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Bonnie C

When I was seven years old, I went to Fanda.

I had the B’s as dorm parents, and it was… bad. They were physically, emotionally and sexually abusive to all of us who lived with them. (I say all, because we were all abused by them in one form or another) They were dorm parents for my first three years at school, and the things I learned during that time took the rest of my life to work out and un-learn.

During the time I was in their dorm, they faithfully had devotions with us every night, and prayed with us… they taught us about God and Jesus. They twisted the information they gave us to work for them so that their control over us would be stronger.

There were nightly “spankings” that lasted as long as the dorm father could hit us. (or until we cried) I was confused about when to cry, and when not to cry – because I’d been spanked for crying when I missed my parents.

Guilt was heaped on our heads and we lived in constant fear of God’s wrath.

The dorm father’s wife knew what he did to us at night, and she didn’t bother to try and stop him. She was a very hard woman, and showed us no kindness or empathy. If we cried at night for missing our parents, she yelled at us and told us to stop keeping everyone awake. If we didn’t stop crying, guess what. A spanking.

When I couldn’t sleep during “sleeping siesta”, I was spanked. If either of the dorm parents were in a bad mood, we were in danger of being spanked for a made-up thing.

We lived in fear of the “bell” – when it was time to wake up in the morning it was rung, when it was time for meals, school, meetings, evening showers, devotions, everything. If we didn’t respond quickly enough to the bell being rung, we were spanked.

There was an instance when I was forced to eat potato salad when I was feeling sick. Feeling sick was no excuse! After successfully eating it all, I immediately vomited, and was publicly disgraced for making such a disgusting mess.

When I was twelve or thirteen years old, I was told by a dorm parent that I would become a lesbian, because a few of the girls and I had been square-dancing in our bedroom.

That same dorm mother spanked me for something, and I remember watching the shadow of us on the wall as she beat and beat and beat me with her husband’s belt – I never cried, and she finally gave up, exhausted. She shook her head, breathing hard and crying, and said, “I just don’t know what to do with you…”

As the years went by, we kids watched some heavy hypocrisy from many of the adults whose care we were in.

By the time I was sixteen, I had lost any of the child-like faith in God that I may have still had. In my head, everything was wrapped up together, making God a monstrous being. But along with that way of thinking, I was plagued by the guilt that had been burned into me as a young child. I felt lost and alone, abandoned by my parents, and by God.

When I was seventeen, I lived in the States for almost a year, trying to fit into a foreign culture, go to school and work. Although my grandparents lived in the same town, I was still incredibly alone.

I broke down that year and tried to end my life. After all, I couldn’t see any reason for living. My pain had overwhelmed me and the only escape that I could fathom was to just move on.

Miraculously, the girl who shared my apartment came home hours earlier than expected and called 911. If she hadn’t come home when she did, I would have died. I was taken to the hospital, and after they were sure I was going to be okay physically, I was transferred to a psychiatric hospital. I don’t know how long I stayed there because everything around that time is a big blur.

My mom flew back from Senegal and brought me home with her to the village. I was so happy to just be with my parents, living at home with them for really the first time in my life.
Other things happened, life happened.  I won’t go into everything here, because it’s not really applicable to this story.  I grew up.  Went through more crap.  Grew up some more.  Repeat.

During all of the growing and changing, I learned who God really is to me.  My God.  He is Love, Compassion, Grace, Forgiveness, Hope, Truth.  I still have a long way to go, and that’s okay with me.  Every experience I have had, and everything I have chosen, the goods and the bads, are all steps in this journey to becoming a better person.

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  1. February 7th, 2011 at 12:55 | #1

    My prayers are with you as you heal from this abuse.We must remember every suffering that we have can be transformed into our strength to help others.You will know better than most counselors what it means to be a victim of abuse.You will know how to take back your power because you have done it.This can become your gift to help others.In the meantime, love and blessings to you and your people.

  2. Bonnie
    January 14th, 2011 at 13:17 | #2

    @Sara
    Sara, I remember you. I remember your kindness, as well. Thank you for your words.

