Maxwell family members behind Prairie Bible Institute Survivor Fund Project/Healing Team

In November 2011, Prairie Bible Institute President Mark Maxwell went to media with a story of historical abuses at the Three Hills school, and the school released a statement that administration went to the RCMP.

Recently, there have been presented alleged instances of abuse by individuals connected with Prairie Bible Institute.

To the extent of our information, the incidents in question date back several decades, and the individuals purportedly involved are no longer at Prairie. Nevertheless, we feel it is appropriate to respond and to emphasize our commitment to seeking truth and transparency.

We have taken a file containing many of these allegations to the RCMP, discussed the alleged incidents with them and assured them of our full co-operation should further inquiry be necessary.

Media far beyond Alberta picked up the story. What wasn’t noted by PBI was that the ‘file’  was group abuse survivor Facebook pages which were taken to the local RCMP detachment  The file was handed off to a specialized unit in the Calgary RCMP detachment.

It was clear from the beginning that PBI had made it’s decision about how the allegations would be handled by the school, and PBI has stuck to their plans. Students and staff have not commented publicly with the exception of the 2012 student president who went on Facebook to talk with survivors.

As an interesting aside, I’ve wondered if that student was publicly called out in a veiled way by Mark Maxwell in one of his updates, for chatting with PBI abuse survivors.  While this students communication with PBI survivors was at times clumsy, it was apparent he was sincere. The student body president has not communicated with PBI survivors since.*(see update below)

As news of a group of former PBI staff kids and students discussing physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual abuse online spread, and the calling of accountability by abuse survivors spread, current PBI students called a chapel meeting to pray for the survivors and for their school. It is completely understandable that current students were concerned, a possible lawsuit had been mentioned, and students needed to know their credits were not being threatened in any way and that their school year was safe. That November 23, 2011 chapel service was taped. It was interesting. Two administrators stood up and read several emails of support from various ministry colleagues and alumni, some who blamed the devil for the ‘attack’ on PBI. It was difficult to listen too. Intentionally or not,  the way leadership chose to present, made a clear line between the school and abuse survivors, reinforced the us/them mentality common to many Christian institutions, and further alienated beleaguered PBI abuse survivors.  It was apparent the institution would be protected at all costs. That has been the case over the past year. For reasons I can’t fully explain, the black and white approach is embedded in the culture of PBI. I was sickened over the slant being taken in chapel, so I contacted someone whose email had been read.

The person I contacted was surprised their email had been used to imply support for the school, stating that they had not given permission for their email to be shared publicly.

I was left wondering how many other email writers who were used that day would have expressed that same concern if they knew their emails were made public in a way that made PBI’s response to past abuses look good to students and anyone else watching. Would some of the email writers have been as uncomfortable as I was at the alienating of PBI abuse survivors?

As media coverage died down that November/December, Mark Maxwell released a newsletter to alumni outlining the three steps PBI would be taking.

Top of the list was the use of alumni to ‘help’ PBI survivors who had congregated on Facebook.

1)      Alumni: We have a truly amazing group of Alumni around the world. Many of them have offered to help in any way possible.  A dozen of them have committed a great deal of time to working with those alumni who have stories of pain and injury. This group cares about Prairie as well as the need for the injured to find healing. Their efforts may include raising funds to help cover some of:

  • - the costs of travel if someone would like to come back, either to share with us or the third-party group; and
  • - the costs related to reconciliation and healing.

- Subject to legal constraints, Prairie will allow these funds to pass through the school so that donors can benefit from a tax deductible receipt. Those who would like to share their stories of pain and injury are invited to contact this team

Initially PBI board member Linda Brinks was assigned to be a contact person for PBI abuse survivors who wished to contact the school. That turned out to be a less than ethical idea right  from the time of the initial press release:

At a recent meeting, the Board selected Linda Brinks, one of its members, to be a point of contact for survivors.

Should any individual feel that he or she has been the recipient of abusive conduct by a Prairie staff member while enrolled at Prairie and prefer to not take this to the police, that individual can contact Linda Brinks directly at (xxx).  Our board chair, Bruce Miller, will also be so informed and will provide guidance as necessary.

The message: suck it up survivors, we’ll share your information between us at will. Communication between administrators of the Facebook group for PBI Abuse Survivors and PBI administration was already strained and hostile.  Now abuse survivors were being told that if they spoke to Brinks, their communication, concerns and pain would be passed on at the very least to the board chair. It turns out that board member Brinks (who is a public health nurse and who should have rethought her loyalties  and  her professional ethics) was quite chatty. Linda Fossen:

Remember when Mark assigned the nurse from the board to be our point of contact? He encouraged all survivors to confidentially contact Linda Brinks.  I had a survivor tell me that she did call and talked to Linda briefly and within a half-hour of that call, Mark Maxwell was on the phone inviting himself to visit this survivor in her home!  She was horrified and told him no!  One of the first things he said was “I heard you made a call to Linda Brinks”.

Shortly after being assigned as the PBI contact, Brinks disappeared. PBI merely said she had stepped down as the abuse survivor contact for ‘personal reasons.’

Enter the alumni  ’Survivor Fund Project/Healing Team’. If you type Prairie Bible Institute into the sidebar search field on the right here at BDBO, you can see several posts on this group of alumni. I have been critical of the concept from day one. I have also been critical of motivation.  I contacted a couple of mental health professionals who specialize in abuse, prior to firing off posts on this team, and nothing will change what professionals recommend. It doesn’t matter if a few alumni on this team have good intentions and even some training, the team and it’s purpose is a form of control.  It turns out, this ‘team’ itself being controlled, and no amount of flowery language and public reassurances is going to change that.

The Survivor Fund Project initially made it’s approach to PBI abuse survivors online stating that any alumni who wished to donate should send money to PBI so a tax receipt could be issued.  This alumni team seemed reluctant to reveal who they were, but after being approached in January 2012, a team member answered some basic questions

Survivors chatting on Facebook were aware that a minister in the southern US had decided to raise $5000.00 to give to this project/team. In December 2011, Ruth Maxwell, PBI President Mark Maxwells sister, spoke at this guys church and I often wondered if she was handed the funds to give to PBI for this team. I wondered how involved Ruth Maxwell was, but there was no way of knowing, for despite the public reassurance the ‘team’ only wanted healing for survivors, and wanted to operate transparently and honestly, it took some time before team members were publicly named. Once again, a warning bell went off for survivors and those of us observing. One named team member was Miriam ‘Mim’ Phipps – the aunt of Mark and Ruth Maxwell and daughter of PBI founder L. E. Maxwell. She is currently listed as a team member on the ‘team’  website. Most of the 20 were never named. One instrumental member who is not named is Ruth Maxwell.

