Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Requested Voluntary Letters - Ironic? Yes!

The word ethics is meandering though my brain today.  I began to be concerned by the standards of morality that I didn't agree with, stuff that happened to us at GFA in our last year.   I will serve up to you two examples today that made me pause and think.

When the Diaspora letter came in accusing leadership of hurting people, leadership put out a call for staff to voluntarily write the board letters of support. I thought about it, but we were already praying about leaving as we had some concerns, and I didn't think our voice was needed.  We went on with our lives, till' the night before the letter deadline. Right as we were about to go out for a "date night" we got a call from Danny.  In a nutshell, we had not submitted a letter of support and we needed to because it would make "some people" upset if we didn't.  I gave My Knight in Shining Armor the Look.   How many date nights will GFA disrupt in our marriage? Really?  So we sat down and hashed out a letter we could agree with.  I look back and at the time I did believe in leadership, that they would apologize and humble themselves if wrong doing had occurred.  Our letter pointed out that GFA is not a "missions organization" it's not your average non-profit but rather it is a Religious Order.  I felt much of what the ex-staffers didn't understand came from a "this is a mission" point of view not "this is a Religious Order" point of view.  We were not exactly nuns and monks in habits, but to us an Order is not a business and thus will be governed differently.  Our letter also said following your call was not for the faint of heart.  It was not all butterflies and sunshine Oh look a Rainbow Unicorn!  

The next example follows the same lines.
As a PR move GFA.org put up a campus life section on the web, full of glowing testimonies of how staff loved GFA.  These testimonies were solicited at a Tuesday night prayer meeting and again were "voluntary."  Again we did not write anything. Again we received a phone call from Danny requesting us to write a bio/testimony but this time we were given instructions on what it should say. The first paragraph needed to state we had collage degree's and had been professionals in the workforce prior to our coming to GFA. I think, but am not sure, they were trying to combat  an accusation they didn't like college educated people. 

My husband and I wrote what we believed, but again it was not all rainbows and butterflies.  The last paragraph really expressed my heart, it was a realistic view of the ministry.  The editor cut down our testimony (we expected that) and what I noticed is she took out all the balance, it became a fluff piece. Worst of all she wholly eliminated the last paragraph. My knight picked up his lance and went to battle with the editor for that paragraph to stay in the testimony in some form, to be included.  I did not want us to be portrayed as starry eyed rose colored glasses "sheeple" christians.  Standing our ground, we did get the realistic part of our testimony put back in.

When the page was up I got a sugar rush as I read through glowing testimony after glowing sugar coated testimony. A few here and there were balanced, but most were rainbows and butterflies.

Ethics come to mind because our letters were in essence coerced from us. We dropped everything to tow the party line for the good of the ministry. I do not know what the board was told about these letters, but GFA at large believed if you sent one in it was voluntary and not required. I worried, did the board know our letter was asked for not given freely?

My husband was feeling empty with no joy in the work. I was noticing rules instead of trust everywhere and although I could continue to justify leaderships behavior to myself and my friends, the patterns were emerging.  Why was trust replaced by a rule but trust never seemed to be extended again after everyone was in line?

Many of the testimonies are gone now as so many people left the ministry since January 2015. Maybe if the letters came about voluntarily more people and Board Members would still be at Gospel for Asia.

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