, and the Indians came and got me.  Since everybody else was frozen, they had no idea what had happened.  Once I was gone with the Indians, time started up again for them, but they didn’t know that Bethany wasn’t there anymore.  It was a robot instead.  I know it looked just like me and sounded just like me, and could do everything a human being could do, but it wasn’t really me.  I was far away, running through the woods and playing in the stream, learning all the Indian ways of life.  I grew up there until now, when they brought me back to my real family.”  I had names for every Indian in the tribe.  I talked about all the things we would do every day.  And I was furious and inconsolable if anyone acted like they didn’t believe me.  It is so interesting to look back on now, and realize that it was yet another route of escape for me.  If I wasn’t really there from age 2 to 7, then I didn’t really experience the things he did to me.  I didn’t really feel them, so it didn’t bother me.  This type of denial worked for a little while, until I got older and the story no longer was enough to make me feel safe.

As time passed, I learned that “numb” was almost the same as “safe;” at least, it felt the same.  So I found ways to replicate the numb.  As a four year old girl, I had begun to self-harm.  At first it was just hitting and making bruises on my body, but as I got older it progressed to scratching and then cutting.  It was my escape from the emotions that I did not understand.  Because for a long time, I did not let myself consciously process my abuse.  As in, I did not let myself think about it at all.  It was absolutely terrifying.  Every time a thought would cross my mind about the abuse, I would start saying in my mind over and over, “That never happened to me; that never happened to me.”  I would repeat it until the fear subsided and I had shoved those thoughts down once again.  But they would eventually come rising up again, and it took more and more effort to keep them at bay.  Just like a person who builds tolerance to a drug and it stops having the same effect, my cutting got more extreme until it just wasn’t working enough anymore.  Then I found another method that worked even better – I could starve those thoughts away.  I had struggled with minor disordered eating for years, but I finally plunged completely into anorexia.  Starving my body down to nothing made me feel safe, and safety is what I was always searching for.  It was a vicious cycle of euphoria when the scale had gone down yet again and I felt that hollow, gnawing feeling in my stomach, and guilt when I saw the pain in the eyes of those who loved me.  To avoid writing another book, I’ll just say it has been a long journey, but God has done some wonderful things in my life in that area.  The struggle doesn’t ever go completely away, but it does get better.

After many years of treatment and counseling from all different places and people, I finally began to open up and talk to my family about what happened.  They believed me, which blew me away because I was convinced that they would essentially disown me when they realized I was accusing this “great man” of abusing me.  They have supported me all the way as I deal with these issues from the past.

I wonder sometimes if BW is tormented at night, while he sleeps.  I know I am.  I am blessed on the nights that I don’t remember my dreams, because they are almost never pleasant.  I’ve had nightmares about him since I was little.  I now refer to him as “the monster from my dreams,” because that’s exactly what he is – a monster.  There was a day when I never would have said that about him, but only monsters prey on the vulnerable and rip their innocence from them to gratify their own sick appetites.  Since I began to talk about this a couple years ago, I have found out that I am not the only victim of BW…far from it.  He was not picky with who he went after or how many he went after at a time.  I will never betray the privacy of those victims I know of, but let it suffice to say that he has a trail of victims behind him that has gone on for decades.  He uses intimidation and manipulation to draw people in, and once they’re in they feel stuck.  He has caused so much sorrow and heartbreak.

It’s interesting; I just realized the other day that I have something in common with my abuser.  We both know what it’s like to want to die.  Funny how that works out…  We are haunted by the same things.  I have no idea why he does what he does, nor do I care to know, but this much I will say: It is SO WRONG.  He has worn his mask for long enough.  I’m not going to play in his sick performance for one more day.  I am jumping off the stage and announcing to the audience that he is just an actor and it’s all a hoax.  He will not get one more moment of my time or one more benefit of my silence.  Because do you know what?  I am the happiest I have ever been now that I am free of him.  I am married to the love of my life.  Honestly, my life now is a good dream that has come true.  And that is something BW will never have.  He will never find that peace inside, at least not as long as he continues to play his games and tell his lies.  In the end, the truth always comes out.  My heart breaks for his family…my heart breaks for those who have suffered at his hands.  I am so thankful we have a God who heals and brings comfort.  He has been everything to me through this, and if nothing else, because of what I’ve gone through I now know God for who he truly is, and I’m more in love with him than ever.  I have learned and finally believe that there is always hope. <3

— Bethany Leonard

The Casting – By Nancy Bicknell

the CastingIt is fall on the small religious campus in Wisconsin. The leaves have turned and the frost is steaming up from the ground changing the season to winter. The auditorium is filled with people who do not know why they are assembled since it is not Sunday services or Wednesday prayer meeting but, there they are, waiting.

Like feathers floating from the skies little pieces of paper fall from the sky through the ceilings. Each person picks up the note paper closest to them that has a caption entitled “The Casting.” There is a word written on the parers. Some were cast as Orchestra, Church Leaders, Preacher Boys, Inner Circle, Bystanders, Victim or Abuser. It seems that a play is going to be produced this very day and everyone has a role.

One bewildered young Preacher Boy steps forward after he realizes his paper says ‘Director.’ Taking his role, he starts to divide the people into their parts. “Bystanders are to all take a seat in the audience,” he announces. To his surprise, all but a handful of people took seats in the audience. He directed the others to go onto the stage. He sent the Orchestra to the Pit. Once the cast was before him he asked each one to read their role out loud.

The Church Leaders proudly stepped forward followed by the Inner Circle. Looking at the cast of players, the Director notices two players still in the back of the stage. He asks them to step forward. ” Who are you he asks?” The man opened his paper and looking surprised, as though he had not seen his role before, stated, “Well, I guess I am the Abuser.” He fades back into the darkness of the stage hiding behind the Inner Circle. The director then calls on the young teen girl. “Who are you?” he asks. She announces that she must have picked up the wrong piece of paper because she was the Victim and did not want that part. She did nothing wrong and was sure the part was a mistake. The Director said he was not in charge of the casting; and, that it appeared that every role was connected to each other and the play was happening as a spontaneous event based on the reactions and free will of all the players.

The director asked some Bystanders to run the lights and control the curtains. Suddenly, there was a scream.

The Victim ran out on stage having blood on her heart saying, “See, I am not supposed to have this role. I am innocent.”

“Who did this to you?” the Director asked, followed by the church leaders questions.

She said, “It was the Abuser. He hurt me in the dark when the curtain was closed.”

The director asked the Abuser to step forward. He did not. Noticing a stir in the audience, the director sees the Abuser.

“Sir,” he says, “Did you hurt this girl?”

The Abuser says, “No, I was was here in the audience all the time.”

The young girl cries, standing on center stage.

The director again asks her saying, ” He says he did not hurt you.”

The Abuser yells out from behind the church leaders now. “She walked into my sword and then she fell in front of me.”

The girl continues to cry.

The director wanting to get on with the play, sends everyone to the costume room to be fitted with their robes. The make-up is completed and the hair is groomed. The curtain opens and all begin to play their roles.

A Bystanders calls out from the audience, “The Victim is still crying and I can not hear the Church Leaders! Can you ask her to stop?”

She tries to stop as she hears the complaints. The music begins from the orchestra pit but, the sobs of the girl interrupt the symphony.

The victim calls out, ” I need help here, I am hurt.”

The Church Leader says, “I don’t see blood anymore. So you are fine. You just need to trust Jesus, go to church and leave the stage. You are interrupting the work of God here.”

The audience responds with praises and an Amen.

The girl attempts to leave the stage but is too weak to walk now. The Inner Circle tells the Church Leaders to call upon the Director to remove her from the stage. The director says, “I am not writing the script here. So you do as you will.”

The Church Leaders walk up to the Victim and tell her that Jesus has dried her tears. She moans in pain. The Church Leaders tell her to “Let it Go” since the Abuser is innocent and she must forgive him. She faints before them. The Church leaders are fearful she will not get well and ask the Director to let them off the stage.

The Director says, “This is your play.”

The Abuser encourages the Church Leaders from stage right saying,”She obviously has sinned and you must hold her accountable for ruining the play.” The Church Leaders decide to leave the stage followed by the Inner Circle.

Standing on stage left in sheep’s clothing is the Abuser who slips off the stage into the night following the Church Leaders and the Inner Circle. The lights are lowered to center stage and the girl is too weak to stand. The Bystanders tell her to get off the stage, but she cannot.

The Bystanders notice the Director has also left. No one is left but the Bystanders and the victim. Some yell out, “Forgive and get over it and you will be well.” Others cry out to her, “Stop telling us your sob story,” and still others, say nothing at all.

It seems the girl is bleeding now onto the stage’s wood floor, but no one moves from the audience. Only the Bystanders are left. The majority of the cast are Bystanders and they do not seem to know what to do. Silence.

A bright spot light from above shines down and, there before the Bystanders, is a new actor on stage. It is Jesus. He looks at the girl and swoops her up in His arms. He turns to carry her away but stands still for a moment to turn and look at the Bystanders. His eyes are glaring in anger.  They all hang their heads in shame, realizing they could have picked up the child themselves.

Jesus’ eyes pierce their hearts and He turns with the child in His arms and disappears. The Bystanders sit alone as the lights go off and the curtain closes.

Kerry Lou’s Story of Abuse and New Tribes Mission

My name is Máire Skogstjärna. Once upon a time it was Kerry Louise Gray. Born in Blacktown NSW, Australia on Aprill 11th 1971. My parents were sent out as missionaries by NEW TRIBES MISSION AUSTRALIA (& USA) to work in PANAMA in 1971, when I was 10 months old.

On November 7th 1986 at Escuela Hogar Misionero in Chame, Panama, I had my left knee put completely out of joint, resulting in that my lower leg ended up behind my upper leg. Knee cap, ligaments, tendons, artery etc, everything got ‘broken’. I was driven to Chorrera to the local hospital, but since there was no qualified doctor there, I was sent on to Santo Tomas in Panama City. At the emergency room I was taken care of by an intern, Ariel Saldaña. “luxación de rodilla izquierda con lesion a la arteria poplitia” I was operated on that night, no easy situation, as my parents were up in the Chiriquí and my dorm dad had to sign all the forms presented by the hospital before surgery could commence. I was ‘put back together’ and my left leg was put into a cast to keep the knee stabilized and in place. The ligaments in my left knee, the cruciates and laterals were all completely useless.

knee

A few days later my knee got out of joint again – despite the cast. I was once again taken for surgery – but this time I had an external fixator put on my knee – six titanium screws (very long) in the bones and then a rod between them to keep my knee in place. I wore this for six weeks or so before it was surgically removed.

This was a ‘big deal’ at the hospital as they did not have the necessary equipment with which to do the necessary surgery. Help was given by a doctor from Gorgas, a military doctor. I was not an American citizen so was not permitted to go to Gorgas for treatment.   Instead, Surgical instruments and knowledge was given to the team of doctors that would be operating. From what I understand there were more than the normal number of surgeons present for the procedures. Unfortunately, I do not remember numbers or many of the names. The first names are from the orthopaedic team, the last couple are from cardio-vascular.

Gustavo Pinilla (can be found at Centro de Ortopedia y Medicina Deportiva, S.A.; Centro Especializado San Fernando; Teléfonos 229-4026 / Telefax 229-7522 ; Consultorios Punta Pacífica; Teléfonos 204-8387 / Telefax 204-8388)

Ariel Saldaña padre

Ariel Saldaña hijo (the intern, NOW a well known Dr in his own right in Panama)

Daniel Lozano, in charge of my care

Norberto Donoso Collins

Dr. Monge

This was written by my younger sister and a friend at the boarding school and put into the school ‘paper’ that was then sent to the families of all the parents in Panama.

kerry lou article

After I was released from hospital I was put back into school at EHM and was lent an exer-cycle for physiotherapy. I did not see a proper physiotherapist or get any other qualified help (not other than the couple of times while I was actually in the hospital). I had appointments with the doctor in charge of my care a few times after my release. But these were not for my knee or other aspects of my health.

After the external fixator was removed from my leg the doctor in charge of my care – Daniel Lozano (51) – took me to a place called Campo Amor out on the way to Tocumen. “My Dr”. This is the man that sang outside the ward to make me smile, who promised me that I would be ok (though it later turned out that I could have – OR should have! – died several times along the way). I should not have turned 16. This man was given permission by my mother to take me for a drive down to Balboa, to Panama Viejo to cheer me up. I had spent the best part of three months in the hospital, in a ward of 20 or so women, with little or no privacy. Of course, I was very happy to get out of the hospital, overjoyed. I had been a very active teen and to be stuck in a bed and not being able to even walk was killing me. Anyway, we drove past the sights and then he took me to Campo Amor and raped me.

KL1

I still remember these huge garage doors that shut behind your car when you drove in. No one sees or knows who, what or why. No questions asked. Just pay at the little window inside.

I did not get out of the car. I locked the doors. I was afraid, terrified. This was danger!!! Of course, the doctor unlocked the car doors – he had the car keys in his hand. He forced me out of the car – not violently, but nonetheless. I was pushed into the small motel room; Bed on the right, shower + toilet on the left TV and mirrors in the room. I was told to undress. I didn’t. I was then forced to undress. Still no violence, but I was forced.

