When communication breaks down – PBI abuse survivors, alumni and the online dance

I would like to commend Prairie Bible Institute alumni who have been urged to give the public the names of the Survivor Fund Project team. The Survivor Fund Project, which is being funded by money donated by alumni to PBI, was announced in December by PBI President Mark Maxwell. The members of The Survivor Fund Project were announced on the FB group Prairie Bible College Alumni and Current Students tonight. They are:

John Kepler (PHS ’71, PBC ’75)
Jim Crites (PHS ’78, PBC ’82)
Mim Carlson Phibbs (PHS ’59, PBC ’63)
Brenda Boytim Morrison (PHS ’74, PBC ’78)
Priscilla Virts Johnson (PHS ’72)

A step forward.
There have been a few steps back this week.

Social networking is powerful, but it is like any other community with ingroups, outgroups, miscommunication, scattered communication, and for interested parties participating in conversations, various emotions, and sometimes, high drama.

When Prairie Bible Institute went public with information about alleged abuse in November 2011, media all over the world took notice.  As with any story in any given news cycle,  some of the coverage was speculative, incorrect and misinterpreted. A few bloggers posted, a few discussion groups noticed, most reactions occurred  in various Prairie groups on Facebook. The timeline is tortuous. Under anger  fear, pain and loss often lurk.  Previously unknown groups such as the We were prairie bible school kids came under intense scrutiny, and some strong verbal attack from anxious and angry alumni. Loyalty is confused for love, and sides are taken.

PBI President Mark Maxwell became the spokesperson for PBI, Linda Fossen became the designated spokesperson for the abuse survivors FB group, Jim Crites became the spokesperson for The Survivor Fund Project; and as yet  no one has publicly spoken for Calgary Centre Street Church, the designated independent 3rd party announced in December by Maxwell.
None of these spokespeople are pros, none are pr experts, they are ordinary people who find themselves in the unenviable spokesperson role, and have done the best they can while conversations, questions and criticisms land in their FB groups, IM’s, emails and peripheral vision.

There have been some encouraging steps forward. Shawn Anderson, a Baptist minister and PBI alumni  blogged about one step in his post, Where’s Alice Cooper when you need him?

Let me start moving towards my point. I have been trying to stay current with the whole PBI thing without letting it consume my life right now. I recently had a chance to be present at a meeting with Mark Maxwell, and I have to say this. I was sorely tempted to go into that meeting with guns drawn and Bible in my hand, ready to call down fire and brimstone on his head. But a couple of people whose judgement and wisdom I trust completely told me “Mark Maxwell is a good guy – give him a chance”. So I did. While I still don’t want to trust Maxwell, I am willing to believe that he is committed to finding justice in the situation at PBI. Since then I have seen both Mark Maxwell and Linda Fossen take sincere steps toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict between “survivors” and “administration”, and I think they should both be commended for their efforts so far.

However, Facebook has shown me that not everyone who has an opinion in this mess has the same commitment to peaceful resolution that Mark and Linda have demonstrated to me.

…You have been calling down condemnation on Linda and her associates for quite some time now. Some even refer to her and her friends as “bitches”. Where is Jesus in that? (Answer? Nowhere.)

Good post. Go read it. I’ll wait. Back? Okay.  Tentative steps forward by hesitant people went south fast. It’s a shame,  there are so many earnest kind alumni who want to say the right thing, offer comfort and care, and tread new ground. Tonight I logged into an open FB Prairie group to find this: (settle in and follow below the fold)

My heart sank to see confusion, hurt, frustration and questions from alumni about why a spokesperson for abuse survivors who reached out, told alumni about talking with the PBI president after weeks of impasse, who metaphorically shook the hands of friendship offered. A invested group has every reason to wonder why a spokesperson gets banned from an open group where people were inching forward and finding grace.  Fossen had done a great deal at this FB page to clear up misconceptions about the abuse survivors she speaks for, she allayed fears about lawsuits (while facing one) and talking openly of the stress she has faced and the tears she has shed.

And like that, a moderator for Prairie Bible College Alumni and Current Students sends  spokesperson Linda Fossen into  pixeland. Banned. Banished. Out of there. Gone.  No explanation. Then I saw this in comments under a link to Shawn Anderson’s post I sent you off to read:

If you are not aware of alumnist Fred Whaples letter to abuse survivors  of his intent to sue, it’s here. I’ll wait. What looks like a step forward for Whaples is not when this comment is placed in context.  It’s an escalation. What may have been an independent decision by a moderator to ban, takes on a gut knotting chill for people chatting on FB and for observers driving by. Conversations and motives become threatening, confusing and unsafe.

A step back.
I emailed Linda Fossen with a few questions about how this banishment and Whaples comment affects her and her beleagured group of survivors.
I think these latest events is about more than a FB spat, and more about the ongoing pattern of step forward/ step back in a long and difficult journey for PBI survivors of abuse, PBI and alumni. I’ll post here when I get a response.

