An open letter to one of the pastors at Redeemer Arlington, Jordan Kauflin. A reflection on where things stand and why Andrew White doesn’t believe he has done anything wrong. A possible explanation for why things are the way they are, and what would Eagle accept? What would be a sign of Andrew having remorse and repenting? Also some encouraging words to Jordan on the potential I believe he has.
“I fight on. I fight to win.”
“Don’t follow the crowd. Let the crowd follow you.”
“A stiff apology is a second insult. The injured party does not want to be compensated because he was been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.”
G K Chesterton
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Psalm 91:14-16 NIV
Hey bro I just want to take some time to write and reflect on how I got here and where things stand. There is much to say and little time so let me dive right into it. I had a major and prolonged faith crisis that tore me apart for half my thirties. During that time I walked away and consumed atheist material. In time I guess one could state that I was a disciple of the late Christopher Hitchens. This happened gradually for me…and during this time my life crossed paths with your Care Group Leader Andrew White. Andrew who graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2005 and married his wife Gillian. Andrew who was stationed or worked at an Air Force base in Florida, McGuire-Dix, Bolling, and Peterson AFB today. We clashed and I was in the depths of a faith crisis. We both went too far. Christopher Hitchens may have responded to what I did by saying, “well done my good and faithful servant. ” I have little that I am proud of if I am going to be honest in examining my heart. That said Andrew made a serious and severe false accusation that took aim at my name, job, and reputation. In trying to resolve the situation I consulted with an attorney due to the severe nature of the situation. The attorney believed I had a defamation of character lawsuit. The other aspect that was pointed out is that in most cases a defamation situation boils down to a “he said…and he said.” That was not the case with this situation as the third party dragged into this could be subpoenaed to testify. There were various legal avenues to pursue and yet that is not what I wanted…all I longed is to have Andrew approach me and take some initiative and work things out. I have no qualm about legal action Jordan but I also knew if legal action happened I could permanently kiss any opportunity of working things out goodbye. However in the back of my mind I also wanted to know that I also pursued all avenues to try and diffuse the situation, so that if legal action came I could be at peace knowing I had given Andrew every opportunity to avoid it. That said, legal action is not what I wanted. The attorney was also impressed with what I did with others and said that maybe I should approach Redeemer and try and resolve this directly. No one wins in a lawsuit, even the person who wins I would suggest loses in the end. That doesn’t mean you don’t use lawsuits, they exist for a reason. I wrote about why I believe lawsuits are sometimes called for in this post here.
So I decided to engage Redeemer Arlington. However, before I did I researched all I could so I wouldn’t go in blind. I also spoke with those that had issues with SGM Fairfax and other Sovereign Grace or former churches to ask and listen to advice. I data mined SGM Survivors beforehand. I appreciated their wisdom and wanted to learn from them. I wanted to proceed with caution and then I finally reached out. Jordan, you should also know that I have listened to some of the stories told at SGM Survivors firsthand or over the phone. I remember when one of the children in one of the stories in Fairfax told me how he showed up at his uncle’s house in a bid to keep the family united and not have it destroyed. He was unsuccessful in the end. I drove home gripping the steering wheel just angry and livid over what I had heard. I’ve been through a lot Jordan….I’ve been through Catholicism, brushed against Mormonism, different shades of Christianity and explored atheism. The stories out of Sovereign Grace remind me of the stories of people who tried to leave or who left Mormonism. I can tell you a doozy in person one day which I am not going to write here. But I say all this just to demonstrate some depth and context in how I look at the stories from Sovereign Grace. Anyhow I write all this to state that I believe those who told me their stories.
Now having said that let me also state that I am my own man. I listen to others and weigh what they say but in the end I go with my gut. I listen to others and while I consider what is said it is not by far the only source. I want the families from Survivors to have justice. I want the wrongs against them and their family made right. While parts of your family have been responsible for supporting Mahaney’s corruption you will also note that I have not written about your family in any of my posts on this blog. There are a number of reasons why. First I recall how you told me that your families name has been dragged through the mud when we met. I empathize and don’t want to add to that issue, nor do I want to do that either. I have no desire to cause you pain or anger you. Second I didn’t want to have another situation or disagreement like I had with Andrew with you…it’s just not worth World War III. I never want to have that kind of fighting again. But there are some other reasons as well, more positive that I want you to know. I was hoping that maybe I could be a bridge for you. I’ll explain more below. And the final reason is that I think you have potential again which I will explain below in detail. But before I get into that let me lay out the reasons for where we are at and why I don’t believe Andrew has repented or owned his false accusation. Remember Jordan…Andrew as an Air Force Captain taught me why rape and sexual assault are a serious issue in the United States military. It happened by having a military officer teach me what can happen when they misuse their authority in the culture in which they function. I still can’t believe something like that has happened. This could have been diffused so easily and I am still open to it being diffused.