No, I did not scream, or yell. I realized quickly while still in the car that there was NO way out. No door out, no one that would hear me. I did not fight him. It would not have made any difference… I was terrified. I had just survived an accident that should have killed me – all I wanted to do was live. “I won’t hurt you” That is what he said before he violated me.

Yes, I was 15 years old, legally permitted to have sex in a foreign country, but not of legal age in mine. But I did not want this. I did not ask for this. I was promised all sorts of things, a job as soon as I had finished high school, gifts, and toys for my kid brother etc. (we had already been given things at Christmas by the doctor). I was still an IN-patient of the hospital on this day: January 16th 1987.


In Panama, the age of consent is 18.

Laws regarding persons aged between 14 and 18:

Article 215 appears to prohibit sexual acts with minors:

Article 215 C: “He who maltreats a minor shall be sanctioned with imprisonment from one to six years. The following conducts typify maltreatment of minors: (…) 2) Committing, inducing or helping to commit sexual abuse against him, or other lustful or lewd acts, even though they do not imply carnal access

Article 226 deals with the “corruption” of minors and prohibits sexual acts with persons younger than 18 (although it is not clear if this article prohibits such sex acts per se or only if the victim was “corrupted”):

“Article 226: “He who corrupts or facilitates the corruption of a person under 18 years of age, practicing with her a lewd act or inducing her to practice or view it, shall be sanctioned with imprisonment of two to four years”.

Another article, Article 219, prohibits consensual sex acts with a “maiden woman, over 14 years old and under 18” (probably understood to mean a virgin girl aged 14–18):

Article 219: “He who has carnal access to a maiden woman, over 14 years old and under 18, with her consent, shall be sanctioned with prison of one to three years. If a marriage promise is involved, or if the deed is committed by a relative, a minister of a cult that the victim professes a tutor, teacher or person in charge, by means of any title, of the education, safe keeping or upbringing of the victim, the penalty can be increased up to twice the amount”.

In regard to the Article 219, the action or penalty is to be extinguished if the author and the assaulted person are to be married; this is stipulated by Article 225.

Laws regarding persons younger than 14:

Article 216: “He who has sexual access with persons of either sex, utilizing his genital organs or other parts of his body, or introducing any object in the genitals, mouth or anus of the victim, shall be sanctioned with imprisonment from three to ten years in the following cases: 1) When violence or intimidation is used; 2) When the assaulted person is deprived of reason or of sense or when due to physical or mental sickness or for any other cause she cannot resist; 3) When the victim is arrested or imprisoned and entrusted to the guilty party to supervise her or take her from one place to another; and 4) With a person of either sex that is not 14 years old, even though none of the circumstances expressed previously apply.”

Article 220: “He who with the purpose of achieving carnal access executes libidinous acts in prejudice of a person of either sex, by means of violence or intimidation, or when the victim is not 14 years old or cannot resist, shall be sanctioned with imprisonment of three to six years. The sanction can be increased by one third to half, if any one of the circumstances established in the second paragraph or Article 219 occur.”

Not long after this I was released. I remember my mother, the doctor and I going out for lunch at some quaint little restaurant. Sangria was served with the meal. I remember ‘playing footsies’ with the doctor who sat opposite me at the table. I remember him having my foot in his lap. I also remember a comment about ‘having a chaperone’.

After leaving the hospital, I was given a date to come back for a check-up in about a month. The person who went with me this time was told to sit in the reception and wait there. The doctor drove me to his private practice a few streets away and once again raped me – this time on the floor of his office. There was only a thin sheet between me and the floor. My mind went to far away places; I had no reason to do anything. I was already tainted, spoiled, ruined. My life had lost value the day I had my accident, it lost even more the day I was raped by the doctor. I had no reason left to live. All that I valued was taken from me.

Again another month or so passed. We are in March 1987. This time I said no. I did not let him touch me. And he did not. See, he was so smart that he told me about pregnancy prevention. By counting the days since your last menstruation you can work out when the chance/risk of pregnancy is greatest -> 12-17 days after the first day of your period. I still have that in my backbone! L On the other hand he had also said that if I should get pregnant that he would fix it – pay for an abortion etc. And no one would ever know.

Now for April and my 16th birthday on the 11th came and I was permitted to travel up to the Chiriquí and have my birthday at my parent’s house together with my sister who was at the school. We had my party. All my local friends came. On the 16th of April the rest of my family was at a meeting at the church, and I stayed home. A young man I knew came by and under the pretences of looking at a co-worker’s car – he had been asked to buy spare parts for the car. In the darkness of that garage stood this young man wanting sex and I did not care any more, at all!! I knew that I could get pregnant that week. I did not care about that either. I could get pregnant and thus get out of being raped by the doctor, might have to marry this young man – but he was of a good family in the town OR nothing would happen and it would be easier to say no to the doctor should he try again.

In May I had another appointment. But I could not say no to the doctor. Again, He drove me to his private practice office and raped me a third time…

We returned to the hospital again and I had to have x-rays done. Since having missed my period in early May I had to tell someone. I told my best friend at school. She got my mother and we told her… I do not remember much other than the room we sat in. Then having to go into the city to have a blood test done to see if I really was pregnant, and a visit to a gynaecologist to be checked physically… The experience was horrific. Not just being so close to death a few months earlier, and somehow subconsciously knowing that, but also the physical and emotional (add then sexual) mutilation that I suffered by being raped and then being put thru this physical examination. I felt like I was being raped again.

My best friend and I got in a great deal of trouble. She was accused of being my accomplice – I confided in her that I wanted to hitch a ride up to Costa Rica as I had friends up by the border. I got suspended from school and was then kicked out. She got 2 weeks suspension, I think.

I was treated badly. I did the end of year exams from the house we were living in. My mother had to sit and make sure I did not cheat. On my Science test I got a 79%, only to find out later that everyone else was given it as an ‘open book’ test. But not me, I got my grade from what I remembered. A classmate complained and was told to leave it be, I did not deserve that help on the test. (This is just an example of my treatment by the school.) The teacher of that class was William Bacchus.

We were sent back to New Zealand in disgrace. I was fully to blame. It had come forward that I had kissed a boy and had a boyfriend. So, obviously getting pregnant must have been done of my own free will. Not a single word was said about being raped by the doctor.

I remember sitting in the office where the field committee pronounced their judgement over me. I was a slut, promiscuous. They spoke ‘over my head’, not to me, but about me. I was not given any chance to speak up for myself or explain. Present in the room (that I remember): Bryan Copeland, Harry Huddleston, Bruce Haste, my parents and I. (I have a vague memory that Joe Goodman and Brian Simmons were on the field committee then and would have also been present.) I have been told that Don Barger was representative for the work in the Chiriquí but was on furlough when this happened.

I have since found out that Bruce Haste “grilled me” and I told him about the rape. I do NOT remember this myself. My mother told me of it recently. I also had confirmed the “advise” given to my father about not doing anything about my rape as the Dr had friends in high places.

The boy that I kissed: Ignacio Montezuma Montero Haste

1980-1981

He was several years older than me. We used to live as neighbours. In the house we lived in (with an older single lady, Charlotte Teubner), there was a tiny book room. In this room Charlotte kept her Bibles, song books etc for the Guaymi (indigenous people) that came to the base. In this room Ignacio used to kiss me and  fondle me. Most of the time he wanted to stand behind me and push himself up against my buttocks. He was always sexually aroused. I cannot have been more than about 10 years old. They were building our family a house when we got back from a furlough in the UK-Australia-New Zealand.  I do not remember if we had started at the boarding school yet – I do remember being home-schooled in the big living room in this house. So, I am guessing 1980- 1981. I wish I remembered more clearly when. Nor do I remember how long this went on. My younger sister and I started at boarding school and only came back to our parent’s home for summer holidays and Christmas.

Stepping in to 1983/84

“There is one other incident that happened in the dorm of sexual nature while I was at the boarding school. It would have been in 83-84 (?) I think. Our dorm parent’s daughter had a couple of horses and one of the older boys and I used to ride them so that they got exercise. This boy, Brian Grindstaff, started to touch me and fondle me on these excursions. It then became something that he did whenever he could get me off alone with him. It became unbearable and I did not know how to get out of this situation. I told the girl who had the horses one day and she told her parents. The boy was severely punished for what he had done.

My boyfriend: Raúl Antonio Santamaria, hijo (son)

When my family moved up to Tolé, I became friends with a neighbouring family. Their son was a year older than me but was my best friend. We did everything together. Yes, he did kiss me on occasion. He and I had plenty of opportunities as young teens to do whatever we wanted but we did not. I refused to. I told him that a stolen kiss is one thing but that any more than that had to wait till we were married. I honestly imagined myself marrying him as soon as I was 18 years old. I loved him. He loved me. But we had a mutual respect that few ever understood. In the wake of my accident I did not see him for months. He came down to the city to see me in hospital but could not do it. He could not face seeing me so messed up. He did not come by at Christmas either for the few days that I was allowed to be at home with my leg in the external fixator etc. I did not see him at my 16th birthday either – he was at school in Santiago de Veraguas.

I heard via the jungle telegraph that I was spoken of as ‘the pregnant girl from Panama’ from a classmate on furlough in the US.

I had my baby, a little girl, on January 20th 1988. I then gave her up for adoption – a couple that were related to a good friend of my father could not have children. It is an ‘open adoption’ so I have had contact with her all along. She just turned 25 a couple of weeks ago.

I have not named her father previously – Vicente Tuñon Marrone – my family know who he is well. But he did not mean much to me then, much less now.

  **********

I left New Zealand 1990. I moved to Sweden to work as a nanny (anything to get away from my family). A year later I married the Swedish boy I had met and we had two kids. But because of his continued abuse that ended in 1999. I re-bounded into a second marriage in 2000, had two more kids, but that only lasted until 2005 when this man committed suicide. Both of these men abused me. I did not deserve better. I wanted to kill myself innumerable times along the way. I saw no way out of the hell that I had been put into, and no one cared. No one fought for me, protected me, or stood up for me.

In 2004 my daughter, that I had given up in adoption, came to visit me in Sweden –I paid for her to come. She was here for her youngest sibling’s birth. During her nearly two month long visit she told me that her family had had a boarder in their home who turned out to be my own mother’s closest friend. This lady told my daughter about all the “family secrets”, skeletons in the closet as you might say. One thing that came forward was the fact that my mother had planned on running off with “my doctor”, the man that raped me. This, to me, explained the comment about a chaperone.  [My mother now (June 2013) claims this is something that I have fantasized up… it is all in my head. She only ever felt “flattered” by the man. I beg to differ.]

I was never given proper medical treatment with regard to my injury. I was told when we got to New Zealand that my knee would have been fixed properly IF I had come back to NZ or the US straight away – waiting for months made it impossible to fix. I did not get physiotherapy until after we got to NZ and then had to take a break as I was having a baby. By the time I got back to physiotherapy 16 months had passed (at least!) from when I had the accident. I was not given a fair chance at recuperating the use of my muscles etc in my leg with qualified therapists.

I found out in 2010 that my parents had been sent a letter from New Tribes Mission Australia (now Crossview) with a sort of apology for the way in which they were sent home. I have NOT seen anything of that sort personally. In 2010 my parents visited Sanford Florida and met with several of the former leaders from when our family was stationed in Panama. Apparently my parents were asked if there was anything they wanted passed on to the present executive committee regarding the things that happened in 1986-7. They said no. When I was told this I reacted strongly and my mother then sent an email to Don Barger stating that they were not happy with the way I was treated – I was not told how detailed that was, or what exactly was said. I have not heard from NTM yet.

My father told me last year that they were not permitted to press charges against the doctor or the likes. New Tribes Mission’s excuse was that they did not want to come up against a man who had friends in high places as the entire mission could be kicked out of Panama.  This is very hurtful since it shows that I am not worth much in NTM’s eyes.

In August 2012 I was in Florida to be interviewed by PII, part of the IHART investigation into abuses in NTM worldwide. I spoke with Anne Kulinsky, Bob Davis and Linda Davis from 9 am to after 5 pm that day, with a short lunch break mid-day. They have transcripts of all that was said. Obviously that meeting was more emotional than what this is (I am trying to be objective and just put the facts – not all the feelings- that pertain to this).

WARNING: Women are Disappearing

From the Author: I have been exposing the corruptions in translation on this blog for a while now. People have no idea about the corruptions done by men in translation to subjugate and control women throughout history. It is a fact. It cannot be ignored. Adele is right. There needs to be a translation done that puts all the feminine words back in place where they belong. The corruptions that scholars have discovered need to be removed; as many of them were done to point women into a place of servitude to men. To do so would bring equality, honor and dignity back to every woman; something the translators robbed women of and, has led to their abuse and sexual exploitation for centuries.

WARNING: WOMEN ARE DISAPPEARING

By Adele Hebert, Author of Every Woman & Childadele

Until a few years ago, I had always trusted that the Bible was the Word of God and had never given a thought about the translators. After reading God’s Word to Women, I was in shock and deeply disturbed to find out that our bibles had been manipulated, in order to sabotage women’s freedom and rights. Katharine Bushnell was an extremely educated woman (Medical Doctor, Greek and Hebrew Scholar) and she had so much proof. She believed that “mistranslations were responsible for the social and spiritual subjugation of women.” But why hadn’t I heard about this from the pulpits or in books?

Comparing bibles, I observed that they can be so different. There were many disappointing moments when I found words that were indeed mistranslated, especially since they seemed to be about women.

