Former MK speaks out – New Tribes Mission ‘retires’ abuser

8 years ago in 2006, Lori, a wife and mom living in the US,  and a former missionary kid (MK), wrote New Tribes Mission.

In 1981-82, I was 10-11 years old and a resident of the Earl Dorm at the New Tribes Mission base of Numonohi, Papua New Guinea. The Earl dorm parents were Gary and Annie Earl, and the dorm was called the Hibiscus Dorm (located in the far right front corner of the base). It was a small dorm: there were 7 dorm children (ages 8-17) and I think by then there were 4 Earl children (all under age 6).

One evening, I was outside playing on the base’s swing sets when one of the little children of my dorm came and told me to go back to the dorm. I went into the dorm and was alone in the house with the dorm dad, Gary Earl.

He said that his daughter, a 1st grader, told him I had not swept the floor that evening, as was my work detail assignment. I said that I did sweep the floor, but I admitted that I had not turned on a light to do it (because I was in a hurry to play!).

He became visibly angry at me and told me to go to his and Annie’s bedroom. I cannot, because of the trauma of the event, give you a dialogue of our discussion. I remember his red, angry face, his very loud booming voice, how huge he was, and that he began to spank me with a board -about 2′ long, 6″ wide, and 3/4-1″ thick -on my bottom and upper thighs.

After many strikes with that board, I thought the spanking was done, but he told me to stand up and asked me again if I swept the floor. I said, ”Yes, I did. I won’t lie.” He said I was lying, yelled at me to lie face down, and hit me over and over again.

Again, I had to stand up, answer if I swept the floor or not, and then lie down again because my answer was not right. I remember asking him at one point, in a respectful manner, if he wanted me to lie to him; is this what he was asking for? He told me he was to break my will. He told me that I was a liar, I could not possibly be a Christian, and did I know where the Bible says that liars go? They go to hell.

Over and over again, up and down, up and down. He screamed so loudly at me that I remember his spit. As time went on, I was too weak to get up and down. He grabbed me to stand me up to yell at me, and then pushed me to lie me back down.

In writing this, I cannot make you understand how long this event took, or how hard his strikes were. I remember looking at the digital clock on their bed’s shelf, and thinking, “This can’t go on forever. It isn’t possible for it to last forever.” I remember wanting my Daddy, who had given me a good many spankings but never one with a board, and never one that bruised (I had lived with my parents my first 9 years, in the States at language school).

I remember also that there were two occasions when he had to grab me from the bed and physically hold me in order to stand me up. I’m not sure but those two blackouts may have been times when I fainted. I had a heart murmur as a child, and at the time, I would often faint if crying hard.

As time went on, I remember thinking, “I don’t think he will kill me. I hope he doesn’t kill me.”

I remember running out of tears.

Lori was beaten bloody, and a fear took hold of her that day that still holds her in its grip. The physical scars of that beating will always be visible. The emotional and spiritual beatings left different scars.

For all of the years since then, until I graduated in 1989, Gary Earl always seemed to have something against me.

He often searched for me around with a flashlight, catching me in dark places. He belittled me, telling me once that I couldn’t sing well, and another time that I was not a Christian. He told me I would never be successful. He did not ever strike me again. He did yell at me one time when I sassed Annie. She intervened. In 1988, he kicked my brother, Calvin, and me out of his dorm. There was no explanation given to me. Even if others did not get into trouble, I did from him. This can be verified by many others.

*******************************************
You may be wondering why I never told anyone. For one, even to this day, I am absolutely afraid of that man. He had been a police officer prior to coming to Papua New Guinea, and he liked to tell his police stories. I had no doubt that he could kill me. He was a huge man; bigger than every other man I remember on the Numonohi base.

In breaking her silence in 2006, Lori began to deal with her childhood abuse on the mission field, and in telling her story she didn’t realize she’d face another kind of abuse that survivors aren’t prepared for – obfuscation, institutional incompetence and silence. She was 35 years old, the mother of four, and her story landed on the desk of New Tribes Mission lawyer Scott Ross in February of that year.

Scott Ross got back to her in August 2006, “I do want to follow through with your case.  It is very important and as you know, Gary is pretty influential so I want all my i’s dotted as I approach him.”

Then there was silence.

In 2007, another New Tribes Mission executive let Lori know Ross was busy, and would she meet with execs to discuss missionary boarding school abuse?

