ABWE Board Confession of 3/30/11 PLUS: Loftis Letters of 4/9/11



Dear Hurting MK’s:

To our beloved MKs and your families who have suffered decades of sorrow and pain not only at the hands of Donn Ketcham but also from our mishandling of the abuse, we, the Board of ABWE and ABWE Administration ask for your forgiveness.

The Board and Administration of ABWE have spent hours reading your stories and comments, listening to the personal testimonies of some who have had first-hand knowledge of the field through the years, and searching for anything that could shed light on the actions taken by ABWE. The information is clear, and we are heartsick at what we have seen and heard.

So to each of you, dear ones, who through no fault of your own continue to live with the pain of the consequences, we ask for your forgiveness. Though we cannot ask forgiveness for the sins of others, we do humbly and sincerely ask for your forgiveness for our sins.

Concerns regarding Donn Ketcham’s repeated inappropriate behavior with the opposite sex on the field could have resulted in his termination as early as 1975, but continued indiscretions should have resulted in dismissal no later than 1985. Regrettably, we did not terminate him as a missionary but rather gave repeated opportunities for counseling and remediation which allowed him time and opportunity to sin against you. Please, please forgive us.

A precious 14-year-old child should never have been asked to sign a confession. She was the one who had been abused and sinned against. This was indeed a grievous wrong. Would you please forgive our sin against you?

No matter what the law required at the time, no matter what the outcome would have been, no matter whether it would have resulted in prosecution or loss of his medical license or not, Donn Ketcham’s pedophilia was not reported to either the law or the medical boards of any state. This was wrong. It was failure of the most serious kind. There should have been an immediate filing of reports and an on-going attempt to pursue giving the truth to appropriate authorities from 1989 to the present. This failure is simply inexcusable. It seems too much to ask, but we must ask… will you forgive us?

Knowing Donn Ketcham’s propensity to lie, we were foolish to allow him to make his confession to his sending pastor without a representative from ABWE being present. We also did not name his crime of pedophilia in our letter to supporting churches. This enabled Donn Ketcham to reveal only what he chose to reveal. Consequently, he was able to hide the ultimate crime of pedophilia from his sending church. This was so wrong. Please, forgive us.

Once the pedophilia became known in 1989, no comprehensive investigation was done to determine if there were additional victims. This was inexcusable. After learning of additional victims in 2002, an investigation was begun but never completed. This was wrong. Please forgive us for this failure.

It is obvious that our leadership was greatly concerned for sparing Donn Ketcham’s family any additional public disgrace, but such concern came at the high cost of ignoring the needs of the innocent MKs and others who had suffered at his hands. While it may be considered gracious by some to have handled it discreetly, it was not gracious or compassionate towards those who were sinned against by him. It was wrong, so very wrong. We failed you. We hurt you. We are ashamed. It seems incomprehensible to even suggest that you forgive us in light of all we know now; but we must ask, if you could find it in your hearts, to please, please forgive us.

Dear ABWE MKs and families, please do not think that we now believe the matter is settled simply because we have taken ownership of our wrongs against you. This matter is not settled. It is only a first step in the right direction. There are more steps to be taken. While we will never be able to make it all right, we are committed to redressing the wrongs and making right what we can. We desire to see your faces and hear your voices. We desire to voice our apologies to you face to face and are willing to meet with any of you, anytime, in a safe setting acceptable to you.

We want to be both public and private in our apologies to each of you. That is why we are sharing this first on the blog, publicly. But we also want to be personal, specific and individual in our apologies, and so we hope with all our hearts that you will give us the opportunity to ask for your forgiveness face to face.

Dear ABWE MKs, we long to be reconciled to you. We want to do what we can to move forward together toward healing and growth. To this end we will pray and labor.

With contrite spirit and with love,
The Board and Administration of ABWE



NOTE: The following letters were sent out on April 9, 2011, by Michael Loftis, President of ABWE, about a week after the board’s confession, which can be read in its entirety above.

