ABWE continues it’s public trashing of G.R.A.C.E.

The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, a US missionary organization with a history of historical child abuse fired its outside investigative team the second week of February, just a few weeks before G.R.A.C.E. was set to deliver its final report.

Okay, G.R.A.C.E. was fired – so why continue to trash them publicly with this Q & A?

This reeks of control, the need to have the last word, the need to justify and minimize internal decisions by ABWE that go way beyond the best interests of former missionary kids and their families. It looks like an attempt to continue years of delay in an attempt to wear down survivors and their families who have asked for a full accounting. As I read this Q & A, all I could think was, I think thou doth protest too much. I come away thinking ABWE does not intend to do any more than they believe they have to. And they spend a lot of time in the Q & A saying what they have done. And in doing so they trip up.

Nothing says control like a Q & A the firing organization puts together to frame this firing.  Here are the questions ABWE decided to ask and answer.

What is ABWE doing to protect children and prevent child abuse?
How has ABWE responded to MKs impacted by abuse?
What has ABWE done to help the victims?
Why did ABWE replace G.R.A.C.E. with a new investigative firm?
Is ABWE’s decision to replace G.R.A.C.E. an attempt to hide something or prevent the findings of the report from being released?
If ABWE was so unhappy with the investigation, why did they wait so long to terminate G.R.A.C.E.?
Will ABWE make the final report public?
Who is Pii?
What is the timeline for the investigation to be completed?
Is it true ABWE withheld important documents and key witnesses?
How does this decision affect the victims?
How has ABWE expressed regret and worked toward reconciliation?
What actions has ABWE taken to address those who mishandled the investigation?
Why did it take so long to get to this point?
Why should I trust ABWE?
Oh.
Where to start?

The bad blood between ABWE and G.R.A.C.E. bubbles to the top in the answers ABWE crafts to its questions. It’s ugly. Child abuse is ugly, protecting abusers and reputations is ugly. I’m curious as to who ABWE believes or thinks they are going to persuade with this Q & A.  This comes across as a divide and conquer strategy on a couple of fronts; attempting to pit abuse survivors against each other and attempting to pit investigative agencies against each other.  The answers to the questions are, even to the most casual reader, CYA. G.R.A.C.E. is out of the picture, and I assume that G.R.A.C.E. isn’t releasing their report because of contractual obligations.

The Q&A spends a lot of time going over what ABWE thinks it needs to do to improve as an   organization. I believe organizations can repent, and can change, and I think what is missing here is the recognition that organizations are made up of individuals, leaders and board members who individually have to come to terms with their part in working for an organization with such a sorry history of abuse, bad theology and the diminishing of the worth of the individuals who were so grievously harmed. I think these individuals have to get alone with God and ask Him to search their hearts as to what causes good men and women to protect abusers, and to ask themselves hard questions. Then they can look at what ABWE is collectively and where it is actually going. If their conscience is seared, do they ask themselves if they are healthy as a Christian, and if they can work for this organization. It starts with individuals, just as individuals abused others, just as survivors of that abuse are individuals, infinitely precious and worthy in God’s eyes, above and beyond any organization and it’s goals.

Background is here. The G.R.A.C.E. response to being fired is here. I want to take a look at the answers ABWE supplies to its questions below the fold.

What is ABWE doing to protect children and prevent child abuse?

ABWE acknowledges that they commissioned an independent investigation into the conduct of Donn Ketcham in Bangladesh 20 months ago. ABWE mentions it hired a law firm to look at the conduct of other employees (that report was not made public).

Our goal was to identify all the areas where change was necessary to help ensure the safety of children in the future, and to repent of our past failures.

The goals of Bangladesh abuse survivors are here.
G.R.A.C.E. goals

How has ABWE responded to MKs impacted by abuse?

A repeat of above.

What has ABWE done to help the victims?

A repeat of above in graph form.

Why did ABWE replace G.R.A.C.E. with a new investigative firm?

In an update to the original ABWE pr on the firing of G.R.A.C.E. ABWE states:

In the fall and winter of 2012, at least 8 victims and witnesses voluntarily contacted us to express their concerns relating to the G.R.A.C.E. investigation. They felt G.R.A.C.E had left out information, did not record their testimonies, changed their statements, provided inaccurate summaries and asked leading questions. Some of these individuals shared that they had been in touch with G.R.A.C.E. directly regarding their concerns, but they were dissatisfied with the organization’s response to them. As a result, we know that some of the interviewees requested that G.R.A.C.E. not use their testimonies at all.

