ABWE Announces Intent to Hire G.R.A.C.E. on April 12, 2011

ABWE made it official. They [are finalizing an agreement with] G.R.A.C.E. to investigate. We’re so relieved, thankful and happy for this decision. Words don’t quite cover it.

NOTE: This post was altered on 4/23/2011 to reflect the fact that on April 12, 2011, an intent to hire was announced and the finalization of an agreement was begun, however ABWE has not yet officially hired G.R.A.C.E. Thus, in the interest of accuracy, this post was altered with the words in brackets above, and the post title was changed.

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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.
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46 Responses to ABWE Announces Intent to Hire G.R.A.C.E. on April 12, 2011

  1. Susannah Goddard Weldy says:

    ABWE Board,

    Thank you. Thank you for pursuing TRUTH with us.

    -Susannah Goddard Weldy

  2. Tamara Barrick Rice says:

    Many of us MKs who are associated with this blog received this letter from Loftis by email just now.

    It is the first acknowledgment of inadequacy that he has put his name on. Thus, in all fairness to him, as we were disappointed he had not put his name to any acknowledgement previously, we believed it ought to be public:

    Dear Nate and Tamara:

    As you may know, on March 29, I requested that the ABWE Ministries, Inc. Board make a decision to authorize an independent, 3rd party investigation of the abuse of our ABWE MKs by Donn Ketcham in Bangladesh and the ABWE Administration’s handling of it. Our Board has met twice since that time to review and discuss the matter. They released the following statement this afternoon:

    “The ABWE Board met on Monday afternoon, April 11th, 2011, and decided to request that G.R.A.C.E. facilitate and direct a third party investigation of the abuse issues related to Donn Ketcham, and how such issues were handled by ABWE. ABWE and G.R.A.C.E. will work towards formalizing this agreement in the days ahead. It is our heart’s desire that such an investigation will reveal truth, and that the truth will result in actions that honor Christ and rebuild trust. May God be honored throughout this necessary and critical process.”
    ABWE Ministries Board
    board@abwe.org

    Thanks so much for your patience while our Board prayerfully deliberated in order to make a wise decision. It is both our desire and prayer that the truth will be known so that our Board can respond with appropriate actions. It is our desire to honor God, express our love and desire to help our MKs to heal, bring justice by calling Donn Ketcham to account for the terrible wrongs caused by his sinful, criminal actions, as well as try to make right as far as we can the pain caused by the inadequate responses by ABWE to his sin. Please pray with us toward that end.

    While the above Board announcement is already posted on our website, I wanted you to know this from me personally.

    Sincerely,

    Michael G. Loftis

    President

    ABWE International, Inc.
    PO Box 8585
    Harrisburg, PA 17105-8585
    http://www.abwe.org
    (717) 909-2326

  3. Scott says:

    I would like to encourage everyone who has already written ABWE to write them again, thanking them for choosing G.R.A.C.E. and asking them to remain open and honest throughout the investigation.

    board@abwe.org

  4. isaiah618 says:

    And, PS, as moderator of the afternoon let me say I am rejoicing that God led the board to this decision. I don’t want anyone to miss my gratefulness here. Thank you to God and to all who wrote letters and prayed on our behalf.
    — Tamara

    • Cindy Adolph Smith says:

      I want to add my thanks. Thank you for hearing our voice and choicing GRACE. We appreciate all who called, researched and heard us! THANK YOU!!

  5. Julie says:

    This news gives me goosebumps (if that’s the right description). Whatever it’s called, I had a literal, physical reaction when I read it, and I am pretty much just an outside observer. I can only imagine how the rest of you are feeling. Apart from my upbringing in a GARB church, my attendance at a GARB college, and my membership now at a church that supports ABWE missionaries, I have little connection to this tragic story. To be truthful, I was not expecting this decision. My experience with the GARB made it hard for me to believe that an affiliated organization would ever take such a step. I’m delighted that I was wrong. Perhaps this will be a turning point. May God bless you for your courage in taking the first step . . . and may he grant you courage as you take the next steps.

    • Rejoicing but continuing to pray says:

      “ABWE and G.R.A.C.E. will work towards formalizing this agreement in the days ahead.”

