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But in 1993, she found out that her two daughters had been molested at the school, abused by a "dorm father" who was a favorite of many missionaries and their children, and whom Steffen had thought of as a close family friend.
Decades later, Steffen came across the Fanda Eagles website, established to expose abuses that took place at the New Tribes boarding school in Senegal, and she realized that many MKs around the same age as her daughters were speaking out about similar crimes that had happened on the other side of the world."That's when I realized this was not just our family's problem, but it has happened elsewhere," Steffen explained.
They vowed to ask forgiveness of any students they may have “underserved.” In truth, the origins of the investigation were closer to home.
In 2011, an abuse scandal from years before had become national news with a report.
Phelps, who’d gone on to be president of the fundamentalist Maranatha Baptist Bible College in Wisconsin, maintained close ties to Bob Jones, serving on its board of trustees as well as on its missionary and youth-camp boards.
When Anderson and her mother told their pastor, Bob Jones graduate Chuck Phelps, what had happened, Phelps had Anderson stand before the congregation while he read a confession of her pregnancy.
"It wasn't just Senegal: It was [at missions in] Bolivia, Brazil and Papua New Guinea…It clarified to me that it wasn't just random sexual abuse, but actually the entire environment of the mission set the stage for all sorts of abuse.” Today, she hears many MKs describe the difficulty they have discussing their stories with their parents, she said, who may not be ready to see their life’s work as part of an abusive system.
Speaking of the investigation of abuse in New Tribes Mission schools conducted by the investigative team known as GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), Steffen said: “I’m hoping [GRACE] shines the spotlight on groups that are very controlling, very behavior-oriented, rather than those things I think are important in Christianity, like grace, and hope, and love.
As Burchwell tells it, he suggested that they take a drive off-campus for their conversation—already a violation of the university's strict norms—and when Burchwell started crying during their talk, he reached over and grabbed her breast.
Burchwell told the Prospect that she was shocked, and demanded that John drive her home.