Today’s post deals with how I managed a false accusation for 408 days, from May 8, 2013 until June 20, 2014. I get into the weeds in this post and discuss how I was accused of a crime I didn’t commit. While I lived under a threat Andrew White resumed recruiting to Redeemer Arlington. This post explores the PTSD that happened, and how a testimony of a teenager at Wooded Hills Bible Church of a false accusation gave me hope. Plus why an attorney believed I had a defamation of character lawsuit against Andrew White. Despite that all I wanted was to have Andrew White take the initiative and contact me and say, “I’m sorry Eagle.” Is that too hard from an Officer trained at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs? Today’s post deals with the darkest season of my life.
***Today’s post is very long. I go into the weeds of how I managed a false accusation from an Air Force Officer and Care Group Leader from Redeemer Arlington for 408 days. I promise to keep posts shorter than this one but I didn’t want to break this up. I also don’t focus on seeking forgiveness in this post as that is another story. Plus I want to be clear while discussing Andrew’s transgressions I want to be clear that I made a number of mistakes as an agnostic/atheist. I still own those mistakes. Also make sure you check out the song at the end, Linda Eder is quite good. Andrew White is a pseudo name.***
“We often hear that words can’t hurt you. But that’s simply not true. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said just the opposite. Words for Jesus could be the moral equivalent of murder. He said if we insult a brother or sister we will be liable. He said if we call someone a fool we will be liable to hell. Well how about anti-Semitic whispers? And how about a radio ad that calls someone a “little bug,” and that is run anonymously over and over again? Words do hurt. Words can kill. That has been proven right here in our home state.”
John Danforth at Tom Schweich’s Funeral
“Eagle, May these wreck your world as much as they have mine over the past 2.5 years. Enjoy!”
What Andrew White wrote on a CD containing sermons from Matt Chandler and Mark Driscoll
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Romans 12:18 NIV
On January 28, 2015, Tom Schweich, the State Auditor of Missouri announced his gubernatorial campaign and hoped to succeed Jay Nixon. His campaign in the Republican primary was against the former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway. Tom Schweich was apparently encouraged to run for governor by John Danforth a friend of Schweich who is a legend in Missouri politics. John Danforth has a long and established career to include Missouri Attorney General, US Senator, and ambassador to the UN. Tom Schweich meanwhile had a long established history to include working for the Chief of Staff of the UN ambassador and eventually became the US ambassador in Afghanistan. Afterward he turned his attention to Missouri politics and was elected to the position of auditor twice. In his campaign for governor Schweich remarked “at the State Department, I negotiated with everybody from Chinese bureaucrats to Afghan warlords,” he said. “And I’ll tell you: Negotiating with Afghan warlords was really good practice for Missouri politics.” The Missouri gubernatorial campaign would turn out to be brutal and during the campaign the head of the Missouri GOP, John Hancock allegedly began a whispering campaign against Tom Schweich by saying he was Jewish. The whispering campaign had so affected Schweich that it became an issue for him. On February 26, 2015 while dealing with the issue it allegedly drove the State Auditor to commit suicide. That suicide eventually triggered another suicide and ground things to a halt in Missouri. John Danforth who is an Episcopal Priest and close to Schweich also presided over his funeral. In a eulogy Danforth challenged the Missouri political system and spoke about how words can not only hurt people, but how they can kill people. In his talk Danforth stated, “We often hear that words can’t hurt you. But that’s simply not true. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said just the opposite. Words for Jesus could be the moral equivalent of murder. He said if we insult a brother or sister we will be liable. He said if we call someone a fool we will be liable to hell. Well how about anti-Semitic whispers? And how about a radio ad that calls someone a “little bug” and that is run anonymously over and over again. Words do hurt. Words can kill. That has been proven right here in our home state. ”
Indeed words can hurt, words can kill, words can maim, and words can destroy. That is what Andrew White, a 32 year old Air Force Captain who graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs in 2005 taught me. Its what Andrew who gave up high school sports to work on a musical production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to pursue his one day wife and who loved to journal and draw taught me. Andrew was committed to doing some amazing things in life. As a bone marrow donor earlier in life in April 2012 this Air Force logistic officer organized a bone marrow drive at an Air Force base in Washington, D.C. to get other people on the registry. He also was in the Portland press for being a bone marrow donor in helping to save a young girl’s life of which during this time he sent me text messages saying, “Hey Eagle for fun google me in the Portland newspaper.” During the time I knew Andrew I had a massive, prolonged and major faith crisis and eventually declared myself to be agnostic while consuming material from individuals like William Lobdell, Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. In this post I wrote what Andrew should have done while I was in a faith crisis and in contrast what Dee Parsons, Danny Risch, James Crestwood and Scott Van Swernigan did right. Andrew White gave birth to a false accusation on May 8, 2013. The false accusation could have destroyed my life. Today’s post is how I managed that false accusation for 13 months, or 408 days. It is a story of a horrific betrayal. During this time I wondered as to who Andrew would be like in the end…would he be Judas Iscariot? Or Peter? Today’s post deals with being thrust into the darkest season of my life by someone who once claimed to love me. Again as I pen these words…I don’t know why I am not a raging atheist today.
