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 Post subject: Why we left NTM.
PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 11:54 am 
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I’ve contemplated writing this for over two years, but I wanted to give myself plenty of time to allow things to settle, to process all that occurred, and to contemplate how to communicate it clearly. What I want to say to the voices of the Fanda Eagles is thank you! Thank you for bravely and relentlessly sharing your stories. Thank you for standing up and advocating when NTM continually disregards your message. Your willingness to vulnerably shed light on this issue has made a difference. I thank you for me, I thank you for my family, and I thank you for my children.

We are NTM MKs who were, until two years ago, NTM missionaries. I would like to share a little bit of our story here. I’m sharing because I want you to know your work here matters and has made a difference, but I’m also sharing for any other NTM missionaries who may be reading here like we were.

We were at the Missionary Training Center in Missouri when the Fanda Report was released. We had recently taken their very informative Child Protection course (I cannot thank the teachers of that era enough for the knowledge that we received. This course opened our eyes and forever changed our view on abuse and child protection. Unfortunately, since our time, the teachers we so greatly respected are no longer teaching this course, and the material has changed). During this course, we were immediately burdened with the gravity of abuse and unacceptable response to abuse. With our heightened sense of awareness, the Fanda Report concerned us greatly. I could not understand why MKs had to essentially force the mission to look into this further.

At the time, we were amazed at the response of NTM. They very clearly stated that they cared about the pain the abuse and unacceptable response had caused MKs and were committed to dealing with it no matter what that meant for the mission. This impressed us, and we wholeheartedly agreed with this approach. We were told they were committed to transparency which was also extremely important to us. Their commitment to investigate, respond, and remain transparent factored greatly into our decision to move forward and become members of NTM.
We finished our training, raised our support, and prepared to serve as missionaries in South America. All along I wondered how I would know if they did not continue on this path. For so many years they had been dishonest about these big issues and everyone just trusted them. I knew blind trust wasn’t the answer, but if I’m perfectly honest, I was a bit scared of the truth. We had invested so much time, energy, and effort into this one goal and it was easier to trust than to risk finding out they weren’t following through.

We arrived in South America as the investigation into abuse in that area was coming to a close. We were appalled at the conversations we were hearing in regard to the investigation and grew more concerned as time went on. We were increasingly aware that, in spite of our informative training and the mission’s new “tough” policies, there was a mission culture, at least among some in our area, that contributed to an environment where abuse could continue to thrive. Given these disturbing conversations, my husband decided that if we were going to have any part in these discussions, we needed to be informed. He wanted to be able to present another side than was commonly being shared. We started reading the thread for the local MK school on Fanda Eagles to hear the rest of the story. This began our journey to discover the truth.

The more we read, the more concerned we became. Not only did we care greatly about how this organization that we were representing was responding to sin (and crime), we also wanted to advocate for our fellow MKs who had been so grievously wronged. In addition, we have children; we would be remiss if we weren’t vigilant in understanding how this organization was or wasn’t seeking to protect them.

We were very aware of the failings in how abuse was dealt with in the past. The question we had was what they were going to do about current and past abuse that was uncovered NOW. When the Gary Earl situation first came to light, things began to get serious. We felt their response was extremely weak, so I began to investigate a bit more. Imagine my surprise when I found their response to be in direct opposition to their current policy. The policy in the NTM Child Protection Manual stated, “In confirmed cases of physical abuse, NTM‐USA will dismiss the member with the possibility of reinstatement based on meeting all requirements as stated in the Action Plan.” There was no dismissal, therefore no adherence to policy.

We immediately wrote with our concerns and brought to light (as I know others did) the fact that they weren’t following their own policy. Their response was a slight change in status that still failed to align with their policy. Not surprisingly, they immediately removed their Child Protection Manual from the members’ website. This policy was not available for months, and when it returned, the wording was appallingly vague.

This began nearly a year of frustrating communication with both NTM’s EB as well as the Child Protection Department. From the start, we communicated that we were seeking to understand their position and why they were making the decisions they were making. We truly believed these decisions were coming out of a lack of understanding of abuse and abusers. They continually told us they agreed that a strong stance needed to be taken, but we felt their actions were not lining up. When pushed, they gave excuse after excuse as to why they couldn’t take a more hard-line stance. When we broke down those excuses and exposed them as unfounded, a new one was presented. We reached out, again and again, seeking to understand. We communicated through emails and phone calls on many occasions hoping they would clear up our understanding and we could continue our ministry with confidence.

