Is This Blog Still Necessary?

I did publish this response on my Facebook profile and as a comment to the main post (in there with 1,000 other comments, quite literally), but was asked to republish it here, in a place where others would have better access to it. I wanted to weigh in on a question that has come to some of us from many different sources. The question is:

Now that the blog has “done its job” will you close it down?

I think I can speak for all the other moderators when I explain that the answer is indefinitely no.

To answer the question, here are some thoughts:

1. No, the blog has not yet done its job. Donn Ketcham still has a license to practice medicine in the state of Michigan and is not a registered pedophile. (Please, let’s never forget how important this is. Let’s think about people and children in Allendale, Michigan, and not just ourselves.)

2. Those individual men responsible for the mess at ABWE have not repented individually, publicly or in writing. I speak of their sin and law-breaking (child endangerment laws) as individuals who bear individual responsibility for their actions, and I speak of a handful of men, not the organization as a whole. Let me be clear. Just a handful of men. We fully recognize that the board published a beautiful confession and we are appreciative of that.

[Addendum: Michael Loftis did recently admit in PRIVATE correspondence with moderators of the blog that “ABWE had an “inadequate” response to DK’s sin. We made this letter from Loftis public, but note that he, himself, has never put his name on public repentance or confession in this matter. We take this seriously, and think it is important to note and should not be glossed over or forgotten.]

3. This blog has brought healing to a lot of people. Why would we shut it down? It is the story of truth and redemption. If some of the people discussed on this blog wish to have this blog, with over 1000 comments in just one month and over 6,000 views on average each day become a place where people read a story of redemption, they can go public with their apologies for ignorance or naivety or whatever they are guilty of, right here on this blog, as some others have done. Do you know what a blessing it has been to others? I hear this every day, what a blessing it is to see Christians stand up against lies and pedophiles, and see Christians admit they were wrong (i.e. aunts and uncles, the confession from ABWE’s board, etc.).

4. Even the Bible does not erase the sins of its “main characters” from history. Do you think David preferred the story of his sin with Bathsheba not be recorded in holy books? Do you think Thomas was a little embarrassed that his moment of doubt was all his coworkers for the gospel seemed to remember about him? Do you think the people Paul called out in his letters to various churches really wanted to be remembered that way for all eternity? God’s story is still being written. No, not the Bible, but the story of how God redeems and transforms His people every day.

People can either be part of it or they can look away, but if they are hoping this blog will shut down, they haven’t quite grasped the importance of transparency and honesty in ministry (and life!) and so this blog is still quite necessary.

– Tamara Barrick Rice

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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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30 Responses to Is This Blog Still Necessary?

  1. Tamara Barrick Rice says:

    Also, thought that my response to the MKThirdParty who asked why our press release about ABWE’s inaction has not been removed, should be placed here. I understand fully that there are people concerned about ABWE’s reputation. And they should be. But they are looking to the wrong party to heal the reputation. Requests to take steps to restore ABWE’s integrity should be made directly to ABWE and not to this blog, because it is out of our hands. GRACE will perform an independent investigation and we will wait for ABWE’s response to whatever is uncovered in that, as we ourselves will one day respond to it. Until then, it’s up to ABWE to prove to churches and pastors and their current and past missionaries that they really have had a change of heart and did not just cave under public scrutiny.

    So here is what I said to the anonymous individual who said the following under the press release post:

    MKThirdParty: It seems prudent to remove these press releases from the blog since they are no longer accerate. It is proper journalism etiquette to remove press releases that are outdated and inaccurate. In addition, it seems that these press releases no longer represent the activity of the restoration process.

    MY ANSWER:

    MkThirdParty, regarding your comment, I think it’s important to think carefully about the “re” word you used: Restoration.

    While we would all love to see ABWE’s integrity RESTORED by them exposing their practices and management of sexual sin and crimes to sunlight through the third party GRACE, I think a few things are good to note.

