Guest / Limited Access /
When Sexual Abuse Comes to Light
Photo by Sally Gupton

When Teresa Lea's parents signed up with the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) to become missionaries in Africa in the 1970s, they sent 5-year-old Teresa to boarding schools in Gabon and Ivory Coast. She spent 12 years there, learning how to add, read—and, if she wanted to eat, perform oral sex.

When Lea tried to tell her parents of the abuse, the school authorities told her parents she had an overactive imagination. Disbelieved by her parents, Lea didn't mention the abuse again until she was an adult. Lea went to therapy, ended her marriage, and changed her career. She slowly began to heal. In the process, she found other adult missionary kids (MKs) doing the same thing, in part by attending the first-ever interdenominational conference for MK abuse survivors.

For too long, the abuse of missionary children was hidden or dismissed as "false memory." No longer. Rich Darr, who survived physical and emotional abuse at the CMA's Mamou school in West Africa, said abuse there was rampant in the 1950s through the early 1970s. "Far from being an isolated incident in the CMA, abuse was going on at many of their boarding schools," Darr said. "As the Mamou Alliance Academy case was coming into the open, we heard many reports of similar abuses from Alliance boarding schools such as Quito Alliance, Sentani, Indonesia; Bongolo School, Gabon; Zamboanga School, Philippines; Dalat, Malaysia; and more."

The CMA wasn't the only Christian organization facing accusations. An independent investigation found New Tribes Mission MKs suffered sexual, physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse at the hands of 12 adults at its Fanda boarding school in Senegal. MKs at a Presbyterian Church ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueDo Celebrity Debates Help Christian Persuasion?
Subscriber Access Only Do Celebrity Debates Help Christian Persuasion?
Ken Ham and Bill Nye will debate creationism. Experts discuss whether such debates are helpful.
RecommendedRussia: The Other Christian Nation
Russia: The Other Christian Nation
A cozy relationship between church and state has lasting implications.
TrendingDied: Tim LaHaye, Author Who 'Left Behind' a Long Legacy
Died: Tim LaHaye, Author Who 'Left Behind' a Long Legacy
Jerry B. Jenkins: 'Thrilled as I am that he is where he has always wanted to be, his departure leaves a void in my soul.'
Editor's PickIs There a Better Way to Fight 'Political Correctness'?
Is There a Better Way to Fight 'Political Correctness'?
When language is a tool for coercion, nobody wins.
Christianity Today
When Sexual Abuse Comes to Light
hide thisMarch March

In the Magazine

March 2014

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.