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 Post subject: Re: Panama Abuse
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2015 9:38 am 
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I was asked to post the following on behalf of a fellow mk. Take a deep breath and read.

The writing of this account has taken me a long time to decide that it should be done. For those of you reading this, I am an MK. My parents entered NTM in 1982. I was 8. I remember the day they received their acceptance letter to boot camp and the excitement we all felt for a new chapter in our life. When I was 12 we moved to the field. Within less than a year I had been placed in a dorm while my parents were in the tribe for a short period of time. During that stay in the dorm and other occasions I began to experience physical abuse from adult missionaries. To let you understand what I mean by physical abuse, I am saying that after one spanking that I received, I was bruised from my waistline to the middle of the backs of my legs. My bruising covered my whole backside and was deep red and purple. My brother and one other MK happened to see the bruising when I had gotten out of the shower and was putting my underwear on. My brother had not realized what I was going through, even though he had been in the same dorm and the same room with me. He told my parents who came out of the tribe two weeks after the incident I am referring to. When my parents heard the story from my brother, two weeks after the incident, they came to me and asked me to take my pants off (which as a young boy at that age was very embarrassing to say the least). At that time, I still had deep green and yellow bruising. My dad immediately went to the Field Committee chairman and was was in essence told to drop it. While in that dorm, I observed the same level of bruising on two other boys’ butts. No apologies were made, the person beating us was not removed and no explanation or compassion was shown.

To give you a rounded perspective about myself since that occasion, I will say that I have attended NTM Bible School for the two year program. I have been an associate missionary with NTM on the very field and served alongside some of the same people who were my abusers. I went to an evangelical college. I have done some graduate level studies and have served as a pastor in a very conservative Bible church in the Chicago area. Every church my family and I have attended since leaving the ministry has asked me to be in leadership. I have served on restoration and accountability groups for local pastors, and I continue to counsel church members and pastors alike. My point in writing this is to say that I am very aware of Evangelical thought and theology. I am also very aware of NTM history, the people in it, and the events that have happened along the way that have shaped the organization to be what it is. I have seen and known leaders who were making decisions to change the organization and retitle aspects of the training and I have stayed closely connected with those people. I have listened to their thoughts on what needed to happen, and in some cases I was asked to sit in on some of the meetings and give input. I have had many Godly men in the organization teach me personally what it meant to walk with God. I have had great examples who spent hours with me as a young married man and taught me what it meant to treat my wife with love, but I digress.

My parents were with NTM until 2002 and served at the Language school. During my High School years living in Camdenton I met a lot of people coming through as students, leadership and MKs. Many of the MKs that came through shared their stories of what they had endured on the field as they were also abused. When my wife and I were first married we worked with the youth at a local church in Camdenton and several NTM MKs attended that church. While in our role there we also heard their stories, some of which were about abuse. Frankly, I have heard so many stories of abuse that I became disinterested and ambivalent, because I have never heard a response from NTM that dealt directly and harshly with an offender. I actually began to think that the way in which I saw some of the physical harshness dealt to people was normal and acceptable. I begin to mimic the behaviors modeled to me that people were to be used and discarded, all while maintaining a level of spiritual arrogance. I carried this behavior with me into the pastorate. I also saw the way that sexual issues were dealt with, and it left me with a wrong and confused thought about sexual abuse as well. I am not saying that NTM has never dealt with sexual abuse properly, I have just never seen it, or heard of it, in fact I have always heard the opposite. In fact my experience has been that these people historically have been rehabbed internally and allowed to continue in their position.

When the report on Fanda came out, it was not even on my radar. I was not tracking the efforts of the MKs from Senegal. When I was told about it, I was not even interested in reading the report because my perception was that it would not go far enough. Meaning, that a report needed to also address root causes, like the internal culture that allowed and even perpetuated the cycle of abuse, it needed to name the abusers openly so people could see that the behavior was considered shameful and would not be tolerated. A report should give courage to those that would speak up, and create transparency within the organization. This is the complete opposite of how things were and are dealt with organizationally. The interesting part is that many of us knew who the abusive people were and what they had done already. The stories floated around, people left the mission, kids would melt down and people would simply write off those that left NTM as if they were somehow inferior for not sticking it out no matter how destructive the environment was on their family. This unwillingness or uneasiness to stop drinking the kool-aid and actually protect one’s greatest asset, their kids and family, is the single biggest condemnation on the organizational culture and the individuals in it.

When I did finally read the Fanda report I began to hope again. I began to think that the new leadership of NTM really did care to find out the truth no matter what the consequence might be. It seemed to me they were doing their best in an extremely emotional and difficult situation where there are no winners, to reconcile with those offended. I then heard that NTM was publically stating that they were going to investigate field by field to get a handle on the abuse and deal with it once and for all. So, it was no surprise to me when I was contacted by Professional Investigators International to interview me as an MK that had attended one of the schools in question.