    1. RESTORATION of ABWE’s integrity is not our goal. It’s just something we HOPE happens on the way, but that isn’t up to us to restore their reputation. If it’s a byproduct of the exposing of TRUTH and ABWE’s RESPONSE (another “re” word), then that’s fantastic.

    2. RECONCILIATION, as Michael Loftis has mentioned so much in his letters, is also not the goal. Not between us and DK (for sure) and not between us and ABWE. We might achieve some measure of reconciliation between us and the individuals at headquarters at ABWE who have offended us as a byproduct along the way, depending on how they respond to truth. But, again, reconciliation is pretty short-sighted, when matters of justice and truth are still out there to be determined, in part by GRACE’s investigation which will take time.

    3. REPENTANCE. There is the “re” word we’re looking for. This blog and that press release which makes you uncomfortable have accomplished part of the repentance process, which is to get ABWE’ Board to confess that wrong was done. The problem is that there are still wrongs to confess to that are not listed on this blog, and the people responsible (individuals) have not confessed to those privately or publicly to those they offended. ABWE’s board made a huge, huge step of repentance in hiring GRACE and we’re really grateful, but it’s just a really great first step, it’s not the completion of the process.

  2. Valerie Hennessy says:

    Thank you for letting this blog continue to speak for so many.

  3. And another reason for the blog to remain is for ABWE MK’s who were abused by other perpetrators and/or in other countries. Your blog lets them know they are not alone, and when they are ready to tell their stories they will know it is safe to do so.

  4. Pastor Gary says:

    Thank you for this blog. Even though, I knew that there had been some kind of incident with DK while in Bangladesh, I did not know the nature of what happened. I had thought it was sexual immorality with an adult as so many were led to believe. As a pastor with ABWE missionaries and one family currently in Bangladesh, I was deeply affected to hear about what had really happened. Because of the blog, I know now these offenses were multiple and spread over several years. I have spent the last two days reading through the blog and I have prayed, wept, and gotten angry. I hope GRACE will be given every opportunity to do everything possible to uncover all that has happened. Prayers will continue and I will check back from time to time to get updates. I am so sorry that these things occurred. How else can we as pastors of ABWE missionary families help?

    • Tamara Barrick Rice says:

      I think I speak for everyone DK abused when I tell you, Pastor Gary, that we are grateful you care. I will tell you what I’ve told others. Encourage your ABWE missionaries to speak the truth to GRACE (if they are contacted) without fear of consequences–because if we fear the consequences of truth, who are we, really? So encourage them, that when the investigation begins, they have an obligation to truthfulness and you support them fully in that endeavor. Encourage them that your support is of them, as individuals, not as subjects of a large organization.

      Also, as someone who supports ABWE missionaries, with a check going to headquarters each month, continue to ask ABWE leaders hard questions. Just because GRACE has been hired does not mean the problem is solved or the matter resolved. Continue to ask who knew what and when and why they did not go to proper authorities. GRACE’s investigation will take time. As a church giving money to ABWE, you need to make sure ABWE knows that you are deeply concerned about every allegation and piece of evidence in this blog.

    • Green Lantern says:

      Dear Pastor Gray,

      I commend your publicly taking a position on this issue. I’m sure seeing your post was a breath of fresh air to the victims; too often they are marginalized, blamed and ignored. You have already done a lot, and a lot more than many other pastors would even consider doing.

      Here are a couple more suggestions as to what else can be done:

      1. Tell other pastors. Many people are uncomfortable talking about this sort of thing; your voice can help get the word out.

      2. Another pastor who has had the courage to post on this blog has been involved in helping the ABWE missionaries they support find other avenues of service to the Lord. Exposing these sins and crimes need not mean that the Gospel is hindered.

      Again, I commend your public support of these victims. Your pastor’s heart is showing!

      Green Lantern

  5. concerned and praying says:

    Thank you for your commitment to this…

    1. No, the blog has not yet done its job. Donn Ketcham still has a license to practice medicine in the state of Michigan and is not a registered pedophile. (Please, let’s never forget how important this is. Let’s think about people and children in Allendale, Michigan, and not just ourselves.)