      What a relief! Like you Julie, I wasn’t expecting this answer. I too feared that they would not “hear us” and would try to select someone else. I praise God for the ones on the commission who stood their ground (I assume there was reason to) and screamed “GRACE” to the others. And I am thankful that the Board agreed to GRACE. Now I start praying that the “formalizing of the agreement between ABWE and GRACE” will not have loopholes and stumbling blocks that will hinder a throrough investigation.

  6. David Beddoe says:

    Thank-you for your courage and example. This decision will show both the Christian world and those outside the Church that faith in a loving and just God can bring healing from tragedy. In the days ahead as more ugly sin is revealed I know you will look to the courage it took to take this step as a reminder of His faithfulness and gain the strength to take those steps as well.

  7. Susannah Goddard Weldy says:

    Here I raise my EBENEZER! (Stone of Help- a monument to what God has done.)

    God has done GREAT things for us!
    I look forward with anticipation to what He will do in each of our lives in the days, weeks and months ahead.

  8. Anne Smith says:

    From part of the James family I want to thank personally the board members for choosing GRACE. This is a big answer to prayer. The prayer we have prayed for Out sister to get the help she needs is finally here. I am so happy for her and the other victims. My husband, my friends, my family and I are very grateful! Thank you!

    Let the healing begin!

    Anne

  9. I too got goose bumps when I read that GRACE is doing the investigation. Congratulations on doing such a marvelous job communicating what you needed and what was important to you. As MK’s that is not something that comes naturally to us. And you managed to do it with both determination and dignity.

    And to the Board of ABWE…. thanks for choosing GRACE to do this investigation. I hope other denominatons will have the courage to follow your example.

  10. Rebecca says:

    Glory to God!

    To the Board and Michael Loftis:

    Now you too can embark on the same journey as the survivors. Now you too can know the healing and tremendous work of the Lord in an area long closed off and held captive to the enemy in secret.

    Know that He too is mighty to save you. He is not just concerned with the wronged, but with those who return. Well done and thank you.

    A sister in Christ,
    Rebecca

    To my childhood friends Diana, Anne, the “14-year-old” and those I have “met” here. I will continue to pray for you all in this journey, that our great God continues to demonstrate His power in your healing.

    I love you all and stand ready to write more letters, say more prayers and do anything else I can do.

    -Becky

  11. Aunt Barb and Uncle Bob Adolph says:

    Praise the Lord! We will uphold all of you in prayer.

  12. James West says:

    We are grateful that after many weeks of deliberation, ABWE has at last decided to submit the whole sordid mess to the investigation and arbitration of the third-party organization G.R.A.C.E. So much damage has been done to the victims of DK’s criminal conduct, it is past time that ABWE open the files to an objective examination that can lead to holding accountable all those who have contributed to their hurt. ABWE’s reputation and the family of missionaries worldwide have suffered enough. Now it looks like we are on the road to recovering God’s blessings upon us. I only encourage the administration to remain totally transparent so that truth will ultimately prevail.

  13. Michael Perrine says:

    Thank you God, thanks board for recognizing the need to take steps, thanks ‘sisters’ for hanging in there, and thank you all who stood up with your posts to support these ladies!!

    I am truly excited as are a host of people around this globe!!

  14. Gloria James says:

    ABWE Board

    Thank you Thank you for choosing Grace! This is an answer to prayer. Will continue to pray for all!!

  15. Kim Spink says:

    So happy to hear the news, I yelled, “Yeah.” My one and a half year old son, yelled and clapped his hands, too. My kids are happy to hear that I will be spending less time reading the blog and more time helping them with their school. 🙂 But, I still will be checking to hear that all is followed through on. As ABWE missionaries, the testimony of ABWE is linked with our own testimonies and ministry. We hope that this can come to some sort of conclusion as GRACE and ABWE work together to bring closure for these women and their families. God is good. We will continue to pray.

  16. Phil Walsh says:

    I thank God, the source of all truth, for moving in a mighty way today! I thank the board of ABWE for allowing the door to open so that the light may finally shine in. I thank GRACE for their willingness to go wherever the truth may lead them. May this investigation bring glory to God and great blessing to all who have been so deeply affected by these things, both here and in Bangladesh.