The Survivor Fund Project/Healing Team stated among other things:

“The conversations are confidential; it’s your story to tell, not ours.”

“It is confidential between the survivor and the listener who is walking with that survivor.”

There are at least 20 people available to listen to stories, and from them, 2-3 people who will handle the distribution of funds. We have already had a number of people come to us and receive real hearing and understanding, and are moving forward in their healing journey.

Our goal is that all will find this to be a place of acceptance, support, recovery, and healing, as we offer to listen, respect, love, and share resources to help one another to grow in grace.

In reality, things were quite different, and if the two Maxwell’s who are running this team were reporting to the PBI president,  the behaviour online by these two ladies and named members of the team makes sense. Both have blocked PBI abuse survivors on Facebook, refusing to communicate with many of them.  Linda Fossen:

Getting back to the healing team.  Remember the survivor who got a pre-paid trip to Three Hills and had a “glorious” experience meeting with Mark Maxwell?  That was all very much orchestrated by Ruth Maxwell and Mim Phibbs.  Funny isn’t it that no other survivor was ever offered this?  I remember Mark doing a radio interview with the survivor and saying that she was from “one of the grand families of Prairie”.  So apparently nothing much has changed at PBI.  In grade school, I remember feeling out of league with those whose names were Kirk, Olson, Maxwell and Rendall.  If you weren’t related to them, you definitely were not in the inner circle.  It was evident on the playground in third grade.

In keeping control of the healing team, Prairie is able to control what the public finds out.  I truly believe in my heart that PBI knows the scope of the abuse of children that was perpetrated by its staff on campus – but they want to squelch that information in order to protect their reputation.  When a survivor told Ruth that her abuser was a student and not staff, Ruth replied, “Oh good, that’s so much better.”  Better for whom?  Better for PBI that’s who!  Ruth’s response is telling and really indicative of the attitude of the administration.

The teams public assurances the team was not connected to PBI rang hollow at the time, and are certainly hollow now. Fortunately, PBI abuse survivors (with the known exception of the one) did not approach the team, trusting their gut instincts and holding back. There is something to be said for hyper-vigilance born of childhood trauma.

There is another side note to the control and flow of information, and perhaps speaks to how tight the Maxwell clan may be and how often they communicate to ‘manage’  what they perceive as damage to the institution. The involvement of this family with this team explains the clumsy and slow release of information to abuse survivors.

Did a team spokesperson have to have their copy checked by Ruth Maxwell or Mrs. Phipps prior to making it public?  I strongly believe the Maxwell ladies call all the shots with  The Survivor Fund Project/Healing Team., and I believe they are in contact with Mark Maxwell. So much for transparency, honesty and good faith. Ruth Maxwell remains friends with the minister from the southern US – he was reported to police for harassment of survivors. There were a few angry, vitriolic and bullying alum who went way beyond disagreement with the goals of the survivors, and beyond disagreement with the fact PBI abuse survivors were speaking up. Their opposition has been ugly and I believe PBI administration has been complicit.  While the school is not responsible for the behaviour of adults who attended the school, no PBI admin spoke up and asked these thugs to stop. PBI has preferred to colour survivors as a problem, and paint the institution as victim.

A former PBI alum, who worked in a helping profession and who is a survivor of abuse, wrote Mark Maxwell in September 2012, regarding proposed changes to the PBI harassment  abuse and assault policies,  and offered assistance.

Prairie’s current abuse policies, revised in 2010, are posted on our employment page and can be accessed directly here. These are being revised to incorporate what we have learned in the past year as well as best practices in place at other colleges and universities.

This person is skilled in policy writing and abuse issues. The goal was to bring to bear whatever possible positive influence she could. The PBI President responded quickly and politely. Six days later, in a somewhat bizarre twist, this former alumni received an unsolicited email from Mrs. Miriam ‘Mim” Phipps of The Survivor Fund Project/Healing Team. Coincidence? It’s possible Mrs. Phipps reads BDBO, but anything is possible, including communication between the Maxwells. I doubt we’ll ever really know, the public and PBI abuse survivors were not supposed to know of Maxwell involvement with the alumni team in the first place.  If  this alumn, who reached out in good faith, had not been healed of past trauma, what would that unsolicited contact have done emotionally and spiritually?

The PBI policy revision was the third goal listed by Mark Maxwell in November 2011. To date, the policy remains unchanged.

I’m ending with an excerpt from PBI’s Harvester Magazine Winter 2013, “A Note from the President” which ends where this all began. This is the on-going ‘God is on the side of PBI’ belief, the  us/them approach to abuse survivors. There is continued projection and blame toward those who found their voice and who speak up about their past abuse while they were at Prairie Bible Institute.  No one can deal in good faith when they are manipulated, blamed, and branded as attackers on the side of the devil.

It is easy to lose sight of the fact that countless young men and women have found new life and growing spiritual maturity during their time at PBI, due in no small part to the impact of Prairie faculty and staff both now and in years past. Many of them were instrumental in shaping young lives for the glory of God. We also thank our alumni and friends who have stood with us and given support and advice. It was so encouraging to see the Prairie family come together this summer at our Homecoming celebrations.

An unfortunate result of the social media attacks has been a decrease in donations at a time when they are much needed. And yet it is so evident that God is continuing to work in this place, preparing men and women to impact a needy world. There is a great opportunity here and we are committed to being a part of what God is doing. We’d love to have you join us.

* Update: William Knelsen, PBI student body president says he did not claim to speak for PBI when he went on FB to talk with survivors. He said he was clear he was expressing his personal opinions, that he made the decision to end his conversation, and was not asked to do so by PBI admin. He has not communicated with PBI President Mark Maxwell about his FB conversation with abuse survivors, and he does not believe Maxwell is referencing himself or other students in the September 2012  Q&A. He also says, “In addition to receiving support from Mark about interacting with survivors, I have also received that same support from PBI Board members.”