In July 2007, a meeting with Gary Earl and lawyer Scott Ross which was supposed to happen, hadn’t. Lori was told a child abuse investigative policy was being worked on.

Again, silence.

In January 2008, Lori was told Gary Earl had been approached and that he had written a letter of apology, “expressing his deep sorrow and sadness for what he did to you. He seems very sincere and heartbroken.”
Lori decided not to receive Gary Earl’s letter. It is still on file.

Silence.

In 2010, Lori again wrote New Tribes Mission asking about the Child Protection committee and the Earl letter. By this time the G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) report on New Tribes Fanda Missionary School abuse was out. Evangelical media had picked up the story of abused missionary kids.

More silence.

It was now 2013, and Lori hadn’t heard another word from New Tribes Mission about the abuse she had reported.

In July 2013, investigative firm Pii International contacted her about the abuse at the New Tribes Mission Papua New Guinea school. Lori writes:

July – August 2013
Pii continues to email me, and I allow them to send questions, but after receipt of the questions, I felt that Pii was insensitive in how they asked for information from me. And since I only knew of my story with Gary Earl, and since I did not request they reopen my “case,” and since I had previously been disappointed by NTM’s lack of action, I did not respond to Pii.

I am also wary of Pii because they were hired by Scott Ross and are located in his geographical area. Scott Ross, in my previous experience, collected information only to protect New Tribes Mission. I didn’t feel like Pii would produce a report like GRACE did for the Fanda Eagles.

In December of 2013, Pii International sends Lori a Statement of Finding. (I find it interesting Pii International did not get much co-operation from survivors, nothing close to what G.R.A.C.E. had with the Fanda investigation.)

1. Affirmed: Based on all of the evidence considered by Professional Investigators International, including the credibility of the witnesses interviewed, it was determined that there was Clear and Convincing Evidence to find that Gary Earl engaged in physical misconduct. There is Clear and Convincing Evidence that Gary Earl engaged in misconduct in violation of applicable NTM-USA policy.

For the first time, Lori learns that others suffered physical and sexual abuse at her childhood school. In January 2014, Pii International informed Lori their report would not be released by New Tribe Mission.

Last month Lori again asked for communication from New Tribes Mission about the Pii International findings.

Brian Coombs, recently appointed New Tribes Mission Director of Personnel informs Lori that Gary Earl was asked to retire, and that his sending church in the USA had been informed, “Gary was found, in 2 separate cases, to have violated NTM’s child protection policy in regards to physical abuse.”

Lori writes New Tribe Mission headquarters again, saying she requires two things from them:

“To be clear: I want two things from NTM and that is all. 1) I want Gary Earl exposed in a statement* to all of NTM and all Earl supporters. 2) I want Gary Earl terminated from New Tribes Mission, no longer able to represent the thousands of good missionaries in NTM.”

Earl and his wife headed back to the Papua New Guinea school in December 2013 to ‘pack.’ They are still there, and sent out a letter to supporters in January informing them that, “As we retire from overseas in PNG and NTM, we have been asked to continue full-time with ROCK International ministries.”

New Tribes Mission tells Lori,”Gary is not allowed to volunteer with NTM, is not allowed to represent NTM in any way, and his retirement was not celebrated. This was/is a form of forced resignation that allowed Annie to continue with insurance since she is dealing with cancer. The benefits that were allowed are because of Annie, not Gary.”

Lori, shaken, scared and hurt, started posting her story of abuse and the  years of stonewalling by New Tribes Mission online March 26th, in the Fanda Eagles MK NTM boarding school abuse forum.

On March 28th Brian Coombs of New Tribe Mission sent out a confidential email to New Tribes Mission USA members informing them of Gary Earls retirement. Among other things this was said:

We are also aware that a former MK has posted documents on the internet. This MK had told us in advance that she would do this unless we acquiesced to two demands she had of us. It is our intent to take action and publish appropriate notifications in light of policy and best practice standards and not because of demands.

Let’s look at Lori’s ‘demands’ again, and why she requested this support from New Tribes Mission.

“To be clear: I want two things from NTM and that is all. 1) I want Gary Earl exposed in a statement* to all of NTM and all Earl supporters. 2) I want Gary Earl terminated from New Tribes Mission, no longer able to represent the thousands of good missionaries in NTM.

