CHILD ABUSE REPORT GIVES "NEW TRIBES" A CHANCE TO REFORM ITSELF

New Tribes Missions, a worldwide missionary organization with headquarters in Florida, has an airport and housing compound in McNeal, here in Cochise County, Arizona.  The local operation trains pilots and mechanics to support missionary work overseas.  The local operation is described on
   http://www.ntm.org/ntmaviation/what.php?page=what%20is%20ntm%20aviation?&io=2
a site with many links to other New Tribes info.

On August 23, an organization called GRACE -- "Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment" -- issued a report about child abuse at a New Tribes boarding school in Fanda, in the country of Senegal, Africa.  The original GRACE Report is at
   http://fandaeagles.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/GRACE-Final-Report-on-NTM-Fanda.pdf
and if that is removed, a backup copy is at
    http://littlebigdog.net/GraceReportOriginal.pdf
On August 28, GRACE posted a modified copy at
    http://fandaeagles.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Amended-GRACE-Report-on-NTM-Fanda-Amended-edition.pdf
and a backup copy is at
    http://littlebigdog.net/GraceReportAmended.pdf
As to the modification, GRACE says it "added a couple of paragraphs under the Recommendation section that articulates the purpose of the report and the standard used in making the recommendations [1, because GRACE's] purpose was to address the failed responses of NTM to information provided that provided evidence for abuse claims…not to convict or acquit [and 2, because] We were contacted yesterday by Mark Adams and were able to have a substantive conversation with him regarding the allegations and recommendations as they relate to him.... We plan no further amendments or addendum."  The August 28 changes to the Report did not affect any part of the article you are reading.

(Most recently, on September 8, GRACE issued a Supplement to the amended Report.  See
    http://littlebigdog.net/GRACE%20Sep%208%20Supp%20to%20Amended%20Final.htm )

The GRACE Report exists because a few abused "MKs" -- "Missionary Kids" -- would not let New Tribes forever cover up the abuse and blame the victims.  The website of the Fanda Eagles, the abused children, is at
   http://fandaeagles.com
(By September 8, when GRACE's Supplement came out, lots of MKs had had a chance to let the Report sink in, and were responding by posting reports of even more horrible conduct at New Tribes boarding schools, and also posting dissatisfaction with the New Tribes handling of matters since the Report came out.  If New Tribes central headquarters expected that it could handle any firestorm that the GRACE Report touched off, that expectation is in for some serious testing.)

The abuse at Fanda is not merely "alleged," New Tribes admits it.  Since the GRACE Report came out, New Tribes's page at
   http://www.ntm.org/news/report.php
has added a statement that "Individuals in our organization abused children....  we as an organization are responsible and have sinned against these students."  (And on September 3, the New Tribes page at
    http://www.ntm.org/news/11303
added that "This week, the NTM USA Executive Board completed several of the recommendations in GRACE's report ....  The recommendations that have been completed pertain to 14 of the people named in the report....  NTM intends to take action against other personnel as well....  Taking action against these personnel in no way absolves New Tribes Mission of responsibility. NTM as an organization failed to protect the children at Fanda, and takes responsibility for these inexcusable failures....")

(On September 11, the fandaeagles website reported the following letter as 
"being sent to perpetrators and those who failed to protect us:
    Dear _____________,
    In addressing the sins committed at the Fanda boarding school, New Tribes Mission acknowledges the centrality of its own sin. We did not have proper oversight of either the school or the workers in the Field. When New Tribes Mission received notices of abuse, we failed to respond adequately or to respond at all. We should have immediately removed those from authority who were responsible for these failures.
    There is no question that many MKs were devastated by what they experienced and observed during their time at Fanda. Tragically, this devastation has manifested itself in alarming numbers of MKs suffering from both emotional and medical conditions. Perhaps the most catastrophic consequence of Fanda has been the indescribable spiritual alienation suffered by so many MKs.
    You were a member of the ______________ during the time that allegations of child abuse at the Fanda school came to light. It has clearly been documented that you failed to report child abuse and otherwise take measures to protect the children of Fanda.
    Your failure to protect the children at the Fanda missionary school demonstrates a clear disregard for the seriousness and sinfulness of the abuse perpetuated upon these young people. The failure to protect children and report abuse is contrary to the mission and purpose of New Tribes Mission, and cannot be tolerated in any manner or degree. Therefore, NTM USA has amended your employment record to indicate your active membership was terminated on _____________.
    You are not allowed to represent NTM in any formal or informal capacity. In addition, 10% of your gross NTM retirement income will be deducted from your account to be contributed to an established MK fund.
    Sincerely,
    NTM USA Executive Board
    Larry Brown, Dan Kreider, Paul Wyma, Marv Ketcham, Mike Sullivan, Ron Lindsey".