May 8, 2013
May 8th started like any normal work day and late in the morning my boss went and got me. My boss quipped “I like Andrew and you’re going to learn to respect a military officer…” I was forced into a room. Andrew came in the room reading a statement where he claimed he was nervous around me, and didn’t want me around his wife and daughter. He was angry that I called Sovereign Grace a cult, and read a statement about how he blocked me from sending emails and texts. He said that forgiveness is not meant to be abused. And Andrew said he wanted to devote more time to his family, and with that he rushed out of the room. My boss a retried Army Officer said,
“You got that Eagle? You contact Andrew or so much as drive through his neighborhood you will be reported to law enforcement.”
(***August 8, 2015 Edit*** I want to be crystal clear that some of these issues weren’t an issue to begin with. For example I lived in Virginia and not Washington, D.C. so I never drove through Andrew White’s neighborhood to begin)
When I heard what was alleged I couldn’t believe it came from the same guy who just shortly beforehand asked me to stay in his condo. I couldn’t believe Andrew walked me through his wedding album, and showed me his pictures of his daughter on his Android. I also couldn’t believe the charges especially as Andrew asked me to change the password on his computer. My boss wouldn’t listen but I was so railroaded I was stunned. A co-worker looked at me after the meeting and asked, “Eagle are you okay? You look sick.” I was reeling in being hammered as my boss disciplined me on only hearing one side of the story. I was in a military culture and in such a culture military looks out for other military. Andrew White had exploited that issue. I was sent home from work at about noon.
Overnight my life was turned upside down. A lot changed in a few moments. I left the building in a daze. Much of that day I was in shock. The first person I called was Dee Parsons. The first words out of my mouth were, “Thank God you’re home you won’t believe what happened” The first words Dee said were, “Andrew betrayed you Eagle!” I can’t remember much of that day as it is blocked out of my memory. Its hard to write about it here, but this needs to be told. With me out of the way and the relationship fractured Andrew White in the course of time then focused on recruiting another person, Patricia W to Eric Simmons Redeemer Arlington. Dee Parsons who is familiar with HR law was angry with how this was handled and said, “Oh Eagle the problem is that Andrew couldn’t deal with your questions…he’s insecure, and your questions also threatened him.”
In time all I wanted Andrew White to do was approach me and initiate forgiveness and say, “Eagle I’m sorry I screwed up…will you please forgive me?”
Managing the False Accusation
I became scared to contact almost anyone during this time because I didn’t know who to trust and who was a friend. Would James Crestwood, Danny Risch, or Scott Van Swernigen do the same thing? The false accusation turned my world upside down. The false accusation was so traumatic that I sat on my couch in my condo after it happened and physically shook in pain. Dee Parsons called that Saturday morning two days after this happened and I told her I didn’t know what was happening to me I was crying for unknown reasons and shaking. Dee Parsons said, “Listen you’re in shock something deeply traumatic happened to you.” Psychologically the situation was terrifying. That Saturday as I sat in my condo shaking on my couch James Crestwood sent me a text asking if I had any plans for the day and that he missed me. James’ text message was a lifeline, a raft, a hand when I so desperately needed it. I then realized that I can contact James and that I reached out to him. When I told him what Andrew White did James wanted to meet me right away and hear what happened. So we met on a playground on Capital Hill and he asked, “What happened?” I still remember how he did this…James had one eye on his daughter who was on some playground equipment and one eye on me listening intently. I told James what happened and he said that calling Redeemer a cult is tough language and he did ask me why I was so mean at times. So I appreciate the strength James had to speak directly to me when I was wrong. In speaking with James I saw some of the mistakes I made with Andrew. That said, James was deeply perplexed as well and stunned that someone in a reciprocal relationship would do such a thing. And then James listened to Andrew’s voice-mails especially, the one where he invited me over to his condo to spend a couple of nights in March 2013. The false accusation didn’t make sense to James, especially in light of his voice-mail invitation. Plus I told James that in spite of his strong defense of Sovereign Grace amidst the problems of child sex abuse hemorrhaging from the organization that he and his wife Gillian should jump into the Chesapeake Bay with millstones around their neck. James said you don’t tell someone to commit suicide, but he also said that Andrew should have been a Christian enough to understand that the Bible is filled with metaphors and that the story of Jesus with millstones and children is one of them. James responded with a lot of grace, love, and honesty that Saturday afternoon. Then James looked at me in the eye and said something to the effect ” I have no idea of how I would ever deal with a similar situation in my life. I don’t know how I could ever recover? ”
In the course of time I opened up about the false accusation with other people. I wanted to hear their thoughts. Plus I was in so much emotional pain. I talked it over with one pastor who said that his church will pray that Andrew will feel guilty. Another pastor who had experience with the military told me that he didn’t think Andrew White would be able to own up the false accusation, and said that if the Air Force found out what happened, he would likely be denied promotion and forced out – especially as an Air Force Officer. I didn’t want any of this to happen. As I spoke with more people the response I got is one of horror. One person from Cru at Fresno State told me, “Eagle this is a guy who wanted to end a relationship but who lacked the social skills to know how…so he had to manufacture a false accusation.” As this guy from Cru at Fresno State spoke he told me of how a similar situation forced him out of a job years prior and how it still affects him. Another person called what Andrew White did as “evil” and said my boss didn’t understand the entire story and was disturbed that a boss would only act on one hearing one side. That was the part that made Dee Parsons livid as she also knew of HR laws and policies that were violated by my supervisor. But continuing this same person said what Andrew did was awful and that he would never expect another Christian to act like that. Meanwhile someone who knew Andrew examined both our communications and while he pointed out my flaws in the situation he also said that Andrew was disingenuous. He couldn’t believe that Andrew would do such a thing and he was personally angry. He also spoke with me about having to bounce back. “Eagle” he said ” You have to find a way to bounce back..” Running this by other people was encouraging because abuse and questionable activity thrives in silence. The hardest thing to do is speak up, but speak up one must. In realizing that I had to bounce back I also thought that could happen through weight loss surgery in time as I was struggling to bounce back.
