"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Paige Patterson and the Rape Victim He Shamed

I have permission to tell you this story.

Last Sunday night, May 20, 2018, I was resting in my chair after a long day. I typically read or write to relax, so I was multi-tasking when a "ding" sounded on my computer, informing me of a new email.

I ignored it.

After a few minutes, several additional "dings" indicated it was time to check my email.

As is my custom, I began to scan the first email quickly since it would take too long to read each email carefully.

I raced through the following email.

_________________________________
May 20, 2018, at 6:48 PM
Hello Mr. Burleson,
A student ( along with others, I am afraid- I don’t have confirmation yet) was raped while Paige Patterson was president at SEBTS. I was a student at the time, working on my MDiv from 2002-2005.

I confirmed this week the attacker admitted to the awful act back in 2004-it’s documented. He was expelled and told he could never attend any of the 6 SBC seminaries in the future.
The worst part. The student (victim) was counseled by Dr. Patterson and told she shouldn’t go to the police....

There was more to the email, but I stopped reading. I shouldn't have, but I did. When "I have a friend" or "I don't have confirmation..."  is written, I know after thirteen years of writing about the unbiblical, authoritarian, anti-women, approach by SBC leaders, there's not much I can do. Confirmation is needed.

However, the treatment this person's friend allegedly received from Dr. Paige Patters is consistent with his belief system regarding women and the church (as I'll show you below). I stopped reading and fired off a short "Reply" which contained the following bullet points.

_________________________________
Dear _______,
I would suggest that your friend move QUICKLY. I would not be surprised if documents are being destroyed.
I would suggest that the young lady go to the police and file a report. Second, I would suggest she get an attorney and follow his or her counsel.
Third (if counsel allows), I would go public with the accusation.
If the young lady wishes to remain anonymous and NOT go through an attorney, I would go public ASAP.
You are her confirmation. She will be protected, and she could remain anonymous.

I typed quickly and sent the email.

My wife asked, "To whom are you writing?"  I pulled up the email I had received. "Listen to this." I began reading to Rachelle the contents of the email. I read it out loud. This time, when I came to the place where I'd initially stopped reading, I continued and found myself reading out loud these words:

I know. Because the student was me.

My wife and I looked at each other simultaneously. Rachelle said, "Oh...my...word."

I immediately sent another email and apologized for not reading to the end and for missing that the writer was the rape victim. I gave my cell number and asked her to call.

Within a few minutes, the woman called. Over the course of the next few hours, in both conversations and several emails, my wife and I had our hearts broken by this courageous Christian mother and wife as she shared her story.

The recent controversy surrounding Paige Patterson's counsel to an abused woman to go back to her abusive husband and submit to him,  trusting God rather reporting the abuse to authorities, had opened a deep wound in this woman's heart.

In 2003, she was an M.Div student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She told us that one night, she was sexually and brutally attacked. Screaming and fighting the attacker means its nonconsensual.

I was determined not to ask specifics of the attack, so it was only hours later after several follow-up emails that the full scope of the sexual assault was clear. When my wife finally understood what had actually happened, she struggled to comprehend President Paige Patterson's response to the assault.

The rape victim reported the assault to Dr. Alan Mosely (see Washington Post article). Dr. Mosely worked in an administration that required all matters like this to be directed to the President's Office. Why? Listen to Paige Patterson's own words from a message he preached in 2013:

  • Patterson suggested women who have had “a problem in your home” should not bring their case to a judge because it could get in the way of that judge becoming a Christian.
  • Settle it within the church of God,” he said. “And if you suffer for it, and if you were misused, and if you were abused, and if you’re not represented properly, it’s okay. You can trust it to the God who judges justly.”
  • He then prayed, “Lord, may we make up our minds that we won’t take our troubles to the press, we won’t take our troubles to the government, we won’t take our troubles anywhere except to the people of God and beyond that to the Lord Jesus.”

Within an hour of reporting the assault, Paige Patterson contacted the woman and asked her to "come to my office." If you've ever been in Paige Patterson's office, you know that there are a lot of trophy game, dead animals that are displayed. As the rape victim recounted to us her story, I had a visual in my mind of this 23-year-old walking into the den of death.

I asked her, "Did anybody go with you?

"No," she told my wife and me over the speakerphone, "I went by myself."

When the rape victim arrived, Paige Patterson introduced the traumatized woman to three men in the office, men Patterson introduced as "my proteges."

I am reserving details about that interrogation until I am able to speak with the other men in the room.  What I can say is that this woman, after being traumatized to reveal every sordid detail of the assault to four men, was told by Dr. Paige Patterson not to go to legal authorities.

I believed her story immediately.

Dr. Patterson practices what he preaches. He keeps everything in the church.

The most succinct and graphic depiction of what the rape victim felt from that meeting is found in the Washington Post article by Sarah Pulliam:
"They shamed the crap out of me, asking me question after question. He (Dr. Patterson) didn’t necessarily say it was my fault, but [the sense from him was] I let him into my home.”
This rape victim was placed on probation by the seminary for having a man in her apartment.

That's consistent with the bizarre theology of women held by Paige Patterson.

A woman divorcing a man is far worse than a woman enduring physical abuse. A single woman inviting a man into her apartment is a far worse sin than a single woman being raped by the man she invited over.

It is being reported to me that Dr. Patterson is telling others that he has no memory of this woman or any meeting with her. However, the official statement of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary issued this morning states:
"Evidence exists that Dr. Patterson has complied with reporting laws regarding assault and abuse."
"What does that mean?" That's the question the rape victim asked me about three hours ago.


Punishment for the Perpetrator

According to the rape victim, campus security parked in front of her apartment until the perpetrator was apprehended. School administrators told the rape victim that the man who committed the assault was being expelled from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. They told the victim that the perpetrator would never be allowed to enter any of the other five Southern Baptist seminaries.

He was escorted off the campus by school security.

For the next few years, the rape victim suffered through much shame, depression, and difficult personal times. She eventually left the seminary in 2005.

Documentation exists at Southeastern Seminary that details the confession of the perpetrator and the punishment mandated by the school. There are a few people who would like to see the documentation that proves Dr. Patterson complied with reporting laws. According to the Washington Post, law enforcement has no record of a reported rape on the campus of Southeastern Seminary during this time.

There are reasons to believe that two others were raped at Southeastern during this same time period (see the rape victims first email at the top). The victim had been trying for over a week to get in touch with the two others girls that she suspects had also been sexually assaulted.

I've read on social media unconfirmed reports of more recent sexual assaults on seminary campuses. I've been told that the victims were also counseled not to involve law enforcement. "Let Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary handle it."

That's right. Southwestern. Of course, these are unconfirmed reports, and nobody should assume they are true unless a victim finds the strength to come forward. It's not easy when churchmen are telling you to be quiet and let God deal with it.