Also on September 11, the fandaeagles site posted a followup letter from NTM explaining some terms used in the first letter:
    "Terminated from active service means that a person has been taken out of full time engagement in ministry and will no longer serve or represent NTM. Active Service means that the Member is engaged in duties or responsibilities with NTM. To 'Terminate' someone from this Active Service status means to make them a non-active member who no longer has any responsibilities or duties with NTM.
    Non-active Members are Retired members. They may receive income from NTM if their financial partners choose to contribute to NTM toward their support. They have no responsibilities or duties. While some retired members may represent NTM, all individuals who have been terminated as active members in this process are prohibited from representing NTM in any capacity.
    For example, the missionary who was representing NTM and was terminated to non-active service will be classified as a retired (non-active) member, but will no longer be permitted to minister or represent NTM.
    Those who are terminated from membership will have no status within NTM. They will have no further relationship with NTM, and their accounts with NTM will be permanently closed.
    Members being terminated from membership will be given 90 days to transition out of the organization. These 90 days begin on the last day of the month in which they receive the official termination notice. During this 90 day transition, the member has no NTM responsibilities or duties. Notice of Termination of Membership is sent to the member’s supporters during this transition period. The member may receive income from NTM if financial partners choose to contribute to NTM toward their support during the transition period. Following the 90 day transition, their account is closed.
    The way NTM is implementing the recommendations is in accordance with GRACE. We talked through this implementation and its rationale with them before we finalized the steps we have taken."

In short, NTM is saying that because "many MKs were devastated [which] has manifested itself in alarming numbers of MKs suffering from both emotional and medical conditions [and] indescribable spiritual alienation," then some -- the number has not been released -- of the people named in the GRACE Report will be, basically, fired.  Being fired obviously affects only those people who are still working with NTM; since many of the people named in the report left NTM long ago, being fired can hardly matter to them.  In addition, some people will no longer be allowed to represent NTM.  Finally, people drawing retirement pay from NTM will essentially be required to "tithe" to "an established MK fund," which is not identified.

Since NTM has determined that abuse took place, NTM appears to have a duty to report the abuse to law enforcement.  The website at
    http://www.mksafetynet.net/reporting_abuse.htm
states, as of September 12, that "The U.S. State Department is responsible for tracking such predators throughout the world. If the alleged predators are U.S. citizens and they go to other countries to sexually exploit children, they can be prosecuted under our laws. The Christian Mission program folks can also be held liable both criminally and civilly for facilitating/aiding and abetting the pedophiles. These offenses may constitute a form of child sex trafficking which should be reported to a Human Trafficking Task Force. All the appropriate state and federal agencies are members of such task forces so this list will be helpful to access the appropriate agencies in any case."  That site then gives contact information for law enforcement in Florida.  It may be possible to get action in other states in which NTM facilities are located.)

The GRACE Report details "sexual, physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse.  Much of this abuse was criminal," Report p. 1.  The allegations target New Tribes personnel named Mark Adams, Bob Ames, Donna Beach, David Brooks, Aubrey DeJager, Phil Gates, Reginaldo Goulart, Norm Livingstone, Hammy Penner, Judy Penner, Willem "Bill" Poortvliet, and Perry Utz.

The allegations about Hammy and Judy Penner are noteworthy.  The Report, pp. 16-17, says, as to Judy Penner, that "Two MKs recall her forcing them to eat their own vomit, as ... punishment for getting sick during a meal....  Hammy Penner is ... remembered for beatings ... in which he used the buckle side of his belt....  As an MK soberly put it, 'Emotional abuse did occur with the Penners.'"

So far as this writer knows, neither Hammy or Judy Penner, nor any of the twelve people listed above, has any connection with the New Tribes operation in McNeal.

