Analysis of the ABWE Statement RE: Historical Investigation

by David Bennett

Yes, another paper concerning the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE). Some readers will say enough is enough believing in the Balance Theory which is “The Good outweighs the Bad”.

Others point to the “successes” ABWE missionaries have had on the various fields of the world. What is success? As I drive to church on Sunday I drive past the Mormon hall. It has a larger number of cars and I assume more people than what gathers where I worship the Lord. Therefore the Mormons are successful. The Roman Catholic building has a huge number of attendees so therefore they are successful. So numbers and whatever else one may use to determine success in the “Christian” world can be used for evangelicals as well as not so evangelical.

Whatever “success” ABWE has had in the past doesn’t void what sins the ABWE hierarchy has covered up. ABWE was rocked last year by a blog begun by some former ABWE female MKs. This blog has had several results so far. One result is that G.R.A.C.E was hired to investigate the allegations against former missionary doctor Donn Ketcham.  A second result is that ABWE’s president Michael Loftis resigned. The third result is that Donn Ketcham was forced to relinquish his medical license.  Another result is ABWE’s hiring a second investigator to examine child abuse by ABWE missionaries going back to 1956.

At  is given the article concerning this second investigation into child abuse by ABWE personnel. It is this article this paper will cover and this blogger will underline certain passages and his comments will be in brackets.

“After hiring G.R.A.C.E. to investigate the tragic child abuse by Donn Ketcham in Bangladesh and its aftermath, ABWE took several more steps in its effort to follow God’s plan for repentance and reconciliation. (ABWE didn’t know God’s plan for repentance and reconciliation before hiring these investigators? Why didn’t ABWE hire G.R.A.C.E. to perform this investigation? Is G.R.A.C.E TOO THOROUGH FOR ABWE? Can anyone show the Scriptures that outlines “God’s plan for repentance and reconciliation” for a parachurch organization?)

Last year, ABWE hired Simms Showers LLP, who brought a highly experienced team, led by Rob Showers, to search for and investigate all other historical cases of child abuse (except the case being handled by G.R.A.C.E.) in ABWE’s 85-year history. Simms Showers immediately began looking at old reports, reviewing field notes and corporate records, and compiling historical cases.(When this blogger was a missionary with ABWE he also served several terms as field council chairman. The only notes he is aware of being sent to ABWE during those days are those from field council meetings. What reports, notes, records and cases does ABWE keep on its missionaries? Does the field administrator write notes on the individual missionaries that only those in the know have access to?)

Before going into private practice, Mr. Showers acted as Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Executive Director of the National Obscenity Enforcement Unit, later called the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, in the U.S. Department of Justice. He has started and run several nonprofit organizations, including the National Law Center for Children and Families, and has lectured and written articles about church and nonprofit law, sexual misconduct and the sexual exploitation of children. (Just think how much of the Lord’s money has been used in these investigations because of the ineptness of the ABWE presidents, field administrators and board. Each ABWE missionary raises in their monthly support “$290/month as administrative service fee” which means some of this may be used to pay for the incompetence of the past and present ABWE leaders.).   

The independent investigators from Simms Showers conducted an extensive review of ABWE records and found other incidents of potential child abuse involving ABWE missionaries or MKs dating back to 1956. From that point, the independent investigators conducted numerous investigations on those historical cases. All of these thorough investigations have now been concluded, resolved, and closed. (G.R.A.C.E. began their investigation into one incident in April, 2011. How could these investigations be concluded, resolved and closed so fast?)

On July 11, 2012, the investigators submitted their final reports to the Board of ABWE International, summarizing their findings and recommendations.

In four of the cases, Simms Showers conducted their own full investigation, interviewing witnesses, victims, and perpetrators, and presented their factual findings to the ABWE Board. All four of these cases found child abuse occurred and resulted in the Board taking appropriate disciplinary action against the perpetrators, some of whom were former ABWE personnel. (Why doesn’t ABWE give what disciplinary action was taken? Surely if the reader needs to know what ABWE is telling them in this article they need to know what action was taken? Has there been any action taken toward those in ABWE leadership that were complicit or helped cover-up any of these “cases” from the past?)