1) You’ve had an opportunity to post at a PBI alumni FB page.

Yes I have. It was an open group that several survivors have joined recently.

How did that go?

Well, at first it was awkward with the usual conflicts that go along with the inevitable clash between those who are very loyal to PBI and those who aren’t. We survivors tend to fit into the latter group for some strange reason.
The conversation turned toward abuse and there was a lot of consternation with the alumni reminding us that if we wanted to discuss abuse we should talk about it somewhere else but not on their group wall.
There were very rough patches in the initial conversation but what eventually emerged was a very open dialogue between people of different viewpoints who shared a sense of community. Survivors felt empowered and began to speak their truth. There was mixed reception to this. We had some alumni who sincerely seemed to care and want to help and
then those who would just as soon not know if anyone was abused at PBI because it was all in the past.
Overall, it was a good conversation – a lot of give and take. I went to sleep last night encouraged that even though we still had our major differences, perhaps we alumni might be beginning to find some common ground.

2) Something changed yesterday. What happened?

It sure did. I woke up to discover that I had been kicked out of the alumni group without any warning or explanation! I was stunned, especially after I had poured out my heart and had even gone so far as to talk about a major step I had taken of ending the stalemate between President Mark Maxwell and me by contacting him and telling him my story. Telling my story to Mark Maxwell was very difficult and painful - especially when I described the shame that had been pounded into me at Prairie. I can remember so vividly as a young girl sitting in the Prairie Tabernacle and feeling such immense shame as L.E. Maxwell pounded his fists on the pulpit and hollered about how much God demanded holiness.
I remember thinking how much God must hate me because I knew I could never be holy. I was damaged. It was very painful and empowering to be able to tell the grandson of L.E. Maxwell how much this hurt.

Prior to all of this on January 30th without any advanced notice I received a letter of intent to sue from Pastor Fred Whaples, an alumni of the school. The letter stated that I would be sued for comments made on a private Facebook group that I administer along with others. Fred had at one time been a member of the group until we removed him.

3) After you received the letter of intent from Fred Whaples, what did you do?

I read it to my husband and we both decided that it was very poorly written. It did not sound like it came from an attorney at all. I contacted attorneys and we talked about the letter that Fred sent me. I was not at all upset, in my opinion it was just another attempt by Pastor Whaples to try to intimidate and silence us survivors.
He had threatened lawsuits to others before me so hearing about a lawsuit was nothing new. Following through to this point was.

4) This has to be unsettling. Fred Whaples has told you he is coming to Florida and you’d better meet with him or he is going to the Sheriff. Are you concerned for your safety?

When I read this portion of the document, I began to feel concern. There was no way in the world I was going to meet with Fred Whaples – and for sure not by myself! I have been on the receiving end of his belligerence before and I was not about to be there again. There was no possible way that I would agree to meet with him.

5) Why do you think you are being threatened?

Fred Whaples has been a source of contention with the survivors I represent since day one. He was in our group several months back and regularly disrupted it by preaching at us and throwing scriptures in our faces and being brazen. I think most of the survivors would agree that Fred has been quite abusive to us. Why he is doing this is anyone’s guess. All I know is that he is not welcome in our group. I think to the broader question, there still are many alumni who view the survivors as being “sent by satan to destroy the school” and as such, they feel justified in fighting against us. Let me make it very clear, the survivors do not seek to destroy the school. We actually want to save her from herself! We want hold those who have abused children accountable and help Prairie take steps to ensure that no other child has to suffer like we did.

6) How is this escalation affecting other abuse survivors?

The survivors are weary. They have basically been under attack from the beginning. The continued hostility hurts them deeply and we continue to have issues with those from the outside wanting to sabotage our group. They contact our members to intimidate them or get information about our group that they can pass along.
Fred Whaples claims to get inside information from people who “cut and paste” from our private Facebook group. This is not only unethical but it is very cruel.
The basis for this letter of intent from Fred Whaples claims to have recent documentation off our group wall. If this is so, then this information was designated to have been private and inaccessible to Fred in the first place.

7) What can people do to help?

I am calling on all alumni of the school to get involved. Everyone needs to acknowledge that children were abused at Prairie and realize that it is no longer necessary to deny
this fact. The best thing alumni can do is to show compassion, and kindness to the survivors. Many of these survivors have endured life-long consequences from their abuse and may have gone through traumatic changes in their belief systems. And they are alumni of the school and as such deserve to be heard and acknowledged. All of us need to realize that we are in this together and when one of us suffers, we all suffer.

8) Anything else you’d like to say?

