Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Young Student Remembers Past Life?

January 20, 2013

Soldiers

Several years ago, while teaching third grade, the school asked me to have students write stories.  One of my third-grade boys (age 8) wrote a story unlike any I have ever seen in all of my years of teaching.  Instead of writing about the usual kinds of stories which children do, he wrote about his experience as an adult man during war.

His story was about trying to save his family while he was being called off to war.  He was rushing to hide them in the basement and get them necessities, while trucks of soldiers were coming by to pick him up and take him with them off to war.  It was in Europe, and there were trucks.  It’s been several years, and I no longer recall all the details, but the essence of the story has stayed with me ever since.  Out of all the stories my students wrote over the years, it is the only one I can clearly remember today.

As someone who believes in reincarnation, I’ve always wondered if, in fact, this child’s story was a past-life memory.  It was shocking to read.  It sounded like one of the World Wars.  His concerns sounded just as if an adult man of 35 was speaking about his feelings.  There are a number cases now researched and published of young children who remember past lives, and even past lives in wars.

I mentioned the story to his mother, and she responded, “I know.  He’s just like an old man, in a little boy’s body.”

–Lynne Diligent

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Middle Eastern Student Shares REAL Reasons Behind Anti-American Protests

September 21, 2012

Anti-U.S. Protests in Pakistan

The Arab World does not hate America because of their materialistic culture, their television programs, or their freedoms.  It’s not about that.  The real reasons behind the anti-American protests come down to an imbalance of power between the United States and the Arab World.

This week, one of my students commented on the recent violence occurring in reaction to the anti-Islamic video and the French caricatures.  She expressed a viewpoint which has merit, but which I have not seen reported elsewhere.  Quoting my student:

“The Muslims feel in competition with the West.  They feel that they have to be better, on top, the winners.  Every time the West does something, even on television, Arabs feel they have to compete.  For example, when America created the show America’s Got Talent, the Arab World created Arabs Who Have Talent.  When the West created The Voice (with Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton) the Arab World created The Voice in the Arab World.  To copy American Idol, they created Arab Idol.  They copy every single thing!  They always feel in competition with America, because they feel America hates them, and does not like Arabs.  They always feel they have to be the best, but particularly better than America, most of all.”

Egyptian Winner of Arab Idol

My student also explained that the reason Muslim populations always take the side against the United States in international disputes is that they feel the REASON America doesn’t help Palestine is because they are Muslim, and that they help Israel because they are Jewish.  (Of course, not every person believes this, but generally speaking, it is quite commonly believed, even among the well-educated.)   “Here,” my student said, “they always take the side against America because they believe America doesn’t help Palestine because they are Muslim; they help Israel because they are Jewish.”

Today I watched to see what the reaction in third-world countries would be to the second print-run of the French caricatures.  Surprisingly, I found only very minor protests against France, and continued protests against the U.S., such as mobs burning the U.S. flag and pictures of President Obama in Pakistan.

Why were the protests against France so feeble, while weeks after the YouTube video, the protests against America continue so strongly?

A BBC interview with Pakistanis, on the streets of Lahore following the protest, also supports this same point-of-view my student had.  The BBC asked, “Where is all the anger coming from?  Is it all over a low-budget movie, or is it something else?”  Half of the respondents said it was because of hurt feelings over religious insults, while the other half said something different:

“They’re not just angry because of the movie.  They have their personal political issues, their personal problems.  They are angry about the wars (U.S. power in the region).”

“Whenever the powerful countries try to take over the resources of the weaker countries (how America is perceived in the entire Middle East), obviously the people living in those countries will try to protect their rights, and try to protect their resources.  Every country should have equal rights with every other country (angry about lack of power).”

“They are angry over poverty and unemployment.  There are many rich people and very poor people, and the difference is very great.  They are angry because they don’t have enough food, and mostly because they don’t have enough power.  So they are not just angry because of a simple movie.

Basically it comes down to a question of power.  Those who are choosing to protest actually have underlying anger issues at the United States that go far beyond the YouTube film.  What they are angry about is the imbalance of power–that the United States seems so overwhelmingly more powerful than the Muslim countries, and the Arab World.  There were comparatively few protests against France  because France does not have the same overwhelming power and influence when compared to Muslim countries.