Time will tell if similar counsel has been given to other sexual assault victims. Truth and time are invariably bound:
"For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open" (Luke 8:17).
Stained glass windows in the images of a living people should never be placed in houses of worship because clay feet stumble too frequently and easily.


Private Attempts to Have Paige Patterson Removed

The goal of this rape victim coming forward was not to sue anyone. She didn't even want law enforcement involved. Ironically, the perpetrator had sought her out over a decade after the assault and sought her forgiveness, which she granted. I explained to her that there is a difference between forgiveness of the perpetrator and accountability for the perpetrator. I told her if the perpetrator's name comes out in the media, don't feel bad. I truly admired her ability to forgive.

Here's what's interesting (ladies, don't be offended). This rape victim is not a fan of the MeToo movement. She is as biblically conservative as they come. She loves Jesus. She understands grace. She's married to a strong, loving man. Before she began making private contact with SBC officials, she sat down with her husband and revealed to him she'd been raped when in seminary. As you might imagine, that was difficult. But her husband's response of comfort, encouragement, and acceptance only confirmed to her how deep true love can be.

She'd been trying for several days to get documentation that the rape occurred. She'd been told by Kevin Ueckert, the Chairman of the Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, that documentation was needed. Before she ever contacted me on Sunday, she'd spoken with Kevin and also with Danny Akin, the current President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The rape victim was particularly concerned that I know that Danny Akin had been "kind, compassionate, and helpful to me." She expressed her gratefulness for his leadership.

She told me that school officials at SEBTS could not give her documentation that the rape had occurred. Having trouble reconciling Akin's kindness and good leadership with the institution's refusal to give the necessary documentation, I explained. "There is a fine balance that Dr. Akin is walking right now. He has only been contacted by you in the recent days. I know he is doing all he can, but because of legal implications for the institution, there are certain lines that he will be unable to cross. You will be able to get the documents, but it will involve a lawsuit."

I want every Southern Baptist to listen carefully to what this woman said next.
"Again, Wade, I don't want to sue. I don't want law enforcement involved. I should have gone to the authorities back when it happened, and it's my fault that I didn't."
Your fault? I thought to myself. "Dr. Patterson told you not to go."
"I know. But I should have been stronger. I guess at 23, sitting in the office with those four men, which included the President of the school, a man I looked up to as my authority, I trusted their counsel. Looking back, I guess I didn't know any better."
She regrets she didn't go to the police. They would have obtained physical evidence that the assault had occurred.  For the first few years after the rape, she struggled with guilt, depression, and shame. She would eventually drop out of seminary.

I said to her, "Some people are going to say, 'Why Paige Patterson?' Why is your focus on him? Why not the man who raped you."

She responded:
"Dr. Patterson doesn't believe he did anything wrong." 
This rape victim is brighter than many of our Southern Baptist pastors. In spite of her heartache and pain over the past fifteen years, she understands that you can't excise a tumor unless you know you have one; you can't get treatment unless you know you're sick.

Southern Baptists have got to come to the understanding that there is a systemic disease within our Convention. We have a warped, unbiblical, unChristian view of women. Many leaders wrongly teach that men are made in the image of God; women are made in the image of men.

Women submit; men rule - that's what would lead someone like Paige Patterson to keep "everything in the church" - including the rape of a woman - because men know best how to lead a woman.


The Washington Post

The rape victim really didn't want to reach out to me. She said she'd followed my blog for a while, but she didn't know me, and she did not want this issue to be made public.

"If they'd only given me the documentation that the rape had occurred and that I was told not to go the police, I wouldn't have contacted you."

She'd read a post I placed online Sunday night, May 20, 2018, entitled All Eyes on the Trustees of Southwestern Seminary. I suggested that many trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary received their positions due to friendship for, loyalty with, or employment under Paige Patterson.

The rape victim felt the trustees would not remove Dr. Patterson over his well-established inappropriate comments about women and abuse, and because SEBTS couldn't or wouldn't provide her any documentation over her rape, she felt the trustees might "overlook" what Dr. Patterson had said and done and not hold him accountable.
"I want you to write my story. You are a better writer than I am." 
I told her that I would, but on only one condition. Both she and her husband would have final approval, and if at any time they back out, all they had to do is let me know and I would not post it.

I also made a promise to keep her name confidential.

Over the course of the next several hours, well until after midnight, I worked on a story that I planned, with her and her husband's permission, to post on Monday. The victim sent me several emails with details of the events and people involved.

But around midnight, after reading what I'd written, and talking via phone a couple of times with a friend, I decided that this story was too big for my little blog. There were sources that needed to be checked, legal issues that needed to be resolved. I became convinced that the best people to write the story, check sources, and cross every legal hurdle were those who do this kind of thing all the time.

Back in 2005/2006 when loyal Patterson/Pressler trustees on the International Mission Board sought to remove me as a trustee and ruin my life and career for opposing Paige Patterson's attempts to fire Jerry Rankin and all the women in leadership at the IMB, I became acquainted with a reporter named Sarah Pulliam.

At the time, Sarah worked for Christianity Today and ran several articles on the imbroglio involving me at the International Mission Board.

Sarah now works on religious issues at the Washington Post. She's an evangelical. She understands Southern Baptists. She's an excellent reporter. It was well after midnight when I spoke to Sarah, and with the victim's permission, I put the two in contact with one another.

Sarah's story entitled Southern Baptist Leader Encouraged a Woman Not to Report Alleged Rape to Police came out at 3:00 pm Central Time, Tuesday afternoon, May 22, 2018.


The SWBTS Trustee Meeting, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, in Fort Worth, Texas

The Washington Post knows how to do reporting. I had nothing to do with the article. I wasn't interviewed. My name wasn't in the article.

I did nothing except connect a reporter with a victim.

One of the advantages of writing a blog for 13 years and consistently pointing out problems in the Southern Baptist Convention is that people want to tell you their stories. I don't write gossip. I don't write lies. I don't write slander.

I tell the truth. And so does the Washington Post.

I've been told that when Paige Patterson spoke to the trustees last night in a full-court press to save his job, his home, his salary, etc... he presented a power point presentation to prove he's "under attack." The problems are never Paige's beliefs or Paige's actions or Paige's leadership. The problem is that evil Wade Burleson, the devil incarnate, and others.

I understand why Paige believes that to be so. He doesn't see that disagreement among Christians shouldn't mean we don't cooperate. You're either for him, or you're against him. You're for God, or with the devil.

Respectfully, SWBTS trustees, I've been telling you for over a decade there are huge problems at your institution and throughout the SBC. Your enrollment numbers stare you in the face every trustee meeting. In dysfunctional systems, the person who asks the questions about the problem becomes the problem to the ones being questioned.

Just ask Nathan Montgomery.

He was fired by Paige Patterson for recommending an article written by Ed Stetzer. Here it is (below).



