"It Was the Best of Times, and the Worst Of Times..."
MY BITTERSWEET EXPERIENCE SERVING UNDER NEW TRIBES MISSION; AND WHY I RESIGNED

A CRITIQUE OF NTM LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES, POLICIES, AND PRACTICES

MY BITTERSWEET EXPERIENCE SERVING UNDER NEW TRIBES MISSION AND WHY I RESIGNED
(My Personal Account Is Just One Example Of NTM'S Internal Leadership Troubles)

PREFACE: Just for the record, I sincerely believe that New Tribes Mission (NTM) is still one of the best mission organizations in the world today, within their field of expertise.  No other mission organization that I know of has a better, more in-depth training program, deeper vision, singleness of purpose, or a more-dedicated, harder-working group of individuals than New Tribes Mission's men and women (bar none), in focusing on evangelizing the lost tribes (ethnically, linguisticly, and culturally-distinct minority people groups) living at the uttermost, unreached ends of the earth.  With that in mind, I have no intention of impugning the integrity of a great mission organization.  What I, and countless others, would like to see happen is that NTM executive leadership would follow through to full completion, their own promised intentions and purposes to implement the much-needed reforms in leadership styles and practices, identified and described in their official, conciliatory memo (dated January, 1997), that was circulated among all mission personnel.

Backing up a few years, I applied to NTM for the Fall Semester of 1969, was accepted as a missionary candidate, and entered their training program at that time.  I successfully completed their rigorous missionary "Boot Camp" primary training--including undergoing the much-talked-about, six-week-long "Jungle Camp" endurance ordeal (which was actually quite enjoyable).  I then went on to successfully complete their multi-faceted language and culture acquisition training, and all that it entailed, held at their Language and Linguistics Institute in Camdenton, Missouri.  At that time (1972), I was approved and fully accepted into the fold as a bona fide New Tribes missionary in good standing, at which time I was officially ordained into the Gospel ministry.  I raised my support and went to Thailand under NTM in 1973.  For me, it was "No Turning Back," as the chorus goes.  In short, I was a "sold out" New Triber, and I fully intended to serve the Lord under the auspices of New Tribes Mission for the full duration of my ministry career.

However, after experiencing and witnessing numerous unchristlike inequities at the hands of NTM leadership, and after long and prayerful deliberation, I finally decided that I could not continue to turn a blind eye to these things any longer.  If I was going to live by my convictions, it was time for me to leave NTM.  Yet, when I made the final determination to cut ties, it was with a deep sense of solemnity, regret, sadness, and personal loss that I did so.  Just for the record, I need to emphatically state that I was neither forced out, or pressured to resign.  Resigning was ultimately my own personal decision, one of the hardest decisions I have ever made.  And, I fiercely deny any illusions or accusations, be it "official" position or rumor, that I was either forced to resign or dismissed due to disqualifying myself for any reason whatsoever.  I therefore fully stand behind, and cannot state the following facts more earnestly or forthrightly.

Before I begin the following treatise, with interspersed critique on NTM's chosen leadership styles and practices (precipitating the need for their January 1997 mission-wide conciliatory memo), I need to say that I could never have written the following in an objective manner a few short years ago, since I was so deeply affected by the negative experiences and unnecessary treatment I underwent.  Although ultimately, by God's grace, I have been able to put it behind me and move on, I cannot adequately describe to you the bizarre things I, and ultimately my family, were subjected to.  Nor can I fully convey the array of confused thoughts, tormented emotions, hurts, as well as the sense of loss and utter helplessness that cycled through my heart and mind for months, and even years afterwards.

Ironically, my experience was not atypical, I later learned, because numerous other committed and productive missionaries (more than you could ever imagine) have suffered a similar fate at the hands of an out-of-control system of leadership.  Sadly, what NTM is reluctant to face or admit, is that the Enemy, in his attempts to hinder and destroy God's work, delights in using their harsh, autocratic management style to foil and impede God's work, as well as frustrate and even destroy God's servants under their charge.  Of that I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever, since I saw it happen to other good, productive missionaries; which eventually happened to me as well.  In the end, however, God, by His grace, picked me up, dusted me off, healed my wounded heart and psyche, then put me back together again to continue to serve Him.  I can do no less than thank the Lord (and continue to serve Him) because He gave me the opportunity to be involved in the greatest, most wonderful job on earth--that of having an integral part in taking God's eternal, life-giving Word and message of Salvation to those still trapped in the depths of spiritual darkness, at the uttermost unreached ends of the earth--until Christ returns!

FOREWORD: I want to emphatically state that I truly appreciate and applaud the NTM Executive Committee's conciliatory memo, sent mission-wide in January 1997 (seen below at bottom).  I believe they finally hearkened to the concerns and complaints of disgruntled missionaries (instead of killing the messenger in usual fashion), humbled themselves, prayerfully obeyed the Spirit of God, compiled the data, wrote the memo, signed and sent it out in perfect sincerity.  Of this I have no doubt whatsoever.  I must add that I know each of these men who were on the NTM Executive Committee at that time.  In fact I have worked and fellowshipped with some of them, and count it a privilege to call them my personal friends, many of whom still serve on the EC at the time of this writing.  I know that each one seeks to walk humbly and faithfully with God, and do what is right on a personal level.  So, the problem is not with any one individual, it's an impersonal system of control, an authoritative style of governance that treats God's people as disposable pawns that will be addressed here.

Although I will be referring extensively to the NTM style of internal leadership that I and others have experienced; for the sake of fairness, I want to avoid painting with too wide a brush.  I also want to be careful to balance things off by saying that even the worst of offenders aren't all bad all of the time.  Among those in leadership positions, there are both leaders and followers, those who are innocent and those who have a proclivity towards the things I am about to describe.  There are those (who could be described as hard-noses) who want to adhere to the old militaristic ways, and see no need for change, simply because it (some would suggest) gives them a sense of power and control.  I'd wager that their attitude would quickly change if they found themselves on the receiving end.  On the other hand, there are many in leadership positions who realize the inequitous and harmful nature of the way things have been run, and yearn to see the day the needed changes are fully implemented mission-wide.  (Many of these are keeping a low profile for self-preservation's sake, given the mission's propensity to devour any who would dare step out of line by questioning their absolute, cult-like sense of authority.)  Yes, there are many good things now being implemented in the mission, including the trimming down and consolidation of the training program, as well as other positive and helpful things.  Time will tell how well these will work.  Although good, training-program modification is not the type of change to which I am referring.  Nor am I implying that missionaries who truly disqualify themselves through moral failure, doctrinal aberrance, or in other ways, not be addressed.


CLARIFICATION, JUST FOR THE RECORD:

By definition, the need for change to which I am referring is along the lines of what has come to be known as "Spiritual Abuse." Following are some of the points: The need to end the habitual destructive patterns and unnecessary heavy-handedness, accentuated by the total lack of graciousness towards people under their leadership, and especially those who, for whatever reason, find themselves under scrutiny and suspicion—and are automatically presumed guilty until proven innocent (not always easily attained).  Meaning, those who find themselves under the autocratic, groupthink mentality that often prevails in committee meetings, and which promotes and practices the wrongful treatment of good, productive missionaries, i.e., innocent people, who, for whatever reason, get accused of some type of wrong-doing—often through jealous slander by others, yet without proof or just cause. 

Tendencies Include:           

  • Aloofness
  • Superior Attitude
  • Disloyalty
  • Betray People's Trust
  • Unthankfulness
  • Ungraciousness
  • Unreasonableness
  • Unappreciativeness
  • Unwillingness to Forgive
  • Unapproachableness
  • Legalistically-minded
  • Rigidness
  • Unfriendly Demeanor
  • Slanderous Talebearing
  • Judgementalness
  • Assuming Guilt
  • Spreading Accusations
  • Using, Then Discarding People


Continuing on: These are not empty allegations, but actual facts; things that many have either observed and/or experienced personally (including this writer).  Those unfortunate ones who befall the fate of this "Blame Game" cannot win.  They are marked and dealt-with unfairly in numerous unchristian-like ways; including (but not limited to): unkind words and harsh treatment used to "break" them; guilt-trips placed on them; "official" albeit slanderous statements spread around about them; et al.  Hence, these servants of the Lord often become exasperated or discouraged, and often see no way out other than either admit to unfounded allegations, or resign—which in either case means further marks against them placed on their permanent service record, and negative-sounding letters sent to their supporters upon resignation, resultant lost support, personal shame, emotional stress and confusion, etc. 

This type of treatment regretful is essentially what the 1997 NTM memo both admits to and addresses.  I am readdressing it here, because some would say that NTM (with all due respect) needs to be reminded of their previous admission of wrong-doing, not to mention the change that they promised would occur in their 1997 memo. 

So, why bring this up again now, since they have admitted their wrongdoing?  Simply because there is a mounting body of evidence (in the form of more mistreated and maligned missionaries) which would suggest that NTM has either plateaued in their efforts, gotten side-tracked in their implementation and followthrough of the promised change, or were never really serious about it in the first place, hoping it would "go away" with time.


I also want to emphatically state that I have purposely avoided mentioning any names, especially any of those individuals who were directly involved in my wrongful and presumptuous treatment, and were the cause of my eventual decision to resign (although many are culpable and could be implicated).  Nor am I seeking to criticize or implicate New Tribes as a mission organization, or the great work that it does.  In fact, I unreservedly believe in the work of NTM and what it stands for.  If I didn't, I wouldn't be taking the time or effort to write this.  Nor would I have gone out of my way to confront the situation, and end up being treated in a malicious, disdainful manner, as I eventually was, which led to my decision to resign—I can still see their distainful looks and sense their negative attitudes. 

Furthermore, even though I resigned from NTM eighteen years ago at the time of this writing, I still consider myself a "New Triber" at heart, since I was originally trained and served successfully under NTM from 1969 to 1987 when I resigned (in good standing), and again for one term in the early 1990s as an associate.  So, when I use terms like: "New Tribes Mission (NTM);" "Executive Committee (EC);" "Field Committee (FC);" "the mission;" "leadership;" et al, I am not referring or alluding to those godly individuals in positions of leadership.  I am, however, referring to an ungodly system of reactionary handling of NTM's own people; a system that has taken on a life of it's own, and has unfortunately become an integral part of NTM's corporate culture by default.

