What About Justice?
A friend and confidante of mine was asking me what I hoped to accomplish in covering the Potters Field Ministries scandal.
I’d thought about that a lot so the answers, (an outside audit to track the money and a substantial pool of money to assist the young people) came easily.
My friend quickly asked “what about justice?”
The truth was that I had dismissed seeking justice for the victims…it was outside the realm of possibility because in church, justice is not only often delayed, it’s usually denied.
Despite that, it is the one thing that can bring true healing, wholeness, and the possibility of reconciliation and restoration… the lack of it is part of the reason why the church is losing members and credibility.
Those of us involved in fighting for victims count our victories according to how much exposure our stories get, hoping that the more exposure that comes through the media, the more the powers involved will be shamed into doing justice and seeking righteousness.
It rarely works that way…because when it comes to holding on to power and money, hirelings have no shame.
It rarely works that way because our ecclesiastical systems are set up to benefit those in power, not the people in the pews or others under the control of the ones in power.
(Let me note here that Rob McCoy has been transparent with me in the Potters Field scandal. Others, not so much…)
When scandals or corruption is discovered in churches the machine goes into action…the issue and information about the issue are handled by an elite few and the objective is to keep the machine working whatever the cost has been to victims of that machine.
All this despite the fact that “doing justice” is as biblical a concept as “seeking holiness” or any of the other tenets of the faith.
Justice means that not only is the wrong fully acknowledged and set right, but that every individual affected by the injustice done is made whole to the degree to which such is possible.
Each individual deserves the right to be affirmed in the fact that they have been treated unjustly, to be affirmed in the truth that this was not only wrong, but evil, and to speak to those who have perpetrated the injustice and hear personally the repentance of the ones who hurt them.
Especially in the church, people deserve to know they matter.
“For the body does not consist of one member but of many.If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.If all were a single member, where would the body be?As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty,which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it,that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Corinthians 12:14–26 ESV)
Those verses seem like a pipe dream to many…because ecclesiastical leadership often considers others in the Body to be “unpresentable parts” and treats them as such.
Thus, the church continues blindly limping through the culture, whoring itself out to earthly powers because the power of the Holy Spirit has left us.
The church is not a business or empires built by men…it is the people of God, the Body of Christ…and we must commit to doing justice and seeking righteousness for all in the Body, not just the ones who really are “unpresentable parts”…and don’t know it…
If you’ve been hurt in the Potters Field scandal or any other church matter, what would justice look like to you?
Michael,. There is a real somberness and truth to what you write. Those with no shame will never listen so the only remedy is to leave these ecclesiastical systems and treat them as cults for that is what they are. Even the so called “justice” churches can be some of the worst when they have an ecclesiastical structure that gives the individual no recognition and the pastor holds all the cards. My old CC was such a church yet prided itself as a Justice church. Run from such a church.
“…that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together;”
If any leader says they cannot speak out regarding or act against abuse because they are independent or part of another denomination or whatever lame reason they may give–that verse should be a cutting indictment against them. If things like what you have reported on aren’t enough to move their hearts then I hope they all end up “selling shoes”!
Like Esther, being quiet is not an option. Silence implies agreement. I remember a CC pastor who complained on another PFM thread here that they are not all bad. If he has remained silent in the face of knowledge of abuse inside of CC or other affiliated/recommended ministries (which PFM was) then he is bad and had no right to complain. Why was he only concerned enough to post when HIS reputation was being questioned? Where was his voice before that?
The issue if affiliated pastors speaking up is one that has been around since I started.
It’s not going to happen.
The reason it won’t happen is that the autonomy of the local pastor is one of the reasons they signed on in the first place.
Another factor is that saying something won’t change anything…there is no governing body on either side of the split that can do anything other than take a name out if a database, not is there any desire to create one…see the first point.
There is simply no way to effect movement wide change…and that applies to the SBC as well.
To be honest, I am not sure what justice looks like. I don’t think we can always trust our own judgement because it can be more revenge than justice. But I think Michael touched on being heard and aknowledged and I’ll add being included as important. But the inclusion is frequently counterfeited with cult inclusion which is fake fellowship.
I think what justice looks like in a given situation can be discerned if we allow all those affected representation.
I actually agree with you, Michael. I just state that it is wrong. Though consequences are nil because of the arbitrary rules of the group with whom these men belong–it does not mean that they are unindicted by God through His Word. They are indicted by many passages. It is sadly clear that, without enforcement, most (many?) pastors/leaders will not do the right thing. They are spiritless and will hide within their group. A pastor that does not respect or apply the Scripture to himself should scare the excrement out of people who are paying attention. We must take responsibility to protect ourselves going forward.
I just want to avoid people wasting time with expectations that will never bear fruit…so we can put our efforts where they might…
Personally I don’t really want these pastor’s stepping up and representing these victims. I would rather them step down and confess that they really aren’t pastor’s at all. We continue to idolize these pastors and give them more power when they don’t have it in themselves to do what we expect them to do. This pastor congregation relationship seems unhealthy in many churches. The pastor should be one of us not one of them.
From my perspective, Justice looks like TRUTH.