After last night's board meeting, the trustees issued an official declaration that "The board has not found evidence of misconduct in Nathan Montgomery's employment file."

Why was that statement even necessary?

Because in Paige Patterson's world, the person against him has rotten character. The person who opposes his ideology is a bad person and must be taught a lesson. Teaching that lesson might even include making things up about the person he doesn't like. Things like, "That Nathan Montgomery has a long history of being problematic and indiscreet" - refusing to provide specifics to the reporter to whom President Patterson spoke. But it is on the record. And, Nathan Montgomery saw it.

Rut-roh.

Let's suppose that Nathan Montgomery's employee file is actually super-clean, maybe even "spotless." What do you do?

You issue an official statement attempting to cover the mistake of your President. He publicly said something that actually wasn't true.

In Paige Patterson's world, if you don't like the message, attack the messenger. Truth is unnecessary; an attack, though, is essential.

In the world I live, the truth is essential. Attacks are unnecessary.


An Obscene Graphic Mocking the Rape - 

Within a few short hours after the Post story of the unreported rape went public, a Southern Baptist pastor who is an adherent to Paige Patterson's philosophies went on social media and did something alarming. He's been taught well by his mentor, Paige Patterson. This pastor posted an obscene and graphic picture/comment about a donkey and Wade Burleson (and a few other men I'll not name), stating that he had witnessed these men gang-raping a donkey. His point was that "anybody can say anything" without proof.

I'm not naming the pastor or displaying his obscene post. He called me this morning and apologized.  But I told this pastor that I'm not the one he should be thinking of regarding an apology.

I told this Southern Baptist pastor that the husband of the rape victim saw his post on Twitter. To say the husband of the rape victim was upset is putting it mildly. You might ask the wall that met his hand. Remember, he just found out a few days ago his wife had been raped and no Southern Baptist ministers did anything to help her.

This Southern Baptist pastor said, "You mean the rape really happened?"

I was stunned. Kindly, but firmly, I said to him.
"Listen, you and others who have placed Paige Patterson on a pedestal for his involvement in the Conservative Resurgence and have been so blinded by your hero worship that you can't even consider Paige Patterson might have done something wrong."
The Southern Baptist pastor confirmed that the purpose of his post was to impugn my character (and others), for planting the rape story - released just when trustees were determining the future of Paige Patterson - as a "way to get at Paige Patterson."

He wanted to speak to the couple. I explained why this was impossible. So, this afternoon, the Southern Baptist pastor (whom I shall not name), wrote out this apology:


I found his apology refreshing.

I promised I would help him if his church leaders came after his job.

Trustees, ask yourselves a question. In the closed-door meeting with Dr. Paige Patterson, watching his presentation and listening to him speak, was he taking responsibility for his failures, or was he pointing his finger at someone else?

Why do I ask? Because as long as you have a bunker mentality and think your leader is under assault, you are ignoring the fact that your city is burning to the ground and you're the ones with the keys to the fire trucks.


Every Single SWBTS Trustee Should Apologize Like The Pastor Above

This morning I woke up and read that in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, May 23, 2018, the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary released the following:
The board passed a motion through a majority vote to appoint Dr. Patterson as President Emeritus with compensation, effective immediately, which he accepted. In addition, the board passed a motion to affirm the trustees’ September 2017 offer for Dr. and Mrs. Patterson to live on campus as the first theologians-in-residence at the Baptist Heritage Center, scheduled to be completed in July 2018.
I was stunned.

I truly thought Dr. Paige Patterson would be terminated. Paige Patterson should be terminated. He should never be allowed to live on school property. He should never be given the title President Emeritus. He should never be given a salary.

He should be fired.

For heaven's sake, when Dr. Russell Dilday was terminated as President of SWBTS in 1994, security changed the locks and escorted him off of the property.

Explain to me why we honor Paige Patterson with titles, a house, maids and chefs, stained glass windows, and a perpetual salary - and we changed the locks on Russel Dilday.

SWBTS trustees, we have a problem.

You seem to be star-gazing rather than number-crunching. Shame on you.

It was fourth and one in a game to save your seminary and you were sacked for a twenty-yard loss.

Is it over?

Nope.

The Southern Baptist Convention has the final say.

A lot of people will be asking you questions in Dallas.

And in the name of a rape victim who is wondering about Southern Baptist pastors and their integrity, I plead with you not to allow Paige Patterson to step foot on that podium in Dallas.

In 2006, I was told by Paige Patterson's disciples at the IMB that I would never again preach in a Southern Baptist Church, never again speak on a Southern Baptist stage, and never again have an ounce of influence in Southern Baptist circles unless I resigned as a trustee.

What they didn't understand is that those things mean nothing to me. I do what I do for the Kingdom. God made me, Patterson missed me, and Christ motivates me.

I'll see you in Dallas.



Postscript

To my new friends, a wonderful couple who shall remain unnamed, but who deserve an anonymous star on the wall of every seminary in the Southern Baptist Convention.

I hope you feel that you've been heard.

I admire your courage. I admire your grace. I admire you both. I hope to meet you soon.

What you've done is ensure that every daughter of Southern Baptists who steps foot on seminary property to earn a post-graduate degree will be protected as they should be by those entrusted to lead our Convention.


Democracies and Denominations Die in Darkness


The Washington Post has placed a slogan at the top of its masthead - Democracy Dies in Darkness.

The paper, owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, is internationally acclaimed and widely known for taking down President Richard Nixon in the Watergate scandal after the President's men broke into an office complex at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. to steal some very important papers. What destroyed the Nixon Presidency was the cover-up of the crime, not so much the crime itself.

Bezos explained why he chose the new slogan for the paper in an interview with The Post's executive editor, Martin Baron.
"I think a lot of us believe this, that democracy dies in darkness, that certain institutions have a very important role in making sure that there is light."
According to Post reporter Paul Farhi, Bezos apparently heard the phrase from legendary investigative reporter Bob Woodward, a Post associate editor. Woodward told Farhi that he referenced the phrase during a presentation at a conference that Bezos attended in 2015 in which Woodward talked about “The Last of the President’s Men,” his most recent book about the Watergate scandal.

Woodward, who has used the phrase in reference to President Nixon for years, said he didn’t coin it; he read it some years earlier in a judicial opinion in a First Amendment case. He couldn’t recall the specifics of the case or the name of the judge who wrote the opinion, but "the judge who said it got it right."

I agree with Woodward. I would add that religious denominations die in darkness as well.

Dr. Albert McClellan, the former Executive Director of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, spoke to a writer for The Baptist Program on December 31, 1980, and said,
"In 43 years there have been fewer than six executive sessions (closed door, private meetings) . . . The Executive Committee (SBC) has an open ear for anyone one who wants to speak to it. For almost 25 years the gallery has been two to three times bigger than the size of the Committee, and the gallery has been permitted to ask any question, to give any information, to make any point and to offer any objection."
Since those words were spoken by Dr. McClellan, there has been an exponential increase in the number of secrets kept by Southern Baptist leaders behind closed doors, pulled curtains, or dark places sealed off to exclude listening ears. Almost two-thirds of the meetings I attended as a trustee of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board were executive sessions behind closed doors.