I appreciate Mr. Knelsen taking time to clarify his position.
He believes I’m not representing Mark Maxwell fairly.

Which begs the question – who is Maxwell referring to in this September 2012 statement“We do understand that some individuals, including those who claim that they speak on behalf of Prairie, are active in the public forum. While they mean well and we appreciate their support, their opinions are not necessarily those of Prairie or its leadership.”

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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45 Responses to Maxwell family members behind Prairie Bible Institute Survivor Fund Project/Healing Team

  1. The more PBI tries to hide, the more suspicious I get. I ask myself “why would this school lie to the survivors, deceive the alumni and continue to exert so much control over this process?” I believe that PBI knows about much of the horrific abuse perpetrated on its campus and they hope that by squelching that information they will continue to be respected. The truth is that they have already lost respect in the evangelical community and the longer they stall on coming clean, the more respect they lose. Unless someone gets Mark Maxwell off his high horse and gets him to engage in a dialogue with the survivors, there is little chance that the school will survive.

    Excellent journalism Benediction – thank you for holding Prairie’s feet to the fire.

  2. It is okay to stand up to the Maxwell Mafia and make a comment. God is not going to strike you with lightning. I promise!

  3. hopesome says:

    Seems things are less than holy in the ‘holy land’ of the biblical manifestation of ‘thought, word and deeds’ –

    Is there anything really awesome in terms of Jesus going on out there –

    I could do with some really good news!!

  4. ZMT says:

    Is anyone really surprised? The deception and trickery are just par for the course in the PBI religious world. They don’t know how to be “transparent” or “honest”.

  5. Hopesome, I think PBI is a bible college in name only. They don’t appear to stand for much of anything anymore. I never dreamed I would see the day when I would see such apathy at a school that once stood as a monument to fundamentalistic fervor and passion. Prairie Bible Institute is a shell of what it once was – not only in size but in character and purpose.

    ZMT, I don’t think anyone is surprised anymore but we certainly are disappointed. To Prairie honesty means “no matter what the truth is we will spin it to our advantage to put PBI in the best possible light and if we can’t do that we will just ignore you and ignore the question” and transparency means “we never said that. You never heard that. These people saying this are enemies of God sent to destroy the school.”

  6. Bene D says:

    PBI has proven itself to be as mediocre and lackluster as the Christian and Missionary Alliance in the US – The Roman Catholic Church – New Tribes – ABWE…

    Obfuscating, manipulating, delaying, blaming, whitewashing, tribalism and silence regarding bullies and thugs – anything to protect the institution.

    Prairie Bible Institute has shown Canadian bible schools, churches and ministries how not to handle historical abuse information and living abuse survivors. They must be very proud.

    Even the bible college in the US that PBI is compared to – Bob Jones University – saw the writing on the wall and hired G.R.A.C.E.

    I wonder what the silent majority at PBI think if they are watching – the support staff, professors and teachers, interested students, suppliers…? If I had my life invested in PBI in some way, I’d be ashamed at how the school has conducted themselves.

    The hubris of believing we can handle things in house, that we are experts leads to loss of respect, loss of trust, loss of endowments and donors. That someone who was successful in the financial industry would blame ‘social media attacks’ speaks volumes.

    I wonder why members of the Maxwell family thought involvement in the Healing Team was a good idea – wouldn’t their skills be more useful elsewhere? What am I saying? Why would anyone think the team was a good idea, let alone running it incognito?

  7. Bene D says:


    The good news is that there are approximately 700 small bible colleges in the US.
    Using the -10 rule, let’s say 70 small bible colleges in Canada which were not authoritarian patriarchal or Gothard promoters and are not messing up.:^)

    And here, enjoy.:^)

  8. Richard Russell says:

    I salute the survivors who have come forward. This takes lot of courage. And it may well prevent similar abuse somewhere else, in the future.

  9. hopesome says:

    When you become a professional ie; Plumber, Banker, GP, Secretary, Vicar etc., with the ‘title’ of such comes an authority – Its how you use that authority that counts and within that shows us who ‘you are’.. You can use that authority to ‘lord it over someone’ demean someone, or just trash them to pieces! When money starts to denote the profession then you begin to lose professionalism and end up with money taking presidence. We see evidence of that through the fall of the banks, through the problems with our NHS and through the unscrupulous practices that are now being exposed. It became all about obtaining, gaining, and using the authority of both money and power to ‘basically rule us’ all: That Principality and Power I find offensive enough in and of itself but when you couple that ‘Power’ with a sweetness and love that hides the reality of it all then you have deception on a ‘grand scale’ and has been proven as such with companies ‘miss selling’ both financial products and concepts and us ‘falling like flies’ into their webs of deception: The selling of Jesus is no different to some. It may vary from nation to nation in ever so small ways but basically thats how its become and what we are facing right now. Jesus is surrounded by a ‘concept of love and compassion and when that is translated into a feeling then you are in danger of falling prey to its warmth ‘especially if you have had little ‘warmth yourself and are ‘sub-consciously seeking’ it out; So if you walk in ‘Jesus authority’ then you use that authority when you need to get yourself out of ………….. trouble ……… and we can all ‘bull ..’ when we have to – Right! The thing is with ‘Jesus authority’ there comes with it a subliminal threat that says we may go straight to hell if we ‘oppose it’ …. and thats where they win ‘so to speak’! and we are left ‘wondering’ fearing’ and submitting…………

    I would love to see a world where we do things ‘without a price’ necessarily accompanying our actions the whole time ……….. I had a plumber come round recently to fix a problem with the hot water boiler; He was in the house almost two hours not only sorting the boiler out put other bits and bobs to boot; Normally you are looking at at least £30 to £40 pounds to get them through the door if not more plus parts and time on top of that. He charged me £10 – (thank God!) His goodwill was worth far more than monetary wealth – and would have resulted in monetary wealth as I would have recommended him on ……………. and so on. We have got it all the wrong way round ………… The goodwill he gave me in terms of relief, etc, had me in a position where I was in need to pass on some of that goodwill not only in his name but also in mine. Positive action in motion ………… with a reality and practical application that spoke volumes and took the bad taste of money out of the proceedings and into love ‘they neighbour as they self’ ..Ok lets not rip each other off but help each other along the way ………… The other side of the proceedings was; The work he did was only worth about ten minutes of his time- to unburden his heart took much longer ………… But as he walked away and I was left trying to fathom it all out I hoped that in some way His burden had been lightened as in deed mine had ………. Life is so so complicated at times – simplification please come home!