The damage done to a soul by ministry abuse is virtually permanent, as it is soul damage done “in Jesus Name.” Sorting out the TRUTH is very confusing.
I pray that the VICTIMS of Potter’s Field and other selfish abusive so called ‘ministries’ will be consoled and validated. May they NOT have Romans 8:28 condescendingly quoted to them. May they have true friends who will ‘weep with those who weep” and be allowed to speak the TRUTH and tell their stories.
They are very much like the victim of robbery and beating as the one ministered to by the ‘Good Samaritan”… but passed by by the priest and Levite. May God Himself show mercy and love and restore their lives, paths and faith.
To me, justice looks like TRUTH. It looks like VALIDATION. It looks like ACKNOWLEDGING the profound HARM that is caused when those taking the Lord’s Name in vain, abuse those who are trying to serve Him.
my thoughts are, stop trying to cover up the sin…I am so tired of cover-ups. Acknowledge the wrong done, not only to provide support and healing to the wounded, but to prevent it from happening to others. Please protect the sheep.
Justice is blowing this story up to the national level so that those who perpetuated this abuse are shamed into repentance, because they had 20 years to do so prior.
Justice to me would be an apology from Mike and pam and also from pastors like robMcCoy. I get that he’s been “honest” with you but his emails to me have been nothing but passing the blame and boasting about himself. Justice would be getting compensated for real therapy and treatment that I’ve undergone because of PFM/PFR. That will never happen.
And finally, justice would be confronting white savior complex and pulling American missionaries from the field. The profits from PFM and Godspeak should only fund local missionaries.
White savior complex syndrome? What is that? That’s a new one for me. I don’t think I can recall anyone anywhere labeled as such. I guess I’m not sure what you are referring to about white savior complex?
It appears Teju Cole coined the term in 2012.
“The term white savior, sometimes combined with savior complex to write white savior complex, refers to a white person who acts to help non-white people, with the help in some contexts perceived to be self-serving.”
Interesting,. I learned something new today. So it sounds like this can be a real thing but how pervasive is this? This gets to motivation which is next to impossible to judge.
You and I worked well together, and I have good memories of us as a team. They were hard days in which we were “suffering” under the authoritarianism of the Rozell’s. I do pray my leadership was not a part of your abuse; please forgive me if my face is associated in any of your negative memories. We were all pawns in a system of tattling, hoping to make the master give us more treats for our fear-based loyalty. I always thought you were beautiful and talented and even wish you lived here in our town to work together again! Not in the ministry, of course, I could only handle 20 years. Unfortunately, PFR wasn’t the last bad experience we walked through.
I wholeheartedly agree that justice looks two-fold in this situation, apology, and compensation. Neither of which seem to be available. The purpose of this is simple. The apology allows our heart and minds to process that evil was done in Jesus’ name and the perpetrator comprehends and acknowledges the acts against us were in fact evil. I don’t need tears and a show, but a sincere, “I’m sorry. We’re sorry”. The compensation puts a tangible touch to pain. It is the simplest item to give away to a victim in order to help them feel “whole”.
When I was fired, mind you, under such ridiculous pretenses and reasons even upper management thought the reasons absurd. Nonetheless, it was the beginning of winter and I was the sole provider for 4 children aged 2, 4, 6, 8 and my wife. We were then ostracized from our community which offered care and support for our kids, and friendship to us all. Cut from our livelihood, cut from our friends, and psychologically beaten to the point of feeling like a colossal failure. We endured the winter and began selling everything we owned as I collected unemployment checks and shoveled snow for $15 an hour. Subsequently, we lost our home in Whitefish to foreclosure and became homeless, save for the Olivas’s taking us in and Lindsay’s parents opening their southern California home in which we could live.
Compensation to a victim “puts their money where their mouth is” as they say and would truly give a touchpoint in which one could hang the apology. It is a good-faith gesture, not in an attempt at buying a person’s silence, but to acknowledge suffering did occur at their hands, and now, in good faith, they will use those hands to make the victim whole. At which point the victim can then move forward and say, yes harm was done, but my abuser did the right thing in due time. It releases the abuser as they attempt to do what is right and ultimately puts the ball back into the court of the abused.
As a final note to support this last statement, I will acknowledge doing interviews with both the Daily Interlake newspaper and NPR Montana. The story told to them would sound much different if Mike and Pam, and whoever is calling the shots, had done what was just explained. The public story could be, yes, wrong was done, but yes, the abuser came to their senses and attempted to make things right. This story is likely not over, but I’ve given up hope for an end involving recompense.
I am still hoping for both apologies and compensation…not giving up.
Justice/repentance in my opinion.
Full acknowledgement of responsibility and accountability by all leadership of Potter’s Field to each victim.
A personal letter of accountability and complete honesty to each victim from Mike and Pam.
A statement of full disclosure of any monetary misuse to every church Mike and Pam presented at, as well as to each donor.
A statement of full disclosure of abuse: verbal, emotional, spiritual etc. to every church or family that sent interns to Potter’s Field.
Dissolution of the PFM umbrella
Median market value wage value plus approximate overtime compensation for each employee.
