A Tri-City Christian School story
Recently, www.pitch.com published this article about the former Tri-City Christian School in Kansas City, a large (but now-defunct) “feeder school” for Bob Jones University. In the article, the account of a woman named “Mary” was told, as follows:
Mary, who attended Tri-City Christian School in the 1980s, says she was raped nearly every day at school by her sixth-grade teacher. Mary (not her real name) says her parents and school officials brushed her off when she tried to communicate the abuse. They failed to try to understand why she hated going to school, why she felt paralyzed with fear in the company of male teachers. When she ran away from home, a youth pastor told her parents to give her a spanking.
With nowhere to turn, Mary felt helpless. Through the ninth grade, she hoarded pills from her mother and made attempts to kill herself. “It never worked,” she says.
The woman who calls herself Mary wanted to let others know that she also spoke anonymously in the book Tear Down This Wall of Silence: Dealing with Sexual Abuse in our Churches (written by two administrators of this website).
These pages are from the chapter describing offenders, in the section called “Master Hypocrites.” Mary’s anonymous account is in the first shaded box. (Click on the image to enlarge in a new tab.)
And these pages are from the chapter calling Christians to take responsibility for the vulnerable. Again, Mary’s account is in the gray shaded box.(Click on the image to enlarge in a new tab.)
We at BJUGrace wish “Mary” well and pray with her that any others who were abused by this offender will be able to speak, that the abuser will be brought to justice, and that vulnerable people will be protected from him.
I just wish, that at the time “Mary” spoke the whole truth, she had been able to find justice as well. A day of reckoning still awaits. If not in this life, the next. I’ve personally heard these stories from her own mouth and more. Even today, when Mary’s story came out, there was a verbal attack upon Mary where she was called a B***H, a liar, a crazy person just because someone wanted to protect the school from this getting out. Also, the Pastor’s son told me the church was not responsible. They have never reached out to Mary, but it is possible the new Pastor will. I vouch for this woman, Mary, and her story, and I support her in every way.
Mary, I often wonder why my heart feels pain. I want the pain to go away, to finally be healed. I want to escape the torment of the past. In reading your story, I have a glimpse of understanding about why perhaps the pain does not go away. As I read your story, my heart broke again for the fear of another child trapped, terrified, enduring horror after horror.
Perhaps I can’t forget my own past because I am supposed to hear you and others– REALLY hear you. I sort of wonder how hearing and caring can be enough. The nightmares, flashbacks, fears, lost childhood, etc. linger on and on.
I hear the comments of those who think we should just “get over it.” I’m curious if that is what God says. Is it possible that he allows us to remember enough to be his hands and feet to another who has suffered as well? If so, I want to do that, but I don’t know how.
Mary, I don’t know you, but I truly care. Our stories and the deep betrayal underlying them are the same. That sort of betrayal seems to burrow itself deep within our souls. I don’t know of any way that I can help other than to assure you that you are NOT alone.
I don’t know what lies you have been told throughout the years, but you are NOT crazy. You did NOTHING to deserve the abuse. It is NOT your shame. It is NOT your guilt. Nothing you could possibly have done as a child could have contributed in any way to this happening. You are innocent. Your are free. If you could fly, you could soar over the mountains, over the meadows, over the streams, over the oceans and simply enjoy the beauty of true, sort of limitless freedom. He, on the other hand, cannot fly free no matter how much he is protected. He carries the weight of his sin and crimes.
I wish I could offer you some sort of comfort. I’m so sorry for the torture you endured. 🙁
Thank you for writing.
I so appreciate your concern and empathy. The pain of my own isn’t on the top at all times. I have had a lot of help and a good number of friends who know the basics of my story and a few who know so much more. It is those who listen to the the extent of their ability to hear, and mine to tell, that are such a help to me. I’ve kept trying to find help for my own nightmares, flashbacks, depression and other things over the years. The last four years I have had the best help so far from what I viewed as an unlikely source at first. Out of desperation I called my pastor and he has been with me on this tumultuous path of healing and helped me see God in the ordinariness of life in and out of a church context.
For those who say we should “just get over it” don’t know that you can’t just shut it off and “move on”. I don’t believe God says to “get over it”. I do believe he is there to help us get through it. Through the days we sleep away, through the nights we can’t sleep, through fears, through anger, crippling anxiety, depression, flashbacks, and through the long long journey of healing. God uses many things to help us get through instead of getting over suffering; communion at church, singing, fun with friends, an ordinary day, medication and even hospitalization, a friend who believes you, a counselor who listens, believes, is angry for you when you have no emotion and offers hope that you aren’t stuck where you are.
The teacher who did this to me taught and coached at many Christian schools. I hope to find other victims and bring him to justice. Even if it isn’t the same man there is relief in naming. Please contact BJU Grace to see if it’s possibly the same one. If it’s not, there is still that connection of experience of betrayal and suffering. You too are not alone. I would be glad to connect with you. Thank you for caring.
I have been called some ugly things since the Pitch article came out, but friends have been a shield and have been supportive of me and spent time talking with me and dealing with the ugliness on my behalf. You ask how you can help. Help those you know by listening, believing and letting them be a friend and not a project. You can also help me by checking with BJU Grace to see if we have the same offender. Wouldn’t that be something!