    Thank you Bene sometimes the chaff can seem far more abundent than the wheat, but sometimes you have to ‘fight’ your way through the chaff to be able to enjoy the fruits of the wheat.

  10. hopesome says:

    Abuse: Where are we going

    I recently took to youtube to find a new recipe: In browsing I came across a video entitled ‘room tour’ : I found young teens (girls; Americans) showing us their bedrooms, it goes on – they were showing their latest haul from the shopping Mall, their pre- going to school routines, some had shots of them in the shower (as part of their getting ready for bed routine) allbeit only showing the back of ……………. According to what was being said they get payment according to how many hits they get on their site;

    Frankly it scared me to death:

    Americas so ‘cool’ was the message, ‘we are so cool’ was their call to us all…………..

    Temptation within liberation – is where it was centered -

    Scared for where we are going: You bet I AM

    There are days when I wonder if there is a safe clean haven to be had…

  11. hopesome says:

    Intimacy is one thing – being intimate another –

    Privacy ‘hey man thats going right out the window!!!

  12. Thank you Richard for your support…we appreciate it!

  13. Texas Daryl says:

    I am so not surprised to be reading about this. The environment at PBI was one of forced subservience. Questioning was shunned. Order was valued over the person. The Prairie I remeber was the perfect environment for the predator to thrive.

    And it does not surprise me one bit that the offspring of the founder is carrying on this tradition. The unfortunate truth is that Paul Maxwell believes in his heart that PBI is the work of God. Thus, He believes he is doing the will of God by silencing those who would damage the work of God. By demanding justice, these people who in reality are only crying out for healing, in Maxwell’s eyes, are damaging his beloved institution. And if the institution is blessed by god, then those people must be doing the work of the devil.

    So I ask this: If PBI is blessed by God, then why is it failing?

  14. Bene Diction says:

    Hi Texas Daryl:

    I haven’t heard Paul Maxwell mentioned much the past year, and don’t know if he is involved helping Mark Maxwell and his wife run PBI.

  15. Paul recently lost his wife and is in pretty frail condition himself. He still lives in Three Hills. I have not gotten any indication that he and Mark have worked together on the abuse scandal. That being said, I have some very deep concerns about Paul and things he has said and done that are very telling about the way abuse was handled in the past.

    He taught his students in his Marriage and Family Life class for years that any woman who has a history of incest in her background should not to tell her husband when she marries because “it would make it difficult for him to have a good relationship with his in-laws.” I think this speaks volumes.

    One of the saddest stories I ever heard and one that really haunts me was told to me by a staff kid. He went to Paul Maxwell when he was president and told him about the horrific abuse that he and his siblings were subjected to by his parents. The father regularly raped his boys and the mother took out her rage on her children. Paul Maxwell told the staff kid, “I am not going to touch this with a ten foot pole.” He refused to do anything about it. The children continued to be abused for years because of his failure to intervene. I personally don’t know how a human being could be so cold that they would deliberately allow the abuse to continue knowing that children were suffering immense abuse in that home. It is a story that often makes me weep.

    It is obvious that Paul Maxwell cared more about saving the reputation of PBI than saving the precious children who were being abused. And we see that same attitude in Mark Maxwell. That is why I say that PBI is rotten to the core. This mentality has been perpetuated at PBI for decades and abused children were just seen as collateral damage in the process of churning out missionaries. What mattered most is that souls were being saved in Africa and to hell with the little children who had to pay the price. It is disgusting beyond words to describe it…

  16. hopesome says:


    Abuse is widespread throughout most civilisations and cultures – Abuse in the church has been left ‘to its own devices’ because of ‘Jesus loves even the abuser’ kind of reasoning which renders any effected reasoning almost null and void. (Fake redemptions are how they tend to gloss over these kind of ‘strayings’ ;( ie: Bentley and his so called redemption comes to mind!) All is forgiven no matter what – right. Fake love and the practice thereof are where they hide to justify Jesus and themselves. Its not only a travesty of Justice but mockery on a grand scale:

    You tell me how come with all the missionaries that have been sent to Africa over the years its still not been ‘saved’…. (‘Saved’ being their language not mine!) Conflict can be ‘used and abused to – just like people are used and abused to further – what exactly ‘ a society, that seems to me can’t live without conflict in its many forms: At the same time as trying to overcome sexual abuse we are actually breeding it………. at the same time as trying to overcome war we are breeding it… So defeat is all we get and the cycle goes round and round with little or no change to its core (so called) values..

    Who has all authority over the church –

    You always have to clean out your ‘own house’ before you can assume to clean out someone elses – the problem is some people just like the filth and only use the ‘bleach’ to hide the stink….

    The church and its duplicity makes me sick because its led us to believe its clean ……….

    As did all the rest of society that is being revealed to be fraud.

  17. Hopesome,

    Bravo – I couldn’t agree more! PBI has a long history of believing that once an abuser has prayed a little prayer that everything is “under the blood” and no one is allowed to bring it up again. Never mind that the abusive behavior continues. That is why we are seeing no cooperation from PBI in holding the perps accountable.

    Let me share something that an abuse survivor shared with me. “My father was on staff (faculty) at PBI for many years. Like your father he is psychologically damaged, and unable to love anyone but himself. Although he no longer lives at PBI, he is still utterly obsessed with his religion, to the exclusion and alienation of all else, mostly because it provides the perfect smokescreen for his psychotic behavior. Every evil thing he does gets “washed in the blood of the lamb.” What a crock. He is never responsible for his actions – it is always god or the devil that somehow made him do it. With the evangelical equivalent of a few “hail mary’s” he’s off and running once again. He claims to my siblings that he has “no idea” why I don’t want to see him and he chooses not to acknowledge any pain he has caused. I no longer have any contact with him.” I knew this abuser – he was one of my teachers at PBI. He was a self-righteous, pompous, arrogant man who wanted everyone to know how “spiritual” he was. It made me sick to find out later that this same man was beating his kids with metal rods and venting his anger and rage at them only to go to the school and be the “godly Bible teacher”. No accountability and no responsibility because “it’s under the blood”.