ABWE says they met with G.R.A.C.E. and say G.R.A.C.E. refused to sign a confidentiality agreement to protect the names of these 8, and this refusal led to ABWE questioning the validity of the pending report. From the Q & A:

As concerns grew throughout the investigation conducted by G.R.A.C.E, especially in the past few weeks, leadership at ABWE felt that the objectivity of the investigation was seriously in question. ABWE believes strongly that everyone — from the MKs and the administration, to our missionaries and you — deserves a truthful, objective and complete investigation.

It is our desire to be a better organization; we believe replacing G.R.A.C.E. was a step in that process. As our concerns grew about the investigation and we approached G.R.A.C.E regarding these matters, the relationship became more strained. Following the principles of Matthew 18 we tried to address those issues directly with G.R.A.C.E. — but to no avail. As a result, several months ago G.R.A.C.E stated to us that “perhaps ABWE should reconsider its relationship” with them.

ABWE is acknowledging it’s relationship with the outside investigative firm was strained and obviously got worse. The at least 8 people who complained to ABWE are afraid of retaliation from who? What kind of retaliation? Did the refusal to sign a confidentiality agreement mean that G.R.A.C.E. planned to release names of victims and witnesses, given that naming innocents has not been past practise?

Because we desire transparency, ABWE will publicly release the final investigative report when it is completed by Pii. Because protecting the privacy of the victims is of paramount importance, any information that would be damaging to the victims or would reveal their identities will not be included. No other information will be altered. Two victims will be given the chance to read the report to demonstrate that no changes are made to the document — beyond removing information that would be damaging to victims.

The new firm hired by ABWE is Pii. This firm does not release reports publicly, or to survivors and witnesses, the report (as the 2012 law firm report) is for ABWE eyes only.

During the course of an investigation, it is important that all information remains confidential. Upon the conclusion of an investigation by Professional Investigators International the party/parties who appointed us to conduct the investigation determine what of the information provided to them will be shared.

Once again ABWE goes over the ground it covered (and G.R.A.C.E. responded to) in the firing pr.

We firmly believe that a truly independent investigation should be conducted in a way that is consistent with the highest standards of the industry. The process of collecting evidence should be objective, and key interviews should be recorded and based on unbiased and open-ended questions that seek facts. For this reason, we have begun working with Pii, an investigative firm with a track record of high standards in objective reporting.

What track record? Pii appears to be connected with New Tribes Mission, and there was a brief update on an MK abuse investigation for NTM I believe, which is no longer online. Pii had not gotten very far with it, if I recall correctly. There is no track record. Pii also removed the sentence at the top of its Our Team page. This is the original page, online when ABWE announced hiring Pii.

 

This is the new one – which distances Pii from New Tribes Mission.

 

I wonder how long ABWE had Pii waiting in the wings before dumping G.R.A.C.E.?  Sadly investigating abuse and historical abuse in Christian organizations is a growth industry.  These investigative firms are competing, and it appears a cut throat one. All Pii has to do is get hired, give the hiring organization its report and move on. Trusting the agency being investigated to be transparent and release information as Pii does, is disturbing and has to send a chill through survivor communities throughout the US.

Is ABWE’s decision to replace G.R.A.C.E. an attempt to hide something or prevent the findings of the report from being released?

No…

…Discovering the truth about our organization is more important to us than our public reputation.

It is out of this desire for transparency that ABWE intends to publicly release the unedited report, when it is completed. Because protecting the privacy of the victims is of paramount importance, any information that would be damaging to the victims or would in anyway reveal their identities will not be included. No other information in the report will be altered. Two victims will be given access to the report to demonstrate that no other changes, besides those involving the protection of the victims, are made to the document.

The ongoing public trashing of G.R.A.C.E., the years of delays, the current delays, past behaviours  the switching  of firms does not build confidence in the above statement. If ABWE can fire G.R.A.C.E. a few weeks away from the report which won’t see the light of day, why would anyone believe ABWE won’t come up with some reason to rinse and repeat?

Whatever the report reveals, we commit to full disclosure.

Oh.

If ABWE was so unhappy with the investigation, why did they wait so long to terminate G.R.A.C.E.?

This is a real corker:

Even though the Board was aware that G.R.A.C.E. was an advocacy group, they expected the investigation to be independent and free from bias.

Since when is being an advocacy group for abuse survivors mean the investigation would not be independent? And why would ABWE believe the report G.R.A.C.E. has prepared isn’t free from bias?  What bias? Have people in ABWE read the final report?

