This past weekend, international newspapers, radio stations, CNN, and websites have been reporting on allegations of sexual abuse at Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills, Alberta, Canada that allegedly occurred decades ago.

PBI is my alma mater.  My father also graduated there in 1932.

I have been closely connected to this series of events over the past few months. This includes personal meetings and emails with Mark Maxwell, the current president of the school and the grandson of the founder for whom I graded papers the winter of ’66/’67.

I was also on the board in the early ‘90s.

I do have a dog in this fight!

For those of you unfamiliar with the case, there are numerous allegations of sexual abuse with potentially 80 victims.  The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are now involved as both the school and victims have turned over files for processing.

I am not as troubled by this series of events as are some of my colleagues.  I may be accused as seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses, but I retain an optimism that positives will emerge from what is now viewed as negatives.

The following are some personal observations of what I would like to see accomplished through these troubling times.

1.         Reduce publicly posted inflammatory comments. Polarizing viewpoints will only serve to exacerbate the existing tensions. Alleged victims and abusers now need to join ranks to move forward together to reach resolution.  The “us” verses “them”, or the “holy” verses the “evil” needs to disappear, to be replaced by a mutual acceptance of each other, without a diminution of the zeal to expose any past or current sexual abuse.

2.         The boil has been lanced.  What was festering for years has now been exposed.  Both sides are now presented with an opportunity to start the long process of the healing of wounds and eventual resolution.

3.         The alleged victims’ accusations need to be thoroughly processed.  I understand the PBI board has appointed a board member as the point person to head up the processing of grievances.  That is a good first step.

4.         An objective third party needs to be established to provide counseling for the abused.  Trust between the school and the abused has been destroyed.  Additionally the school lacks the professional resources to provide the counseling now needed.

5.         Historical cover-ups need to be exposed. If it is substantiated that PBI swept sexual abuse under the carpet in the past, the school needs to “own that”, apologize, and accept whatever the consequences may be.

6.         It is no longer necessary to publicly “out” perceived abusers.  Now that the RCMP is involved, it is inappropriate to be naming potential historical abusers. Rather, we should allow that to be processed through the court systems.

7.         Threats of litigation on both sides need to be dropped to allow the legal system, through the RCMP, to process this in a timely manner.

Joseph, during the famine in Egypt, in speaking to his brothers said, “But as for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save many people alive.”  Many at PBI feel that the victims are thinking evil of Prairie.  This is not the case.  They simply want resolution.  Like the God of Joseph, eventual resolution will result in lifting the burden of sexual abuse carried by many for years.

Both Prairie and those abused are now positioned to win; there should be no losers.

Prairie has been handed a golden opportunity to demonstrate to the world the transparency of its administration, the objectives and goals of the school, and in the process reinvigorate their alumni, its constituency, breathe new life into the school, increase enrollment, and thereby continue to impact the world for Christ.

Neil Young, years ago, wrote the song “There is a town in North Ontario, all my changes were there.”  I have a town in Central Alberta where all my dreams were birthed.  May the annealing process through which it is now going result in a school sensitized to the needs of its alumni, to the needs of the world, and demonstrate the integrity upon which it was founded.

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  1. Sonja Farrell says:

    Very well put. I just wonder why it took so long for this to come out. As the family of God we know that we are commanded to forgive. I don’t know why this needs to be hashed out so many years later. How well can someone remember after 30 to 50 years? I agree that PBI can be a wonderful example and I have prayed for renewal for the college. I see pictures of this school working together and accomplishing much in the past. It is exciting and glorious to see what God can do through this.

  2. Bob Kirk says:

    Peter, I would suggest a re-evaluation of your phrasing in point #1, re. alleged victims and abusers to “join ranks,” and “move forward together.” Do you not mean, rather, that those with the allegations should work together with the CURRENT administration, namely the current president, who has a clear commitment to exposing and dealing with whatever is confirmed? Suggesting that abused and abusers work together only reinforces the old power structures of intimidation and repression and re-injures those who were wronged. The other issue I would take with this is the use of “alleged” victims. I know that is standard legal parlance adopted by the news media on advice of their lawyers, and some allegations may ultimately prove to be unfounded. But lets not kid ourselves that there was no sexual abuse at all, and that it was not covered up by those at some level of management responsibility in the name of preserving the good name of the school or individuals covering up.

