Vision Baptist Church,

Well, I’m not really sure where to start this or how to start, but here we go. I moved to Vision in April of 2017 (4.5 years ago) and everything was great for a few years. I started to notice a pretty regular pattern of missionaries leaving VBM and not all of them were coming off the field. Several were staying in their same ministry, but leaving our organization. At first I thought it was odd, but we were told by leadership that these guys left because they were “pansies”, “Calvinists”, “couldn’t hack it with us”, “lazy”, etc. So I dismissed it. And to my shame, often joined in the ridicule of these men and women. For that, I am very regretful.

Then, last year through early this year, men who I had known personally began to leave. At first, we were given the same reasons as always as to why they’d left. At first, I accepted those answers but was surprised that I didn’t know those things about these men. Later, I would find out that there was little to no veracity to the statements made about these men.

About 6 months ago, my wife and I began to get increasingly uncomfortable with VBM and the leadership of VBM. We began to notice a definite pattern of abuse, manipulation and denial of said abuse and manipulation. Below are just a few things that we noticed as common practice among the leadership and those closest to leadership, the “inner circle” if you will.

  • Man worship
  • Loyalty pledges to a man instead of the truth
  • Absolutely no grace shown to families who leave regardless of why they left
  • Double-standards for those who kiss the right butts
  • Nepotism galore (if you’re part of the right family)
  • The clear opinion that everything can be fixed with more sex
  • Zero tolerance for people who question leadership
  • Outright lies told about “dissenters”

We were becoming increasingly concerned and frustrated, but didn’t know what to do. On Austin Gardner’s last Sunday as Pastor of VBC, we didn’t have a meeting for that morning, so we decided to go to VBC for church. For Sunday school, we decided to go to AG’s class. Just before he started teaching Mrs. Betty ran in and AG immediately ripped into her for being late on their last Sunday as pastor and pastor’s wife. She immediately started crying and he just continued on like nothing was wrong. As soon as service was over that morning, my wife asked me if I would ever do that to her. I told her “no”, but I knew that treating her that way could be rationalized in my head because “AG does it”.

Another thing that has really bothered us over the last month or so has been the response of the missionaries in the face of the allegations that have been made public. More times than I’d care to count, in both public settings, and private emails and such, I’ve seen a vast majority of the missionaries pledge blind allegiance to AG. Not to the truth, not to Jesus, not the the Word of God, but to a man. I’ve seen them reference how long they’ve known him as proof that they know he’s telling the truth. That argument works both ways. No doubt, those making the allegations have friends who would say the same about them. I’ve even read where various missionaries have outright called all of this “false accusations” and “an attack of the devil”. I’ve done the hard work and research that the directors of VBM should be doing. I’ve made phone calls, texted and emailed those with accusations. I’ve had difficult conversations. It hasn’t been fun, but it has been necessary to finding the truth. We have even been contacted by other VBM missionaries and been told that we were wrong for digging into these allegations and that it came across as “disloyal” and that we were aiding an attack on the “Man of God”. Again, I am loyal to Christ. Period. And right now, I’m having a hard time believing Christ would want anything to do with this situation.

All of this came to a head last Saturday night (9/4/2021) when my wife and I were sitting eating supper and she dropped the following bombshell on me. She informed me that at least once during a Friday Class split session and once during a marriage retreat, “The wives were told that when they are sick or on their period or even after having a baby, their husbands satisfaction is up to them so they have 2 hands and a mouth, figure out how to use them”. It was then that I decided I needed to have a conversation with Jeff Bush to discuss my concerns and disagreements. I was going to call him the following Monday morning (9/6) and ask for an in-person conversation. I would never get to make that phone call, nor would I ever have an opportunity to discuss my concerns with anyone.

Monday morning (9/6):

8:20am-Philip sends his resignation to the VBM email ring, along with links to his resignation explanation and his 49-page exposé about the abuse culture within VBM. No responses to the email. I didn’t see it until almost 9am.

9:14am-I receive the following text message from Jeff Bush: nothing leading up to it, I hadn’t voiced my concerns to anyone yet. I genuinely believe this was a preemptive measure to keep me from releasing something like Philip did.

Jeff asking Adam to resign

10:53am-Jeff Bush called me because I hadn’t responded to his text (because I didn’t know what to say). Here is where I should’ve done things differently, he again asked for my resignation and I agreed because I didn’t know what to do, and I was blown away that this was going down like this. I wish I’d insisted on an in-person meeting to discuss these things.