We knew that a decision to terminate G.R.A.C.E. could be interpreted as dishonest or disingenuous, and we knew it could greatly affect some of the MKs who urged us to hire the organization in the first place. However, we believe our greatest priority, and opportunity for full repentance, is in discovering the truth.

Well, yes. There is obviously more to terminating G.R.A.C.E. and hiring Pii than survivors and families will ever know about. That goes for the public also. To imply discovering the truth was not the goal of G.R.A.C.E. (and by extension MKs and their families) makes me sick to my stomach. ABWE is inferring they want and have the truth and everyone else doesn’t.

It was important that we weigh all of the information and the consequences of our actions before making a decision of this magnitude. It was not something that we took lightly.

I doubt anyone else is taking the ABWE decision lightly either.

Will ABWE make the final report public?

Yes. ABWE will publicly release the final investigative report. For privacy reasons, we cannot include any references to the identities of the victims.

G.R.A.C.E. does not release the names or identities of survivors.  References to the identities of the victims? What references?

Who is Pii?

Experienced investigators who teach around the country, etc. etc.

What is the timeline for the investigation to be completed?

Unknown.

We’ve kept you survivors waiting for years, could be years more. We’ll let you know. This reads like oh well, this isn’t our fault.

Is it true ABWE withheld important documents and key witnesses?

No. There were some documents and records that we were not legally able to release directly to G.R.A.C.E. However we made provisions for G.R.A.C.E. to access all of the records and information. At their request, we also provided them with a list of victims, witnesses and board members for possible interviews.

I can understand medical records can’t be released without the consent of the patient. However, did ABWE give G.R.A.C.E. those lists so G.R.A.C.E. could seek consent?
Medical records can show proof of abuse which stands in a court of law. Is ABWE protecting someone or someones? Even someone who may have been a victim of abuse who went on to become a perpetrator? (Rare, but it does happen)

Further, ABWE offered to make all staff available to G.R.A.C.E. for interviews. G.R.A.C.E.’s complaint that we refused to supply key witnesses was based on a misunderstanding that we could somehow require people who didn’t work at the mission to participate in the investigation. We do not have the authority to mandate that anyone other than ABWE employees speak with G.R.A.C.E. Private individuals were free to choose whether or not they want to be interviewed.

Again, if someone is named as an alleged perpetrator of abuse, it’s prudent to clean house. And ABWE terminated leaders, now private citizens. Catch 22 for any investigator. The terminations occurred when the heat got turned up. What people who didn’t work at the mission? ABWE may be referring to Bangladesh nationals. G.R.A.C.E. isn’t that inexperienced.  ABWE can keep saying there are/were misunderstandings as long as they want to. Obviously the relationship between ABWE and G.R.A.C.E. has been strained and difficult, however, this comes across as attempting to paint G.R.A.C.E. as uniformed and incompetent.

How does this decision affect the victims?

As a mission, ABWE has talked a lot about our goals of repentance and reconciliation with our hurt MKs. It seems, however, that in our day-to-day actions we sometimes fail to move closer to those goals. When we decided to replace G.R.A.C.E. we worried about the impact it might have on some of our MKs.

Did you ask the MKs?

As a mission seeking reconciliation, we have a continuing obligation to admit, confess and repent of our failures and mistakes to those we have hurt. Yet we understand that reconciliation will happen at different rates for different people. Therefore, we put no burden on those we have failed to reconcile with; rather, we simply want them to know we are sorry, and we are taking steps to ensure nothing like what hurt them will ever happen again. We will let them dictate their level of reconciliation with us.

If MKs don’t ‘reconcile’ with us, it’s not our fault. We’ve dictated, they aren’t following.

We strongly believe that the MK blog, BangladeshMKsSpeak, should be credited with making ABWE a better organization today than it was two years ago. We are grateful for the voices of those who challenge us even today to continue to grow, uncover sin and learn from our mistakes. We are thankful for those who desire to reconcile with us and help us continue to grow as a mission, and we pray every person impacted experiences substantial healing.

Oh. That comes across as flattery. However, BangladeshMKsSpeak and MKs get to make that decision, not me.

How has ABWE expressed regret and worked toward reconciliation?

Repeats of above.

Why did it take so long to get to this point?

When the allegations resurfaced in 2002, the administrators who were aware of the situation failed to conduct a complete and thorough investigation, or to notify other members of the administration or the ABWE board.

We fired  a few administrators, just like we did G.R.A.C.E. They are private citizens now, and not our problem.

Why should I trust ABWE?

Repeat of above.