At the end of my discussion with my student, I asked, “So, what you are saying is that the only way to get the Arab World to stop protesting against America  is to stop helping Israel, and to become weak (at least weak enough to be no threat to the Arab World)?”

“Exactly!” my student replied.

–Lynne Diligent

Santa Grants Students’ Wishes

November 16, 2011

An Explanation for the Horrific Abuse Many Christian Missionary Children Suffered at Mamou and Other Overseas Boarding Schools

May 29, 2011

This film clip (one minute trailer above) details the emotional, sexual, physical and spiritual abuse of Christian missionary children at Mamou Alliance Academy Boarding School in Guinea, West Africa, from the late 1940s through the 1970s.  Mamou was the first Christian Boarding School to be investigated for child abuse.

All God's Children Documentary

Christian Children studying in Mamou School

According to Missionary Kids Safety Net, 21 other Christian denominations have reported child abuse occurring at countless missionary boarding schools.”  The Presbyterian Church and the United Methodist Church have both launched investigations.  (If you are a reader currently dealing with a similar issue, visit the Missionary Kids Safety Net website to find support and assistance.)

Keith and Howie Beardslee tell their story about Mamou

Here are just a few examples of the types of abuse that children at Mamou suffered.  The first-grade teacher terrorized the children daily by shrieking at them, and regularly turning over whole desks (with the child in it) when she was displeased.  Both adult women and adult men sexually abused children.   The school was a perfect set-up for pedophiles, according to the now-adult survivors of this abuse.  Children caught whispering in bed after lights were out were beaten until they were bloody.

Children at Mamou Boarding School in Guinea

This abuse of the children was shown in the later investigation to have not just been a few individuals, but a complete systemic problem of abuse of children for four decades.  Parents were kept in the dark because all letters home were severely censored and controlled as to include only positive content.  Many more precise details of the abuse at Mamou can be read about HERE.

Christian Missionary Children at Mamou Boarding School in Guinea

After watching this film, as a teacher, it’s now very clear to me how this abuse could have happened.

The explanation lies in the fact that child care and education of the children was completely devalued.   According to the official Grace Report ( p. 10),  “the children were viewed as a hindrance to the work of God.“In addition, the adults placed in charge of the children in the school were the  adults in the missionary community who were not good at learning languages, or in other ways not suited to “missionary” work.  They were put into child care of the other missionaries’ children BY DEFAULT.  In other words, it was thought that, “those who cannot DO, will TEACH, or care for the children.”

Christian Children who attended the Mamou boarding school

By definition, it’s clear that caring for the children was also a very low-status job within the missionary community.  Not only did these people have no love for their work, but that many of them really did not want to be there (most wanted to be out doing missionary work themselves, not child care).  Their work with the children was not valued by the missionary community.   In addition, those in child care were isolated with the children 24-hours-a-day and had no respite  from their undoubted frustrations,  nor outside supervision (or help) in dealing with their frustrations.  It appears to me that many of these adults also had multiple psychological problems of their own which were never addressed.

The plain fact is, no one should be actively involved in child care unless they themselves like children.  Unfortunately, because children are an economic drain when they are young, often the least competent people are put in charge of caring for children.  This seems to be what happened here.

The Christian & Missionary Alliance, founder of the Mamou school, is based in Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Christian & Missionary Alliance, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has been sending missionaries to Africa since 1884.  All missionary parents of the time (early 60’s) were expected to send their children to boarding school the minute they were of school age (at six years old).  It was not a choice.  The missionary culture impressed upon parents that they were following in the footsteps of God in doing His work, that they were willing to sacrifice their sons and daughters to boarding school so that they would be free and have the time to do “God’s work.”

Missionary Children arriving at the Mamou Boarding School

Furthermore, the school was usually between 500-1000 miles away from where most parents were living, and it was a horrendous journey of several days in each direction in wild country without roads or bridges.  The children were taken there at the beginning of the school year and picked up nine months later.  The schools encouraged parents to have minimal, or no contact with their children in the meantime.  (Although partings were terribly difficult for both parents and children, the parents did NOT know their children were being abused.  They thought they were leaving their children with adult friends of theirs in the community.)

