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.
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.
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.
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.
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.