WHAT IS A "CORPORATE CULTURE"?  In the field of organizational management and business administration, the term corporate culture means: "the way things are done or carried out around here," and by default, for good or for bad, each and every organization, be it large or miniscule, has at least one corporate culture, and often many.  It is NTM's corporate culture, their default management principle, their routine system of handling (or mishandling) their own missionaries that is being addressed and called into question here—not necessarily those individuals who serve in positions of leadership or spiritual oversight who are essentially innocent.  The NTM corporate culture has become a corrupt, destructive system which desperately needs addressing and changing.  That being said, many heavy offenders in NTM leadership positions that carry out its edicts need to make the necessary adjustments in their own personal behavior and attitudes towards their fellow missionaries as well.

Surprisingly, this thinking pattern seems to affect (or perhaps infect) those on NTM leadership committees quite analogous to abductees of the "Borg Collective" in the Startrek sequel—whose own personalities and identities get swallowed up in the collective.  Hence, this "thing" being described, be it a thinking pattern, corporate culture, collective rationale, methodology, management style, modus operandi, tradition, practice, mentality, attitude, notion, spirit of influence, infection, (call it what you like)... it is a blight on an otherwise great mission organization.  It creates and promotes a very coldhearted, groupthink rationale among committee members, which seems to take over during decision-making processes when discussing or making decisions concerning their own fellow missionaries.  In other words, it stinks!

These are otherwise rational and reasonable men--godly men who are appointed to various leadership committee positions within the mission.  This groupthink atmosphere appears to influence them in a negative manner, making them incapable of rational and reasonable thought.  It causes otherwise pleasant and decent men to act in a very outlandish manner--as if they are part of an upper-class aristocracy, needing to reaffirm their control and position of authority in their treatment over fellow missionaries, whom they often view as being of a "proletariat" class.  This groupthink mentality replaces or overrides common sense, demanding unquestioning allegiance to the committee's groupthink decision(s).  Worse yet, it apparently overrides their ability to discern or reflect that they might be involved in wrong-doing.  In their memo, they speak of finding out the "root cause" of the problem.  Not wanting to jump to any premature conclusions, some might suggest the root cause could be described as "sin being allowed in the NTM camp."

Regardless of the true nature or underlying cause, as a result, not only is absolute control practiced over fellow NTM missionaries, but blind obedience is expected as well.  If it is assumed that anyone is doing (or even thinking) anything otherwise, a process ensues whereby that person is discussed, comes under scrutiny and suspicion, is presumed guilty, considered as being a potential threat to the system, treated as an outsider or interloper, and in danger of retaliatory action.  This action normally includes undergoing an intense reeducation program before being reconfirmed, personal defamation, and quite often wrongful dismissal.

The great tragedy here is, instead of thinking the best of people (1 Corinthians 13), assumptions of wrong-doing are often based solely on suspicion, backed up by gossip or internal hearsay.  The hearsay is often started and spread by a fellow-missionary during a moment of jealousy, or feelings of animosity, or even an agenda-based reason.  In this system, it's bizarre how highly productive people, i.e., those possessing a high degree of energy and personal commitment to the task, are usually the first to come under suspicion and suffer this fate.  This mentality stifles personal initiative, and mistrusts innocent individual expression, ignorantly labeling it as insubordination--a very serious catch-all that they over-use and misapply.

Hence, NTM seems to tie themselves up in knots trying to keep everyone in check and ignore any worthy ideas offered to them by their own people.  Instead of listening, they critique the messenger with a suspicious eye.  They also tend to ignore the uniquely creative and gifted individuals God has placed in their own midst, creative people whose only desire is to use the gifts, ideas and abilities God has given them for His glory through NTM.  If they don't ignore these people, they use them, and then discard them.  Along the same line, NTM leadership actually seems to fear highly gifted individuals, and individuality.  They regard independent thinkers as being dangerous.  Ironically, God doesn't fear individuals.  He creates them for His own purposes and glory.  It's been said that, not unlike fundamentalist Islamists, NTM would rather live and operate in the Dark Ages, and force their own members to do the same, often punishing those of whom they suspect might resist their legalistic edicts.

We certainly don't see God's grace being practiced here.  What we do see is a thought-police autocracy, a mentality not unlike the Inquisition period, where mere suspicions were presumptuously misapplied as being factual and punishable--nevermind the total lack of any actual evidence or proof, or even reputable third-party testimony to the contrary.  The truth is, God made us all different, with different skills, gifts and abilities... to be used for His glory, for the edification of the Body of Christ and the advancement of the Gospel.  However, this negative-minded mentality promotes a lock-step rigidity that critiques, questions, judges (and often wrongfully punishes) highly-committed, gifted, and motivated people for no apparent reason whatsoever, other than possibly fear, suspicion, and to make them an example.

Whatever the case, are these leaders not aware that this groupthink, cult-like mentality is not of God?  Can they not discern for themselves that this mindset causes otherwise-reasonable men on the various NTM leadership committees' to err?  They seem to be oblivious, or don't really care that they have no authority to treat their fellow missionaries in a manner clearly inconsistent with, and in stark contrast to the plain teachings of Scripture.  They pride themselves in being bearers of the light of the Gospel, and so they are; however, many from within their own ranks could give clear testimony that they hide behind a shield of misinformation in the way they treat their own people. 

Their actions clearly stem from a superior attitude or mindset, reminiscent of that which Christ addressed when He admonished His disciples when they were contending who would be greatest among themselves, saying:  "...The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and they that exercise authority over them are called `benefactors' (well-meaning dictators)But ye shall not be so; but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the **younger, and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.  For who is greater, he that sitteth at meat or he that serveth? Is it not he that sitteth at meat?  But I am among you as He that serveth."  (Luke 22:25-27)

  (**NOTE: The word "younger" here is from "neo-" in Greek, from whence our English term "neophyte" or "novice" is derived)

If you were to abruptly ask anyone in a position of leadership or authority in NTM if there is a problem, their automatic reaction might be to let you know, in so many words, that it is an absurd idea and summarily dismiss you.  Or, in typical fashion, they might not respond at all, or counter by confusing the issue, turning it back on you, reading between the lines and suggesting that you have a "spiritual problem," or a "bad attitude."  Yet, if you were to quietly broach the subject "off the record" in a private conversation (with evidence in hand), you might get either an embarrassed smile, or an earful.  In short, almost every NTMer would readily admit there are deepseated problems in the way people are treated.  HOW CAN THEY NOT?  THE EVIDENCE IS NOW THERE, CONTAINED IN THE MEMO FOR ALL TO SEE AND READ.

Much more could be said--all in due time--but this will suffice for now.  I certainly don't claim to be an authority.  I do, however, have the unique qualifications of having witnessed these things transpire since 1969 (and pondered over them), as well as being on the receiving end more than once. 

The wrongful treatment I received in NTM piqued my interest in good management principles.  It inspired me, if you will, to study management principles and styles.  I now have a Bachelors Degree in Organizational Business Management, with an emphasis on Human Resource Management (HMR) from San Diego Christian College... as well as a Masters Degree in Asian Studies, with a Minor in International Human Resource Management (IHMR), from San Diego State University.

Having made it a point to study and familiarize myself with proper Human Resource Management principles, one thing I found was, good people-management principles can be applied in both spiritual and secular realms--there is no dichotomy between the two in treating people properly.  However, up until recently, NTM had shunned studying or applying these principles, dismissing them as being "unspiritual," and "of the world."  Could it be that they are hesitant to admit they could be wrong?  Again, the evidence is now there, strongly suggesting that they are (wrong).  That being said, how to go about successfully completing this monumental mission-wide reform, and how it is presently being addressed, needs to be examined and reevaluated, because, although attempts have been made, many would suggest that it is not really happening as quickly as it could, or should.

As I pursue this, I am quite aware there are other mission organizations (as well as churches) that have done or allowed similar things to occur, which I will also address as time allows--compared to management styles laid out in scripture.  Maybe it can help aright things and comfort some wounded people in the process.  This is my concern, not for myself.

Bottom line, what's this all about?  The matter is really quite simple and uncomplicated, and it cuts both ways... Christ's admonition to all of us quite simply is: "How would you like to be treated?"  Then be sure you treat others in a similar and consistent fashion.  "Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should (treat) do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets." ...Jesus (Matthew 7:12)

Ron Myers

~ + ~ + ~ + ~ + ~ + ~ + ~

MY PERSONAL STORY

Some might wonder what actually happened that led to my decision to resign from New Tribes Mission (NTM) after almost twenty years of fruitful and productive service in Northeast Thailand.  Others might possibly question my commitment to the Lord's work, or doubt my ability to work with others.  Some might even be tempted to dismiss me altogether, choosing rather to believe a large organization.  It's your prerogative, to be sure, but please hear me out first.  Concerning why I resigned from NTM (not an easy decision, by the way), you will learn the answers here. These will be confirmed in your minds, I trust, when you read NTM's own original three-page memo (photo-copied and posted below this article), which was sent to all of NTM's missionary personnel.  Concerning my allegiance to the Lord's calling, and to His work in Northeast Thailand, that should be selfevident--I'm still highly committed and going strong, by God's enabling grace.  As a soldier of the Cross I can do no less.  Considering my ability to work alongside others, I have always been careful to go out of my way to be a team player, not a one-man-show, or motivated by personal gain or self-glory.

Being the committed NTM'er that I was, resigning from New Tribes Mission was not an easy option, and in retrospect, was one of the hardest decisions I had ever made when it finally occurred in June of 1987. This was a full ten years before NTM's mission-wide communiqué acknowledging their long-standing human resource management problems, which came to light via their official 1997 internal three-page memo (seen at bottom).  Their unbelievably candid memo (definitely out-of-type for NTM) in which they openly admitted to the wrong-doing we all knew was true, was regarded by many of us as a providential breath of fresh air, and a glimmer of hope for all who believed in, and were involved in the unique work of New Tribes Mission, yours truly being one. 