    And there will be those who allege “spiritual abuse” when at the base they just didn’t like what was being taught. But I can absolutely tell you that at some level there was spiritual abuse of L.E. Maxwell’s teaching going on, where his well-intentioned words were taken out of context and used by others to manipulate and enforce compliance with “legalisms” in ways that had nothing to do with authentic Biblical practice.

    • peter says:

      Well said Bob, and necessary clarifications. I agree with you. Those abused need to work with the current administration, not with the historical abusers. Mark is not inclined to cover up these issues. It is a new administration moving the school forward.

  3. Bryan Butler says:

    Thank you Peter. I agree very strongly with your points and, also, very much so with Bob’s comments. Abuse took place. The scale of that abuse will be debatable. I was also talking with another staff ‘kid’ and realized, afterwards, that it is also going to be difficult for people whose parents are going to be implicated. We will need to walk with them as well.

    • peter says:

      In writing on my blog, I intentionally used the word “alleged”, but this should not confuse the facts that I too understand that abuse did occur. We need to move foward united, not divided – and we will come out stronger in the end. Thanks for your comments.

  4. Carol Abbott says:

    I appreciate the comments re the abuse. I have had first-hand experience with abuse including “religious abuse” (not at Prairie!), but I did not ever consider suing or publicly exposing those who abused. Does that mean that I was not affected? No! It means that I have dealt with it and got on with my life without the publicity. It is the responsibility of the adult victim to confront the abuser and if there is no repentance, to leave the situation with God and to trust God to bring about healing in one’s own soul. True forgiveness does not involve blaming those who are not responsible nor does it mean to go public to get some sort of peace of mind or compensation. True forgiveness means that we choose with an act of our will to put the past where it belongs– in the past and to ask God for the healing and wisdom to be the people He wants us to be. We need to remember that it is not the school who is to blame, because no one preached from the pulpit or in the classroom that abuse was right. The abuse often took place in secret so that there was not the “evidence” needed to convict the abusers. “Abuse” done in public such as spanking was a socially/culturally acceptable means of punishment 30-50 years ago or earlier. But now it is not acceptable. To go back and say that all spanking that took place was abuse is not an accurate evaluation. Sometimes spanking was necessary. Spanking taken to extreme is wrong in that it becomes abusive– it is done when the adult is often “out-of-control” and has a deep need to control. One of the deans stated to me one time that the people who have the most difficult time dealing with abuse in the family are those who grew up in “strong” Christian families rather than those who grew up in non-Christian environments. To go public and hold other people accountable for something that they were not responsible for is not really the way to go. I was sickened when I heard how public this has gone. To seek help and counselling, yes! But it does not help anyone when it goes beyond the sphere of involvement. Scripture states that if someone has wronged us, we go directly to the individual and if he/she does not listen then go the next step and take someone with us, etc. It does not say to go publicly for the entire world to know! I do not advocate sweeping under the carpet, but I also don’t advocate going so public that those who were not involved in any way shape-or-form should be dragged into it. As an alumni, I feel that all of us are now involved in something we knew nothing about or at the most suspected that there may have been excessive “punishment” but had no proof. “Suspecting” something might be happening but not having any evidence doesn’t stand up in court either. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”. Many of these abusers could be so frail or dead now. There are times, and I believe this may be one of those times, where the victims need to trust God to right the wrong. To drag in people so many years later to bring about reconciliation and restoration to the victims’ souls is a little excessive and immature in thinking. It is not healthy physically, emotionally and spiritually to blame others and keep the skeletons in the closet. Instead each victim needs to take the skeleton out of the closet and bury the bones in the ground once and for all. To drag the skeleton out of the closet for all to look at is not the healthy approach. Unfortunately it has been done. All I can say is, is that I will pray and may all of us as alumni and friends of Prairie pray and trust that God will be in complete control and give Mark and the rest of the board and admin wisdom, courage, and strength to deal with such an ugly situation.