I am calling on Mark Maxwell to encourage the alumni to support all the survivors regardless of whether they are willing to reconcile with the school or not. All of the
survivors deserve our love and support and there should be no distinction in our treatment of the survivors by who is loyal to PBI and who is not. These are precious hurting people who need us!

About Bene Diction

Have courage for the great sorrows, And patience for the small ones. And when you have laboriously accomplished your tasks, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.
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34 Responses to When communication breaks down – PBI abuse survivors, alumni and the online dance

  1. When I saw Brenda Morrison’s name on the list of the Survivor’s Fund Project, I was encouraged. I know Brenda well, and her heart is good. I would trust her implicitly.

  2. Hank Hamm says:

    None of the admins on that site have taken responsibility or given a reason for the banning of Linda Fossen. To me it is not only grossly unfair, but a cowardly act considering such an individual can hide in anonymity.

  3. I would like to make note of the inaccuracies in the above comment of Fred Whaples…”I would like to point out that the “threat of legal action” will ONLY take place if Linda Fossen refuses to meet with me and mediators representing both sides. (His letter of intent did not make any mention of anyone but him coming to Florida to meet with me personally).
    This is a pre-legal action and FOR EVERYONE’S info.. a VERY Biblical approach to this matter. Linda and I have spoke one on one severall times to no avail, (This is an outright lie. I have never spoken with Fred in my entire life. I tried to call him twice yesterday and both times he slammed the phone down as soon as he knew it was me. I did not even get a chance to finish my name.)
    I am now requesting her to meet with me and some folks who might help us see more eye to eye. (Again, he never mentioned anyone else before – who are these “folks”?)
    IF this measure doesn’t work the Biblical approach would be to take us before the church.. in this case a court of law since there is no common church and therefore we default to judges (just like they did in the Old Testament).
    I wish you and others that support Linda in her defaming me and stating that I do not belong in ministry were able to understand that I am a good man, a God lover, and a graduate of Prairie who has fond memories of a hugely positive experience. Doesn’t mean everyone shared that.. but it was miy experience. It would seem that my love for the school that some want to hate has made me the target of needless and very harmful attacks. (No actually, it is your obnoxious behavior that has made you a target).
    I just wish well educated and articulate gentlemen (and ladies) could see that I no more want what is happening that Linda… but my reputation and good standing has been unreputably damaged (just read your article and many comments made by people I never met). How sad.”

  4. Pingback: The survivors are weary – an interview with Linda Fossen | Bene Diction Blogs On

  5. ZMT says:

    Something I find “interesting”. The “healing team” claim to be “led” “moved” “compelled” by God to help the abuse victims yet not one of them is part of the survivor FB group (as far as I know feel free to correct me if I am wrong). It is like being “led” “moved” “compelled” by God to be a missionary to a jungle tribe but refusing to actually go to the jungle. It’s too hot, there are snakes, the people dress and talk differently. When they clean up their act and come OUT of the jungle then they’ll be happy to minister to them.

  6. Gryphon says:


    Were I one of the administrators of the Prairie site, I would be very concerned about the liability and personal implications of providing opportunity for parties involved in litigation (or their supporters) to be able to confront each other openly. Those who have control over any public forum have some degree of legal culpability for what is allowed to be posted there and who is allowed to do that. It is not a responsibility I would want, nor I imagine, would you.

    In an inflammatory and divisive issue such as this, and especially now that legal action has been taken, it would be prudent if the administrators took pre-emptive measures to minimize the opportunity for unwise statements to be posted by anyone in the heat of argument. Such statements could be harmful to all involved, and regrettable.

    As Linda has her own site for voicing her concerns, and as she was a recent addition to the Prairie site, it is reasonable and fair that she be the one to leave the discussion on the Prairie site, due to these recent legal developments. If Linda and others feel they must immediately engage with any alumni, as a site administrator she can add them as members to her own site and personally take the responsibility for whatever ensues.

    Given the likelihood that she would not want to shoulder that responsibility, it should not be expected that anyone else would do the same.

  7. ZMT says:

    Really Gryphon? then why would the other party be allowed to continue his posting of his opinion on the legal issues on the alumni site? should the admins not be concerned about the liability of his statements too or have they just taken a “side”. I don’t think your argument is valid.

  8. Elsa Raab says:

    Gryphon, following the logic of your argument, I am wondering why Fred Whaples has not also been removed from the group, then.

  9. ZMT says:

    Further Gryphon…If this were really the reasoning why wouldn’t the admin just state that publicly and explain to those who are confused and even reeling from what looks so unfair?

  10. Bene D says:

    Liability is a problem, even more so in Canada.
    That having been said, I believe the more open the conversation the better, even when it is difficult.

    When I delete a comment (very rarely in the nearly 10 years I’ve been blogging) I make it very clear why I have made that decision, privately if possible, but most certainly publicly.