Hence, it was a long-awaited vindication for those of us who had been affected, deeply hurt, saddened, and even destroyed by the bizarre practices mentioned here, and openly affirmed in the memo—else you would likely not believe me.  This memo was exonerating proof-of-innocence for all of us who had gladly placed our very lives and ministry futures in the hands of these men (and the New Tribes Mission organization), and in the end were rewarded (to our shock and dismay) by being accused, betrayed, bullied, condemned, disbelieved, disrespected, humiliated, judged, lied to and lied about, maligned, mistrusted, misused, slandered, snubbed, stonewalled, subjected to double standards, taken for granted, wrongfully treated... and in the end, matter-of-factly discarded and abandoned, just to enumerate a few... and no, I'm not overreacting or overstating things.

Keep in mind that my own experience was not an isolated event, but happened to many other missionaries as well; faithful servants who were treated in a similar bizarre fashion, at different times and in different locations (both on the field and at home)—many whom I know of, and could easily document here, with their permission.  Many of these who suffered similar traumatic experiences at the hands of NTM leadership became disheartened to the point where they gave in to discouragement and bitterness... even leaving the ministry altogether after years of fruitful service.  Some, I might add, were so stunned and bewildered by the experience that they even questioned God's faithfulness, and stopped walking with Him because of it.  I'm certainly not judging them, because Lord knows that I faced the same emotions and temptations.

This is how it went down for me.  Back when I had seen and experienced many inequities and wrong decisions, I decided to put my reputation on the line and step forward to broach leadership's glaring decision-making problems that I and many others saw.  At that juncture, I had been on the Thailand field for two extended terms.  Since God was greatly blessing my church-planting and teaching ministry, I reasoned that, if for no other reason than my works' sake, that I would be respectfully received by those whom I held in esteem and believed to be mature and godly men serving in leadership capacity on the NTM's Thailand field committee.  (After all, they had invited people to come directly to them if anyone had any questions or concerns.)  I approached my field-chairman friend in private, numerous time about my concerns, believing that I would be heard. 

"HEARING, THEY HEAR NOT" (Mat 13:13):  My friend listened, but did not really "hear" me.  Instead, to my chagrin, my so-called friend took everything I pointed out personally.  Whereupon I was discussed in private meetings, scrutinized, and marked (I eventually learned).  Not getting any satisfaction, I also approached visiting executive committee members, which merely served to confirm their suspicions about me as being an "insubordinate trouble-maker."  I was finally called on the carpet where I was harshly questioned and reprimanded. 

A few weeks later, I was visited unannounced at my residence by the whole field committee, who announced abruptly that I would not be allowed to return to the field, and my thriving ministry, until I got my "problems" straightened out through NTM's infamous requalification process called, being "sent back to Boot Camp."  Dumbfounded, I asked why and for what reason, but no one had any answers, only vague accusations, without any explanation as to why.  Boot Camp, NTM's primary training program, is a process where candidates who undergo the refining ordeal—as we did during the initial candidate process—compare it to being subjected to a spiritual meatgrinder, where they are closely observed and screened for spiritual shortcomings. 

If, for whatever reason, this requalification process befalls productive veteran missionaries, they are typically subjected to an even harsher third-degree treatment, designed to break them—even it the reasons they were asked to return to Boot Camp are sketchy or suspect at best—as with us.  This process was not completely unlike the Soviet Russian Gulag in some respects, where mature and godly veteran missionaries were singled out for some supposed infraction and repeatedly subjected to a humiliating third-degree treatment and essentially picked apart, supposed to expose and correct their problems.  It was all an unnecessary sick joke as far as I was concerned, but I went along.

One such missionary (an acquaintance) who was back at Boot Camp, being made to undergo the same reevaluation process that I was, was sent there only because his wife kept getting sick—I kid you not.  The field leadership "discerned" that he must have had a deepseated spiritual problem, which was somehow perhaps the underlying cause of her repeated illnesses.  He shared this with me one morning while we were out for our daily walk.  It was so bizarre that we honestly didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  He went on to say that he had determined to play along and agree to anything they said, simply because he needed to return to his vital ministry on the field, that of Bible translation, the same as me.  (At the end of the semester, he was deemed cured, and allowed to return to his work.)  I told him I yearned to return to my work as well, but could not, in good conscience, admit to something I knew I was not guilty of. 

This account is just the tip of the iceberg as to how numerous good productive missionaries were singled out and humiliated in similar fashion... and for what purpose, I ask?.  We are frontline soldiers in a life-and-death spiritual warfare reaching the yet-unreached.  And, this is one very clever and deceitful way that the Enemy is able to get onboard and cause good productive missionaries to be sent home.  I say, may God help NTM to see through this stupid travesty.  Of course, there are those who are truly messed up and/or hurting, and really do need the requalification process, but certainly not all missionaries who end up being sent back through the meat grinder, to be sure!

That is when I felt I had enough with the whole charade, which had unnecessarily hurt my family and my ministry, and kept me from the vital work I knew I needed to return to.  I asked God for direction, whereupon he placed the strong desire in my heart to return to Southern California, where I had initially been called of God into the ministry.  Shortly afterwards, I was introduced to a pastor who was passing through and had stopped by the NTM training facility where we were.  We talked and he invited us to come to San Diego, to join in a work with Asian refugees.  It was a long process, but the Lord worked it out for me to finally return to the church-planting and Bible translation ministry He had initially led me into.  But, this time under the auspices of a more gracious mission organization, one that appreciated my gifts and skills.

NOTE: Looking into the future, through diligence and determination, I would be able to complete the Isan New Testament on December 14, 2012, Nakon Panom, Thailand. This, along with nurturing and strengthening churches with foundational teaching materials, as well as the printing of a revolutionary new Creation-evangelism icebreaker booklet, audio CDs, et al.  God, in His wisdom, opened greater doors of opportunity than I could have ever imagined, many times greater than I would have ever experienced under NTM's restrictive, authoritarian mentality.  And, no one was on my back, jealously accusing and slandering me over imagined offences and groundless picayune little allegations.

MY ACTUAL "CRIMES": Nevermind any "official" correspondence, groundless allegations, or rumors, if I was guilty of anything, the full extent of my guilt lie in believing, adhering to, and seeking to practice and carry out all aspects of the excellent teaching and training I was given under NTM, to the best of my ability, so help me God, in my capacity as a pioneer church-planting missionary, and later as a Bible translator.  These "crimes" included:

  • I was guilty in believing NTM when they taught (in so many words) that we in NTM practice a classless internal structure (normal leadership structure not withstanding), and that we all stand equal before each other and before God.

  • I was guilty in believing NTM when they taught that we practice openness and honesty in interpersonal relationships, and (with normal discretion and respect) are at liberty, for the good of the work and the body-life principle, not only to address (one-on-one) any problems we saw in the lives of any and all fellow missionaries (whether involved in leadership or not), as well as freedom to approach NTM with any suggestions or questions we may have concerning mission policies or practices.
  • Even though these principles (which I still fully believe in) were taught, as laid out in scripture; they were not really adhered to by many in leadership positions.  Instead, a system of double-standards was practiced, including what amounts to tattling and spreading hearsay.  This frustrated many good people; hence, NTM was the ultimate loser, since they were ready to cut off their nose to spite their own face to save their corporate pride.  In that regard, and in light of promised reforms addressed in the 1997 memo, if an unbiased litmus test were to be applied to-date, the results would probably not look promising.


    AN INTERESTING SIDELIGHT:

    QUESTION: What would happen if NTM took a tip from the corporate business world? 

    As a normal part of internal policy, many highly successful, cutting-edge multinational corporations utilize these very principles of equality, openness and transparency to their own advantage, in that they are always ready to hear a complaint or suggestion from any of their personnel, from the ground floor on up.  They reason that in doing so, at least two things happen: 1) internal unrest is replaced by contentment, since people are assured of being heard, and are made to feel and integral part of the team; 2) they listen to and take advantage of solid suggestions, becoming better thereby.

  • One good example is well-known CEO Lee Iacoca, who sometimes, to get to the facts, would remove his coat and tie, then go sit down by the machine operators, as well as other employees under his charge.  He would then openly listen first-hand to their suggestions (or complaints), thus totally bypassing any of middle-management's self-serving hype, conjecture, or spin.

  • A second good example is a corporation's headquarters that supposedly had a difficult time hiring janitorial staff that would do a good job.  When the newly-arrived CEO asked middle- and lower-level management about the dingy and dirty appearance of the place, they all sighed and complained that it was impossible to find good, responsible help.  The CEO decided to try something different.  He took off his jacket and tie, and went personally to converse with the head janitor.  He was well-received, but got an earful of how management was the real problem, in that they did not listen to any of his knowledgable suggestions, controled every purchase, giving him inferior equipment and products to work with, etc.  The wise CEO, showing personal interest, asked the head janitor what he would do.  The response was immediate.  With a brimming smile of appreciation and pride of workmanship, the janitor explained just what was needed to do a great job, to which the CEO gave him the responsibility of managing his own budget and purchases, simply asking in return that he come personally and check things out with the new CEO.  The change in quality of appearance and workmanship was overnight, to the chagrin of the naysayers.  Moral of the story?  A bit of respect and trust shown, and personal decision-making freedom given, works wonders.

  • DIRT-DIGGING AND ALLEGING: As if this wasn't enough, I later learned that a secret dossier was actively being kept on me, where a certain field committee member went around trying to gather dirt on me from friends and acquaintances, from both saved and unsaved Thai friends, as well as from fellow missionaries.  This was all being done behind my back, and while I was experiencing real blessing in my ministry; people were being reached, saved, baptized, and discipled.  In retrospect, I had made no enemies or had no serious detractors that I knew of, so who knows what was alleged, or was purported to have been said or done.  Based on this and whatever else(??), the Field Committee descended on me one day, announcing in a private meeting that, during my upcoming furlough, I would have to return to "Boot Camp" training to get my "personal problems" straightened out, and be requalified, before being allowed to return to my burgeoning ministry.  What... I couldn't believe my own ears!  To what problems were they referring?  What had they meant, I wondered?  There must be some mistake, I reasoned.  I asked for clarification, but to my further astonishment, they refused to make privy anything--factual or otherwise--quite simply because there was nothing whatsoever to base their allegations upon, except possibly for some unsubstantiated hearsay they might have dug up in their quest to besmirch me.  None of my personal rights mattered; be it given straight answers, be made aware of any allegations, or be able to defend myself before any accusers.  Bottom line was, for whatever reason unbeknown to me, I was being put under a cloud of suspicion, and was thus considered a "bad person," and that is all that mattered.  Where does the concept of "innocent until proven guilty" fit in here, I wondered?  Does this bizarre situation sound like some strange fairytale?  That's what I was beginning to think as I pinched myself to be sure I wasn't just dreaming.  Ouch!  No, it wasn't a dream!  After that, as confusion set in, there were times when I even began to question my own sanity!