I don’t request revenge, money, court, counseling, publicity, vacation … I only want the two things above. They are easy; they can be done quickly.

My reasons:
Sin can only thrive in darkness; it cannot survive in light. Since NTM won’t expose Gary Earl, I will. This puts me in a vulnerable position, and makes me have to relive the horror, but SOMEbody has to do it. I believe his employer, New Tribes Mission, should do this. But if NTM won’t expose Gary Earl, I will, and in doing so, I will have to also expose NTM.

Exposing Gary is necessary in three ways: it will be more difficult for him to find a future victim; it will let other victims know they are not the only one; it will give Gary an opportunity to seek rehabilitation. As long as his sin is in secret, he will never be free of it or able to be begin rehabilitation.

New Tribes Mission may want to call Lori’s needs ‘demands they won’t acquise to’, but to their credit, once MK Safety Net send out a press release four days ago regarding New Tribes Mission handling of abuser Gary Earl; ROCK International acted swiftly.

April 6, 2014: ROCK’s Response to recent press release:

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: Gary Earl is neither employed by nor associated with ROCK International. He had applied to serve in the administrative side of ROCK beginning in the fall of 2014. He has withdrawn that application.  —ROCK International Board of Directors 

Lori has received over 200 messages of support since she went public 2 weeks ago.

New Tribes Mission has gone silent again.

MK Safety Net press release is below the fold: Another missionary with New Tribes Mission guilty of abusing children.

Continue reading

Posted in General | 29 Comments

World Vision Canada covert discrimination – I Was Blocked From Hiring a Gay Person at World Vision Canada

Then I was called into the office of a senior staff member for a one-on-one meeting. I was so stunned by what I heard that I didn’t even know how to respond. He told me that he had made the final decision not to hire this candidate. He had come to the realization that if you’re gay, you can’t be Christian. And only Christians can work at World Vision, so we couldn’t hire her.

I Was Blocked From Hiring a Gay Person at World Vision Canada was written by Kristen Woudstra a few days ago, after World Vision USA reversed a hiring policy regarding married gays and lesbians.

When World Vision USA reversed it’s policy change (lasted 2 days after 10 thousand calls were made dropping sponsorships), I stood up online for World Visions around the world which re-iterated clear hiring policies. I stood up for, and applauded World Vision Canada. A WV Canada executive told Mike Bell that a non-discriminatory hiring policy had been in place for 15 years. Mike Bell also stood up for World Vision Canada.

We couldn’t have known that World Vision Canada executives are free to decide gay people can’t be followers of Jesus Christ. (Or could we?)  Did we know that Canadian labour laws are covertly circumvented at the whim of men who play the assistant Holy Spirit while Canadian tax dollars are openly received?

World Vision Canada was swift to release a statement in response to I Was Blocked From Hiring a Gay Person at World Vision Canada.

It was with much sadness that I read Kristy Woudstra’s article published on this site on Thursday morning. Sadness because of what was written, but also sadness because of what it means for the work that World Vision Canada is so committed to doing.

When I look at the very serious concerns that were described, it is so upsetting to think that anyone might feel excluded by World Vision Canada. While World Vision U.S. has made changes to their policies over the past week, World Vision Canada has not.

While it’s not appropriate to comment on any of the specifics around any individual’s hiring, we can say this about our approach: World Vision Canada does not ask questions around sexual orientation during interviews.

As a Christian organization, we follow the example of Jesus who reached out to everyone, especially those who were marginalized or left out. We support equality for all and the rights of all people. In the work that we do, we provide assistance to people regardless of sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or religion. Integral to the work we do is standing up for the marginalized and disenfranchised. We need to continue to stand up and speak out for children and families around the world who are living in poverty. We are so grateful for the thousands of Canadians who partner with us, and we are deeply committed to continuing this important work.

This is a non-response.

Don’t ask, don’t tell.

A lot of us are sad.

“Sadness because of what was written, but also sadness because of what it means for the work that World Vision Canada is so committed to doing.” I’m very glad Kristin Woudstra  spoke up.  Is World Vision saying they are sad that covert behavior has been made public? Is World Vision sad that the public is now aware a qualified applicant was turned away for her openness and concern?