In four other cases, partial investigations were conducted since previous reports had been made. In these cases, the Board concluded that child abuse had occurred; disciplinary action was taken and the files were closed. (Again what disciplinary action was taken? Surely the readers of this ABWE article would like to know (or would they)?)

In the remaining cases, the victim(s) and/or perpetrators were not available because they were either deceased, not identified, or the victims did not consent to pursuing an investigation. (The lesson learned here is wait long enough and the problem will go away.)

When the firm began its investigations, none of the ABWE personnel involved in any of the cases remained in the mission field—they were either retired, or had previously resigned or been terminated.  (From the above it looks like there were more than eight cases investigated. Exactly how many were investigated? Again what action has ABWE taken against the ABWE leadership (if still living) which mishandled these situations?)

The ABWE Board can now report that in all of these historic cases, the necessary authorities have been notified and in cases where supporting and/or sending churches were told only of the missionary’s “moral failure,” they have now been told that the missionary was specifically involved in child abuse. (Why were the supporting and/or sending churches told only that these were moral failures rather than what they were. Why did it take ABWE this long to WAKE up to these sins?)

When warranted, ABWE administered discipline to the perpetrator. In situations where ABWE policy and Scripture dictated, we informed the missionaries’ churches so they could take appropriate action. The Board has now concluded all investigations and cases involving historical child abuse allegations, except for the investigation by G.R.A.C.E. (Being a service agency for the churches exactly how does ABWE disipline a church’s missionary? What situations exactly dictated whether ABWE policy and Scripture would cause ABWE to inform the sending church? Does ABWE policy follow Scripture or is it the other way around? Shouldn’t the local church be aware of any sin that disqualifies their missionary from serving the Lord?)

Moreover, ABWE now has drafted and implemented a comprehensive interim child-protection policy that will improve education about the seriousness of the issue, reporting an incident, and timely investigation and counseling for the victims. (As if more policies and education will take care of the problem of the heart! NOT ONCE IN THIS ARTICLE IS PEDOPHILIA MENTIONED! The programmes ABWE is talking about sounds like a government initiative to educate people the harmful effects from smoking. ABWE is a religious MONSTOR that is usurping the authority of the local church.) 

Perhaps no other sin scars its victims so deeply as child abuse. Although God, by His grace, does have the capacity to fully forgive this grievous sin, we also recognize a biblical principle that forgiveness does not remove all its consequences.

As in all personnel matters, ABWE’s actions will not be made public. The Board and its administrative actions should not be confused with a court of law and its verdicts. If the authorities, who were informed, decide to take action, then the names and actions involved in the investigations will come to light. But we do not feel it is our place to release the information except in an appropriate forum such as to sending churches and appropriate authorities. (ABWE says their actions will not be made public so where is their transparency? Before these former MK girls began their blog Donn Kethcam was allowed by ABWE to return to the states to practice medicine for over twenty years after his open confession of pedophilia. Why didn’t ABWE take care of Donn Ketcham when he confessed his pedophilia? Why is it only now that ABWE is saying they are taking care of these sins committed against children? Would these sins have continued to be covered up if these MK girls had not begun their blog?)

The Board of ABWE International is truly sorry for both the sins and the failures that have so tragically impacted the lives of our MKs. Over the past year, we have taken a series of steps aimed at rectifying any mistakes in handling previous cases, as well as strengthening our child safety and protection policies.  (Were these “mistakes” or was it rather some people in high places who were complicit in a cover-up? How will written policies of child safety and protection eradicate future cover-up? ABWE is a religious MONSTER and a Good Ole Boy’s Club and sadly this blogger believes nothing has really changed.) 