    There are so many staff kids that grew up in that system and chucked everything they had crammed down their throats at PBI. Why? Because they saw the hypocrisy of it all. We have several survivors who consider themselves agnostics and atheists now. It is as if they tried to put as much distance as possible between themselves and the sham that PBI perpetuated.

    I am a follower of Jesus and it disgusts me to see people treat grace and mercy so cheaply. When someone repents it is supposed to mean that they sincerely change. Repentance is not like a good luck charm. You don’t ask God for forgiveness and then turn around and go back to your sinful ways. And grace is never meant to be used as an escape from responsibility. There are consequences for abusing a child. God can and will forgive you but that doesn’t absolve you of the consequences that will likely stay with you the rest of your life.

  18. Angelyn Ray says:

    Thanks, Bene, for staying on this story.

    Regarding the unsolicited mail from Miriam (Mim Maxwell) Phibbs, the clear point of her mail was to gush with sympathy over the assault I’d experienced at PBI some 50 years ago, when she and I were classmates, and suggest a visit with her at her place. She did not identify herself in her capacity as part of the abuse survivor “healing team,” which is standard procedure in most codes of ethics. (Nor did she offer compensation for a visit at her place.) When I responded saying that rather than seeking support for myself, I was offering support to all concerned, and inviting further dialogue with her with that in mind, I never heard from her again.

    Had I been still hurting from the abuse, the gush of sympathy “out of the blue” would have felt like a re-victimization, followed by another re-victimization – the abandonment that happened as abruptly as her initial approach. I have worked in the counseling field with survivors of trauma for over 30 years, and I have never known a colleague with as little sensitivity to the needs of trauma survivors. First rule: Do No Harm.

  19. Texas Daryl says:

    I misspoke (mistyped?) on my previous comment. I meant to say Mark Maxwell. And while it’s clearly evident the roll Mark has played in the current cover up at PBI, I can’t help but want to hold Paul, and all other past presidents accountable as well. PBI was, and apparently still is, the perfect kind of environment for a predator to thrive.

    Whether it be misguided intentions or deliberate cover up, it doesn’t change the abusive conditions that were fostered there.

  20. Bene, regarding your comment: Which begs the question – who is Maxwell referring to in this September 2012 statement? “We do understand that some individuals, including those who claim that they speak on behalf of Prairie, are active in the public forum. While they mean well and we appreciate their support, their opinions are not necessarily those of Prairie or its leadership.”

    When I saw that comment I immediately thought of Wanda Janz who for a time was quite active in our open FB group. It seemed to alot of us survivors that she had the ear of Mark Maxwell and we often wondered if she was being used as a pawn to disseminate information that PBI wanted us to know without the administration having to break their strategy of silence. You will recall that she had alot to say about the new policy that was supposedly being drafted (which apparently no one has ever seen).

    As you know, Wanda has abruptly gone silent and we never hear from her again. We have seen a complete cessation of conversation from the healing team, the core pro-PBI alumni group, and the Friends of PBI. It is unlikely that they all decided to quit talking to us. I think they were told to back off or else.

  21. FCJ says:

    I do not understand the confusion here.

    From a PBI perspective, this is not, and never has been about the victims or about preventing future abuse and awareness by bringing about criminal charges or civil suits.

    It is about protecting reputations-personal and institutional, avoiding costly litigation at any expense, and about hushing up as much open discussion as possible so as not to negatively impact financial support. In it’s most basic it is about the preservation of perceived power and influence and of course it is about money-as usual.

    This should really not surprise anyone. It comes as no surprise to me that financial support has decreased. I would be very surprised if enrolment is also down.

    At the end of the day I cannot I imagine anyone continuing to financially support or attend such a closed environment. Individuals and institutions that are afraid to have the light of day shone on their activities have something to hide. I suspect why PBI really needs is a couple of searchlights. I suspect that this will only happen if some brave soul moves forward with civil litigation (and refuses hush money) or if criminal charges are ever laid.

    Just my opinion.

  22. Angelyn says:

    I appreciate and share your opinion, FCJ. However, I don’t think there’s really much confusion or surprise – just varying interests being protected, as you have pointed out. In these instances, it’s always the more powerful whose interests prevail.

    Victims/survivors are isolated from one another until disclosure. Disclosure of the abuse is a difficult thing, too often resulting in shaming and victim-blaming. Pre-mature exposure mandates against the private work and healing that needs to come first. However, somewhere along the road of healing, disclosure will occur, for part of the healing process IS disclosure of the abuse, when the timing is right for each individual abused. Once the truth is known, it will indeed set us free.

    As for litigation against an offending institution, yes, it would (will) take some brave soul to come forward, or to organize a class action. Maybe an enlightened attorney who would be willing to work with someone like Linda who has access to survivor identities and could find those ready to step forward with details. I don’t know if this would increase, or ultimately relieve, your work load in this issue, Linda.

    I am still haunted by the story of “Janice,” who died alone, too young, during the time she was isolated because of her support of a survivor who was “healing” on PBI’s terms. (At )

  23. FCJ says:

    Does anyone know how the extent of the decrease in support or if this issue has caused a decrease in enrolment?

    For the life of me I cannot understand why people would financially support an institution whose leadership was lacking in so many crucial areas. Let alone those actually spending money and time to attend.

    Maybe it is attributable to the old PT Barnum saying about fooling people. This actually reminds me of some of the Ponzi schemes out there. It has a few of the same attributes.

  24. I totally agree that we have past the point when PBI can be convinced to do right by the survivors. The administration has proven that they have no interest in helping the hurting – this is all about damage control for PBI. I am in contact with lawyers who have been watching the lack of progress we survivors have had with PBI. I am also working with survivors to initiate legal action. It is slow progress as there is much fear for the survivors to overcome. The only way PBI is going to do the right thing is if they are forced to by a court of law.

    There will be a public report issued later in the year that will detail PBI’s finances. It is a yearly report that is required by law for them to complete. At that time we will be able to determine how much PBI lost in donations.

  25. FCJ says:

    It will be interesting to see how their donations have fared.

