The Dreaded Day…A Missionary Response to the Donn Ketcham Investigation

image001Ephesians 5:11 says it much better than we can. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”

Our ministry and personal blog site is not the place to rehash the horrific sins of ex-ABWE missionary Donn Ketcham, nor of the sins and neglect of multiple ABWE leaders who knew about it and did nothing, or the agency and its representatives’ treatment of the victims. It is heartbreaking and grievous, and we pray that at the very least, truth and transparency will lead to some amount of healing for those who have been hurt.

ABWE’s website includes the interim President’s declaration of ABWE owning the facts as we know them and the agency’s request for forgiveness from the victims and all those affected by this tragedy. In addition, the Pii investigative report has been made available providing more details than most of us will want to expose our eyes and hearts to.

Although long overdue, Nancy and I, along with the ABWE family, have been anticipating that this report would someday be released. As we read it along with you for the first time, we were overwhelmed with a deep sorrow, a fierce anger, overwhelming discouragement and a sense of betrayal in the organization that has done so much good for the cause of Christ around the world. This is our missionary family, our friends, people whom we admire, respect and look up to. The release of the report was a shattering day in many ways for us, not to mention the grief we felt, knowing that Christ’s reputation has been hurt and in the coming days and months will continue to be dragged through the dirt.

We’ve already started receiving emails with questions like, “What do you think or what will you do now?” So we thought we would answer that question briefly, as best as we can now, and also ask you to resist reading or listening to rumors and gossip. Instead, go to the ABWE website that details many of the pertinent questions you may have and what we believe to be an honest response. This matter needs to be openly dealt with and time allowed for people to process the facts and address the actions.

cropped-p20307662In the end, let’s make no excuses. No more hiding! No defenses! Is it too little…too late? YES! What we all want is transparency, taking ownership of poor decisions, forgiveness, healing and ultimately reconciliation – that is the heart of Jesus who in the end is the one who has been disgraced. All of that to say, may we not lose heart (2 Cor. 4:16). The task of the Great Commission is still at hand, God is on His throne, His promises are still true and we are spending ourselves to that end!

So, what will we do? And what should you do?

  • Pray for the victims and those who’ve been so tragically hurt and have lived with this pain for many years. And that includes Donn Ketcham’s family.
  • Pray for ABWE and its leaders (and the Board) as they strive to make it right, as right as they can at this point. Pray for the upcoming meetings with those victims who are willing to meet.
  • Pray for all the ABWE missionaries around the world (especially those in Bangladesh) who, like us, are expected to have answers but are trying to process the matter themselves.
  • Pray for God’s name to be lifted high, even though our true enemy, Satan, would love to see further damage done.
  • Pray for Christ-like patience and discernment. Be careful what you read and what conclusions you draw. Avoid making decisions without clear guidance from the Lord. Pray! And we will do the same.

Many of us are feeling the pain and grieving the consequences of this situation. We are also grateful for the continued support of our churches and individual supporters who stand by us personally, even though their disappointment with ABWE as a mission organization is great. Thank you for the emails and messages you’ve sent our way. Our ministry in South Africa is strong and remains effective in spite of Satan’s efforts to kill and destroy it from the top down.

We can attest to the implementation of the changes presented in the ABWE material made available for you to read and the seriousness and sincerity with which this investigation is now being handled. ABWE’s current leaders, none of which were part of the coverup themselves but are paying the price for it dearly, are embracing their responsibility as best they can to make sure this does not happen again. We pledge to do our best within the realm of our influence here in Southern Africa to do the same.

Our call to world missions that began in 1998 has not changed. We believe this is where God wants us and we are being faithful to our responsibilities each and every day. The role of our leadership here has never been more important than it is right now as Tom leads the missionaries in Southern Africa as Regional Director through these uncertain times. They need us and we are committed to help and serve them as never before. We are also committed to Mountain View Baptist Church and the national leaders with whom we have the privilege to serve here in South Africa.

If, after reading the information on the ABWE website (abwe.org) you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact ABWE’s Child Protection Response Team at 717.909.2315 or by emailing protectingourchildren@abwe.org.

Praying with you, Tom and Nancy

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