Shamefully, I found many “women” words, which are now missing in the newer bibles!!
There are two extremely important verses which started me on my quest to find out the truth about women and translations. On the cover of her book, God’s Word to Women, was Katharine Bushnell’s favorite verse:

“The Lord gives the command; The women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host…” Psalm 68:11 (New American Standard Bible)

So I checked my bibles … and…To my HORROR! most bibles no longer had “the women” in it at all!! I was so distressed!!! To my great disappointment, I found only a few bibles which use the word “women.” The translators had changed the word “women” to: “hosts, them that preach, company, many people, ones announcing, great army, thousands, bearers,” … anything but “women!!”

My heart was deeply wounded… How could this happen to God’s Word? Katharine Bushnell was right! She proved that words had been twisted, right from Genesis, and showed how those words were chosen, deliberately, to subordinate women’s position in the home, the church and society. And the words are still being changed, in our generation! God had warned women, “and he shall rule over thee.” (Gen 3:16) Man is still controlling and dominating women, and using the bible to do it. The male translators had been deceitful.

And then I found some old commentaries which confirm that the word Used to be “women.”

Psalm 68:11, Barnes’ commentary (Albert Barnes 1798 – 1870) states, “More literally, “The women publishing it were a great host.” The word used is in the feminine gender…”

Psalm 68:11, Clarke’s commentary (Adam Clarke LL.D. F.S.A. 1712 – 1832) says, “Of the female preachers there was a great host. Such is the literal translation of this passage… the publication of good news, or of any joyful event, belonged to the women. It was they who announced it to the people at large; and to this universal custom, which prevails to the present day, the psalmist alludes. See this established in Isaiah 40:9.” (Clarke)

From the Masoretic text http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt2668.htm

“The Lord giveth the word; the women that proclaim the tidings are a great host.” Psalm 68:12

I did find a few bibles which still used “women” words. I was pleasantly surprised with this one:

Psalm 68:11 “Adonoi gives the word; rav (great) was the tzava (company, army) of the mevaserot (heralds, those that published it, the lady evangelists). (Orthodox Jewish Bible 2003)

“the lady evangelists.” Those words are awesome.

The Only Modern versions which still have “women” in them are: Amplified, Bible in Basic English, Contemporary English Version, English Standard Version, English Revised Version, Good News Bible, God’s Word, Holman Christian Standard, New American Standard, New English Translation, New International Version (not all NIVs), The Jewish Study Bible, Orthodox Jewish Bible.

Ladies – hang on to this verse; it’s disappearing fast!!

There was a similar verse I needed to check – Isaiah 40: 9. This verse was the title of a book, about the life and work of Katharine Bushnell, O Thou Woman That Bringest Good Tidings, written by Dana Hardwick (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2002). I searched and searched and searched, in nearly sixty bibles… and… to my GREAT SORROW… there was NO bible that had the word “woman” in it!!

…Yet …Isaiah 40:9, Barnes’ commentary notes,
“It is a participle in the feminine gender…” “Lowth supposes that it is applicable to some female whose office it was to announce glad tidings, and says that it was the common practice for females to engage in the office of proclaiming good news.” (Barnes)

…And …Isaiah 40:9, Clarke’s commentary says,
“O daughter, that bringest glad tidings to Zion” “For the office of announcing and celebrating such glad tidings as are here spoken of, belongs peculiarly to the women. On occasion of any great public success, a signal victory, or any other joyful event, it was usual for the women to gather together, and with music, dances, and songs, to publish and celebrate the happy news. Thus after the passage of the Red Sea, Miriam, and all the women, with timbrels in their hands, formed a chorus, and joined the men in their triumphant song, dancing, and throwing in alternately the refrain or burden of the song: “Sing ye to Jehovah, for he is greatly exalted; The horse and his rider hath he cast into the sea.” Ex 15:20, 21. (Clarke)

“So Jephthah’s daughter collected a chorus of virgins, and with dances and songs came out to meet her father, and to celebrate his victory, Jdg_11:34. After David’s conquest of Goliath, “all the women came out of the cities of Israel singing and dancing to meet Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music;” and, forming themselves into two choruses, they sang alternately: “Saul has slain his thousands: And David his ten thousands.” 1Sa_18:6, 7. (Clarke)

…Also …Isaiah 40:9, Right Reverend Robert Lowth, Doctor of Divinity, Bishop of the Church of England, and Oxford Professor (1710 – 1787) Isaiah, Volume 2, (Glasgow University Press, 1822, pages 258,9). Rev. Robert Lowth writes about both Psalm 68:11 and Isaiah 40:9:

“9. O daughter that bringest glad tidings] That the true construction of the sentence is this, which makes Sion the receiver not the publisher of the glad tidings, (which latter has been the most prevailing interpretation,) will, I think, very clearly appear, if we rightly consider the image itself, and the custom and common practice from which it is taken. I have added the word daughter to express the feminine gender of the Hebrew participle, which I know not how to do otherwise in our language: and this is absolutely necessary in order to ascertain the image.” (Lowth)

“And this gives us the true sense of a passage in the 68th Psalm, which has frequently been misunderstood: “Jehovah gave the word, (that is, the joyful news), The women, who published the glad tidings, were a great company; The kings of mighty armies did flee, did flee: And even the matron, who stayed at home, shared the spoil.” (Lowth)

“The word signifying the publishers of glad tidings is the same, and expressed in the same form by the feminine participle, as in this place; and the last distich is the song which they sung. So in this place, JEHOVAH having given the word by his prophet, the joyful tidings of the restorations of Sion, and of God’s returning to Jerusalem, the women are exhorted by the prophet to publish the joyful news with a loud voice from eminences, whence they might best be heard all over the country; and the matter and burden of their song was to be, “Behold your God!” (Lowth)

So if these commentators, Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes and the well-known Bishop Robert Lowth, knew that the gender was feminine, and even quote both verses, then why did the translators remove the “women?” I was Extremely Disappointed! Mortified!!

From Katharine Bushnell, Heaven on Earth (Southport, England, 1914) http://godswordtowomen.org/heaventable.htm:

“Isaiah 40:9 The verse, however, is obscured by mistranslation and should read: (Bushnell)

“O thou woman that bringest good tidings to Zion,
get thee up into the high mountain;
O thou woman that bringest good tidings to Jerusalem,
life up thy voice with strength;
lift it up, be not afraid;
say unto the cities of Judah,
Behold your God! (R. V.) (Bushnell)

“A prophecy about women preaching is also found in Psalm 68:11, and the Revised Version gives the correct translation: “The women that publish the tidings are a great host.” (Bushnell)

“John the Baptist cannot be meant even though he is the subject of Isaiah 40: 3 because the person addressed in verses 9 and 10 is a female. Precisely the same reasons exist for translating “thou woman” here as “the women” in Psalm 68:11. One and the same prophecy is expressed in different forms as Dr. Adam Clarke long ago demonstrated. In each case of the two passages, the original is a feminine participle of the Hebrew verbal form bisser, “to tell good tidings.” (Bushnell)

[With Great Sorrow, the Revised Version no longer uses the word “women.”]

The whole verse (40:9) is feminine! The Duty and Method of Bearing Good Tidings to Zion, a Sermon by Rev. Alexander McCaul, D.D., pg 9 (London: Hatchard and Son, 187, Piccadilly) 1841:

“The substantive and all the words referring to it are, in the original, feminine. (McCaul)
“It is hardly needful to say that in the Bible the feminine is thus applied to churches and to nations. Some commentators assert, that the feminine form is here used for the masculine, and adduce in proof instances which they consider similar, but they forget that here the whole sentence is feminine, which makes this case essentially different. Such a continuation of feminines is applied only where a female is intended…” (McCaul)

Then I came across a valuable old book, Gunethics; Or, the Ethical Status of Women, Rev. W. Kennedy Brown A. M., D.D. (Funk and Wagnalls, New York and London, 1887). Rev. Brown also writes about both Psalm 68:11 and Isaiah 40:9:

“In the fortieth chapter of Isaiah the following prophecy is found beginning with the third verse: (Brown)

(Isaiah 40:3)
“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness,
Prepare ye the way of the LORD,
Make straight in the desert a highway for our God…” (Brown)

“This is universally conceded to be a Messianic prophecy. The New Testament Scriptures affirm the reference of this passage to John the Baptist, the immediate herald of Jesus, the Christ. (Brown)

“Immediately following the quotation just made, at the ninth verse, are utterances evidently as distinctively prophetic of the engagement of females in the promulgation of the Gospel. (Brown)

(Isaiah 40:9)
“O daughter that bringest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain!
O daughter that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength;
Lift it up, be not afraid;
Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!” (Brown)

“Thus the special heralds of the Gospel, John the Baptist and the woman sex, are designated in a united prophecy. The exhortation of the prophet was to the woman sex. This is suppressed in the ordinary translations, including our Authorized Version (King James). (Brown)

“At Isaiah 40:9, there is a most manifest perversion. The Hebrew text demands a feminine herald. As if to avoid this acknowledgment in our Authorized Version, the arrangement of the grammar is Reversed [“O Zion that bringest good tidings”… instead of “O daughter that bringest good tidings to Zion”]. The Revised Version corrects the false arrangement and restores the grammar, but Fails to carry the feminine into the translation [“O thou that tellest the good tidings to Zion”… “daughters” were changed to “thou”]. (Brown)

“This text, standing as it does, immediately following a passage which is universally conceded as prophesying the ministry of John, the New Testament Elijah, would bear most conclusive testimony for the prominence of women in publishing the Gospel of glad tidings, were not its significance dissipated in the translation. It is also possible that whole texts on this question have disappeared, very much as the incident at St. John, eighth chapter, beginning at the first verse, was so nearly lost…. (Brown)

“It may not be amiss to remark that the interpretation of this sixty-eighth Psalm has always been regarded by commentators as exceedingly perplexing, and conclusions thereon as of doubtful worth. It is also proper to note that the translations generally wholly suppress the sex of woman, including our Authorized Version (King James). Let us refer to the sixty-eighth Psalm. The English Authorized Version reads at the eleventh verse, (Brown)

(Psalm 68:11)
“The Lord gave the word.
Great was the company of those that published it.” (Brown)

“Let us consider the prophecy of the sixty-eighth psalm which doubtless has reference to the great number of women preachers in the fullness of Gospel times. Beginning with the eleventh verse of this Psalm, we read from the Revised Version: (Brown)

(Psalm 68:11)
“The LORD giveth the word:
The women that publish the tidings are a great host.” (Brown)

“The angels and Saviour united in authorizing and charging certain women whom Jesus had associated with His disciples to fulfill the mission embodying these features of a spiritual ministry. (Brown)

“What more honorable or more purely spiritual ministry has been entrusted to mankind than that of making the first proclamation of the resurrection, the greatest fact and miracle of the kingdom of God? (Brown)

“What higher religious honour and spiritual truth has been confided to man than that which received commission to show the path to the Risen Saviour, to announce the marvel of the ascension, to declare the relation of Jesus and our own relation to the Infinite One? – all of which was specifically entrusted to woman for proclamation to the Church by the Lord Himself after the resurrection and before He had spoken to any of the male disciples. (Brown)

“Christianity no-where in its subsequent history presents women on the elevation assigned them by Jesus, nor, indeed, at the status they were conceded at its rise. (Brown)

“Anything less than an equal opportunity in the field of the world in the labor of human redemption is injustice to the kingdom of God, injustice to the State, injustice to humanity, as well as unwarrantable, almost unpardonable injustice to the sex of woman. (Brown)

Margins and footnotes …….

It is most likely impossible to find out the exact year when our bibles lost their “women” words, or who is responsible. The deceitful translators definitely had a plan. First the “women” words got insidiously transferred to the margins; then the margins disappeared altogether. It is quite a coincidence that both “women” prophesies got moved before they were eliminated.

Helps to Composition by Charles Simeon (John Burges, Cambridge University, 1801) pg 164. In the footnotes of Isaiah 40:9

  • It should be read as in the margin, “O daughter, that bringeft good tidings to Zion, &c” It was cuftomary for women to celebrate the praifes, of God in public on remarkable occasions. (Simeon)

God’s Word to Women by Katharine Bushnell, 1923, pg xiv. From the forward written in 1943 by Ray B. Munson:

“The Lord giveth the word, [the women] … that publish the tidings are a great host” (Psalm 68:11, KJV, margin note, Oxford University Press). (Bushnell)

Omitting Margins, missing link for missing “women” words….

“The Geneva Bible is one of the most historically significant translations of the Bible into the English language, preceding the King James translation by 51 years. By and large, the difference is that the KJV lacked footnotes that the Geneva Bible contained.” Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_Bible

Finally, I found Isaiah 40:9! In Only ONE bible, again the Orthodox Jewish Bible. Thank God for their honesty!!

O Mevaseret Tziyon (O Herald, Preacher of Besorah [Good News, Gospel] Tziyon, O Lady Evangelist Tziyon), get thee up into the har gavo’ah (high mountain); O Mevaseret Yerushalayim (O Herald, Preacher of Besorah [Good News, Gospel] Yerushalayim, O Lady Evangelist Yerushalayim), lift up thy voice with ko’ach; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the towns of Yehudah, Hinei Eloheichem.
Twice it says, “O Lady Evangelist… O Herald, Preacher of Good News, Gospel.”

