I just returned from the last couple of weeks in Sub-Saharan Africa, and after meeting immediately with IMB trustee leaders, I want to speak clearly about recent news concerning an internal IMB investigation in 2007 of alleged sexual abuse by a former youth pastor who had become an IMB missionary and then went on to serve in other ministry leadership positions. In order to fully guard the integrity of an ongoing criminal investigation (with which IMB is committed to full cooperation), I believe it is wise, for the sake of everyone involved, for me to refrain from commenting on specific details in this case.
However, I do want to say that many facets of this situation are extremely disturbing. For this reason, I am commencing a thorough, outside, independent examination of IMB’s handling of past actions, including this case and any other similar situations. In addition, I am commencing a thorough, outside, independent examination of IMB’s present policies and practices to ensure that our current commitment to zero tolerance for child abuse, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment is completely and consistently enforced across IMB today. Further, I am presently in conversations with leaders of other churches and ministries, particularly within the SBC, to establish practical ways we can and must prevent situations like this in the future. Any attempts to minimize, ignore, cover up, or overlook child abuse, sexual abuse, or sexual harassment are absolutely intolerable, and we must take action together now to ensure safety and support for every person employed or affected by a church or ministry.
Moreover, I want to publicly apologize for the hurt and pain that Anne Miller has specifically suffered in this situation. I will not presume to know the variety of other emotions and challenges that she, those around her, and others who have walked through similar situations have experienced. Further, I want to apologize for various ways we in the IMB have contributed to such hurt and pain through our response to this point. In addition, I want to publicly thank Anne Miller for the courage she showed in approaching IMB in 2007, and the courage she is showing now. I realize the actions I have outlined above cannot remove her hurt and pain, or the hurt and pain of others who have experienced similar situations. But I am committed to doing all that I can so that her courage, and the courage of others like her, will prevent hurt and pain among others in the future.
In conclusion, we must do better. In the IMB. In the SBC. In any church and any ministry, we must do everything we can to protect children and adults from abuse and harassment, and we must do everything we can to hold anyone who is guilty of these things fully accountable.
David Platt is president of the International Mission Board.