    VINDICATION... LONG AFTER THE FACT:

    Jumping ahead in my timeline to early 1999, it was fifteen years later before the then-field chairman (now resigned from the mission) contacted me via email, personally confessing that God would not let him rest until he made things right with me.  This certainly helped bring back any former respect I had for him.  After we communicated a while, and I held his feet to the fire, he asked my forgiveness for his actions, which I freely extended.  It's much easier to forgive those who humble themselves and admit their wrong, than those who maintain a proud aloof spirit.  He then sent a formally written letter of apology, admitting how he had listened to, believed, and helped propagate hearsay and slander that had been circulating about me (behind my back, as usual), without ever questioning or dealing with those were spreading the hearsay.  He also sent copies of his letter to the Field and Executive Committees, as well as former supporting churches that had dropped my support because of the allegations that had been sent to them by the mission.

    CONTENDING WITH NTM: Even though I felt a great sense of restored freedom in my spirit, as well as full vindication of any alleged wrong doing, the mission failed to acknowledge the letter, contact or offer to reinstate me--they were the wrongdoers against me, not the other way around.  Nor did any of my former supporters who receive the letter of vindication reinstate our support--the damage had been done and was essentially irreversible.  Later, after the 1997 memo, I approached the EC at mission headquarters via correspondence seeking acknowledgement of my vindication.  I figured if they were serious, I would receive a gracious response.  The then-newly-appointed director of the recently-formed NTM Personnel Department that I communicated with soon changed his somewhat-guarded, "pleasant" outward demeanor.  He quickly began to act quite defensively, accusing me and throwing things back in my face--as if I was in the wrong, just as if the NTM 1997 conciliatory memo had never existed.

    This "pre-programmed" NTM response really exasperated me, making me even more determined than ever to get some straight answers.  When I pressed the matter, asking where the letter of my vindication went that had recently been sent to them, I was stonewalled. (This stonewalling tactic is a time-honored, unwritten NTM practice, and is often used to buy time to come up with a rebuttal when they sense they are not in control, or positioned "on top of the pile."  Unbelievably, there seems to be no such thing as humility, or voluntary asking of forgiveness with these people, even when they are clearly found to be in the wrong, since that would be a sign of weakness.)  As it turned out, no one could locate the "missing" letter, or so they said.  I have no way of proving it, but I strongly suspect that the letter's existence was either still in their possession (purposefully being kept from my knowledge), or it had already been discarded, being an embarrassment to them.  I then switched gears; bypassing all the lower levels of NTM leadership personnel, I corresponded directly with my old friend, who was serving on the EC.  In my letter to him, I mentioned their 1997 memo of conciliation, included a copy of the letter vindicating me, and proclaimed my innocence.

    BELATED APOLOGIES, FORGIVENESS EXTENDED, AND MOVING ON: To give credit where credit is due, my friend on the EC replied with a very gracious letter of acknowledgement, wherein he reiterated our longstanding friendship as fellow laborers, offered his sincere apologies as representing the EC, and asked my forgiveness for the way I had been mistreated and not heard.  Of course, I extended my full forgiveness, and freely told him so (along with the other EC members) in my reply letter.  Moral of the story?  Persistence pays.  I suppose if I hadn't taken the initiative, held their feet to the fire, and continued to press the issue, they would probably have never responded, and I would still be receiving the stonewalling treatment.  This second letter of apology (from my friend on the EC, as representing the EC body) really helped free me from the years of hurt, anguish, and related hardships I and my family had been made to suffer through.  In other words, his asking forgiveness and my extending it, freed me, closed open wounds, and finally helped me move on, by God's grace.


    Getting back to my storyline, I need to interject at this point that I was not an unproductive or slothful missionary, or a "bad apple" trying to justify myself--or anything else tantamount to the way I was labeled and treated.  A friend and former field committee member wrote that I was one of the most committed and productive missionaries in the region where I served.  I consistently poured myself into the Lord's work, giving 110% in all that I did, be it language and culture study, evangelism, teaching, cross-cultural communication, Bible translation, whatever.  I also went out of my way to be cooperative and helpful to others (nowadays known as being a team player)


    MALAYSIAN OUTREACH DEBACLE:

    In the early 1980s, when my Church-planting and Bible translation ministry in Northeast Thailand was moving along well, I met a committed Chinese-Malaysian Christian serving as a missionary in Bangkok, Thailand.  I shared NTM's vision with him.  We "clicked" and he invited me to travel to his home area to meet key church leaders and speak in churches in the bustling Malaysian triple cities of Kuala Lampur (KL), Petaling Jaya (PJ), and Klang.  In fact, he made all the contacts and set it up for me to go, scheduled meetings and all--in eight days I spoke thirteen times, as I remember, as well as met with at least six prominent, cutting-edge, conservative Christian leaders, both young and old.  This was the whole purpose in going, i.e., to meet key church leaders and speak to their congregations and Bible study groups about world evangelism--I did it with God's work through NTM in mind.  Despite being a strictly Islamic nation, Malaysian churches were numerous and strong (those in the cities were made up almost entirely of well-to-do ethnic Chinese and Indian professionals).  Many were seeking ways how they could get involved in world evangelism, but lacked knowledge and opportunity.  This was a perfect setting for NTM involvement as these Malaysian churches were both ripe and interested, and had given us an open invitation to come and speak anytime.  I communicated this exciting opportunity to the Field Committee, seeking their advice and consent.  However, as I remember, I got a mediocre response, but received a passive OK.  I went to Malaysia on numerous occasions, on my own time and mostly using my own funds.  There, I met with various prominent church leaders and dedicated believers.  I spoke at numerous scheduled meetings among various groups, challenging Malaysian believers and churches to the needs of world evangelism, mentioning opportunities as to how they could get involved through the auspices of New Tribes Mission.  The response was overwhelmingly positive.

    Returning to Thailand after my first trip to Malaysia, I compiled a detailed report from the log I had kept, and sent it to the Executive Committee (I also CC:ed a copy to the Field Committee), enthusiastically enumerating the opportunities as I recounted the great response I had experienced.  Since I had more upcoming scheduled meetings in key churches, I asked the Executive Committee to please contact me at their earliest convenience; I also asked their input, as to how they would like me to proceed.  Their response?  Were they pleased, happy, encouraged, excited, rejoicing?  No!  Silence... months went by,,, more silence... nothing!  I returned to Malaysia during my free time and continued to meet key people, speak, and challenge--some responded and entered NTM training.  Ready for the kicker?  In appreciation of my efforts, a memo was sent from a member of the Executive Committee (who shall go unnamed) to the Field Chairman, instructing him to keep close watch of me, so as to not let me get out of hand!  Preposterous?  Offensive?  Unbelievable?  I was shown the letter, so I know it was true.  Ha!  What a letdown!  It was so offensive that I cannot adequately express how humiliated and disappointed I felt...  I walked away from there that day with my ears flush with anger, an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach, and the wind totally knocked out of my sails. 

    NOTE: I later learned, to my amazement, that it wasn't just me, but that the things I am describing occur much more often than they should within the Body of Christ.  These practices come under the general heading of "Spiritual Abuse," perpetrated by certain authoritarian "bullying" types.  This was certainly a breath of fresh air for me, and not surprisingly, there are now many books that have been written on the subject:

    • The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse
              by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen;
    • Healing Spiritual Abuse: How to Break Free from Bad Church Experiences,
              by Ken Blue;
    • Soul Repair: Rebuilding Your Spiritual Life
              by Jeff Vanvonderen, Dale Ryan, and Juanita Ryan;
    • Tired of Trying to Measure Up: Getting Free from the Demands, Expectations, and Intimidation of Well-Meaning People
              by Jeff VanVonderen;
    • When God's People Let You Down: How to Rise Above Hurts That Often Occur Within the Church
              by Jeff Vanvonderen

      ... and the list continues.

    Ironically, one EC member later gave me passing recognition as having laid the groundwork for NTM in the Malaysian Churches--another EC member later traveled to Malaysia with me where we had a great time speaking and encouraging believers.  That still did not justify or erase the response letter I saw that day, written to the FC Chairman from an "unnamed" EC member--who had been quite pessimistic towards me almost from the onset of our acquaintance.  I liked and respected him at first, but I later learned not to trust him.  People!  To point out a recurring problem in NTM, this unnamed person, when he first joined NTM, had been selected for leadership after only having completed a few months of primary training.  Some later viewed him as being a politically-motivated climber... which rings pretty true.  This person never went through New Tribes' excellent language or culture training courses, and never had any experience serving in the Spiritual Foxholes>/i> on the mission field as an "in-the-trenches" missionary -- only oversaw and passed judgement on others.

    This is a prime example of one of NTM's major problems in their practice of selecting people for committee membership--if they show the least bit of promise during the primary training process (Boot Camp).  Then, they are plunked directly into leadership over others.  This, while they are still "wet-behind-the-ears"...  "green-horns," with absolutely no field experience whatsoever.  This tends to skew the discernment abilities of those who were thrust prematurely into NTM leadership positions, causing them to "major in the minors," through no fault of their own (I suppose), since they are essentially without experience.  This practice is warned against in scripture, since it causes them to become proud: "Lay hands suddenly on no man..." (1 Tim 5:22), meaning do not hastily appoint anyone to the position of spiritual authority or leadership over others--something NTM teaches but does not practice in many instances.

