ABWE Board and Administration Confession

Dear Hurting MK’s:

To our beloved MKs and your families who have suffered decades of sorrow and pain not only at the hands of Donn Ketcham but also from our mishandling of the abuse, we, the Board of ABWE and ABWE Administration ask for your forgiveness.

The Board and Administration of ABWE have spent hours reading your stories and comments, listening to the personal testimonies of some who have had first-hand knowledge of the field through the years, and searching for anything that could shed light on the actions taken by ABWE. The information is clear, and we are heartsick at what we have seen and heard.

So to each of you, dear ones, who through no fault of your own continue to live with the pain of the consequences, we ask for your forgiveness. Though we cannot ask forgiveness for the sins of others, we do humbly and sincerely ask for your forgiveness for our sins.

Concerns regarding Donn Ketcham’s repeated inappropriate behavior with the opposite sex on the field could have resulted in his termination as early as 1975, but continued indiscretions should have resulted in dismissal no later than 1985. Regrettably, we did not terminate him as a missionary but rather gave repeated opportunities for counseling and remediation which allowed him time and opportunity to sin against you. Please, please forgive us.

A precious 14-year-old child should never have been asked to sign a confession. She was the one who had been abused and sinned against. This was indeed a grievous wrong. Would you please forgive our sin against you?

No matter what the law required at the time, no matter what the outcome would have been, no matter whether it would have resulted in prosecution or loss of his medical license or not, Donn Ketcham’s sexual abuse of a minor was not reported to either the law or the medical boards of any state. This was wrong. It was failure of the most serious kind. There should have been an immediate filing of reports and an on-going attempt to pursue giving the truth to appropriate authorities from 1989 to the present. This failure is simply inexcusable. It seems too much to ask, but we must ask… will you forgive us?

Knowing Donn Ketcham’s propensity to lie, we were foolish to allow him to make his confession to his sending pastor without a representative from ABWE being present. We also did not name his crime as sexual abuse of a minor in our letter to supporting churches. This enabled Donn Ketcham to reveal only what he chose to reveal. Consequently, he was able to hide the ultimate crime of sexual abuse of children from his sending church. This was so wrong. Please, forgive us.

Once the abuse became known in 1989, no comprehensive investigation was done to determine if there were additional victims. This was inexcusable. After learning of additional victims in 2002, an investigation was begun but never completed. This was wrong. Please forgive us for this failure. 

It is obvious that our leadership was greatly concerned for sparing Donn Ketcham’s family any additional public disgrace, but such concern came at the high cost of ignoring the needs of the innocent MKs and others who had suffered at his hands. While it may be considered gracious by some to have handled it discreetly, it was not gracious or compassionate towards those who were sinned against by him. It was wrong, so very wrong. We failed you. We hurt you. We are ashamed. It seems incomprehensible to even suggest that you forgive us in light of all we know now; but we must ask, if you could find it in your hearts, to please, please forgive us.

Dear ABWE MKs and families, please do not think that we now believe the matter is settled simply because we have taken ownership of our wrongs against you. This matter is not settled. It is only a first step in the right direction. There are more steps to be taken. While we will never be able to make it all right, we are committed to redressing the wrongs and making right what we can. We desire to see your faces and hear your voices. We desire to voice our apologies to you face to face and are willing to meet with any of you, anytime, in a safe setting acceptable to you.

We want to be both public and private in our apologies to each of you. That is why we are sharing this first on the blog, publicly. But we also want to be personal, specific and individual in our apologies, and so we hope with all our hearts that you will give us the opportunity to ask for your forgiveness face to face.

Dear ABWE MKs, we long to be reconciled to you. We want to do what we can to move forward together toward healing and growth. To this end we will pray and labor.

With contrite spirit and with love,
The Board and Administration of ABWE

(EDITORS UPDATE 2012: At the time this document was posted, the word “pedophile/pedophilia” was used to describe Donn Ketcham’s actions. That is a very specific and closely defined word. For clarity, we now use the phrase, “sexual abuse of a minor.” This document has been modified to reflect that change.)


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