Someone has rightly said, "You are as sick as the secrets you keep."

Why are secrets kept among leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention? Why do leaders wish to keep people in the dark, and by all means keep records sealed or closed from public eyes? What is the purpose of leaders hiding behind veils?

I would be interested in your opinions, but allow me to offer a couple of possible reasons through the form of two memorable quotes on transparency.
"One man's transparency is another's humiliation." Gerry Adams
"What I'm thinking about more and more these days is simply the importance of transparency, and Jefferson's saying that he'd rather have a free press without a government than a government without a free press." Esther Dyson
Leaders who like secrets are leaders who like control. Oh sure, they may act as if they are interested in helping you, but if you allow things to be kept behind closed doors, then the agenda, the message, and the future will play out the way they those who've run over people to obtain and sustain power want it to play out. Whatever you think of the #MeToo movement, whether good or bad, one cannot deny that leaders who attempted to cover-up and control the agenda and message created the movement.

You never create a stained glass window in your image unless you can protect it from shattering. Secret meetings are like acrylic lucite for stained glass.

My message to the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is really a message from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:
"For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open" (Luke 8:17).
It's an important enough principle, Jesus repeated it to His disciples again:
"There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known" (Luke 12:2).
When those doors swing open, you must be prepared for what awaits. Will you do the right thing in secret? I trust you shall. If not, the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas, Texas will make the 1985 Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas, Texas look like a kindergarten picnic.

And rightly so.

Denominations die in darkness.

All Eyes on the Trustees of Southwestern Seminary

On Tuesday, May 22, 2018, the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will convene behind closed doors to determine the future of President Paige Patterson. Discussions will include his living arrangements after his impending resignation, retirement, or forced termination.

Over 3,200 Southern Baptist women have signed an open letter stating,  "The Southern Baptist Convention cannot allow the biblical view of leadership to be misused in such a way that a leader with an unbiblical view of authority, womanhood and sexuality be allowed to continue in leadership."

The Christian Post lists 5 Things to Know about the Paige Patterson Controversy.   I have listed on my blog ten reasons why It's Time for Paige Patterson to Step Down.

All eyes are now on the 40 trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  There are just two women on the trustee board and thirty-eight men.

For the past 40 years, the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention has been tightly controlled through trustee appointments. The President of the Southern Baptist Convention directly appoints the members of the Nominating Committee (ed. "through the Committee on Committees"). The Nominating Committee then recommends institutional trustees to the Southern Baptist Convention, including all six seminaries, the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, Guidestone Financial Services, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and the Executive Committee of the SBC.

From the 1979 Southern Baptist Convention in Houston, Texas, until the 2007 Southern Baptist Convention in Greensboro, North Carolina, every President of the Southern Baptist Convention was chosen for nomination by the tandem of Paige Patterson and Judge Paul Pressler. There was a pecking order of who would be "the next President of the SBC."

The Southern Baptist Convention President holds an important office because, according to Judge Paul Pressler, "it takes several consecutive Presidential election victories to dominate the boards and agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention."

Most Southern Baptists have little clue that the real power of the Convention lies in the hands of trustees.

Former Presidents of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary were terminated because Paige Patterson and Judge Paul Pressler vetted and appointed SBC Presidents. Then, their loyal followers (e.g. the Committee on Committees)  vetted and gave names to the Nominating Committee of other loyal Patterson/Presslerites who would serve as SBC trustees. This tight Patterson/Pressler control of SBC trustees occurred at every Southern Baptist agency since the 1980's.

Over two decades, the boards and agencies have reflected the trustees that controlled them.

I was elected to serve as a trustee of the International Mission Board in 2005. I was "vetted' by a group of trustees sympathetic to the Patterson/Pressler coalition before the Nominating Committee ever contacted me. When I began serving as a trustee of the IMB, I was shocked at how legalistic, authoritarian, anti-women, and Fundamentalist our Southern Convention missions agency had become. I refer not so much to the field missionaries as I do the sitting trustees.

Trustees were running things into the ground. Trustees considered their assignment a "privilege" instead of a "responsibility." Exotic hotels, fancy meals, multiple meetings, and all expense trips became the norm. Further, anyone who didn't agree with the very narrow doctrinal views of those in charge was targeted for removal.

As an example, trustees on the International Mission Board passed a new doctrinal policy - in direct violation of our SBC Constitution and By-Laws - that narrowed the scope of missionary participation in the Southern Baptist Convention. The doctrinal change was a direct attempt to remove Dr. Jerry Rankin. This effort was led by a coalition of trustees controlled by Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler.

As a trustee of the IMB, I discovered the agenda of Paige Patterson and his loyal IMB trustees to remove Dr. Rankin and sought to protect President Rankin from a forced termination. Jimmy Draper recently wondered aloud to Barry McCarty "what motivated Wade Burleson” to write his blog. I think I need to send both men a copy of Hardball Religion.

Hardball Religion details the process of how the trustee board was packed with men who would remove Jerry Rankin, honoring Paige Patterson’s wishes. Ultimately, in my successful attempt to protect Dr. Jerry Rankin, I became the issue.

Soon after I began speaking out about the problems in our Southern Baptist Convention, people began writing to me. I soon realized that Southern Baptist women throughout our Convention were being denigrated and removed from leadership. I heard some horrific stories, and the more I heard, the more I sought to expose. Those Southern Baptists who "didn't toe the line and give allegiance to Patterson and/or Pressler" - which simply meant not seeing "eye to eye" on every little doctrinal point -  would never be placed in positions of leadership and service.

I began receiving letters and phone calls from seminary faculty, agency administrators, and a host of men and women in leadership positions who asked for my help. From 2005 to 2018, I became the Southern Baptist unafraid to speak out because those in power had taken a swing at me and missed, but in the process, they had opened my eyes that others in the SBC were not as fortunate as I.

Then, I began to hear of alleged corruption.

Maids and slaves; slush funds and retirement homes; abuse and cover-ups; CP dollars and taxidermy; and a host of other crazy goings-on.

The day of reckoning has come.
“The trouble they cause recoils on them; their violence comes down on their own heads.” (Psalm 7:16).
Southern Baptists should “trust” that “trustees” will always do what is best for the Southern Baptist Convention and abstain from cronyism, quid-pro-quo agreements, and hidden agendas. However, in my experience, many trustees place self-promotion above Kingdom devotion. It's time for the Southern Baptist Convention to hold institutional trustees accountable.