    That didn’t happen here. While I don’t expect FB moderators, discussion admins and bloggers to be legal experts, neutral people got sideswiped in this banishment and deleting. Deletion and banning without explanation is chilling on speech, especially since FB is about conversation.
    I don’t know the reasoning of the moderator, it’s done, I could be wrong, as an observer, I wonder if the decision went beyond liability concerns.
    Perhaps the moderator will take the opportunity to explain his/her reasoning.

  11. Hank Hamm says:

    First of all, there has not been any legal action taken against anyone; only threats of it as near as I can understand. To me it just sounds like the little school yard bully saying, “I’m going to tell my Dad on you.”

    Secondly, I can’t fathom how something written in a social media site can cause greater liability than something spoken in a public setting. I get it when someone likes blowing a lot of smoke, but threatening to charge someone with breaking a law. Which law? So far no one has posted an applicable law from either a US or Canadian jurisdiction that would apply.

    Someone posted a vague reference to Facebook regulations but when I challenged them to provide a specific example, they went silent.

    The bottom line is that I believe we can all be challenged to be better listeners and try harder to take the high road respecting others more, even in our rants against injustice.

  12. Tez says:

    This banishment is the equivalent of a 4 year old plugging their ears shouting ” I CAN’T HEAR YOU”.

    If, as Gryphon asserts, this is about legal ramifications, then all parties involved in the potential legal issue would have been removed. Not to do such would leave the impression that those in admin of the group, come down on the side of one specific party and thus conveys collusion with that side.

    So Gryphon, the straw you grasp is very short indeed.

    The issue of Linda adding other individuals to the private group is problematic as she is trying to create a safe, secure feeling place for survivors to bond, to share and to promote proactive steps to justice and healing. Adding individuals who are not sensitive to the fragility of some of the survivors, would be counter intuitive and counter productive.
    Consider this analogy, Gryphon. A young solider returns from active duty. He has serious, complicated PTSD. He is in therapy, he is carefully learning how to live well again, despite his illness. As his friend, knowing that the sound of gunfire, grenades and bombs whistling in triggers him, you would not take him to the biggest fireworks show in the history of Toronto. You KNOW already that this will cause an episode, leading to a set back, which affects his ability to interact with his family and friends, and his ability to do his job, which in turn affects the entire well being of his family. All because you had a harebrained idea.
    I’m sure in person, you’re much more sensitive than that.
    Consider your suggestions that Linda add to the closed survivor group, those who do not have the best interests of the fragile in mind, to be the same harebrained idea as described above.

    You’re welcome.

    If the admin really had pure motives for removing Linda, they will identify themselves and own up to the reason. Accountability is so lacking these days.

  13. Steve “Gryphon” Porr, please don’t worry about liability issues and how they relate to Fred Whaples and me. I am a big girl and can take care of myself. You give the admins of the alumni group way too much credit. It is highly unlikely that they even considered liability. Far more likely is that they caved in to pressure from Fred Whaples and others (probably you as well). In my experience with Fred, he likes to cry “wolf”. Just because people don’t like the content of a discussion does not make it illegal. Steve, ‘er Gryphon, please don’t muddy the water by inserting yourself into this process that really has nothing to do with you at all. This is between Fred and me and I am not worried.

  14. Brenda Morrison says:

    ZMT, I’m responding only for myself and not for any others. I was on the We Were Prairie (etc.) group until about a week or two before it ceased to be an open group. I removed myself simply because I felt, at that time, that I had offered what I had to offer in that place. As well, I just simply can’t keep up with a whole bunch of groups — I’m in my last semester of grad school, as well as just the rest of the stuff of life.

    IF, and that’s a bigger IF than the font allows here, those on the PBI Survivors group or any other group would like me to be present, I am open to that — on these terms: that the members there have had an open discussion and at least 90% of the members are good with the idea. It’s their group space, and I have no desire to butt in. I’m not looking for a popularity vote — I simply want to respect the group members.

    That’s my thinking, for what it’s worth. =)

  15. MEC says:

    Once again, it is appalling to me that an attempt to receive justice, healing and restoration by people who were truly damaged- whether hit by a 2×4 on a bare bottom, or slashed until hands were too bloody to write, whether having a head wrapped in toilet tissue because a teacher assumed a child made a face, or forbidden to wear warm clothes, none of which come even close to the many rapes that have been reported, even so far as to the media and broadcast across the nation, why is it that the biggest issue is that someone feels slighted that his weight was mentioned and thus he wants a law suit? Incredible!

    Why this deflection from the rapists, the bullies and even the librarian who mocked and shunned the raped girl and frightened so many other girls they refused to tell they too had been raped? Why this deflection of attention from justice and mercy to protection for those who practised such ungodly behaviour?

    Yet I have still to see any compassion or concern, in fact I’ve seen outright accusation of lying on the part of the victims by alumni who somehow don’t think Jesus cared about people who in good faith trained for ministry but instead got the life beaten out of them.

