An open letter to Steve Pettit regarding Baptist Pioneer Mission
written by Kristi and sent December 8th, 2015. As of today Mr. Pettit has not replied.
Dear Steve Pettit,
I’m writing to you because I would like to find out why the University continues to associate with Baptist Pioneer Mission. According to the GRACE report, Baptist Pioneer Mission is protecting a BJU grad and missionary who has confessed to a second-degree sexual crime. This missionary has not yet returned to the US to face the consequences of this crime. I understand that Baptist Pioneer Mission is aware of his confession as are the administrators at BJU. (I found this information at http://dorightbaptistpioneermission.blogspot.com.)
Knowing all of this, I was quite shocked to find out a few weeks ago that Baptist Pioneer Mission was invited to BJU campus to participate in Mission Emphasis Week. It doesn’t make sense why the school would invite this mission board to come and recruit soon-to-be-grads to join a ministry who is covering up for one who has confessed to being a sexual abuser. Is not the cause of Christ subjected to greater harm by covering up abuse and shielding abusers from the law?
It is beyond perplexing to hear that BJU has recently announced that it is no longer affiliated with Woodlands Camp in Georgia. I read that it was due to philosophical differences. (I’m bringing this up as a comparison.) Would you explain how philosophical differences with this Christian camp could have a higher priority than severing ties with Baptist Pioneer Mission? Why haven’t we alumni heard that you are separating yourselves from someone who is clearly doing wrong — not just ethically or philosophically, but legally? According to the laws of our country, this BJU grad who confessed to this crime should come back to the US and face the consequences of his actions. Confessing his crime and saying that he is sorry for it is not enough according to our justice system. Many times, sexual offenders are guilty of multiple crimes with multiple victims. An offender could say he is sorry while continuing to commit sexual crimes overseas, perhaps even emboldened by the fact that the Christian leaders he knows will look the other way. In the mind of an abuser, this looks like a free pass!
In the eyes of your alumni, it looks like you aren’t taking the crime of sexual abuse seriously. And what about the heart of Christ for those who have been sinned against and oppressed? I believe He is indignant at those who are not obeying the law; I believe He is grieving with the victim because this crime against her has not been addressed as it should be. Indeed, it has been repeatedly ignored by Christian leaders both at BPM and BJU by proxy. Please, do right!
I would also like to add that parents of current students should be alarmed about your continued association with BPM. You have their trust! It would be reasonable for them to expect that you have thoroughly vetted these mission boards before welcoming them to the campus and giving them access to their young people. But by inviting BPM to the campus, you are putting their young people at risk — the risk of eventually coming in contact with or working alongside this unapprehended confessed perpetrator of abuse. By inviting BPM to the campus with full awareness of this situation, you are unwittingly saying to parents with your actions that you aren’t taking their trust in you seriously enough.
I am asking you point blank to please cut your ties to Baptist Pioneer Mission. Such an action may have the result of persuading them to do what they should have done years ago. It’s not too late to correct this great wrong, and I implore you to do so. Such a correction would be welcomed by many. If the University takes this step in the direction of justice, it will be a sign that change at BJU is more than rhetoric.
I look forward to hearing your reply at your earliest convenience.
With great concern & prayer,
Co-admin at BJUGrace