    Both I and many others have brought this problem up at meetings with EC staff members.  The answer always came back that they were aware of the weakness, but that they couldn't afford, manpower-wise, to pull good productive people off of the field and bring them home to serve in the capacity as Boot Camp staff.  Now, consider that statement for just a moment...  I conclude that they can't afford NOT to do so, given the problems it engenders otherwise.

    Why the difference?  Those who are placed in positions of authority over others prematurely, as described here --- the Bible calls them "novices" -- seem to develop a certain lordship mentality, or sense of entitlement, and lack of good judgement that is reflected in a holier-then-thou attitude they exhibit in dealing with others they perceived as being beneath them.  Conversely, those who have years of successful field experience have a certain amount of wisdom and level-headedness that cannot be gained otherwise.

    In other words, veteran missionaries have a wider vision, gained by experience, which gives them a greater amount of wisdom to be able to major in the majors, whereas those who have not undergone the maturing process, lack the wisdom and experience, and thus tend to be short-sighted.  Therefore, without this invaluable wisdom gained only through prolonged field experience (not just a few weeks visiting the field), they tend to get their priorities upside down, to the point where one could say that they major in the minors.

    The spiritual principle in play here is, you produce what you are.  Corn begets corn, wheat begets wheat, apples beget apples, and oranges beget oranges.  A faulty tree cannot beget good fruit, as Jesus Himself stated. 


    I began to feel quite saddened and lonely.  What kind of people had I committed myself to work with, I began to wonder, and where did their allegiance truly lie?  Were they committed to the Lord and the job at hand, or to maintaining the status quo of an organization, and their tight-fisted control over its people?  By their actions (at least what I saw and had personally experienced), they certainly didn't seem to be sold out to the job of world evangelism as much as they would have others to believe.  As someone once aptly said, something good and worthwhile often begins with the vision of a man, gathers momentum, turns into a movement, the torch gets passed along and soon maintenance of the status quo (minors) replaces the original vision (majors).  As things digress, a monument is erected, and in the end, the vision becomes a museum, and a distant memory.

    With this in mind, the question begged being asked... where, in this chronology, was NTM?  Having begun through the vision of Paul Fleming (missionary to Malaysia's nomadic Sakai aborigines forest dwellers), other dedicated men and women soon became involved as Fleming's vision turned into a movement.  New Tribes Mission came into being as numerous missionaries went to other unreached corners of the world... enjoying many years of success.  But, where was NTM now going?  God forbid that NTM should end up on the scrapheap of history by it's own undoing, exacerbated by its own internal Human Resource Management style.

    Concerning appointment to field leadership, during the years I served in Thailand under NTM, my name was submitted more than once for field committee membership by fellow missionaries. These were those who recognized that I was experienced and successful as a church-planting missionary, and was mature in the faith.  I never once "campaigned" politically for the position, as I left that in God's hands.  (One missionary I know very well, who never did too much in the way of actual church planting, openly campaigned for a Field Committee position.  Ironically, even though he never was very committed to the job at hand, he was appointed to serve on the Field Committee, and even became Field Chairman for an interim period.)  After the last time I was told that my name had been submitted for a position on the Field Committee, but that the then-present committee didn't feel it was time, I asked if there was anything they saw in my life which was a hindrance, that I needed to address.  I was assured emphatically that there was nothing, but that they felt it just wasn't time yet... whatever that meant.  Interestingly, I later learned that I was not seriously considered because some of the committee members either felt intimidated or didn't know how to relate to me, or just plain didn't trust me, for whatever personal reasons they may have had.

    So much for that; it was fine with me, because I wanted nothing to do with being appointed to a committee membership position by that time, as well as the extra work it entailed, because I was fully devoted to the work at hand.  A few months after that, I was taken totally unawares when I was swooped down upon out of the blue by the Field Committee in an ad hoc meeting at my home.  There, I was bluntly informed that I was not well-suited to stay on the field, and that I had a long-standing problem that they could not help me with.  I was dumbstruck.  What problem, I asked?  What had I done wrong?  And, why was I now being treated as I was, in light of my long-standing service and good record?  I never received a straight answer, only blank stares.  This was because they were put on the spot, and had no clear-cut answers as to what I was guilty of.  (I later learned the whole thing was founded on trumped-up charges, based on hearsay and slander spread around by a jealous co-worker.  Not withstanding, I was approached matter-of-factly, as if already guilty.  There was no presumption of innocence, or asking for my input whatsoever.)  The fact is, I was never a trouble-maker, or insubordinate in any way.  In short, I never did anything even remotely reflective of the way I was eventually treated.  This pronouncement occurred a few short months prior to our second furlough.  At that time, we had served on the Thailand field under NTM for two l o n g terms, a 5-year term, and a 6-year term--this would be equivalent to between 3-to-4 terms today.  Talk about a great way to show appreciation for many long years of dedicated service... the whole thing was so agenda-driven and political in nature... it really stunk.  And, it effectively took the wind out of my sails and threw me into a tail-spin that I had a very hard time recovering from--talk about Satanic in nature, it sure wasn't the Lord leading them to do as they did.

    MY EVENTUAL RESIGNATION: During our second furlough, I was based in Central/Upstate NY(near where Cheryl and I had grown up).  I was working in outside professional sales (my former career) and sales management for a good-paying company--a fairly large and reputable secular advertising company.  My superiors appreciated my work and respected me as a Christian, and literally begged me not to leave.  I thanked them and told them I was committed to serving the Lord on the foreign mission field.  Upon saying my goodbyes, we picked up and moved to the NTM training facilities in PA to complete further training assignments.  There, I immediately experienced more of NTM's unbelievably heavy-handed tactics.  I found myself increasingly discontent with the way I was being treated--more like a criminal that a mature committed Christian and a productive veteran missionary.

    THE LAST STRAW: Things soon went from bad to worse--I had no peace about the whole thing, whatsoever.  As I sought God for wisdom, I sensed His leading to pray for open doors for us to visit Southern California during summer vacation time (which we eventually did).  This would be my own free time during summer break, and I could go where I wanted, till the fall semester.  (Background: I had been Baptized and called to the ministry at the Bible Baptist (GARBC) Church of Santa Monica, CA, in the summer of 1966, under the Godly leadership of Pastor William Koltovich.  This was while I was 24, and working at in the Research and Development Department of McDonnell Douglas Missile and Space Systems Division in Santa Monica.) In direct answer to my prayers, God sent a pastor from San Diego along, who stopped by the NTM training facility where we were.  Amazingly, he worked among Laotian refugees there--a language we spoke fluently--said they really needed our help, and invited us to come for a visit during the upcoming summer break.  I communicated this development to the mission leadership where we were, adding that I had been prayerfully seeking God's direction, etc.  I was astonished!  Instead of graciously wishing me God's blessings for the trip, the Boot Camp Chairman (whom I had been friends with from when we went through the initial training together) clearly was threatened and reacted in a defensive manner.  My sense of frustration and disappointment in the whole system was pushed to the wall.

    THE FAREWELL MEETING: A humiliating meeting was called where bullying tactics were employed by my former friend who was now the chairman there, saying these words (as other committee members looked on): "I know you aren't going to like this, but I checked and got the OK from Headquarters. We will not allow you to visit California unless you first tell us here and now whether you plan on staying with NTM."  What was this all about?  What nerve, I thought to myself!  I couldn't believe my ears, which were beginning to burn with indignation by that time as my mind raced and my heart thumped hard with adrenaline within--I tried to remain calm.  How do they think they can they command me around like that, especially in light of the fact that it was summer break, my own free time.  Summarily dismiss all my years of faithful service, and treat me like some wayward deviant.  Try to force me to make a decision as to whether I would stay on with NTM before I ever saw what the situation was like in California?  Force me to stay on for more of their ill-treatment?  I really don't think so... I began to burn inside with indignation over their total lack of respect.  This was certainly not God's way of doing things!  Of that I was sure!

    Needless to say, their offensive cult-like tactics intended to intimidate me into not resigning from the mission totally backfired in their faces.  That was the last straw.  I am not easily intimidated, especially after having put up with their ilk for so long.  Hence, I concluded there was no other option left but to resign, which I did, then and there.  Some leaders who attended that same meeting approached me afterwards, where they asked me to reconsider, saying that I was considered to be a good missionary and an asset to the work of NTM.  If I was considered so valuable to the work of NTM, I reasoned (and I appreciated the long-withheld compliment), why then was I consistently being treated in such a disrespectful and hypercritical fashion--as if I were some deviant or common criminal?  Exhausted by NTM leadership attitudes and attacks on my person over the years, I finally came to the sad realization that it was hopeless to try to work with these people any longer.  My decision to resign from NTM was during the summer of 1987.  We immediately packed up, turned westward, and traveled to San Diego, where God has continued to bless us beyond measure.

    GOD'S REDIRECTION: As I mentioned, it was one of the most difficult decisions I was ever faced with.  My body was in the states, but my heart was still in Northeast Thailand where I knew I belonged.  I felt a bit like the Apostle Paul, trying to make the best of it while sitting in jail on trumped-up charges, yet eager to get back to where he felt he should be.  We moved to San Diego to begin work among the Asian refugees, both Laotians and Cambodians.  I presently pastor-teach the Cambodian Bible Fellowship of San Diego, as well as work with both Thai and Lao Christians and non-Christians.  This, along with working towards the completion of the Isan Bible translation project that I originally started--I return to Thailand annually on a funds-available basis to check, print, and distribute completed scripture books, as well as visit and teach believers (see: www.isanbible.com).  We are also actively involved at Shadow Mountain Community (Baptist) Church, where David Jeremiah is Senior Pastor, and where (at this writing) I am serving my third three-year term as Secretary of the eighty-plus-member Board of Deacons.  Cheryl and I also serve as altar counselors, as well as other ministry outlets, including interviewing new applicants for church membership.