Missions locations properly transferred to local church leadership
Criminal charges filed if warranted
Repayment of all treatment and therapy costs for each trauma victim.
Full audit of Potter’s Field ministries complete non-profit history.
I have nothing but fond memories working with you! You and your family were always a refuge for me. Towards the end of my time at PFR, my friendship with your family and Paige were the only things holding me together. I’m so sorry for the loss and pain your family experienced due to the Rozells/PFM. I can’t imagine having the stress of providing for a family on top of losing all financial and community supports in Montana. It was hard enough for me as a single person.
Looking forward to hopefully seeing you in October!
Filing a PAGA action in a California court under the Private Attorney General Act of 2004(PAGA) would be the way to bring accountability not only to PFM and the Rozell’s, but also anyone who enables them. (meaning anyone on the board of directors)
This PAGA law gives a private right of action file a law enforcement action against the offending employer. This type of action essentially allows the state of CA to deputize an aggrieved current or former employee to act as a deputy “attorney general of the state of CA” to enforce all labor codes. When the bill was passed back in 2004, it was thought to be a good idea to protect workers but sadly this law has been perverted by greedy CA plaintiff attorneys since it gives them the power to conduct unlimited discovery of a company and issue civil penalties against the offending employer. Unfortunately this law is being used by greedy CA attorneys for a monetary gain and not for justice and for the best interest of the public.
Also noteworthy is that there is no other state in the nation with such a draconian law so if I were a director of PFM I’d be making things right with all these young servants of the Lord who worked at the mudman trucks.
Also a peculiar in California is that being a corporation or limited liability company provides zero protection from personal liability with regard to wage theft or other labor code violations. If you are a managing shareholder or a director of the employer, and (in this case PFM or related entity)you can be held personally liable for these wage and hour and other labor code violations including sexual harassment. Finally those agreements that PFM/mudman employees signed which stated that hours worked over 40 hours in a week would be considered voluntary hours would be deemed “unconscionable” and thus null and void in CA.
Folks I’m not a progressive by any means theologically, but when it comes to employee protections California is the Roman empire of workers rights.
Some interesting links regarding PAGA below.
To Not an Attorney
Except that PFM is located in Montana, so Montana’s rules and policies apply or so I understand
I see you missed my original post that out of state companies must comply with all California labor codes if operating in California. You may not be aware that the mud man trucks actually operated within California’s borders at a few cc conferences. If those young people who worked at those conferences while in CA and under Mudman truck control, its game over.
Furthermore not only are the PFM/Mudman trucks in hot water but the churches who contracted with PFM to cater at the conferences or allowed the mudman trucks to operate on church grounds could be held liable for Mudman’s labor code violations due to California’s peculiar Joint employment/joint Liability statues. I know its sounds crazy but again we’re in the Democratic People’s Republic of Kalifornia.
Not only do we have the Roman Empire of labor rights but we also have the Babylonians in the Sacramento legislature who pass these laws to worry about as well.
It doesn’t matter if an employer is based out of state, under the California labor code if any employees perform any work within the golden state’s borders they(the employer) must comply with all of California’s employment/wage &hour laws.
Below is just one example of what happens to out of state companies that cross state lines into California and don’t bother to do their legal homework.
Gotcha, that’s wonderful for those individuals!
Honestly, I dream of a true apology for the hurt caused to our family from one of the leaders of these “intense discipleship” schools you mention. But narcissism does not work that way. Instead we have been “forced” to apologize to the many of the church leaders that did not protect our family over and over without reciprocation. Why? Because we stood up for ourselves, we got angry, and we called out what was happening with not just this discipleship school but so many other ways we saw person after person being abused. We saw young adults destroyed, families torn apart, and so so much. Our own daughter (and entire family) was put in danger by an unqualified leader of this team and several young “discipleship program” kids counseled a severe schizophrenic young man that God could heal him. They advised him to stop taking his meds. He began stalking our family with a plan to rape our daughter and kill us all. This young man ended up in jail for 5 years, “Incompetent to Try” and released (due to Florida laws) and we live in fear daily. There was no regard for safety or the fact that we had served this church/ministry leader faithfully for over a decade. In fact, it was not even acknowledged. When we started a ministry together that successfully impact not just locally but around the globe, we were split apart by this leader (in the midst of a HUGE sexual scandal with our pastor). We tried to stand up for our marriage and partnership but were forced into private counseling (separately) to manipulate and threaten us. I (a mom of three children) was forced to “volunteer” an huge amount of hours each week on top of my 40 hours. And when we began standing up for these wrongs, I was told there “no longer was a position for me”, we were threatened with our kids schooling, and my husband was put through harassing calls at all hours of the night and day. We were some of the few that left during this season without signing a hush order and were blessed with a way out. We are still treated with distain by several of the staff when we visit the ministry we started and still live dearly. We witnessed first hand the hazing and sometimes tourture these discipleship students were put through. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Ultimately, I would love to see remorse, repentance, restoration and reconciliation to those hurt. But more importantly, I pray that these leaders are exposed and that no one else is hurt by them.
??. No words