…..…Only ONE bible….….!!!!!!!!!!

This paragraph about Psalm 68:11 in Hard Sayings of the Bible (Intervarsity Press, 1996), by Walter C. Kaiser Jr, Peter H. Davids, F. F. Bruce, Manfred T. Brauch sums it up very well (page 276):

“As mentioned before, the announcers of the good news appear to be women, for the Hebrew participle is in the feminine plural form. God placed his word in the mouths of his announcers; the word of promise and power in the face of a hostile world. As such, this word is very close to that of Isaiah 40:9 and especially Joel 2:28-29. These heralders comprised a great host of individuals. Surely this foreshadows what God would do at Pentecost and what he has since done all over the world through the great missionary force which has included so many women.”

Could it be that the “women” in these verses were erased because men didn’t want to give women ‘ideas’ about preaching?

These verses were actual prophecies about the women on Resurrection morning. Jesus fulfilled these words when He appeared to Women Only at the empty tomb, telling them to proclaim His excellent news.

Those prophetic verses belong to women!!

It still grieves me that most bibles do not say “women,” in both these verses. These are such strong and meaningful passages. And if they changed these verses, how many other verses did they change??

Other missing women:

  • In our modern English bibles, men are “elders” and women are “older” (1 Tim 5:1, 2), yet in the Greek it is the same root word ‘presbuteros.’
  • “Her” villages are now “the” villages. These verses should say “her towns:” Joshua 15:45, 47; 17:11, 16; Judges 1:27; 11:26; 1 Chronicles 5:16; 7:29; 18:1; Jeremiah 19:15. These verses should say “her cities:” Joshua 13:17; Jeremiah 48:15, 51:43; Ezekiel 29:12, 30:7. And these should say “her villages:” Numbers 21:25; Joshua 15:45, 47.
  • When speaking of the tribulation, Jesus said, “and the moon shall not give her light.” Matthew 24:39, Mark 13:24.
  • Then He talked about the fig tree, “When her branch is yet tender,” Mark 13:28.
  • “Inhabitress” is now “inhabitant.” These verses should say “inhabitress:” Isaiah 12:6; Jeremiah 10:17; 21:13; 22:23; 46:19; 48:18, 19; 51:35; Micah 1:11, 12, 13, 15.
  • “Deacon” is for men, “servant” is for women. Again it is the same Greek word ‘diaknonos.’ In Romans 16:1 Phebe used to be a “minister,” now she is a “servant.”
  • Check your bibles to see if you still have: “born of women” in Matthew 11:11; “from their mother’s womb” in Matthew 19:12; “daughter of Zion” in Matthew 21:5; “born of women” in Luke 7:28; “her children” in Luke 7:35.
  • In Acts 18:26, less than half the bibles still name Priscilla first, then Aquila. I wonder who changed them around. And the list goes on… Is your heart not breaking?

For many centuries, the “woman caught in adultery” (John 8) was even excluded from the bible, because men thought it would give women the ‘idea’ that Jesus approved of adultery. Can you imagine not knowing that story?? And Junia (Romans 16:7), the only known woman apostle, was robbed of her gender. In the thirteenth century she became a man, Junias!!

These are just some of the mistranslated words and atrocities which I have discovered through my readings and comparing bibles. There are likely many more but I don’t know about them.
I feel that our bibles have been hijacked. Removing the “women” words is a type of female genocide, making women disappear. I was beginning to see how all these mistranslations, misinterpretations, and false teachings work together to keep women in subordination, taking away their equality, giving men all the power, control and authority, and women remaining invisible.

Women are not allowed to question, or speak, or teach, or preach, or divorce. And how many times a year do women have to be indoctrinated with “Must be silent.” “Must submit.” “Must not teach.” “Men are the head.”…?

‘Undermining Women’s Prominence’ in the early church http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/first/women.html Written by Karen L. King:

“Women’s prominence did not, however, go unchallenged. Every variety of ancient Christianity that advocated the legitimacy of women’s leadership was eventually declared heretical, and evidence of women’s early leadership roles was erased or suppressed. It needs to be emphasized that the formal elimination of women from official roles of institutional leadership did not eliminate women’s actual presence and importance to the Christian tradition, although it certainly seriously damaged their capacity to contribute fully. What is remarkable is how much evidence has survived systematic attempts to erase women from history, and with them the warrants and models for women’s leadership.”

“Or women’s stories could be rewritten and alternative traditions could be invented. In the case of Mary Magdalene, starting in the fourth century, Christian theologians in the Latin West associated Mary Magdalene with the unnamed sinner who anointed Jesus’ feet in Luke 7:36-50. The confusion began by conflating the account in John 12:1-8, in which Mary (of Bethany) anoints Jesus, with the anointing by the unnamed woman sinner in the accounts of Luke. Once this initial, erroneous identification was secured, Mary Magdalene could be associated with every unnamed sinful woman in the gospels, including the adulteress in John 8:1-11 and the Syrophoenician woman with her five and more “husbands” in John 4:7-30. Mary the apostle, prophet, and teacher had become Mary the repentant whore. This fiction was invented at least in part to undermine her influence and with it the appeal to her apostolic authority to support women in roles of leadership.”

You will also want to read, Karen Jo Torjesen, When Women Were Priests: Women’s Leadership in the Early Church & The Scandal of their Subordination in the Rise of Christianity (New York, NY: Harper Collins Publisher, 1995.)

The ones translating the word keep erasing women words, and the ones speaking the word speak mostly about the men, but throughout the centuries God has called many women. They were not able to be on the pulpits of later organized religions but they had the first house meetings and they formed monasteries and they became missionaries and they passed on their faith to their sons and their daughters.

God still calls women today. They teach bible studies and they read to their children and they comfort the poor and they become bible scholars and they write blogs. All people suffer when women are not allowed to use their gifts. And when women feel devalued enough, they stop going to church.

I still trust God, and I still believe in the Word of God, even though it has been tampered with. Perhaps, if enough people demand it, one day those precious women words will be restored. “O thou woman, preacher that bringest glad tidings.” “The Lord gave the command. Great are the lady evangelists, the heralds who proclaim and publish the good news, gospel.”

We need to focus on Jesus’s words and actions in the gospels, not on Paul’s misinterpreted words. We need to restore our faith in the Lord Jesus and dwell on what He did for women. There is so much of God’s love and protection in those pages that we have not heard. The bible also has some really powerful women and children we could learn from and enjoy.

Women need to hang on to these verses. Hopefully, more women will learn Hebrew and Greek so they are allowed on translation committees. I also pray that more men will be moved by God to defend the equality and dignity and words of women. How I wish there was one bible which translated all the women verses accurately! We cannot let these women verses disappear forever.

“This is such a great work because it will preserve and hopefully restore the truth about these “women” verses. This work reminds me of the people who save seeds; once the original seeds are gone, they are gone forever. The seeds become an extinct species, just like the animals that are disappearing. There is only a fragment of evidence left about the mistranslated “women” words, but thank God there are a few people who are called to do this precious research for the Lord, and for women.” – Irene Fisher

Tiffany Moon’s Story of Abuse, Kidnapping and Rape

image027My kidnapping was part of years of violent abuse, deception about my identity, a custody dispute, 10-day captivity, and escape across state lines.  When unable to stop it, the Catholic Diocese of San Diego and the School of the Madeleine chose to hide it.

My birth certificate was falsely marked with the name of the older husband of my 18-year-old mother.  My natural father had refused custody, and finally to pay child support when unable to control her.  I didn’t know his identity until I was an adult, but I did learn the word, “bastard” in conjunction with violence when I was a child.  Throughout my childhood, until I was nine, I was severely abused.  I lived in violent, drug-using homes in California and Oregon, where I was sexually abused by the man I was told was my father, given drugs and alcohol, threatened with guns, photographed, trafficked to men who came to our home, tied with rope, experienced my animals being tortured (hung, strangled, cooked alive), and watched my mother raped and beaten.  Sexual deviance was a hallmark of abuse in our home, with forced urination in my mother’s mouth being among the things I witnessed.  I was first raped by a young neighbor when I was seven, after he had stolen my cat.  But it was this boy’s knowledge of the use of captivity and animal abuse, and early knowledge of intimate secretions, that suggested his own abuse by the man who dominated my home:

Captivity was a common practice by my stepfather, who often separated, restrained, and confined me and my mother, while privacy in the bathroom was not permitted.  The most significant events of violence and captivity leading to my kidnapping occurred in August of 1980, when I was nine, in our Oregon home:  When divorce was imminent, and during a violent argument about custody of me, my mother escaped with me into my parents’ bedroom and locked the door.  My stepfather kicked the door in, punching the doorknob into the wall behind it, missing my face by inches, and then held and beat my mother in the bathroom.  My mother escaped our home after this, leaving me and my 2-year-old half-brother behind.  During the 10 days of her absence, I was held in the house, starved, kept awake, and forcefully raped in my room by a boarder who lived in our home and took LSD with my stepfather at night. On the night my mother returned, when my stepfather became violent and she attempted to walk out through the attached garage, he attempted to kill her.  With a drop latch at the kitchen doorway, he dropped the garage door on her head, and when she had fallen on her back, sat on her abdomen and applied pressure to her chest and neck with his hands to suffocate her.  I was watching from the kitchen, sick and starved, with my rapist standing next to me.  A neighbor called police on that night, but police came and went, regarding my mother as the problem, and leaving us to be abused again.

My mother did finally escape with me and my half-brother that August, returning to California and divorcing my stepfather, and then abandoning me with my grandmother in San Diego.  I was still starved, unable to eat, and had pneumonia when I arrived.  In my grandmother’s home, where I was left to care for my grandfather, a cigarette addict dying of lung cancer, I lived another nine years of severe emotional, physical and mental abuse and neglect, often by my visiting aunt, alcoholic mother, and her many boyfriends.  My grandmother was an employee of the Catholic Diocese of San Diego, and that September, she placed me in the School of the Madeleine, where I was bullied by students and abused by teachers.  School officials had been informed that my mother had custody of me, that my grandmother was my guardian, and that my stepfather was a violent man who did not have permission to see me. During my first month of school, on picture day, I was physically abused and threatened by my 4th-grade teacher, who took me alone into a hallway, pinned me into a corner with her arm to my chest, and told me what she would do if I ever lied to her. Shortly after this, in October, my stepfather, who had driven from Oregon to San Diego, entered the school campus through open gates, without notice.  He first went to the school office and asked permission to take me out of school.  When denied permission, he ran throughout the school, from room to room, yelling my name, with the school principal, a small nun, running behind him.  He forcibly removed me from a classroom, pushing the principal, who had stood in the doorway to block it, out of the way, knocking her into a bench and onto the ground, and dragged me, screaming my fear of falling, down the steep hill away from the school.  He first drove me to an unpopulated restaurant for a drink, then to a secluded canyon, where he raped me, and from a nearby parking lot, returned me to school in a taxi.  Approximately two hours passed from the time I was taken until I was returned.  When I arrived back at the school, there were no police; no one had called them.  The campus was quiet.  I walked back through open school gates, guessed where I should be, and returned to the classroom of the teacher who had threatened me about lying. She had been talking to the class; her words to them when I entered the room were, “It happens every day.”  She called my name as I entered, hugged me, while I stood still and unresponsive, and then took me to the school office.  I was sent home with my grandmother, who had been called away from her job at the Diocese.

Nothing was done, however.  No police report was taken.  No paramedics were called.  No counselors, nor Child Protective Services, were contacted.  I displayed obvious symptoms of abuse on the day of my kidnapping and for my remaining years at the school.  I had regular infections for which I carried cranberry juice to school, information I shared with students and teachers. I described pain to my gym teacher to be excused from class, something for which I was bullied by students.  I described feelings of depression to my choir teacher, who then frequently offered to drive me and other girls home alone after private lessons.  I also disclosed information to the Parish Monsignor in confession two years later, when I was mutilating myself, genitally and compulsively (a result of sexual trauma), who then gave me penance for my sin, but no action was taken.  For my remaining four years at the school, when I was hiding in closets during class, jumping every time a chair moved, sitting alone, dissociated and comatose, during lunches, and finally leaving visible suicide notes, seen by students, in classrooms, no action was taken.  In fact, the school gates remained open every day, despite the kidnapping, and the teacher who had threatened me about lying said to another teacher in reference to my behavior, “I think she just wants attention.”  The same teacher, during a sixth-grade sex-education discussion, told our class, “if a child is sexually abused, she will become schizophrenic.”  The crime was ignored, I was ignored, and I was shamed into silence.  An experienced felon walked free, and my wellbeing continued to decline.  I was still a child, still abused, and still incapable of reporting the crime myself.  I was afraid of my family; I was bullied, ignored, and abused at my school.  Had police been notified by the school or the Diocese when I was kidnapped, I might have been found before I was assaulted.  Had police and paramedics been present when I returned, I would have disclosed what had happened to me, there would have been evidence, and my stepfather could have been convicted.  Had CPS been contacted at any time, I would have explained the kidnapping and abuse, and perhaps been removed from my family and the school.  I might have received help, treatment.  My life today might have been much different if the school and the Diocese had not deliberately chosen not to act.

