Silencing communication to supporters - Controlling prayer letters

The following is a conversation Jeff Bush had with "Bradley" between December 20, 2021 and January 12, 2022.

Jeff tells "Bradley" to have his prayer letters sent through someone else and not VBM. Even with the 15 reasons provided and after speaking with his local church pastor, "Bradley" is repeatedly told that Jeff and the Executive Directors do not want him to clearly communicate with his financial and prayer supporters because they do not want people to look into things and hope things will just blow over. Jeff tells "Bradley" to have someone else mail his letters, so he decides to have someone else other than VBM mail his prayer letters.

This is very alarming because VBM leadership is controlling prayer letters and discouraging missionaries from clearly communicating with their supporters.

Is this what a mission agency should be doing? Should this be concerning to churches and supporters? What other things have not been allowed to be communicated? Is this normal behavior? Is not this the same thing that Jeff Bush has been doing to protect Austin Gardner? Should someone like Jeff Bush be leading the organization?

This letter was first emailed to "Bradley's" email list and then the hardcopy mailout was subsequently paused and then denied per Jeff Bush as can be seen by this email exchange.

This is the content of the letter that Jeff Bush did not allow to be sent to "Bradley's" supporters and ministry partners:

Dear Pastor, Ministry Partner, and Supporting Church,

December 16, 2021

I hope that this letter finds you well and that you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for your prayers, support, and ministry partnership to help us evangelize the world in our generation.

By now, you may have heard of the accusations made against the founder and former president of Vision Baptist Missions [VBM], Austin Gardner. As your friend and ministry partner, I wanted to take the initiative to inform you that all of the results from both the independent investigation (regarding sexual allegations) and the results from Vision Baptist Church’s [VBC] special committee (regarding personal character accusations) have both been completed and are available for you to view.

You can find all of the details (entire investigative report and formal written statement from VBC) at .

In my understanding, since his resignation and based upon the results from Vision Baptist Church’s special committee, Austin Gardner continues to not be in any contractual relationship or leadership role within Vision Baptist Missions. He has since moved his membership from Vision Baptist Church.

Our mission organization, Vision Baptist Missions, has taken the opportunity to strengthen its governance, clarify core values, and refine policies and procedures.

Jeff Bush is the new president of VBM, and Travis Snode is the new general director of VBM.
A Pastoral Advisory Committee of multiple pastors has been set up and a new Board of Directors is being officially put into place for more accountability.

We are thankful that Vision Baptist Missions remains committed to evangelizing the world in our generation by partnering with local churches to mobilize, train, and send missionaries worldwide.

Thank you for your continued ministry partnership and prayers for everyone affected by these events as we continue to help mobilize more missionaries to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world.

Your friend and ministry partner,


If this letter is the same as the email you just sent out, I plead with you, "Bradley," to not send it out. You have caused quite the uproar this morning by your letter, and it is not in representation of VBM. As part of the home staff, people believe you’re speaking on behalf of all of us, and I don’t know anyone that thinks this letter is helpful or healthy.

Here to Serve,

Jeff Bush


Thank you for reaching out. My intention in sending that email was to have clear communication with my supporters regarding the clear results of the investigation that VBM has published. Obviously, if VBM is getting some kickback, I'm willing to pause the mailout because of the timing issues of the holidays and Christmas. Would you and I be able to sit down and talk about how I can clearly communicate the published findings of the VBM investigations to my financial supporters that I am personally responsible to communicate with?

I’ll be glad to discuss it, but I feel you are trying to spoonfeed people by printing out what they can very easily find on our Facebook page and website. We have set out the official letter from VBM on the findings, and it is still available online, so I believe we have made things very available for anyone who wants to know.

Here to Serve,

Jeff Bush

Hey Jeff,

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me face-to-face this past Sunday night. It really meant a lot to me and I appreciated the opportunity to speak together.

I hope that the tone of my email comes across as I intend with peace, calm, and well-intentioned.