More names may be coming.  The Report found "evidence of reported child abuse ... worldwide in the NTM system....  Where there are abiding concerns, these other instances of MK child abuse deserve their own independent investigations," Report p. 3 n. 8.

The GRACE Report is the opposite of an attack on the Christian religion.  GRACE was founded by a grandson of Billy Graham's, the Report is infused with Christianity, and its Conclusion includes "How fervently the leaders and members of NTM must seek the mind of Christ over the Fanda scandal.  For true Christian repentance, we must be changed to see the wicked truth about Fanda, to grasp the wrongheadedness, to empathize with the hurting, to tremble at the offense to God, and to resolve for restitution.  The cross and character of Christ demand no less.  The ultimate mission of NTM is to be like Jesus, in her going to every tongue and tribe and people and nation.  But, what good will it be if she gains the whole world, only to lose her own soul?"

GRACE aims to bring New Tribes "back into the fold," and so, in its own way, does this writeup.

This writeup is about McNeal, Arizona, not about the Fanda Eagles or New Tribes worldwide.  In McNeal, New Tribes has long treated its neighbors with disrespect, and been a poor member of the community.  See the long writeup at
   http://littlebigdog.net/New%20Tribes%20In%20McNeal%20Arizona.htm
Talking with New Tribes in McNeal has been difficult, because spokesmen for New Tribes always appear to have their mind made up that New Tribes is right, whatever it does, no matter who it hurts.

This writer knows that New Tribes's treatment of its neighbors in McNeal, Arizona, cannot possibly be anything but trivial compared to what New Tribes did at Fanda.  Being a bad neighbor is nothing compared to committing or covering up child abuse.  This writeup is aimed at the New Tribes process which led to both results.  The GRACE Report matters to McNeal because of similar "management techniques" at Fanda and McNeal.  "[T]he conduct of New Tribes [at Fanda], which emphasized the saving of souls at the expense of children ... made the abuse that followed predictable," Report p. 2.  In McNeal, the emphasis on New Tribes goals at the expense of all other considerations made abuse of the neighbors predictable.

The comments on New Tribes's own page at
   http://www.ntm.org/news/report.php
include "True repentance, as the GRACE report points out, will be seen in our actions, and we pledge to act.  Our current leaders are reviewing the recommendations in the report, and will meet with GRACE this week so we can fully understand them and move forward in the right way."

(On August 30, New Tribes posted a note at
    http://www.ntm.org/news/11284
stating "NTM USA's Executive Board has begun implementing GRACE's recommendations. The first set of these will be complete by the end of the week."  However, that note also includes a statement by New Tribes that "At the request of NTM and with the consent of the former students of the NTM school for missionary children in Senegal, GRACE conducted a review of abuse at the school in the 1980s and NTM's response."  That's a little disingenuous; NTM may have first contacted GRACE, but it was only after intensive pushing by MKs that NTM did anything at all.  Such disingenuousness is not an indicator of sincerity on New Tribes's part.)

New Tribes is, however, slow off the mark.  Remember Hammy and Judy Penner?  The Report says "Two MKs recall [Judy] forcing them to eat their own vomit, as ... punishment for getting sick during a meal....  Hammy Penner is ... remembered for beatings ... in which he used the buckle side of his belt."  (In fairness to the Penners, GRACE's September 8 Supplement includes "Mr. Penner recently communicated with GRACE and wrote, 'We absolutely deny the allegations made against us personally.'")
After the GRACE report came out, the New Tribes page at
   http://www.ntm.org/give/409
still continued to solicit contributions to "the ministry of Hammy and Judy Penner."  (The solicitation went on until September 3.  Here's a screen shot:
    http://littlebigdog.net/NewTribesGiveToHammy.jpg
Sometime on September 4, 2010, New Tribes stopped soliciting money for Hammy and Judy on the 409/link page.  That page now says "The missionary you are searching for was not found in our online database.")


And New Tribes's appearance of openness is countered by emails, after the GRACE report came out, from MKs on the
   http://fandaeagles.com
The MKs' emails are painful to read in their honesty and agony.  Many of them are filled with personal agony about the writer's past, loathing for what happened at Fanda, hope for a change in the institutional governance of New Tribes, and worry that the current governing body will stall any meaningful change.  (As noted above, as of September 8, the MK emails are getting more painful to read as the Report circulates and sinks  in.)

