History

Our collective history is filled with heroic women and men of the faith—evangelists, teachers, pastors, nurses, moms and dads, single women and men. We are raised on their stories; we carry their pioneering flames within ourselves as we share in their calling.

For more than 90 years, ABWE missionaries and staff have done so much to spread the good news of Jesus—but there are also moments in our past where we have failed greatly. We know first-hand what it means to fail to protect our children, and will forever honor their memory as we enact and strengthen the safeguards that say, “never again.”

In 2016, ABWE released a report by a third-party investigative firm, documenting multiple cases of historic child abuse and sexual harassment from the mission field from one perpetrator. The investigative report also concluded there was a lack of oversight and action by past ABWE leadership in confronting the offender.

Donn Ketcham, an ABWE missionary and physician serving in Bangladesh for approximately 25 years in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, engaged in sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment and sexual abuse of minors and adults under the guise of medical care. His employment with ABWE was terminated in 1989 after he confessed to sexual abuse of the 14-year-old daughter of a fellow missionary.

Over the course of the three years leading up to 2016, 204 current and former ABWE Board members, administration, staff, missionaries, victim/survivors, and family members of the victim/survivors participated in the independent investigation to determine what had happened, and why.

ABWE and others submitted more than 14,000 pages of documents, including correspondence, personnel files, website archives, investigation notes, and board meeting minutes toward the investigation to help uncover the truth of these historic events.

While no amount of remorse and regret can make up for the suffering and pain this abuse caused, ABWE remains committed to assisting the victim/survivors, and to a course of change across the entire organization. From that experience and report, we invested in making sure our current policies reflect an organizational transformation in our governance of child protection.

We are grateful and indebted to the men and women who boldly and persistently held us accountable.