  5. Leila Bolster says:

    I received a rather odd letter about this. It sounded like my name was in there. After investigating I realized that it had nothing to do with me. Like I said, I have no desire to expose anyone publicly as that would only hurt people whom I hold very dear. It is my experience that institutions that are dependent upon the donations of others have a system in place to cover up discrepancies so that the funds keep coming in to support their very good work. This means that covering up for wrong behavior by the staff was acceptable for the common good. I am glad that Mark Maxwell is interested in transparency and I hope that this does not adversely affect the school.

    • peter says:

      I believe the school is doing there best to get out in front of this story. You couldn’t buy this kind of publicity! Now to turn it in our favor, while at the same time bringing resolution to the abused! Thanks, Leila

  6. Bob Kirk says:

    I would respectfully contest your perspective as it may apply to victims of sexual abuse and assault. The dynamics are entirely different from the other examples you cite, and one should not be too quick to tell someone who was sexually assaulted as a child (or adult) to just get over it and “leave vengeance to God.” This type of offence does not fall under the Matthew 18, I Corinthians 6 and similar passages. Rather, the comments in Romans 13:1-4 and 1 Peter 2:13, 14, 19 pertain particularly in situations like this, which involve criminal and civil liability. I agree that some may try to roll so-called spiritual abuse in with criminal physical abuse (physical assault) and sexual assault in order to get a larger accusative number. But in the case of criminal activity, whether by a parent in the home or someone outside the home, the passage of time is not an acceptable reason to let things go. And it is also necessary in order to stop the abuser from continuing with other people, as they typically do not stop as they age and grow elderly. There is a reason why Canada and the US have sexual offender registries.

  7. Bob Kirk says:

    Sorry, 1 Peter 2: 13, 14, 20.

  8. Laura Anderson says:

    Thanks Peter for a great post. I agree wholeheartedly with Bob Kirk’s assertion that these matters do not fit into the “get over it’ category. If abuse occurred at Prairie and administration knew about it but chose to “sweep in under the carpet”, then they as an organization need to be held responsible. How long ago it occurred is irrelevant because it still occurred and needs to be taken care of properly. I echo Peter’s hope that Prairie takes this opportunity to do the right thing so that victims can have closure and move on with their lives and so that something positive can come out of something so negative. (K-12 student 1976-1989, Staff Kid (Harold Bradley) 1972-1989, PBC Grad 1991)

  9. wayne kratzer says:

    It is good to see prayer concerns and positive faith to bring GLORY TO GOD. I hope and pray we might see Revival and Holy Spirit power at Prairie and with all involved. Way one 65-66

  10. Amy Rish says:

    In response to Sonja’s comment “How well can someone remember after 30 to 50 years?”: As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse I find that comment highly insensitive and it serves not to promote an attitude of healing but trivializes and minimizes the trauma that those of us who have have been abused have had to endure. I respectfully submit that time, in my own case, did in no way diminish my memory of the event, but in fact compounded the negative effects the abuse had on my life. It took decades for me to be heard by those I looked to for help.

    In response to Carol’s comment ” It means that I have dealt with it and got on with my life without the publicity”: I submit that God created us each as individuals and what is right and good and helpful for one may not be what is right and good and helpful for another. We are wounded in community and it can be very helpful to heal in community. Also … there may be a need to make something public. For one, it is by studying the mistakes of the past that we avoid the same ones in the future. As a Canadian I have had to study some devastating choices past and present governments have made (ie treatment of the Japanese during the war) Yes, even though I had nothing to do with these decisions and was not even alive during this time I must carry the responsibility of this to some degree if I am to call myself a Canadian and I must be willing to have this event taught in the schools to prevent future governments to make the same mistake. This is a prime opportunity for Prairie to evaluate their policies procedures and see if there is any way to make things safer for their faculty and students in the future.