  3. Sara
    January 13th, 2011 at 03:43 | #3

    Dear Bonnie, I have only just read the GRACE report and then viewed this website with the stories of abuse. I am so devastated to know what you all suffered as little vulnerable children at FANDA. Child abuse (especially in this setting)is the most cruelest and destructive betrayal possible I believe (for the victims and their famililes). I am so sorry that I had no idea of the turmoil in your life as a result, at the time I was teaching you (late 90′s). I just remember you as a beautiful, talented and spirited young girl with loads of potential. I thank GOd from the depth of my heart that He has healed you (continues to heal you) and that you have learnt to trust Him and His love for you. You are a true survivor. My love and prayers, Bonnie. Sara

  4. S
    September 10th, 2010 at 22:36 | #4

    Bonnie, I grew up in Africa as an MK at a boarding school too. My dorm parents were very abusive like yours and it took me years and years and years to heal. I didn’t even know I was damaged for years, I thought it was normal to be dysfunctional. I had the desire to die for as long as I could remember but I never took action. I just couldn’t see any point in living and lived with a low grade depression for years. When my parents died very young, I left the faith completely ’cause it felt like God didn’t care.

    Luckily I eventually found healing through a series of workshops, groups, therapies and spirit guided healing.

    I love God now passionately and feel that He is using this to help me be sensitive to orphans and abused kids. I feel their pain and I understand… it’s not God’s choice, it simply done in his name.

    I hope missions will take a close look at what they are doing to their children. Some come out ok but so many are messed up for life.

    In the later years I went to a good boarding school and had a great dorm parent so I know that it can be good too. The key is to choose people who are well qualified for this kind of service.

    And to talk with your kids about what’s going on and give them the option to be home schooled if they don’t want to go.

    Bless you. I pray every single day against the spirit of abuse, and pray for healing for the children and all people who are abused.

  5. Kate C
    September 9th, 2010 at 13:24 | #5

    Bonnie, I am deeply grieved to finally hear all of your story! I know that this has haunted you your entire life and it will continue to affect your life and your decisions for the rest of your life. Know that I am constantly praying for you and those who suffered with you. I know how you feel. I have had all the experiences that you described minus the part about being a lesbian and minus the part where a hospital visit saved your life. My dorm parents did not commit sexual sins against me but, several other people in my life did. I know how confusing life can be as a result and I know that sexual purity the way that God intends it is grey at best! It is hard to teach your kids what right and wrong are when you are not sure where those lines are yourself. I do know what it is to suffer spiritual, physical, emotional, phycological, and sexual abuse. Know that I hurt with you! May you find healing from our God in a way that only HE can provide!!!

  6. Tuti Hess
    September 1st, 2010 at 14:58 | #6

    Thank you Bonnie for sharing so sorry for all that you have suffered. No words can express the grief.

  7. Debra Barney
    December 16th, 2009 at 13:10 | #7

    Bonnie, I remember you from Fanda. I wonder now about the times you kids from out East had to spend an extra night in the dorm untill all of you could be flown home…That is what is also on my mind since we were the pilot family and hated seeing any of you not getting home on the first day. I hope all of you girls can get together including my daughters Dawn and Denise

  8. Sonya Brown
    July 29th, 2009 at 13:16 | #8

    Hi bonnie. You don’t know me at all but I knew your husband in bible school. I read your story with much compassion and sorrow and yet joy for what the Lord has done in your life. You are His beautiful vessel! I didn’t grow up as an MK but always felt a kinship with them. (I married a former MK!) My parents wanted to be missionaries, but instead adopted 8 special needs children from around the world. My biological sister and i were abused in every way too. My parents almost split up and there was much awfulness that went on. Anyway, God has brought much healing to both my sister and I and I’ve been able to comfort others with the comfort that I’ve received from my Lord. My husband and I were missionaries for six years but resigned after our second son was born. I’ve been so grateful to be able to be a stay at home mom rather than having to deal with all the pressures and demands that mission leadership places on its wives and mothers. Anyway, your story really touched me. I’m happy for you and Ryan and hope and pray you are thriving in your family life! Very sincerely and looking forward to meeting you someday…..Sonya

  9. Melanie H
    July 17th, 2009 at 07:45 | #9

    Bonnie… even though I’ve already heard much of this from you before, it was still hard to read now. I’m so glad you’re stepping up and sharing about it here. I’m proud of you, of the woman that I see you are, of the mother and wife you are, and of the beautiful picture of Christ’s love. You are an AMAZING woman and I really respect you.

