Investigation Concludes, Recommendations Pursued Over Abuse at Christian Academy in Japan

Investigation Concludes
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The Telios law firm, hired by four contributing missions of the Christian Academy in Japan (CAJ), released its final report last week investigating allegations of abuse at the school. Resonate Global Mission, the Christian Reformed Church’s mission agency was one of the sponsoring organizations. The investigative findings include corroboration of 46 allegations of abuse against nine adult offenders. Wrongdoing included instances of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse and acts of leadership failing “to adequately report or act on credible accounts of abuse.” Allegations brought forward to the investigation spanned from 1957 to 2001.

Resonate published a statement Jan. 29, hosted a service of repentance and commitment for staff Feb. 2 and 3, and has contributed to implementing the recommendations of the report that connect to it as a sponsoring organization.

"Resonate recognizes and laments the harm its staff did to CAJ survivors. Resonate is trying to let them take the lead and to be responsive to their needs, to their requests and to serve them throughout this entire process. We’re trying to do our best to do what’s right in their eyes and to listen to them carefully and put their needs and requests first,” said Resonate director Zachary King.

In its statement Resonate said, in part, “These events expose the troubling instinct of the church to protect its structures and institutions at the expense of its children. We have failed to exemplify the love and compassion of Christ and recommit ourselves to a mission of truth, trust, and humility.”

The investigation was launched in 2019, co-sponsored by the Christian Academy in Japan and four mission organizations, prompted by requests from survivors and alumni. It was conducted independently with the investigative team reviewing more than 1,400 documents spanning over 50 years of the Academy’s history, and traveling across the United States and internationally to conduct in-person interviews with 59 witnesses, the summary report said.

Being conducted as a private historical investigation, “names of victim/survivors (V/S) and those culpable” were not shared due to the standards governing such investigations, the report said.

Resonate included in its statement a list of its current policies and procedures to prevent and address abuse. These include an abuse prevention and reporting policy for agencies and education institutions of the Christian Reformed Church, which was approved in May 2002 by the then Board of Trustees; and the most recently adopted CRCNA Child Safeguarding policy, approved by the denomination’s Council of Delegates in October 2021. At that same meeting the Council approved Resonate setting aside a designated fund to cover costs and support for people who experienced abuse involving current or former ministries of Resonate or its predecessors (Christian Reformed Home Missions and Christian Reformed World Missions).

The establishment of a trust fund for counseling is one of 10 recommendations in the Telios investigation report, which prioritized alumni’s desired outcomes. Providing a retreat for interested alumni staffed by a restorative justice organization and resourcing the creation of  “a memorial to child safety” on the grounds of the Christian Academy in Japan are also recommended.

Resonate Global Mission currently employs 49 missionaries around the world. Two part-time member care coordinators, described as “pastors for missionaries,” provide pastoral care for missionaries and their families, and the organization provides other avenues for spiritual care of its staff, including opportunities for sabbatical leave, counseling and retreats.

About the Author

Alissa Vernon is the news editor for The Banner.

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