    Abuse is an area of study and therapy that is well developed in both Canada and the US. There is ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE for the victims to be prevented from receiving the necessary care by TRAINED PROFESSIONALS. Insteade small minded hypocrites squabble about whether Linda, of all people, the kindest person, most willing to put herself on the line to help these folks recover, is threatened with a lawsuit.

    Since Linda and Cath have had the opportunity to receive at least a measure of ministry/healing for their own abuse suffered at Prairie they logically suggested an objective, professional group that is fully able to offer the essential help needed for the survivors to recover. Any normal person would immediately want to see people carrying such pain, offered relief and restoration. Instead Linda is attacked, GRACE is attacked and refused point blank though no other professional agency has been brought forward (CSC is a church and has not agreed to act in the manner that Grace would) and a group of people with no training in this area at all have offered to ‘listen’ and then imply that if people who have been beaten up by various members the Prairie family don’t go to them, they don’t really want relief.

    It’s utterly mind-boggling.

    It seems that the alumni group by and large think that the survivors wish to destroy the school. Yet while I have been reading the posts of the survivors for 3 months, to my remembrance the accusations from the alumni side that the survivors are trying to destroy the school, just aren’t there. They are far too needy themselves to have strength to pull down a structure like PBI.

    Yes, they would like to see a complete overhaul of procedures that would protect victims and perhaps in anger have suggested the place should come down- BUT if they wanted to bring the place down, you’d be inundated with lawsuits. They don’t want lawsuits, they want healing.

    However, I do ask this question- why does PBI not own up to the fact that they have shielded perpetrators, that perpetrators are STILL being shielded there and deal why do they refuse to discipline those who have wounded others, in a Biblical manner?

    Prairie Bible Institute, for the past 60 years of my life was purported to be a model of Christian holiness. From my point of view- as one who never attended Prairie but who has become very familiar with the survivors over the past several months, it seems that perhaps
    the name of the place should be changed and the word Bible taken out of it for I have not seen much truly Biblical behaviour come from the alumni side nor from the leadership.

    Oh there’s been lots of rhetoric- but love, compassion, caring and healing? Not by the definition of either secular or Christian abuse counselling or therapy today.

    Please, I beg you, put away your petty games and get on with caring for the wounded as Jesus instructed. I’ve heard it said that Prairie was preparing an army of soldiers to win the lost. It’s tragic that this army so effectively shoots and even kills their own.

  16. Interested observer says:

    For Ms. Fossen to be upset about being removed from the PBI Alum site is almost miraculous in its hypocrisy. As I understand it, the degree to which she controls the current super secret so called “survivors” site would inspire the Gestapo. The inconsistency is breathtaking. Any statement by a so called survivor is not allowed to be challenged at any level. A statement that is anything short of total agreement and support of these alleged victims is seen as an attack. Opposing views are simply not allowed.

    The amazing thing here is that anyone who has taken the time to do even cursory research continues to take anything Ms. Fossen says seriously.

  17. Eileen Banks says:

    Well “Interested Observer” why don’t you share your research with us? I certainly can’t find anything that would impact on how seriously I might take Linda Fossen.

    Personally I have tremendous respect for anyone who puts it ll out there, hides nothing. Then again, I am addressing a person who casts stones from behind a hidden identity. Guess that means you are hardly in a position to judge doesn’t it. No chance of anyone Googling you and finding anything.

  18. David says:

    Interested observer, you nailed it when you said, “As I understand it”. As a member of the We I have been in disagreement with Linda Fossen, and I am still there. As in the control you say she dictates , she did mention in a post a while back that if somebody felt the need to leave in order to get healing somewhere else she did not have a problem with that, and understands that individuals need to do what is best for themselves. To me there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding based upon speculation and partial truths. Is Linda perfect, no, neither am I. Rather than speculate upon your understanding, and I do that to, I think it would be wise if we know what is happening rather than guess at what is happening.

  19. Gryphon says:

    “Interested observer”: I find your reference to the Gestapo in your converstion above to be utterly appalling and an affront. It quite overshadows any valid point you might have attempted to make with your post.

  20. Interested Observer says:

    As requested, I am including some of the data that has led me to my conclusions.

    In defense of my amazement that Ms. Fossen would be offended by being removed from a facebook group: her own secret site was shut down while they conducted a “mole search”. Every member was threatened with expulsion, should it be found that they shared any of the info with anyone outside the group. Names were given as to those to NOT share anything with, as these people were “on the other side”. Does this not seem a little over reactive to you? The idea of one member spying on another to determine whether or not he or she might be “the mole” – - does this not seem a little overboard to you? That’s why I used the “G” word. I’m sorry I did.