As time went on, this was becoming a part-time job adding to the already full-time hours we were putting in. It seemed like the more we searched, the more confused we became. Next came the local MK school report. We were looking to this to see how they were going to handle it. Were they as concerned and transparent as they said they were? In our opinion, the report was sorely lacking in both transparency and concern. This only added to our growing alarm. Our communication was continuing to be unsuccessful as we were receiving no answers. They repeatedly “agreed” with us while their actions told a different story. We continued to hope that maybe, just maybe, they didn’t understand how their actions were coming across so we persistently questioned.

Back and forth communication perpetually resulted in frustration and their request that we “trust” them. We didn’t feel they had proven themselves trustworthy so we kept pressing. We had finally decided that, given the difficulty we were having ascertaining their position, we would finish out our term, meet with them during our time in the States, and reevaluate then. We had been asking God for real clarity, and since none had presented itself, we decided to stay for the time being. It was then that NTM announced their appointment of Theresa Lynn Sidebotham as head over these investigations. Upon reading her take on MKs and abuse (Are Protestant Ministries a New Market?), we were taken aback. Surely the leadership of NTM could not know about this. If they truly “agreed” with us, there is no way they would hire someone with these opinions for this position.

Another round of questioning began. They unwaveringly defended this decision which confused us all the more. Our final conversation with a member of the EB and a member of the Child Protection Department clarified everything. We pushed and pushed in an effort to understand. After essentially backing them into a corner, they admitted what their actions had been showing all along but the very thing they had been vehemently denying throughout our communication: They believed what she said to be true. They believe that “Many accusations are true, but a substantial percentage are exaggerated or untrue.” (page 18) They had very specifically denied this statement to be true when we had initially approached them with our concerns about Ms. Sidebotham’s views as represented in this article. We got our answer, and it was not the answer we were hoping for. In fact, it was the very opposite.

Our hearts were broken as we worked up the courage to do the one thing we never planned on doing-- leave NTM. This decision would undoubtedly not be understood by many of our closest friends and family. We had been told by the head of Child Protection that we should trust them or leave. In the end, they not only proved untrustworthy, as they were telling us one thing while believing and doing another but also unwilling to take a hard stance against abuse, so we left.

After making the decision to leave, we were appalled to learn that NTM never intended for the GRACE report to be made public. The very reason we felt confident enough to join NTM and allow them to take part in the protection of our children — transparency — was a facade all along. And then only to learn from the ABWE report that NTM was recommending this very disturbing article to the leadership of ABWE at the same time they were presenting an attitude of care and transparency to us. Here we had trusted the authenticity of their concern when all along they were seeking mainly to protect the interest of the mission and believing MKs were out for money.

Never have I been more thankful that we left when we did. We owe a debt of gratitude to you for your advocacy. NTM has refused again and again to be held accountable and yet you, with your courageous truth-telling, have created an accountability that wouldn’t exist without your voices. The actions of this organization have been horrifying, and they are doing a fairly good job of hiding the truth, but you, my friends, are shining light into the darkness. Thank you!


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 Post subject: Re: Why we left NTM.
PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 12:13 pm 
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Thank you for your courageous post. It is very encouraging to hear that Fanda Eagles has had a positive impact in bringing the truth to light.

I am sorry that you've had to battle against those who should be telling the truth. Almost all of this could have been avoided if NTM had done the right thing with the very first offender and made it very clear that criminal acts against children would not be tolerated. Alas the whole situation is now one very big mess and much $$ is being spent trying to cover it up and many families have been torn apart by this.

Are you safe? How are the friends you've left behind in NTM coping with your departure? Where to now?

Again, thank you for your courage in telling your journey, it makes the effort of speaking out seem worthwhile again.


Bemused (the wandering/wondering MK)


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 Post subject: Re: Why we left NTM.
PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 2:41 pm 
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Thank you so much for your post! It now makes sense with your confirmation of our wasted time and energy trying to "work with" the EB of Ethnos360, nee NTM, when all the while they didn't believe us in the first place. I posted a meme early on here in the forums of an ostrich burying its head in the sand. This apparently still holds true. With all the evidence, yes evidence, the EB through their mouth piece, Theresa Sidebotham, is trying to convince hundreds of NTM parents and the world that there is nothing to see here. I fear for their children.

Wake up!


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 Post subject: Re: Why we left NTM.
PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 2:46 pm 
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D & A!

Thank you, thank you, for your post! In the past weeks, I had actually been asking myself whether the Fanda Eagles Forum had run its course. There has been little activity here, and from what I could see, only a scant handful of people were even interested in posting or discussing anything.

And then! Your most articulate and enlightening post about your journey out of NTM shows up! As an NTM MK myself, I can empathize with the difficulty of your journey. In my case, I left first, and then started asking questions later. That seems opposite of how it has been for you: your tenacity to keep pressing leadership for answers, while still in the mission, is highly unusual and commendable! We were indeed programmed to just trust our leaders, and not question their "insight" and decisions. I am amazed to read of your courage to keep questioning and digging.