    …given Donn Ketcham’s likely use of memory affecting drugs in connection with past abuse, it seems important that he no longer have the ability to obtain and administer drugs.

  6. Susannah Goddard Weldy says:

    Proverbs 28:13
    He who conceals his sins does not prosper,
    but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
    (I thought you might like another -RE- word!)

    • Tamara Barrick Rice says:

      Renounce! Good word. Confession and renouncing of sin. Renouncing of sin is a really important. I think it’s that fine line between “I’m sorry” and “I’m going to tell the world I’m sorry and take steps to be sure I never transgress in that way again.”

  7. Sharon Waala Ronan (MK and missionary and missionary parent) says:

    I support your decisions to keep the blog open as long as any of the survivors feel that it benefits them and the process of healing, justice and protection. This may be a very long process.

  8. Pamela E. Bennett says:

    I cannot imagine closing this blog down at this time and in fact it may never be able to close down. Christians must and should be able to carry through. Why do we think a job half done is a job well done?

  9. Rebecca says:

    Newspapers have archives and their websites make those archives available to the public. What you have done here is, in a basic sense, an act of journalism (as the anonymous poster suggested). So this professional journalist tells you to keep it up: your work and your blog in its entirety.

    Past documentation and comment on that documentation provides context, which keeps such information from being misinterpreted and allows it to be understood correctly.

    When you tell stories, as time passes the stories change. (I am not referring to “telling tales”). As you have told your stories here, others have come to them and added more information, added more context. ABWE responded to you all, changing the stories again. As GRACE does their work, more victims come forward and as others continue to post their memories and reflections here, the story of what happened in Bangladesh all those years ago will be fleshed out and eventually completed.

    The whole unvarnished truth, even painful or unpleasant, is always to the Glory of God.

  10. paulspassingthoughts says:

    Tamara,

    Stay the course. Stay the course. Elders who sin are to be rebuked publicly so that the others will fear (1Timothy 5:19). What you are doing here is a form of biblical church discipline. Another argument for maintaining the blog: ABWE has disqualified themselves as representatives of the gospel ( 1Corinthians 9:27). Had they followed the Bible with Dr. Ketcham, he would have been disqualified and much harm prevented. Therefore, they should be disqualified. The blog should go away when ABWE goes away. The biblical standard is what it is.

    Also, please correct me if I am wrong: they used INITIALS when referring to the victims in their “confession” letter? I’m wrong about that, right?

    paul

    • isaiah618 says:

      Yes, I believe they used the term MK. In their defense, when they (ABWE) called one of the victims a “self-described MK” in early communication, they faced an army of outrage from that woman’s fellow MKs, because how dismissive the term “self-described” is. So maybe they felt they needed to call us MKs to make up for that slight.

      But, in your defense, I agree with you absolutely. Not calling the victims “children” and the abuse “sexual molestation of children” minimizes the damage. It minimizes the total devastation caused by such crimes and the shock that should happen when we read such ugly words. The ugly words are necessary.

      I’m not sure if ABWE as a board should be disqualified from ministry. It’s up to their board to decide that and the churches who give them money. But I am glad that their sins are out in the open for all churches and pastors who support them to decide for themselves if this behavior requires a cutting of ties or not. It’s not for me to decide, but it is for those who send them money every month.

      – Tamara Barrick Rice

  11. Please keep this blog going! says:

    Just wanted to pipe in here with a word of encouragement to keep this blog going indefinitely. It’s vitally important not to let ABWE off the hook, and the best way to keep us all informed is to keep posts coming in on the blog.

    To the blog team, let me say thank you once again for all the wonderful work you’re doing with the blog!

  12. Pastor Gary says:

    Thanks for the encouragement and good tips Tamara and Green Lantern. I will do my best to keep informed. We already made the investigation an item of prayer in our church family. I think the church family has a right to know so that we may pray for those who endured and are still enduring so much. We have already been praying for the situation with New Tribes and the Fanda boarding school victims since we also have several NTM missionaries that we support.

