Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Missionary Kid Abandonment Centers aka 'boarding schools"

Why on earth do religious workers believe there are special rules, or rather special exemptions, that apply to them? No where in the Bible does it ever once say that there is a lesser standard for people with good religious intentions. In fact, the last time I looked it said they would be "under the greater condemnation", i.e. scrutinized and held to a higher standard.

Religious workers should welcome that scrutiny. They should expect that scrutiny. It should be pretty obvious going in to that career field that if you are going to go claiming God told you to do this or go there or say these words, you will be held to a higher standard.

One of my HUGE beefs with the career field of fundamentalist missionaries is the child abandonment they practiced, nay demanded, because of their high-falutin' airs that their career was more important to Jesus than the hearts of their children.

Or in other words, their obedience to their interpretation of the command "go into all the world and preach the gospel, teaching them to observe all I have commanded you" seemed so grand and noble in their eyes as to exempt them from keeping the command they were supposed to be teaching: love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34).

This same Jesus, who welcomed the little children and told us to do so- this same Jesus who recommended we endeavor to emulate the simple, completely dependent trust of little children (Matthew 18:2, Mark 9:36-37,Mark 10:13-15, Luke 9:47-48, Luke 10:21, Luke 18:15-17)- this same Jesus who warned the disciples to treat children well ("do not despise one of these little ones") because "their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:10-11)- this Jesus of whom the Bible teaches, NEVER commanded or called anyone to practice child neglect and abandonmentso they could be freed up to do religious work.

How do you convince yourself that could even be a possibility?

Pride, pride and more pride about being called to make so great a sacrifice, no doubt.

The only trouble is that it was not their lives they were sacrificing to the call, but their children's lives.

In some cases that would be literal. For most, it was "merely" their spiritual, emotional, and psychological well being. It's pretty easy to sacrifice other people's well-being. It doesn't hurt you much at all, maybe a twinge of conscience now and then.

I have complete compassion for missionary parents duped by their cult leaders into believing that God demanded this sacrifice from them and their children. I have heard of parents crying in anguish over the cruelty of this practice.

But for every missionary parent who still wants to claim they did the right thing, SHAME ON YOU!!

Your children's lives were not yours to sacrifice!

I hear much pro-life noise from the same quarters, about the sacred responsibility of motherhood. Does that only apply to the child in utero? Is not motherhood/parenthood, a lifelong calling and vocation?

Jesus wanted to gather the Jews in Jerusalem under his wings like a mother hen. Why is that maternal instinct missing or stifled in the women who claim to represent Jesus in foreign fields?

God is represented by Jesus as a loving Father. What does that mean if Christian fathers send their children away? That our Father God is also unconcerned with us once we have been alive a few years? Why would any Indian want the white man's "father God" when Christian fatherhood is distant, remote and unconcerned?

And why would any tribal person see God's sacrificing His Son as any big deal? The missionaries, who represent God, don't care for their children much. They send them away as a matter of course. Giving up something you don't care much for is no big deal.

Who thought this practice of separating children from their families "in the name of Jesus" was ever smart? They didn't think too deeply about the issue apparently. The practice of sending their children away cheapened their whole message to the tribal peoples in more than one way.

And the message to their children? Well, that's the worst part of all. We know that in a child psychological development, everything that happens in the world is their doing. It's all their fault, if you will. Logical explanations don't dent this belief in a young child's heart.

These are the sorts of messages that filter through a young MKs heart when he first arrives at boarding school:

My parents sent me away because I'm no good now that I'm older.

The kids in the dorm make fun of my tears and call me names because my feelings are repulsive.

God sent me here because He loves the tribe more than me. I'm just in God's way.

If I complain, God will send the tribe to hell, and it will be my fault.

I'm stupid because I can't get my chores done right.

I hate myself for being so stupid that I am late/in trouble/in the way/unloved.

I just finished Rob Bell's book Love Wins, and mostly the author merely reminds us over and over again of Who Jesus Is. He never says there isn't a hell, though he poses many questions about scripture and what is actually recorded there and he speculates about the nature and duration of hell in light of Who Jesus Is.

But it was Jesus who said that drowning would be preferable to the punishment awaiting those who offend little ones who believe in Jesus. Sounds like hell to me! Yikes!

All those missionary parents made double sure their children believed in Jesus. Too bad they didn't make double sure not to offend them as well.


  1. Is hubby working through some big stuff these days? No abuse is worse than the abuse in the name of God. {{{hubby}} {{shadow}}

  2. Yes, he is going through some stuff. Father's Day, you know.

    Still, I am mostly steaming from visiting the website www.fandaeagles.com. The website and forum are dedicated to bringing to light child abuse in the boarding schools of NTM and seeing some justice done. So far,so good.

    The forum used to be full of people in all stages of healing. I loved posting there! But many of the old familiar names are gone now. Seems those who remain are all fundamentalists and have driven off all the other healing MKs.

    Fundamentalists always do that. Shame and Bible thump until all opposition gives up and moves one. Such an ungodly mess.

  3. my cousin (who I've met maybe three times in my life) and my sister's husband both grew up in MK schools. I haven't heard any stories from them, we're not at all close, but there have been enough to make my psychic antennae go all a-twitch.

