This is the Christian testimony of Walter Terrell as told on Unshackled.
As I said in a previous post I had never heard of Kanakuk Kamps, Pete Newman or Joe White until recently. However, this cover-up for sodomites, adulterers and pedophiles occurs sadly too often within professing Christian organizations. Pete Newman is one example of a Good Ole Boy within a professing Christian organization! Now we read that ‘The first thing you need to know about Pete Newman is that people loved him. He has olive skin, dark hair, and thick eyebrows that generated good-natured “unibrow” teasing. Girls wanted to date him, guys wanted to be him, and children wanted to follow him.
He was a camp director at Kanakuk Kamps, one of the largest Christian camps in the world. Kanakuk is an immense operation. Since its founding in 1926, it claims to have served more than 450,000 campers. Its main campus is located outside of Branson, Missouri, but it has international reach. Every summer approximately 20,000 kids pass through its gates, and the institution is particularly prominent with the Evangelical elite.
Newman was the camp’s rock star. A person who went to Auburn University with Newman said, memorably, “If Jesus and Pete walked into a room, I’m not sure who the kids would have worshiped.” “Pete Newman is the most thorough relationship builder with kids in Kanakuk history,” Kanakuk chief executive officer Joe White once said. “This guy has a raging love for God and it spills over constantly to the kids at kamp.”
White himself has long been a popular, charismatic figure in American Evangelicalism. (We reached out to White, and he declined to comment.) He has inspired intense devotion from campers, employees, and parents. Outside of camp, he’s known for a particular and vivid public presentation where he builds and carries a cross on stage to illustrate the crucifixion of Christ. The example below comes from a 2015 convocation at Liberty University:
Kanakuk and White promoted Newman relentlessly, both within the organization and to the public at large. Newman rose through the ranks from camp counselor to camp director. It sent him on the road to recruit campers and to raise money. According to former members of the camp community, parents would sometimes compete for a coveted honor—hosting Newman in their home.
He was also a superpredator. He groomed and abused boys in their own homes. He groomed and abused boys at camp. In fact, he abused boys across the world. On June 9, 2010, he pleaded guilty to seven counts of sexually abusing boys. He received a sentence of two life terms, plus 30 years. His guilty plea was but the tip of a terrible iceberg. A civil complaint alleges that there were at least 57 victims, but the prosecutor in his case estimates that the real number could be in the “hundreds.”
The true dimensions of the worst Christian sex abuse scandal you’ve never heard of have long been largely unknown. Newman’s initial arrest and sentencing received little media attention. Few reporters knew about the camp’s size or importance. They were unfamiliar with Joe White. Moreover, the limited scope of the guilty plea concealed the sheer scale of the abuse. The resulting civil lawsuits received little attention, and nondisclosure agreements silenced victims and kept evidence under seal.
Following Newman’s conviction, the narrative from the camp was relatively simple. They had been shocked to find a bad apple in their midst. They had fired him immediately, promptly reported his wrongdoing to the authorities, and then implemented new “industry-leading” protective measures to protect the children who attend the camp. The camp’s worst moment became a catalyst for positive change, and now, its leaders maintain, it leads the way in caring for kids.
The truth is far more complex.
The scant media attention—combined with NDAs—means that we still don’t know the true number of legal actions against the camp or the true extent of Newman’s abuse. An unknown number of victims have filed an unknown number of lawsuits filled with unknown evidence that have resulted in unknown numbers of settlements for an unknown amount of money. We do, however, have a far more complete account of what happened at Kanakuk, and we’re sharing that account today.
Our own involvement began when former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson reached out to Nancy (who has her own experience with sexual abuse in church) after discovering from a victim’s sister the extent of the NDAs connected to the scandal. Nancy then began her own months-long effort to comb through court documents, interview witnesses, and to retrieve the documents and testimony that would tell the tale.
During this investigation, we discovered that one courageous young man and his family had resisted the pressure to promise silence. He and his family refused to sign a nondisclosure agreement. They wanted the freedom to tell their story and to share their evidence. They still want their identities to remain private (we’re maintaining the anonymity of victims and their families), but they want the evidence to become public. We’re sharing that evidence today.
But first, a warning. The content that follows is deeply disturbing.’ For more of these sordid details and the rest of this article they may be found at https://frenchpress.thedispatch.com/p/they-arent-who-you-think-they-are
Is sexual abuse within churches getting worse or are the victims speaking out more? Whatever the case it should NEVER occur! One of the safest places for a young person should be the home and the local church! Now, ‘A former Durango church youth leader pleaded guilty Tuesday to four counts of unlawful sexual contact and now faces up to 60 days in jail after victims came forward alleging the church leader inappropriately touched them.
Preston Edward Pitcher, 38, was arrested June 22 after three victims came forward. A fourth victim came forward shortly after Pitcher was arrested, and he faced four counts of unlawful sexual contact, a misdemeanor.
Court records show the incidents were similar in that Pitcher, who had worked for First Baptist Church of Durango for 10 years, met the alleged victims in his role as a youth leader, befriended them and then made sexual advances.
The alleged incidents occurred in 2016, 2018 and 2020. Sixth Judicial District Attorney Christian Champagne said previously the fourth victim recounted incidents that occurred “within the past three years.”
Pitcher on Tuesday pleaded guilty to all four counts, signing a plea agreement that could carry a sentence of up to 60 days in jail and four years of supervised probation.
Pitcher also must take a sex offender evaluation and may be subject to various treatments. He must also register as a sex offender and faces possible court fees and fines.
Pitcher will be sentenced Jan. 12 by District Judge Anne Woods, who has discretion on the amount of jail time to be served, if any.