    Of the churches that the Lord has allowed me to have the joy of pastoring, this church is the most mission minded that I’ve ever been a part of. I grew up reading missionary biographies about people like Jim Elliot and David Livingstone. I even enjoyed reading Viggo Olsen’s book, Daktar, in part because I was acquainted with some of the earlier missionaries and their children. It sickens me to know that while so much ministry and good things were happening, a predator was permitted to victimize again and again.

    I noticed this question in one of the earlier discussions and I thought I would ask it again because I did not see a response. Has Dr. Olsen commented on this situation? I wasn’t sure if he was still living. I was curious, because just from what I’ve read about him and the few times I’ve heard him speak, he seemed like a very godly and courageous man.

    • isaiah618 says:

      Pastor Gary: Dr. Vic Olsen is still alive, but to our knowledge has not commented here on this matter.

      While I’m very reluctant to set any human apart as a “spiritual giant”–that seems to only cause disillusionment when people are more fully known and their inevitable humanity revealed–I can tell you that Dr. Olsen did accomplish great things for God on the mission field of Bangladesh, alongside many other good people. My own parents might never have gone to Bangladesh if it weren’t for the book Daktar, and I’m sure a lot of MKs from our field would say the same.

      — Tamara

  13. paulspassingthoughts says:

    Email notifications.

    paul

  14. Pastor Gary says:

    Thank you for that response. It’s well for us all to remember. God may use us as His instruments, but the glory and honor must go to Him alone. He still uses the weak, the poor, the foolish in the world’s eyes, so that His might and strength can be shown.

    Hero worship or fear of man seems to have played a role in what was allowed to happen over there. What a powerful lesson for us to lift up Christ and not our fellow man!

    Please continue to know, we support the MKs, and we’re praying that everything that needs to be uncovered and brought to light is able to be revealed. Please also know that as this will probably be very difficult to relive so many painful and horrific memories that we will be praying that the Lord’s presence and power (the same power that raised Christ from the dead) will be clearly felt by all those affected.

    We love you all in the Lord.

    Gary and Susan and our girls (six daughters)

    • isaiah618 says:

      Pastor Gary, I think I speak for us all when I say we really appreciate your prayers and the prayers of your church. Thank you.
      — Tamara

    • An ABWE MK says:

      YES! Spiritual giants are a myth and even godly men sin.
      I have suffered significant spiritual abuse from godly men. It has been a struggle. I recognize that I still keep wanting to put my trust in man. I keep looking for the perfect man to lead me, forgetting that there is only one perfect man, the ONE whose resurrection we celebrate.

      YES! To only lift up Christ, to have the attitude that He must increase and I must decrease. I was at a M.E. conference in the days of Kempton where they were recognizing specific missionaries. Think of the 25 year awards, etc., etc. — It was there I decided that if I ever became a missionary it wouldn’t be with ABWE. I have no problem with giving people recognition, but this was more than that. I was uncomfortable with how accolades were being poured out onto these people, with nary a mention of the glory of God. Seems to me that there is a way to praise people that doesn’t diminish our praise of God and even increases it! The mindset of casting missionaries as spiritual giants was evident in the scene I saw unfold before me. That mindset is wrong and only brings bad things.

  15. Susannah Goddard Weldy says:

    This blog has RESULTED in many different REACTIONS. Shock, disbelief, anger, sorrow…just to REVIEW.
    What we need is RESPONSE. Doing nothing is not an option!
    We need to REACH out to the victims and their families.
    We need to RESOLVE to not to take REVENGE (Do not REPAY evil with evil).
    We need to REMEMBER that REPENTANCE doesn’t RELIEVE the sinner of the RESPONSIBILITY to make RESTITUTION.
    We need to REST in the REALITY of the RESURRECTION.
    We need to REJOICE in the truth that ultimately God will make sure justice is done when He RETURNS!

  16. ntbdejure says:

    Praying for all of you.

  17. Rachel says:

    As an ABWE missionary, I am horrified and ashamed of the way this issue was handled. My heart aches for each victim and for the fact that nothing was done when more victims could have been prevented. I am also saddened by the way the leadership handled things then and now.