    As an aside, we reviewed all of our giving s two years ago with eliminating those with a poor social return or a high percentage of admin. We dropped a number of them in favor of one that was already on our list-the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank. They do much, much better with each of our dollars than most of the organizations we were previously supporting. We have done the same with our church giving.

    We are no longer donating money simply because we have in the past. Hopefully some PBI supporters have done the same- at a minimum because of the lack of leadership and forthrightness.

  26. Angelyn says:

    Is anyone aware of the International Tribunal for Crimes of Church and State?

    I just ran across it today, and hope that any PBI abuse survivors – or others – who read this will be encouraged by it. I’ve put triple asterisks (***) around a paragraph that is particularly pertinent in this article that was posted yesterday:

    Diplomatic Note was issued to Vatican just prior to his resignation

    New Pope and Catholic clergy face indictment and arrest as “Easter Reclamation” plan continues

    A Global Media Release and Statement from The International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State


    The historically unprecedented resignation of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope this week was compelled by an upcoming action by a European government to issue an arrest warrant against Ratzinger and a public lien against Vatican property and assets by Easter.

    The ITCCS Central Office in Brussels is compelled by Pope Benedict’s sudden abdication to disclose the following details:

    1. On Friday, February 1, 2013, on the basis of evidence supplied by our affiliated Common Law Court of Justice (, our Office concluded an agreement with representatives of a European nation and its courts to secure an arrest warrant against Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict, for crimes against humanity and ordering a criminal conspiracy.

    2. This arrest warrant was to be delivered to the office of the “Holy See” in Rome on Friday, February 15, 2013. It allowed the nation in question to detain Ratzinger as a suspect in a crime if he entered its sovereign territory.

    3. A diplomatic note was issued by the said nation’s government to the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, on Monday, February 4, 2013, informing Bertone of the impending arrest warrant and inviting his office to comply. No reply to this note was received from Cardinal Bertone or his office; but six days later, Pope Benedict resigned.

    4. The agreement between our Tribunal and the said nation included a second provision to issue a commercial lien through that nation’s courts against the property and wealth of the Roman Catholic church commencing on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013. This lien was to be accompanied by a public and global “Easter Reclamation Campaign” whereby Catholic church property was to be occupied and claimed by citizens as public assets forfeited under international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

    5. It is the decision of our Tribunal and the said nation’s government to proceed with the arrest of Joseph Ratzinger upon his vacating the office of the Roman Pontiff on a charge of crimes against humanity and criminal conspiracy.

    6. It is our further decision to proceed as well with the indictment and arrest of Joseph Ratzinger’s successor as Pope on the same charges; and to enforce the commercial lien and “Easter Reclamation Campaign” against the Roman Catholic church, as planned.

    In closing, our Tribunal acknowledges that Pope Benedict’s complicity in criminal activities of the Vatican Bank (IOR) was compelling his eventual dismissal by the highest officials of the Vatican. But according to our sources, Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone forced Joseph Ratzinger’s resignation immediately, and in direct response to the diplomatic note concerning the arrest warrant that was issued to him by the said nation’s government on February 4, 2013.

    ***We call upon all citizens and governments to assist our efforts to legally and directly disestablish the Vatican, Inc. and arrest its chief officers and clergy who are complicit in crimes against humanity and the ongoing criminal conspiracy to aid and protect child torture and trafficking.***

    Further bulletins on the events of the Easter Reclamation Campaign will be issued by our Office this week.

    Issued 13 February, 2013
    12:00 am GMT
    by the Brussels Central Office

  27. Angelyn says:

    What’s “right” with this picture? As I have puzzled over the gap between PBI with its “healing team,” and the survivors of abuse suffered at PBI, the impasse between the two camps has become obvious. “Impasse,” you may ask? Yes.

    What else can we call it when ninety-some (90) victim/survivors who have disclosed their abuse to a safe audience, Linda Fossen, are still in the shadows, unidentified, while on the other hand, PBI offers a “healing team” picked from among its own ranks? Meanwhile, PBI’s president acknowledges some abuse, yet expresses gratitude when no official charges are brought, and writes off the voices of survivor advocates as “social media attacks” (Prairie Harvester, Winter 2013). A great gap, yes, an impasse, with pain and silence characterizing one camp and biased self-protection characterizing the other.

    My own experience bears this out. Consider this timetable:

    On July 12, 2012, I added my story to Linda Fossen’s web site. Seven and a half months have gone by, yet no new stories have been added to the seven in existence. Only two of us were willing to be identified. Why so few, and why are five of the sincere, heart-wrenching stories written anonymously? It’s hard to come forward with stories that increase one’s vulnerability, but why are only two of some 90 known survivors willing to be named? Something besides natural reticence is indicated.

    On September 16, 2012, I wrote to PBI’s president, Mark Maxwell, pointing out the glaring bias in favor of abusers as the underpinning of PBI’s Harassment and Assault Policy. He responded with agreement, stated that he was rewriting the policy, and asked me to look it over and advise him when he had a new draft. Five and a half months have passed. No draft has been received, and I can find no evidence of a new policy.

    The only result of my contact with Mr. Maxwell was an unsolicited e-mail from a member of the “healing team,” a Maxwell, by the way, bemoaning the abuse I had suffered some 50 years before and inviting me for a visit at her place. When I wrote offering, instead, my assistance, I never heard from her again.

    I have looked over PBI’s Alumni “Healing Team” web site. It’s a pretty site, and there are nice words, some of which even address the inconsistencies when the “shepherds” of a congregation avoid helping victims of sexual abuse within their own fold to find recourse and healing. What about accountability for offenders? What about seeking help *outside* the fold where the abuse occurred? Why not inside? There is a blatant conflict of interest if the “healers” harbor loyalty to the institution where the abuse was perpetrated. “Healers” within the fold must maintain loyalty to the institution.

    Lacking on the “Healing Team” web site is a clear distinction between the abuser and the abused, just like the Harassment and Assault policies, which ignore the offenses of the offenders while putting the onus on the victims to clean up their own act. On September 18, 2012, Bene Diction published this exposure with Mr. Maxwell’s response, “An Open Letter to PBI’s Mark Maxwell.”

