A Thank You from the Schlueters

compassionThere are a precious few in this world who are capable of understanding how to respond in times of loss. This thank you is to those who get it.

Thank you to those who are able to look beyond public image and big works and see hurting people in crisis and reach out.

Thank you to those who refuse to pile on with  judgments based on ignorance and hate at a time already fraught with complexity and anxiety.

Thank you to those who came to this small blog this last week, because you see our family and the Russ Turner family as people worthy of kindness and respect, and with an intent to pray for us or offer to help, rather than satisfy your idle curiosity for purposes of gossip. Your decency is worth more than gold. And just as rare.

My father, Vic Eliason, died last Saturday in the hospital. We were there, as we had been earlier in the week. Life is not a Hallmark movie. It would be nice if we could write the endings, wouldn’t it? But on this broken planet, life doesn’t always work out the way we hope and pray. All of us can only do what we can do. We are not in control. We are not in charge.

One thing my sister’s family and mine have seen often in the past years, is that every piece of the shattered glass of our lives can be part of a new mosaic. But it only happens if we give the pieces to God for arranging. What seems like unbelievable destruction really can be beautiful. Those in the middle of their own struggle can look up at God’s lovely design, see the light of His presence through the glass and say, “You can do that for me, too, God. Give me faith and courage.”

A blessed and Christ-filled Christmas to all who have stopped by.

 

Update 4/27/15

*Note* After my dad sent us the letter on behalf of VCY America, inc., threatening to sue my family and my sister Lisa’s family for trying to get Peacemaker Ministries help in Christian mediation of this shameful situation, we have heard nothing more. No apologies, no clarifications, no explanations. That pretty well sums up the leadership at the ministry of VCY America. There is no Christian love there. Forgiveness is made much harder where there is no repentance. For the last four years we have had injury after injury. But we know that God sees all, and that He alone can help us to try to move on and not allow spiritual abuse to derail our faith. I’ve removed the original content of this post. We are in possession of the threat letter, but want to try to move on.Julie Anne Smith at Spiritual Sounding Board is one of the only ones to treat us with dignity and concern. Thank you, Julie Anne for what you did.

 

An Update on VCY America

*Update* A year later, we have learned that the “highly skilled team” Melchert and the VCY board said (in the termination letter) they were hiring to replace Russ Turner, employee of over 2 decades, was one 20-year-old. This is not at all surprising, as the entire firing had nothing to do with Russ Turner’s job skills. It was pure malice.

ReconciliationMany have messaged in the last few weeks to ask if anyone in my sister’s family or our family has heard from Dr. Randall Melchert or anyone at VCY America to address our request for Christian mediation due to the heinous treatment of our two families that we desire to address with the board. I offer this by way of a final update, with gratitude for those who have shown concern for our families.

The answer as to whether we have had any response to our pleas is an authoritative no. The only response has been the legal threat letter sent from the lawyer in Brookfield, Wisconsin in which VCY America and Vic Eliason threatened to sue us after we sought Christian mediation through Peacemaker Ministries. Instead, VCY is advertising for the employment help they need after firing Russ Turner, my brother-in-law, who leaves his job on the 31st of this month. Despite all of his efforts, he does not have a job to replace his full-time job of 24 faithful years. His family is facing the emotional and financial stress this situation would cause any family. There is no excuse for it.

Vic Eliason has been allowed, as Executive Director of VCY America, to do tremendous damage to his children without a cause by running them out of the organization where they worked at faithfully for decades. He has shown total and callous disregard for his own flesh and blood and their needs. He has rejected any and all biblical handling of this situation and has instead, in his only contact with us in nearly four years, sent a bullying threat letter. He remains in his stubborn pride and prefers to call an attorney to threaten his own children with further financial damage for the crime of seeking Christian mediation.

Randall Melchert, rather than be a loving man of God with a heart of concern for all of us, aids and abets the one who has done this harm, ignoring our pleas, and suggesting to the local pastor trying to help that we had somehow “threatened” VCY by asking for his intervention. (See the decapitated squirrel post.)

The Russ Turner family has been grossly mistreated by the Executive Director and board of VCY America. The board  remains silent, indifferent to everything stated, unreachable, without a conscience, hopeful that their cowardly silence is the right approach to damp down the temporary annoyance caused by the light of truth being shed at my small blog.

But for every word of pain they read, they are accountable for before God. They know the truth, because they read it here, over and over. They visit this blog to see what else is being said while ignoring the suffering they have caused all of us. These men can try to kick it out of their way, ignore it, deny it, falsely characterize it, but they know it now. It’s too late to say otherwise.

