New Tribes Mission & the Grace Report

By Martin & Deidre Bobgan


We received a copy of the "Grace Amended Final Report for the Investigatory Review of Child Abuse at New Tribes Fanda Missionary School," hereafter referred to as the Grace Report.1 The report begins by saying, "In the 1980ís and the 1990ís, New Tribes Mission (NTM) operated a boarding school in the village of Fanda, in the country of Senegal." The report notes, "The children of missionaries were housed at the school." The Grace Report goes on to reveal the focus of its investigation by stating: "The workers NTM placed in charge of these children were often cruel and many of the boys and girls placed there endured sexual, physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse. Much of this behavior was criminal."

The purpose of this article about the Grace Report is not to question why both sinful and criminal activities occurred at Fanda, but rather to note our concern that the NTM remedy for what happened is primarily psychological and psychiatric rather than biblical.

In our book Missions & Psychoheresy we give the results of our interviewing 35 mission agencies with respect to mental health screening of missionary candidates and mental health care of missionaries in need. The NTM response was "no" to mental health screening of missionary candidates and that mental health care would be an option only if a missionaryís pastor requested it. As far as we know, up to the time of the Grace Report the NTM looked relatively absent any motivation on their part to indulge in psychoheresy. However, we did ask NTM and the other mission agencies and denominations their attitude about the use of mental health professionals, psychological tests for screening missionary candidates, and the use of mental health professionals to care for missionaries. We concluded our surveys by saying: After interviewing 35 of the largest mission agencies and 9 of the largest denominations, we emphatically state: No one, but NO ONE, questioned the use of mental health professionals and psychological tests for screening missionary candidates, and no one, but NO ONE, questioned the use of mental health professionals to care for missionaries.

On page 49 of the Grace Report there is a section titled "MK Fund." The section in part reads:

NTM shall set aside a perpetually standing fund of $1 million for any New Tribes Mission MK, MK parent, or MKís child, for the payment of any out of pocket expense related to past, present, and/or future assistance obtained as a result of the harm endured at any NTM operated boarding school. Such assistance includes, but is not limited to, mental health counseling and treatment, medical treatment, and medications.

This not only opens the door for mental health care by psychological counseling and psychiatric treatment, but it is also an admission that NTM does not believe in the sufficiency of Scripture for the issues of life. Granted that a number of sinful acts were committed against these MKs who were at Fanda as children, but from birth to death life is filled with physical and emotional trials, tribulations and sufferings. As a ministry we hear about lifeís sufferings weekly. The greatest stories we hear are from those who have suffered from personal abuse and other afflictions of living who trust the Greatest of All Stories, i.e., an understanding of their own sins rather than being fixated on sins committed against them (Jer. 17:9) and of Christís own suffering to take their sins and sufferings upon Himself (1 Peter 2:24).

Opening the door to the very psychological wisdom of men about which God warns His people is capitulation to superficial, fleshly means that, according to the research, give only mild to moderate help at best,2 instead of reliance on spiritual resolutions that minister to the whole person and reach into eternity. This million dollar offer by NTM to those who have a need is more than a million dollar loss as far as spiritual life and spiritual growth are concerned.

NTM has compounded a sinful past at Fanda with a sinful present by opening the door to what the world has to offer over against what God has given. The Fanda MKs are all now adults, and if there is a residue or more of the past in their lives they need a "dose" of the Gospel that not only saves but sanctifies.

NTM is promoting a mixed message of the Bible plus psychology, the Holy Spirit plus the wisdom of men, and Godís Gospel plus a psychological gospel. It seems ludicrous that mission agencies that send missionaries to seek the lost and present the glorious Gospel to those in other countries will concurrently offer psychological treatment to those at home who need help.

If missionaries are truly presenting the Gospel to others, they should also be able to receive from the Lord all that is given through His Son, His Word, and His Spirit. The true biblical cure of souls ministers to every believer in every aspect of life and depends upon the Word of God, which describes both the human condition and Godís process of transformation of troubled minds.

Christianity is more than a belief system or a theological creed; Christianity is not just what happens in church; Christianity is faith in a living Lord and in His indwelling Holy Spirit. Christianity involves the entire life: every day, every action, every decision, every thought, every emotion. One cannot adequately treat a Christian apart from the indwelling Holy Spirit and the Body of Christ. Nor should anyone segment the mind, will, emotions, or behavior from a personís belief system. For too long Christians have looked to the church to answer their theological questions, but looked elsewhere for answers to their life problems. Christians who have Godís Holy Spirit living in them are spiritual beings; therefore they need biblical solutions, not merely psychological attempts as being offered by NTM to the former Fanda MKs.

When one considers the million dollar offer of NTM in providing treatment for Fanda MKs of the past who are experiencing current problems, one must ask whether they believe the Gospel is enough. If the Word of God quickened by the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is not enough for former Fanda MKs, how can NTM missionaries tell others the Good News, the Gospel that saves and sanctifies?

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter 1:2-4).

Godís Word declares it is sufficient! However, we ask again: If the Word of God is not sufficient for the life and godliness of the former Fanda MKs, is it enough for those to whom NTM sends its missionaries? Or, worse yet, are they now sending their missionaries forth with a psychological gospel?

Endnotes:

1 www.scribd.com/doc/36559323/Amended-GRACE-Report-on-NTM-Fanda-Amended-Edition.

2 Mary Sykes Wylie interviewing Martin Seligman. "Why Is This Man Smiling?" Psychotherapy Networker, Vol. 27, No. 1, p. 51.

(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, March-April 2012, Vol. 20, No. 2)


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