    I would plead with you not to discount all ABWE missionaries and their work because of this horrible incident. I was not even with ABWE when this occurred and, until the blog was published, knew nothing of it (which is a testimony to the mishandling of the issue). If I had, please believe that I would have sought justice for you all, even from half a world away. I also want you to know that we as missionaries do not always agree with the actions of our own administrators, much less with those on fields on the other side of the world. I say these things because of the comment wishing that ABWE would “go away”. I know my heart and the hearts of my colleagues on the field where I serve and I know that all of us are completely horrified at what happened to you and to how it was NOT handled by the leadership.

    My heart has always been to touch children’s lives with the gospel and with God’s love and I hope that the sins of some do not taint the testimony and work of all. Most of all, I pray that God works to heal your hearts and that you receive what you seek, a proper repentant response to your heartache. I realize that it is way too little way too late, no matter what the outcome. Please do tell me what I might do or how I might help you.

  18. Anonymous MK from BD says:

    Thank you everyone for your honesty and for the work that has gone into this blog. I was in BD when “Uncle” Don was there. I was sent to him for “counseling” when it was evident I was troubled and depressed; I had my annual “physical” with him as well; I also worked in the hospital with him. Don was a charismatic person and I was flattered by any attention he might show me. I don’t remember anything bad happening during the “counseling” sessions (I don’t remember anything particularly good either…), but I remember my confusion and extreme uncomfortableness when I had my physical with him, particular a pelvic exam. I had never had a pelvic exam before, so how was I to know that it was not routine for a non-sexual teenager? As a matter of fact, I didn’t even think about how odd that was until I read Joe DeCook’s remarks in this blog and realized this was not “normal.” Nor was it normal to be completely naked during an exam. I just knew that I was ashamed, self-conscious, a little bit afraid and uncomfortable and dreaded when I had an appointment coming up. I just thought it was me – I was too much of a prude. It is a relief, although sorrow, to realize that I was NOT alone and that far worse was done by Don.

    The other little-acknowledged trauma many of us MK girls experienced was the constant harassment, aggression and intimidation from Bengali men. I was groped countless times; whistled at and cat-called, had to pretend I didn’t understand Bengali when they would talk about my breasts or suggested having sex with me; I learned to ignore the sexual gestures; was hit when I pushed someone away from me; once I was knocked down and kicked when I tried to defend myself. It never stopped. I don’t know that anything can be “done” about this on-going low-level of abuse, but it needs to be acknowledged. Girls need to know how to defend themselves, they need to know that THEY are not at fault. I learned to be ashamed of my body for it seemed to bring ridicule. My body became my enemy and it has taken years of counseling to work through these issues. I suppose I wasn’t more traumatized by Don’s inappropriate actions because I had already lived through years of low-level abuse.

  19. Susannah Goddard Weldy says:

    Yes- Absolutely this blog is STILL NECESSARY!

    The words of this Michael Card song call us to come alongside those who are suffering. We need to be “fellow prisoners” until they are freed.

    “I was a prisoner, but you never came.
    I was naked, hungry, and so cold.
    I was frightened. I was suffering.

    But the torment was I suffered all alone…

    Remember then the brothers who are suffering.
    Remember that your sisters are in pain.
    For some of them the sun of hope is setting
    For others it will never rise again.

    …We must weep the tears that they are crying,
    In prayer we take our stand beside them,
    so they won’t be alone.”

    I am here. I stand with you. You are not alone.

  20. Igor Zurawel says:

    Hi every body! It is a very difficult and important job of cleansing of Gods flock! Why this blog is focussed only on one sin and person? May God give energy and courage to all those who are ready to do their part in this ministry!
    Kharkiv, Ukraine
    a cooperator-translator of wonderfull missionary ABWE team in Ukraine during 1991-2005

  21. isaiah 61:8 says:

    BLOG NOTICE: IF YOU HAVE INFORMATION FOR GRACE, PLEASE SEE THIS POST.

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