Although we will never be able to change what has happened, we are committed to redressing the wrongs and making right what we can. Please be in prayer for us, as we seek to repent of our past failures and ensure the safety of our children. (Are those on the present ABWE Board and in leadership responsible for those sins that were committed under the presidencies of Harold Commons and Wendell Kempton? Have the field administrators such as Russ Ebersole who covered-up Donn Ketcham’s pedophilia and probably some of these other cases been disciplined? When G.R.A.C.E. turns in its report will ABWE name those people publically who were guilty of being complicit in the Donn Ketcham cover-up?)

The New Testament has only two God ordained institutions and they are the family and the local church. The problem here is ABWE has always been an illegitimate MONSTER and is accountable to no one. The ABWE board is self-perpetuating which makes it easy for the Good Ole Boy’s Club to continue. Oh, the leadership will use high and lofty platitudes and write policies but the culture will remain the same.




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, Stories and Discussion of Documents and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Analysis of the ABWE Statement RE: Historical Investigation

  1. concerned reader says:

    Tried to look up Robert Showers and did find that he is the co author of “Legal Hotspots for Churches and Nonprofits”. I couldn’t find the book online but found that he was a presenter on the topic at the Christian Legal Society conference 2011.
    Here is the description of his workshop,

    “In the continuing specialized tax exempt arena where increasing IRS and state regulations and growing lawsuits/claims are putting pressure in a down economy, churches and nonprofits must prepare to survive and thrive. This fast-paced interactive CLE seminar is aimed not at tax exempt experts but at lawyers who practice in other areas but sit on the boards of these churches and nonprofits and its focus on the 10 top legal challenges seeks to sensitize them to the areas where the legal and tax threats are greatest and risk management is most needed.”

    Also there is a DVD of the topic and possibly of Mr. Showers presentation (not sure) for sale at: #301237
    Christian Legal Society 2011 conference.
    I wanted to bold print the words “fast-paced interactive” & “survive and thrive” comments, but kept it as a true copy. I couldn’t find out what the top 10 legal challenges Mr. Showers thought were most important (maybe it is on the DVD?).

  2. Tamara Rice says:

    I find this part of ABWE’s statement most disconcerting:

    “If the authorities, who were informed, decide to take action, then the names and actions involved in the investigations will come to light. But we do not feel it is our place to release the information except in an appropriate forum such as to sending churches and appropriate authorities.”

    The reason this is disconcerting is twofold:

    1) It is extremely difficult to prosecute old cases, especially if the crime was not on American soil, so they know the likelihood of police involvement is low. If we hinge publicly naming pedophiles on whether or not the authorities think they can press charges 10 to 50 years later, we miss the point. The point in publicly naming pedophiles is to protect children. End of story. If protecting children is important then it is important, regardless of whether or not a district attorney thinks they have an airtight case that they can prosecute. I know naysayers will say, “Well if there is evidence that they were a pedophile, then the authorities will get involved, if not, they won’t.” But that’s naivety speaking. It’s just not that simple. It is NEVER that simple, especially in these old cases with foreign soil involved in many, I’m sure.

    2) One of ABWE’s greatest flaws is that they didn’t care enough for the safety of their MKs, and this statement proves THEY STILL DON’T. What about all of the missionaries who consider these alleged abusers to be family? When will they be informed? Missionary reunions happen all the time. If missionaries and MKs who shared the field with these people are not told to “beware” they could put other children at risk. What’s more, have the families of these alleged pedophiles been informed? Many probably have grandchildren. What has ABWE done to be sure that families have been properly informed of the allegations? And who can ensure that pastors will tell their congregations? It won’t do any good to tell the pastors if the pastors are not asked to inform their congregations. Sadly, I fear a majority of pastors would choose to stick such information quietly in a file. I hope they prove me wrong.

    Once again, children aren’t even factoring in on the list of priorities on the hill. ABWE still cares more about the reputation of these men and itself than it does about children. Until that changes, NOTHING will change.

    It is exceedingly disappointing.