The false accusation I had to manage touched my life in ways that I could not even imagine. Since Andrew and I often had lunches together, or grabbed coffee beforehand, I now used that information of his whereabouts to avoid him. My deepest fear is that I would run into him in a stairwell or another room and that he would make another false accusation and escalate this further. He was an Air Force Officer and I was a civilian and in the culture I was in the military officer is always right. I knew I wouldn’t stand a chance. Life isn’t fair I learned that much earlier but still I never imagined that a Christian who boasted of his faith would leave so much carnage in his wake. So I had to work around these problems that the false accusation gave birth. For me it meant coming into work super early and also having lunch in the cafeteria because I wanted to be around people and have an alibi or witness. I used the restroom on the other side of the floor to avoid Andrew White. I did all this to decrease the chances of bumping into Andrew, and I was guided and coached by Dee Parsons who is deeply familiar with HR law due to the career she has held in the medical profession. It was especially hard as Andrew sat 20 feet away from where I worked. I heard him speak on the phone, heard him doing work, and he no doubt heard me. I also found this false accusation touching other areas of my life. For example I missed a farewell luncheon for someone who I loved and cared about and this affected my relationship with them. The false accusation affected me outside of work as well. For example I had a friend of mine from Milwaukee in DC for an internship. He worked on Capital Hill and was trained by Harvard Medical School in mental health issues and over a Mexican dinner I ran the situation by him and he looked at me and said, “________ are you kidding after he just invited you to stay in his house?” Another time later we were hanging out again and my friend wanted to grab a bite to eat that was around the corner from where Andrew lived. I didn’t want this conflict to affect my friend so I kept it to myself. But as we ate I was nervous and in knots and it was miserable. I sent Dee Parsons a text message afterward and she responded, “that’s awful you have to endure that…” When I saw Andrew in the hall at work I could feel the anger and hate he had at me. It was icy and cold, and not the frozen chosen kind of icy by the way. I could literally feel the hate as I walked past him. As time would go on he would give me an occasional half waves that would leave me confused. Then there was another thing that happened that I noticed. 95% of the time when I saw Andrew he turned away and never made eye contact. My gut was telling me that he felt guilty over the situation. When I mentioned this to James Crestwood or Dee Parsons they both said the same thing, “Eagle he’s feeling guilty about the false accusation.”
In time all I wanted Andrew White to do was approach me and initiate forgiveness and say, “Eagle I’m sorry I screwed up…will you please forgive me?”
On the July 4th Holiday of 2013 I was in my bedroom in the morning just cleaning up. I had a bunch of old bills to trash, shred, and purge some stuff to keep my place clean. I worked through pile after pile and was distracted and going ahead, I wasn’t thinking about the situation with Andrew at all that morning. Then I grabbed another pile expecting to find more old bills to shred before trashing. Instead as I lifted some paper I stumbled across a cache of papers, notes and a journal that Andrew White gave me during the relationship. I froze in my tracks and slowly looked them over. It triggered in me a lot of pain, heartache, and life stopped for a second. I looked at some of the notes he left at my desk at work, notes professing love, having a good day , etc… I sat on the floor of my bedroom staring at his diary that he gave me me. I read his words thanking me for this friendship, and wanting to help me find peace with God. I started to weep and sob uncontrollably while sitting on the floor and at the same time I thought I was going to vomit. I couldn’t reconcile the two…how could a guy who professed love for me then turn around and claim I was a threat to his family? It triggered a lot of emotions. This happened just a few days before the second month anniversary of being railroaded through a false accusation of May 8; and at that time I was still trying to find a way forward. I really wanted to trash it but knew the better move was to save it, especially in proving the reciprocal nature of a friendship that once was. Around this time I met with a Naval Reserve Officer, he was one of the 140 people I approached for forgiveness. We met in a bagel shop in Reston, Virginia. He asked me what happened and I had to tell him the story including the false accusation that Andrew gave birth to. Ken asked, “Can’t you just approach him and ask for forgiveness and work things out?” When I told him that I was threatened to be reported to law enforcement Ken shook his head and said, “Eagle this is sad…you’re up against the system and military look out for other military.” After that meeting and as time dragged on and I still managed the situation a new thought started to grow in me that I deeply wanted to deny. I could now understand why rape and sexual assault are an issue in the military. That’s what a member of a former Sovereign Grace church taught me. Before May 8, 2013 I didn’t think rape was an issue in the military. The root of the problem deals with abuse of authority. Authority had been abused, and in time when Andrew started to recruit another co-worker of the office to Redeemer Arlington he abused his authority further.