Letter #1: Dr Loftis Letter to Supporting Churches 
Letter #2Dr Loftis Letter to ABWE Missionaries 


About Bangladesh MKs Speak

We are a group of American former missionary kids (MKs) who lived in Bangladesh while Donn Ketcham worked as a missionary doctor there with the mission agency Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) out of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
This entry was posted in Abuse Mishandling, ABWE's Response, Press Releases, Stories and Discussion of Documents. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to ABWE Board Confession of 3/30/11 PLUS: Loftis Letters of 4/9/11

  1. Diana Durrill says:

    They CONFESS….and then he back peddles. Sad & hurtful at the same time. Michael Loftis discredits us and our very real pain in his two letters. I am so thankful for the missionaries and pastors out there who are keeping us in the loop about these things. They are true warriors for our cause. THANK YOU – whoever you are – for respecting us and our pain enough to keep us informed of the words being used to misrepresent us. Not only does he misrepresent me (I may be righteously angry but I am NOT estranged), but he misrepresents himself. Dr. Loftis indicates that I am still his biggest concern and that his heart is for me. Is that why I still have received NO emails or phone calls from him? Because he cares so much? I am sad. Very, very sad. Every time we think they are taking steps in the right direction and we begin to have a glimmer of HOPE we find ourselves hurt again. By the same old people using their same old tricks. Well, I am thankful these pastors and missionaries saw through it and sent it to us. I guess my HOPE is misplaced. Need to keep my hope in the Lord and also in these missionaries and pastors who do care. God has surrounded us with great men & women who long for the truth to come out. Praise the Lord!

  2. The letters to the missionaries and the churches seem to indicate that ABWE is not at fault. They put the blame on DK not on how they handled it. Am I reading them right? One of the letters almost sounds like they are blaming the victims again for coming out on this blog! As if the problem is with the MKs not with ABWE themselves. Am I reading into it or is that how it sounds to others?

  3. Rebecca says:

    To Dr. Loftis and the Board at ABWE:

    This morning my pastor preached about confession and repentance. In my church, it is a sacrament. In the life of any Christian, it is necessary for spiritual healing and Salvation. Without it, we die. Without it, we push the grace of God from our lives. Without it, we isolate ourselves from the communities in which He has placed us.

    There are those of us who visit here who are cynical about your motivations, especially now that we see your new letters and the way in which you continue to try to minimize the damage, not to the survivors but to you and your reputation. Forgive me my cynicism. I offer that sincerely.

    Judging by the tone of the new letters, though, it appears as if you think these women are your adversaries, or are somehow in opposition and apart from you. That thinking is incorrect. These women, those of us who speak up here on their behalf, and those around the world right now engaged in spiritual warfare on their behalf, we are not here to hurt you. They do not attack you, or even DK, and certainly not the work God has used you to build. They are not here to destroy that. They have sought nothing more than to bring healing, to restore life –not just to the wounded in their midst but to the wounded and guilty in yours. They are here as much for you as they are for them.

    If this weren’t true, other options would have been exercised already–a civil suit against you, your board, Russ Lloyd and all those who carelessly and cavalierly minimized the suffering of so many for so many years. They could have explored the possibility of the pursuit of criminal charges against you, your board and others for failing your civic duty to report child abuse. They could have immediately called the TV stations, the newspapers or others and shouted their stories from the highest hilltops, to embarrass you or to shame you into action. But these are not the roads they have taken.

    They found a path to healing. They found a path to truth. They have done all the hard work for you already–identifying victims, finding a trusted party to ask the tough questions of everyone involved. They came to you with nothing but a road map. “Here, this is where we have been. This is where we want to go. We believe God wants you to go with us. Will you go?”

    Sure, you acknowledged your sins and poor response at the outset. How could you not? It’s the least you could do when confronted with the bloody reality of the mess you left behind. But now you identify their position as one of estranged children, putting them off as wayward daughters acting in opposition to the wills of their parents. You identify what occurred, not as the heinous criminal acts they were, but more sedately as moral failures or sinful shortcomings. This does not do them justice.

    And you know what? It doesn’t do you all justice either. You deserve the truth. You deserve a clean house, a place with the stench of death and moral decay is swept out and disinfected with the healing power of godly sorrow and repentance. You deserve to call it what it is and deal with it accordingly.

    Repentance in the Greek is metanoia, a turning around.