3 Possibilities that Exist to Explain Andrew White
Jordan I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I arrived here and what got me here. In reviewing the situation there are three possibilities to help explain the situation in its current form and what happened from 2011 until 2015.
- Andrew didn’t mean to put in motion what took place. He didn’t mean to have a boss speak to me about the accusation Andrew made. Its also a possibility that he greatly misjudged me in the process. In this scenario he never knew me. Andrew is scared to deal with the situation as he is also afraid of this affecting his career in the USAF. He’s afraid of this coming back to bite him so he’s trying to run and leave the situation hoping it will go away. However, that is not what has happened as the false accusation was so severe it threatened to destroy another person’s life and ability to earn income. Andrew is scared and afraid of the situation especially since he had a wife and daughter who financially depend on him. This is the first scenario.
- The second scenario is this… Redeemer Arlington is corrupt because of its roots in Sovereign Grace. The problems and personalities that plague CLC and SGM Fairfax are entrenched and present at Redeemer Arlington. After all it was franchised off the SGM culture and the problems were duplicated. From 2011 when Andrew started his military posting at Bolling AFB he got involved in Sovereign Grace and was naïve. In the process he was indoctrinated, and corrupted by the denomination. As Sovereign Grace is a system that rewards loyalty he was rewarded the position of Care Group Leader and in the process Redeemer had quite a coup. You captured a military officer who in order to succeed had to turn his back on much of the tradition and integrity that exists in the Air Force. As a result Andrew changed in being in a religious system that many have likened to a cult. He became a True Believer as Eric Hoffer has written. This is what has happened in other families that were torn apart by Sovereign Grace, and what a few have explained to me. They explained to me how their families were adversely affected. How people chnage and become different. Plus when some of Andrew White’s communication was analyzed they explained to me that his written behavior exemplifies “SGM culture.” In the end he was corrupted, lost and a by-product of a nefarious organization. He lost his moral compass as a result of indoctrination. This is the second scenario and could explain his behavior.
- The third scenario is this one….Andrew White was just peddling Redeemer Arlington the entire time. From the time I met him until the time he fractured the relationship with a false accusation, all he cared about was getting me into Redeemer Arlington, and when he realized I was not going to get involved he fractured the situation to focus on recruiting another co-worker into Redeemer. What does this mean? It means that if his behavior from 2013 until 2015 is who Andrew is, then his behavior from 2011 until 2013 was a lie. When he sent me text messages saying he cared…then Andrew was lying. When he visited me in the hospital room claiming he was concerned for me as I was dealing with a bacterial infection that got in my blood stream and in a serious medical crisis well Andrew was lying. In all his behavior he lived and embodied a lie and was greatly deceitful. He was deeply disingenuous in engaging me.
Those are the three possibilities that exist. Now those who I have interacted with who had a history in Sovereign Grace and left it told me that the second scenario is what happened. People get involved in a SGM or former SGM church and are corrupted, they change for the worst. So I can see where they are coming from. The third one is evil and I hope is not the case. That said above all else I honestly hope its the first one and that Andrew is scared.