    THE LETTERS: Getting back to my resignation from NTM; to add insult to injury, officially-sanctioned and believable-sounding letters, laced with half-truths and unprovable allegations, were sent by NTM to my supporters, causing more undue personal harm and hardship, as well as lost support--I praise God for those who believed in and remained beside us through thick and thin.  NTM (I know who was behind it) even sent a very negative report (stamped CONFIDENTIAL in big red letters) to another well-known mission organization I was in the process of joining!!  Can you imagine??  The damaging report nearly ruined my chances, except for the fact that the other organization was privy to NTM's heavy-handed ways, and summarily dismissed the letter.  How do I know?  I was shown the letter, which disgusted me and tempted me to "lose my cool" then and there.  Surprisingly, this scathing untrue report was sent even after the other mission had received a positive verbal report over the phone from an NTM Executive Committee Rep who knew me personally. 

    Dealing in these infamous negative letters was definitely not a good practice for an organization that purported to believe in and practice grace, and who desired to maintain a godly public face.  The purpose of the letters was to make NTM look good, and the banished or resigned missionary appear to be at fault for something.  However, they weren't really fooling anyone, except for maybe themselves, as well as the Christian public and supporting churches that were out of the loop and none-the-wiser--talk about a prideful, hypocritical attitude.  On the other hand, Jesus humbled Himself and allowed Himself to be wronged, and even crucified, without one retaliatory word being uttered.  In stark contrast, these people always have to maintain the upper hand, no matter what, and are still acting just like that as I write--a clear sign of arrogance, insolence, and pride.  What, may I suggest, is Christian about that?  So what happened to their conciliatory-sounding 1997 memo?  I had been careful not to say anything negative about NTM to the other mission--I just wanted OUT, to live and let live, and to get back on the mission field where I knew I belonged.  This unfair and unChristian-like practice was totally uncalled for, and a further example of NTM's vindictive attitude towards anyone who dared to confront them, or resign--one of the reasons why NTM had been likened to a cult by a watch group, in that it continually employs cult-like practices such as this towards its own people (of which knowledge few on the outside are privy to).


    MISTREATMENT BY NTM--PART II:

    In 1989, a couple years after Cheryl and I had resigned from NTM, we were living in San Diego, but our hearts were in Thailand.  We had heard about a more "user friendly" mission organization that had recently starting working in Thailand, and were contemplating whether that would be a good way to continue our ministry in Thailand.  I prayed and waited on the Lord.  I finally wrote a letter of introduction to their director.  Interestingly, they had also heard about us, as I received a letter from their director about the same time, having crossed in the mails.  We corresponded, applied, and were accepted (despite the scandalous report their founding director had received from a person in NTM).  We attended and successfully completed their week-long orientation, and eventually raised all our needed support.  One donor, a very well-to-do and generous giver promised (yes, promised) he would support our ministry at $25,000 per year, till we finished our task.  We were set, with full support in hand, better than we had ever had under NTM.  God was definitely showing us His blessings, and moving us out, back to Thailand to serve Him there once again!! Praise Him!!

    We were ready to make a fresh start.  Being told time-and-again how much we were appreciated was a new experience we weren't used to.  This time, we were planning on returning to Thailand's Northeast, but would work in another area, a location nearby to where we had been that was also very-much without a solid Gospel witness.  This area, the Renu Nakon district of southern Nakon Panom Province, was home to a large concentration of Pu-Thai tribal people.  I had done a goodly amount of evangelism and teaching there in the past, and had baptized at least 8-10 new believers, that I used to visit and teach on a weekly basis.  So, already being familiar with the language, the people, and the area, the transition would be a smooth one.  These young Pu-Thai believers would become the seedlings for the new church we were planning to start there, or so we thought.

    It was now Fall of 1991; we were excited and ready to return to Northeast Thailand.  However, just before departing for Thailand, and our new assignment, I was contacted by NTM's new field chairman who asked if I would consider laying aside my plans and returning to continue work on the now-dormant Bible translation project--this was the translation I had originally begun, but had been so unceremoniously removed from.  He added that he realized I had gotten a bad deal under NTM in the past, and reassured me that things would now be fine with him at the helm.  That sounded very tempting to both Cheryl and me.  I reasoned, we could still work with the nearby Pu-Thai people, as planned.  Besides, the new field chairman was an old friend (or so I thought), and seemed trustworthy and understanding of our position.

    FATAL MISTAKES: My first big mistake was that I believed him, this "trustworthy" new field chairman.  I figured that, working alongside NTM as an associate, under another, more "user friendly" mission board, I would be insulated and thus safe from harm--another big mistake.  I talked it over with my new mission board; they were understanding and agreeable.  The die was now cast.  Like lambs headed for slaughter, we were headed for our second bout of harassment and mistreatment at the hands of NTM, and this new field chairman who had gained my confidence (and his like) would become the accuser, judge, jury, and executioner.

    THE CONTRACT:  Leading up to my return to Thailand, everything was great, or so it seemed--call it the calm before the storm.  The day I arrived in Bangkok, I was informed I would be required to sign a contractual agreement before I would be allowed to work on the translation.  Whoa!  Wait a minute here!  Where did this come from?  ...and, whose idea was it?  What's the big deal, you ask?  Plenty.  No one ever once mentioned a contract up until the day I landed in Bangkok.  That's called deception and dishonesty, just for starters.  Why a contract?  First, I was invited to return to work on the Isan Bible translation, that which I initialized in the first place--absolutely no mention of a contract.  Then bait-and-switch... I was required to sign a contractual agreement as soon as I arrived, and before I could do my job, the one I was "invited" to return to by the new field chairman who said "trust me."  Two, no three things come to mind here: 1) Was I not to be trusted?;  2) Was someone so "afraid" or paranoid of me that they had to hamstring me?;  or 3) Was is just the same old NTM power and authority factor coming into play?  My answer?  Most likely all three, else why a contract?


    THE BAIT-AND-SWITCH CONTRACT

    Much more could be said about the unbelievable events surrounding this infamous contract.  It was pushed on me, edited (things were added, deleted, changed) at least three times, after I had signed the original version.  It was never clear which version was in effect.  Suffice it to say that there was nothing in the contract that I disagreed with, in principle--so what would I have gained by breaking it?

    I later learned (and have the documentation in hand) that the contract was never written with me in mind, but another who was questionable (both doctrinally and separation-wise), that they wanted me to work with.  This strange bed-fellow working arrangement was very atypical for NTM, and I had previously voiced my strong disagreement to it.  So why then was it forced on me?  In the end, the person in question refused to sign their contract, and walked away.  This is probably what I should have done, and returned to my original plans to work among the Pu-Thai people. 

    \Why didn't I refuse to sign?  For one thing, I felt under tremendous pressure, since I was put under the catch-22 spotlight.  Also, I was committed to see the translation through to completion--I was the translator and no one else was qualified.  In the end, in my willingness to commit myself, to trust and be trusted, I was taken advantage of, betrayed by my so-called NTM "friends," then lied about, "dismissed" from the translation, and lied about some more--THE SECOND TIME AROUND!

    What a nightmare.  My joy soon turned to anxiety as I became the object of mistrust and more mistreatment.  Later, I was "dismissed" from the translation project I had been invited back to for allegedly "breaking" their silly contract, and for "hurting" someone's feelings... and no, I'm not making this up.  The whole thing became so childish, it would have been laughable, except for the fact that these mixedup people were serious, not unlike the political satire, "Alice in Wonderland."

    (NOTE:  It was becoming plain to see that was Satanic, i.e., evil at it's finest attempt to stop the translation.  This is why I finally decided to quit playing around and obey God instead of listen to these neo-Pharisees who only wanted to play control games.  When I left, I carried the translation along with me, with a sense of duty and God's blessings.)


    THE LANE OF PEACEFUL HAPPINESS:  Returning to our former work in the border city of Nakon Panom was like a dream come true, mixed feelings about the forced contract not withstanding.  We even moved into the nice home where we had once lived, on the "Lane of Peaceful Happiness" (direct translation).  Our old friends were elated to see us, and welcomed us back again with open arms--we were just as glad to see them again after a six-year absence.  There, almost immediately, God again began to bless the work of my hands.  I baptized eight new believers in the Mekong River shortly after my return (I have the pictures).  In short, things were going great, and we were happy and blessed to be "back in the saddle" again.  I was again translating God's Word into the local-area Isan language, and teaching the believers out of the newly translated books of Galatians and Ephesians.  As God's Word in their own language entered their hearts and minds, their lives took on a new and exciting glow.  Soon, a genuine grass-roots movement began to emerge, led pretty-much by the local believers at the helm (with me in the background), the likes of which we'd not experienced or seen before.

    NTM'S LONG ARM OF REVENGE: Someone in NTM, an old nemesis (I highly suspect), obviously remembering how I had slipped through their fingers and had made them look bad, made sure I got my "Come-uppins."  Soon, communications were traded between NTM's Stateside headquarters and their field committee.  This just a small sampling of the unbelievably unChristian-like tactics and power-plays that were pulled on me.  I was made to look very bad, but I was totally innocent of their silly, unprovable allegations about petty school-girl tales.  Stupid little non-issues that they blew way out or proportion, and so ridiculous that I truthfully don't remember half of them.  Petty things like what I allegedly said here, or did there, etc.--things I never thought, let alone said or did! 

    I tried to tell them the things they were claiming about me were not true, but they "knew better."  Other nearby missionaries, and even my wife, went to bat for me, but they were not heard either.  This leads me to believe that some sort of political shellgame was going on behind the scenes, and I was the sacrificial pawn.  What could I do, but to occupy myself with what I was there to do? So, I kept right on translating and doing the Lord's work, and God continued to bless.  In the mean time, the silliness didn't stop, and things went from bad to worse.  The rumor mill was going strong--letters were being written and slanderous lies and allegations were spread about, behind my back--eventually making me look bad before my new mission board, to the point where I was eventually presumed guilty of some wrongdoing.  Satan has his ways, and this was true spiritual warfare with the souls of the unreached for whom Christ died--those whom we were in the process of reaching--hanging in the balance.