The years of these events were threateningly normalized by the abusive adults around me while I was living them, and I adapted into the shell of a person I had to be in order to survive.  I have only recently begun to understand exactly how these events created the traumatized, debilitated adult I am, the adult who continued to attract and tolerate abusers, and who has required a severely and increasingly restricted work, home and social life.  But today, despite the fact that my stepfather has confessed to the kidnapping on an audio recording, very little legal action is possible without the support of law enforcement. And while I live with severe disabilities, including chronic C-PTSD and a major depressive disorder, psychological injuries caused by the trauma, something that prevents me from functioning normally, in a way that meets my intellectual potential and potential for sufficient income and community giving, the school and the Diocese have refused to accept responsibility for the tremendous, lifelong damage they caused, also making treatment impossible without compensation.  Today, there is little recourse for these events, and no help available for me.

ABDUCTION madeleine descanso officer finney allowing blocking of my protest statement and me 25 april 2013 turned

Officer Finney allowing blocking of my protest statement and me on 25 April 2013.

SB 131 madeleine descanso front

Protest Statement

In San Diego, CA, my own recent attempts at seeking legal justice and help for the trauma-related symptoms I finally understood, resulted in a death threat, stalking, the questionable suicide of my mother, abuse by police and sheriffs, abuse and denial of service by my local FBI, neglect and abuse by my local DA, callousness and abuse by attorneys, a medical misdiagnosis, permanently damaging medical maltreatment, illegal denial of county health-care services, illegal denial of aid by Social Security, the CalFresh program, and all other social services, denial of service by support organizations, denial of disability by my private insurance carrier, the loss of my small business, the loss of my suburban home, and the depletion of my resources, finally resulting in seven months of homelessness, damaging separation from my physical and psychiatric service animals (one of whom died), and over a year of chronic stress. Ultimately, my attempts at seeking support for the results of the crime that had been ignored in the past were not only ignored in the present, but resulted in ultimate loss, worsening my disability and financial state with abusive and criminal responses. Today, I won’t survive without help.

Today, I’m trying to rebuild, and I’m pursuing legal justice, compensation, and treatment.  After learning that the way I have been treated is very common, and being forced to compile resources alone, I’m also applying my knowledge and skills to support groups filled with amazing abduction and kidnapping survivors, from whom I learn more every day.  And I am sharing my story, because what my teacher said that day is true:  Abduction does happen every day.  The problem is that abduction incidents sound so outlandish to those who are unaware of or simply afraid to hear them, that survivors are left feeling alone, betrayed, and frustrated, with a profound and unique trauma.  Many of us do not survive, not because we did not live through the crime, but because we were denied help after it.  Far from receiving the support and treatment we so desperately need, most abduction and kidnapping survivors are just as profoundly mistreated after the crime.  Today, I’m seeking help, and I hope that, by sharing my story and providing services for other survivors of abduction and kidnapping, while seeking help for myself, I can also promote public awareness about a painful but common crime, and provide the support that I didn’t receive, the support that would have made all the difference.

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ACTION ALERT!  ABDUCTION SB 131 Poster Governor Choose Sign 2

On 12 October, 2013, CA Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB 131, the Child Victims Act, the bill that would have allowed me to sue the Catholic Diocese of San Diego for my kidnapping and assault, and to receive justice, compensation, and treatment for the crimes committed against me by the School of the Madeleine. With his veto, Brown chose to protect the school, the Diocese, and my rapist, rather than to protect me, their victim.  He chose to protect powerful institutions that harbor rapists, rather than to protect today’s children and compensate yesterday’s victims.  Please read my statement, and demand Governor Brown’s resignation:

www.facebook.com/notes/tiffany-moon-foundation-for-abduction-recovery/ca-governor-brown-vetos-sb-131-the-child-victims-act/535316056545103

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From the Author: Tiffany currently operates The Tiffany Moon Foundation for Abduction Recovery. This foundation helps in fighting for justice for her kidnapping and abuse at a religious school (and religious abuse in the family) and, offers support to all kidnapping survivors. For more information on her foundation, or to help support the foundation through donations, please visit her website at http://tiffanymoonfoundation.org/index.htm.

Colin’s Story of Abuse and New Tribes Mission

Long before I was born, my destiny was already being formed.  My parents were products of post war Britain, who traveled the world in search of a better life and after exploring Canada, settled at the opposite end of the globe.

Although they came from similar environments, they came from considerably different family structures and had quite different personalities.  My mother was a gentle person, while my father was able to achieve to a high level in most things he tried his hand at.

Life was routine till I was five, when my parents discovered Christianity and like everything else my father did, he embraced it with both hands and the fervor never died.  This religious fervor caused a split with the extended family, with my Grandfather cutting off contact, after being bombarded with large doses of religion, on my Grandparents one and only trip to see us.  By the age of ten they had decided to join a Florida based missionary organization, called New Tribes Mission, an unusual choice for a couple living at the bottom of the globe, as New Tribes Mission had a very small presence in New Zealand.  We soon ended up in Australia for the “Boot Camp” part of the training program.  Conditions were spartan, while the staff lived in normal homes, the recruits lived in shacks which were little more than a large room with a few partitions, no running water or facilities.  For me the warning bells went off soon after arriving, the raids looking for “illicit” reading material and the mind control.  While it seemed all others happily went along with the mantras and heavy doses of indoctrination, I began my journey of questioning what we had really got ourselves into.  I just couldn’t understand why there was the constant repetition of religious principles, figuring that being of average intelligence that being told something once or twice would suffice.

We had a year of somewhat normality back in New Zealand, while my parents completed the language school component of their training..  And then we went to Papua New Guinea and life became very strange.  Language skills were not my parents forte, so they were assigned to the headquarters, where my father became the odd jobs person, taking on a range of jobs that he was hardly qualified for, including become the base mechanic, for which his qualification seemed to be that he owned a bicycle at some point in his life.  They also did a stint as dorm parents and were given the children that no one else wanted, which raises one of the obvious problems that occurred.  Not all missionaries were equal.  Non U.S. citizens were given the jobs that U.S. citizens did not wish to do and if they complained they were dismissed and their homes and possessions confiscated.  This blatant racism was a shock, but worse was to come.  Some of the racial attitudes towards the local population were unbelievable.   Strange racial theology was taught in the boarding school and some missionaries made no secret of what they thought of people with darker skin tones.  To New Zealanders, this was highly offensive.  I wondered why some of the missionaries had bothered with their chosen career path.  Years later I came to the conclusion that for many of the male missionaries it was an ego trip, an escape from the hum drum of routine suburban life to the elevated dizzying heights of being the all powerful, technologically enhanced and spiritually enlightened missionary master, amongst uneducated stoneage populations and those inferior creations of their god, women.  For far too many, this ego trip took a sinister turn and they became a law unto themselves, crossing boundaries that in any normal society that would be deemed criminal.

Discipline was harsh in the boarding school, teachers turned out often to be unqualified and the misfits became dorm parents.  The most notorious dorm parent of the time openly bragged about what he was doing with his wandering hands.  Another dorm parent seemed to revel in his sadistic pleasure at administering discipline.  Beatings were done in public and there was a strange obsession with keeping any physical contact between the genders to a non-existent level.  Infractions of the strict rules resulted in a weeks solitary confinement in the first instance and more severe punishment for a second offense.  Meantime there were the rumors of affairs and infidelity going on and past sexual indiscretions committed by a dismissed former school staff member.

Constantly imprinted on our already guilty consciences was the mantra that we were a team, a sort of Spiritual elite fighting unit and that if we did not tow the line then the family could be sent home and the souls of natives would be in peril.

My father was the ultimate in piousness, every pore in his body oozed his religious beliefs, but he had no tolerance for anyone who did not agree with his narrow band of religious beliefs.  And so began a life of humiliation and mind control.  My father would use anyone and anything to achieve his bizarre goals.  I retreated into a world of isolation, making coffins in the basement of our house for the locally deceased and getting off the base at every opportunity that presented itself.  I participated reluctantly in what religious activities that were required, I made no fake profession of faith as most of my peers did and eventually I switched to doing a correspondence course, which avoided having to put up with the discrimination that was handed out on a daily basis.  The bullying started at the top with the principal and filtered down right through the system.

I spent much of my childhood trying to win my father’s approval and consequently ended up with a considerable few returned gifts.  I would buy my father Christmas and Birthday presents that I knew he would like and yet he would return them claiming he had no need for them.  This procedure continued on well into adulthood, when the light dawned and I stopped buying gifts for him.  He never did this to anyone else and it was just another method of breaking me down psychologically.  I could have become a nobel prize winner and my father would have held up the village drunk as a better person than I was, such was his strange ritual of humiliation and mind manipulation.  My father also used my siblings in his strange game of humiliation.  The one thing he wanted was the one thing I was not prepared to give him and that was my independent mind.  I saw him preying upon those who had fallen on less fortunate times and he openly stated that he had no other reason for interacting with other people than to convert them to his religious point of view.

And so I returned home and just got on with life.  The past was just something that happened, something that would circulate in the mind because it raised far more questions than it ever answered.  I pursued a career in medicine and also discovered a passion for creative writing.  My father refused to have a family conference to sort out the past issues and dismissed my concerns as being ungrateful fabrications.  He completed another term of service and then was dismissed by New Tribes Mission, for reasons that have never been provided.  He was stripped of his assets, his home and his career, yet he continued to sing the praises of New Tribes Mission.  When I intervened and managed to attain a financial settlement for his confiscated house, he became very angry and demanded the matter never be raised in public. And I began to get an insight into how convoluted and secretive his world was becoming.

In May, 1995, another Missionary Kid from Papua New Guinea, was jailed for shooting the rest of his family (his parents and three siblings).  They were not with New Tribes Mission, but the story of strange sexual occurrences and abuse that came out in the trial rang more warning bells, for all the ingredients that had tipped this family over, were emerging from the murky pasts of those I had grown up with.  (As a footnote, David Bain’s convictions were squashed 13 years later, public documentation and opinion on the case is widely available on the internet).  What disturbed me about the case was how deeply affected Missionary Kids could become by what they had seen and experienced and how dysfunctional New Zealand missionary families often became upon their return home.

In February, 2011, a major earthquake destroyed much of the city where my wife and I lived and we were unable to return to our home due to enormous boulders that had been dislodged from the cliffs above and could not be stabilized.  Even though this was a considerable loss, it didn’t weigh as heavy on the mind as the ongoing nagging concerns about my strange childhood and its after effects.  Shortly after this, I became involved with a website called Fanda Eagles and what I had suspected, was portrayed in graphic detail.  Not just in Papua New Guinea, but almost every other boarding school that New Tribes Mission had operated globally.  An independent agency had been commissioned to look into just one school and the report was a disturbing account of sexual abuse, mental manipulation, beatings and other forms of child abuse.  Yet all offenders had escaped justice, with one notable exception.  Apparently under U.S. law, historical crimes committed by U.S. citizens outside U.S. boarders are not able to be prosecuted.  Many of these offenders were allowed to return home and to assimilate themselves back into society with no repercussions for their crimes.

The exception was a New Zealand citizen, who was jailed for sexual offenses.  He was the head of New Tribes Mission in New Zealand and when the New Zealand arm closed down, he arrived in Papua New Guinea shortly after our family did.  He was our neighbor in both countries and we shared a house for a period of time.  In comparison to my father he seemed a fair and moderate person.  His victim was victimized by those in power, for speaking about the abuse, at the boarding school and waited until he returned to New Zealand soil before successfully pressing charges.  Yet despite requests for his crimes to be fully exposed, they were covered up by the Australian branch of New Tribes Mission (now calling itself Crossview Australia and attempting to distance itself from its former parent organization).  His sudden absence from the mission field was explained as being a “mental health” issue.  No one from New Tribes Mission bothered to investigate if there were any other victims and when I wrote to ask for further information regarding the matter, it took over a year for Crossview Australia to reply and when they did it was a threatening e-mail and an attempt to ensure my silence.

I confronted my father about the revelations and the incarceration of the neighbor.  He said he did not care about the missionary children he had known and that it was no concern of his.  We had a heated discussion and that was the last time we spoke.  There have been strange rambling letters in the mail, containing sentiments of “doing the devils work” and “ruining the reputation of Godly men”.  I have not replied.

One positive effect of the earthquake was that it enabled me to leave my family behind and move away from the area where we all formerly lived.  I did not leave a forwarding address.  When the revelations about the past tumbled out in the Fanda Report and other boarding schools, my family members all had a choice to make.  I opted to pursue justice through my writing and to help others through they’re past journeys.   My father opted to deny that any abuse took place.  My mother is a puppet of my father and is not afforded the opportunity of voicing her own opinions.  Like many New Tribes Mission males of my fathers era, he views women as being inferior to men and they should not voice or even have opinions, except those that echo the thoughts of themselves.  My father has documented his opinion that any allegations of child abuse are purely mass hysteria, whipped up by a few ungrateful former missionary children who are not adhering to his version of religious beliefs.

I corresponded with a few New Tribes Mission personnel about the history of child abuse and all assured me that policies and procedures were now in place so child abuse would be a matter of the past.  However my worst fears were confirmed when a Scott Kennell was arrested at Orlando airport and consequently pleaded guilty to sexual offenses with young girls, which he had made images of.  My fear that the abuse had not stopped, was confirmed.