Why Andrew Hasn’t Owned the False Accusation and What I Would Accept
I realized as this discussion was going on that Andrew hasn’t really owned or accepted his role in the mess. Dee Parsons by the way thought that Andrew would work things out, now she is not so sure. She is kind of stunned that he had no desire to. But when I saw that email that Andrew sent me, through you, I was livid. Andrew knows the entire story. He knows fully what he did and of the pain he caused me. You know Jordan in this entire process I have been doing all the reaching out. It’s felt lopsided in that regard. I would say this….if you approached me about something I did in my life and someone handed me a letter like I gave to Andrew I would have been horrified. I would have been upset, and said, “screw this” and reached out. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. When it comes to reconciliation and forgiveness the key is initiative. How much and how willing is a person to go the extra mile and convince someone? I knew this when I approached 140 people. If I approached those people while acting like Andrew did I wouldn’t be able to work things out with many people. Reconciliation takes work, and its hard. It is not easy at all. It’s not just words. Words are cheap in the end. Andrew’s actions scream that he doesn’t care or that he doesn’t think he did anything wrong. But the other problem is that I was living with the effects of the false accusation Andrew made. If Andrew was remorseful and repentant he would have reached out a few times, heck even sent you a few emails that were passed on to me. But that really didn’t happen. A sample email could have been something like this:
I know my false accusation has effected you at work. I also know that you are facing a challenging situation and that the false accusation remains an issue for you. I know I gave birth to this issue. Again I didn’t mean for any of this to happen but I want you to know that I am praying for you. You’re in my thoughts and as you deal with all this and I will intervene if necessary if this false accusation affects you. My one request is that you own your part Eagle, because some of this is your responsibility. But I also know that a lot of this is my responsibility as well. I will walk with you during this time, after all I gave birth to the false accusation. I just want you to know that I care about what happened, and am upset over this situation. I didn’t mean to trigger this with management. Eagle I’ll check in with you in the near future to see what is happening with you.
Andrew could have written a note like that while he was sitting on the can. It doesn’t mean you have to become BFF either. All it would take is a couple of minutes. Now If I got a few notes like that over a few months I would be impressed. If he checked in and said, “Eagle I’m praying for you…can we discuss this further?” I would have been pleased. I would feel like he cares and he is practicing responsibility. None of that has happened. You know Jordan you’re talking to a guy who did something radical and unique. I did something that C.J. Mahaney couldn’t do…I worked through a bulk of my background and sought forgiveness and worked with each person. I think after doing that with so many people I know what is forgiveness and repentance and what it is not. But there is another thing that happened that just reinforced the fact that Andrew feels no remorse. It was like I felt a knife being twisted in my back. When I was at work and I heard Andrew’s former boss explain how Andrew came to work and dropped off donuts and say hi that hit a button. I continued to deal with the effects of his false accusation and while on his way to a deployment in the Middle East while traveling from Colorado Springs he can stop off at my place of work and give that effort but not do a damn thing about the effects of the false accusation he gave birth to? That’s BS Jordan. There’s no other way to say it. That is why I don’t accept this being over and why I am writing his letter to you openly. You know Jordan…one thing I should tell you, but its probably been revealed by now. I am fighter. I push hard and aggressively when necessary. In this case my name was on the line and I fought hard for that reason. But whether it be in a major medical crisis or other times in my life I have fought hard. And that is what I am doing in this situation also. My name is all I have, it’s the most important aspect of my life. Having addressed all that, let me take some time and pass on some wisdom as well and encourage you in the process.
Jordan I believe you know I love history and have a graduate degree in it. At this blog I have written about a number of issues already. For example I have written about Watergate, the murderous reign of Pol Pot, East Germany and the Berlin Wall as well as the death of Teddy Roosevelt’s wife and mother and how he found himself in North Dakota. There’s another historical lesson that I think you and I can heed and learn from. When the United States and the Soviet Union came to the brink of war in 1962 over the deployments of SS-4 and R-14 missles in Cuba there is one legacy of the Cuban Missile Crisis to remember. As a result of the intense stand off it was finally agreed by both Nikita Khrushchev and John F. Kennedy that there should be a direct link to allow two parties to speak. That the lines of communication should be open to prevent further problems. This agreement was signed in June of 1963. I think that plan should apply to you and myself. We should have the channels open and be able to talk, engage and discuss. Jordan I believe it would be healthy for you and me if there was a bridge that existed. In this age with the technology and communication that exists its more crucial than ever. If you ever doubt the power of the internet or social media then consider this aspect. Remember what a person who practiced self