Encountered this excerpt in an excellent article regarding conditions for CNAs working in nursing homes — this section jumped out at me as the most lucid characterization of the situation in so many missions teams, including the particular team environment I experienced:
“This is hard because reputations are such subjective things—someone might like you while another might not for some random reason. In a workplace where gossip is rife, and where the stress on the job creates many opportunities for misunderstandings and tension among co-workers, it’s hard to have a clean reputation.”
I live my life in widening circles
“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”
“We were IMB missionaries from 1986 to 2009. We saw the IMB change not by asking the missionaries what they saw could be improved in reaching people, but dictates coming down from regional leadership and Richmond leadership. Many, many on the field, trying their best to give a witness everyday were told that suddenly we are doing everything wrong. Change to do ONLY what we tell you to do, or there will be no place for you. The list of those who left just from our country is a very long one. It included some of the best missionaries the IMB has ever had on any field in the world. As those folks left, we wondered who would be next.
Then one day we were told we were not wanted anymore. We were devastated. However God told us very clearly there was life after the IMB. God provided a way for us to return to our former country as tent maker missionaries. We realized the IMB may not think much of us, but God still had confidence in our ability to share the gospel.”
-‘Richard’, excerpted from a comment here
” In the case of spiritual abuse, however, there is always a major problem with the “agency” that is specifically “designed” to be helpful: God. The fear is that if you go to God, you will get hurt even worse than you have already been hurt. Spiritual abuse always does damage to our relationship with God. It’s the worst. It’s a wound of the spirit. It’s a wound right down at the core of who we are.”
“And in the case of spiritual abuse, the abuse happens in the context of relationships where someone is in the role of representing God. Later, when the abuse has come to an end and we are looking for healthier relationships in which to recover, we may find other people—even people who may actually be faithfully representing God—but it will be difficult for us to trust in those relationships, difficult to invest again in relationships and difficult to relax.”
This is exactly where I’m at right now.
Almost no one talks about spiritual abuse that happens on the mission field, especially as part of a large, powerful organization like the IMB. I’m going there now. I’ve been documenting hints around the internet; anonymous blog comments and cached, deleted posts that tell tales of pain, abandonment, rejection. All are afraid to speak out publically about their stories of abuse at the hands of supervisors and leadership within the International Mission Board. Authoritarian, top-down leadership in Christian organizations will always produce these fruits.
We the abused can no longer be afraid to speak up. Healing begins with speaking truth and lighting the darkness.
“The greatest intimacy with others and with God comes during those times you stop hiding your desires to be perfect, admit your crookedness, and embrace love–risking the rejection of others who relate to you based on your performance. If you are rejected in the midst of your honesty and transparency, you were relating to someone who has never fully comprehended the difference between personhood and performance. Those who reject you should feel your pity, not your anger.”
–Wade Burleson, former IMB trustee