Even with what I said, despite all that in time all I wanted Andrew White to do was approach me and initiate forgiveness and say, “Eagle I’m sorry I screwed up…will you please forgive me?”
The One Time I Wished Evil…and Repented
I am going to propose and open into a dark thought that I think many people do not want to admit or talk about. When you are hurt, wounded, and the victim of injustice you’re going to get angry. There will be moments in your mind where you will give into the hurt. On July 25 I arrived early to meet with someone I reconciled with. The plan was that I was going to take him out to dinner, at an Irish bar in Chinatown of Washington, D.C. I showed up way too early and had time to kill. When I was being invited to Redeemer Arlington/Sovereign Grace I regularly read up on SGM Survivors. Actually I had read everything written about Redeemer Arlington at SGM Survivors. That included every comment, every statement and story. When the relationship fractured with Andrew on May 8, 2013 I put SGM Survivors aside. There was no further need to read it since I would not be going to a current or ex Sovereign Grace church. So as I waited for Sam to come to Chinatown I hung out in the Starbucks. I was curious as to what SGM Survivors was saying and I pulled it up on my Android. There was more discussion about Redeemer and the problems of child sex abuse in SGM as I recall. When I read about the abuse hemorrhaging out of the organization I felt sick to my stomach. I thought of all the times Andrew White proclaimed that he was in the “healthiest church he knew” and as I thought about that in light of the false accusation I thought I was going to vomit. Just at that time I got a text message from Sam and I met him at the next door restaurant and proceeded to work at resolving one more relationship. This would have been the 82nd person I would have reconciled with. Sam was thrilled to see and noted how my outlook had changed. He also stated that many people were lucky to have me in their life. That caught me off guard. But over dinner and a subsequent conversation we worked through absolutely everything.
Then the following morning I had a dark moment of weakness. I got to work and thought about what I would have to manage again upon entering my office; another day of managing a false accusation. Another day of avoiding Andrew White. For the most part I never held bitterness, or anger since May 8…I was just in deep emotional pain. That morning I was angry over the false accusation and reflected on what I read at SGM Survivors the previous night. So out of anger, a dark smirk crossed my face and I prayed for the un-thinkable. I wanted to settle the score and I wanted to have great pain enter Andrew’s life. So what I did was pray for someone at Redeemer Arlington to molest his daughter. If this happened from “the healthiest church he knew” then there would be justice. Then the score would be even. And for a few seconds that is what I prayed for. Then reality hit me and I thought of what I asked God to do, and I cried. I asked for forgiveness and I prayed I would get back to where I was beforehand with no bitterness, or hate toward Andrew. What sickened me the most is reflecting on how I struggled with the problem of evil, so why would I pray for evil to afflict someone else? I never prayed for evil to strike someone else…why do so now? I just couldn’t wish that upon anyone. I was stunned that in a moment I prayed for evil to take place. That said I confessed it right there, and told Dee Parsons and Julie Anne Smith about what happened. Dee responded right away.
You are human. Never, ever forget that. Grace covers our darkest moments and you are still loved by Jesus (and a whole bunch of friends)! You feel bad about your prayer. Do you know why? Because you have the Spirit living in you. The fact that you recognized the issue so quickly is evidence to the faith that is taking place in your soul. Never forget to cling to that grace when the dark thoughts and times come. We live in a fallen world. Our very nature is fallen and darkness is a part of that. That is exactly why we need Jesus. There are very few people who escape serious conflict in their lives. I have lived longer than you and I know this to be true. Andrew will struggle in his life. He will come face to face with darkness as well. He will become disillusioned, over time with the legalism inherent in his church. He will also have to deal with the guilt that he feels when he thinks about you. Trust me. There will be guilt as he observes you day in and day you. I am praying that one day you will be the one who counsels him on the issue of grace because you deal with yourself so honestly.
Be at peace Eagle. You are loved by the Creator of the universe. There were, are, and will be tough times. Keep your eyes fixed on the promise that one day all tears will be wiped away. And we all have tears – lots of them.