This 70-minute documentary is posted on YouTube in several parts.  (Each part is between six and eight minutes.)  Below are links and short resumés of each part, in case readers want to see only a short part of the documentary.

Part I–Missionary life involves suffering and hardship “in the work of following Christ.”  Sacrifice is considered to be an element of this, and this involves “sacrificing” one’s own children to boarding school from the age of 6, for the sake of the “lost.”

Part II–The trip to school was 500-1000 miles with no paved roads, and necessity to cross rivers by ferryboat, or just trying to drive through. Once the children are there, they are there for nine months, and you never saw your parents once.  Parents were encouraged not to go there.  There was a lot of pressure, “Good parents don’t cry when their kids leave.”

Part III–“Dorothy Adam, the school nurse, ‘ran down to Mexico to get some dental training’ and she was horrific!”   She almost always drilled into the gums, and when the children cried, she would scream, “You’re such a baby for crying!”  Some children had to have their arms tied down into the dental chair, and an African would have to hold their head while she drilled away without novocaine, not because it wasn’t available, but she chose not to use it “out of being sadistic.”

Part IV – The missionary culture, what children were told, and why they did not report the abuse as young children.

Part V–“While you’re a kid there, you put up with it, and you figure ‘this is the way the world works.’ ”  Survivors of Mamou talk about how the experiences have impacted them as adults.

Part VI–Adults who were molested as children began to contact each other on the advice of therapists.  They became concerned that some of these individuals involved in the abuse were still out there with children.  However, church authorities wanted nothing to do with investigating the allegations, and did their best to ignore the issues and dissuade those who were molested from bringing the charges to light.

One of the adult survivors of Mamou tells his story

Part VII–The only way this issue finally got any attention is when the survivors went to the media and shamed the Christian & Missionary Alliance into paying attention to what had happened at Mamou School over several decades.  Finally a group of five investigators was put together.  In the end, the report showed it wasn’t just a few bad individuals.  It was a “consistent, systemic problem from the late 40’s through the 70’s.”  At this point, a retreat was held for Mamou victims.  80 alumni, 50 parents, and 20 spouses attended.

Adult Survivors of Mamou Missionary Boarding School

Part VIII–The organization asked for forgiveness at the retreat (after stonewalling all the way up to the retreat).  The survivors felt they were just trying to get off the hook by asking for forgiveness.  Some of the survivors explain how they are now moving forward  with their lives, and getting past the abuses of Mamou.

Part IX–Eight staff, over who the church still had jurisdiction, were now accused of  sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, psychological abuse, or physical abuse.  Church discipline hearings took place for three, and two had their  licenses and credentials removed.  Many others were unfortunately no longer under church jurisdiction.

Dorothy Wormley, the first and second grade teacher who had turned over desks with the children sitting in them, was accused of physical, psychological, and spiritual abuse.  She denied all charges and refused to cooperate.  Dorothy Adam was charged with physical, sexual, and spiritual abuse.  She denied all charges and was formally reprimanded.  Grace and Larry Wright were charged with physical and psychological abuse.  Larry was under the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease, and they refused to cooperate.  No action was taken against them.

"Children of God" Documentary

Marilyn tells her story about repeated sexual abuse at Mamou

The pedophile who raped Marilyn many times was not formally accused because she was the only person to testify against him, and there was no other evidence.  He is still employed by the Christian Missionary Alliance.  Others claim privately to have been abused by him, but the others are not willing to come forward publicly.  No legal charges were brought against any of the staff members.   “All the perpetrators got ‘slaps on the wrist,’ but no one was hauled away and put into handcuffs.”

Part X–When the report came out, many people started to contact them.  They have now formed an organization called Missionary Kids Safety Net, which includes a website and forum.  Most people who come onto the forum say, “Oh, I thought I was totally alone!  I thought I was the only one out there!”  They also offer assistance in terms of advice for who to go to, and people to contact.

The group met with church leaders to suggest changes, but the leaders insisted that it be in a closed meeting.  They have never released the recommendations, and none of the recommendations have been implemented.

I know what my own recommendations would be.  No one should be in teaching or child care unless they feel they are doing the VERY important work of “creating the next generation.”  Their work needs to be valued by the entire community, and the people doing it need to prefer that work to being out doing missionary activities.

–Lynne Diligent