What has been done to Russ and Lisa and to our family was evil. It was wrong. It has not been rectified by a so-called Christian ministry, VCY America. The only course for true Christians is to acknowledge wrong doing, acknowledge defrauding where it has taken place and to make it right.

Anything else is blatant sin before God.

Randy Melchert, Vic Eliason, remaining board of VCY America, you are the men who did this to us and to our children.

One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”

The man answered, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”

The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

“By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

The Gospel of St. Luke 10:25-37

Reconcile or Turn out the Lights

I don’t believe in prayers for revival on some big scale. Any spiritual awakening starts with individual hearts. If we can’t even love our neighbors and our own families, why in the world would some magical event take place where everybody overnight is just passionate for God? The one nobody has ever seen.

Quit your claims of praying and braying about moral issues, and call up the person you offended and apologize. Give back what you stole from them, and if it’s their good name, make a public statement retracting the slander.

That’s what revival will look like. That’s where Jesus will be, where love makes a showing, when sincere apologies get made and forgiveness extended. So turn off the lights at your Big Church or your Big Media Ministry if there are outstanding interpersonal issues. And don’t turn the lights back on until all has been reconciled. Otherwise you’re just plain noise.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,b but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. ~ I Corinthians 13

From Tom

The present scenario facing our families has resulted in Vic and VCY America rattling legal sabers in an attempt to scare away natural consequences. The old secular TV game show of the 60’s and 70’s had it right–“Truth or Consequences.” The truth, which has slowly been coming out over the past three and a half years (actually over 25 years), is taking its natural course, shedding light on shadowy things–things that in the world of narcissism ought never be spoken.

Not surprisingly, the thread of this whole scenario can be followed (or you could say, predicted) in Scripture. It is not wrought by human minds or manipulations, but was designed into the fabric of moral code governing human relationships by the Creator Himself. We can’t “argue” with that.

Well-known Scriptures such as “Be sure, your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23b) and, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) quickly come to mind. Vic and Randall Melchert in their arrogance have ignored the direct instruction of Matthew 18. Simply, they can’t do that without consequences, though they may be long in coming. (The Matthew 18 process started three and a half years ago with Ingrid privately entreating Vic at our kitchen table which started all of this.) You can deal in truth, or be crushed by its consequences. Let’s see, there’s even a secular “proverb” that deals with this: “The wheels of justice grind slowly, but exceedingly fine.”

The devil has sought the destruction of our family: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10), and while he has had some success, yet we have hope and “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Of Bullies, Cowards and Decapitated Squirrels

*Update one year later* The “highly skilled team” Vic’s termination letter said was being hired to handle grounds and maintenance – the “team” to replace an employee of 24 years – turned out to be a 20-year-old kid. Yes, that’s who took the job of a man who had faithfully served for two decades at VCY America. It was nothing but pure malice.

squirrel Vic Eliason recently sent a job termination letter to his son-in-law, Russ Turner, who has worked at VCY America for 24 years as a quiet, faithful and honest employee who is loved and respected by his co-workers. The letter of termination was laughable, particularly the claims that the buildings and grounds department (Russ and Paul) was being “decommissioned” (right as the snow season starts), and is being replaced with a “highly skilled team.” Vic signed the letter “the Governing Board.” The letter contained not a single thank-you for 24 years of faithful service.

The chairman of the board, Randall Melchert, was shown the termination letter by a concerned local pastor who has followed the VCY debacle for some time and who has known both Tom and me and my sister and brother-in-law, Russ for years. The intervention on the part of the pastor was to seek immediate biblical mediation of a situation that has been spiraling out of control for some time. The unbelievable treatment of Tom and me as employees of over two decades apiece (see my plaque of recognition here at the 20 year mark) is ongoing, as I will point out in a moment. The organization that was contacted and that agreed to mobilize immediately to address this ungodly situation is Peacemaker Ministries. This organization goes into conflict situations in ministries and churches and attempts a biblical resolution of the issues. (As opposed to the secular courts as forbidden by Scripture. See this very clear passage here.)

Nothing was heard from Dr. Randall Melchert for 10 days. Biblical mediation was apparently a difficult consideration for VCY America. At the 10 day mark, when contacted by the pastor, Melchert stated that the pastor would “hear from Vic’s attorney” the following week. Melchert was asked to clarify. This is where the story becomes even more bizarre.

