Forget everything you ever thought you knew about the Healing Team because most of it is bogus. Prairie Bible Institute has been downright deceitful in the way they have portrayed this group of alumni who are here to ”help” the survivors.
For starters Prairie has insisted that this is just an ad-hoc group of volunteer alumni with no real ties to PBI. This is not so! Ruth Maxwell created the group and she and Mim Phibbs (also a Maxwell) have been calling the shots since day one. They just don’t want anyone to know that they are the powers-to-be. Make no mistake about it – dealing with the healing team is the same as dealing directly with PBI - you might as well save time and just call Mark Maxwell directly. Perhaps this explains the secrecy with the healing team and how it was like pulling teeth to get someone to identify the team members. The ones they have identified are just puppets of Ruth Maxwell and Mim Phibbs. Which begs the question, why did the Maxwells feel the need to hide this from everyone? Perhaps it is because they have an agenda and want to “catch” as many unsuspecting survivors as they can so they can sucker them into following the plan of getting survivors to tell their stories in the quietest way possible without anyone being the wiser. You will notice that we have never heard a single story from a survivor who used the healing team. We have never heard the number of survivors who have used their services. All of that is kept very hush-hush. Why? I’ll tell you why. Because PBI would like to have you think that there are no “real” cases of abuse. Remember the time Mark was quoted in the media as saying “I think we might have a real situation here”. This exposed his true feelings – he didn’t believe what we survivors were saying was true. And even if he did believe, he didn’t want it to be known. After all, any “real” case of abuse is a black mark on his school and God knows how hard he has tried to protect the image of his beloved school.
We shouldn’t be surprised that the healing team has a direct pipeline back to Mark Maxwell. Remember when Mark assigned the nurse from the board to be our point of contact? He encouraged all survivors to confidentially contact Linda Brinks. I had a survivor tell me that she did call and talked to Linda briefly and within a half-hour of that call, Mark Maxwell was on the phone inviting himself to visit this survivor in her home! She was horrified and told him no! One of the first things he said was “I heard you made a call to Linda Brinks”. So much for confidentiality and so much for Mark not controlling the process. Mark Maxwell is a micro-manager and can’t stand the thought that anything can be done without his supervision. The reason he is opposed to hiring GRACE is because he does not want to give up this control. He wants to be able to manage the process by which survivors speak their truth. No one, not even me should be allowed to manage that process. It needs to be handled by a true third party.
Now before you think that I am against any survivor getting help, let me explain what my issues are with having PBI have their own healing team. There are several things I don’t like about it. First there is the exclusivity of the group. The healing team does not welcome all survivors and are specifically interested only in the survivors who are amicable to reconciliation with the school. There have been several survivors who have given up their faith. They have proclaimed themselves agnostics and atheists. Just watch the exchanges that some of these individuals have had with the alumni online and you will see that the old self-righteous condemnation mentality is still very much alive and well at PBI. I am opposed to any solution to help the survivors, which is not inclusive of everyone, regardless of their belief system or lack of it. All one has to do is look at the survivors that Mark Maxwell refuses to respond to and you will know that they are cherry picking the survivors they deem worthy of a response. If you aren't worthy then you don't get a response.
Secondly, I am opposed to the discrepancy between the ways healing team survivors are treated versus those who don’t use the healing team. Remember the third party we used to have? Centre Street Church withdrew their support and left not because there were not enough survivors coming forward. They left because they couldn’t cosign the way PBI was paying for therapy for healing team survivors and NOT paying for therapy for the survivors who contacted them. It was unethical and Centre Street Church was going to have no part of it. They graciously gave PBI an undeserved way out by making a politically correct statement for the press. They should have nailed PBI for being so unethical. I know for a fact that Centre Street Church paid for therapy for a survivor because PBI refused to pay after the survivor had already been given treatment. This was not only unethical – it was disgusting. The reason survivors quit contacting Centre Street was because we were sensing some uneasiness in the air between them and PBI and we were waiting it out to see how things played out. PBI spun it to say that the numbers being thrown around were highly inflated. The truth is that most of the survivors have not spoken yet. They will in time given the right time and place.
Thirdly, I am really opposed to the healing team’s emphasis on forgiveness and reconciliation. At the heart of this is just another attempt for PBI to get people to move on prematurely without really dealing with their inner pain. It is almost better to leave survivors in their pain then to trick them into a pseudo state of healing that later crumbles and makes the survivor feel even worse pain than before. I am not opposed to healing and reconciliation but these are works of the Holy Spirit that men cannot manufacture. True healing and reconciliation does not require survivors to “forget their past” but allows the survivor to integrate their past with their present. A truly healed survivor is one who can talk about their pain and use their experience to help others. God never intended for us to forget our abuse. He does not perform lobotomies and take away our memories. What he does do it takes our raw pain and uses the comfort he gives us to comfort others. I am vehemently opposed to the superficial way that PBI groups have treated survivors. I would rather be labeled “negative” and be talking about real emotions and real pain then be one of the “girls that wanna have fun” survivors who are not even scratching the surface of their problems. The only way to deal with this pain is to look it in the eyeball and stare it down until the pain releases its hold on you. I see none of that evident in PBI’s approach.
