On Thursday Mark Earley published an excellent 4-minute audio commentary about the documentary All God’s Children. You can listen to it or read the transcript on the BreakPoint website. The transcript then was re-posted on several other Christian news sites as well, including Catholic Exchange and Crosswalk.com.
We especially appreciated the report because it focused on the idea of sacrifice, which the film emphasizes but which hasn’t been discussed much in other articles or reviews.
Apparently Mark Earley received responses from listeners that prompted him to add a written comment, pointing out “that the events portrayed in the film occurred 40 to 50 years ago at a single missionary school” and listing positive actions by the Christian and Missionary Alliance.
What strikes me is that this subject continues to be controversial and spark discussion.
Reading his added commentary I know there are other people now crying out: But it did NOT just happen at one school. It did NOT even only happen within one mission-sending organization. And it did NOT just happen 40 to 50 years ago. * Others will have a few things to add in regards to the C&MA’s action.
People have strong feelings about what has happened, what they think has happened and what they would like to believe didn’t happen. The abuse of children at the hands of religious leaders and staff is a difficult one to grapple with and in the case of the missionary kids there is still a great lack of communication and information.
We are grateful that Mark Earley took on the subject for his show and has thus helped to get more information out. “Communicating about it” is the first step to prevent abuse and to help survivors heal (and to bring change to organizations that play a part in the prevention and healing).
Unfortunately the BreakPoint website does not offer the option to add your comment publicly. Obviously, you could contact them directly via email/phone as others have done. But you can also add your comments on the version on Catholic Exchange and Crosswalk.
Or you can leave your comments about the film and this discussion on the film’s facebook page – as Shary Hauber did: “I did not like his comment at the end that this was an incident in one school a long time ago. It is still happening today. It happened 20 years ago at the Fanda School in Senegal in a NTM school. It is happening today but we will not hear about it for another 20 years, children don’t talk when threatened. Mission boards don’t want to deal with this even today.”
* I would like to add that our film does indeed only focus on the events at that one school and that the abuses depicted in the film took place in the late 1950s, 60s and early 70s.
At first we were thinking of making a grander scale film about all the various reports of abuse at missionary boarding schools – to show that this was a systemic issue and not just a single case. But we decided we wanted to tell a more personal story and only focus on this school, which is the first one we knew about (Scott’s second cousins attended) and more importantly which was the first one to have an investigation (which inspired the investigations of the Presbyterian (USA) and United Methodist schools).
Furthermore we decided only to included the accused abusers and events that were experienced or witnessed by the the missionary kids in the film. We have heard horror stories from the decades before and about various other abusers. We’ve been especially regretful that we were not able to include any of the stories about the Smiths, who were known to be so cruel that the children actually invented a game called “The Smiths” where you would try to figure out the most cruel thing to do to another child. But we chose to not include any of the “hearsay” stories to keep our account of the events factual and personal.
Based on our knowledge, our film only tells a sliver of the story and we look at it as a way to spark conversations and possibly investigations into other events and systems similar to what brought on the mistreatment of the MKs of Mamou.