    For another, I tried to handle my abuse on my own and forgive as Christ had instructed … but then 20 years later I discovered that the man who abused me so long ago was currently abusing two others. At that point I knew my silence had been a mistake. I unwittingly left others vulnerable (though indeed I had reported the abuse immediately after it happened but had not been ‘heard’). I welcomed the publicity the media gave my story as it was the catalyst for the families of these new victims to finally believe what I was saying and take steps to protect their children. My voice alone was not enough to convince them. It took making it legal and subsequently public to garner change and safety for the entire community, not just previous victims.

    In Carol’s letter she also made the following comments: “I do not advocate sweeping under the carpet, but I also don’t advocate going so public that those who were not involved in any way shape-or-form should be dragged into it. As an alumni, I feel that all of us are now involved in something we knew nothing about”, and “To drag in people so many years later to bring about reconciliation and restoration to the victims’ souls is a little excessive and immature in thinking. It is not healthy physically, emotionally and spiritually to blame others and keep the skeletons in the closet. Instead each victim needs to take the skeleton out of the closet and bury the bones in the ground once and for all. To drag the skeleton out of the closet for all to look at is not the healthy approach.”

    I am curious to know how Carol sees this playing out … what does she mean by each victim needs to take the skeleton out and bury it? It seems to me that is what is going on here. The fact that it is so public may or may not be the victim’s choice. And if it IS their choice then I would encourage us as their spiritual brothers and sisters to “Carry eachothers’ burdens” as Christ instructs. When one is weeping we should weep with them, when one is rejoicing we should rejoice with them. It would be my honor to stand by these victims and welcome their stories if it meant they could escape some measure of isolation and darkness and promote a safer, healthier future. It is in isolation that we are most vulnerable to the attacks of Satan. And I for one don’t want to have any part in leaving someone on their own again, whether it makes me feel uncomfortable or not. It hurts me to see Carol’s comment about this being immature: On one hand you are telling them not to sweep anything under the carpet and on the other hand you are telling them not to go so public that it affects anyone else. These situations are not as black and white as we would like them to be and we could look at it as unfortunate that innocent people feel undue stress by this being so public; or we could look at it as a beautiful opportunity to reach out and minister to these wounded brothers and/or sisters even if it means getting our hands a little dirty. Was it the Samaritan’s fault that he was beaten by robbers? Yet it was those who claimed to love God who walked by .. not wanting to dirty or inconvenience themselves. God praised the one who stopped and helped. Had no one done so, this Samaritan would probably have died. I am praying for all involved and look to God to redeem this situation and encourage all your readers to be careful not to say things that are going to injure wounded souls further.
    Respectfully, Amy Rish

    • peter says:

      Amy, I’m attempting to keep this blog a safe place for people to express their opinions with candor. I do not want this blog to devolve into people exerting a lot of energy critiquing the comments of others, but rather critique my comments in the blog.

      Thanks for your comments, and for respecting my wishes.

  11. David Birch says:

    Thank you, Peter, for sharing this concern on your blog. What a pity that a Christian Bible Institute such as Prairie should apparently have experienced such serious sexual abuses in past years. Although I never attended PBI, I did visit there during the early sixties when my younger brother, Arthur, and sister, Miriam, resided for a time at the CIM. hostel there while our parents were overseas on the foreign mission field.

    I recall meeting you there at that time, Peter. I admired you then as I do now for your unashamed stand for our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.

    This would not be the first time that a ‘Christian’ institution would be found guilty of (or at least alleged with pretty good reason to have been guilty of) sexual indiscretions. But there can be NO COVER UP! Advanced age and/or human frailty can NOT be allowed as as an excuse for telling victims to “get over it!”