Thank you for this, Mary.
Mary, I am a pastor. I would like to help you. If you study the Bible, many people, good people, God’s people, were mistreated. We think of Joseph being sold into slavery, we think of Job’s sufferings, we think of Naboth’s vineyard. If you miss God’s purpose on your suffering, your suffering will not do what God intends for it to do in your life (build you up spiritually), and you will literally add suffering on top of suffering(it will be your spiritual undoing).
God both uses us as “targets” or opportunities for bad people to express their soul and as stepping stones to our own spirituality. Those in the Bible who suffered are never blamed for the bad that happened to them. Each man will bear his own sin before the Lord, and be completely convinced that God will repay everybody for their actions some day. But God allows us to be like a target for evil people to manifest what they truly are made of. Israel, God’s people, has suffered from its beginning. God is in charge, but God allows this to let a person’s heart show forth what it really is. The male teachers that abused you showed what kind of person (he/they) really are. Don’t let their sin ruin your relationship with God. Your experience (I don’t wish it on anyone) will show what kind of Christian you are. Job was written, and his story happened just to show the righteous character of Job. Nothing more. We are never told that Job really knew what we do from reading the book of Job. His questions about why me? were never answered to him from God.
On our side of the equation though, God allows his children to suffer and be abused so that they learn to depend more and more on Christ. God is our provider and protector. But if there are no threats to us, we do not appreciate him as such. He is also the great Healer. (To heal, we have to suffer somehow first.) The difference between a saved person and an unsaved person is that they fully believe in God. Their belief in God is also linked to God’s condemnation and punishment of sin, and God’s restoration, reward and renewal of all those who have suffered unjustly.
Although it hurts now, God will restore all the things you have suffered in heaven. Your reward will be great, for if you were innocent (I don’t doubt you, I just am accepting what you are saying that you are), but if you are innocent, then God will give you great rewards in heaven.
But notice that you can ruin this situation very easily! So don’t. How? But being bitter under God’s hand of dealing with you. Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. By backbiting and being aggressive against your persecutors. I am not saying not to press the law against them, God set up civil laws just for these kinds of situations. I would not dare to say it is wrong for you to pursue those recourses. Do so if your heart tells you to do it.
But God’s rewards to you and God’s punishment to them are conditioned on you not “entering” the fight with nastiness, i.e. that you corrupt your own spirit and attitude like these who do you wrong. Serve God in purity of spirit. Don’t allow this evil that was done to you, to allow evil to creep up in your own life. Usually, in a victim, it manifests itself by bitterness, backbiting, murmuring, and other bad attitudes. Even hating God for “allowing it.” Trust (belief, faith) is really believing that when you don’t understand things, God still is doing and allowing things in your life that are for your ultimate good. This is trust. When sight is not there, you still trust. Trust God. Trust God’s judgment. Trust God’s allowing whatever. He knows what he is doing. He is a genius.
Will God judge these people? Yes, he will. Do you believe that? If you do, let it all go and let God do what he will both with you and with them. Do not let these people “rent room in your head.” Be done with them, forget them, and don’t let them influence your life or your way of living life. Don’t give them space any more in your life. If you have to deal with things concerning them (pressing charges etc), and God leads you to do that, do it, and when it is over, forget it, and go on with your life. Put them out of your head, and don’t let them back in. Stay away from them, and anybody like them in the future. Learn. Be wise.
I was in a conference in a black church one time (I am white), and there were a lot of visiting black pastors, and one was from an inner city ministry. He was complaining about Ronald Reagan, and all the things the black people have suffered through history. An elderly black Bible teacher from a black Bible college in Atlanta answered him. He told the young black minister, “If Joseph had a chip on his shoulder like you do, God would have left him in a prison to rot. Get over it, and get on with your life!” So learn from the past, yes, but don’t relive it. Don’t retell your bad experiences over and over. It does nobody any good, least of all does it help you.
I advise you the same. This is not worth “stopping life” for you. You shouldn’t consider “parking your life” on the doorstep of abuse and let everything orientate around what wrong was done to you. Get over it. Get on with your life. Don’t grace them with your even remembering any of that, or causing you any drama, stress, or guilt. Those things Satan is using to keep you engaged in what should be under the blood of Jesus. Live a happy life! You can. But you won’t if you always return to some evil somebody did to you sometime in the past.
Also be wise. Don’t let people abuse you in the future. Get away from them. Don’t look for an overbearing man for a husband. Don’t sit under ministries or work in places where there are “macho” men trying to prove that they are a man by stepping on other people. If you are great, then it is not because you are “up there” by stepping on others to get there. A great person in God’s eyes is just the opposite. They support other good people by serving them and raising them up. A “little person” is somebody who feels big by controling, manipulating, and abusing others. God will deal with these here and now, and in eternity later (both). Don’t let their sin stick to your soul. Shake it off, and go on before God without letting it affect you to be perverse in your soul as they are. Just follow God, and follow him in purity and sincerity.