I hope your post here will help shine the way for others who may have some of the same concerns you did. NTM has now changed its name to ethnos360. But there is a mission culture that is deeply ingrained, and is being perpetuated. The concept of "making disciples" works in passing on mission culture too. It is the compliant disciples who are being promoted into positions of responsibility and leadership. And in a group like NTM, that in itself leads to unhealthy patterns of mindless group think. I confess that I experienced that myself, as I was one of those whose gifts were recognized and utilized, and that caused me to make choices that hurt my family, and were actually not God-honoring at all.

The time for transparency is now! The time for courage is today! Humility and repentance should be more important than self-protection and legacy-building.

I can't thank you enough, D & A, for your most encouraging post. You have strengthened and encouraged me this Sunday afternoon!

Onward we go!!


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 Post subject: Re: Why we left NTM.
PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 5:00 pm 
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And may I add .... no amount of rebranding is going to change anything written by D & A about what they experienced when trying to challenge the leaders of the mission about how MK abuse is being handled, and who they have handed that responsibility over to (Sidebotham).

You can change your name, New Tribes Mission, but that does not change history.


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 Post subject: Re: Why we left NTM.
PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 5:07 pm 
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Thank you D & A you have given me a great encouragement today. I like Raz wonder at times is it worth the time, energy, pain and hurt to keep going fighting for MKs. You are the reinforcements we so badly need. NTM is not the only mission with this attitude.

Hope you have many around you who can encourage you.


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 Post subject: Re: Why we left NTM.
PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 5:55 pm 
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Thank you all for your kind words! They truly mean so much!

What surprised me the most (and probably shouldn't have) was that when we left, I can count on one hand the number of members who asked us for more information. We were clear that we left because of NTM's response to abuse, but we didn't give all of the details. So few seemed to care to make an informed decision. Many made bold claims that our concerns were unfounded even though they had never once asked us what those concerns were. There is the idea that when someone leaves, it's because they couldn't handle living overseas or couldn't get along with their coworkers. This allows the organization to get away with a lot because the person who left can be easily discredited.

We are doing well. We are so thankful for our sending church and our families that supported us physically and emotionally through this transition. Many do not have that kind of support system. When I look at my children, I know that I would make the same decision 1,000 times.


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 Post subject: Re: Why we left NTM.
PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:31 pm 
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I'm so sorry for what you've been through. I'm one of the ones that hides and closes my ears when I think someone is going to say something that I don't want to hear. I work for an organization that hires transient nurses, and I rarely listen to the negatives of the administration. As long as I can keep working, I'm blind to the rest. It's a deeply devaluing process, right? To not be heard . . .to not be validated. The responses have to be coming from a place of deep seated fear.

Thank you for your care, your trust and courage. I hope that there will be coming to you, a new life full of basic respect and truth.

From a South American MK


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 Post subject: Re: Why we left NTM.
PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 7:04 pm 
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Hi! Not sure if you remember me, but my husband and I were at the training center when the report was released as well. When we graduated, we did not continue on with the mission. My reasons overlapped with yours.

I wanted to say thank you. I have been grieving lately and trusting God to bring about justice, but I received 3 pieces of news from past abusive institutions I was part of that discouraged me. Your post here lifted my heart considerably. It is so hard to ask the questions and listen and keep asking and leave everything you built. So thank you.

I will be praying for your recovery. I found leaving so enormously difficult, but I am thankful every day to have done it! And with a heart that seeks truth like yours, life is so rich and abundant.


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 Post subject: Re: Why we left NTM.
PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 11:23 pm 
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D & A wrote:
What surprised me the most (and probably shouldn't have) was that when we left, I can count on one hand the number of members who asked us for more information. We were clear that we left because of NTM's response to abuse, but we didn't give all of the details. So few seemed to care to make an informed decision. Many made bold claims that our concerns were unfounded even though they had never once asked us what those concerns were. There is the idea that when someone leaves, it's because they couldn't handle living overseas or couldn't get along with their coworkers. This allows the organization to get away with a lot because the person who left can be easily discredited.


I can most certainly relate to what you speak of here. The lack of curiosity on the part of mission members (and even staunch mission supporters) who seem afraid of asking me questions ... probably because they are afraid of hearing my answers. I have friends and even family members who fall into these categories. They know I care deeply about MK abuse issues, they know I am an open person who would discuss any questions or concerns they would share with me. But they stay silent. And yet, these are people who profess to love Jesus and His words. I think it is really sad, because it shows, to me, such a lack of true faith and trust in the very One they think they are serving.


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