Friday, April 01, 2005


Some have suggested that those of us who were hurt by Jews for Jesus should seek to have these grievances professionally mediated. The idea being that mediation would allow the person who was abused to talk to their abuser in a safe environment, and possibly reach emotional and spiritual closure. I personally don't know of anyone who has engaged in professional mediation with JFJ. I suspect that there are several reasons for this, including:

(1) JFJ might not submit to an arbitration or mediation process, for a variety of reasons. Remember, this is an organization that often shuns people who leave without a "good" reason. The feelings of individuals are not at the top of their priority list. My guess is that Jews for Jesus would avoid arbitration since the outcome is beyond their control. Why arbitrate or mediate when they have an in-house attorney? What is the benefit for them?

(2) Persons who have been hurt by JFJ might not want to submit to this process, fearing that a similar outcome might result (i.e., more hurt and more damage to the individual). In other words, there is a trust issue here.

(3) Who would pay for such a process? I'm sure that professional mediators are not cheap, although they are undoubtedly somewhat less expensive than lawyers.

(4) Is mediation worth the emotional toll that it would probably take on individuals? It would take a great deal of courage and emotional strength to go through this process, especially for someone who has been badly hurt by their involvement with JFJ. But what would result? Surely not a financial settlement, since JFJ would never agree to binding arbitration. Probably not even a sincere apology. The most that one could get from JFJ would probably be something like, "We are sorry that you experienced emotional distress while working for Jews for Jesus." And even that would never become public, since of course JFJ would insist on a confidentiality clause. Nevertheless, I'm sure that there are numerous people who used to work for JFJ who would willingly go through mediation if the financial costs were not too great. But the question is, would JFJ agree to it? My guess is no.

A number of people have written letters to JFJ to express their concern about the abuse that has taken place in the past and may still be taking place today. These letters were written, for the most part, by individuals who experienced abuse while in the employ of JFJ. (In other words, they have first hand knowledge of the abuse). I have seen several of these letters. I have also seen the responses (from Jews for Jesus) to some of these letters. In no case do I remember the responses to these letters ever taking responsibility for the pain that these individuals experienced. Usually the responses were defensive and "blamed the victim." Once in a while a meager apology was offered, something like "I'm sorry that you experienced pain. If anyone hurt you, they should not have done that." Can you see how shallow and empty that kind of response is? It reminds me of Iran-Contra in the 1980s when Reagan or one of his officials said, "Mistakes were made." No ownership of the problem. At any rate, I just can't see why JFJ would engage in mediation with anyone. It is not to their benefit, except in a spiritual sense, and I don't think that is high on their list of priorities.


Anonymous said...

In my opinion it would be easier to kiss a rattlesnake than reconcile with those in leadership positions at JfJ.
I knew people from the time before their signing up with the organization, and watched their transformation from caring people to people who could inflict unimaginable psychological pain on others. This happened time and time again.
One eager missionary was told by a senior executive, "If you have one redeeming quality, I don't know what it is." I guess being created in the image of God and worthy of Christ giving his life for the person weren't considered redeemable qualities. Shame on them.

Anonymous said...

The real problem has been mentioned many times. The real problem, in most cases, is not with any individuals, but with the system and policies. Therefore, the only people who are truely to blame would be top leadership who established the policies, but they always hide behind a mantel of "I cannot apologize for anything other than what I personally did, and I did not do anything," Everyone else says "I was only obeying orders."

Many have tried "mediation" using the JFJ perferred method which is the ombudsmen. Unfortunately, they have no authority other than to report everything you say to the top leadership. And YOU get into trouble for saying anything.

Anonymous said...

Attempts were made to bring this organization to account. The usual response was to refer the matter to the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors job is to serve the executive director and to protect the organization. Some board members even lose the boundary between themselves as persons and their role in the organization, so that any criticism of the organization is taken as a personal attack on the board member.
The entire environment is toxic: to the employees, the management, and the board. No one escapes unscathed in one way or another.

Anonymous said...

I met with one board member and talked about what happened to me in Jews for Jesus. His response was to say that he couldn't do anything because the Jews for Jesus board is not structured like the board of directors of most other Christian organizations.

In most other organizations, the board actually runs the organization and/or is the accountability for the president or director.

Not so in Jews for Jesus. In Jews for Jesus the board is hand picked by the Executive Director. Those who don't rubber stamp what he says and back him on even back decissions are penalized themselves in some way, or at least, asked to step down.

They are there for show only. The Jews for Jesus board of directors exists to make it look to the greater Christian community that there is real accountability and authority in the organization. The fact is, as I was told by this now former board member, is that the Executive Director operates as the Absolute Monarch of Jews for Jesus and has zero accountability to them or any other peer group.

With absolute control of the organization and absolute power over the rules of the organization, he is the absulolute person ultimately responsible for everything that happens in the organization. Even so says the Jews for Jesus Worker's Covenant that every missionary is required to sign on the day of their hiring.