    As to why I choose to not reveal my real name: Ms. Fossen’s response to Mr. Whaples’ questions, and her involvement of others in an attempt to ruin him is reason enough. I do not know him, I have never met him; but when I saw her response to someone with “another view”, it became very obvious to me that I would risk my business, my family, and my reputation to identify myself by name, and as someone who does not agree with her tactics. I have seen posts where she openly celebrated at someone being taken down.

    As to why I cannot take anything she says seriously, here are just a few reasons:

    1. While she appears to be greatly motivated to identify and destroy those who have been accused of various sorts of abuse, she refuses to go after her own father – even though the legal system definitely allows it. Does this not seem odd to you? Also, check the timing of her initial accusations. Also, how it is that PBI is somehow responsible and accountable for the alleged abuse that she endured – (which, if true, was horrendous) – is impossible to defend.

    2. She has stated that she sometimes goes to parks; she believes she is somehow gifted with the ability to look at someone and immediately determine whether or not he is a “perp”; upon her decision that he IS a perp, she confronts him with his crime! All this, from a look at the person. Does this seem reasonable to you?

    3. She has stated that she is somehow gifted as to seeing or recognizing “demonic activity” that surrounds some folks; once again she is able to immediately determine by this that these folks are “perps”. Does this seem reasonable to you?

    4. She has now published names of people who allegedly committed “emotional abuse”. How on earth does one measure this? And to do this with people who are now dead, who cannot defend themselves – does this seem reasonable to you? Does this seem restorative to you?

    Here’s the irony: I am someone who qualifies, at an absolutely direct level, to be a member of her “I was abused at PBI” group. Has it impacted me? Of course. Have I been able to move on? I hope so. Would I want Ms. Fossen to be my representative and spokesman as to this? Emphatically not. What good would come if names were given and specifics were shared – especially since those who committed these acts are now dead? What is to be gained by ruining someone’s memory? They are dead. Gone. But their families remain. What would I gain by destroying their memory of their parents, or grandparents?

    So – I’m not just a mean person, attacking from the shadows. My “interested observer” status is genuine – and from more sides of the issue than you might have first thought.

    I hope that even though many if not all of you see me as “the enemy”, you can at least appreciate – just a little – where I’m coming from. I am not the enemy. I am not a blind supporter of PBI. Quite the contrary. But in order for this to have the best resolution, I do believe that reason has to be injected.

    I do apologize if my earlier remarks were offensive. I hope you now see a little of where they came from.

  21. Eileen Banks says:

    “interested observer” let me try and break one of the issues down for you and let’s see if you can understand were folks were coming from on the FB survivors site and the other Survivors site.

    Consider the fact that there were members of both groups who had privately identified themselves to Cathie and Linda as victims of sexual abuse. Some have never articulated this to anyone until then. In an open group they were terrified of telling their story. Some actually left the group when it was still open after various alumni spewed forth some pretty darn venomous stuff. Can you not see the impact that might have on a survivor? Should their well being and protection not be the priority? So closed groups were they way to go obviously, on and off Facebook.

    Now, put yourself in the shoes of a vulnerable person as they discover someone on these closed groups is sharing information. Repeatedly group members (myself included) tried to impress on this hidden person(s) the damage they were doing to the most vulnerable in those groups. To no avail it seems.

    Were Cathie and Linda wrong to undertake any means possible to protect those people and provide a safe place for them to connect? Is the person(s) silently collecting and sharing information wrong to continue to undermine the safety that some so desperately needed? Context is everything and to not address these issues in the context of the needs of the most vulnerable is to once again tell victimized persons that they do not matter. I for one have had quite enough of that attitude to last a lifetime.

  22. Elsa Raab says:

    Interested Observer,

    I am saddened that you would choose to publicly post material out of context from closed, secure sites for survivors and present that as your research and evidence. The sites are “closed” and “secret” for the sake of the survivors — places where they can feel safe and secure in telling their stories and venting their emotions and working through their pain.

    I will not argue the points of your research with you, because I don’t want to reveal any more of the private conversations that have taken place on these closed sites.

    Again, the purpose of these sites was to provide A SAFE PLACE for the survivors, who have been battered and beaten down by senseless attacks, as is evident on this forum. When Linda and Catherine discovered that the information on one of the sites was being compromised, of course they made the decision to shut it down!

    I am just so sorry that you have so little regard for fellow survivors, that you will publish confidential information on a public blog.

  23. LauraJo says:

    My comment is specifically in reference to a statement that Interested Observer made and that I feel needs specific clarification. I don’t know which “country” they live in but here in the United States, where Ms. Fossen resides, we have VERY specific Statue of Limitations when it comes to child molestation. The SOL for each state differs, where Ms. Fossen father resides , the state of Minnesota, this is the statement…SOL Depending on the Nature of the Offense : If a minor when the acts occurred, the victim must bring a claim “within nine years after the commission of the offense or, if the victim failed to report the offense within this limitation period, within three years after the offense was reported to law enforcement authorities.” These laws therefore make it impossible for Ms. Fossen to prosecute her father, even though she would want to. Perhaps that might help to answer your statement of ” she refuses to go after her own father – even though the legal system definitely allows it. Does this not seem odd to you?”