Yes, World Vision does provide assistance – and trust has been broken. If an executive can say a gay person who openly and transparently acknowledged her orientation, who was able and willing to abide by employee policies has to stay in the closet; how is anyone assured discrimination isn’t happening in the field? It is happening here at home where the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and provincial labour laws are in place, and ignored by an a senior World Vision executive who has decided gay people cannot be Christians; and who didn’t think he’d be outed. Trust isn’t broken because Kristin chooses to speak up, trust is broken because a senior World Vision executive breaks trust.

Yes, World Vision Canada is obeying labour law by not commenting on the specifics of any “anyone’s individual’s hiring.”

No, obviously World Vision Canada does not, “support equality for all and the rights of all people.” These are idealized words circumvented, uttered publicly while opposite words are uttered privately, and decisions are made that deny employment to a qualified someone or someones who approach employment honestly.

“World Vision Canada does not ask questions around sexual orientation during interviews.”

Yes, of course not, that would be openly against the law. World Vision Canada’s message is, don’t tell us your orientation during interviews. We can’t ask, but don’t tell. If you tell, we have people who will decide you are not a Christian, and we won’t hire you.

World Vision says, we don’t have to be faithful in the small things because, we are faithful in the great ones:

We need to continue to stand up and speak out for children and families around the world who are living in poverty. We are so grateful for the thousands of Canadians who partner with us, and we are deeply committed to continuing this important work.

The law of love works the way our executive wants it to work. If you tell, your qualifications don’t count, stay silent and stay in your closet, and thanks for your concern:

In the final stages of the recruitment, HR informed me that the candidate had shared she was gay and she wanted to make sure that wouldn’t be an issue at a Christian organization.

The none response from World Vision does not address an exposed internal culture of discrimination where an executive are permitted to decide someone who is gay cannot possibly love, follow and serve Jesus Christ.

There are Canadian organizations which are faithful, which would not tolerate executives deciding gay Christians have no voice or no place, there are organizations worthy of our giving which  do not encourage behind closed doors bigotry; while just as effectively meeting the needs of children and families around the world. That need is great and is well served by many groups.   This World Vision hiring decision was made in 2010. World Vision Canada hiring policy:

We comply with provincial laws on this matter which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. For example, as part of our hiring and employment, we do not ask questions about sexual orientation, marriage or related issues.

Don’t ask is in place because Canadians have put anti-discrimination hiring practice into law. Don’t tell exists because World Vision telegraphed it’s okay for an executive to send a message to honest applicants that their silence is preferred.

“In that same meeting with the senior staff person, he told me that God would protect the organization in this decision not to hire an openly gay person.”

Wow. I am so fed up with God  being evoked as a cover, God getting blamed for our bigotry, our sin, our blindness, our exclusion, our unfaithfulness.
Will God protect buddy here from the consequences of his hubris?

“While World Vision U.S. has made changes to their policies over the past week, World Vision Canada has not.”  World Vision cannot change policy if they wish to operate in Canada. But the message is out, buddy here has refused employment to an honest Christian and probably other honest brothers and sisters.

World Vision Canada could have said the senior executive is no longer with them, or that he has been spoken to, monitored, re-trained and removed from a position of public trust. But that was NOT said and we’ll never know.

“I left World Vision in 2010. I have spoken to a couple of my former colleagues since the news from the U.S. broke and some reassure me that the situation is better in the Canadian office now. Apparently the board and senior staff are more accepting of gays and lesbians. I sincerely hope they’re right.”

I hope so to, but given today’s statement from World Vision Canada, that was not what was publicly said. And until I hear from openly gay and lesbian World Vision Canada employees, hope will be tempered by my sadness.  World Vision Canada could have said we have gay and lesbian employees who love Jesus Christ. World Vision Canada could have said we have openly gay and lesbian employees who serve Jesus Christ. But World Vision Canada did not.  I can not and will no longer defend World Vision Canada. It will be quite some time before I and many others work through our sorrow.

Posted in General | 9 Comments

Your “Nazis equal gays” candidate for Massachusetts governor

By Rick Hiebert All Rights Reserved Used by Permission.

Today as I write, I heard, over the Internet, an independent candidate who is running for governor of Massachusetts speaking at an all-candidates meeting organized by the LGBT community.

Scott Lively, a very conservative Christian activist, naturally tried to make the case that governments should try to be more neutral on homosexuality. His audience wasn’t pleased.