    Get yourself up off the ground, dust yourself off and walk alongside these courageous women. Don’t sit there in the ultimately unfinished act of one apology. Do more. Be more. Turn. Submit to them in this. It will be OK. God is in it. Can’t you feel Him? We can. So many of us have seen such mighty things in the past month, you couldn’t believe it.

    You cannot go in peace, Dr. Loftis, unless you go with them.

    A sister in Christ,

  4. Rick Adolph says:

    Loftis / ABWE, again with these letters that were sent out to missionaries and churches, your reputation is proceeding you in covering up and not accepting responsibility. I read both letters before any other comments were made about them and I don’t understand the different tone again after the confession posted on ABWE’s web site. Is everyone at ABWE together on this or do we have several different groups sending out different messages. Is someone in charge?

    • My2Cents says:

      Could the letters that you’re referring to be made available on this blog so that we can all share in this information? I’m assuming that since these letters were sent out publically they were not intended to be kept private. Thanks!

      • isaiah 61:8 says:


        We are working on locating and attaching those letters to this blog so that all can share the information, as you have suggested. Thanks for the question.

        Phil Walsh

      • isaiah 61:8 says:

        Letters can now be found on this post. Look at the bottom of the confession for links to the Loftis letters.

      • My2Cents says:

        There is also reference in the blog to a letter that Tony Beckett sent out to churches. Is there such a letter? If so, could it also be made available under this section. Thanks!

  5. Terry Gibson says:

    My heart has been grieved as I have read through this blog and compared it to ABWE’s responses. I was hopeful when the confession was posted on March 30th, but the recent letters have seriously undermined that hope.

    Yet I am reminded that to hope in man is always to be disappointed. The only one we can legitimately place all of our hope in is the Lord God. It is my prayer that he will act with a mighty hand and that he will be glorified.

    I am so hurt in my soul for these victims. To carry this burden for so long is unimaginable. I am praying for God’s Spirit to continue to comfort and cleanse and strengthen each of you. I know that words like these are small comfort, but the grace of God is greater than any sin committed against you. May the grace of the One who willingly took all of our sin upon himself strengthen and uphold you. May his righteousness clothe you in God’s presence. May his Spirit rest upon you in a mighty way.

    I am hurt for your families. As a parent I am trying to imagine the suffering that I would experience in such a circumstance and I know I am falling short in my imagining. May God’s grace draw you close to each other and close to him.

    I am hurt for the other missionaries in the ABWE family. Both those in Bangladesh and others across the globe. They must be experiencing confusion, fear, hurt and anger themselves. I pray for God to sustain them and indeed for their ministries to prosper.

    I am concerned for the mission. I want to see it properly strengthened. That can only happen as the light shines into every dark corner and every part of this infection is cut out. My prayer is that this will occur swiftly and that the ultimate end is that God alone is lifted up and glorified.

    I am concerned for all of the churches and individuals reading this. I know my hurt too often translates into a self-righteousness. My prayer is that we would remain humble and remember that our sins are grievous as well.

    My heart is full and I could say so much more, but I do not trust myself to write wisely at this moment.

    Terry Gibson

  6. Patricia Lee says:

    My heart is sick as I read the pain these MK children have experienced. God has once again been mocked by a mission board that once stood for reaching the lost. Only when the members of the board, past and present feel a financial crisis PERSONALLY will this be resolved.

    I will call my niece tonight, I will ask this now adult women some tough questions, I want to make sure she is OK. How did I know years ago when I prayed for her and her family that served under this board on a foreign field that there were dangers “with in.”

    What I am saying is this, if ABWE hid the sins over this many years on one foreign field I really doubt they would expose the truth on another.

    Thank God for the courage of those hurt the most to shine the light!


  7. Learning from the Christian & Missionary Alliance MK Abuse says:

    In the amazing documentary All God’s Children, Dr. Bob Fetherlin, the VP of International Ministries at C&MA at the time of filming, says of the organization’s slowness to act on behalf of the victims …

    “Why were we slow in responding to this? I think there are several reasons.
    I think it could be some fear,
    it could be some doubt,
    it could be some self-righteousness,
    it could be some shame.
    All of these things can result in an unwillingness to really face the truth.”