Fourthly, I am disgusted that Prairie has held no perps accountable. Don’t even get me started on Mark Maxwell’s cheap trick of going to the RCMP. That was all for publicity sake. He knew that no one would be prosecuted for crimes from decades ago. Mark says that contacting the RCMP was “raising the bar to the highest standard”. I beg to differ with him. It was merely leaving the bar at the bare minimum. There is a much higher standard that any Bible college should adhere to and that is the Word of God. I know Prairie is a Bible college in name only but if Mark wants to raise the bar then he should check out his Bible and start following the instructions laid out by the Apostle Paul to expose and ex-communicate those who abuse children. Instead of excommunicating child molesters, PBI harbors them. Mark Maxwell has a known child molester on his executive staff right now.
Fifthly, I am opposed to any solution that allows PBI and Mark Maxwell to control the process on how these survivor’s stories will be heard and acknowledged. Prairie has proven to be incapable of being trusted to do this in-house. We need a legitimate third-party that will document the areas that Prairie has failed to protect children, the weaknesses that allowed abusers to abuse with impunity, and the factors that caused abuse to flourish. This needs to be documented and distributed to the public so that all of us can learn from the atrocities that occurred in the past. This third-party needs to be able to distribute funds for therapy without any interference from PBI.
Getting back to the healing team. Remember the survivor who got a pre-paid trip to Three Hills and had a “glorious” experience meeting with Mark Maxwell? That was all very much orchestrated by Ruth Maxwell and Mim Phibbs. Funny isn’t it that no other survivor was ever offered this? I remember Mark doing a radio interview with the survivor and saying that she was from “one of the grand families of Prairie”. So apparently nothing much has changed at PBI. In grade school, I remember feeling out of league with those whose names were Kirk, Olson, Maxwell and Rendall. If you weren’t related to them, you definitely were not in the inner circle. It was evident on the playground in third grade.
In keeping control of the healing team, Prairie is able to control what the public finds out. I truly believe in my heart that PBI knows the scope of the abuse of children that was perpetrated by its staff on campus – but they want to squelch that information in order to protect their reputation. When a survivor told Ruth that her abuser was a student and not staff, Ruth replied, “Oh good, that’s so much better.” Better for whom? Better for PBI that’s who! Ruth’s response is telling and really indicative of the attitude of the administration. Remember when Mark Maxwell sent out a memo after the RCMP announced that they were not laying charges on the ten cases that were reported to them? Mark Maxwell said he was “grateful”. Grateful! I can think of so many things that a college president could say at a time like this…”I feel sorry for the survivors who are hurting right now”…”it must be so disappointing to the survivors who had the courage to come forward”…”it is a tragedy that these perpetrators will not be held accountable”. No, he said none of these things. Mark Maxwell was “grateful”. Why? Well because there would be no public airing of PBI’s dirty laundry that’s why. No one would know about the faculty who taught in the school during the day and raped little children at night. No one would hear about the deviants that were employed by the school and no one would find out about the times when Prairie’s administrators knew and looked the other way.
Now I understand why I am so despised by the healing team – Ruth and Mim both refuse to have contact with me. There is no welcome mat for me. As soon as I started to get vocal about the abuse at Prairie, these two drew a line in the sand. They don’t even acknowledge me. I am despised and rejected – a person that is not worthy of their attention or time. When I have tried to reach out to them, they completely ignore me. And it is just as well because it allows me to keep my focus on tearing down the walls that have made PBI such a citadel of silence. My job doesn’t allow me to be chummy with too many people. I have to step on too many toes.
I keep going back what alumnus Janice Walker said shortly before her death. She had reached out to me and poured out her heart about her concerns with the healing team. Janice saw first hand the way that survivors were manipulated. She tried to make things right and was ignored by Ruth Maxwell (see a pattern here?). When someone did respond to her – it was done in a spirit of self-righteousness and condemnation. The message that came through loud and clear was “we are more spiritual than you and we have decided to do it this way – we don’t care what you think!” Does this remind you of the Prairie Bible Institute that we knew as kids? For more on this see the following link http://pbisurvivors.com/index.php/blog/the-healing-team-hurting-or-helping/
I shudder to see the survivors who have gone to the healing team and fear for the damage that is being done to them. I hate to think of the manipulation that is going on behind the scenes and I worry about the day when the fragile “healing” these survivors think they have found disintegrates and they crash and burn. Who will be there to pick up the pieces? Who will be there to pick them up? Will their trust in people be permanently destroyed? How about their trust in God? None of that seems to matter to Prairie who is hell-bent on saving the reputation of the school. When you put the reputation of the school ahead of people, you will always go wrong. People must come first.
Which brings me to my last point. There is news on the horizon that Ruth Maxwell is leaving South Africa to move back to Canada. I don’t know what her plans are but seeing the way she has inserted herself into the inner-workings of PBI, I would venture to say that she is going to be helping brother Mark navigate these troubled waters. The school is in dire financial straits. The abuse scandal has clearly given them a black eye and their continued arrogance in not to seek outside help has cost them respect from the evangelical community. Times are hard for PBI right now and it remains to be seen if they will survive. From my standpoint, it is abundantly clear that God brought us survivors together and that he didn’t “go to all this trouble” just to see us fall on our faces. I think the abuse scandal is the biggest challenge PBI has ever faced and how they ultimately handle this will be either their saving grace or their downfall. It truly is in their hands - or should I say in in the Maxwell’s hands.