Before I moved on, I was thinking “Where do I know the name ‘Scott Lively’ from?” Oh Right, he co-wrote The Pink Swastika. a book which argues that Nazism in Germany was rife with homosexuality.

Has someone put two and two together and realized that Lively is running for governor? Boston magazine was well ahead of the curve, writing on him when he was just thinking of running. Their piece is well detailed.

They report that Lively was in Uganda helping several leaders in Uganda who would go on to pass anti-gay legislation in that country. Interesting precedent should he, by some fluke, be elected.

I wonder if someone brought a copy of The Pink Swastika to the candidates meeting.

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NPR looks at Daystar TV and Kenneth Copeland – Can a Television Network Be A Church? The IRS Says Yes

DayStarIn June of last year, Peter Youngren’s Grace TV announced it had entered into a partnership agreement with  Daystar TV, one of the top three religious broadcasters in the US. In November Grace TV announced Daystar Canada would operate Grace TV, based at Youngrens church in Toronto. The last T3010 filed by Daystar Television Canada (2012) shows the Canadian operation operated at a deficit, with  about 70 thousand dollars coming in from Canadians. It will be interesting to see the next T3010. Daystar Television Canada, headquartered in Vancouver, has an interesting name on the board of directors – Ken Greter, former manager of Todd Bentley’s ministry in Canada.

The mission statement of Daystar TV Canada states:

Daystar Television Network has a singular goal; to reach souls with the good news of Jesus Christ. We seek out every available means of distribution to a world in need of hope. With an extensive blend of interdenominational and multi-cultural programming, Daystar is committed to producing and providing quality television that will reach our viewers, refresh their lives and renew their hearts.

Oh.

NPR posted an investigative report today on Daystar USA (which is considered a church in the US) and on the amount of money the broadcaster rakes in.

According to court records, Daystar’s primary revenue comes from selling airtime to other religious programmers. Its secondary income is donations. The documents show that between 2005 and 2011, Daystar took in $208 million in tax-deductible contributions from viewers through on-air pitches.5

Daystar has built a public image as a generous giver to charitable causes. Indeed, the network has contributed millions of dollars to a trauma center and a home for Holocaust survivors in Israel, a hospital in Calcutta, and to ministries that support women in Moldova and children in Uganda.

Lamb trumpeted those donations in a 2009 sermon in Australia: “In the last five years, Daystar has written checks of donations to others, to ministries, to churches, to missions, to hurricane relief, to tsunami relief, to hospitals, etc., to the tune of $30 million cash!”

NPR analyzed six years of Daystar balance sheets. They show the network gave away $9.7 million dollars in direct grants to outside recipients. Not $30 million. That works out to charitable giving of about 5 percent of donor revenue.

The NPR report is an incredible read, showing the donations that went to places that benefited the network and in particular, the Lamb family. Full documentation is provided.
Much of this has not been public knowledge since Daystar Television doesn’t have to disclose.

The IRS stopped auditing churches and businesses such as Daystar Television (which call themselves churches) about 5 years ago.

KCMKenneth Copeland Ministries was also examined. Yes, Copeland has had a Canadian branch since 1977, based in Langley BC. It appears a KCM Canada board member is also a board member for Crossroads Christian Communications. KCM Canada issued tax receipts for over 5 million dollars in donations in 2012.

It would be great if every Canadian who donates to these broadcasters would take a serious look at the NPR piece. These multi-million dollar televangelists  play on emotions using a tv screen as their platform.  They won’t collapse if Canadians stop giving – the reality is there are needs right on our doorstep, we all know local people working to make our neighborhoods a better place, and know Canadian charities and churches which don’t have broadcast bully pulpits, making a difference here and around the world.

Posted in Daystar Television Network, Grace TV | 7 Comments

Crossroads Christian Communications ties to controversial Newsweek owners

For awhile now, Crossroads Christian Communications has been using a David Jang website for it’s news feed at Crossroads 360.

Why?

Ever since the Christianity Today investigative articles on Jang came out in August of last year, serious questions have been raised about Jang’s theology and his business practices.

And with the purchase of Newsweek by a Jang company called IBT Media, interest has spread far past US evangelical circles.

The New York Times did a piece on David Jang and Olivet University in October, the last few days have seen two important investigative pieces. The Guardian looked at IBT Media, Olivet University and other Jang media holdings on Friday: Faith and a media icon: Newsweek’s unconventional new owners

David_JangA Mother Jones investigative article which came out yesterday  titled Who’s Behind Newsweek? , not only confirms the work done by Christianity Today and The Guardian, but goes far deeper than anyone associated with Jang or defending him is going to be, or should be comfortable with.