    Tragically, this occurred at a very heavy cost to God's work in Northeast Thailand, but whoever it was in NTM leadership obviously didn't care, as long as they taught me a lesson.  Thereagain, the Enemy was allowed to hinder God's work through someone in NTM acting in a prideful and vindictive manner, as well as spreading slanderous lies.  Do I sound paranoid?  ...a little "touched" in the head, perhaps?  ...or maybe like a conspiracy theorist?  I'm not.  In fact, I'm as sound mentally and stable emotionally as they come--and I know full well of which I speak.  I also have facts, names, dates, and documentation on file, enough to back up what I am saying here.  About that same time, 60% of our monthly financial support dried up--our very large "promised" supporter withdrew his support, the catalyst that finally precipitated our having to return home...  which causes me to ponder whether he might somehow have received one of NTM's scandalous and accusatory "letters" as well.  It's certainly not beyond the realms of possibility, knowing NTM as I now do.

    That account is yet another chapter in this saga that has yet to be posted.  I later received a wonderful letter from that other mission on official letterhead (worth framing).  It was drafted and signed by the International Director, acknowledging and thanking Cheryl and me for our dedication and service, also stating that they were saddened that we had chosen to resign.  This, even though we had returned to the US and voluntarily resigned under less-than-favorable circumstances--those not of our own choosing or making (I might add that I was pretty fed up with the whole mess by that time).  I remain close friends with the International Director of that mission, and we communicate on occasion.  Can you imagine that type of positive letter of appreciation ever being written by anyone in NTM?  Slim chance...

    Now, are you ready to hear more irrefutable proof that the NTM leadership system is sickly and in disarray?  It even sticks up for its own, even when they are wrong.  I wonder what they would have done about this?  Likely little, if anything.  (They never knew, because I took the high road and didn't "tattle" on this person)...

    Returning to San Diego, it seemed reasonable to continue the translation from there.  It was obviously not as handy as doing it on-site in Thailand, but it worked.  I was initially given office space in the administration building of the church where we were members--I later moved to a home-based office.  One day, while I was waiting for a document to print out in the copy-print-fax room, I heard a fax begin to come in.  Wondering if it might be for me, I glanced and saw it was from NTM's Thailand then-field chairman.  Hmm, what's this about, I thought.  Looking closer, I saw my own name and saw it was to one of the pastors, a friend of mine.

    My curiosity got the best of me.  Scanning down, a cold feeling hit me in the pit of my stomach...  "I am coming to San Diego for a visit and plan on stopping by.  I know Ron is probably upset with me, because we had to dismiss him for bad behavior.  He has proven to be a danger to the Christians and God's work in general here.  God has now put me (or so he claimed) in a position of influence where I can keep watch and make sure he won't be returning to Thailand... etc., etc., etc..."  W H A T?  I dropped the fax back in the tray.  I couldn't believe what I had just read.  It would have been very amusing if it weren't so absurd, serious, and offensive, not to mention absolutely untrue in its entirety.  This was the same person who had asked earlier if I would ever consider joining NTM again, adding that he knew I had received a raw deal a few years earlier, but that I would be safe under his watch.  Ha!  What a sick joke!  This person was more a deceiver and traitor than a co-worker and friend.

    My ears burned hot with indignation, while the emotions in my heart ranged from anger, to frustration, to disappointment, to sadness, to weariness, and back again.  Dismiss me?  Ha!  What a ridiculous thing for a friend (or so I thought), and supposedly-mature Christian leader to claim against me.  Call it what he like, I was lied about, painted as an undesirable, then railroaded solely on the strength of unsubstantiated hearsay.  Danger am I?  What danger, and to whom?  I say, go ask the men and their families who came to the Lord under my ministry over the years--who are now serving the Lord in their own right--if I was ever a danger or a threat to them in any way.  Ask those who received God's free gift of forgiveness, were delivered from sin and darkness, from Satan's demons, from Hell-fire and eternal damnation, if I was ever a danger or a threat to them.  Sorry, you won't be able to ask some of them, however, since they are now Home in Heaven, basking in Jesus' glorious presence and praising the Lord around the Throne of Grace.

    Yes, I can say unabashedly that I've been privileged to be a danger and a threat alright... not to the people among whom I lived and served for many years, nor to my fellow missionaries, but by God's strength and empowerment, as a Soldier of the Cross I've been a threat to Satan's kingdom of darkness through the bold preaching and teaching of the Gospel of God's amazing grace from my own lips.  With God's Angels at my side, and the Word of God on my lips, I have stared down the forces of spiritual darkness and didn't blink... they did.  I hope I don't have to hear that simplistic silliness anymore from one who claims to be a Christian leader, and a supposed "friend," that I was a danger and a threat to the people.  It reminds me somewhat of what the Apostle Paul told his detractors, whom he sometimes referred to as false brethren: "From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." (Galatians 6:17)

    These were nothing but fabrications and allegations, and any so-called facts were taken out of context as he played hard and fast with the truth, to meet his own agenda.  His rendition of the facts resembled the truth about as much as a rooster resembles a swan (my analogy).  The idea was (as is always the case) to make NTM look good and others look bad--in this case, me!  What nerve!!  What sort of a friend would ask me to reconsider and return to help NTM, and who had assured me everything would be fine under his watch, and had no sooner gained my trust than he betrayed me, stabbed me in the back, and made me look like a dunce.  Then, in typical NTM fashion, he wrote slanderous letters about me to my friends and supporters--all based on scandalous and libellous hearsay.  And, he was now coming here!!  What insolence!!  I had the proof in my hands that he had written these offensive and untruthful things to my pastor friend, i.e., claiming that I was a danger to the Thai Christian community and God's work in Thailand in general.  Did my pastor friend know these things weren't true?  Of course he didn't.  How could he?  Here was a person who was supposed to be honest and truthful, representing a large mission organization, but here he was, writing and spreading what he knew to be untrue.  I was beside myself by that time.  Some might want to advise me to: "Just trust the Lord."  I agree; great advice!  That was all I could do, because everything I had invested my life in, and the fruit of my labors, was being painted in a negative light and torn apart at the seams by what amounted to malicious, self-serving lies.  Where is the Spirit of the Lord in all that?  He isn't.

    How foolish I felt in having placed my trust NTM leadership once again, i.e., power-hungry, agenda-driven persons occupying positions of leadership and authority.  It was a scary thought.  Like the maxim goes: "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."  In trusting this person's words, I had allowed myself to be deceived, taken advantage of, and treated in a very unjust and wrongful manner by NTM, not once, but twice--simply because I had trusted them, which is what they expect--a true Catch Twenty-two situation.  This person, the so-called NTM field chairman, came by, but I was nowhere to be found while he was here.  I did not desire to see him, and besides, why should I?  He had proven himself untrustworthy as he had deceitfully gained my trust, then switched and started working against me.  He had proactively blemished my good name and in doing so, set things in motion where I was wrongfully removed from the field and the work I was doing.  This, for the second time in seven years--caused and propagated solely by NTM leadership--was based solely on suspicion and false charges, all drawn from unprovable allegations and assumptions, without ever seeking out the truth.

    PROACTIVE SLANDER: As if that wasn't enough, this particular so-called Christian leader had now contacted other pastors with whom I was friends in the church where I was now settled and happily serving the Lord.  What good purpose was served, I ask, by him taking it upon himself, and misusing the authority and position vested in him as NTM Thailand field chairman, to spread libelous untruths about my character, all designed to taint other people's estimation of me, and denigrate God's work being accomplished through me?  I suggest there was an agenda lurking behind the scenes somewhere.  Who knows what bizarre tales he spread around here in my absence.  One halfway expects that unsaved, ungodly people will lie, but not Christians, let alone Christian leaders and missionaries.  We're not talking "little white lies" here either, but libelous slander.  He even told a new lie about me before he left, tattling to my pastor friend that I had hung the phone up on him when he called--this, I did not do, in fact he hung up first (I heard the phone click and go silent)--another petty school-girl slur designed to make me look bad and him good.  I did not pursue the matter later, thereby not giving it any credibility.

    After the "field chairman" left, I had a short talk with my pastor friend, whom he had lied to about me, telling him that I was a danger to God's work, etc.  What a breath of fresh air.  My pastor friend assured me, saying: "I don't believe or listen to any of that stuff.  I have worked and fellowshipped alongside you, and have observed your manner of life.  That's all I need to know to discern what sort of person you are."  My eyes welled up as I found myself swallowing hard.  I was being accepted for who I really was, and what I had actually done, not judged by some fabrication floated around about me, designed to slander and destroy.  This pastor remains a true and faithful friend--of which I can't say about many people I knew in NTM leadership, like those of this caliber.

    This event occurred in the mid 1990s, a couple of years before the NTM memo was written.  One day soon, there will be a reckoning when we all stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ, there to have our deeds done as believers inspected by the Lord Himself to see if they are good and worthy of reward, or otherwise.  I don't believe it takes a scholar to discern wether this person--including those like him appointed to NTM committees--are being led by the Spirit of the Lord, or by another lesser entity.  What a sad commentary about a mission organization that is supposed to stand for and practice the truth.  Enough said...

    I have been asked whether I have confronted this person--a very reasonable question.  In answer, I confronted the whole situation (described above) later, in detailed correspondence to the EC, where I addressed and rebuked his actions.  I received an email-letter of apology, written by a friend serving on the EC.  I hope this person now realizes what he did, and repents.  I have also forgiven him vicariously before God, and I will very-willingly talk to him personally as soon as he repents, humbles himself, and approaches me to ask my personal forgiveness--which I will freely extend at that time.  (See Luke 17:3-4)  I pray that he does, for the sake of truth and God's work, but I'm not holding my breath.  Meanwhile, I have moved on and am leaving it in God's Hands, letting Him deal with this man, and He will, I'm sure.


    UNBELIEVABLE, YET TRUE: Who on the outside, in their right mind--be it supporting churches or individuals--would ever believe accounts like this told to them by a disgruntled or hurting missionary over the official letters of a large well-known mission organization? ...not many, except for possibly a few wise battle-scarred pastors or fellow missionaries who had personal experience under the gun.  Despite these severe trials, I did not quit serving God (even though He and I had some very frank talks about a few things).  Those were hard times, but God showed Himself strong on our behalf, and never let us down--something I could not honestly say about the mission organization that I admired, and had just sacrificially given some of the best, most productive years of my life (which I finally came to realize went pretty-much unappreciated).