    Many children were removed from their homes and placed in Catholic or Anglican boarding schools in various countries including Canada, Australia and England. Some later came very near to taking their own lives. There’s much healing which needs to take place over an extended period of time. No instant miracles! However much we’d like to think that could be.

    I even attended a Missionary Boarding School founded by a wonderful man of God during the late nineteenth century. And even there, I encountered mild sexual abuse by a woman teacher when I was a little boy. I’m sure there must have been others who suffered even as I did.

    Thanks for bring this to light! Light precedes healing!


  12. Bob Snyder says:

    This is my first public comment related to this issue. I have read a great deal of the various opinions; I have also taken a look at the site (and comments elsewhere) associated with the person driving this entire thing. As an outsider, it seems very clear that the goal here is to take PBI down.

    If we all step back and really study some of these many accusations (such as abuse supposedly taking place in Minnesota, then continuing in Three Hills AFTER the family moved there) – how can we say this is an objective, well intentioned effort to provide “healing”, etc? Again, and from the outside, this looks like a crusade to take down PBI, pure and simple.

    Secondly – and particularly for all of you who are so comfortable quoting scripture: what about the part that says we are to “look ahead” – and NOT look back? This whole thing is a VERY long look back, with accusations against people that may be dead! How on earth can they defend themselves?

    Lastly, and for all you that believe this is such a wonderful thing to get all this exposed: where does this end? What’s next? The person who has so successfully moved this crusade forward refers to “emotional” and “physical” abuse. Let’s discuss the “physical” part (not sexual). Many of us who lived there 50 years ago or so could recount a great many people and instances where the corporal punishment was such that the person administering that punishment would be in jail today, if the punishment took place today. This was a very frequent event in a great many homes, and in the grade school. Shall we revisit that, get the RCMP involved, name all the teachers and principals involved, ruin their reputations (if they’re still alive), and cause unspeakable pain to their survivors (if they’re not still alive)? Would you all rejoice if this were to take place? For the many of you who seem to see this whole outing as such a great thing, why would you not consider an investigation into physical abuse such as I just described – why would you not see that in a similarly positive light?

    I was born and raised there. I am not naive. I do not minimize some of the very dark things that took place there. I am very aware of things that went on that make me shudder to this day, now that I am a father and a grandfather. But – I also have to say that there are several of my old school mates that I am still in touch with. And I need to also say that we see our childhood as overwhelmingly positive. Perfect? No. Positive? Yes.

    I do not know the person who initiated this whole thing – but I’ve looked around enough to have major, major doubts as to the intent, and the overall accuracy of the charges that are either overtly stated, or clearly implied. If she is successful in her transparent effort to destroy PBI, then we’ll all know who was the real power behind this.

    God help us.

    • peter says:

      Bob, I understand your comments and appreciate your candor. I also relate to the corporal abuse. On the issues you address, the train has left the station. It is easy to reach the conclusions you have reached, and I’ll leave you to your own conclusions. To use your words, I’m looking through the windshield, not the rear-view mirror, and am now energized by what good can come out of this – not what evil will emerge. Please be patient with all of us! There is a HUGE upside to all of this. I’m a perennial optimist! Nothing that has occurred in the last 6 months has changed that!

  13. Bob Kirk says:

    Amy, excellent comments. Thank you.

  14. Dave Jespersen says:

    Thanks for your opening this forum and particularly the optimism comments. I would like to frame them as Biblical optimism. There is no way that I would want to minimize anyone’s pain or to be insensitive to the results of abuse but I do believe that the God that we love and serve will be glorified. Perhaps a result of all of this being brought to the fore will result in those of us who do have a stake will be dedicated to prayer for God to be honored.

    • peter says:

      Thanks for better clarifying the basis for optimism, Dave! Is the home your folks lived in back in the ’60s still in the family? I did some some interior rooms there at one time.

      • Dave Jespersen says:

        Hi Peter,
        Dad still lives on part of the property as do Margi and Doug. I have fond memories of your being there!