Meanwhile Julie Anne Smith shot me a quick note saying,
We were talking on the blog yesterday about the recovery process being 3 steps forward and then 2 steps backwards. Sometimes I felt like it was 2 steps forward and 3 steps backwards. It’s a process Eagle, and you will go backwards at times. The beauty is that you saw what happened and took care of it appropriately. We’re sinners saved by grace. Thank God.
Writing about what I prayed for is not easy. Instead its dark. But I write it because I think if we are all honest we all will have moments when we wish malice upon someone who has hurt us. It happens at a time when you let your guard down and not consider what you have wished for. I think many people do this, but don’t talk about this, but this is why grace exists I suggest. Instead going forward I prayed again for Andrew White and I stepped it up. I dug into James during lunch and spent almost every lunch for the next year praying for Andrew. I woke up at night and prayed for Andrew. It was during this time that given the way that I was wounded by Andrew that I realized I could show him deep and amazing grace. But I didn’t want it to be cheap, I actually wanted him to repent and approach me and say he was sorry. What I was praying for is that he would approach me and initiate the conversation and that in a series of conversations we would unpack and discuss everything. If Andrew was a Christian and if I was a Christian there is no reason why this problem couldn’t be worked out. I was willing, the question was …is Andrew White?
A Testimony at Wooded Hills Bible that I Clung to…
One day in mid summer I was cleaning in my condo when I stumbled across a CD that gave me pause. When I attended and later became a member of Wooded Hills Bible Church in Colgate, Wisconsin we used to have 2 Sundays a year called, “Yea God!” During these testimonies people were able to tell their stories of the Lord working in their life. This “Yea God” was given on September 26, 2004. I actually remember it being given because some of the stories blew my mind. I was intrigued and I threw the CD into the Honda CD player and listened to it. What I had stumbled upon I today think of as a divine gift from the Lord. On that CD was a testimony of a high school student who endured a severe false accusation and his story of how he walked through it. This is the story of Tim, and how he walked through a false accusation.
The story concerned an individual named Tim who endured an incredibly difficult season in life starting in June 2003. He had neighbors who were about 35 with 2 kids. These neighbors were extremely difficult and always complained. They often yelled and made major issues out of small stuff or instructed the family not to mow their lawn at certain times during the day. During this time, Tim who was Brazilian with an Italian background was applying for US citizenship. One of the many requirements for citizenship is to have a clean record with the police. He needed to show that he was moral, upstanding, wasn’t harassing anyone or running afoul of the law. The problems with the neighbors escalated in July 2003 with a neighbor who was xenophobic screaming at him to go home. The neighbors started to video tape him and orchestrating acts to make it appear as if he did things that he did not do. For example they would smash glass and put it in their drive way and accuse Tim of causing the problem. They threatened to call the Police on Tim and his friends and by September 2003 started to call the Police regularly. One day the neighbors called the Police on him 7 times. The police would investigate Tim for harassment and find no cause to give him a ticket but a file was opened and a paper trail established. The neighbors escalated the situation further by implying that Tim was following them wherever they went, thus implying stalking. And during this time the neighbor falsely accused Tim of pointing a weapon at her.
The situation escalated even further when against the false accusation the neighbor filed a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against Tim, and with the restraining order in effect they tried to claim that Tim was violating it in calling the Police. This was happening when Tim was trying to get his US citizenship. Due to the false charges he always needed an alibi, couldn’t be left alone and would wait long hours at school for his parents to pick him up. During all this his Mom would frantically cry out to God asking what is going on? His Mom made an alter and would pray over the Police Reports filed by the neighbor. His mother prayed Psalm 55, as a Psalm of protection against what was transpiring, and called everyone she knew and asked for prayers. Tim commented about how he had people he didn’t even know that came up to him and told him they were praying for him. In the testimony Tim explained how dark it was and how he had to walk by faith and not be sight. It was frustrating because the neighbors covered every corner in framing him and it was hard to tolerate.
The Temporary Restraining Order went into effect when restrictions were enacted and Tim was ordered not to be within 50 feet of his neighbor. There was a future court date where a Judge would decide if the restraining order would stay in effect for 2 years. After the restraining order went into effect the neighbors tried to trap him and make it appear that he was threatening them. As a result his mother sent him to Michigan to live with his Aunt. Against all this he lost his job, had to retake a class in summer school and spent the holidays away from home and his family. It was a total mess, with Tim not knowing how this would play out he had to prepare for court, knowing he was going to court for something he didn’t do. He spent his time reading the Book of Job. When he returned back to Wisconsin he went straight into mediation. They tried to trap and trick him into admitting stuff he didn’t do. The mediator even said, “You know how teenagers are, they are one thing with the parent, and another thing without them…” During this time Tim prayed so much he didn’t know what he was praying for. He felt like it was a lost cause. But during the mess his faith helped other people find the Lord. Before he went into court family and friends prayed that the issue would be resolved. He was nervous about his life being decided by someone he didn’t even know.