In the June 2009 Southern Baptist Convention, I opposed from the floor the nomination of Bart Barber as a trustee for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Bart was an adjunct professor of SWBTS in the spring of that very year (Spring 2009), and I believed then - and still do - that any employee of a Southern Baptist institution should not be a trustee from that same institution.

You can read what I wrote about Bart Barber’s nomination as a conflict of interest in this blog post I wrote during the 2009 Southern Baptist Convention. Bart Barber's nomination was approved by the Convention, and he has served as a trustee of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for the past nine years (2009-2018). He will be in the SWBTS closed-door meeting this coming Tuesday as the trustees determine what to do about Paige Patterson.

This week, a blog site called SBC Voices published a guest post by SWBTS Bart Barber. Bart wrote that "good trustees don't (and shouldn't) blog about their business." Bart and I have disagreed over the issue of trustees. I am of the opinion that the "trust" in trustee is between the Southern Baptist Convention and the trustee. The trustee must hold the institution's administration accountable for the performance of the agency in question. Trustees should have "the trust" of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Bart Barber was an adjunct professor at SWBTS when he was nominated to serve as a trustee at SWBTS. In the comment section of SBC Voices, I questioned Bart Barber about this “conflict of interest." Here was my question:
Bart, I admire any man who lives by principle. Just a quick question, Bart. Do you believe, on the basis of principle, it is wise to have current students, paid employees, or family members of the administration and/or faculty serving as trustees of the institution in question
I think we disagree on this issue. And, with respect, I point out that via bylaws of our Convention, institutional trustees of the SBC work for the Southern Baptist Convention, not the institution itself. That’s why only messengers to the SBC can appoint or remove trustees, not the board itself. Trustees are held “in trust” by members of the SBC, not administrators of the SBC institution or even their fellow trustees.
If at any time the problems within the institution rise to violations of the SBC constitution, trustees are obligated to make the Convention aware or violate their inviolable responsibilities as trustees to the Southern Baptist Convention.
Thanks for your service to the SBC.
After another commenter chimed in and said he too felt it was a conflict of interest for an adjunct professor to serve as a trustee of SWBTS, Bart Barber responded to that commenter (without addressing me or my question):
When the very first mention was made of my serving as a trustee, long before it was a “done deal,” I resigned the very part-time adjunct teaching position and notified Dr. Biles, my supervisor, that I would no longer be available to serve as an adjunct. I still have the emails.
Also, I notified Wade Burleson of this when he first made mention of his objection back a decade ago. He has long known that at no time have I simultaneously been an employee and a trustee of SWBTS. I’ll not speculate about his motives for ignoring these facts. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions
I enjoyed teaching. I miss it. But I, too, think it would be a conflict of interest for anyone to be an employee of an entity upon which he sits as a trustee, and therefore I have foregone this pleasure for ten years.
SWBTS publishes the class schedule every semester. Before attacking me online, did you check those records to see whether I had ever taught while serving as a trustee? Did you perform any research at all? Or do you just believe everything you read on the Internet?
The commenter came back and said to Bart Barber, "I didn't know that you had resigned from SWBTS, and had never seen that fact stated elsewhere" Bart Barber responded:
"Well, you’re right, and that’s my fault, I suppose. You haven’t seen it stated elsewhere because it has been years and years since I bothered to state it. A lot of us who were involved in all of this blogging back when Wade first got started—a lot of us managed to move on and find a real life with good, healthy, face-to-face relationships with real people...
Wade’s still stuck back in the way things were in 2006, it appears. And that’s his choice and his life. But I prefer a life of building people up rather than tearing them down. I prefer working to make peace in our convention rather than measuring my success by the people I can take down. I prefer having friends over having enemies. There is no part of me that wants to go back to 2006.
For this reason, I try to avoid reading Wade’s blog, conversing with Wade, or clarifying Wade’s false statements. I’ve moved on and I don’t want to go back. As a result, you’ve read things about me that aren’t true, and you haven’t had any opportunity to read corrections, since I haven’t offered them. That’s a whole lot more MY fault than it is yours, because as you have rightly noted, you haven’t seen these statements anywhere else, and I never gave you the opportunity to know better."
I had not seen Bart's answer on SBC Voices, but after someone pointed out that he never directly answered my question, I went back to the site and read Bart's comment for myself. There's an axiom that in dysfunctional systems, the person asking the question becomes the problem. I wrote my second comment to Bart and asked two additional short questions.
Bart,
I have a couple of short questions. A “Yes” or “No” would be sufficient to save time, but freel free to elaborate if you desire. PRIOR to my opposing your nomination as a trustee of SWBTS from the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention:
1. Had you resigned from your adjunct position at SWBTS?
2. Did you notify me that you had resigned?
If your answer is “Yes” to both questions, I’d like for you to provide me with the written documentation. If produced, I will apologize for assuming that you were teaching at SWBTS at the time of your nomination. Contrary to your comment above, I had no knowledge of your resignation. Is it is possible I could have forgotten? Of course, but my memory is usually excellent and rarely fails me. I trust you that you would never intentionally mislead anyone in stating I was aware you resigned before I opposed your nomination.
Obviously, you could have resigned and not informed me. If you can’t produce an email where you notified me, then possibly your resignation was due to the appearance of a “conflict of interest” and your resignation might have occurred after the Southern Baptist Convention where I opposed your nomination? I’m just asking for clarity.
Hope you have a great weekend.
Bart never answered my question, but the moderator of SBC Voices, one who's been called out on Yelp for being "condescending...and answering genuine questions about topics included in his blogs with sarcasm and snarky comments...by being belittling and downright rude" wrote a few choice comments directed toward me, and then shut down all comments.

In my experience, those who turn off the mic and shut down debate know that their arguments or positions will not stand up under scrutiny.

I’m sure Bart Barber is a fine pastor. I use his appointment as trustee of SWBTS as an example of how trusteeship at SWBTS historically has been a “reward for loyalty to Paige Patterson” more than it is a responsibility to the Southern Baptist Convention. Can Bart Barber and others who are friends of Dr. Patterson, or previous employees of SWBTS or hopeful future professors and administrators of SWBTS, or loyalists to a person more than an institution or Convention actually make an unbiased, fair, and good decision about Paige Patterson for the benefit and welfare of SWBTS and Southern Baptist Convention?

I think so. Particularly if SBC eyes stay on this particular trustee meeting.