        • peter says:

          You may not remember the time your Mom asked me to paint their bedroom. They were going to be away for a day or two. In the process I spilled a gallon of paint on top of the bed, washed the bedspread, put everything back in order, told your Mom when she got home, and she just laughed! It was a mess…..

  15. David Johnson says:

    Amid the many opinions already expressed here and elsewhere, two familiar verses of Scripture have been weaving their way, in my mind, throughout these comments.

    No.1: Heb. 12:15, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be de-filed.” This word of warning speaks to everyone, on all sides of the subject. There is a V-E-R-Y FINE LINE that separates the grace filled heart that seeks a thorough, complete and just review of every individual’s case that is brought up, and that grace-deficient heart that bitterly seeks revenge, a vengeful justice and “deserved” judgment on all alleged perpetrators. Bitterness in anyone’s heart will brew and stew until it explodes, causing great trouble and defiling many. Whether or not that has already happened, God, for sure, knows. But God’s Word calls on all Christ Followers to be filled up with the grace of God, to bring healing by being dispensers of His grace by not allowing a root of bitterness to spring up in our hearts.

    No.2: 2 Chron. 7:14, “If my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
    This familiar challenge does not need exposition. We all could expound on it “till the cows come home” . . . but, instead, it needs our serious contemplation. Though it is much easier to condemn the obvious sins of others, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to expose our own selfish, wicked ways; let’s seek HIS face, cry out for a new work of God on Prairie Campus and in the heart of every Alumni, Yours and Mine! This, which the enemy of Prairie and the Kingdom desires to result in chaos and destruction in individual lives and the whole Institution, can well be the catalyst for a renewal, a revival sweeping through Prairie Campus, across North America and around the world through the lives of Prairie Alumni….You and Me! Count me in!

    I, too, am an incurable optimist because of the grace of God and the expectation of the renewing work of the Holy Spirit.

  16. Carol Abbott says:

    Sorry! Guess I created a tempest in a teacup by not communicating my thoughts clearly. I will reiterate that as Scripture says if an individual offends, then the offended needs to go to him/her, etc. This still applies with sexual abuse. The abused individual needs to lay charges against the abuser to bring about accountability/responsibility and punishment for the abuse. Going public (i.e. class-action suit, Facebook, TV, radio, newspapers, etc.) does not bring about such a result. After such a length of time (30-50 years), it may not be possible for the abuser to be charged and that is when the abused must trust God to “right the wrong”. The more important issue to focus on is that there are some abused people who have not experienced the Great Physician’s healing sufficiently to be able to close the chapter and open a new chapter to live the life God wants them to live. Breaking the chains that bind, getting the skeleton out of the closet and burying it, breaking out of the prison that abuse created (whatever metaphor one chooses to use), can only be completely accomplished by God’s healing touch. Often it means someone coming alongside to give a hug and pass the tissue box when the tears flow and giving the counsel necessary to help. This is often not an overnight occurrence. It can take time to heal. But we as onlookers need to pray that each abused individual will have someone to be there for him/her as God-given healing becomes complete in each abused life.

    • peter says:

      No apologies needed Carol! I appreciate your candor, and your reposting. I will continue to monitor comments and not allow this blog to become one of commenters disagreeing with other commenters. I want this to be a safe place for people to comment knowing that we will listen. In most cases there really is no black and white, my way or the highway, formula for moving forward with this.

      Happy thanksgiving to you!

  17. Carol says:

    Thanks! It’s a tough situation! We all need to pray!

  18. Donna Kaiyala Carlaw says:

    Peter, I tend to share your optimism. For one thing, I am grateful to God that the RCMP is on the case. Yes, I know that not many will actually file reports of abuse that allegedly happened decades ago. It is not likely that much will come of it, but we shall see. However, it is the right thing for PBI to be accountable to what the Bible calls God ordained authorities. In fact, I suspect that PBI has reported known crimes in the past, but we don’t know. If they didn’t, they need to start, and it looks like Mark has set the example for the future, if God gives PBI a future.