  17. Another Praying Sister says:

    I’ve not written before, but have been observing from the outside. I know several of the MK’s personally – knew of DK’s sins against them many years ago – and am so proud of them in the way they have handled this and trust God reverently despite it all. I will continue to pray for ALL in this – those making decisions – those who will share their stories (again) and relive it (again) and pray that they will sense the ever powerful healing of our Heavenly Father. God treasures each of you as His beloved, loved, kept children.

    To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:
    May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. Jude 1, 2

  18. melanie long sanford says:

    to the abwe board,

    from a bangladesh mk.

    i thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for choosing grace as a third-party investigator. i have been praying for all of you, those involved at abwe the mission, and those of us from bangladesh. this dark part of our history will be washed in the light of God and deep healing will come from this. thank you thank you thank you. melanie long sanford

  19. jeny Martin says:

    Thank you Father for Your faithfulness!
    Thank you Board for listening to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

    I continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with you all, to see this through and pray diligently for all involved.

  20. Julie Bergstrom says:

    Was that a collective sigh of relief that I heard?
    May this be the first of many unnecessary burdens lifted in the near future.
    I’ll be praying for wisdom, diligence and peace for all involved.
    A small step in the overall healing process, but a huge step for ABWE!
    Praise the Lord for this blessing!

  21. Leina Zaigirdar says:

    I am a Current ABWE Missionary and have visited the ABWE centres in BD.
    I have left my thoughts on the Main blog as well where I’ve expressed my Gratitude to God and to ABWE Board for hiring GRACE. May the peace and Tranquility my family and I experienced in Malumghat and Chittagong during our visit/s continue to fill and overflow those campuses and into each BD heart around the world.

    I want to share this little poem with everyone involved. I hope I don’t sound ‘self righteous’ ~ it helps me to remember …’but for the grace of God…’. May GRACE and ABWE be Totally guided by the Perfect Wisdom of God’s Holy Spirit.
    ———————————–
    The prayer of St. Francis

    Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
    Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
    where there is injury, pardon;
    where there is doubt, faith;
    where there is despair, hope;
    where there is darkness, light;
    where there is sadness, joy;

    O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
    to be understood as to understand;
    to be loved as to love.

    For it is in giving that we receive;
    it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
    and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

  22. Kristen Nelson says:

    Dear ABWE Board,

    Thank you for responding to the MKs’ pleas to hire G.R.A.C.E. It is never an easy thing to step into the Light because Satan wants us to believe that no good can come from it. He plants thoughts in our minds of what might happen, worse case senarios, and piles of doubt. But he is a liar. I am confident that God will be glorified and HIS name will be lifted up through this storm. Please continue in your transparency and actions of repentance. After all, this life is not about you, me or the MK’s, but about God. About who He is, and what He has done, and what He will do. And He is gracious enough to use us. To HIM be the glory both now and forever!

    Kristen Nelson

  23. Deborah Barrick Beddoe says:

    I am grateful that the Board chose G.R.A.C.E.
    Thank you to all who have pushed for total transparency no matter what the cost. Thank you for grieving over the wrongs inflicted on your missionaries as well as on their children.
    Now we have to go there — entering those dark scary closets to see what is behind the doors opened by this blog.
    I am praying for fearlessness, transparency and humility for all of us. Because this really is just the beginning.

    Bangladesh MK 1981-1987

  24. Tamara Barrick Rice says:

    Yes. Woke up this morning with a feeling of peace that this investigation is in hands that we trust, which was a second step of showing us a true heart of repentance at ABWE for wrongs done.

    First the letter of confession, now choosing the party that we asked for and trust to do the investigation. These are wonderful steps, putting feet to words–what we have prayed for and asked for. I’m really thankful for the people at ABWE who fought for both steps and am also really thankful for all the MKs, missionaries, pastors, church members and total strangers who wrote to ABWE on our behalf, and super thankful today for Susannah Beals Baker–an ABWE Bangladesh MK–who took a bold step toward truth, not knowing if anyone would follow her. I hope she is surprised by joy today, in all these answered prayers.

