What pedophiles and people who have sexual desires on children lose sight of to a terrible, terrible degree – a devastating degree – is that their victims are real people who will suffer forever whatever abuses are perpetrated on them. Jock Sturges
I have been pacing around my kitchen, trying to write this story. I am filled with a mixture of anger, horror, frustration and deep sadness. When our forefathers began this grand experiment which would become the United States of America, they had dreams of freedom, spotlighted by a people dedicated to forming a more perfect union. We were to be a city on a hill, a shining light for the rest of the world. The Christians in this country have been dedicated to bringing the Gospel of Our Lord to countries that have few Christians and little understanding of the forgiveness we have in His blessed sacrifice.
So many missionaries have given their lives in the far corners of this globe. I remember a 4 year old girl that I taught in Sunday school who grew up on the mission field, working, alongside her parents , running an orphanage. Talitha died at the age of 16, the victim of a terrible form of malaria. Many of our friends have gone onto the mission field, bringing their children along with them. However, in recent years, stories of the sexual abuse of missionary children have horrified the Christian community.
Recently, Christianity Today link discussed several cases of abuse on the mission field.
"About 30 missionary kids abused between 1950 and 1990, many at boarding schools in Africa or Asia, received a formal apology from Presbyterian Church (USA) leaders in October. About a month earlier, New Tribes Mission (NTM) released a report detailing the abuse of at least 50 missionary kids who had boarded in Senegal in the late 1980s."
One of the most well-documented cases of pedophilia on the mission field comes from a group of brave and dedicated adult missionary kids who were abused by a doctor in Bangladesh. This story is the cause of my 4th of July pacing. I am outraged by the incredibly stupid, unloving, and un-Christian responses by the leaders of ABWE (Association of Baptists for World Evangelism). This group is part of GARBC (General Association of Regular Baptists). From Wikipedia link:
"The impact of modernism on the Northern Baptist Convention (now called the American Baptist Churches in the USA) led to the eventual withdrawal of a number of conservative and fundamentalist churches. The GARBC follows a "fellowship" model rather than a denominational model. Each member church is free to act independently in all matters. "
I attempted to get comments from ABWE but my calls were not returned. All of the information, unless otherwise noted, comes for the website called Bangladesh MK Speak link. MK is an abbreviation for Missionary Kids. TWW applauds their courage, tenacity, and dedication in exposing the pedophile, Dr. Donn Ketcham, and in highlighting the reprehensible response of ABWE.
The following is a timeline of the events taken from the website.
1930s -Donn Ketcham’s father, the Rev. Robert T. Ketcham begins his long-held and influential leadership role in the GARBC.
1950s -Donn Ketcham, in medical training, has numerous extramarital affairs .
1963 – Donn Ketcham begins missionary service as a physician with ABWE in East Pakistan, a country later to be known as Bangladesh
Late ’60s -Donn Ketcham has a relationship with a student nurse at a Catholic hospital in the Midwest while on furlough that results in the dismissal of the nurse from nursing school
1971 – Wendell Kempton begins his 30-year presidency of ABWE, He will preside over the apparent cover up.
1974 or 1975 – Donn Ketcham is sent home temporarily for counseling due to an extramarital relationship on the mission field.
Mid-’80s – A female missionary to Bangladesh is sent home because of an extramarital affair with Ketcham. Ketcham is moved temporarily away from the hospital at Malumghat to Chittagong.
1988 – Donn Ketcham is sexually abusing of 14-year-old MK (missionary kid)
July 1989 – A young MK visiting the States without her parents tells her sending church pastor that missionary Dr. Donn Ketcham has been sexually molesting her on the field since she was 12 years old. This pastor contacts ABWE, and ABWE immediately hands the girl over to counselor Russ Lloyd and Ketcham’s boss Russ Ebersole to journey alone with the two men back to Bangladesh. Before she is able to see her parents she is forced to sign a confession of her wrongdoing!
The entire sordid affair is documented in the diary of the counselor who made his notes available to this group with the permission of the victim. Ketcham admits to the abuse. Go to this Link and see the middle of the page which allows the reader to access his actual counseling notes.
September 1989 – Ketcham is forced to resign from the mission field. He is forced to confess his sin to his pastor but it is presented in such a way that most people believe that it was due to adultery. No report is made to any organization in America. Donn Ketcham goes on to start a family practice group in Allendale, Michigan. Here is a comment written by his pastor in 2011 at the MK blog.
"Rev Michael Eleveld says:
March 27, 2011 at 6:13 pm
"I was Donn Ketcham’s pastor at Newhall Baptist Church from 1987 thru 1990. During this time frame I was never told of any “sexual misconduct” so I consequently could not “clear” Donn to return to service. And as stated before, in 1989 we were not told that his sin involved pedophilia. We were led to believe his sin was that of adultery. I have called the man who served as our Deacon Chair at the time and he clearly recalls that we were told Donn’s sin was that of adultery. We dealt with him as though he was guilty and repentant of the sin of adultery. I sent my own young daughters to him for medical care after he returned from the field…something I would never, never! have done if I had known he had committed acts of pedophilia. I resent the implications of ABWE that we are somehow complicit in this apparent cover up. The good people of Newhall Baptist had no knowledge of the full extent of Donn’s sins. I am deeply upset that I was not given the information necessary to shepherd and protect my flock as I had promised Jesus I would do."