And so, I find myself now at the age of half a century, living a happier and more settled life.  Not having all the answers about what happened in my childhood, or what motivated some of the strange people who I came into contact with, but certainly considerably more enlightened that none of this was my fault and that I was not the only one who had a very negative experience.  My suspicion that this was a cult my parents were involved with has been reinforced, for I cannot find any other logical explanation for why there is so little concern for the children I grew up with and all the other children abused within the confines of New Tribes Mission.  I have conquered the guilt heaped upon me by my father and no longer fear his verbal outbursts, he is out of my life, almost out of my head and I am very grateful for this.

From what I have discovered, my journey is pretty much typical of New Zealanders who have been involved with New Tribes Mission.  About half of us have no or very little contact with our families and little prospect of any reconciliation.  It is not a journey I would recommend, but one I am very grateful to have survived.

Colin

New Tribes Mission (NTM) Abuse and Fanda

While most of us at Fanda were abused in some form, what we find especially damaging is the abuse of leadership who chose not to protect us at the time in spite of documented evidence and, who have still not reported the crimes to authorities nor sought justice for us today, 20 years later. – Victim of Abuse

This statement by a victim of abuse at a religious boarding school, reveals a glaring reality about victims of childhood sexual assault. Some victims of abuse are still no closer to finding vindication and restitution for the crimes perpetrated against them, even after years of effort to do so. As a result, healing from the psychosexual abuse is not taking place and victims are struggling under the emotional load.

This statement is a typical one heard by sexual assault victims everywhere that have been fighting to get their respective religious institutions to prosecute their abusers; many of which they KNEW about. The glaring reality, once again, is that because of the stall tactics and/or inaction on the part of the religious institutions in turning in abusers to authorities, many victims may consider giving up the fight. That’s right. They might consider giving up!  But why would they do this?  Many of them may be tired of the battle of trying to be heard and, the fight to get their abusers prosecuted.  While religious institutions may opt to offer therapy and some compensation to victims of abuse that make it into the public eye through media news, many other victims of abuse within the same organization will be ignored and receive no aid or help; nor will they see their abusers turned in to authorities for prosecution.  Monetary compensation and aid is just one aspect of the kind of help victims of Religious Abuse and sexual exploitation and assault need in order to recover and heal; and, many religious institutions are ignoring this fact.  Many boarding schools are guilty of crimes against women and children. Many churches are guilty of crimes against women and children. Many religiously run camps and behavior modification facilities are guilty of crimes against women and children.  While some religious organizations have paid for therapy and settled with some of the victims of abuse, this “compensation and help” is small in comparison to the number of victims affected.  Paying for therapy for awhile does not help the victims long term. It does not cover long term medical treatment and medications needed by victims to control mental illnesses and physical problems that many of these victims may suffer from as a result of the abuse and trauma they suffered. When I talk about restitution and vindication for victims of abuse, here is what I mean:

  • The rapists and pedophiles MUST be turned in to authorities for prosecution by the religious organization that allowed the crimes to occur and/or hid them. THIS IS MANDATORY.
  • Those that were complicit in the crimes through knowledge of them and did nothing to stop them, nor turned in the abusers, need turned in to the authorities for prosecution.
  • Monetary compensation should be for as long as the victim needs medical assistance and medications of any kind in their recovery. Lump sum compensation should be given to EVERY SINGLE VICTIM TO HELP THEM TO LIVE. MANY of them can’t hold jobs due to the trauma and after affects of what they suffered! Many suffer from PTSD.
  • Public admission of the crimes against victims needs to be made in EVERY INSTANCE along with publishing the names of those who committed the crimes.
  • Religious Institutions and their followers need to rally their support around the victims and not the abusers instead of shaming, blaming and shunning them! PERIOD.

These are the types of things that religious institutions are NOT doing. They are using a “band-aid” approach with victims, only helping those that get media involved or file class action law-suits. Most religious organizations do not want their dirty laundry aired to the public, so they will settle with some victims instead. But what about those that have been silenced, blamed, shunned, shamed and ignored?  They are struggling in frustration and ready to give up the fight. These are the ones that I am referring to that are ready to quit!

What many victims of abuse may not realize is that Religious Institutions have mastered the tactic of “stalling” and “manipulating” victims. They KNOW what they are doing. Every step of the way they ignore victims, give them lip service, frustrate, malign and antagonize victims in order to get them to back off. The longer the church/organization can draw the process out, the easier it becomes for victims to call it quits. The harder and more humiliating the organization can make it for victims, the easier it becomes for victims to call it quits. The church or religious institution wins and, continues to abuse and manipulate others the same way.  The church/religious organization knows these tactics work because they have been using them for centuries to silence and frustrate victims of abuse. So, many are weary and ready to move on with their lives.  They are considering removing their voices from the foray. Many are considering allowing the victory to go to the abusive organization.

What does this mean for those victims that decide to call it quits?  What this means is that they will be helping these abusers to move on to new victims. Through their silence and complacency, they now are complicit in the future crimes of these rapists, pedophiles and emotional and spiritual abusers!  Silence always leads to more abuse when it comes to any abuse. Giving up can never be an option for these victims of Religious Abuse. There is just too much at stake to ever consider calling it quits.

Sexual exploitation of women and children in abusive religious institutions is a very difficult subject matter to deal with. Exposing it is an even harder task. Churches and other religious institutions have mastered the art of silencing, bullying, building loyalty, stalling and, walking away from victims without ever helping them and providing restitution and vindication for the crimes perpetrated against them.

One of the main reasons for this lack of prosecution of rapists is Statute of Limitations (SOL) laws here in the U.S. that prevent victims of sexual assault from prosecuting their rapists after a certain number of years has passed. It can take decades for a victim to muster up the courage to speak out! Another reason is that many of the crimes are perpetrated in foreign countries where our laws do not apply. Many rapists come back from the mission field to live free lives here in the U.S., never spending one single day in jail for their crimes. Prosecution must be sought in the country where the crime occurs in order for victims to stop their abusers from hurting others. Mission organizations are not reporting the crimes and predators are going free. The following video is one of the perpetrators admitting to his abuses and living freely here in the U.S.

Video: Leslie Emory admits to molesting girls in the Philipines

Another issue is that some of the rapists are still over seas and cannot be prosecuted because of this. Despite these frustrations, victims of sexual assault must forge ahead, paving the way for changes in law that will protect women and children in religiously run institutions. Is this an easy endeavor? NO, it is NOT! It takes years to affect change. It takes years to get all the cogs out of the wheels of religiously run institutions that are in place to specifically protect the institution from accountability to victims! Can it be done? Absolutely Yes…if victims will be persistent and join their voices together will all the thousands out there that have suffered the same fate as them. There truly is POWER in numbers.

WHY DOES IT TAKE DECADES TO SPEAK OUT ABOUT SEXUAL ABUSE?

What the general populous has a difficult time understanding is why victims of childhood sexual assault wait for decades before speaking out. They do not understand that sexual assault brings with it psychological and emotional trauma, guilt, fear, shame and a host of other emotional issues that each victim has to battle on a daily basis. Nor does the populous understand that for those victims within religious institutions, Spiritual Abuse goes hand in hand with the Sexual Abuse and is one of the reasons for their long-term silence. So, What Exactly is Spiritual Abuse? It is only ONE facet of Religious Abuse. Before you move forward, it is vital to understand what this is. This article I wrote – Religious Abuse – What Exactly Is It? – will help readers to understand all facets of this type of abuse. All cases of sexual exploitation of women and children in the religious setting involve Spiritual Abuse.

One FACET of RELIGIOUS ABUSE is Spiritual Abuse

SPIRITUAL ABUSE: This type of abuse, like emotional abuse, leaves no physical marks. However, its trauma is profound in the life of the one being victimized by it. In this type of abuse, God’s Name is used to JUSTIFY all abuse inflicted. Scripture (the Bible) is also used as a tool to force victims into submission to the dogmas, beliefs and rules of the religious sect. God’s Name and Scripture (Bible) are the two main “weapons of choice” employed by abusive religious leaders to extract money, prestige, power, personal gain, and, to sexually exploit women and children within their congregations; thus gaining control in all aspects of their followers lives. All messages taught and preached have one agenda in mind – to control each individual within the congregation. Using deceptively packaged sermons laced with “underlying meanings,” religious leaders attempt to stifle creative thought, independent thinking and, instill new thought patterns and behaviors into their flock (Behavior Modification). These new thought patterns and attitudes become the norm by which everyone is judged. Those who adopt the same thought patterns and beliefs as the Leadership, are “right with God.” Those that do not, “are not right with God” and, are in jeopardy of being attacked, shunned and character assassinated.

Using Scripture to modify behavior is paramount in controlling an individual and, instilling a fear of further punishment from God if they tell anyone about the abuse they have endured or witnessed.

Spiritual Abuse can be inflicted without the knowledge of the victim. When it does occur, it leaves its victims in shock, hurting, confused and, yes, traumatized. They know that they have been hurt, but justify the abuse because they don’t know that it IS abuse. They think within themselves that the “preacher” is really trying to look out for their best interests and accept the abuse as “God sent” in order to bring them back to the “right path.” They may not even realize that it is, in fact, abuse. For example: The sect I came out of used the pulpit as a whipping post to attack congregants publicly who did not conform to the rules and standards of the church and its leaders (public humiliation). They used the pulpit to attack publicly, those that questioned the pastor’s authority, disagreed with the pastor, or exposed abuses in the church. They used God and Scripture to support inflicting this emotional attack. Therefore the trauma is two-fold – emotional and spiritual. The twisting of scripture to suit leadership’s agendas and long-term goals is professionally done in order to reap personal gain. Those that do not question what is being taught, follow blindly whatever leadership wants done, even if it means inflicting more emotional trauma to the same victim (secondary abuse).

Spiritual Abuse is the most deadly of all abuses because those subjected to it, are left seeing God as an abusive entity that lacks love, compassion and acceptance. He is ever ready at any moment to hurt and destroy anyone that does not conform to the religious dogmas and standards of the “church system” they are a part of. He is seen as someone that is angry all the time and ready to destroy at the slightest infraction. Because of this, many followers will adopt that very attitude in dealing with those that fall short of perfection in keeping all the religious rules and precepts. Some will adopt that very attitude with their children, leading to the emotional and physical abuse of the child.

As a result of Spiritual Abuse, many victims fear speaking out because they have been taught that GOD will punish them further, or their children, or their families, if they dare to speak out against “God’s Man.” It can take many years of therapy for a victim of this kind of abuse to overcome their fears and speak out!

Spiritual Abuse is also the number one reason that multitudes of people are turning their backs on God, the Bible, the Church and religion. Religion and Scripture to the Spiritually Abused, is TOXIC. For many, it creates anxiety, fears, mental illnesses and physical illnesses in those subjected to it. Just as the other abuses traumatize and have ill affects long term, so does this type of abuse.” – Cynthia McClaskey, Author and Religious Abuse Survivor.

These emotional issues are traumatizing. They are debilitating. They are huge hurdles that each victim either crumbles under the weight of, or, finds a way to conquer and overcome. The old adage, “Time heals all wounds” is partly true. While it does not heal all wounds, it is necessary for time to pass  in order for wounded and broken people to find the strength and courage to overcome their fears and to speak out. Those that break under the weight of the trauma use alcohol and drugs to help numb the pain, while others, commit suicide. But, those who manage to jump the hurdles and find the courage to speak out need to have their voices heard AND, need to be protected from as much secondary abuse as possible while they speak out.

Here’s why: Once a victim of sexual assault does find their voice, then the even bigger battles begin. Those who do step forward publicly become the targets of religious leaders and their religious followers. They are character assassinated, publicly humiliated and further victimized psychologically and emotionally through secondary abuse. Telling one’s story also triggers and sets in motion a “re-living” of the events that initially caused the trauma. All the hurt, shame, imposed guilt, fear and turmoil come flooding back to the surface. No one can truly understand how difficult it is for just one single victim to tell or write their story of abuse! This is why it is so very important to protect victims emotionally that do step out and tell about their abuse. This is why it is important to rally around victims of this type of religious abuse and succor them and encourage them. That is why it is vital for survivors of Religious Abuse to stick together for the support they need!  For many, all they are looking for is, “I believe you. Let’s see what we can do to help you.” They have been called liars by the churches they were a part of, liars by their families, liars by their closest friends; all of which, supported the abuser instead of them. This is what makes Religious Abuse hidden underneath the mantle of religious institutions the worst crimes against humanity – the victims are ignored, shoved aside, blamed and emotionally assassinated. It is time for all of this to change.

Today, I would like to talk about a group of Religious Abuse victims that are fighting this battle of exposing the abuses that were perpetrated by those whom they were supposed to be able to trust. Abuses that encompass all facets of RELIGIOUS ABUSE. Once again, I highly recommend that everyone read my article entitled, “RELIGIOUS ABUSE- What Exactly is it?” before moving forward in this article. Until you understand what it is, you will never understand a victim’s emotional trauma.

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NEW TRIBES MISSION (NTM), FANDA, and OTHER NTM BOARDING SCHOOLS

Who is New Tribes Mission? New Tribes Mission was founded in 1942. Today, New Tribes Mission (NTM) is an international, theologically evangelical Christian mission organization based in Sanford, Florida, United States. NTM has approximately 3,300 missionaries in more than 20 nations.

The organization sends missionaries from local churches around the world to Latin America, West Africa, Southeast Asia and the Arctic. Countries include Brazil, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Greenland, Guinea, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mexico, Mozambique, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Senegal, Tanzania, Thailand and formerly Venezuela [Wikipedia].