  10. July 15th, 2009 at 13:10 | #10

    Bonnie

    My wife’s story is like you’s in many ways. You can read her full story on our web site http://speakingtruthinlove.org . We have been very frustrated at the lack of concern by almost all of our national church leaders about this evel with in the Body of Christ. Some how we need to join together with every Christian that truely has a heart to deal with this. If there is anything that Faith and I can do please let us know. Our church has been super in allowing us to travel and speak on this issue whenever we can.

    In Christ
    Dale and Faith

  11. Bonnie
    July 11th, 2009 at 08:19 | #11

    Thank you, Shary. Your words are so sweet.

  12. Shary Hauber
    July 10th, 2009 at 19:53 | #12

    Bonnie I believe your story. It is so horrid. I also believe in you because you have overcome the evil they did to you. You are a strong and wonderful woman. I am glad you still have God, He is truly wonderful. I love you and pray for you and your family.

    I also believe that the abusers should be held accountable. They should also know that they can still be brought to civil court even if committed outside US.

  13. Val
    July 2nd, 2009 at 12:49 | #13

    I love you all too! I am so privileged and blessed to see God’s work in you, Bonnie. I am thankful to have been your friend over the past 10 years!!

  14. admin
    July 2nd, 2009 at 10:11 | #14

    I love you, Bonnie. You have turned out amazingly.

  15. Carol
    July 1st, 2009 at 15:24 | #15

    I believe that before the world was created, God planned for you all to be entrusted with a great gift of healing and restoration. God never wanted the terrible sins to be committed against them and all the others, but he knew would be. Those sins were the choices of sinful people, living in a crumpled, sinful world. The crushed, crushing others. I have asked the logical question………if God infinitely loves us and has sovereign control, why did all this evil take place? In my own, finite mind, I can’t justify it. I don’t have the answer that makes it all OK. But I do know that God HAS done something about it — “he was pleased to crush his own son” so that we could be brought out of this death into life. And he WILL complete our salvation when he comes to rule in righteousness. Meantime we are stuck in this sewer, with the stink of sin in us and around us. You all have experienced the touch of the one and only true God. The God that looks at us, who are his, with eyes of love, acceptance, grace and joy. His true, unconditional love has been the only effective source of healing for their wounded, bleeding souls. This love has exposed untruth about his character and has set them free. The work you are now doing to bring about justice, repentance, confession, revolution in the protection of children, healing, a safe place for silent voices to speak is motivated only by love. Your desire is not to break what is good but to break what has been destructive. To set prisoners free and to help leaders see to it that not one more child is hurt. Paul and I support and admire what these mature adults are giving so much of themselves to achieve. Bonnie and Kari, we love you and are so proud of your pure hearts, your courage and your tenacity. We are behind you all the way.

  16. Joel C.
    July 1st, 2009 at 05:51 | #16

    Oh Bonnie, even though I have already heard your story, my heart breaks once again to read it. What happened to you and all the others is just horrible beyond comprehension. Even though I never did experience any sexual abuse I can still relate with the mental, verbal and physical abuse that I had to endure through my boarding school days. My view of God was warped too as a result of growing up in NTM. I am always struggling with this over bearing thought that I’m a little ant and God is this great big thumb and is waiting to squish me flat just as soon as I mess up. And when things don’t go smoothly my first thought is that God is punishing me. Why is it that NTM was/is so good at driving this mind set home to so many of us MK’s.

    Anyway…I’m proud of where you have arrived in your journey and proud of what you are trying to accomplish. =)

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