Recently someone warned 24 Churches and/or mission sending organizations that we are about to finish “All God’s Children”, a documentary about missionaries’ children abused at boarding school by other missionaries.
Why those 24 Churches/organizations? They were all named by children of missionaries as the employer/overseeing organization of their abusers.
We were given this list and were planning to provide the number as context: this abuse is wide-spread.
Someone felt compelled to alert these organizations of the film and their inclusion on this list – maybe to aid them in blocking the release of this film – maybe to provoke them into positive action towards the victims – maybe just to “lawyer up” in time before a possible public exposure.
It was odd to realize that this person had made a few statements about us that weren’t quite true but were sold as fact: that the film would be released this year (we wish we had that signed contract already), that Scott and I are non-Christians (we had thought our spirituality to be a private matter – naively, I’m sure) and that we received funding from the same foundation as “Jesus Camp”. We don’t see any financial connection between our project and that film. Actually we have no idea how they were funded, but it doesn’ look like they received a grant from The Jerome Foundation, who awarded us the NYC Media Arts Grant. In any case, The Jerome Foundation is a secular organization that has no editorial or other control of the funded projects whatsoever anyway.
It’s never pleasant to read misinformation about yourself – especially in a somewhat public forum. The person who had made those statements was apologetic upon contact by us. And we have to admit that we are allowing people in our film to make some much bolder statements about others. Something certainly worth contemplating and something I’d like to write more about once the film gets released.
It seems that we may have to brace ourselves for more controversy and maybe even some untruths – especially considering how delicate and upsetting the subject of our documentary is.
In the end what I found most striking about this incident is that the person who contacted the 24 Churches / organizations apparently is a child abuse victim themselves. It’s astonishing how a victim seemingly continues to protect the abuser or the group surrounding the abuser. Fear, obedience, but also identification and compassion – the effects of the continued control the abusers can have over their victims is complex. This is why with “All God’s Children” a main focus is on the long-term aftermath of the abuse and the path of healing that is possible.
With this in mind I also wish this person the best in their healing journey.