  8. Josh says:

    I am hurting right now for all of you that were attacked by DK. I am a pastor and I have never been more sick to my stomach. ABWE I have lost a lot of respect for you. Thank you for not denying it any longer, but for me that does not make up for your cover up. I am weeping as I write this. How could you protect sin like this? Pastors, I hope you are reading this and that you take notice of the hurt our sweeping under the rug can do. We serve a great God, I know that……. God protect us from evil!!!

  9. Angered says:

    I am so very angered by all of this. While I am not, nor ever would be connected to ABWE, I can say that this is sub-par dealings of what should be done, and what can be done. There is no excuse for this and just in simply writing their confession, I am not sure what they were hoping for. It gives neither a chance to respond, or actual help. It is a way in which to wash one’s hands of their wrong doing. If they were serious about this, they would not have had to be called out on it, but would have brought this to light YEARS ago.

    This is a poor testimony, a poor resemblance of Jesus Christ, and a poor management of people. If they were truly sorry, they would now press charges on this man, and bring him to justice and not allow him to be a councilor period….so hold your “please forgive us”, until you actually do something about what you have allowed to happen.

    I say this, as my daughter has been abused at a church that one of the board members pastors, and needless to say, things were handled the same way. When will this group of organized religion not take a back seat, but lead in a godly way?

  10. Becky Walsh says:

    I would like to make a confession. When I read in Tony Beckett’s letter on the ABWE website stating that they sought to help the women by offering to pay for counseling, I was angry. Then I felt guilty for having that reaction. Why would I be angry at ABWE for taking a tangible step to help these ladies? This question continued to bother me for many weeks as the blog developed. Now, however, having thought about this a lot, I would like to confirm my initial reaction, and why I believe it was correct.
    My feelings of anger surfaced back in 2003 when we began our own journey with ABWE that led to my husband, Phil’s, depression. At that time, a well-meaning person arranged for ABWE to cover some of his counseling expenses. ABWE also wrote a letter to our supporters asking for them to pray for “wounded” Phil. It felt like, rather than addressing the core issues of why he was depressed, they were using the opportunity to characterize him as being the “sick” one and, at the same time, show how kind and generous they were. They were trying to portray themselves as the more spiritual brother who came alongside the weak.
    When I read the same kind of words in the letter of Dr Loftis (April 9) to the victimized women, there was a great outcry on this blog. I didn’t want to believe it of them, but here they were again using the offer of counseling to make themselves look better and put the victims in the position of being indebted to ABWE’s generosity.
    I talked recently to one of the women recovering from DK’s abuse. She told me that she did not ask for help with counseling because it wouldn’t relieve the pain at the core. This is the pain of having to hide the truth because DK’s actions were not made public. Truth and Justice had not been offered by ABWE; just Band-Aids. That expressed exactly what I was feeling. Now I want ABWE to know that we can see through their false offers of money to appease their consciences.
    As I end this note to you all, I want you to know that in my husband’s integrity he did not keep those checks of reimbursement that were sent to us. He always sent the money on to Bangladeshi brothers who had stood up against the abusers in their midst and, as a result, had lost their jobs with ABWE.
    I have no wish to paint the responses of ABWE in a 100% negative light. I am thrilled that they have responded to God’s leading and have confessed many things and exposed their board members’ names. However, no one had yet addressed the issue of counseling and I don’t want it to escape unnoticed.

  11. Tamara Barrick Rice says:

    Becky, though I haven’t walked in your shoes, I share your frustration over the counseling bandaid. Especially when it comes to the women of 2002. Nice to offer the women who were THERE counseling. What about reaching out to see if there were MORE? It is so troubling to me that no one did. And you’re so right that WITHOUT attempts to rectify the situation that caused the NEED for counseling, as in your experience, the payment for counseling is like a subtle bribe. (No offense to those who have taken ABWE up on it, I know it’s needed and expensive.)

    Especially in Christian circles there is something so subtly judgmental when we say people are getting counseling (maybe because so many “biblical” counselors assume that everyone’s problem is just sin–i.e., if you would just obey God’s Word you would feel great!). So when ABWE offers counseling to others and brags about this, but does nothing about the gaping wound in their own organization … one starts to wonder.