    • D.S. says:

      Keeping it quiet is complicity in their sins. Ultimately it is unloving. It is unloving to the victims. It shows the victims that the people running ABWE don’t care. It is unloving to the abusers. God wants the deeds of darkness brought into the light. The abusers need their sin exposed to the light. Only when they see it will they acknowledge and have hope for repentance. Not posting their names for all to see shows they don’t love the victims and they don’t love the abusers.

      And they’ll know we are Christians by our love. Hmmm…..

  3. Patricia says:

    ANYONE that has ever experienced, or been trained in the area of “abuse of children” KNOWS FULL WELL that when a person with a history of abusing a child is brought to account, when the information is made public, and the horrific SECRET IS NO LONGER HIDDEN, many more victims of the abuser come forward to share their information. It is the validation to the victim that their horrific experience was WRONG, and their secret no longer needs to be HIDDEN!

    So by their own actions, they are preventing additional victims the help the so desperately need.

    Aiding the abuser in keeping the secret protects ABWE, in so many ways, it DOES not protect the victims!

    In the “professional” world, if you are a teacher, a nurse, a doctor, a counselor, or minister, you are REQUIRED to report abuse to the proper authorities, and part of the reason of that requirement is due to the fact that NO ABUSER STOPS ABUSING WITHOUT INTERVENTION.

    Did these abuses occur in public, I think not. Did these abuses occur in front of the police, I think not, the abuser plans to keep the abuse a secret, it is to his advantage, the saddest part of these information is:

    ABWE is on record AGAIN AS AIDING A CHILD ABUSER and HIDING THE SINS OF THE ABUSER, from the church, from the supporters, from those that can encourage orther victims to come forward and most importantly of all, STOP THE ABUSE!


    ABWE needs to be taken to a COURT OF LAW, they have NO desire to correct their past errors, the have gone on record AGAIN willfully repeating the sins of the past! Righteousness is not their goal, evidently they believe it is to their financial gain, to continue to hid sin, and in their obvious choice of non repenting, and non turning away from their sinful choices of the past, the are again aiding in the abuse of children.

    These things ought not to be.

    Now I, and EVERY church member will look at ALL and EVERY present and former missionary and staff member EVER associated with ABWE as someone that may have been a child abuser, protected by the sinful choices of ABWE, and now serving in my church.

    IF you were ever associated with ABWE, your name is overshadowed with evil, it is YOUR responsibility to come out and clear it and demand that ABWE come clean with the information of the abuses, we all know at this point, ABWE does NOTHING to aid the victims, but goes to great lengths to cover for the abuser!

    IF I was such a person, I would DEMAND that the information be made public, to clear MY name.

    In fact, why not stand with these brave women, and share YOUR information. How hard could it be to state: I am, or I was, an ABWE missionary, I served in ____________. I have never been approached by ABWE as far as any abuse on my field of service.

    It would NOT take very long to figure out IF they really did ANY investigation at all!

    To all those past or present every associated with ABWE, is there anyone OUT THERE BESIDES THESE LADIES that will STAND UP and SPEAK OUT for righteousness!

    • D.S. says:

      The whole of the missionaries and staff probably don’t even know there was this investigation. I suppose if they keep up with the website…

      Agreed, about it casting suspicion on everyone, when they don’t reveal who it was!

  4. concerned reader says:

    Keep in mind Mr. Showers’ group was hired because these cases are “Legal Hotspots” and his expertise is risk management.. or Containment…in other word closing cases, blocking access (except to him), and deleting comments. I think they are very worried about a major civil lawsuit…narrowing the event to one missionary or open case. His major focus is to “guide lawyers on the boards of “Non profit” organizations.”. I feel the fact that his involvement in the Attorney Gen office on Child Abuse was just an added bonus for ABWE. His bio and company website are revealing..
    Isa. 42
    vs 3…”In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discourage til he establishes justice on the earth”.
    vs 6 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind..”
    vs 8 “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols….”
    May all the survivors and families take heart in WHO GOD IS and that HE is FAITHFUL to bring forth JUSTICE!

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