  25. Charles Archibald says:

    Thank you ABWE for moving forward with GRACE. It means a lot that you have chosen to use this organization for the investigation. A tremendous burden is beginning to be lifted. Thank you!

  26. Eunice Worden says:

    Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Thank you, ABWE Board for doing the right thing! It seems to me that G.R.A.C.E. is a very dependable and quality organization to be the third party investigator. They are certainly not novices, and it seems to me that in these days when Satan is working overtime we do not need inexperienced people doing God’s work. I am grateful for your decision and looking forward to better days ahead.

  27. Dan DeCook says:

    13 April 2011

    Dear ABWE Board,

    I note with absolute delight that you have met, that you have deliberated over a third party to thoroughly sift practices at ABWE as it relates to Donn Ketcham and the ensuing storm, and that you have chosen G.R.A.C.E. as the organization to work with. Knowing that you received a lot of encouragement in that direction (and having been one of those encouraging voices), it would be most remiss if I did not publicly praise this decision. Thank you, thank you for taking this matter so seriously.

    It was clear from the contrite tone of (I think) the third posting on ABWE’s website regarding the MK Blog that you were feeling seriously about this; it is clear by this most recent action that you are putting that feeling as feet on the floor.

    I was very concerned about the letter Pres Loftis emailed to the missionaries of ABWE and the supporting churches. It backed away from some of the issues, and addressed them in vaguer terms, and cast the MK’s of concern in the role of “the estranged” in a way that a number of folks found disturbing. These concerns have been more adequately addressed by others better than myself on the same MK Blog. We were looking for a swish shot to end the game; and that letter was more of a clanker off the front of the rim. It is a little discouraging when you bring your team captain in at the end of the game to take the last shot, and it turns out to be a brick.

    And my concern was that the tone of that letter would also be a direction followed in any subsequent investigations and efforts at resolving things justly and thoroughly.

    So I say again, with all my heart, thank you for the courage to choose this outside, independent, Christian, thoughtful but incisive group to work with ABWE. I am certain it will be thorough; I am certain it will be painful. I am very, very hopeful that it will be sufficient to the crisis before us. And I am convinced it is necessary.

    This may be the greatest crisis ABWE will have faced in its 75 plus years (I think that 75 yr anniversary was a little while ago, now that I think of it.) More of a crisis than a recession, more of a crisis than a World War. There, the enemy was without, and could be faced by joining hands. Here the enemy may be within; and I don’t necessarily mean a person, but rather a system that encouraged authoritarianism, was doctrinaire, discouraged internal critique, was deaf to some cries of both victims and the outraged, and selected Scriptures at random (“don’t gossip”…) to serve those purposes. It may require turning ABWE inside out to reach where ABWE should be.

    It is my prayer that this will be so.

    Daniel J DeCook, MD
    Holland, MI

  28. Sharon Waala Ronan says:

    After over 22 years, we have a process started. That is amazing.

  29. Bob says:

    I sent an email request to ABWE to select GRACE, and a follow up email of thanks. Now it is up to ABWE (board and administration) to fully cooperate with GRACE, and allow GRACE complete access to everything pertaining to this sordid chapter. No redacted letters, no “off limits” communication, etc. To mean anything, the investigation has to be completely unhindered. May GRACE hold ABWE’s feet to the fire, and refuse to be stonewalled or hampered in the investigation. As Dr. DeCook mentions, the criminal actions of Ketcham (and ABWE higher ups who covered them) were likely aided by an authoritarian system that discouraged internal review and accountability. This nonsense that uses “for the good of the ministry” as an excuse for covering up blatant wickedness on the part of church leaders needs to be exposed for the hypocrisy it is. Sometimes I wonder if any of these “Christian leaders” ever read the Bible, specifically Matthew 23 and Revelation 2 and 3.

    • Tamara Barrick Rice says:

      Bob, you make a great point. It is now up to ABWE to cooperate with GRACE and for every missionary (past and present) and MK that is approached to speak the truth to them. Both the truth that reflects kindly on ABWE and the truth that does not.

      Someone wrote the moderators of this blog a pretty nasty letter recently, and I found that their underlying issue seemed to be fear that truth would destroy ABWE. But truth is of God and Satan is the father of lies. If we believe that, then a quest for truth is always a good thing.