    I don’t know if you are aware that it is EXTREMELY common for an adult who was abuse in childhood to NOT report or share their abuse until they are well into their adulthood. That is often why their own siblings and non-abusing parent don’t believe them because they are so sure that they would have shared the abuse because they were “so close” as siblings. That however is just not trueso to ” check the timing of her initial accusations” ….does not give proof to “deny the alleged abuse”
    (which, if true, was horrendous) This I find to be the harshest of your comments really because it puts doubt and question upon one’s most horrendous and painful life experiences the abused has endured, a theft of their innocence. For the record here Ms. Fossen’s abuse with her father is NOT alone, there is in reality another young woman who has come forward to share her story of abuse. This case did go to court.

    It is hard to try and wrap our minds around the concept of” going after PBI” with these accusations, I’ve struggled to try and understand and accept it for myself but I am beginning to see a bigger picture regarding this whole situation. I’m trusting that there WILL be good to come of this entire situation, there is open communication between this group, PBI/Mark Maxwell and the 3rd Party that PBI chose. Because whether I accept the concept of “going after PBI” (which I don’t believe is a “going after”) even Mark Maxwell has acknowledge that there were things that likely happened and that he would like to deal with it.

    I’m trusting for a healing conclusion of some kind in the “near future”

  24. Interested observer says:

    Elsa, my points 1 – 2 – 3 above reference material that was published on the “we were” site, not the now secret site. Point 4 references that fact that she did publish names, but those names were not shared. When the page was public, she very clearly communicated the fact that she would be naming names. I am unable to share confidential information from the secret site – because I do not have access to it. If I did have access, I would not share anything posted there that was done so on a confidential basis. The info I was able to find is info anyone could find, with a little effort. I can’t help but note your confirmation that there are some “survivors” that are in the approved group, and some that aren’t.

  25. Hank Hamm says:

    I don’t much care for cowards that rant anonymously; I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

    “If that parrot belongs to someone please, please throw a blanket over his cage.”

  26. Diana K. Stooshnov says:

    I am another interested observer, only I am not ashamed of putting myself out there. Not that you are, but I have lived my life being ashamed because I have never been good enough to stand before a church and proclaim Christ because everything I held dear as a “women” was taken away from me. I was soiled goods……..I could not even live up to the standards of marrying a godly man. I don’t know if you have any idea of what this is like when you are at such a vulnerable young age. My life was thrown away because of what was taught to me as being good, godly, and righteous. I did not even understand that this was not right and could have been overcome with the right kind of support and love and understanding. The churches and PBI that I attended did not show any grace for someone whose very essense had been torn from them.

    I have grown up and grown over and moved on and now have friends who love me for who I am, not for what I could have been. I am not afraid to speak out and when I heard the news about prairie, I jumped at the chance to now connect with others who attended the school with the hopes that now I could actually have friendships with others who maybe understood my deepest and darkest moments. It was pretty clear soon on that there are those who have moved on with their life, those who were still struggling, those who are just now being able to talk about their life, the impact that it has had……and alot of people who basically say put on your big girl panties and suck it up. It is over, it is past, get over it…..and don’t let your filth permeate my world. If you keep talking about it, it just keeps happening over and over again. I just think it is so wonderful that so many wonderful people who started out their life being abused so young are now able to stand up and be counted as fantastic gracious loving men and women. I would pray every day that it would never happen to another child but you and I both know just because we never told any one….because we did not even know the right words to use to tell…….people like my “Pastor” and my “father” were able to carry out their dirty little deeds over and over again. I would love to be able to pray this into oblivion but it ain’t happening. Is it because God is not listening? I believe it is because Godly people have not had the grace to embrace the hurting until now. The hurting have found their voice thanks to some wonderful, imperfect, hurting, normal people who are doing the best they know how under horrible circumstances. Anytime, you find the devil lurking in sacred places, you find godly people protecting the places, not the people. Places cost money and people can be run out of the church and replaced.

    Do we always act and do things in a godly manner? no. not really….but in case you have not noticed we are in a war with the devil. Do we stand down and protect the perps? or do we fight to save the life of another child? The choice is easy for me, my abuse took the opportunity for me to have children taken away, and I am NOT going to let that happen again. No one needs to worry about losing their name, their business, their church unless you try to protect a perp, either dead or alive.

    I wanted to bring another perspective to some of your points above.

