Saturday, April 2, 2011

Another Report of Acute Renal Failure Related to Child Abuse and the Use of Michael Pearl's Child Training

At time mark 6:16 into the 30 minute Blog Talk Radio with Jocelyn Andersen episode on April 2, 2011, Andersen reports:
Last week, it came to my attention that a young girl has been removed from her Mennonite home due to renal failure related to child abuse.
And it appears that the Pearl Method of Child Training was being implemented in that home as well. Now, this child's story will likely never make the news because she did not die.
But my question is, “Do we need to wait until children die before we raise our voices in protest against the Pearl's monstrous philosophy of what I call 'warfare' against our children?”
Listen here:
Listen to internet radio with jocelyn andersen on Blog Talk Radio

What we do not know and may never know unless the family chooses to reveal the details is whether this young girl was hospitalized for renal failure related to rhabdomyolosis (the specific effects of the injury suffered by Lydia and Zariah Schatz). Information about the hospitalization for renal failure and the removal of the child from the home was circulated throughout some sectors of the Mennonite community along with prayer that when the child is well enough to leave the hospital that she be placed within a Mennonite home.

Please note that the Mennonites do not advocate the use of Pearl's methods any more than any other denominations, and mention of the community specifically should not be interpreted improperly. Individuals within any religious community may employ child training methods, and the choices made by individuals should not reflect poorly on those within their churches or denominations. My own experience with the Mennonite community in Eastern Pennsylvania has always been very positive, working with the community as related to my profession and through my own religious experiences that I've shared with my beloved Mennonite Brethren. The popularity of the methods discussed have been advanced through parachurch organizations and through homeschooling communities, and those venues transcend all Christian denominations in the US.

As mentioned in my previous blog post, we may never learn any additional information about this child if the religious community and knowledgeable individuals fail to come forward to report the specific details. The effort will open the community up to criticism and scrutiny, a painful and embarrassing experience on top of the stress of the difficulties of the situation itself. Because of interest in the child, it is my current understanding that the community is reluctant to communicate any additional information because they believe will bring unwanted and painful publicity for all involved.

It is up to individuals in the Church, people to come forward to tell their own personal accounts about their experiences. Parents must come forward, finding great courage in the Lord to be humble and transparent about their situations. Pastors must come forward to tell the Church about these problems so that we can have veracious and available information by which to judge the safety of the Pearl's recommendations. They must be courageous as well.

I called Laurie Mathers a “Woman of Chayil” today (a Woman of Valor) because of her obedience to the convictions of her heart to come forward about her love for the Schatz family and her disdain for the teachings of the Pearls. She's helped us understand the full landscape in a way that was completely unique and much needed. Laurie put faces, hearts, and souls on the problem so that we can understand the nature of what has taken place in the Church concerning the Pearls' teachings. I find my own expressions of gratitude for her words of loving honesty to be grossly inadequate, but “Woman of Chayil” seems to me to be the most fitting descriptor.

The Challenge

Today, I urge those in the who so strongly admire Michael and Debi Pearl with such an admirable faithfulness to them to set aside their feelings of duty in order to consider the problems that have come to light regarding the application of Pearls' methods. If you believe that people are misapplying the methods and that the methods are needful, then please work to address those problems and urge Michael Pearl to address them humbly as well. God is not a God of condemnation, and in Christ, there is no condemnation – a maxim to remember as we confront this issue. We should not confront the matter with condemnation in our hearts for our fellow believers just because the matter may seem threatening to us personally in the event that we've ascribed to the teachings ourselves. If the methods are flawed or unclear – and the writings are difficult for some to discern, should some effort on behalf of the Church be made to clarify the misconceptions so that no others suffer harm?

I urge pastors to review the concerns and facts about the Schatz Family, particularly as this matter goes to Court. I urge them to consider the additional cases of the children that Jocelyn has presented on BTR today. I urge all Believers to come forward for the sake and the benefit of little ones are in harm's way to tell the Church about the problems they have observed and the concerns that they have concerning these and other child training methods. Let us make sure that we are not guilty of making millstones that may one day be hung around our own necks because we have either harmed or have closed our eyes to harm that has been done to our little ones.

Please pray for everyone so that we might know the truth. May the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be upright and pure. May we, the Church, show ourselves to the world as a people without reproach. Right now, we are not.