In the preliminary portion of my interview with Pii, I specifically asked about their independence from NTM. I asked if NTM would change or redirect any of what I said, or if the report produced would stand as it was. I was assured that the reporting would be done based on a preponderance of evidence, and that Pii was subcontracted by a group named IHART who was independent of NTM, but was hired to investigate for NTM.

As a result of that interview, I was contacted a second time and asked to participate in a Panel. This Panel would be tasked with reading a report of abuse claims at a different boarding school than the one which I attended, and to make a determination regarding the stories. If the stories indeed fit the criteria of abuse, and if it fell outside of the acceptable boundaries of the time period, we as Panel participants would have one further task. The task would be to give specific recommendations pertaining to the abuser to NTM so that organizationally they could maintain an independence from the reporting and maintain independence from the panel of peers’ (of those abused) thoughts on how the abuser would be dealt with, it was a jury style deliberation of sorts. Once again on hearing this, I began to have renewed hope that NTM was serious about turning the culture of the organization around. I accepted the request to serve on the Panel.

Once I received the report, it was clear to me that there was a lot of information that was not included, the report was extremely unclear and disjointed, it cited no policy or policy violations, it did not give names of who heard certain key pieces of information, and it had no timeline to follow. Since I could not determine timelines, who knew what, how decisions were made, and the number of children affected by each individual, I began to ask questions of the IHART coordinator and members of NTM. I was also hearing from NTM that there was no policy governing the behavior of its members, so therefore no one could be held accountable to a nonexistent child protection policy. The statements from the NTM Personnel Department and from the NTM Executive Board were that there was no Child Protection Policy before 2003. So, I contacted a department within NTM that dealt with all of the schools, their policies including conduct, kept tabs on the curriculum, and visited the schools. I asked for the policy manuals for that time period for the school in question, and in two days received the manuals I was asking for. I called people who had worked in that department during the time in question and asked about the school and the personalities and issues that they had. I called and talked to people who were NTM counselors during the period of time in question. I asked their perspectives about some of the people in question from the report I had read, that had come through their counseling department. I asked the counselors about the response of the Executive Committee to them as they would make recommendations about the various perpetrators in question. My intent has always been to not wrongly accuse someone and smear their name unjustly. So as I walked into a Panel meeting in November of 2013, I was very clear on the issues.

As we began the meeting with representatives from NTM, I asked if the recommendations that we were making to NTM would be accepted just as we presented them without changes. I wanted a verbal commitment with no assumption on my part. I was told by an Executive Board member that our recommendations would be accepted carte blanche. In a recent phone call in late June of 2015 I asked a person from the personnel Department if I had heard this correctly from our meeting in 2013, and in front of three Executive Board members, a person taking notes, another MK, and myself, he affirmed this was true. I can state that in reality, recommendations were left out, recommendations were changed and recommendations were not followed through on, and there is no intention on the part of NTM to make sure that some of the recommendations are followed through on, because there is no desire or will to do so. The recommendations by the Panel were fair and reasonable, and completely within the power of NTM to follow through on. There was no one that was angry and who was looking for revenge on that Panel.

Since this meeting in 2013, I have had numerous discussions on the phone with members of NTM’s Executive Board regarding the reporting process. I have had several of them in my home and talked about the problems with the report and the follow through that I am seeing, and the negative impact that it is having on MKs. I want to see the organization be what it claims to be, and that is people who are not perfect, but who desire truth to guide them and shine the light of Jesus to whomever they come into contact with. That person may be one who is emotionally raw, ravaged by the effects of abuse, or one who is physically naked and living in the jungle. If you can’t be an example of Christ’s love here in the States you can’t do it there. I also took a trip with four other MKs to Sanford and met with the Executive Board over a full weekend. We raised money through the Fanda Eagles site and amongst ourselves, and NTM picked up half of our trip cost. I have talked with the Executive Board and the attorney Theresa Sidebotham several times since the 2014 meeting and the Panel meeting in 2013 individually and jointly, and I have emailed them all since that meeting. The MKs from our field also drafted a document in preparation for the November 2014 meeting. In the document we outlined reasonable requests of the reporting process and that document can be found on this site. There is nothing that NTM could not do legally if they had the will to do so. We have never wavered from the requests outlined in that document in any of the conversations that we have had since our meeting in Sanford in November of 2014. I have also asked follow up questions in a conference call with the Executive Board in late June of 2015 about recommendations that we made as a Panel, to see if they had been followed through on. What I found was that NTM leadership does not view themselves as accountable to anyone but themselves on what they will or will not follow through on. I have in writing what was agreed to regarding Recommendations and I have a conversation in which they related that they were unwilling to put any effort into following through on those recommendations.