With that Tim took the stand and his neighbor’s lawyer tried to trick him into admitting stuff he didn’t do. The police officers testified that they never saw any of what was alleged take place. Finally the Judge stood up looked at the neighbors and said, “Go video tape your own kids on Christmas or some other day but leave this guy alone,” and then he turned to Tim and said, “You’re a good human who has a good family, and friends, who came to skip school to support you in court. Go on with your life, Case dismissed.” And with that a horrific season came to a close. Tim also spoke about forgiving his neighbors who moved away shortly after his experience in court.
When I rediscovered that testimony I was stunned. I cried so hard in listening to it. It gave something that I so desperately needed during this time – hope. Plus It gave me a light at the end of the tunnel. I listened to that testimony regularly. I listened to it often when driving into work. Other times I sat in my car and listened to it before heading into work. If there was anyone who could relate to what I endured from a Care Group Leader from Redeemer Arlington it was Tim from Wooded Hills Bible Church. On the night before I was baptized at Fairfax Community Church in November 2013 I played the testimony to Bill and Dee Parsons and we sat in their Honda Pilot as we listened to it. Dee found similarities to the situation I was managing. In the testimony what really hit a nerve for me was when Tim in the testimony talked about how he prayed so much and so hard that he didn’t know what to pray for anymore. I honestly felt like that as I managed this difficult situation. There were so many times I was so tired and mentally exhausted from praying I didn’t know if I could continue, but I knew if I wanted to duplicate the Persistent Widow parable that I must continue. From mid summer 2013 for the next 9 months this testimony became a regular part of my life and was one thing that I clinged.
In time all I wanted Andrew White to do was approach me and initiate forgiveness and say, “Eagle I’m sorry I screwed up…will you please forgive me?”
While Under the Threat of Being Reported to Law Enforcement Andrew White Resumes Recruiting for Redeemer Arlington
In the fall of 2013 I walked by Patricia’s desk at work and I noticed John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life” on it. Andrew and I clashed over Piper. My gut told me that Andrew had resumed proselytizing Redeemer Arlington. My boss wouldn’t listen as he sided with Andrew, and my hands were tied. But Andrew resumed proselytizing openly on October 15, 2013. Here is what happened. Andrew had recently had knee surgery and he walked over on crutches to Patricia. This happened about 15 feet from where I sat, and I had to listen to him evangelize. Andrew did this in uniform and on work time. He started out by talking about Redeemer’s retreat. As he spoke it was clear that he invited Patricia W to Redeemer Arlington already. He asked her how she liked it. She said she did, and he said that it was” the healthiest church he knew”. Often Andrew White sounded like a robot in his phrases and terminology he used. He also talked about how he liked Mars Hill Seattle and thought Mark Driscoll was neat. I sat there listening to all this and was just flustered. I was still under the threat of being reported to law enforcement mind you. At 12:43 PM I sent Dee Parsons the following email.
Why do I have to listen to this ^^%$!
If I hear one more time about Eric Simmon’s church being “the
healthiest church” one more time I am going to scream!
I heard Andrew speaking about Redeemer’s retreat, I’m listening to him
evangelize a co-worker; all while I have had to endure ^%$#
And with this Andrew commenced recruiting people to Redeemer Arlington. Now I wouldn’t have minded so much if Andrew first had cleaned up the mess he made with me. Andrew actually had a moral imperative to clean up the false accusation with me. But to recruit people while I lived under the threat that I did was in-appropriate and wrong. As the fall gave way to winter Andrew White won an award of Air Force Officer of the quarter. I was still managing the false accusation when this happened. I was not supposed to contact Andrew per my boss’s instructions otherwise it would be reported to law enforcement. It was during this time that I prayed that my path would cross with Andrew and that I could wish him well. Shortly there after I bumped into him at the water fountain. He was filling up his water bottle. Despite being under the threat of being reported to law enforcement for contacting Andrew I stopped, called his name shook his hand, congratulated him and said that I was proud. Andrew smiled and said, “thanks man, that means a lot to me.” I then went back to my desk and sat and physically shook. I thought I was going to have a heart attack, due to how hard my heart was beating in my chest. I could literally feel it. I couldn’t understand how this mess kept dragging on.
Is this PTSD?