    1. she won’t go after her father, the abuser……well, my father is dead. Died two years ago, even while in the nursing home was grooming the nurses in sexually suggestive ways. He had been an abuser and a typical groomer so long, that even on his death bed could not give it up. He made it all his life without being criminally charged, why, because when he got caught it was handled in the ways of the independent fundamental churches. He hid out in the churches, abused his grandchildren, church members and when it got two hot moved to another place and started over. So you ask, why did I never charge him. I have no recollection of him abusing me, however, when we were there before he died, my older sister told me, she caught him abusing me. The church protected the perps. I left home right after prairie and it was not until he tried to abuse an 11 year old girl living with me, did I find out about my dad. It seemed like all the good christians in my family knew except for me. Why does that happen? I promised him that if I ever heard of another instance, I would turn him in myself and I would broadcast to the world what he does. That was my only recourse I knew to keep him from reoffending. All family dynamics are different and we each have to do what we have to do to keep our sanity.

    2. I have personally experienced situations where I have watched a man and a young girl (like 3 years old) kibbitz, wrestle, etc. and the guy had such a big h*o* he finally had to stay bent down to hide it. Not unusual……sorry….it happens and thank God some of us are not too timid to say nothing.

    3. Yes, I think we all have the ability to detect demonic activity. Some more than others. Venomous accusations against abuse from purported christians comes to mind right off the bat. I am sure I can think of others.

    4. Naming people who have caused emotional abuse, dead or alive, is a conversation very important to all those people who have experienced it. Conversations are healing, validating, and an important step in the healing process. I think if the conversation gets too uncomfortable for some people, they don’t need to be part of the conversation. We are all coming from different places, different tactics were used on use to get us to obey, and sharing this information can help some of us find out, hey, we were okay after all. It was not our fault. It is very restorative. Oh, boy, when we find out we were not the only ones, the “chosen” ones, we can love each other, hug each other, encourage each other on this walk of life.

    And yes, I struggle with naming my “pastor” who is now dead. I don’t want to hurt his family…..but guess what. It is NOT MY FAULT. HE CHOSE to hurt his family when he snuck into my bed in the middle of the night. And so, when the time is right, he will be named along with others. Because there probably is another person out there that needs to know it was not her fault either. We need each other. We need to love each other where it hurts.

    I posted this on the alumni sight and believe this to be where we are right now. ” I know that so many of you are questioning why Prairie. Why drag a wonderful place like Prairie through the mud. My question is, why Ontario, why not Sicamous, it is happening here. Why not the Berean Fundamental Churches, it was happening there. Thanks to all those who connected the dots…..and said, we have a problem…and we can make a difference. When enough dots are connected….our voices will be directed there. The dots have led all of us to Prairie…that is our connection. Because of our voices, no predator in Three Hills should feel safe and protected.”

    Thanks for sharing this conversation with me. and giving me this opportunity to share some of my thoughts and experiences and what has brought me to this time and place. God Bless us all as we try to do the right and honorable thing and protect our children at all costs. They are our future and our gifts from God.

  27. Barb says:


    A huge bouquet of flowers for you–for sharing with truth and clarity!

    I appreciate all that you have said and the way that you have said it!

  28. Bene Diction says:

    Diana: Thank you, I am so sorry for what you’ve been through.

    Ruth Maxwell (relative of PBI President Mark Maxwell) spoke at The Village Church in North Carolina in January.
    At 23:02 Fred Whaples calls PBI, Prairie Theological. Ruth Maxwell begins speaking at 24:00.


    The FB group Prairie Bible College Alumni which started in 2009 is closing down, the admin is moving on.

  29. thelordbenchung says:

    If this news is true, then I would see these Prairie Alumni as cowards. All of these that refused to dialogue, cowards.

  30. Gryphon says:

    LordBen – “Interested observer” speaks of people that were expelled from another site. I would call that a “refusal to dialogue”, wouldn’t you?

    As to other comments about anonymity and cowardice, most of the people in this thread are anonymous including Bene D, ZMT & MEC and others who have volunteered only a first name. Are we all cowards then? Doubtful.

    I remain, Gryphon.

  31. Bene D says:

    The use of a pen name (or an internet handle) isn’t necessarily about cowardice.:^)

  32. Hank Hamm says:

    I disagree, Bene D, a pen name is fine for general commentary and personal opinions, but I maintain that anyone who names someone else by their real name in their posts and attacks them is a coward because only his target is named.

  33. Bene D says:

    Fair enough Hank, the issue is attacking, labeling and demonetization. That’s a communication problem anyone using their own name can have as well.
    The content of communication can be cowardly.

  34. Hank Hamm says:

    Thanks for helping to define the actual issue, Bene D.

    I am battle weary these days and wishing we could all
    somehow get on the same page and agree at the very minimum about the objective, if not our individual methods.

    As our friend, Teri, mentioned this morning, “Do we just want to die on this hill?”

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