1:05pm-Jeff Bush texted me again pressuring for the letter quickly, as seen in the screenshot above.

1:56pm-I officially tendered my resignation from VBM which is pasted below:

"Alan's" email to missionaries

1:59pm-I was removed from all internal means of group communication 3:10pm-I sent my nearly-verbatim resignation from VBM to all of our supporting pastors. That email read:

"Alan's" resignation letter to pastors

For the remainder of the day on Monday as well as Tuesday and Wednesday I received phone calls and emails from many pastors who have noticed the patterns of manipulation and abuse within VBM but thought they were the only ones who saw it. In full disclosure, I’ve also received calls from pastors who still ardently defend AG and VBM.

On Wednesday afternoon I received a call from Jeff Bush. He was upset that I’d told my supporting pastors that I was asked to leave. (I don’t know how else to interpret that text from Monday morning.) Then, over the course of a 21 minute call, Jeff lied about me to me 2 different times.

  1. He stated that he was upset with me because I said in my letter that I hoped a bunch of other missionaries left VBM too. Again, read both letters that I sent out. I don’t even insinuate that in either of my letters.
  2. Then, he said that he didn’t believe I’d actually been uncomfortable for 6 months, as I stated in my letter, but more like 3 weeks because that’s how long I’d “been ignoring him”. That is a flat-out lie. If it is deemed appropriate, I can request a transcript of my text messages with Jeff Bush from Verizon, or, I would be willing to turn over my phone to any DEACON of VBC in order for them to go through my text messages with Jeff Bush or any other member of leadership of VBM or VBC.

In that same phone call on Wednesday, Jeff Bush tried 2 other common types of manipulation.

  1. He passive-aggressively mentioned that he had “dirt” on me that he could spread too, but, that he’d never do that because he’s trying to be a gentleman in this situation. This is just run-of-the-mill manipulation and blame-shifting. “If you don’t tell on me, I won’t tell on you”. This tactic is often used in political campaigns, “Yeah, but did you hear what he/she said/did?”.
  2. Jeff Bush also offered to “stake his own reputation” and “pave the way for me to come back to VBM” if I would apologize. Again, a common manipulation tactic. Try to make the manipulated feel as though you are doing them a huge favor in order to earn their undying loyalty. He also mentioned that Trent Cornwell was discussing still giving my wife and I a love offering because we were supposed to be a part of the Missions Conference this week at VBC. He made sure to slide in the comment that he (Jeff Bush) was all for that because he harbored no ill-will towards me and my wife. I immediately recognized this as this same form of manipulation.

Thursday, at the invitation of Trent Cornwell and Andrew Pearson, my wife and I decided to attend the evening service at VBC, because that is where we are currently members. HUGE mistake. We arrived just a couple of minutes before service, so we didn’t have much time to talk to anyone before church. However, after church, things became textbook again. As soon as service was over, Robert Canfield (who I love dearly) approached me, with tears in his eyes and hugged me. After that, several missionaries shook my hand and told me they loved me “so much”. Literally a constant stream of missionary wives did this to my wife. Now, that doesn’t sound weird, unless you know most of these individuals were people we barely talk to. This is yet another common manipulation tactic. It’s called “love-bombing”. It’s the first stage of a common 3-stage manipulation cycle that is most common in religious organizations. Like so many others before us, we are being told we are loved and appreciated while simultaneously being pushed away and ostracized. Our only options have been, “apologize and come back”, or “get out”.

After that service, I was questioned by a couple of missionaries about my reasons for leaving, my use of the word toxic, and what I saw that was toxic. My answers were not satisfactory, and one missionary made the comment “I know we have a lot to work on around here, but blasting us publicly isn’t right”. Again, common manipulation tactic. The abuse and sin isn’t the problem, the people pointing our said abuse and sin are the problem.

I have also been contacted by several missionaries and supporting pastors asking what was said to the women. As embarrassing as it is to talk about, I have told them when they’ve asked. The VBM missionaries that have asked have acted like it no big deal. But our supporting pastors (most of whom support multiple other VBM missionaries) have been absolutely mortified to hear what was said.

In closing, we have no interest in going back to VBM. We’ve made a break, that, while it was abrupt and unplanned, was quick and helpful. As far as our membership at VBC, I have no qualms with the leadership of the church, but I really sincerely do not know how to make this work if we go with another mission board. To be perfectly honest, we’ve never felt as uncomfortable as we did Thursday night. I’m not sure how it would work moving forward.

Your servant in Christ, "Alan"