    The Alumni Caring and Connection web site, which includes the “Healing Team” page, contains a signature story, Lessons from a Pecan Tree. The story lauds a tree that bears late but faithfully. It’s a point well taken, but what is the relevance to offenders’ accountability and consequences, to victims’ vindication and healing? Are offenders being told that they can repent and bear fruit, that it’s better late than never? Are victims being told that although they have been damaged, they can still bear fruit? There appears to be no specific accountability for abusers, and no specific balm for survivors. Both are categorized together. Or are both being ignored as such and lumped into the general Christian population? It’s unclear.

    Do you see why I call this an impasse?

    I’m still looking for something “right” with this picture. So far what I can see is colored by the invitation to the 50-year reunion for the 1963 PBI graduating class, of which I was one. The main event is called a “Special Re-Graduation Ceremony.” Why would I want to RE-graduate from PBI? Or from anywhere, for that matter? If I wanted to attend such a reunion in order to reconnect with old friends and classmates, I couldn’t do so without reiterating my identification with the institution from which I am “re-graduating.”

    I identify with those outside the PBI fold, that is, those survivors of abuse suffered while there, who were victimized without a proper hearing, without proper advocacy, their offenders let off scot-free. I am one of those survivors, and I am an alumnus. I do not identify with PBI’s idea of a “healing team,” or with any biased alumni who hear the muffled cries as “social media attacks.”

    What’s “right” with this picture? Just not enough. And where good falls short is where wrong begins.

  28. Wow Angelyn, this was just stunningly eloquent. I am sharing! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  29. PGD says:

    Before I turned six I was placed in a home for missionary children, and raised along with twenty or so other children by house-parents that had four young children of their own. I did not see my parents again until I was 10, and never lived with them for more than 9 months at a time for the rest of my life.

    I am now 66 with four children of my own, and three grandchildren. For the first time I’m speaking out concerning the abuses we as children were subjected to. I must admit I gave as good as I got, and I did my best to abuse them in return, although the odds were not in my favor.

    My childhood anger was sublimated to those in authority over me. I can’t really fault the house-parents for their mutual contempt of me. It was a visceral on both sides.

    Being removed from my parents resulted in an anger that caused me to lash out at authority of any kind. In time it resulted in strengths that I benefit from today. Adversity has a way of becoming a building block for strength if one does not become embittered

    Mission appointed inspectors would come to the “home” to check things out on an annual basis, but the cover-ups worked for twelve years. We were instructed what to say, and what not to say, when the supervisors would show up.

    The way some of the children were treated was unconscionable. Many carry scars to this day. It is interesting to note that many of the girls, once they became adults, never conceived children of their own.

    Every Sunday, if we wanted our evening supper, we had to turn in a letter written to our parents. The letter was read by the house-parent, and if approved, mailed. If it wasn’t approved, it had to be rewritten until they were satisfied with it.

    One of the more enterprising children figured a way around this. She wrote her letter informing her parents in no uncertain terms, what was occurring at the “home”, walked downtown to the Post Office, purchased an stamp, and mailed it herself.

    Her parents were exposed to the truth. The boom was lowered; the house-parents were dismissed, but by then I was 18, and on my own. Their oldest daughter was about to graduate from Bible School but due to a nervous breakdown over the events, never did.

    Wess Stafford, president of Compassion International, will be with us in a couple of weeks, and I’m going to be afforded the opportunity of introducing him. He was subjected to far worse abuses than I was. I was never overtly sexually abused. He and I will have some interesting discussions, and I’ll weave some of these thoughts above into my introduction of him.

    Fortunately, mission boards have come a long way since 1952 when I was dropped off. Yet, as I reflect, I still find it difficult to understand how institutions such as these mission boards could have structured such arrangements for children in these group homes. Even the British Imperialists did better. Their children would be sent back to Britain, generally to live with relatives of the extended family. At least a semblance of family ties was maintained.

    After my parents retired, they would apologize profusely for their choices, which pained me even further. They were simply being obedient to those in authority over them. I believe parent’s hearts are more shattered than the children’s through these separations. But the children are the saplings that become knurled and malformed.

  30. Angelyn says:

    PGD, thank you for adding your voice! And for anyone else with a similar story, no one’s experience is unimportant or insignificant.

    PGD, even though the odds were not in your favor, I strongly suspect that it was your strength of character and indomitable spirit, which gave to your abusers as good as you got, which saved you from the more severe forms of abuse. Good for you, good for you! when you were a little one, and good for you now, for speaking up.

  31. Dory says:

    Wow one smart lady! Makes me feel a wee bit stupid she is so smart and well spoken. But my gift is not well spoken. Thank you Angelyn.

  32. Angelyn says:

    You are so welcome, Dory.

    I believe that we are all equally gifted, just in different ways…

  33. Enid says:

    To Angelyn and anyone else who read your comments above about my article, “Lessons from a Pecan Tree,” I just want to clarify some points: namely, I wrote that article more than four years ago, and it had nothing to do with abuse. It was just a personal reflection on lessons the Lord used the tree to teach me.

    The persons who created the website were looking for articles, so I submitted it. I just thought it might be an encouragement to someone who might read it. Frankly, I was somewhat surprised when it was accepted.

    I hope that clears that up, and, yes, of course, I want all the perpetrators of abuse to be dealt with, but that was not a topic that was in my thinking when I wrote the article.

    Thanks for listening,

  34. Angelyn says:

    Enid, there’s no doubt in my mind that you wrote “Lessons from a Pecan Tree” out of the pureness of your heart, innocent of any context in which it might be used. It is understood that the topic of abuse was not in your thinking when you wrote or submitted it.

    My comments are by no means meant to discredit you or your account, rather to point out the discrepancies of a web site that highlights a healing that is not happening. In that regard we are on the same page, as you say, “I want all the perpetrators of abuse to be dealt with.” Without that accountability, the tide of abuse will go on unabated.

  35. Bene D says:

    Hi Enid:

    Thanks for stopping by and stating your p.o.v., the PBI site wasn’t the right fit for your story, that realization can be frustrating for any writer.

    If you don’t mind me asking, are you a PBI grad or connected to PBI in any way?

  36. Enid says:

    Yes, Bene, I am a PBI grad and former staff member.

  37. Enid says:

    And thanks, Angelyn, for your response.

