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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 ...

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Jonathan Miles

March 13, 2014  12:55pm

CT editors, what substantiation do you have of the claim--presented as fact in the opening paragraph--that this troubled woman would not be allowed to eat as a child at a CMA school without performing sexual acts? I am as zealous as any for exposing hidden sin within the church. But this is the bride of Christ you are accusing. Please tread carefully and avoid jumping on the bandwagon of repudiating the faith of our fathers in order to satisfy our own psychological needs. I am asking for a retraction unless you can provide substantiation of this claim.

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William Markham

March 13, 2014  7:27am

If a missions organization had a requirement, or even suggested or urged, that my children would be housed and educated in a separate location from their mother and father, the answer would immediately and clearly be...no. I don't believe that God, under any circumstance, wants the birth parents in situations like these to be largely uninvolved in the raising of their own children. Perhaps more missionary couples should venture out independently, free from organizations with poor decision making and unreasonable restrictions.

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David Clohessy

March 12, 2014  1:07pm

These Missionary Kids are heroes. It's an honor to know some of them. Their courage and compassion is admirable.

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Matthew McNutt

March 01, 2014  5:20pm

The mission my family was associated with, and experienced and witnessed abuse while in their boarding schools, left me feeling like their comments in this article paint a rosier picture of how things are and how the victims have been treated and feel about the mission. For many victims, the impression has been that there is more concern controlling the public image and hiding the truth depth of abuse from the public.

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Shary Habuber

February 26, 2014  8:17am

Thank your for this article that exposes abuse in many different missionary environments. Boarding schools are a danger zone but not the only place children are abused in missions. It also includes more than MKs it also includes national children. I hope this article will help the hundreds of former MKs and others who were abused to realize they are not alone. Together survivors must hold missions accountable for the abuse they allowed and even encouraged by ignoring reports of abuse. To be accountable missions need to turn over current abuse over to authorities immediately before they do damage control and older abuse past the Statue of Limitations over to groups like Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment, GRACE. Do missions realize how many of their MKs can't hold steady job because of trauma from abuse. How many can't afford to see a therapist. They called us family, the Bible says take care of family. Compassion more than words shown to MKs would go a long way.

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Dee Ann Miller

February 24, 2014  10:37pm

As a long-time advocate, I'm happy to see that boarding school abuse is being addressed here. However, most perpetrators don't have records and mission field abuse goes far beyond boarding schools. It includes missionary-parent perpetrators, too. My own advocacy work started as a career missionary when my husband and I confronted a case involving a colleague with the Southern Baptist Convention over 25 years ago. At every level of the organization we found "magical thinking" about the appropriateness of his "restoration" to mission service. Naivety and ignorance were the main issues, not disbelief. The perpetrator's victims over a span of years included a young woman on a short-term assignment who got blamed for his actions, at least one national, MK teens and adult colleagues. Disillusioned, we resigned and I began a writing ministry to expose the evils of collusion rather than abuse itself. Attitudes have changed some. Yet collusion is still common.

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Dianne Couts

February 24, 2014  5:57pm

It is very good that missions are using boarding schools less because this minimizes the trauma of abandonment and detachment from parents. However, abuse in mission settings does not just happen in boarding schools. It also occurs in cluster schools (families live in the same area and hire teachers for their children); by missionaries staying overnight in their parents’ home; sometimes within the community by local citizens. Missionaries have also abused the children of local citizens. Just as in the U.S. and Canada, abuse in mission settings happens in a variety of settings. For this reason, denominations need to have the courage and integrity to hire an organization independent of mission organizations to do a system-wide investigation into historical and current abuse within their extended mission community.

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Beverly Shellrude Thompson

February 24, 2014  12:38pm

Following the policies of the Child Safety Protection Network (CSPN), the 53 member agencies generally investigate reports of abuse by teams of current or former staff / consultants from within the CSPN membership. The missionary community often functions like a large, extended family in which missionaries often know one another, have sometimes worked together, and are generally very protective of one another’s reputations. Using people from within the mission/CSPN community to investigate abuse creates risks and biases for the victim and often allows the perpetrator(s)to continue having access to children.

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India Dawn Baker

February 24, 2014  11:43am

Thank you for writing this article and for helping me speak my truth. I have one concern. The C&MA has not addressed these issues with me, nor have they engaged in any form of investigating anything in regards to my abuse, even though I have reported it and spoken to Bob Fetherlin and several others, including the former president of the Alliance. No one in the Alliance has taken my story seriously. The following link is an open letter I personally wrote to the C&MA last week. What is included is only a few things that occurred in my life. This is not a complete listing of the abuses I experienced. http://www.thenoeticnomad.com/2014/02/20/an-open-letter-to- the-christian-missionary-alliance/

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Beverly Shellrude Thompson

February 24, 2014  10:46am

Jim Malone, as C&MA Assistant VP for International ministries, you said "If there was more I thought we could be doing, we'd be doing it." Here is what you can do: Go through Bob Fetherlin’s files (former VP for International Ministries) and archived e-mails and locate reports of abuse MK’s have made from the following schools you once owned and/or now have an affiliation with: Quito Alliance, Dalat Alliance, Bongolo Alliance, Sentani International School, Bandung International School, and C&MA dorms at: Ivory Coast Academy, Black Forest Academy. Some of the reports of abuse were given to your internal investigation committee, The Sensitive Issues Consultative Group (SICG). However, having an internal investigation is similar to having a mother and father investigate whether their own son is a sexual predator. The SICG would not have investigated Mamou. It is time now to give all the reports of abuse from these schools to an independent, external organization to investigate.

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