Early 2002 – At a gathering of missionary kids, now grown women, tell Michael Loftis(now president of ABWE) and ABWE employee Jess Eaton about the abuse they suffered from Donn Ketcham while children on the mission field. Loftis promised an investigation (which did not happen until GRACE was hired in 2011) and payment for counseling (which did not happen until 2010). This gathering did not include many of the now grown MKs. Fear is expressed that there are many more undiscovered victims.
2009+ MK reports to ABWE begin to escalate here .
November 2010 – ABWE adopts a new plan of “best practices” for child safety, but DOES NOT contact the victims of Donn Ketcham or follow up on promises of an investigation made in 2002.
March 2011-Susie Baker posts her story of abuse at the hands of Ketcham. She believes he may have drugged her. Link
May 2011 Under duress, ABWE hires GRACE link to investigate the extent of Donn Ketcham abuses and the lack of response on the part of ABWE. This group is involved in investigating abuse and recommending response. They were involved in the New Tribes mission scandal.
May 2011: The following report is issued by ABWE regarding the ongoing investigation by GRACE. Link It is important to note two things. Years went by and children were hurt.
1. It is only after this pressure was applied that they reported Ketcham to the medical board. Ketcham was forced to hand over his license. Unfortunately, he was 80 years old.he had practiced for over 20 years in the United States with access to children during this time.
2. The investigation turned up more kids who were abused. The report is worded in such a way to raised the specter of other abusers in the mission field.
In the letter ABWE states:
"The first step in repentance is to acknowledge one’s failure. We have acknowledged that people in leadership positions made decisions that were unwise and unacceptable. These include:
- the signing of a confession by the first known victim;
- the insistence the victim ask forgiveness of the perpetrator;
- the failure to investigate fully the first reported incident to determine if there were other victims;
- the failure to fully inform the sending and supporting churches of the specific nature of Donn Ketcham’s sin;
- the failure to fully investigate when MKs informed ABWE of additional victims;
- lack of notification of all appropriate authorities;
- by using the phrase moral failure, we failed to clearly identify the sin as child abuse; and
- the inadequate response to those MKs who sought help from ABWE.
The second step in repentance is to change. Over the past year, we have made a series of personnel moves that ensure no one involved in these decisions will be involved in such matters at ABWE again.
We have reported Donn Ketcham’s abuse to the Michigan Board of Medicine, which resulted in the surrendering of his medical licenses.
ABWE also hired a highly experienced independent investigator to conduct a much more extensive examination of ABWE beyond the actions of Donn Ketcham. This investigative team looked into our history to determine if other child abuse issues had been mishandled.
A search of our records found other incidents. Each is being reinvestigated and handled in accordance with currently acceptable legal practices, including the notification of authorities and supporting churches.
A Wood TV news story link reports, "After an investigation, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs reached a settlement with Ketcham in which he pleaded "no contest" to the allegations and agreed to permanently surrender his medical license. He also agreed that he will not hold or seek a medical license in any other state. "
June 2011 – President Loftis resigns under a cloud. But, not to worry. He is now a trustee at Cedarville University.
November 2011 – It is discovered that Ed Stetzer, (self described author, speaker, researcher, pastor, church planter, and Christian missiologist. Stetzer is a contributor to the North American discussion on missional church and church planting.) endorses ABWE. He has reportedly refused to respond to emails by those who were wounded by the lack of response from ABWE. At the same time, he spoke out about the Penn State situation, saying that we must protect children. As one MK claims he wrote in an email to Stetzer
"I can only hope that you are pushing quietly for the right thing at ABWE with whatever pull you have there. But I cannot help but point out how strange it is that a man who considers care for children of the utmost importance and reporting to proper authorities of the utmost importance would still allow ABWE to use his name and picture on their website."
One must question if Stetzer is giving mission groups in the SBC proper advice in protecting children of missionaries.
This "business as usual " must stop. Those involved in this lack response at ABWE must not only repent but they must take a serious look at their hearts and figure out what is missing. Believe me, there is something missing. Those who allowed Ketcham to leave and practice in the United States are morally and spiritually culpable for putting other children in harm's way.
WHY ARE THERE NO POLICIES IN PLACE THAT FORCE MISSIONS GROUPS TO REPORT TO US AUTHORITIES WHEN AN ABUSER IS SENT HOME TO THE STATES?
WHY AREN'T MISSION BOARDS REPORTING ABUSE TO LOCAL AUTHORITIES? The possibility of being jailed in a 3rd world country might cause some pedophiles to "think again."
May God heal the wounded spirits of those abused. TWW thanks all of those who took the risk of speaking out. Your courage is resulting in exposure of unrepentant sin and, at the same time, giving others the love and support that they need. Because of your strength, others may find the courage to do the same. TWW gives you all a standing ovation!!!!
We leave you with this wonderful song about the United States of America. May our scars teach us and makes us stronger and more loving.
Lydia's Corner: Jonah 1:1-4-11 Revelation 5:1-14 Psalm 133:1-3 Proverbs 29:26-27