    I need to interject here that no missionary that I know of who served faithfully under NTM, and later resigned, ever received a voluntarily-written letter of thanks, appreciation, or recommendation--this in stark contrast to the pleasant letter of thanks I had receive from another mission organization.  It's just not in them as an organization to compliment anyone, either within the mission or leaving the mission, be it on paper or verbally.  Negative-sounding letters?  Yes!  Positive-sounding letters? Rare.  I've no clue as to why, other than it's general policy and part of their accepted "corporate culture."  I now understand that much of their external negativity has now subsided, as a result of their having been threatened or faced with liable suits. 

    A NEW DAY DAWNING--REASONS FOR NTM'S CONCILIATORY-SOUNDING MEMO: A few years later (note the 1997 date of the memo), these unchecked mission-wide leadership-structure problems finally came to a head, and thus to light.  Hence, the NTM Executive Committee (EC) was forced to admit and deal with their mistakes, mistakes that they claimed had "just recently been brought to their attention."  Actually, these very serious problems were long-standing, brought about and exacerbated by their own on-going autocratic management style--executed both passively and actively over the years on NTM missionaries.  In short, anyone who found themselves caught in the cog wheels of the NTM bureaucratic machine, for whatever reason, was in danger of being treated pretty much the same, be it candidates or productive veteran missionaries alike.

    KILL THE MESSENGER: Before the arrival of the memo, if when missionaries (some would add brave), one here, one there, dared to lay their ministry careers on the line and step forward to address the inequities they saw, their exhortations were usually ignored and their concerns were viewed as insolence, provoking the ire of "the powers that be."  Suspicion and retaliatory measures usually ensued, i.e., they were often stereotyped as being insubordinate, marked and closely watched from there on--I know, since it happened to me as well.  All these things were recorded in one's personal "official record," a legalistically-unforgiving archive kept on each person, which more often than not maligned good people and did not resemble the facts.  Like the memo states, NTM believes in and teaches grace (which is good and right), but fails to treat it's own people by the same gracious standards--ironically, Jesus warned the Pharisees that practicing double standards was hypocritical and abominable in God's sight--"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law: [justice], mercy, and faith.  These ought ye to have done and not to leave the other undone." (Matthew 23:23)

    Concerning the almost overnight openness and willingness to communicate on the part of the EC, the question arises, why the sudden change of attitude?  I was told by reliable internal sources that it was precipitated by rumors of general unrest on the part of missionaries becoming increasingly tired and dissatisfied by the escalation of heavy-handed tactics and policies of mission leadership.  (I am kept privy of this and other things by reliable internal sources, i.e., old friends still with the mission).  A trusted organization was called in to conduct internal polls to "test the waters."  Questionnaires were sent to the approximately 3,000 NTM missionaries, serving throughout the world.  The EC was deluged with at least 5,000 negative comments from respondents; I do not know if these questionnaires were signed or anonymous, but I suspect they were anonymous, else people would likely fear later retaliation.  It was from the submissions these questionnaires that the top 11 complaints were compiled and sent out in the memo.

    UPDATE: Unfortunately, the Executive Committee has failed to follow through with their very sincere-sounding, well-intended promises, outlined in this, their own memo.  Consequently, with all due respect and with the facts showing otherwise, the hard questions must be asked...  beginning with: 1) Were their motives pure, or were they driven by concern for outward appearance--as opposed to truth in the inward parts?  2) In taking polls and suggesting related reforms, was their concern for the missionaries they had injured, or was it for their own reputation--worried about what others might think, once they learned of NTM's leadership-induced problems?  3) Did they ever really intend to follow through, or was the memo merely circulated to buy time and quell the building unrest until things quieted down?  4) Last but not least, how can they state in all honesty that news of these inequities had just come to their attention (through rumors of mission-wide unrest) when many people had come to them over the years.

    To give credit where credit is due, various changes were begun, seemingly carried out in good faith.  That being said, in the years following, nothing has really changed all that much on an organizational level, consequently causing many faithful NTM'ers to become discouraged and disheartened with the lack of progress.  In fact, it appears that stagnation and regression have set in as the old leadership habits remain in vogue, by and large.  However: 1) can these things they have promoted (or allowed to occur) on an organizational level change; and 2) will they ever change?   The answers are yes and no: 1) yes, I truly believe things can change, of that I am confident; 2) and, no, I deeply regret to add that these things will probably not change, not until those in positions of organizational leadership (starting at the top) truly humble themselves and admit that their whole system of personnel oversight or modus operandi is essentially ungodly and needs to be vanquished (not revamped).  Then, begin to treat each and every member equally, according to the Biblically-based mandate of grace and kindness that they so-readily admit to here.  In other words, when will there be a real change of heart on the part of Mission leadership--heart-felt change that will affect the needed organization-wide change in direction?   This, I suggest, will occur when their organizational walk matches their spiritual talk... i.e., the things laid out in their 1997 memo.  Respectfully, we are still waiting.

    Candid and frank as I may sound, please understand that I still hold NTM, and what they stand for, in very high regard.  This, despite the leadership blemish of their own making (none of us are perfect) and especially their failure to follow through and implement the very good reforms proposed in their own memo.  Having served God faithfully and fully as an active member of NTM in good standing for over 18 years--during the best years of my life (I still have my last membership card)--and knowing that we all stand before God equally by His grace, I respectfully believe I am qualified to submit this exhortation for my NTM friends to read and prayerfully ponder.  Although NTM leadership has had a long-standing and widely-acknowledged reputation for their lack of openness to admonition, my concern and prayer is that their hearts will be moved and this change or reform will truly and fully occur, to the Glory of God, and in conjunction with His plan to reach the yet-unreached with the Gospel message.

    I realize I am only one voice, but there are numerous others who could readily give similar testimony.  Although I remained silent for many years, I have been watching and waiting for real mission-wide changes to be carried out.  I now speak up openly and publicly for all to hear through this posted article.  My continual prayer is, may all those within the mission leadership structure (from the top down) who are standing in the way of needed change, or are responsible for these plainly-wrong practices against innocent NTM missionaries or candidates, need to be held accountable and given a chance to change...  And, if they do not respond to the wooings of the Holy Spirit, may God graciously and swiftly remove and replace them with those who will, for the sake of His work through NTM.  we have little time left to reach the peoples in remote areas around the world who need a chance to hear God's Word and believe before time draws to a close and Christ returns.  Concerning all those anywhere within the mission's committee leadership structure who see the problems and are actively praying and working for change, may God richly bless and reward your faithfulness.  Please do not be dissuaded of your efforts, or become disheartened and give up.  I thus encourage those in charge of the mission to see to it that the long-awaited reforms suggested therein be fully instituted.

    I strongly recommend that you read the NTM memo (below) before you pass judgement on the veracity of my words.  Some might suggest that I have overreacted, am being hypercritical, or need to forgive and move on.  This, I have already done by God's grace (as mentioned above), and my heart is clear.  As to overreacting or being hypercritical, the truth is often stranger than fiction, and needs to be aired by means of an objective critique--so better to call it a legitimate concern, based on personal knowledge and long-term observation,  Although the scars go deep, God has put me back together again by His grace.  However, this matter under discussion is much greater in scope than the personal welfare of one individual here, or another there.  I would suggest that you not be overly-concerned as to what you may think of me as a person, and would hope you give me a fair hearing.  These things have negatively affected way too many of God's servants, and have been used of the Enemy to hinder the advancement of God's work through NTM for way too long.  I remain actively involved in the ministry, joyfully serving the Lord full-time in the greatest job in the world--taking His eternal, life-giving Word to the uttermost ends of the Earth, expectantly awaiting Christ's glorious return.  Yet I remain concerned for my former mission, as do many others.  I believe that through its actions (accurately addressed in their 1997 memo), NTM has created its own glass ceiling.  Because of this, membership has remained static for many years, at around 3,000 missionaries.  Whereas, if they had cleaned up their act and treated people in a Christ-honoring manner as they should, their numbers would likely exceed 10,000.  Yes, the attrition rate is that serious, is most unnecessary, and continues to be the result of NTM's own chosen internal leadership style, willfully blinded to their own clear disregard of God's Word.

    IN CONCLUSION: I want to reiterate that I believe the content of NTM's long-forgotten 1997 memo was certainly God-ordained; hence, God forbid that it should remain an eight-year-old memory instead of a presentday reality.  May God be with New Tribes Mission's leadership, and give them the grace and courage to count the cost, follow through, and do what is right.  By doing so, they will become an even greater advancing force for the Gospel in these last days before Christ's return than ever before.  As the great chorus in their own Songs of Challenge songbook goes: "Untold millions are still untold... still waiting, outside the fold... and, who will tell them of Jesus' love?" 

    MAY GOD BLESS YOU NTM EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE AND ALL LEADERS IN GENERAL--MAY HE EMPOWER YOU ANEW TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT!  GO FOR IT!  HUMBLE YOURSELVES, CARRY THROUGH WITH THE PROMISED REFORMS, AND DON'T TURN BACK!  AMEN!

    By God's Grace and For His Glory,
    Ron Myers--2005
    (Member of NTM in good standing: 1969-1987; Associate member of NTM under PIONEERS: 1991-1993)

    ----------------------------------------------------------- /-/-/ -----------------------------------------------------------

    "...but speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, even Christ..."         
    Ephesians 4:15


    "Open rebuke is better than secret love--Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."         
    Proverbs 27:5-6


    "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts.  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."         
    Psalms 139:23-24


    Then said [Jesus] unto [His] disciples, "It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him."         
    Luke 17:1-4

    "For Thou art great and doest wondrous things: Thou alone art God.  Teach me Thy way, O LORD; I will walk in Thy truth; unite my heart to fear Thy name.  I will praise Thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Thy name for evermore.  For great is Thy mercy toward me, and Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.  O God, the proud have risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul, and have not set Thee before them.  But Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.  O turn unto me and have mercy upon me; give Thy strength unto Thy servant, and save the son of Thine handmaid.  Show me a token for good, that they that hate me may see it and be ashamed, because Thou, LORD, hast helped me and comforted me."         
    Psalms 86:10-17


    Unedited Memo From The NTM Executive Committee To All NTM Missionaries--1997