I don’t have to trust ABWE, why not ask survivors who trusted G.R.A.C.E. and who are now being asked to trust Pii? Do survivors trust ABWE? After what they’ve been through on the field and with this investigation, why would they ever trust ABWE? Why should they have to?  And who is “I?” Readers, the public, potential missionaries? Employees?

What a mess.
I want MKs to have the last word.

On Feb. 18 editors of this blog were contacted by a reporter from Christianity Today. We expressed our specific concerns regarding the confidentiality of the Pii investigation to this reporter, and we know that ABWE was promptly confronted by the reporter with those concerns and our allegations regarding Pii. Suddenly, less than a day later, ABWE–who has been unwilling to answer OUR questions about this in the last 10-plus days–is saying the report will go public and slinging more mud at GRACE. This is a stunt by ABWE because of the spotlight of a Christianity Today story, nothing less and nothing more.

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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13 Responses to ABWE continues it’s public trashing of G.R.A.C.E.

  1. ABWE Victim says:

    You are my hero.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for stating what to us (MK victims) is obvious, but to others may not be: cowards will always be cowards. And ABWE is the most cowardly organization I’ve ever witnessed.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Once again ABWE has exploited and used abuse victims in attempting to cover its own bad acts. It is amazing how ABWE attempts to rationalize its decision to terminate GRACE on the basis of caring and respecting the MKs…when their unilateral decision to make sure none of the MKs ever see the final report by GRACE clearly demonstrates otherwise.
    An authentic love and care of the MKs would have been to let the process play out and provide each of them the opportunity to read the report for themself…rather then another demonstration of “we know better..so trust us” At the very least, an authentic love and care of the MKs (who have waited over a decade for such an investigation) would have allowed them to make the final decision as to whether the GRACE investigation should be terminated…they must know that such would NOT have been the desire of the very ones they claim to “love”. This pattern of behavior is hugely demeaning and uncaring. It has nothing to do with loving and protecting MKs, but everything to do with loving and protecting the reputation of the institution. Fortunately, this approach by ABWE has utterly failed…perhaps it is because we worship a God of truth and light…

  3. It could not be better said. Wake up ABWE!!!!

  4. TruthSeeker says:

    Questions that should have been asked and answered:

    Who are the MK’s that will review the Pii report before it is released publicly?
    Who will pick these MK’s, and how?
    How will two, and only two, MK’s be able to verify if the reports of other MK’s and witnesses have been reported accurately? Shouldn’t the MK’s and witnesses be able to verify that information themselves–you know, the way GRACE was doing it?

    Or maybe I’m mistaken in that last part. Maybe ABWE means that those two MK’s will get the Pii report, look at it, and verify that what is published is the same as what they were given. But that couldn’t be right. After all, Pii will give it to ABWE, and ABWE will give it to the MK’s to check, and we all know ABWE wouldn’t change anything in the report first. Would they?

  5. ABWE Victim says:

    Such great questions. It is such a relief that more people are reading between the lines and connecting the dots. Yes, who exactly would these two special MKs be and how would they know what may have been left out of the stories of other MKs? They couldn’t possibly know. It’s a flawed system–and no wonder, as they came up with it at the last minute to look good for Christianity Today.

  6. Thanks Benediction for another outstanding article. I appreciate that you don’t regurgitate the ABWE’s propaganda but are willing to read between the lines and ask the tough questions. We need more journalists like you.

    The more the ABWE trashes GRACE the more ludicrous they look. I am frankly disgusted that a mission organization that didn’t give a damn that their MKs were being abused for years now suddenly feels compelled to fire GRACE in the best interest of their MKs. Ya right! The only interests the ABWE is concerned about is their own. I am ashamed to see the slanderous things that are being said about GRACE – an organization with an impeccable reputation. GRACE is pioneering a new frontier that has never been confronted before and as such they are blazing a trail for others to follow. It is little wonder that Satan would challenge their calling. They are exposing the evil works of darkness and in turn allowing hundreds of abuse survivors to find peace with the past. God bless GRACE every day – they are fighting on the front lines of this epic battle and are being so unfairly attacked.

    It might seem as though ABWE has the upper hand but never forget that history is being made. There is coming a day when we will see a vast exposing of the predators who have plagued our churches and religious institutions. Organizations like the ABWE, PBI and others who have balked at coming clean will be exposed to their rotten cores. They will not have the support they now have because the public will demand true transparency and justice for the victims. It is a day I have prayed for my whole life. A day when the walls come crashing down and those who have been forced into silence will find their voice and speak as one.