Since the busy-ness of the holiday season has passed, I thought I'd follow-up and check with you about, "How can I clearly communicate VBM's published findings of the investigations with my financial supporters that I am personally responsible to communicate with?"

Not only is this affecting my ministry support, but it has been and continues to affect my meetings, prospective meetings, and impacts the effectiveness of my ability to mobilize more missionaries (individually, with churches, with colleges, etc.).

I was just contacted today by another pastor (he supports us and he has not seen communication from me at all regarding the attached letter since he did not read the email and got nothing from me in the mail) asking for me to meet him and talk with him. He has been following the investigations on his own and has questions for me that he would like to discuss face-to-face. I plan to drive several hours this coming Monday to meet with him.

He is one of a growing number of instances (individuals and churches) that I have been encountering over the past months.

I would appreciate any help you could offer regarding how I can clearly communicate the published findings of the investigations with my financial supporters that I am personally responsible to communicate with.

With respect and appreciation, Your friend,


Hey "Bradley",

I’m grateful we were able to talk Sunday, thanks for making the time.

I do not know that I have the best answer, so I will leave room for any of these other men to respond (although might be best to talk to them face-to-face or on phone because emails do not always do justice to a subject).

I have also spoken to some pastors on the phone throughout this time, and most are fine with me pointing them to the website findings or walking them through it over the phone. I’ve only had one pastor upset about not having a paper letter, but that was in the first few weeks of this storm. Most have been understanding by calling, watching FB, or going on our website to read it. I say that to say that I personally am convinced that most know or can know without sending out more info. We do not need to feel responsible for spoon-feeding anyone lest we choke some while attempting to do good.

I know it’s not easy to take all that happened personally, but in one way you have to stand back and let the chips fall as they may. We are all by nature controlling and want to answer every doubt and speak our opinion loudly, but there are some issues that only God can clear up. I say that to say I think you should answer anyone who has a doubt (whether they call you or whether you call them for a meeting), but I personally don’t believe you need to continue announcing what happened. I am not trying to argue in the least, but that is my honest assessment at this point in the game. I have no ill-will in saying this, I love you as a brother, but I think you should start telling yourself this storm is over and make the questioning pastors the exception instead of the rule. We are on the outside edge of this thing, so don’t let anyone try to drag you back into it. When someone calls, you can tell them, “Yes sir preacher, it was a horrible time, but God has been good and we are thankful it is over. You can find the details of the findings on our website, and I will be glad to answer anything specific you have, but God has taught us great lessons, and we are glad to be on the other side now.”

Love you bro.

Here to serve, Jeff Bush


Thanks for your personal response and explanation.

I am waiting for Pastor Trent to finish up his meeting before getting his thoughts on it as well.

Here are some of the reasons why I believe I should personally send a hardcopy letter to our financial supporters and those that partner with us or who have been following our ministry over the years:

  1. None of our supporters have received any hardcopy communication from me personally since things started in August. I was waiting for things to conclude before communicating the final results. Emails are easier to miss than a letter.
  2. Not all those who got a letter from VBM are also all those who are on our personal mailing list, so they never heard anything from VBM or from me.
  3. Many have heard or could have heard only one negative side of the story from second or third hand information whether it be social media, online, gossip, etc. but have not heard any other side of the story.
  4. For every 1 person that calls in to VBM, there may be 10+ others who have heard about the situation but do not call in.
  5. Personally speaking, I believe that my taking the initiative to communicate with my supporters is proactive communication; me waiting for them to call me is reactive.
  6. Taking the initiative to clearly communicate the results of the investigation can add confidence and build trust with our supporters and those who follow our ministry. This can allow, build, strengthen, and open the doors for me to get into more churches and have more influence to impact their church people
  7. This helps lay the groundwork for when I call them for a meeting or to come speak at their church, helps to build confidence in my personal character and moral ethics.
  8. It shows more evidence and proof of my personal desire to be accountable, transparent, and honest when I take the initiative to clearly communicate and be proactive.
  9. People may not call in to VBM but when I see them, meet them, or contact them, I find that they have unanswered questions, doubts, etc. that they have but did not voice. This leads me to believe there are many more people who have concerns or doubts but do not call and have not received clear communication regarding the results.
  10. The last hardcopy letter from VBM sent out in October does not mention that the results from the VBC committee are now currently available, only that they would be posted when they were available. Based upon that last letter alone, there are still those who do not know that all the results are in and available now. They also do not know who the new president and general director of VBM are without going online since no announcement has been made.
  11. I believe a 1-page letter like the one I had drafted makes it easier on our supporters so that they do not have to do all the time-consuming work of digging and sifting through pages, links, and reports.
  12. I believe that the accusations (against our founder, current leadership, and organizational integrity) and the results from the investigations are of a serious enough nature that merits a serious response and merits communication from me, their ministry partner.
  13. Unless a person uses the specific web address (, they cannot find that page on the homepage of VBM anymore. There is no link, button, or way of any kind that I can discern for them to find that information regarding the results of the investigations.
  14. One of the first online search results for "vision baptist missions" is Philip B's account and timeline. I have heard from several people who have read his account. His version of the story is more easily available in search engines than VBM's version.
  15. More than the average missionary that raises support and goes to the field, my ministry is on-going with stateside churches, church-groups, etc. and I have more interaction with local churches and pastors who I must strengthen the relationship and nurture trust so that they might allow me to influence their people for the cause of world evangelism.

Thanks for taking the time to consider my perspective

Your friend, "Bradley"

I have also spoken with Pastor Trent and Travis Snode on the phone separately.

I believe I understand the position and preferences of the Executive Directors regarding VBM's official position as an organization.

Travis and I spoke earlier today about some of these questions:

"In respect to the level of importance, do the executive directors believe this is a big or small issue? Does it merit being addressed?"

"Is it my responsibility to communicate this information to our supporters or not?"

"Am I being (and other missionaries) encouraged or discouraged from having transparent and accountable communication with my supporters?"

"If we are being encouraged to be honest and transparent, then what kind of overall instructions are ALL VBM missionaries being given of HOW we are supposed to be communicating regarding Bro Gardner and how we are moving forward (whether in written form or verbally)?"

"What about my letter or reasoning listed below is bad? Am I misrepresenting or misinterpreting facts and actual events?"

"How can my letter hurt transparency?"

"If my letter is simply saying what positive and good right steps VBM has taken, why would me sending this letter be a bad thing?"

"Why are we afraid of people looking into things or are we afraid of negative kickback from internal or other parties? What reasons do the executive directors have for not wanting me to communicate clearly with my supporters who have heard nothing from either VBM or myself up until now?"

"Am I being silenced from communicating with our supporters? Are the executive directors officially telling me not to send this letter or is it just their suggestion, opinion, and preference?"

After we discussed these and other questions, respectfully, I still plan to move forward with mailing this letter which was dated December 16, 2021.

I am not sending this letter on behalf of VBM. I am clearly sending this letter on behalf of myself to my own ministry supporters on my personal mailing list and those who regularly follow and pray for our ministry. No VBM logo or letterhead is being used.

I am committed to VBM, VBM's vision to evangelize the world, and I am committed to the progress, growth, development, and improvement of our mission organization.

If any of the Executive Directors are interested, please feel free to forward them this entire email thread or to contact me directly at +1(xxx)xxx-xxxx or

Your friend respectfully, "Bradley"


I am super super uncomfortable with this letter, yet I’ve already shared my reservations with you. If you are still moving forward with this, I would like to ask you that it is not sent out from VBM office. That would have the VBM logo and address on it, giving the idea that the board is sending it. I believe you are not placing it on VBM stationary (or BCWE), so please keep it on your personal stationary or normal paper. Thanks

Here to Serve,

Jeff Bush


Alright, I understand.

I will have it mailed out from another mailing service then.

It will be printed without any VBM/BCWE/OGTC stationary or logo.

To make things easier on the VBM home office, I will most likely continue to have our monthly prayer letters go out from external mailing services in the foreseeable future.

Thank you for your forthrightness.

Respectfully, "Bradley"