  4. Great read: the Missionary Myth by Vivian Palmer Henry

  5. Very intriguing, thought provoking post. Thank you. So, Sandra, a psychic, eh? What's your take on me? Hehe!

  6. haha! I'm gonna say you like to take the long way 'round to get places and never fit in when you get there, Incongruous Circumspection.

  7. LOL You two make me smile. Good will for everyone! SS

  8. I heard about these centers when I was a kid. I had friends when I was a kid who were born in Germany, because their parents worked at one of these centers and helped run it. My parents church was involved in supporting it. But I do seem to remember hearing someone mention that many of the kids had abandonment issues because they were sent there. Weird that they would support it knowing that. Maybe they thought it was a necessary evil?

  9. If you believe in either the Calvinist or the Arminian doctrines that people will be tormented in hell for all eternity for either not knowing about Jesus or for not choosing to become a follower of Jesus before you die, then, yes, I guess they considered that a necessary evil.

    There is a whole different way to understand the life and words of Christ, indeed the whole Bible, but fundamentalists have made the labels into thought-stoppers. Christians who understand the gospel to mean that all people everywhere are loved by God, and will be reconciled to God, if not in this lifetime then after it, as death is no barrier to the Love of God, call themselves proponents of universal reconciliation.

    Fundamentalists call us universalists, and wrongly claim that our faith makes Jesus irrelevant. Uh, no, it doesn't make him anything; Jesus is who He is.

    The typical American view (Augustinian/Calvinist) of God is a homicidal sadist who hates the huge majority of mankind just doesn't fit with the life and words of Jesus. But if one did believe in that God, then I suppose it would be easy to convince yourself that the sacrifice of a missionary kid here or there would probably be pleasing to THAT God. He's a pretty sick god.

  10. It isn't just MKs sent to boarding school who have issues with abandonment. MKs who were with their parents also have issues of abandonment. My parents worked at a boarding school for MKs, and to this day, I struggle with deep-seeded feelings of abandonment from a variety of issues prevalent in a missionary community which my parents emulated.

    1. Sorry I missed you comment earlier, Anonymous. Please accept my heartfelt good will for you in your healing journey. The whole fundamentalist missionary concept is very damaging to children.

      Really, it's no more than a cult. They are not leading anyone to Jesus, they are recruiting members for their cult. That's why they consider Catholics, Assemblies of God, etc. enemies and competitors instead of brothers in the faith.

      Peace and good will, SS

  11. I was not a MK and was never sent to a boarding school. I would never advocate sending any child to a boarding school who did not want to go. But you are right, when God calls missionaries, He is calling the whole family. However, with all that said... I believe that God is calling me to teach or help start a boarding school in the USA for MKs who wish to come back state-side and be educated in their 9th,10th,11th, and 12th grade years. I have had several friends who grew up as teenagers of missionaries whose only option when they wanted to be educated in the States was to come home to grandparents and go to public schools. I believe that God put this passion in my heart for a reason and that one day I will find the perfect place for missionary teens to get a college prep education in a place that will cultivate them spiritually as well as educationally.

  12. Well, Anna, I disagree with your "calling". I don't see how/why Jesus would call these parents to any field where they were required to abdicate their responsibilities to their children. The parents are not "called"; they have chosen careers which they choose over the needs of their children. It's selfish and wrong.

    You would just be an enabler. There is nothing noble about that.

    1. I do not think parents should relinquish their rights or responsibilities of their children (I am not advocating that at all). Teenagers are young adults though and should be given a voice in decisions made concerning their future. Parents should still be the ultimate decision makers but we also don't want teenagers to feel disenfranchised. Most teenagers would not choose to leave their families and come back to the States to be educated; but some would, and for those few, I hope that there is a school created for them. That is all I am saying.

    2. Well, that's an interesting thought. I AM in favor of teens being able to make decisions for their lives. Hmmmm...

      But if parents are the ultimate decision makers, then aren't you saying the parents decide if the children leave home or not? I'm confused.

      Bounded choices are no choice at all. We all know how coercive Christian parents can be, don't we? If it's all "God's will" and "God spoke to us" then it's not socially acceptable for a Christian teen to disagree. It's also unacceptable for a Christian teen to refuse to obey no matter how they feel about the demand.

      So now we're back to a parent's abdicating their responsibility to love and raise their children, first of all by choosing a career in an environment that's hostile to raising their families, and second of all by choosing that career over their families well-being when push comes to shove.

      As the Dread Pirate Roberts (Wesley) said to the Sicilian, "I believe we are at an impasse."

  13. Hi, thanks for writing this. My mother was sent away to boarding school from the age of 9 until nearly 16 when she was sent back to the UK to stay with relatives while my grandparents did their missionary work. They were in northern India and the school was in the south, over 1000 miles away. I believe it has affected her all her life-negatively- and is a major reason why I have no time for Christianity. It affected her ability to parent me effectively and she has suffered depression all her life. I feel really angry about it because it is verboten to criticise what they were doing out there and surely, your kids should come first.

  14. You're very welcome, anonymous. I hope your mom finds the healing she deserves, and I hope your life is overflowing with love, acceptance and happy moments. <3

  15. Thanks for the words! On target for sure!