    I am also grateful to God that those who were abused at PBI, or who allege they were have found each other and a place where they can share their stories and provide support. Whether I like the way they do it or not is irrelevant. They seem to need it and they seem to be finding help from their group. It may not go any farther than that, and it may be a God thing, even. The safest kind of support group is closed and anonymous, but hey. There is no law against going public, and my way may not be their way as long as they are not breaking any laws.

    Then, I am really, really grateful to God for all the renewed friendships from our time at PBI. We have so many good memories to share with one another, to encourage one another. I have met some new friends, too, and that is quite amazing. I have also grown in my understanding of the whole topic of abuse, though I knew a lot to begin with. In fact, I have my own abuse issues to deal with, so I get it.

    Then, I think that many of us have been awakened to our need to pray for our beloved school and good people like Mark Maxwell as well as the fine crop of students that are studying there this year. I for one had pretty much lost interest in the school. There was so much drama. I was asleep at the switch. Now I am praying for all involved in this present crisis.

    So, I am optimistic. Of course, things could get very, very rocky, and God may let PBI as a place just face into the sunset – or in a not so glorious blaze. However, what is that song about They Can’t Take That Away From Me? The lessons I learned, the friends I made, the good memories and good times cannot be taken from me. Best of all, Christ cannot be taken from me, and He has no plans to abandon me. How could I be anything but grateful for what He has given me?

    Please excuse any mistakes of grammar, punctuation, spelling, or general lack of clarity. Enid is not here to help me at this moment.
    Bless you, Peter, and nighty night.

    • peter says:

      So you need Enid to clean you up as well?!

      Your comments were spot on Donna. I resonated with so many of your comments. I agree we need to undergird the school and Mark in prayer.

      And we can’t confuse the medium with the message, or let the medium confuse or obfuscate the message.

      Have a great Thanksgiving!


  20. Donna Kaiyala Carlaw says:

    Peter, I see many mistakes in what I wrote, but alas. It is now on the Internet forever, with no possiblity of correcting those errors. Let’s see if I can make some new ones today.

    Thank you for your kind comments.

    I am thrilled to see that the level of abusive speech is now diminishing, and that some reasonable, respectful, and dare I say, reverent conversation is finally happening?

    Happy Thanksgiving! Blessing on your head.

    Why do I list three alliterated points in some of my sentences? Can I blame PBI for that?

  21. Al Hiebert says:

    Peter, thank you for your seven suggestions toward resolution of the sexual abuse scandal at PBI. As a grad of ’62 with 40 years of senior administrative experience since, mostly in Christian higher education, I support your optimism and call that God be glorified through this challenging resolution. Let me underscore the need for third party investigation and arbitration beyond what the RCMP may do at the criminal level. I also underscore the need to avoid litigation, which I expect would only multiply pains and damage.

    If the victims will trust no other agency than GRACE, then they may be a useful third party. They seem to be professionally competent and devoutly Christian, though they seem to be very new to this particular Christian ministry. Many years of experience as prosecutors of pedophiles provides some ‘street cred,’ though not for God-glorifying reconciliation.

    Possibly a more helpful third party would be Ken Sande and his colleagues at Peacemaker Ministries ( Since 1983 they have generated a global ministry of God-glorifying reconciliation (in over 100 countries and more than five languages), including a wide variety of sexual abuse scandals in a wide variety of settings. Wednesday I sent this suggestion to Mark Maxwell and Linda Brinks, their board contact on this issue.

    One more observation. This process will cost PBI seriously, whatever third party strategy they choose. I suspect this is not in their current budget. Can we round up a special support group of alumni for this special need? They likely cannot afford to see regular support diverted to this project. Part of the GRACE arbitration recommendation in the New Tribes Mission 2010 case was a $1,000,000 fund for MK victim counselling. Who knows what the GRACE arbitration costs were. Who knows what the PBI arbitration costs may be. Here optimism may need some realism and God’s guidance. Prayer is needed for this issue as well as many related complex dimensions of the whole situation. Let’s pray also that revival will be another outcome.