But the connections between IBT and Jang’s Community, a Mother Jones investigation has found, go much further than Davis and Uzac have acknowledged. Thousands of pages of public records and internal documents—ranging from emails to budgets and strategic plans—and interviews with more than a dozen former IBT employees and members of Jang’s inner circle make clear that:

  • Olivet and IBT are linked to a web of dozens of churches, nonprofits, and corporations around the world that Jang has founded, influenced, or controlled, with money from Community members and profitable ministries helping to cover the costs of money-losing ministries and Jang’s expenses. Money from other Community-affiliated organizations also helped fund IBT’s early growth.
  • Olivet students in the United States on international student visas say they worked for IBT and other Community media entities, sometimes for as little as $125 a week. Both Olivet and IBT described these positions as internships, and said no-one was allowed to work illegally. Several students I spoke with say they were not told they were interns, and documents from Olivet and the businesses list students as reporters, editors, and salespeople.
  • According to the Times, Uzac and Davis “said Jang had no financial stake in IBT or influence on the business.” But the pair acknowledged to Mother Jones that Jang has provided “advice” to IBT. And while there’s no evidence Jang controlled editorial matters, internal documents show him routinely weighing in on a wide range of business decisions, from personnel and business strategy to typography.
  • Jang sees Community-affiliated media organizations, including IBT, as an essential part of his mission to build the kingdom of God on Earth. He has said that media companies affiliated with the Community are part of a new Noah’s ark designed to save the world from a biblical flood of information.

When Christianity Today began to poke at the shadows of Jang’s interests in North America, The Christian Post struck back with some of the most base and ugly smears I have ever seen and with legal threats, which is a documented Jang tactic. As bad as the Post articles were, the comment sections were flooded with Jang supporters toeing what seemed to be the community line. It makes more sense now given what Mother Jones has uncovered with the use of Olivet students and spouses as cheap help, contravening US labour laws. It makes sense given an IBT Media no-talk rule.

As The Guardian and Mother Jones articles have been picked up (example: The Business Insider: Newsweek Backers Tied To Program Seeking To ‘Propagate The Gospel’ Through Journalism) Jangs people at Olivet University and IBT Media are suddenly clamming up.

The questions are not going to go away, I hope more media outlets investigate and I hope that more frightened Jang followers and Olivet University students find the courage to tell their stories. Jang can’t sue everyone investigating his theology and his business practices.

Crossroads Christian Communications Inc. initially provided The Christian Post with a video news report filmed in Burlington. fitting into the neo-conservative political slant of The Christian Post.  That news report got dumped by The Christian Post around the time Crossroads 360 came out, Christine Williams who hosted the video, left Crossroads not long after. Now Crossroads is running a content feed from The Christian Post.

To call what The Christian Post puts out news,  is stretching credulity.  I would have thought after the debacle of the pieces striking at Christianity Today, ethics would have been considered by Crossroads. I was wrong.

Cultural and language barriers aside, I strongly urge every Crossroads employee, every Crossroads 360 reader and every Crossroads donor to to read the linked articles and ask themselves if the Jang tactics are something they can support in good conscience. Hopefully US Immigration officials and other US government departments will  investigate Olivet University, IBT Media and other holdings.  Just 16 hours ago, The Christian Post put up a puff piece on one of 100 Huntley Street US hosts.

I’m stating my objections publicly. I urge BDBO readers to do due diligence and ask Crossroads to cut ties with The Christian Post.

While media attention over IBT Media will die down quickly,  troubling practices and beliefs have been going on with Jang, his followers and around his holdings for some time and despite protestations to the contrary. Given Jang’s stated beliefs,   the penchant of attacking critics and whistle-blowers, and the scrubbing, hiding, and the skirting of damaging information, it is prudent to be skeptical that changes will be forthcoming.

Bells can’t be unrung, the media reports are piling up and Crossroads has a decision to make.

BDBO past posts

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World Vision Canada position on hiring gays and lesbians

I had a terrific day today, time spent with treasured friends. Lots of laughter and fun.