  38. There are many things on the healing team’s website that I find out of place and confusing for survivors. As you know I am not a fan of the healing team and haven’t been since day one. I think a majority of the survivors consider them to be participating in the coverup of abuse and the protection of the abusers. PBI will never have the trust of the survivors after the way they have treated us. Anything coming out of the healing team is a waste of time as far as most survivors are concerned.

    That being said, we have heard Mark praise the healing team for helping survivors but apparently not a single one of these survivors is willing to put their story on the website.

    Mim Phibbs contributes things to the site but they seem more geared towards grief over the loss of a loved one. I believe she is involved in grief counseling in her personal life. While a survivor certainly experiences grief, the experience of losing a loved one can hardly compare with abuse.

    The Sheila story is certainly inspiring but involves the birth of a child out of wedlock, the struggle of losing her to adoption and then the joyous reunion later in life. This is a great story but I don’t know what it has to do with abuse survivors. I have had many people ask me why the story is there. I have no idea. This does not in any way diminish the story but again it is not published in the right place.

    The website itself is well done and easy to navigate but without anything pertinent for survivors it is completely ignored. I rarely go there and know several survivors who have never gone their once and probably never will.

    One of the things I find really revolting about the website is the healing team itself. I scan the list of “healers” and find that not a single one of them even speaks to me. They all hate my guts. And there is no love lost from my standpoint. I have no respect for any of them. This group represents alot of things I would just as soon forget. I have been rejected by all of them and I understand why to a certain extent – I have been very outspoken in my criticism of what they do. But if there is not a single person on that whole page that I could envision going to for help, something is wrong with that picture. I look at that page and a knot forms in my stomach and I quickly flip to something else. They are no healing team for me. They are some of my worst enemies. And in most cases, they made the choice to be my enemy, not me.

    I shake my head and leave the site feeling like I need to take an “emotional shower”. There has been nothing healing about my cruise through the website. I don’t feel welcomed, I feel pushed away. It leaves me feeling yucky inside.

    It makes me sad that not a single perp has been held accountable and isn’t that what this is all about? If at the end of the day the perps have all escaped through some magical “healing team trap door” never to be seen again and never to be identified or held accountable for what they have done, then this whole process will have been a huge waste of time. We will have failed the survivors and the future victims who will look back on us and wonder why we didn’t do the right thing, why we backed down on something so important. And ultimately we will have failed a holy God who loves little children and finds the sin of abuse absolutely despicable.

  39. Hopesome says:

    To voice grief, wrong doing and pain – may waste some peoples time – but it is NEVER a waste of time. We live in a world where there is so little time for healing, nurture, forgiveness or real reconcilliation for patience has a limited life span and attention is so many times called away from the true meaning of life into a superficiality that denies a real purpose in life. We live in a world where fascination captures us, fornication hugs us, loves us, and does battle with us and where fabrication is what we are fast becoming ((everything is hunkey dorey (‘ok’!)) NOT SO – its only on the surface we are ok.

    Creation has brought to our attention a deficit in so much of what he has made I wonder if he got anything right:

    We are ‘many voices’ that call out for justice, help, and direction – we meet full stops at every turn and yet still keep going in a belief that theres good ‘out there somewhere that will redeem us and the circumstances we are landed with, given, or inherit – THERE IS hope out there but right now :-

    he’s busy with destroying that which would destroy you

    The root of such abuse is where he is –

    Where you are:- He already knows.

  40. Hopesome says:

    Never ever underestimate a love so great that he died so that you may live and leave a love that defiles – denies – destroys, and renders you as nothing. But please never give credit to the one who’s roots we have been subjected to for thats an abomination and renders down to garbage what sacrifice is meant to be.

    I LOVE YOU – like yourselves has left many for dead;

    HE BATTLES FOR LIFE: so that we may leave death be it of the thoughts, of the situation, of others sickness -

  41. Leila Bolster says:

    Peter, you do not know that one time I wrote a letter telling my parents what was happening at the “Home” and that I was unhappy. They told me to rewrite it and I refused telling them that it was my parents and they had a right to know how I felt — I was 13. We were in 7th Grade. They sent the letter and sent an additional letter to my parents telling them I was a “liar” and that I was a problem child. That totally affected my future relationship with my parents when they returned on furlough. My sister, Grace, said to me this morning “They taught us to lie because they made us change our letter if they did not like what it said. They covered up the bad things.” So thy were able to successfully cover up those things for 5 more years. Please note that Mr. C’s mother was PBI’s women’s dean. Is there a relationship there? I do not know.

    Peter, thank you for your thoughts. I am glad you are strong. I am broken. There are mornings when I wake up at 3:00 a.m. in terrors and anxiety. I pray until it goes away or the sun comes up. I am sure that my strength at that time is my weakness for I often pray for you and for others who come to my mind as I hold on with all my strength to my sanity for another day.

  42. Leila Bolster says:

    Peter, you do not know that one time I wrote a letter telling my parents what was happening at the “Home” and that I was unhappy. They told me to rewrite it and I refused telling them that it was my parents and they had a right to know how I felt — I was 13. We were in 7th Grade. They sent the letter and sent an additional letter to my parents telling them I was a “liar” and that I was a problem child. That totally affected my future relationship with my parents when they returned on furlough. My sister, Grace, said to me this morning “They taught us to lie because they made us change our letter if they did not like what it said. They covered up the bad things.” So thy were able to successfully cover up those things for 5 more years. Please note that Mr. C’s mother was PBI’s women’s dean. Is there a relationship there? I do not know.

    Peter, thank you for your thoughts. I am glad you are strong. I am broken. There are mornings when I wake up at 3:00 a.m. in terrors and anxiety. I pray until it goes away or the sun comes up. I am sure that my strength at that time is my weakness for I often pray for you and for others who come to my mind as I hold on with all my strength to my sanity for another day.

  43. Angelyn says:

    Leila, what a brave soul you are! and were, as a little child. Caring, and praying for others in your night terrors… “Of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

    Thank you so much for sharing your truth with us.

  44. Thank you Leila for sharing your story…you made me cry! I wish I could have been there with you when things were so hard…I am broken too.

  45. Leila Bolster says:

    Well, Linda, God has chosen the foolish things and the things which are not and the weak things to confound the mighty and I am definitely weak and need His strength. I am still a child at those times reliving the terrors, but I can pray.

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