I realize as I am writing this that there are some who are skeptical. You are skeptical of the term abuse. You are skeptical of the amount of abuse, you are skeptical that abuse took place on fields and was done by people that you knew and served alongside of. There are some who will say that what was done to me and others like me was an acceptable level of discipline within evangelical thought during that time period. There are some of you reading this who will say that you just don’t have enough facts to make a determination one way or another. Many of you are fearful. You are fearful that this is a witch hunt. You are fearful of the implications for the organization and your retirement. You cannot understand the anger that seems to be expressed or the differences of opinion, and so you either try to ignore it or you conclude that this is Satan trying to destroy God’s great work. Let me offer another approach: God is a God of truth. Truth matters to God: what we think, and how we act on it is important to Him as His children. What we are desiring is for truth to be placed on the table once and for all. For those wronged, truth has not been placed on the table. In fact it is quietly hushed through money, intimidation, and deceit. Truth is only to be feared if there is something ugly to hide. I would encourage you who are fearful to pick the scabs off, lance the wounds and let the pus out so there can be real healing. And the benefits of truth will be peace, rest, hope and healing. For all parties involved.

I have also watched as the acronym of IHART has been changed to mean something different, I have watched the investigation change from being called independent to being called internal. This change took place when NTM Executive Board reps and NTM House Counsel hired an attorney to take over the IHART entity and change it from a separate entity to a “process”. With each subtle shift and twist that has happened I have thought that “maybe these guys simply do not understand the nature of abuse and the effect on an individual”. I have thought, “if they have better information on the perspective of those who were offended at an age where they could not defend themselves, they would change course”. I have always believed that if the process was improved and I could show that I was not just another “angry MK” that I would see a result acceptable to both parties. I desire reconciliation, because as believers in Jesus Christ we are under an obligation to each other to do what is right regardless of the consequences.

In fairness to NTM, when people call NTM and threaten violence on members who were kids when some of this happened what you are hoping for goes out the window and everyone loses credibility. When people make up stories about abuse from countries they weren’t in and people they haven’t met, to jump on the money train or the sympathy train it wreaks havoc on the cause of those who truly are suffering into adulthood from the abuse they have suffered.

I am sad to say that I no longer believe that NTM leadership desires a good outcome for MKs. I believe it is an “us against them” mentality that now drives them. These men do not need an attorney to advise them of the right approach if they really wanted to do it, they have the BIBLE and God’s Word is very clear. A person shows what they believe to be true and where their faith lies by their actions. The Bible is replete with stories and examples of this very principle. SO, I am following a biblical principle of sorts. I have talked with them individually about an offense in a very calm manner and with many facts. I have brought others with me and have talked about how to handle the offense, and now I am bringing it before a larger group yet to say, NTM your approach is dishonest and offensive to those that have been wronged. When you speak with me and others like me and you do not follow through on what you say, it is a lie. When you misdirect and deliberately leave out information, allowing people to believe something that is not true, you are just as guilty of deception as if you had lied. If you have kept silent when you know something is not true you are just as guilty as the one lying. So, I am asking for you to publically admit your past failures, they are not hidden from anyone. I am asking you deal with them openly and honestly in a way that reflects Christ to the offended. Let the world see what a group of people committed to following Christ do when they have done wrong and you will find a great measure of forgiveness and mercy. Please do not withhold this measure of compassion.


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 Post subject: Re: Panama Abuse
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:08 am 
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Wow.

Thank you for posting this, threewillows.

And thank you to the brave MK who has given us some additional information that we have not seen here before.

There is a lot to digest and think about.

Wow.


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 Post subject: Re: Panama Abuse
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:33 am 
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Thank You Three Willows. Thank You To the MK who wrote this. I admire Your actions. I am sad to hear it as I expected and NTM does not care about MK'S. They never did. Never will.


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 Post subject: Re: Panama Abuse
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:45 am 
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Thanks threewillows this is a powerful statement. It needs to be made public.


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 Post subject: Re: Panama Abuse
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:53 am 
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I shared it publicly on my Facebook page and hash-tagged it. #NewTribes


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 Post subject: Re: Panama Abuse
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2015 2:29 pm 
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Thank you for posting this. It breaks my heart to hear that an organization that purports to be godly would so blatantly conduct themselves in a very ungodly manner.

I'll be sharing this post on fb.


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 Post subject: Re: Panama Abuse
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2015 3:10 pm 
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Thank-your for writing your story. I'm very sorry for the abuse you experienced as a child. And for on-going trauma from how NTM is dealing with the many accounts of abuse.

It is very difficult on so many levels to expose a community we were raised in, was our spiritual home and eventually our employer. The loyalty runs deep. This is my history as well, and I found that exposing the people/orgainzation who had been "family" was re-traumatizing. I will be thinking of you and the others in your group as you move forward.

I'd like to add my thanks for creating this thread and posting this, Threewillows.


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 Post subject: Re: Panama Abuse
PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2015 10:29 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Panama Abuse
PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2015 3:25 am 
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Ugh. So true.

:(


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 Post subject: Re: Panama Abuse
PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:36 pm 
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NTM leaders lying? Covering up wrong doing? This is more of the same that the Fonda report already confirmed. Why would these Tribers do anything different than the other guys? We already know they are all liars. They use lies to cover lies


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