NTM also has boarding schools for missionary kids in these various places. Fanda is one of the boarding schools of NTM where child sexual abuse, rape, physical abuse, emotional and spiritual abuse took place. In 2010, G.R.A.C.E.(Godly Response To Abuse In The Christian Environment), an organization dedicated to helping Christian organizations deal with abuse, documented reports of sexual, physical, emotional and spiritual abuse at the Fanda boarding school operated by NTM for the children of NTM workers in the country of Senegal during the 1980s and 1990s. You may read and download this report HERE.

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Recently, I was contacted by one of the victims of abuse from this mission and asked if I would be willing to share their story about NTM and Fanda on my blog. I agreed because they are not the only religiously run boarding school that is guilty of crimes against children. Please read the articles on my blog regarding New Bethany Home for Girls in Arcadia, La. Countless numbers of boys and girls were sexually assaulted, physically, emotionally and spiritually abused; many were tortured in the New Bethany Homes for boys and girls.

Donna Trout’s Story – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia La.

Kimberly Ann Howard’s Story – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia La.

New Bethany Home for Girls – Kim Holt’s Story

Simone’s Story – New Bethany Homes For Girls, Arcadia LA

These victims of New Bethany have been fighting for years to get the abuses recognized and the perpetrators arrested. They have hit roadblocks at every turn. Today, however, they have broken through some of the strongholds and are finally making some strides! They NEVER gave up the fight and it is beginning to pay off for them.

First of all, I want to mention the tremendous efforts of these victims of Fanda in organizing their evidence for the world to see. Just as the New Bethany victims have also been laboring long and hard for years to bring prosecution to those involved in their abuses, so have these victims of Fanda.  As a result of their efforts, an investigation has already been conducted by G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response To Abuse In The Christian Environment) that has vindicated them and supported their abuse claims.

Stunning 68 page report on crimes at overseas mission school is released
SNAP Network, David Clohessy, Barbara Dorris, Martha Jean Lorenzo
[Press release]

Grace report brings tears to many
Orlando Sentinel, Amy L. Edwards
[article]

What is missing from all of this is NTM’s willingness to provide restitution to victims who were abused in their other boarding schools and to turn in the perpetrators to the authorities where the crimes occurred, for prosecution. While there have been some arrests due to victim efforts, these victims have not been dealt with properly nor, received proper restitution (as mentioned above) from the mission for the damages done to them. Many of the rapists and pedophiles are still free today because the mission let them go. It is time for these victims of abuse from NTM to receive the restitution and vindication they deserve (as listed above) and, the populous needs to be warned about the abuses that lurk underneath this institution’s religious mantle. Secondly, I want to give links to the “proof documentation” and the news articles regarding the abuses. Take some time to read through these as they will probably make you mad enough to want to jump in and help these victims. They NEED the SUPPORT!

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For PROOF Documentation click here: PROOF
Fanda Eagles Website containing media links below: MEDIA
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Thank you for organizing all this material and bringing it up to date. Including some correspondence that happened as this blog was launched. It is a very sad commentary on how NTM handled and still handles situations. In 4 years, we have not seen evidence of anything “new” on their part. The cover-up goes deeper. For instance, today as the news of the arrest of Scott Kennell came out, the NTM spokesperson states that his life does NOT have to measure up to his message. His personal life can be looked at separately from his “work’ for NTM. Unbelievable! I am controlling my response, as I am VERY disgusted and VERY angry!” – Angry Victim, June 5, 2013.

Victims of abuse within the religious system are not being handled properly by the very institutions that allowed the abuses to occur. They are receiving “lip service,” but no definitive action!  The abusers are being upheld and supported by the religious institutions! These religious institutions that covered up the abuses and hide the perpetrators and/or moved them to other places, are directly responsible for all future abuses, secondary traumas inflicted to victims and, future victims of these rapists and pedophiles. There is absolutely no EXCUSE for the way these victims have been handled. This institution needs to be held ACCOUNTABLE by state and local governments and law enforcement for the crimes they have allowed to be perpetrated against women and children while on their watch.

Because sexual exploitation of women and children is rampant within the religious systems of the world, it is imperative that victims everywhere speak out. All the numbers reported by religious institutions regarding abuse are inaccurate because religious institutions have been working very hard at hiding the abuses and perpetrators for not just decades, but centuries! The reality is that sexual exploitation of women and children is a global problem and, silencing victims of these abuses only allows for the abuses to continue. Victims everywhere need to find there courage to tell their stories. It is through the telling of their stories that they will realize that they do have the power to affect change — changes in law that affect the way religious institutions operate, changes in law that will prevent abuses from being hidden, changes in law that will protect women and children from the abuses.

The time is now to start affecting this change. The time is now to tell your story. The platform for doing so is now available for Religious Abuse Survivors of all denominations and nationalities. If you are interested in entering the foray with your voice, contact me through my blog: www.religionscell.wordpress.com. You can make a difference!

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STORIES OF ABUSE:

Colin’s Story of Abuse and New Tribes Mission

Kerry Lou’s Story of Abuse and New Tribes Mission

RELIGIOUS ABUSE – What Exactly Is it?

spiritual abuse picThroughout the last several years, it has been a goal of mine to expose abuses hidden under the guise of “religion.” Countless millions of people have no idea religious abuse is real, that it exists, or what it involves. For those who have experienced such abuse, it is personal . . . very personal. The trauma inflicted not only encompasses physical and sexual abuses, but it encompasses spiritual, psychological and emotional abuse as well. What many do not realize is that religious abuse, terrorism, and “hate crimes” are all related. Really take some time to think on this. Religious abuse is linked to domestic abuse, child abuse, inequality of the sexes, prostitution and sex trafficking, etc. The list can go on and on. Once you understand what religious abuse is, then you will understand why I say this. This understanding is paramount in recognizing the abuses for what they are – abuse – and, helping to stop them. When we can stop religious abuse, hate crimes, domestic abuse and other associated crimes will also dwindle down.

Before we get started, however, on defining this term in depth let me say that religious abuse is a direct result of religious indoctrination. Indoctrination affects thoughts, beliefs and behaviors toward others for either good or bad. Keep this in mind as you read further.

 

RELIGIOUS ABUSE – What Exactly Is It?

So what is religious abuse? In case there is some uncertainty as to what this means, let me be very specific in this matter and define it for readers, as follows:

RELIGIOUS ABUSE: The instilling of religious precepts, doctrines, rules, and dogmas into the mind of an individual or group in order to bring about a change in thought processes and behavior for control, manipulation, and personal gain. As a result of this indoctrination and control, it can lead an individual or group to slander, attack, assault or kill under the pretense that they are doing God a favor. In the name of God, they inflict harm or violence toward an adult or child that results in physical, emotional, psychological or sexual trauma. It may even lead to the death of the victim.

Religious abuse is a by-product of an authoritarian or rule-based religious system. Usually these types of religious systems give men unquestionable authority over women and children. The women and children, however, have no authority or input at all. The many rules and dogmas are set “against” women and children so that men can have freedom and control.

Some may refer to this type of system as “legalistic.” It doesn’t matter what term is used to define it. What is important is that the abusive system is identified and those abused in it are rescued and given the justice they deserve. Those who perpetrate religious abuse demand silence from those abused. To speak out will cause the religious abuser to further attack a victim.

Who are religious abusers? There are two categories of religious abusers:

1)  They are those who use their authority and/or position in conjunction with religious text to persuade the abused they were responsible for the abuses done to them; thus, silencing them through shame while protecting the perpetrator of the abuse. This category of abusers will usually hurl one or all of the following abusive phrases at a victim:

  • “It’s your fault. What were you wearing?”
  • “God commands us to forgive.” Therefore you need to forgive your abuser. Don’t go to the police. Let us handle this issue internally. After all, we don’t want you to cause “damage to the cause of Christ.”
  • “You’re just angry and bitter!”

2)  They employ unethical and/or injurious tactics to silence a victim of religious abuse such as stalking, cyber-stalking, cyber bullying, harassment, causing one to lose their job, etc.

As a result, religious abuse continues to thrive and religious abusers continue to silence truth and allow criminals a hiding place under the mantle of righteousness their religious sect wears.

There are many facets to religious abuse. They are as follows:

FACET #1 – EMOTIONAL ABUSE

Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse leaves no physical marks. And because it can be difficult to detect, it is very difficult to stop. In this type of abuse, it is all about CONTROL. The one being abused by it is the one the abuser wishes to control and manipulate.  It can be inflicted in many different forms as follows:

  • Verbal Abuse – using words to inflict harm, modify behavior, or instill fear of someone or something.

It can be as subtle as damaging words between a parent and child, pastor and congregant, or between two congregants. It can be as subtle as a message preached with an “underlying message” aimed at modifying behavior and thought processes. It can be as overt as a message preached with the express intent of attacking a congregant or child’s behavior and publicly humiliating them. Or, it can be as overt as yelling and screaming with threats of physical violence. The atmosphere becomes one of fear, anger, anxiety or hostility.

  • Isolation – isolating the victim from other family members, close friends, others in the church, and authorities.

This is usually done intentionally and is used to either hurt a victim emotionally or, isolate them for better control and manipulation. It is employed by religious leaders and lay people to bring about conformity to the rules and dogmas of the religious sect they are a part of. It is used to control others for personal satisfaction and gain. It is also used to prevent its victims from escaping the abuse and going to authorities for help. Isolation ensures no one escapes from the sect, its leaders, and those who are members of it.

  • Limited Social Contact – severely limiting or eliminating social contact with others, especially those that can think independently or, believe differently or, live different lifestyles. Isolation from the rest of secular society keeps those who are indoctrinated from being influenced by outside sources and/or truths.

This is a deliberate attempt to control the circle of influence of the victim in order to ensure that the modifying and programming of their behavior is successful. Any contact with those that think for themselves and/or believe differently, can prevent successful indoctrination toward the sect’s rules and dogmas. This is a control tactic used by church leaders and congregants especially where children are concerned. This prevents autonomy and develops “clones” of the system. This also leads to severe bouts of loneliness and depression since this is also a form of isolation.

  • Neglect – the failure to give proper and adequate attention to the individual’s need, problems, questions, and concerns.

Especially where women and children are concerned, this is a very big problem within religion. Many emotional needs are not met in a religiously abusive environment. Many will adopt the attitudes and behaviors of the sects they serve and often become unemotional, uncompromising, abrasive, lacking in compassion and, violent toward those who question authority, practice, rules or leadership or, disobey any of these. Because abusive religions degrade and suppress women and children, they are treated as having no value. As a result, their desires, wants, and needs are overlooked or ignored and only the desires, wants and needs of the men and the church leaders are deemed important. This is not only neglect, it is abuse.

  • Threats – of physical harm, shunning, public humiliation, death.

All of these are used consistently to coerce adults and children into obeying “without question.” Those who do not obey without question, will find themselves on the receiving end of public humiliation, gossip, slander, beatings, torture, starvation, loss of comforts, and other inhumane treatment. Some may even be killed. These “threats” are no different than hate crimes. In my opinion, any abuse meted out in order to force conformity or, because one does not conform, can be categorized not only as religious abuse but also as a hate crime.

  • Belittling the person – attacking a person’s character because their actions do not line up with the sects rules and ideals.

Belittling is used to force conformity and to deter associations with outside influences. Belittling can be used against a victim’s family members if they do not believe and live the same way the sect members do. This is done in order to deter the person from having social contact with those specific family members who believe differently and might question the religious rules, dogmas, and beliefs of the sect. This limits the sphere of people available to the victim who have the potential to rescue them from the abusive sect. This tactic is used on adults and children to cause them to obey leadership without questioning anything they may say or do. It is also used to humiliate a victim in order to modify behavior. While this tactic works well, it also can lead to anger, resentment, and a desire to flee the abuse at the earliest possible chance.

  • Psychological Abuse – This is also known as emotional abuse or mental abuse and is characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Physical abuse, molestation, and sexual assault cause psychological trauma and abuse. Certain religious teachings can also cause this same trauma. For instance, the concept of hell is a huge trigger for psychological abuse; especially in small children. In the sect I came out of, there were videos that were viewed by the adults and children that showed human torture in hell. Some of the messages preached were also graphic in nature regarding this human torture. These were used to instill fear. This fear was then manipulated by clergy. Children can suffer nightmares from these things and live in fear of dying. It also causes them a fear of “breaking the religious rules” for fear of going to hell. The emotional trauma is compounded by the child’s inability to keep all the rules and their anxiety builds up to a level where depression can occur as well as other mental illnesses as their mind tries to find a coping mechanism. Those who cannot cope may attempt suicide to escape the mental anguish they are living under.

Emotional abuse has the same effects in every instance: it beats people down, destroys their self-image, stifles growth and maturity, destroys autonomy, self-respect and, leaves victims defenseless. Emotional abuse is specifically designed to kill the spirit within an individual and replace it with the institution’s ideals, precepts and dogmas. It is, in effect, “soul murder.” .