Here's the New Tribes structure that allowed the abuses and coverup.  Fanda School in Senegal was run by a "Field Committee," Report p. 3 n. 8.  "The power and control it exercised paralleled that of a pastoral staff, a congregational board of Elders, a set of church Deacons, an employer, a local civil government, and a family chieftain, all in one.  The minutes of the ... Committee reveal action items on such matters as ministry assignments, supplies, housing, vacations, education, spiritual formation, public morals, civil crimes, church censures, private property, medical advice, marriage, children, and other family matters.  Thus, they were given final authority and control on matters of family, church, and state, which in a finite and fallen world are best not aggregated into one set of hands, no matter how skilled," Report p. 6 nn. 17 & 18.

"Without the mechanisms to contain the Field Committee and to hold its power accountable, the Committee inevitably became piously cruel," Report p. 7.  The "Committee repeatedly failed to report abuse to the authorities, to inform parents of the allegations, or to competently investigate the allegations.  On the contrary, the Field Committee, to the extent it acted at all, acted to protect the perpetrators and the institution at the expense of the children.  If not criminal, the conduct of the Field Committee was grossly negligent," Report p. 26.

Here are comments from missionaries and MKs who were affected by the Field Committee:
-- "'Leadership exploited their authority, based on what they claimed to be "God's directions," and often made decisions that were extreme, petty and hurtful.  I believe that FMS & NTM leadership exemplified what it means to "take God's name in vain."  They used it for their own ends,'" Report p. 7.
-- "'Leadership spoke for God.  If you disagree, you disagree with God and it's sin!'," Report p. 7.
-- "One missionary in the survey labeled the Field Committee as 'a dictatorship'.  One veteran NTM official described the problem this way:  'I think in the leadership there are a lot of nice people, but when they get together they become dangerous'," Report p. 7 n. 24.
-- "The unspoken rule ... became 'do not challenge authority on anything.'  Dissenters were ostracized and eventually came into compliance or left the field and sometimes the Mission.  Former missionaries from the Senegal field described such treatment by the Field Committee as 'abuse' and 'cultic,'" Report p. 8.

New Tribes's overall problem appears to be excessive deference to a central hierarchy, and placing organizational interests above anything or anyone else.

New Tribes has been in need of something to shake it up, and the Fanda scandal may be what was needed.  The GRACE Report includes "In 1996 to 1997 ... the Executive Committee ... rediscovered the biblical doctrine of grace, apologizing to NTM's missionaries for its past error and encouraging institutional reformation.  Distance and remoteness of NTM fields have made the implementation of this reformation both difficult and challenging with some fields still exhibiting the old culture of legalistic autocracy.  The new leadership on the Executive Board has continued to model and work for such Gospel change within the corporate culture of NTM," Report p. 8 n. 33.

Whatever happens at New Tribes headquarters in Florida, there's no reason to expect headquarters to worry much about McNeal, in this remote part of America.  New Tribes members here in McNeal have a chance to step up and repair their relations with the community.

New Tribes people in McNeal took a step in the right direction at a County Planning & Zoning Commission in April 2010.  At that meeting, New Tribes asked to build what looked like the start of a boarding school.  The Fanda scandal was brewing at that time, and when this writer raised that issue, the New Tribes spokesman, Walter Durfey, told the Commission and the public in attendance, "That's not us."  At that time, New Tribes headquarters in Florida had ordered New Tribes people to say nothing at all about the Fanda scandal to "media and any other outside party other than current and former NTM members and MKs."  See
   http://ko-kr.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=321269764832&topic=13219
Durfey was disobeying headquarters by making the comment that he did, and he probably wouldn't have done it if he hadn't felt a strong sense of commitment to the McNeal community at large.

So New Tribes in McNeal is already a little way down the right path, and now that the Fanda scandal has fully broken, it's a good time for New Tribes in McNeal to break from its "cultic" (as one New Tribes missionary said) past.

At this juncture, even a little action by New Tribes would accomplish a lot.  New Tribes knows where it's been annoying its neighbors by flying improperly and pushing the limits of its permits.  We'll see if New Tribes in McNeal takes this opportunity to become equals in the community, and drop the pose of being separate and superior.  The timing is critical; as State, Federal, and County government continue to leave this area unprotected from predators, local people must learn to work together more than they ever have.