The false accusation also triggered almost a PTSD response in me for the duration of the false accusation and I am still sensitive today. What would happen is that I would hear one word, and I would break into a sweat, get anxious and freeze. I had no idea of what was happening to me. Let me illustrate with an example. In April of 2014 while I was still managing the false accusation I was in York, Pennsylvania. I was grabbing lunch in a local eatery and heard a couple of employees discussing a case of harassment and what I was falsely accused of in the local news paper. I was puzzled and on my Android I went into the website and pulled up the article. I already broke into anxiety upon hearing the word ______, and became nervous. I anxiously read the newspaper account and read of a deeply disturbing claim that is what I normally think of when it comes to _________. What was written about was indeed disturbing and I blushed, shook and froze. I was so spooked by what I read, or of other situations that I would call Dee Parsons who told me to call her. She would lecture me about not reading stuff like that, and remind me that what Andrew did was horrific and uncalled for and not who I was, this would be an example of such conversation. “Listen Eagle Andrew was deeply insecure and he couldn’t take the questions you were asking. Like other people from Sovereign Grace he wrapped his identity with Redeemer and felt challenged and threatened by your questioning. You made mistakes yes but you did not do what Andrew White suggested. Think about this Eagle…I’m a 60 year old female and I could absorb and deal with the questions and your thinking. Yet an Air Force Officer who was into Mark Driscoll, and Sovereign Grace could not deal with the questions you posed. What is wrong with this picture Eagle? I am going to drill this into you head, you need to stop reading stuff about what you were accused of, its only going to make the situation worse. One of these days I am going to see Andrew and cross paths with him and when I do, I will smack him upside the head.” I couldn’t explain to you how much I cried from May 8, 2013 until June 20, 2014. I cried more in those 13 months than I did in years. I spontaneously cried in my car, bed, grocery store, gym, and when out and about. I had no idea of what happened to me. I tried to make sense of what happened but I couldn’t…my mother’s pancreatic cancer, and my father’s brain tumor and sister’s schizophrenia made much more sense than this false accusation. All I wanted to do was fix things and be at peace. I thought to myself often during this time…”what kind of Christian denies peace to another person?” Amidst all the problems I wanted Andrew to approach me and confess and say he made a mistake. I deeply wanted to hug him, show him grace and teach him a lesson on grace. But I wanted him to understand the enormity of what he did so he could appreciate the grace much more deeply
June 20, 2014
On Andrew’s last day in the office I took a huge risk and reached out to have a discussion, and try to bring a resolution to the false accusation and find peace. After all as I said above I often thought to myself what type of Christian denies peace to another one? So I boldly reached out and Andrew wanted to talk. I would later learn that this discussion would have serious issues but on the morning of June 20th I was excited because I thought this was going to be the first step in rectifying the situation and healing each other. What happened with Archie Griffen in an Acts 29 church in Atlanta I had so desperately hoped would happen with Andrew White. The situation with Archie Griffen was completely resolved, and worked out. We are close friends today despite the relationship being fractured just like Andrew. As Andrew and I talked he mentioned he saw my baptism announcement on the Wartburg Watch but that I didn’t post the story. Dee Parsons and I decided not to run it because she knew the situation I was in at work plus she also knew that I was trying to work things out with Andrew White. Furthermore during this time Redeemer Arlington was discussed on SGM Survivors and Dee wanted to write a couple of posts about Redeemer but she held back because she feared that Andrew would perhaps make another false accusation against me. Plus she also didn’t want to do anything that would prevent a possible reconciliation between Andrew and myself. Dee Parsons prayed regularly that Andrew White would reconcile. One thing that struck me as odd is that Andrew was calm, relaxed and flat. He talked to me like there was nothing wrong, like he did nothing wrong. He also spoke to me like we were not estranged for 13 months. Andrew lacked any kind of emotion. He seemed down. We spoke for about 40 minutes. Outside in a garden at work Andrew explained to me that he knew part of my story. He explained to me that someone he knew texted him in December 2013 that I was repenting in the hundreds. That made his day but when he learned that he decided to do absolutely nothing. I stood there perplexed. I felt stunned and shocked when I heard this news. I didn’t understand why wouldn’t he embrace a Prodigal Son? Why turn away from a Prodigal Son? Andrew was the only Christian out of 140 people who acted liked this. As chance had it someone from Fairfax Community Church who knew of the situation crossed paths with Andrew at an Air Force Base probably in Colorado Springs. This guy confronted Andrew and asked him up front, “Do you have anything you need to resolve with Eagle?” Andrew was stunned and said that the situation was a “sensitive issue.” Today I look at this guy as being Andrew’s Nathan. Just as Nathan confronted King David over Bathsheba, this guy confronted Andrew over his sin.
During most of the conversation I was glazed over and not prepared for it. Andrew asked if there was anything that he needed to repent of, and the conversation went dark. I then raised the issue of the false accusation, and Andrew looked at me funny. I realized that Andrew did not fully realize the enormity of what he did. He spoke and said that he didn’t mean for things to go the way that they did. Privately as I heard this it confirmed a hunch I had that Andrew had made a mistake, and that he struggled with admitting it. For me while I was encouraged to hear the mistake that was all undermined when Andrew said he had no regrets about what he did and if he could he would do the same thing all over and try to get a different outcome. I felt like I was re-wounded. I couldn’t believe it when he said that he would do the false accusation all over again. What kind of Christian behaves like that? I was stunned, crushed, and disillusioned. I realized my hope for peace would be dashed. Why couldn’t he see the harm of the false accusation? Despite this I had hoped that we could work everything out in a series of conversations. I had hoped that everything could be laid out on the table and discussed and worked through in detail. I was hoping this would be the first.