    • peter says:

      Insightful comments Al. I had not heard of Peace Maker Ministries. Appreciate your informing Mark and Linda.

      I am rather naive on the outcome of the GRACE investigation, and was shocked by the $1,000,000 arbitration amount for counseling of the abused MKs. That figure alone would be staggering for Mark and the board to process. I presume this does not include the fees paid to GRACE for their services.

      Mark will certainly need all of his financial skills to juggle all these balls if this is the necessary direction to follow.

      You graduated five years ahead of me. I too am an MK.


      • Al Hiebert says:

        Right, Peter, the $1,000,000 arbitration was besides all costs for fees paid to GRACE. Small wonder that the PBI board’s first step was to seek in-house resolution with the invitation that victims contact one of their number, Linda Brinks.

        Any Christian leader who has not yet read Ken Sande, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict (Baker Books, 3rd Ed. 2003) should do so asap. It’s by far the most biblical treatment of this challenge that I have encountered (800+ passages of Scripture cited; very gospel focused; by a widely experienced Christian lawyer). I’ve taught this at Caronport, Hyderabad (India), Ontario & Steinbach, MB – always to enthusiastic responses from those experienced in ministry. Check out their many most helpful resources at

        Just because GRACE is located near Linda Fossen, in Florida and has done several sexual abuse cases is not sufficient reason for PBI to do the same IMHO. I doubt that the victims group has much understanding of the nature of their demands, beyond what they feel themselves, as serious as is the latter.

        Every case of sexual abuse is a horrendous tragedy. However, I know from the cases of three members in my family plus one friend who are/were victims, that such tragedies are not easily resolved.

  22. Judy Ward Alexander says:

    I don’t have any answers, but I am saddened by such news about my beloved alma mater. My experiences at Prairie were nothing but good, wonderful years of learning from godly teachers and staff and developing friendships that I have cherished for
    almost 50 years. It is sad that anyone suffered pain such as is indicated and I certainly pray that healing will come to those who endured harm in this way. It is so hard to believe that such things occurred in the atmosphere that I remember as Prairie and hopefully it wasn’t during the time that I was there as I’d like to continue to believe good of all my acquaintances and good friends that were there.

    • peter says:

      I share your recollections Judy, as does my wife who graduated two years behind me in ’69. We were oblivious to anything of this nature. We knew when students crossed the line and what happened to them, but it never occurred to us that adults may have been crossing the line at the same time!

      Rhetoric is high and specifics are minimal at this point. Progress will be made. God’s hand is on PBI. That I am convinced of.

  23. Judy Ward Alexander says:

    By the way, I had to chuckle remembering Ted Rendall’s alliteration in his class on minor prophets!!

  24. Peter, I think that publishing this blog was a bold move. I appreciated the comments by Amy Rish and by David Birch. I remember his visits to “the Home” and enjoyed him very much. I suspect he was at Chefoo with my brothers Joseph and David Cooke and may have shared Japanese prison camp with Joe. That was a long time ago. Joe would not discuss much but the positive things of his time there.

    I also appreciated Bob Kirk’s honesty and outlook on things. I am praying that something positive happens and that there is resolution and change.

  25. This is what PBI hoped no one would ever see…Selmer Hanson was a long-time former VP of PBI. Those who survived his abuse have definitely found their voices and are speaking out. Read their tragic stories…

  26. So ironic that I was told a million times that I WAS THE REASON PBI would not deal with the abuse survivors. It was because of my “methods”, my “tone”, and my “approach”. So I leave and nothing has been accomplished with PBI. The survivors have scattered, the alumni are apathetic and PBI frankly doesn’t give a damn.

    And no, I am not coming back – I am not going to waste another minute on this worthless school. I am full invested in helping the survivors of Selmer Hanson’s abuse and seeing that he is brought to justice. As such, I am on high alert for anyone at PBI that may have been abused by Selmer. They need to contact the Edmonton RCMP.

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