  7. ABWE Victim says:

    Yes, thank you, Linda, for noticing the ludicrousness of their sudden claim to love us. And let’s remember in the Feb. 8th announcement they accused every MK victim and non-victim in Philadelphia of lying–that is, after all, what is implied when ABWE says that testimonies were “tainted” because people ate meals together. They are accusing us of changing our stories. This is absolutely offensive in every way, mostly because ABWE employees were not sequestered and isolated before THEIR interviews. Why should the MKs have been? Who was being investigated after all? Not the MKs. ABWE was the subject of the investigation. Let’s never lose sight of that. This is not an investigation into Donn Ketcham or into the victims, it is an investigation into how ABWE covered up the abuse of Donn Ketcham. There. Is. A. Difference. And ABWE has NO BUSINESS choosing their own investigative team.

  8. Hopesome says:

    Quite frankly the ‘love’ some of these people dealing with the circumstances have is perfectly and unreservedly inadequate to deal with something that they are trying to cover with a love that the church professes to walk in.

    Most have yet to deal with their own sins never mind anyones elses!

  9. Bene D says:

    Donn Ketcham received a 1984 Honorary Doctor of Humanities from Cedarville University. His ‘sermons’ were sold by the uni for 5 bucks.

    Cedarville U just got around to removing those sermons for sale in February, revoking his honorary degree this week, and starting an investigation into current trustee Michael Loftis who was the ABWE president when the cover-up of Ketchams crimes and neglect of MK’s cries occurred.
    As the now shelved G.R.A.C.E. investigation went on ABWE fired Loftis, the current ABWE Board Chair Larry Greens father was chaplain at Cedarville U. Green is on the board of trustees at Baptist Bible College and Seminary. In September that college backed off naming a building after another ABWE former president who turned a blind eye to MK abuse also.

    Seems like a lot of CYA in a few short months.

  10. Bene D says:

    Ron Berrus, who was ABWE Board President, resigned in September because of a sexual abuse scandal in his church and church school. The music minister William Jackson is facing 26 counts -18 felonies and eight misdemeanor charges, including indecent assault of a person less than 13 years old and institutional intercourse/sexual contact with a student. (WGAL News)

    Berrus is a grad of Baptist Bible College, the one current ABWE board chair Larry Green is connected with.

  11. Ugh, makes me sick to see this Benediction. And these are the people now claim that they are looking out for the survivors by firing GRACE…ya right!

  12. Bene Diction says:

    Pii filed with the Idaho Secretary of State January 30, 2012.

    http://www.accessidaho.org/public/sos/corp/D152891.html

    Pii joined a trade group – NAIS – National Association of Investigative Specialists Inc. for a membership fee of $3.55/ month in May 2012.

    The President of Pii (Bob Davis) is a Mormon, his wife Linda is CEO of Pii, and she also runs an image consulting firm. Two investigators (a former cop and a former high school coach) are listed as abuse and harassment investigators.

    Pii has put up a testimonial webpage – it’s lame, and Pii seems to want to go for religious investigations. Example: “We feel that the opportunity to talk to you is a gift from God, that is was right. We prayed before the interviews and knew this was a gift from God.”

    I can see why New Tribes Mission survivors have reservations about Pii, and I sincerely hope ABWE Bangladesh survivors think long and hard before talking to these business people.

  13. Bene Diction says:

    “”We began to realize that as trained prosecutors involved in doing investigations for a child advocacy ministry, their focus appeared to be on building a case rather than finding facts,” – Tony Beckett, VP, Church Relations, ABWE.

    Christianity Today print edition March 13, 2012.
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/april/investigator-or-prosecutor.html?paging=off

    “ABWE said several witnesses voiced concerns that interviews by GRACE “were not conducted in a professional way or in complete independence and autonomy.” Beckett said the witnesses had asked for confidentiality and thus were not available to CT.”

    CT notes that survivors the magazine contacted expressed anger and disappointment at the decision to hire Pii, which is what is clearly articulated by survivors online.

    I wonder if G.R.A.C.E. will hand over it’s report to Pii?
    Why did ABWE chose to hire a firm which has only been registered for just over a year, and who put ABWE in touch with Pii?

    This is an interesting quote from the head of the IHart NTM team, Pat Hendrix:

    “There were concerns about GRACE’s process that came to light after the completion of their report on the [school],” she said. “NTM chose not to discuss those concerns publicly, but some of them mirror problems cited by ABWE.”

    Beverly Shellrude Thompson – Missionary Kids Safety Net:

    “For most victims, it’s the only [investigation] they’ll ever have. … It’s the only court the alleged perpetrator will go through,” she said. “Determining standards of proof and investigatory procedures [in such cases] is difficult. I am sympathetic.”

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