And I came home to read that World Vision USA had reversed a brave and important decision made two days ago on why they had decided to hire gay Christians in same sex marriages. I’m still shaking.

Go read. I’ll wait.

I want to say while I am sick with sorrow for what happened south of the border in evangelicalism,  I am humbled at our Canadian values, and relieved this religious and tribal battle that would make pawns of the poor and vulnerable helped by World Vision will not spill over here.

World Vision Canada statement:

Friends, we’ve been getting lots of questions about World Vision US’s hiring policy and I wanted to let you know that this does not affect World Vision Canada’s policies or actions.

Canada’s legal environment is quite different from that of the United States. We comply with provincial laws on this matter which prohibit discrimination in employment. For example, as part of our hiring process, we do not ask questions about sexual orientation, marriage or related issues.  However, when we hire, we are very clear about our values and our Christian identity. We explain how our Christian identity motivates and informs our work and how we work together here in Canada.

While we have a code of conduct on ethical and legal issues, we don’t ask staff to sign a lifestyle code of conduct.

We want our staff to be united around our mission of following Christ in serving the poor. When we hire staff, our Christian faith is clear. And when they join World Vision they are aligning with us as a Christian organization.

This is what is most key for us: When it comes to working with the poor, World Vision serves children, families and communities, regardless of whether they are aligned with our values or not. Race, ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation do not prevent us from serving the poorest of the poor.

If you have further questions, please get in touch. This is an important issue and we’d value the opportunity to discuss this with you.

From World Vision Canada’s Hiring Practises:

  • We don’t ask about sexual orientation or people’s personal life during our interview process, and we need to follow provincial and federal laws on this issue.
  • However, we’re firmly committed to our Christian identity: following Jesus is why we do what we do. Jesus’ example and care for children and for those in poverty is what we follow in our program work here and around the world; and we seek staff whose lives and beliefs align with this key core value.
  • We believe that when we hire staff, our Christian faith is clear. And when they join WV they are aligning with us as a Christian organization.
  • Employees in Canada are asked to sign a code of conduct when they are hired, and then every year after that, around ethical and legal issues. We ask them to commit to conducting themselves in a manner that reflects honesty and integrity, and that maintains the effectiveness, values and mission of World Vision Canada, and that protects and respects the children we serve.
  • Our code of conduct includes expectations around behavior as it relates to Child Protection, Health & Safety, Conflict of Interest, Equality and Diversity, Recruitment & Selection of staff, Workplace Violence and Harrassment, and respectful and dignified treatment of all staff.

and this:

In Canada, employment and hiring practices are included in laws at the provincial level. It includes prohibitions on discrimination on human rights grounds, including sexual orientation. As a Christian faith-based organization, we want to make sure we balance our Christian identity with our legal obligations.

Canadians sponsor 500 thousand children through World Vision Canada.

I can’t speak to the World Vision Canada workplace climate, only gay and lesbian WV Canada employees can address that.

The most important post I have read around the reversal of World Vision USA’s hiring of married gays and lesbians comes from Wendy Gritter of New Direction.  Please take time to hear an important front line voice: World Vision – A Drama in 5 Acts

Is all lost?  No!  A step was made.

It was taken back.  But you can never take back the reality that the board of such a prominent organization took this risk.  Prayed and reflected a long time.  Believed it was the right decision to make.  And made it.

In these early hours of response to rescinding, I am mostly hearing sadness, disappointment, frustration – but priorities in the right place – not wanting to damage WV’s work with the poor.

…So, what can we do?

Send a letter to World Vision (USA)  thanking them for taking this risk.  Express sadness but also understanding.

Watch your social media comments – be consistently gentle and gracious (God will help you – I know it is hard to do when emotions are strong).

Tell your story.  Tell folks why this matters to you.  Tell people how the reactions and reversals have made you feel.

Persevere in hopefulness.  Prayer and dialogue brought WVUS to the point of this decision.  I believe the Spirit was at work.  The Spirit will not be thrown off course by the unfolding of this situation.

Update: One person does not an organization make. However, this World Vision executives belief and behavior casts a scar on the organization he works for.  How silly we Canadians are for believing World Vision Canada follows the law of the land and the law of love.
I Was Blocked From Hiring A Gay Person at World Vision Canada.

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MK Safety Net Canada

This is excellent news. Missionary Kids Safety Net, a well known advocacy and resource organization for missionary kids and third culture kids who have been harmed by their experiences in the missionary movement, has set up a Canadian branch. MKSN has been registered with Revenue Canada.