I close with why I believe the trustee meeting at SWBTS this Tuesday is a very important one, and why all eyes of the Southern Baptist Convention should be on the SWBTS trustee meeting this Tuesday, May 22, 2018.
1. SWBTS administration has a history of hiring trustees who make favorable decisions for administration. Denny Autrey, the pastor who served as Chairman of the Trustee Presidential Search Committee who hired Paige Patterson, was in turn hired by Paige Patterson at SWBTS. Other trustee search committee members and family members of search committee members were hired by Paige Patterson to work for SWBTS.
2. Trustees of SWBTS are given plum preaching assignments in chapel services at SWBTS, and are often recommended for positions of service at large SBC churches throughout the nation by Paige Patterson - when loyal to President Paige Patterson.
3. SWBTS trustees should be accountable to the Southern Baptist Convention for the precipitous decline in enrollment at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The IMB trustees never asked questions about the adminstration selling off assets to pay for missionary salaries in the annual general budget. In 2015, all the IMB assets available to sell were gone, and the only thing left to do was reduce the missionary force. IMB trustees were more concerned in 2006 with a blogging trustee than they were with being responsible for doing their job of financial and institutional oversight. I would encourage SWBTS not to make the same mistake as their IMB brothers. 
4. Whatever decision the SWBTS trustees reach on Tuesday, ultimate accountablity for the trustees will occur June 12, 2018 at the Southern Baptist Convention. 
I genuinely wish the best for Paige and Dorothy Patterson during their retirement years. I hope they enjoy them in comfort and enjoyment. I wish for them prosperity and blessing.

But it's time for accountability.

Years of closely orchestrating who serves as trustees of SBC institutions have provided insulation and shelter from the consequences of poor decisions.

The Southern Baptist Convention is going to say "enough is enough." Those who demand conformity on every secondary and tertiary doctrinal issue while refusing to cooperate - and removing from service - all who disagree on these secondary and tertiary doctrinal matters are called Fundamentalists. Fundamentalism is known for its legalism, authoritarianism, and sectarianism.

The SBC is filled with all three characteristics of Fundamentalism.

Nero may have fiddled while Rome burned, but Southern Baptists are now reaching for the water buckets to douse the fires consuming our Convention.

Never Too Late for Grace; Never Too Old to Change

The old saying "you can't teach old dogs new tricks"--though possibly challenged as to its veracity by The Dog Whisperer--is a common assumption by most.

Many feel that the older a person becomes, the less likely he will ever change. Cynicism only deepens when an older person faces imminent death and "comes to Christ."

 Many Christians feel that "jailhouse" or "fox-hole" conversions can't be real. Professed changes of character late in life, or minutes from death, seem to create cynicism.

But we who believe that the grace of God is often given in different seasons of life point to "the thief on the cross." Just hours before his death, he was converted to faith in Christ. However, even we who believe it's never too late to change don't fully understand the dramatic change that occurred in the thief within the last few hours of his death.

We often point out that of the two thieves crucified beside Christ, one mocked Him and was condemned, and the other one believed on Him and was taken to paradise upon death. But we don't see how bad off both were in the last hours of their lives.

When both thieves were initially hung on the crosses beside Christ, BOTH mocked him. Mark 15:32 says:
"And they that were crucified with him reviled him"
Something happened to one of the thieves. He who had mocked Christ at the 9:00 a.m. hour (Mark 15:32) came to the place by the afternoon where he rebuked the other thief for his mocking of Christ, saying:
Do you not fear God, seeing that you are experiencing the same condemnation? And we deserve our sentence of condemnation, a just punishment for our actions. But this man has done nothing wrong. Then he turned to Jesus and said, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
The story of the TWO thieves on the cross, who both mocked Christ at the beginning of the crucifixion, is testimony to us all that one is never too old, nor is it ever too late, to change.

In His Grace,

Wade

Tracking Sexual Predators in the SBC and the Multiple Allegations against Judge Paul Pressler

Paul Pressler's Stained Glass Window at SWBTS Chapel
The Houston Chronicle reported last month that multiple men have filed sexual assault allegations against Judge Paul Pressler.

Paul Pressler and Paige Patterson are the two major architects of the 1979 Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention.

One of the men suing Pressler is Duane Rollins Jr, and the Houston Chronicle reports that Rollins accuses Judge Pressler in the lawsuit of raping him multiple times, beginning when Rollins was 14-years-old.

Normally, one would give an accused man like Judge Paul Pressler the benefit of the doubt.

However, there are three reasons why messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention should be shaken to the core by these allegations against a man whose image is in stained glass at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
1. In 2004, Judge Pressler paid $450,000 in what was to be a "secret settlement" to Duane Rollins. All copies of the settlement were destroyed, except for one copy kept at the law office of Pressler's personal lawyer and former business partner. 
2.  In 2016, a young attorney named Brooks Schott worked in that same law office and was also allegedly "sexually propositioned" by then retired Judge Paul Pressler. Disgusted, the young attorney quit the law firm. The Houston Chronicle reports Brooks Schott accused "Jared Woodfill, Pressler’s longtime law partner and the head of the Harris County Republican Party until 2014, of failing to prevent Pressler’s sexual advances toward him and others, which Schott says were well-known among the firm."  
3. Another man named Toby Twining, now 59 and living in New York, claims in an affidavit that Judge Pressler propositioned him at the River Oaks Country Club in Houston when Twining was a young man.
I would encourage every Southern Baptist to follow closely the excellent reporting of Robert Downen of the Houston Chronicle on this matter. Paige Patterson is also a party to this lawsuit. Duane Rollins claims Patterson had knowledge of the sexual assaults and covered them up.

I have friends who are members of the River Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas. I've been told that "it was common knowledge that Pressler had a thing for young men." It was seen by other members in the clubhouse.

Years ago, I also heard that the San Francisco Chronicle was about to release a story on the allegations against Pressler. The editors of the paper reportedly backed down after receiving some phone calls from some very powerful people.

In 1989, after the FBI ran a "background check" on Judge Pressler, his name was "withdrawn" as President George Bush's choice to head the Office of Government Ethics. Public statements at the time declared the withdrawal to be about issues other than allegations of sexually predatory behavior,  but one wonders if there was more to the story.

Because...

In 1978, Judge Pressler was terminated from his position as "youth worker" at Bethel Church in Houston.  Frank Sommerville, pastor at Bethel at the time, confirmed that the church “received information about an alleged incident involving Mr. Pressler in 1978.”
“Upon learning of the alleged incident, the church immediately terminated Mr. Pressler’s involvement with the youth group and its activities,” Sommerville wrote. “The Presslers subsequently left the church sometime in late 1978.”
Judge Pressler shows how easy to is for someone to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct through his personal memoir. In his autobiography, A Hill on Which to Die, Judge Pressler goes into great detail on the timeline of his departure from Bethel Church. 

He doesn't mention "the incident." He doesn't tell that he was "terminated." 

Judge Pressler writes that he and his wife, Nancy, resigned in 1979 after realizing they could not dedicate themselves to work in the Southern Baptist Convention while at Bethel. In fact, the only statement he makes about Bethel was what a pastor told him at the time:
“Are you going to minister to 250 high-school students or 13 million Southern Baptists?”
In light of recent revelations, I think there are about 500 parents who were glad Bethel terminated him. Unfortunately, many Southern Baptists have no clue that the architects of the Conservative Resurgence are parties in a lawsuit that alleges predatory sexual behavior as well as a cover-up.