Randy Melchert told the pastor that a “decapitated squirrel” had been found on Randy’s lawn, and that the “FBI had been contacted.” The implication was that our families were somehow involved. That’s why Vic had contacted an attorney to handle things according to Melchert. (!) To date, we haven’t heard from the FBI or the police over a headless squirrel!

If blogs could have laugh tracks, it would be cued at this point. Vic Eliason has spiritually, emotionally and financially assaulted his own family members who faithfully served, each one, over two decades at VCY America, giving the most productive years of our lives to the ministry as well as tens of thousands in donations over the years. Due to my privately bringing to Vic one on one, as Scriptures instruct, some deeply entrenched Eliason family issues back in 2011, all hell proceeded to break loose. The fallout of this situation, the narcissistic abuse punishment phase, has now affected two families, both Vic’s own flesh and blood.

This latest move of Vic’s to avoid being held biblically accountable for his sinful behavior is par for the course. He has been telling people for years now that I have lost my mind, am mentally unstable, and so forth and so on, to justify our departure and has waved around his file of evidence he’s concocted (do you keep actual dossiers on people?), even as the same man has posed as a woman (“Karen”) to send pornographic hate mail to our home, to send me a hateful email traced to his home and to write lies about me and my sister under another woman’s name (“Barbara”) on a friend’s blog. (Again, traced to his own home.) In addition, Vic’s bribing our then troubled 23-year-old son to write a vicious slander letter, is well-known to Dr. Melchert who has been shown this letter as justification for our departure from VCY. The letter has been since fully retracted as fiction, as our son has repented and we have been reconciled for some time. (We have his testimony in writing.)

Melchert is well aware that all of this has transpired on his watch while he has systematically ignored our pleas for help, all of which are in writing from over the last three and a half years, none of which were even given a response. Now, another family has been impacted, and Melchert remains in full support of this disgusting behavior. (The headless squirrel story has officially earned the Laughingstock Award of the week as people who know and love us shake their heads in disbelief that Randy would even suggest such a thing. This is taking on the air of farce.)

Vic’s character assassination has gone on unstopped because his enablers have chosen to believe his breathtaking lies instead of the truth as spoken by two families of witnesses. (Scripture says let everything be established in the mouths of two or three witnesses. We have far more than that who have never been heard.) Our entire family was scheduled to meet with Melchert over a year ago, and he canceled the meeting as we were literally headed to the car.

Cowardice is an ugly thing. Cowardice in the face of moral evil, as the head of a donor-supported ministry that claims to represent Jesus Christ, is beyond ugly.

I have a message for Vic, for Randy, and for anyone else who believes that Scripture’s direct instructions on handling conflict don’t apply: We will not be bullied. We will  not stop speaking the truth about what has gone on, and no attorney letters, threats and throwing weight around by anyone of influence matters one bit. We have tried for years to get help and to resolve this in a Christ-honoring manner to no avail. Peacemakers, think about that name, were not wanted. Attorneys were. Onward Christian soldiers.

We are people made in God’s image. We are Christians. We have multiple witnesses and evidence of what has happened. You have nothing but Vic and his preposterous, vicious and defamatory lies on your side. Oh, and you have your legal counsel.

I’m sure that legal counsel will impress Jesus Christ when you meet him face to face some day to answer for your lives, Randy and Vic. Maybe you could both try some legal prior restraint tactics at the throne of Jesus. Because the commands about loving your neighbor, forgiveness, and conflict resolution among believers are for everyone else. Never the ones in charge.

The only option for those who claim to possess Jesus Christ is biblical mediation of conflict. That has been resoundingly refused by Randall Melchert, the top officer legally of VCY America, inc. It has been resoundingly rejected by Vic Eliason and Randy Melchert, men who prefer to pass on stories about headless squirrels and retain attorneys to try to stifle the truth.

There is absolutely no excuse for biblical mediation to be shut down. The only explanation possible is that the leadership of VCY America, Inc. does not believe what it claims about the authority of Scripture to govern our lives.  And silence on these matters has produced only more abuse of innocent people. That is why this is being publicly shared.  To those who say this harms the “cause of Christ”, who exactly is this Christ who sanctions lying, slander, threats and abuse of one’s own family? The perpetrator(s) alone is the one who harms the cause of Christ. God is responsible for defending his own name. The only thing silence creates is a longer list of victims. Period.

In conclusion, I would ask the leadership of Brookside Baptist Church if they agree that lawyers, not biblical mediators, should be called when there is conflict in a ministry and founding ministry family. Randy Melchert is also in leadership at Brookside Baptist. I would be most interested in their response. None expected, however.