The purpose statement of MK Safety Net Canada is: “To advance education and promote health by providing educational programs and mutual support groups for people who have experienced trauma.”

MK Safety Net Canada is a group of individuals who wish to reach out to survivors of abuse in various missionary environments. “We are interested in helping victims, their parents and families break the silence, and would like to create a community of support, healing and hope,” explains Beverly Shellrude Thompson, President Emeritus of MK Safety Net Canada.

Part of the mandate of MK Safety Net Canada is also to call mission organizations and their supporting churches to establish justice and healing, especially in those cases where the church has wounded its own children.

“Most North American evangelical mission agencies and denominations are now incorporated in Canada as well as in the U.S.” explains Thompson. “MK Safety Net welcomes this change because Canadian victims of both historical and current abuse in mission settings will now report to the Canadian head office of their mission rather than to the U.S. headquarters. Canadian laws differ from American law and this will assist in streamlining the reporting and investigatory process.”

Welcoming  splash page
MK Safety Net USA has been operating since 1999.
MK Safety Net Canada

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Charisma magazine runs paid for ‘news release’ under by-line of ‘news service’ owner

Nice catch by Ruth Graham (@publicroad) and Warren Throckmorton (Patheos).

A  guy in Australia named Lyall Mercer wrote a pr mentioning his firm which was put up on Christian News Service (a pr site).

For pete’s sake. Pr is pr.

Charisma magazine picks it up with a few words changed,  putting another byline on it.

Lyall Mercer of Mercer PR paid to have his advertisment  put up at Christian News Service under the title: Driscoll Controversy Highlights Need for Churches to Develop PR Strategies to Protect from Christians

It shows up at Charisma magazine under the title: Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy Shows an Enemy Within

The Charisma piece changed three things:

Christian News Service copy:

Mr. Mercer is an Australian who spent six years living in the USA before returning to Australia to establish Mercer PR. He still deals with clients in the USA and advises high profile churches and ministries as well as corporate clients.

…“Churches and ministries are insulated, and they try to respond to external publicity with internal solutions crafted by people within their church or another church,” he explained.

Charisma Magazine:

Mercer is an Australian who spent six years living in the U.S. before returning to Australia to establish Mercer PR. He still deals with clients in the U.S. and advises high-profile churches and ministries as well as corporate clients.

…”Churches and ministries are insulated, and they try to respond to external publicity with internal solutions crafted by people within their church or another church,” he says.

Mercer paid CNS to put up his pr  which comes across as a puff piece on Driscoll and Mars Hill, but essentially it’s an advertisement for his firms services. Looking at the price structure of Christian News Service, I’d guess Mercer paid $75.00 US minimum.

So why is Charisma magazine running it as a  news article written by Russ Jones of Christian News Service – who  gets a byline for changing 3 words of a piece from one of his clients?

Russ Jones is Christian News Service:

Russ Jones

Did Russ Jones get paid again by Charisma?
Did Charisma pay to run the pr by Mr. Mercer?

Russ Jones clearly states the following to Warren Throckmorton:

This was a PAID news release by Australian-based Mercer PR sent out at 9:30am CST. The owners name is Lyall Mercer.

Jones states that this was  by Mercer PR. (I haven’t got the stomach to call it a news release, it’s an advertisement). He clearly says ‘by’, inferring Mercer wrote his piece, and clearly stating someone paid to have it put up on Jones service.

Since Mercer runs his own pr firm, why didn’t he just skip  middleman Jones and solicit Charisma magazine himself? I’ll attempt to be generous and go past calling this piece paid advertising and say at best it’s an opinion piece. And I’ll entertain the possiblity Mercer PR paid Christian News Service to have it ‘distributed.’

Either way, Charisma magazine doesn’t do much for it’s shaky credibility.

Final question, did Mars Hill pay Mr. Mercer of Mercer PR to distribute his opinion?

Update: Charisma magazine has changed the by-line:

charisma byline

Update: Mr. Mercers pr/advert/puff piece, “Driscoll Controversy Highlights Need for Churches to Develop PR Strategies to Protect from Christians” has disappeared from Christian News Service. Poof.
Update: It is back with an Admin by-line. Charisma deleted all the comments under the Mercer pr.

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