In 2007, I recommended that the Southern Baptist Convention establish a Sex-Offender Database so that people who are credibly accused or convicted of sexual abuse of children or women could be tracked and not passed off from one church to another by covering-up the allegations of abuse. 

In 2008, the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention denied my motion

One wonders if men with things to hide helped kill that motion.

What is being reported in the Houston Chronicle these last few weeks leads me to ask a very specific question:
"Had a database tracking sexual predators been in place in 1979, would that database have prevented Judge Paul Pressler and Paige Patterson from ever having influence in the Southern Baptist Convention?"
If you don't care, or worse, if you think the good these two did in the SBC rises above any allegations of predatory behavior or alleged cover-up, then you need to look at yourself carefully in the mirror and see if the gospel has indeed made a difference in your own life.

Stained-glass windows at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary may actually be more stained than Southern Baptists realize.

"Throw Off the View of Women that Denigrates and Objectifies Them," Dr. Sheri Klouda's Story, Part III

Sheri Klouda was the Professor of Hebrew at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's School of Theology. She lost her job because the newly hired President of the SWBTS, Paige Patterson, believed that a woman should never "indulge in the exposition of Scripture," and no woman "should ever be in a position of leadership over men."

Patterson's unbiblical view of a man's inherent authority over a woman and a woman's unconditional submission to a man is a toxic belief system that harms women.

Sheri Klouda is evidence of this harm.

The Southern Baptist Convention which proclaims belief in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Scriptures, must begin comprehending that Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant and made it disappear (Hebrews 8:13) and He inaugurate a New Covenant (Agreement) with the world where leadership comes from humble service, not hubris status; from giftings of the Holy Spirit, not gender of the human race; and from God's appointment, not man's ambition.

Part One of Sheri's story  - "Deep Down I Was Scared" - can be read here.

Part Two of Sheri's story - "Patterson Must Apologise to Those He's Harmed"  - can be read here.

Part Three of Sheri's story - "Throw Off the View of Women that Denigrates and Objectifies Them" in her own words is found below.

__________________________________

Written by Sheri Klouda

In December of 2014, my husband passed away from esophageal cancer. My daughter graduated from Taylor University the following May, and was offered an incredible job with a new company starting up in Dallas. 

Despite the fact that I was a tenured professor at Taylor University, I made the difficult decision to move to Dallas with her and my grandson, who was 20 months old. My elderly grandmother was experiencing a lot of difficulty living alone in her house, so we moved in with her temporarily so we could help her and get established in the area. 

At the time, we had no idea that the job Abigail was offered would never materialize, and I had no idea it would be so difficult for me to find a job, essentially doing anything. After a month of living with my grandmother, she found it too stressful to have a toddler and two dogs living with her. We moved to a hotel, then some old family friends offered their home to us until we could find a place to live. After staying with them for three weeks, and spending hours applying for jobs and looking for a home to rent, it came time to move again and we settled into another hotel. 

Part of the problem centered on the fact that we did not have jobs, and could not show current income, so no one would rent to us, even though I had quite a bit of savings. After a week at another hotel, we decided that if we could not find a home in the next few days, that we would move back to Indiana. 

After taking a loan on my retirement, and agreeing to pay a year’s rent in advance, we finally found a place to live. Little did I know that I would be unable to find a full-time job for the next year and a half. 

I applied for every faculty job I could find anywhere in the United States. I called every connection I knew, and worked as an adjunct at a community college as well as taught part-time online. 

I served as a Regional Director for Museum of the Bible’s Scholar’s Initiative, and applied for secretarial positions all over the Metroplex. I even taught a seminar at Oxford during June of 2016. Abigail picked up jobs in the service industry. I could not even find a secretarial job. 

By December of 2016, I knew we didn’t have enough money to get through more than one more month. Two weeks before we ran out of money, I interviewed for a position as an Administrative Assistant at a Dallas church, where I continue to serve today.

I also continue to teach online occasionally, I am working on a few writing projects, and present papers when I have the opportunity and can afford to attend the professional meetings. But more importantly, I deal with the church’s people and their concerns daily, and that keeps me grounded in my faith.

I believe that I think the SBC is on the cusp of change. 

How they respond will speak volumes about where they go in the future. It can be a time of growth for them as they seek to meet the challenges of their faith in light of biblical teaching.

I will be disappointed in the Southern Baptist Convention if they cannot finally throw off the mantle of an arrogant leader who has historically espoused a view of women that denigrates them and objectifies them, who seems to reinforce the notion that they serve as a major source of wickedness and sin, and who dismisses their concerns as nonsense. 

I think that the Southern Baptist Convention has an opportunity here to separate themselves from Paige Patterson and his position, to stand firm, acknowledge and clarify their position regarding the respect and dignity of women, and spousal abuse in a clear and biblical manner so that there is no longer a question of tolerance in abusive relationships. 

This is the moment to define themselves and put away the assumptions concerning women that they appear to support by allowing Paige to represent them in a significant way.

I would also like to see the SBC actively support women in academic roles in their colleges and universities, particularly in biblical studies and theology. 

The difference between a local church and a university or seminary is very clear. I would like to see them elect more women to decision-making boards in order to give balance. There are many competent women in the SBC who would be an asset as a trustee of a seminary or Baptist university, women who hold doctorates and serve in ministry or corporate leadership positions.

 While I hold a complementarian view, I believe that the Southern Baptist Convention would serve its constituency well by carefully considering the roles of women in ministry, and seek to expand those roles in whatever way possible to meet contemporary needs. 

While I appreciate the recent statement of Steve Gaines, I would also like to see an official SBC statement on marriage and spousal abuse, biblically based and focused on the protection of women and children. Finally, I believe the Convention must emphasize transparency in cases of child abuse and insist on discipline and legal consequences for those who protect or conceal this behavior.

________________________________________

The Whiteshirts Came to Know Him Only After They Knew How Much I Cared to Know Them

(In light of recent writings, those new to this blog may wrongly assume I'm most interested in the SBC. My greatest joy comes from leading people to faith in Jesus Christ. This article first published Oct. 2017)
_________________________________________________

Some moments move me in ways difficult to express. One such moment occurred on Sunday, October 15, 2017.

As I walked through an area where we set out tables and chairs for people to eat breakfast and visit between worship services, I saw a Chinese family sitting by themselves. I sat down and had an enjoyable conversation with recent emigrants from China who now live and work in Enid. They've been coming to Emmanuel Enid for several weeks.

As I got up to leave, I noticed two young ladies seated at the next table. They looked to be Native American.

Both girls shyly glanced my way as I approached, and then they hurriedly looked back down at their breakfast. I was sure they'd overheard my conversation with the family one table over, and I wondered if the girls were thinking, "Will he stop and talk to us too?"