    I am in counseling. My church has been nice enough to pay for some sessions. But do you know who also needs counseling? Narcissists. Pedophiles. Serial adulterers. People who are delusional about their own ability to protect the work of God by puppeteering His people, moving the sinners around and shushing the hurt because they think they know better than God. There are a lot of reasons to need counseling. Having sexual abuse in your past or suffering from depression are just two of them.

  12. Diana Durrill says:


    I wholeheartedly agree with your evaluation. I feel that the phone calls and emails some are getting (some, but not all, and most definitely not those most intimately involved) are means of manipulating the MKs into “forgiving” them. If they ask us for forgiveness, we have to grant it – right? And if we refuse that makes us “bad Christians”. But on the other hand, if we extend forgiveness then we have to stop talking, right? Even if it we haven’t seen truth or justice prevail?

    Likewise, if they offer counseling and we take them up on it – they have indeed been successful in painting us in a bad light (“Well, she is in counseling – we are paying for it.) and this whole thing ends just as you stated in your letter – with us being “indebted” to their generosity.

    No. Thank. You.

  13. Debbie Stevenson says:

    Did any of you take notice of the late popes (John Paul) beatification on May 1st?


    from the article —

    “His successor heard their call and on Friday, in the fastest process on record, set May 1 as the date for John Paul’s beatification — a key step toward Catholicism’s highest honor and a major morale boost for a church reeling from the clerical sex abuse scandal.”————– “It is not without controversy, however. While John Paul himself was never accused of improprieties, he has long been accused of responding slowly when the sex abuse scandal erupted in the United States in 2002. Many of the thousands of cases that emerged last year involved crimes and cover-ups that occurred on his 26-year watch. — Critics have faulted John Paul’s overriding concern with preserving the rights of accused priests, often at the expense of victims”—

    I don’t know about you, but it struck me as a ploy of the Catholic church. They are attempting to cover up the coverup by making the man a saint! Talk about gall! I expect it will work for many who were on the fence.

    …not that the Catholics and the Baptists have any thing in common…cough, cough

  14. Tamara Barrick Rice says:

    Thanks for the laugh, Debbie.

    I admit I had a rough weekend. I let some things that have been said over the last week to me privately in voicemails and then things I have read others say on the Internet really get to me. The forgiveness issue, the counseling issue, FEELING (note I recognize that it is a feeling and maybe not a reality) manipulated by wives of ABWE leadership … these have struck major chords of heartache for me.

    Though I expressed it with much less grace, earlier in the weekend (above), I want to echo a few things. Yes, there are hurt people at the heart of this matter. And there are people who could benefit from healthy Christian counseling to deal with the ways they have been sinned against by others.

    But I’m weary of patronizing statements about “our hurt” from leaders who have been really terrible leaders and spouses of people who have been really terrible leaders.

    Because who needs prayer? They do.
    Who needs to change? They do.
    Who needs to learn what love really is? They do.

    And so I’m setting this aside for today, and praying that God gives me the strength to not allow myself to be put under the thumb of guilt that is NOT mine to carry and subtle spiritual manipulation carried out with the wielding of false familial titles and non-existent bonds of “love.”

    Becky, I applaud you for speaking out about the counseling issue.

    • Josh says:

      I am sorry for your rough weekend. I will pray for your encouragment. I want to thank you for this blog. I am a pastor who needed this information to help protect my children and church better. I love ABWE but I think I will try to be more wise instead of blindly loving them. This is good for all of us to be more wise in how we handle things like this and to be wise about organizations that cover it up.
      ABWE, I hope you are thankful for this blog because dealing with these sins is where the blessing of the Lord will come from.


  15. amazed says:

    Ladies, I’m amazed at your courage and words. God is using you and this blog in my life as well. Though not a victim of abuse, some experiences within the church have left me baffled. God has given you spiritual eyes and the ability to speak truth. May God continue to give you grace to speak truth.

    Our fellowships often have this attitude concerning problems; from large to small it is a problem. The attitude of cover it in love if you are the victim or the shushing even if you wish to follow the Word of God. What got to me most is the ‘treat every problem as sin’ comment. My child has autism and that is how it is often treated within churches. Sorry, I know this is off comment. Just wanted you to know that your words of healing are words that bless even those in other areas.

    Praying for all of you and for hearts to be given to God.
    Phil 1:6 My confidence is in God. Bless all of you.

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