immolation with gasoline in Tunisia did in December 2010. That act gave birth to the Arab Spring and affected Libya, Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain, and Syria. The internet is a powerful tool. This is why I think it would be good for you to reach outside your tribe and get to know others. The same applies to me as well Jordan. This is also a challenge to myself as well. It would be healthy to know others outside my tribe as well. Breaking down barriers and tearing down walls is always good. How many conflicts could be resolved or made null if we had the courage to know, listen, meet and have personal dialog. You should also know that I’ve encouraged Dee Parsons in that avenue as well. I would recommend you would reach outside your tribe more and be open and willing to listen to additional points of view. Not only that but if you can do that I believe you will be able to articulate and communicate to interested parties. If you would like I would be happy to do that with you. If you ever want to grab a beer, shoot some pool or just grab a dinner every few months or so I would be okay with doing that action. Jordan I feel you know me fairly well. I’ve poured out of my heart in this project and laid it on the line. I’ve purchased you lunch at one place in Arlington called The Four Sisters I believe and have offered to buy you a second breakfast, lunch or dinner. If you recall I said you could choose any place of your choosing…just don’t choose Ruth Chris! 😛 But in addition Jordan I’ve offered to help you out when your wife was pregnant with your fifth child. Like I said at the time that could include helping out with laundry or doing other work if its needed. Finally as a way to say congratulations I have also given you and your family baby clothing. I have a big heart and I am generous. I’m not saying that to boast, it’s a part of who I am. Plus I would do it with anyone….here it is 12:05 in the morning and Dee Parsons is in the ER with her father-in-law and I am getting texts from her. She knows she can contact me at any time I would help her out. I would offer that support to many people. But I think it’s important and would be good if you built a bridge. If you need help, then I would be more than happy to help. Plus I could learn a lot in the process, and it would be challenging to me. Faith grows through challenges I would propose.
To follow up on the points about your potential up above I would like to explain why I believe you have potential. Jordan I have written a number of articles about Redeemer Arlington. For example in this post I highlight the potential it has if it repents of its past history of Sovereign Grace Ministries. To date it has not done that at all. Jordan I believe you have a lot of potential in many ways. You’re a nice, likable and all around I believe to be a good guy. I want to give people the benefit of the doubt in life. That’s just who I am as a person. I want to get along with people and be myself. I find you talented as well as I have listened to some of your music online. But here’s the other thing that impresses me and why I respect you. From my understanding and correct me if I am wrong…you are the only one of your family that has separated from Sovereign Grace Ministries. For example you’re brother is helping to run the church plant up in Clarksburg, Maryland. It must not have been easy to break away from SGM especially with your family history and having grown up in it. That I respect…quite deeply. Its hard to stand up to your enemies but its even harder to stand up to your family and friends in life. I can imagine that there must have been a number of difficult conversations that took place. It must have been awkward, and difficult to break the news, or have parts of your family react to the news. In that way you are unique and it shows how you are your own person in the end. In that way I think of the other potential you have. I think you could be used greatly by the Lord if you work on some of those other issues I’ve addressed in this letter. I don’t want to see Redeemer Arlington flail and wither I want to see it be healthy. I’m not opposed to you at all. Diversity in Christianity is needed on so many levels and I celebrate what can take place. Having said that I believe if you continue to move in your direction establish yourself more I think it will become better in the course of time. Culture doesn’t change overnight, it changes slowly – but you’ve taken some steps that I believe are in the right direction.
I believe I have said all that needs to be stated. Again I don’t write this in malice or with any other intent. If this conflict is going to be resolved it rests with Redeemer Arlington and Andrew White. I can only do so much in life and know that I have done what I can do . This rests upon Andrew’s shoulders. As I said above I don’t believe he knows what he has done. I also don’t believe he knows what has transpired and the pain he caused. I honestly hope I do hear from Andrew one day. The question stands which I posed in this post earlier this year. Who is Andrew going to be? Is he going to be my Peter, or my Judas Iscariot? If nothing changes in the course of time then it will become clear to me that he is going to be my Judas and I will have to accept that fact. Honestly I don’t want that to be the case. Having said that I think I communicated to you what needs to be conveyed. Oh and next week I will do a wrap of the year at this blog. There’s a lot to say and a lot to share. This has gone much farther than I could have imagined. I am going to have to bring someone on board eventually to keep up with the growth. But I will explain all the stats and the feedback that I am getting. Anyhow let me know if you need anything Jordan. You know how to contact me.
Have a Merry Christmas and enjoy the Holiday season. I hope you enjoy your time with your family. I love you brother!