  30. As one who emailed ABWE asking them to please choose G.R.A.C.E., I would also like to publicly thank them for listening and making the choice to use G.R.A.C.E. as the third party investigator. When I heard the news, I started singing the doxology. 🙂

  31. Has the agreement been formalized? says:

    “ABWE and G.R.A.C.E. will work towards formalizing this agreement in the days ahead.” Will we know when the investigation begins? I assume ABWE will not mention it. Can GRACE let us know? We want to know when to switch praying for the formalizing to praying for the actual investigation.

  32. paulspassingthoughts says:

    Ok, I guess it’s just me, but aside from the fact that the victims can call themselves anything they choose–could others please refer to them as “children.” Why do I have a problem with victims being referred to in slang terms? Especially by those those who are responsible for their plight.

    • An ABWE MK says:

      As an MK, I kind of like being called an MK. I don’t think of it as slang, but as an identifier.

  33. That's a good first step, but... says:

    OK, so ABWE has hired G.R.A.C.E. That’s a good first step, but so much more needs to come afterward. I, for one, will want to know WHAT the G.R.A.C.E. investigation uncovers, and — even more importantly — what steps ABWE will take as a result. I think that, at minimum, there should be a few heads that go rolling in the administration — and perhaps also on the board. Maybe some of those in administration or on the board will “man up” (or “woman up”) and resign. That’d be the right thing to do, particularly in the case of board members who wish to shake the dust of ABWE from their feet.

    As for me, I’m not so sure that I’d want to be affiliated with ABWE as a board member right about now, but on the other hand, perhaps staying on the board to see things through to a proper conclusion would be the right choice. I don’t know, so I’m just praying for each of those unknown/unnamed board members to do the right thing. And, while I mention it, why is it that the ABWE board members aren’t listed publicly anywhere?

    As for the victims, I hope that in the end they will see justice on many levels. If I were among you, I’d want to see DK in prison for the rest of his life. Perhaps that won’t happen as a result of the ABWE incidents, but now that DK’s dirty little secrets have been exposed to the greater community where he lives and works, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it comes to light that there are more recent events/victims that the Michigan State authorities can act on with regard to DK and his evil ways.

    Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not hoping there have been more victims, and I wish to God that there weren’t. I’m just saying that I’d just be very surprised if there weren’t any in all the years that DK lived and practiced family medicine in Michigan. As the old saying goes, a leopard doesn’t easily change its spots — and that statement rings all too true with pedophiles.

    • Leina says:

      I would like to see the names of ABWE Board Members – to pray for them more specifically, as a starter. There may be a list available somewhere in which case I’d like someone to tell me please. I also hope the members from each field that ABWE missionaries are involved in is being represented in the Board ~for obvious reasons. I have come to know (hope correctly) that there are two women members in the Board. I am happy about that but would like to see more women in the Board as a big chunk of ABWE family is made up of women and girls.

      • isaiah618 says:

        We have heard that there are two women on the board, however, as of the time of this posting the board members’ names are not divulged by ABWE and cannot be obtained no matter who you are (people we know have tried). However, we do know about 8 identities at this point and the chairman has revealed himself to us. He seems to be a good man.

        You may have caught it above, but the board has an email address and they do read their mail. It is board@abwe.org. Maybe you could explain to them personally why knowing their identities would make a difference to you. They need the encouragement of good people.

        — Tamara

      • Leina Zaigirdar says:

        Thank you for posting the names (Board members). Praying

  34. Susannah Goddard Weldy says:

    Like many of you, I have been waiting to hear that a formal agreement has been reached between GRACE and ABWE. I received this note today in response to an email I sent to the board.
    ***
    We have received the proposal from GRACE at the end of last week. It is now in the hands of all the board members for questions and desires for clarification. We are preparing our questions for GRACE to be sure we have clarity at the outset. Our desire is to complete the process and agreement within 30 days.
    ***

    • Really? Not yet? says:

      No finalized agreement yet? Are they really going to draw it out for the whole 30 days? So since they got it by the “end of last week” (15th!) will we really have to wait until May 15 to hear that the actual investigation can begin?

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