Many Native Americans experience racial prejudice, even in Oklahoma. It's hard for American Caucasians to understand the feeling of being ignored or overlooked because of the color of one's skin or ethnic background. I did not want to convey to these girls that they were unimportant to me.

People blindness is a dreaded disease I fight hard to never catch.

So I stopped and greeted the girls. Both of them looked up and smiled. 

"Ladies, do you mind if I pull up a chair and join you?"

They smiled again and said no.  I pulled up a chair at the end of their table.

"What's your names?"

Francesca introduced herself first. She told me she was sixteen and had been coming to Emmanuel for a few weeks. She then introduced her sister, Alice, age twenty-four. Alice said this was her first time to come to Emmanuel.

"You two girls are beautiful. Do you mind me asking, 'Are you Native American?'"

Alice blushed, and said, "Yes. We are full-blooded."

"What tribe?"

They told me they were Cheyenne/Arapaho. They explained that their mother is Cheyenne and that their father, now deceased, was Arapaho.

"Are you girls interested in your Cheyenne/Arapaho heritage?"

"Of course!" they said, with what now seemed a perpetual smile.

For the next ten minutes, I sat with Francesca and Alice and told them the story of the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 and the little two-year-old Arapaho boy who had survived it.

The boy, the son of an Arapaho chief, was left an orphan when his entire family was massacred at Sand Creek. He was plucked from the carnage by a United States militia soldier from Colorado named Lemuel Graham.

Graham, with the help of his friend and fellow soldier Jesse Wilson, hid the Arapaho toddler in a stove for their journey back to Denver, Colorado. They hid the boy because their commander, Col. John Chivington, had issued the order, "No captives, no survivors."

"The soldiers mistakenly thought the boy was Cheyenne, which is easy to do," I told the girls. "For as you know, Cheyenne and Arapaho people have similar heritage and customs."

Upon arriving in Denver with their hidden captive, the militia soldiers Lemuel Graham and Jesse Wilson gave their Arapaho captive his new name - Wilson R. Graham.

"What the soldiers did next with the Arapaho toddler was unconscionable," I said.

The girls looked at me, wide-eyed, anticipating what would be said next.

I recounted how the soldiers placed the toddler Wilson Graham in a traveling circus for their personal financial gain.

The circus went to small frontier towns throughout eastern Colorado, Nebraska, and even Missouri.  Americans would pay a penny to see the "Indian savage" who'd survived Sand Creek.

Wilson Graham was a circus-captive sideshow in the Wilson and Graham circus for three years, from 1864 to 1867.

"The United States and the Plains Indians were at war during the entire time Wilson Graham was held captive," I told the girls. "But in 1867, when Wilson was five-years-old, this Arapaho circus boy became instrumental in bringing peace to the frontier."

I told the girls how in 1867, the President of the United States, Andrew Johnson, sent the United States Indian Peace Commission, composed of high-ranking army generals and politicians, to negotiate peace with the Plainsmen Indians who'd been on the warpath since Sand Creek.

The Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche, and Kiowa finally all agreed to meet the Peace Commission at an Indian holy site called Medicine Lodge (Kansas) with one condition:
"You must bring the circus boy with you." 
U.S. Army General William T. Sherman was commissioned by the President to use all resources at his disposal to find the circus boy and bring him to Medicine Lodge. The General who was well-known for scorching the earth in his March to the Sea at the end of the Civil War was now searching the earth to find the little five-year-old boy Indian boy.

Sherman's troops found the boy in the traveling in a frontier city town and had the boy taken to Medicine Lodge on October 15, 1867, accompanied by the Peace Commissioners.

"Girls," I said, drawing my story to a close, "As a result of this five-year-old Cheyenne/Arapaho boy being brought to Medicine Lodge  exactly 150 years ago today (October 15, 1867)  the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty was signed."

The Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty, October 1867 (Harper's Weekly)

I thought it was remarkable that I was telling this story to two Cheyenne/Arapaho girls on the anniversary of the Cheyenne/Arapaho circus boy being united with his tribe.

I also thought I was finished with the story, but the girls had one question for me.

"What happened to the boy?" 

"He reverted to his Arapaho name Tom Whiteshirt and...."

I stopped talked talking when I heard the girls gasp.

"We are Whiteshirts," they said. 

I was stunned.

I knew that all Cheyenne/Arapaho Whiteshirts in Oklahoma descended from the lone Whiteshirt survivor of the Sand Creek Massacre. 

Francesca and Alice explained to me that their deceased father was an Arapaho Indian named Alfred Whiteshirt. When they'd introduced themselves to me, they'd not given me their surname.

I told them that they were definitely related to the Whiteshirt who was the circus boy. Their eyes were wide, and they had more questions. They'd never heard this story before. 

I told them to wait right there, and I'd go print off an article for them that I'd written about it

When I came back five minutes later, the girls' mother, Mona, was standing with them. She confirmed that she was full-blooded Cheyenne and that she'd been married to their father, Mr. Alfred Whiteshirt. Mr. Whiteshirt had died a few years ago. Mona had never heard the story either, but she was ecstatic that her girls were learning about their heritage. 

I gave them the papers I'd printed off and told the girls that I'd really enjoyed getting to know them and looked forward to visiting with them again.

I didn't have to wait very long. 
Francesca and Alice on the day of their baptism

After the final worship service on that Sunday morning, about two hours after I first met Francesca and Alice, the sisters came to see me.

 I noticed their eyes were filled with tears. 

Both Alice and Francesca told me that they wanted Jesus Christ to be the King of their lives. They desired Jesus to make His home in their hearts. They wanted their hearts to be God's House

As we spoke, the tears that were welling up began trickling down their cheeks. I reminded them of God's love, and how through surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ, everything they'd ever done wrong - past/present/future - would be forgiven by the work of Christ. I explained that with Jesus as the Lord of their lives, He would lovingly and patiently care for them and watch over them forever. 

I assured them that there was "no ritual" nor "chant" to ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. It was just a matter of opening their hearts to Him and receiving Him into their lives as King.

Then, as we prayed, I stretched out my hands and placed them on the crowns of their bowed heads as these two descendants of Tom Whiteshirt asked Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior. 

Francesca and Alice were saved.

Tom Whiteshirt was saved from temporal death by a U.S. soldier at the Sand Creek Massacre. 

Tom Whiteshirt's great-great-granddaughters were saved from eternal death by Jesus Christ 150 years later. 

Francesca and Alice were both baptized on Sunday, October 29, 2017, testifying publicly of their faith in Jesus Christ. We've purchased for them Bibles and will personally encourage them as they learn what it means to walk in the grace and love of God in a fallen world where people are still being massacred

I know that Jesus saves His people (see Matthew 1:21).

But last Sunday was a reminder to me that Theodore Roosevelt was right
"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."