First Baptist Church Lead Pastor Jimmy Thoma previously told The Durango Herald none of the incidents occurred at church-sanctioned events.
The Durango Police Department interviewed Pitcher on June 22, at which time he told authorities he was asleep and not aware of his actions during one of the incidents. But he did not deny it happened and admitted to similar acts in the past, according to court records.
“Eventually, Preston was honest and admitted that he was not asleep and had touched (the victims),” the investigating officer wrote in the arrest affidavit. “Preston stated that he was aroused during these times.”’https://durangoherald.com/articles/353368
The courageous former missionary kids, now young women, who began the blog that lit the fire under the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism’s (ABWE) “Miracle Mountain” now have a facebook page on which they tell those who continue to be concerned enough to read it; that “Eleven months after firing GRACE they have yet to contact us for any reason, let alone regarding their new investigation. Guess they really don’t care for us after all the nice things they said over the past 3 years….sometimes face-to-face and coming from the mouth of their interim president, Al Cockrell. (The new president has made ZERO efforts to contact us. How’s that for godly leadership?)” ELEVEN MONTHS! IS SILENCE GOLDEN OR DOES IT SAY A LOT ABOUT WHAT THE NEW PRESIDENT AND THE ABWE BOARD REALLY THINK ABOUT THESE GIRLS?
Yes, the former ABWE president, Michael Loftis, no longer occupies an office on “Miracle Mountain” which is a good thing. Loftis along with Russ Ebersole and Don Davis have also parted company with ABWE. This is all because a few missionary kids had the courage to speak out. However, these departures from ABWE land only occurred because these former ABWE missionary kids spoke out publicly which got the attention of ABWE and a few others. It is almost certain that if it had not been for these girls NOTHING would have changed at ABWE.
But has enough taken place within ABWE? Oh yes, ABWE has been proud and loud in telling the world they have created a new position of full time child safety officer. Oh yes, ABWE also spent a considerable amount of money to fly their administrators all the way from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and North America to an Investigative Training Conference in Orlando, FL where they “were trained in child abuse prevention and investigation during an intense two-day seminar.”
Nevertheless, with a new staff member assigned to now “protect” the ABWE missionary kids from predators like Donn Ketcham and the purging of several former staff members, Jim O’Neill, ABWE’s new president, “has made ZERO efforts to contact” these courageous girls! UNBELIEVABLE! Doesn’t anyone wonder why Mr. O’Neill hasn’t contacted these girls to just talk to them or to hear their side of the story? Has he been told not to contact them or is he just afraid of what he might hear?
Don’t these girls deserve a hearing from the new ABWE president? Again, why the silence? Yes, there were some changes made but is that all that is required? Do these changes really mean ABWE has changed and can now be trusted to “protect” the present and future ABWE missionary kids when the new ABWE president will not even communicate with the girls who lit the fire on “Miracle Mountain”? One can only speculate!
Before closing it is also very confusing as to why there was not more noise, LOUD NOISE, coming from the churches over the Ketcham, Kempton, Ebersole and Davis collusion and cover-up!? Have the churches arrived at the place where a para-church organization like ABWE is beyond reproach? Also, where was the out-cry from the pastors and the missionaries!
It seems many may hold the view that as long as ABWE missionaries are still “preaching” the gospel, it is permissible to over-look the cover-up of pedophilia and the collusion that took place between the then field administrator, mission president and field council who allowed the guilty pedophile to return home and practice medicine while the abused girl and her family suffered. All the changes ABWE has made will never make up for the mishandling of the pedophile incident on the Bangladesh field! Collusion, favouritism and cover-up was the name of the game then and only time will tell if it has been totally eradicated from ABWE.
After all the personnel and policy changes made at ABWE one would have assumed the new president in his first year would have at least communicated something to these former missionary girls but that assumption would have been wrong. Why, why, why? The present ABWE board and new president do not seem to have learned much if anything from the sinful mishandling of Donn Ketcham and his pedophilia. This lack of communication with the very ones who exposed the ABWE pedophile sore opens the door for speculating that perhaps all the changes at ABWE are just simply superficial. A person just might think the Good Ole Boy’s Club is still alive and well within ABWE.
SHAME on the ABWE’s new president and the board for their lack of communication to the very ones who should have been kept abreast of things regarding the protection of missionary kids from missionary abusers and pedophiles! SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!
This is a portion of the letter from G.R.A.C.E. to ABWE after G.R.A.C.E.’s dismissal from the Ketcham investigation. Very sad and just throws more suspicion on ABWE.
There is just too much of this going on within the Baptists both Independent and SBC. The Bible is true but there are false professors of that truth.
I had to do some more searching after viewing this video but after finding out he had taught at Hyles Anderson I began to believe the story.
The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) has just recently disclosed the fact that they have hidden another child abuser for over twenty years. At http://bangladeshmksspeak.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/another-high-profile-abwe-missionary-disciplined-for-child-sexual-abuse/ we read that “It is with sorrowful, broken hearts that our family shares tragic news with you today. On August 30, 2012 we were made aware that another missionary and our coworker from Bangladesh sexually abused our daughter/sister, Kim (also known as the 14 year old victim of Dr. Donn Ketcham). ABWE has been aware of this information since Russ Lloyd and Russ Ebersole interviewed her in 1989. They made note of her accusations in their files but never shared the information with us.”
NOTE, this happened OVER TWENTY YEARS AGO! What if this had been your daughter?!
As my readers know I have written extensively on this issue. From all that has come forth from the investigation into these incidents it seems that for Ebersole and others at the top of the ABWE ladder the peons are not to say anything but what they are told and when they are told. Russ Ebersole continues on staff at ABWE and true justice will not be done until he is confronted and dealt with for his collusion and cover-up of this horrid child abuse affair!