Emotional abuse also instills fear, coupled with an imposed shame and guilt from the perpetrator of the abuse. This fear then becomes an impenetrable wall that grows so strong it can take decades of therapy to remove. Emotional abuse is a direct result of a power imbalance and inequality. The number one weapon used to inflict this abuse is Scripture. Not only is it used as a baseball bat to beat people into conformity through fear, it is used to incite people to violence (hate crimes and terrorism) against those who disagree or question religious leaders, their religious rules, dogmas, church policy, or the abuses witnessed.  Emotional Abuse also leads to the inability to cope with the problems and challenges that may occur throughout the life of the victim. Those who endure this type of abuse live their lives in fear of God, government, the church, church leaders, their abusers, the unsaved and, those still entrenched within the abusive sect they extract themselves from.  Victims of emotional abuse may suffer from mental illnesses, depression, and addictions with alcohol and drugs. They may have eating disorders and suffer physical maladies as a result of the emotional trauma inflicted.

FACET #2 – PHYSICAL ABUSE

This could include sexual mutilation, beatings, starvation, burning, cutting and torture. In some instances, physical abuse can lead to death. Those most vulnerable to this type of abuse are women and children. It is used to instill fear to further the control over an individual.

In religion, physical abuse is used to control behavior. Every time the proper response is not correctly exhibited, the victim may be the recipient of public humiliation, physical spankings and/or beatings, starvation and loss of comforts. This is especially true with children. Not only is physical abuse done in the home, it is also administered by other kids within a religiously controlled environment. Examples would be a church run home for wayward teens, camp settings, religiously run boarding schools, church activities. For examples of this, read any of the following stories:

The “Gauntlet” – By Samuel Bain.

New Tribes Mission (NTM) Abuse and Fanda.

Ten Thousand Days in Hell – Sheri’s Story

Colin’s Story of Abuse and New Tribes Mission

Simone’s Story of Abuse

Donna Trout’s Story – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia LA

 

FACET #3 – SEXUAL ABUSE AND RAPE

This is the number one problem throughout the world. There are several forms of sexual abuse:

  • Child Sexual Abuse – This involves sexual abuse, sexual mutilation, incest and/or molestation, and sex trafficking. Forms include asking a child or coercing a child into engaging in sexual activities, indecent exposure (of the genitals, female nipples, etc.) with the intent to gratify one’s own sexual desires, or to intimidate or groom the child, physical sexual contact with a child, or using a child to produce child pornography. Effects of child sexual abuse can include depression, mental illnesses, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, anxiety, and lead to further victimization in adulthood as well as physical injury. This type of abuse is usually coupled with psychological trauma and includes the effects of this trauma as well.
  • Sexual Mutilation – It is also known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The age of the girls varies from weeks after birth to puberty; in half the countries for which figures were available in 2013, most girls were cut before the age of five. This practice is an ethnic marker, rooted in gender inequality, ideas about purity, modesty and aesthetics, and attempts to control women’s sexuality. It is supported by both women and men in countries that practice it. It can lead to recurrent infections, chronic pain, infertility, epidermoid cysts, complication during childbirth, and fatal bleeding. It also brings emotional trauma to the child.

Some countries also sexually mutilate the breasts of young girls by ironing them flat with a hot iron. The trauma and scars inflicted by this form of mutilation goes beyond moral comprehension and, defies conscience.

  • Rape – this occurs with women as well as young girls and boys. Rape is a sexual assault against a women or young child against his or her will. Usually, you will find rape coupled with physical violence and/or death. This type of abuse is well hidden within most religious sects. It can result in pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, psychological trauma, suicide, secondary victimization, and victim blaming.

Rape and other forms of sexual assault on a child can result in both short-term and long-term harm, including psychopathology in later life. Psychological, emotional, physical, and social effects include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, eating disorders, poor self-esteem, dissociative and anxiety disorders; general psychological distress and disorders such as somatization, neurosis, chronic pain, sexualized behavior, school/learning problems; and behavior problems including substance abuse, destructive behavior, criminality in adulthood and suicide [Wikipedia].

The risk of lasting psychological harm is greater if the perpetrator of the sexual assault on the child is a relative (i.e., incest), or if threats or force are used. Incestual rape has been shown to be one of the most extreme forms of childhood trauma, a trauma that often does serious and long-term psychological damage, especially in the case of parental incest. Many incest victims suffer from mental illnesses as a result.

 

FACET #4 – SPIRITUAL ABUSE

This type of abuse, like emotional abuse, leaves no physical marks. However, its trauma is profound in the life of the one being victimized by it. In this type of abuse, God’s Name and/or religious text is used to JUSTIFY all abuse inflicted. Scripture is also used as a tool to force victims into submission to the dogmas, beliefs and rules of the religious sect. God’s name and scripture are the two main “weapons of choice” employed by abusive leaders to extract money, prestige, power, personal gain, and, to sexually exploit women and children within their congregations; thus gaining control in all aspects of their followers lives.  All messages taught and preached have one agenda in mind – to control each individual within the congregation. Using deceptively packaged sermons laced with “underlying meanings,” religious leaders attempt to stifle creative thought, independent thinking and, instill new thought patterns and behaviors into their flock (Thought Reform and Behavior Modification).  These new thought patterns and attitudes become the norm by which everyone is judged. Those who adopt the same thought patterns and beliefs as the leadership are “right with God.” Those who do not, “are not right with God” and are in jeopardy of being attacked, shunned and/or character assassinated.

Scripture is the number one weapon of choice for religious leaders in modifying behavior. People naturally believe religious leaders are speaking on God’s behalf. This belief motivates followers to follow all the rules and believe all the rhetoric preached and taught. What they do not realize is that many religious leaders do not speak for God. They speak for themselves. Scripture is also an excellent tool used to instill a fear of further punishment from God if a victim tells anyone about the abuse they have endured or witnessed. Again, as with emotional abuse, the same phrases will be employed. “Hurting the cause of Christ” by telling the truth is heavily discouraged. To speak out is akin to gossiping and many victims will be told this repeatedly and reminded how God hates gossip.

Spiritual Abuse can be inflicted without the knowledge of the victim. When it does occur, it leaves its victims in shock, hurting, confused and, yes, traumatized. They know they have been hurt, but justify the abuse because they don’t know it IS abuse. They think within themselves that the “preacher” is really trying to look out for their best interests and accept the abuse as “God sent” in order to bring them back to the right path.  They may not even realize it is, in fact, abuse. For example: The sect I came out of used the pulpit as a whipping post to attack congregants publicly who did not conform to the rules and standards of the church and its leaders (public humiliation). They used the pulpit to attack publicly, those who questioned the pastor’s authority, disagreed with the pastor, or exposed abuses in the church. They forced children, teenagers and adults to stand before the entire congregation to “confess” sins – a form of punishment that leaves lasting psychological scars and trauma. Usually, these “sins” were nothing more than a breaking of one of the sect’s many rules. To do so, to the sect members, is sin. They used God and scripture to support inflicting this emotional attack. Therefore the trauma is two-fold – emotional and spiritual. The twisting of scripture to suit leadership’s agendas and long-term goals is professionally done in order to control congregants and reap personal gain. Those that do not question what is being taught, follow blindly whatever leadership wants done, even if it means inflicting more emotional trauma to the same victim (secondary abuse).

Sadly, spiritual abuse is designed to prevent independent and rational thought processes. It is the most destructive of all abuses because those subjected to it are left seeing God as an abusive entity that lacks love, compassion and acceptance. He is ever ready at any moment to hurt and destroy anyone who does not conform to the religious dogmas and standards of the religious system they are a part of. He is seen as someone who is angry all the time and ready to destroy at the slightest infraction. Because of this, many followers will adopt that very attitude in dealing with those who fall short of perfection in keeping all the religious rules and precepts. Some will adopt this very attitude with their children, leading to the emotional and physical abuse of a child. As a result of spiritual abuse, many victims fear speaking out because they have been taught that GOD will punish them further, or their children, or their families, if they dare to speak out against “God’s Man.” It can take many years of therapy for a victim of this kind of abuse to overcome their fears and speak out!

Spiritual abuse is also the number one reason multitudes of people are turning their backs on God, the religious texts, the Church and religion. Religion and religious texts become toxic to the spiritually abused. For many, it creates anxiety, panic attacks, fears, mental illnesses, and physical illnesses in those subjected to it. Just as the other abuses traumatize and have ill affects long term, so does this type of abuse. Those still entrenched in the abusive religion cannot understand why a victim would turn from God and religion. As a result, they “label” the individual and shun them, not realizing that they are inflicting secondary trauma by doing so. The victim being labeled and shunned develops a poorer self-image and self-esteem as a result. This may cause severe depression and can lead to suicide for many of those affected by this tactic.

Recognizing spiritual abuse is key in stopping it and extracting oneself and others from it. The lives of those suffering this type of abuse are devoid of joy. Many of them suffer depression. They isolate themselves from others out of fear and, once again, employ aids to help them cope – food, alcohol, and drugs.

Religious abuse is very real. It is very destructive. It has many facets. It leads to domestic violence, hate crimes, terrorism, physical abuse, child abuse, and on and on. How is it possible all of this could be taking place underneath an entity millions have come to trust as the safest place for themselves and their families? The answer: They are taught to adopt the mindsets and beliefs of the systems they serve. In doing so, it leads to blindness. Those indoctrinated cannot ‘see’ reality. They only see what they are taught or told to see by leadership within the system they serve. The abuses have always been taking place and are well hidden because of ‘blindness’ instilled through indoctrination and fear tactics.

It’s time for people to realize religious abuse is real and be able to recognize it for what it is. Everyone needs to be educated on every aspect of this type of abuse in order to protect themselves and their families from it.

John Wood’s Story

In Christian society, your “testimony” is like a spiritual resume, telling those in your fold of your conversion experience, allowing them the chance to critique you, to decide if you were really a “true” Christian. My testimony is different.  It is the story of how Fundamentalism almost destroyed my soul.  Most of these details I have never shared with anyone before, only those in my Facebook group “I Survived Fundamentalism.”  I have agonized for almost a week about posting it publicly.  But, I have to.  There may be one of you going through this same turmoil and I want you to know you aren’t alone.

Yesterday, I spent the bulk of the day reading “Leaving the Fold.” I couldn’t put the book down. It has been an eye opening emotional roller coaster. I didn’t realize just how much Fundamentalism RUINED my life and squelched my true self. More importantly, it destroyed my relationship with God.

I realized just how much of my life was wasted trying to conform to a standard that was impossible to measure up to. I realized just how contradictory the Bible is. I realized that I was both created in the image of God and an abomination in His eyes for who he created me to be. I realized that the loving God was capable of killing us all in an instant, if we weren’t satisfactory in His eyes.

I so desperately spent my youth trying to fit in. Trying to fit into mainstream society as a homosexual, only to be shunned, made fun of, tormented and cast aside. Trying to fit in to “Christian Society” as a sinner with a secret to hide, only to believe that I would NEVER get into heaven. Time and again, I walked down the aisle, “Just As I Am,” desperate to secure my place in Heaven, only to fail once again.

I want that 8 year old boy back. The one who had the shit scared out of him at Bible Summer Camp by a red-faced screaming man, telling me my 8 year old Matchbox car playing sinning soul was headed straight to hell. Yet, the next day, the “counselor” who was there to save our souls, drove me to the beach in his brown Pontiac Bonneville only to molest me on the sands, telling me how much God loved me and how much he loved me.

I want the 16 year old boy back. The one who desperately sought someone to love, someone to talk to, someone who he could be himself with. The one who threw himself into church to make himself worthy of God, yet always fell short. The one who hid his secret from the world, terrified of exposure.

I want the 24 year old man back. The one who was told by his mother that he would be considered dead if he “chose” this life. The one who had no self-esteem and sought approval by sleeping with anyone that would have him. The one who felt he was so unworthy that he had to buy love. The one who felt so guilty after every sexual encounter that he would strip the bedsheets and bleach the sin out of them. The one who lost 40 lbs from colitis from the stress of life.

I want the 32 year old man back. The man who’s sin had enveloped him into a life from where redemption was not possible. The man who still sought approval through his sexual currency. The man from whom love always escaped.

I want the 40 year old man back. The one who bargained with God to save his mother, the good Christian lady who did all the right things, only to be shit upon by life. The lady who’s husband was taken from her at age 33. The lady who felt her back problems were caused by God punishing her for keeping a clean house The lady who was convinced her death was because she didn’t live right and that God was once again punishing her. The 40 year old man was desperate to save the good Christian lady, so once again he became a weak and laughable character, diving in to Christian culture in a desperate attempt to be good enough to ask for a favor from God. All semblance of self reliance gone, the prayers were sent up daily, the donations sent to Joyce Meyer and the like, the library filling up with books such as “Battlefield of the Mind” and “Being Christian.” Obviously, this didn’t work as she died.

As the 40 year old man plodded along, he was punished for not being Christian enough. Panic attacks set in…you know, those attacks from the enemy. To him, fear meant you weren’t strong enough in your faith.

So, now, here stands the nearly 48 year old man. He is battle weary. He may have some cracks in his soul, but he is not broken. He is wiser. He wants the 8 year old boy, the 16 year old boy, the 24 year old man, the 32 year old man and the 40 year old man to know that they are loved by him. The 48 year old man will take care of them. He will protect them. And he promises them that they will never be subjected to that kind of a God again. He isn’t really sure where he is going at this time. But, in another 8 years when we check in with the 56 year old man, he will be a much better adjusted person, with a deep connection with the God that loves us all, the God that rises above all doctrine and dogma.