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When Burchwell’s professors told students that even a premarital kiss would haunt their wedding days, she hung her head.“I remember thinking that I’m screwed: no good person is ever going to marry me," Burchwell said.
"He was this man of God on campus, very popular as a preacher.”John knew that Burchwell was fighting with her parents, and, she said, offered to talk to her about it."[O]f course evangelical Christians were all happy to look down their noses at the Catholics…Now we find that these married doctors and missionaries were just as evil as everyone else," she said.Of her own role in exposing the crimes committed in mission schools, Steffen said: "I'm sure [those groups] aren't happy about it, but I’m holding my flashlight out there with my quivering little hands, trying to do what I can.” Erin Burchwell, a Christian school art and drama teacher in Columbus, Ohio, grew up on the Bob Jones University campus, the daughter of a father who taught voice and opera, and a mother who taught theater.She was then sent to a family in Colorado until the baby was born and given up for adoption.Anderson’s rapist, a registered sex offender, was made to confess as well—but to adultery, not rape—and he remained at the church for years.Her fond memories of her own missionary childhood compelled Steffen to offer her own children the same experience, she said, and when she married, she and her husband went to serve the same organization in the Philippines.
While they were there, New Tribes established a Philippines boarding school to relieve parents of the distractions of child-rearing, allowing them to focus exclusively on their mission work."I went against what my own heart was trying to tell me and I put my kids in that school,” Steffen explained.
"It wasn't just Senegal: It was [at missions in] Bolivia, Brazil and Papua New Guinea…It clarified to me that it wasn't just random sexual abuse, but actually the entire environment of the mission set the stage for all sorts of abuse.” Today, she hears many MKs describe the difficulty they have discussing their stories with their parents, she said, who may not be ready to see their life’s work as part of an abusive system.
Speaking of the investigation of abuse in New Tribes Mission schools conducted by the investigative team known as GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), Steffen said: “I’m hoping [GRACE] shines the spotlight on groups that are very controlling, very behavior-oriented, rather than those things I think are important in Christianity, like grace, and hope, and love.
Tina Anderson, a 15-year-old who lived in New Hampshire, was raped and impregnated in 1997 by one of her church’s deacons, then in his late thirties, while she was a babysitter for his family.
When Anderson and her mother told their pastor, Bob Jones graduate Chuck Phelps, what had happened, Phelps had Anderson stand before the congregation while he read a confession of her pregnancy.
Now 63, her missionary parents took her to Thailand in the early 1950s, when she was just a toddler.