Then in the conversation Andrew did say that he forgave me and that I can be at peace. He mentioned that I can sleep at peace knowing I am forgiven. However, since Andrew didn’t repent of the false accusation or take responsibility for his role in the mess that peace felt shallow and worthless. In trying to salvage the conversation I explained how much grace I showed Andrew in how I managed the false accusation. Andrew didn’t seem to comprehend the grace at all and felt he did nothing wrong in uniform as an Air Force Officer. I was very frustrated! Then in an attempt to bring peace I confessed to him that as an agnostic/atheist that I was mean, militant, and said things I never should have said. I confessed that I showed others favoritism at his expense and showed him that paperwork of my approaching Sovereign Grace for forgiveness. I gave him copies of all the letters of forgiveness to show what I had done and he looked unmoved. I told him that he could speak to a number of people and he seemed unmoved. During this time it was like I was speaking past him. I did everything I could possibly do to confess my role in this mess, but Andrew felt no need to confess his role. As the conversation came to a close I offered to attend Redeemer Arlington that Sunday as a peace offering. Andrew smiled and reminded me of the time. But I was optimistic that the door had been opened to working things out.
I had planned to attend Redeemer Arlington for Andrew as a peace offering that Sunday. All I wanted to do was be at peace with Andrew. On Friday Andrew seemed happy about me coming. All I wanted to do was be at peace with him. About an hour or so before church on the Sunday of June 22, 2013 I got a text message from Andrew telling me not to go to church. He claimed he didn’t want me to be in the same building as him. This is the exact text. “Hey Eagle, you know I misspoke on Friday about being ok going to church together. I realized the past couple of days that I am still sensitive and cautious. and feel a need to keep the distance between us. As such I am not comfortable worshiping at church together, especially the last time we’ll be there. This doesn’t change at all the fact that I have forgiven you; I have. But if and when that changes how we currently interact together it will be awhile.” I looked at that and pulled over from driving and was trying to wrap my mind around the message. For me it brought out a fury of emotions and questions. What was he afraid of? Why was his behavior so weird? I sent the following text message back, “Andrew…I left you a VM. I will stay away from Redeemer and respect your wishes. I want to do the right thing, Please remember that I am nervous and scared contacting you. Also I wrote you a note thanking you for the discipline and some ideas on establishing boundaries. Since I won’t see you I will email you instead. Have a safe drive to Colorado.” And the final message that said, “Sounds good Eagle. Thanks for respecting my wishes. I wish it was different, I truly do. I’ll keep an eye out for the email. Thanks for the road trip wishes. Take care. -a.” I didn’t know what to make of his communication so I ran his texts by someone I knew who has one of the main stories published in SGM Survivors. They told me the following, Eagle. While I’m so glad you two were able to work things out, [Andrew’s] still an SGMer. I don’t think they realize how bizarre their lingo sounds to the normal world. I’ve always believed that SGMer’s are better at growing in the culture of all things SGM – than they are at growing in Christ. Which I think explains how some of the leaders have behaved the way they have for so long. Don’t let it take away from what happened. A word of advice though, allow yourself time to process what happened. It could take some time. Blessings!
And with that Andrew built a wall. The Air Force PCS (Personal Change of Station) him to an Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. He left DC while I stood accused of a crime I didn’t do, and Andrew refused to talk about it. My name and career were threatened. I prayed for him during this time and respected his boundaries. In the course of time I spoke to an attorney who firmly believed that I was sitting on a defamation of character lawsuit. Other things such as the statute of limitations looked good. When I spoke to the attorney about it he said, “Eagle in the US military people are taught to work things out amongst each other and not go to someone’s boss. That’s how people get in trouble. He went to the Air Force Academy he should know this.” In the same conversation he explained to me why my name took a hit, how it was going to take another hit, and how my ability to have future employment secured was threatened. Over a series of conversations he discussed with me the differing legal options that existed. But he wanted me to look into an attorney locally in the DC area. I was heartbroken that I was dealing with all this pain from someone who boasted of how “they were in the healthiest church they knew…” I was scared, at the end of my rope and just frustrated.
On May 8, 2013 a part of me died.
As a result of a false accusation I struggle with trust. Plus I also can see why rape and sexual assault can be an issue in the military when a person abuses their rank. I struggle with emotional pain and I feel this gigantic hole inside me over what happened. This was all taught to me by an Air Force Captain and graduate of the Air Force Academy.
Despite that all I wanted Andrew White to do was approach me and initiate forgiveness and say, “Eagle I’m sorry I screwed up…will you please forgive me?”
In another post I want to explain what would have worked for me. The key to repentance and reconciliation is initiative. You can’t force someone to repent. I would like to write another post and explore why people like Mark Driscoll, CJ Mahaney and other Neo-Cals can’t say I’m sorry. In closing I want to leave you with this Linda Eder song called “If I Had my Way.” While this song deals with September 11, there are many things in the song that stand out to me. What stands out are phrases like “I took for granted how my life would be…” and “I rarely ever cried” and “danger wouldn’t come from a sky of blue” and finally “no one would believe that a lie was true..” I still love and pray for Andrew despite the pain of the situation.