All God's Children

All God's Children

2008, Religion  -   59 Comments
Ratings: 6.61/10 from 23 users.

All God's ChildrenThrough the eyes of three families, All God’s Children tells the personal story of the first boarding school for children of missionaries to be investigated for abuse at the hands of the parents’ missionary colleagues. The survivors and parents share their journey of seeking justice, redemption and healing.

The Beardslee, Shellrude and Darr families left North America for West Africa during the 1950s. They followed what they believed to be God’s Calling – to spread Christianity throughout the world.

Their children however - starting at the age of 6 – were required to attend the boarding school in Mamou, Guinea, run by the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

Cut off from their families for 9 months out of the year and without any reliable means of communication, the children quietly suffered emotional, spiritual, physical and/or sexual abuse at the hands of the all-missionary staff.

It took the children decades to acknowledge the effects the abuses had on their lives. When they finally dared to break the silence and speak out, the Church denied all allegations and refused to help.

But through years of persistent activism the survivors and their parents finally compelled the Christian and Missionary Alliance to conduct an investigation and acknowledge the abuses. The healing could begin.

The investigation of the Mamou Alliance Academy was the first of its kind but has since inspired investigations at other schools of many different denominations. For more information, resources and links to support groups, please visit the official site.

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59 Comments / User Reviews

  1. lyn

    Not one parent with common sense here. You don't send your children away because you are brainwashed and obviously sheep. May all of you live with regret until your dying day for what you let happen to these innocent children. Jim Jones, David Koresh, C&MA.........

  2. robertallen1

    You're right and these mental murderers as you so accurately term them are child molesters in every sense of the word.

    1. amused

      I was totally abused mentally, emotionally AND physically by my obese, bible thumping Methodist principal in Calcutta Boys' School, in Calcutta,.India. Any wonder, I refuse to have children, believe in god and give up my Indian citizenship! I forgave them but cannot forget. That's the bummer.

  3. atheisticgirl

    I had a similar situation growing up. I'm 50 now and try as I may to make it not so, this kind of stuff rather lasts a lifefime. I feel comforted to hear this story. Wish I knew one of these people or someone of similar background as a friend.

    In general, people not suffered of this kind of abuse might sympathize, but ultimately they don't understand the depth of the problem. Like, "Yes, it's wrong that those guys did such things, but dear victim, move on child in the freedom you now have." "Yes," I say, "isn't that a great idea. Like I haven't tried!"

    Got a BA degree in psychology. Whoo hoo. That did help, by the way. But frankly, the mental formation of the thing is so slippery that trying to take control of it is like trying to get hold of a greased pig. I can't understand it enough, undo it enough, or leave off with it enough.

    People who hurt children this way are mental murderers. The incidiousness of such abuse it is not easily seen, even for the victim who mimimizes the damage through self-blame. What a true blessing that those who came together for this documentary have some common understanding across themselves on a personal basis. As for me, I say thanks for sharing it. It kind of helps. A lot of things kind of help, but nothing cures.

  4. citalotus8

    This is what they deserve right? i mean everything is gods plan after all right? proof religion is bollocks!

  5. Winston Smith

    have some of these same issues from having been sent away as a child. I have no desire to have my own family.. and even going past living together with a woman has proved impossible so far..or undesirable.
    when kids are abandoned by their parents, (and parents can be close by and still abandon their children's needs' 'proximal abandonment) Kid's blame themselves.

    1. robertallen1

      I get it. 1984.

  6. John David Laing

    If you don't want me to ruin the ending, do not read on...

    Why weren't the perpetrators charged in criminal court? Lack of physical evidence? 80 people coming forward is not enough to justify criminal investigations? Perhaps it is a jurisdiction issue, but that seems like it could be overcome. I assume there is not a statute of limitations on child abuse and rape. It is terrible that the C&MA did little when the issue was first brought to light, and not much more even after the independent investigation corroborated the children's (now adults') stories. Overall, the C&MA is a good denomination, but this has surely tarnished its reputation, and its leadership ought to be ashamed for not protecting these children and for doing nothing now.

    1. Beverly Shellrude Thompson

      The C&MA have continued to cover-up abuses in all their schools, in spite of saying otherwise. To answer your question, there was indeed a jurisdictional issue at the time regarding reporting to authorities. But the C&MA allowed the perpetrators to quietly re-enter churches and seniors home in North America without reporting to the institutions they were entering.

  7. John David Laing

    The history of Christian missions is one of faith, but also of sacrifice of family that I do not believe God has called us to. I am a Christian theologian and philosopher, and I can see why so many get turned off religion as a result of stories such as this. But the movie does not show the evil of religion; rather, it shows the evil of people, some of whom claim to have been changed by God. It is reprehensible and an abomination before God for the church (no matter what denomination) to refuse to investigate crimes against children, most likely out of fear of criminal or civil prosecution. Those involved and who are in positions of responsibility will stand before the Judge one day and have to answer for their actions or inaction, whichever the case may be. God bless the survivors.

  8. arcanobacterium

    Just awful. During the communism in my country (Czech and Slovak republic) we also survived many abuses. And it was not because of religion, but just because it was thought as normal behavior here. I remeber my pre-school in 1984-5, where physical punischments as beating were common daily. I remember one teacher who forced us to strip naked when we did something wrong (meaning did not obey orders). During mandatory nap time I was not allowed to go to the bathroom and I started to wet myself in the bed, I was forced to sit naked on the bathroom floor for some time. We were not allowed to play with some toys that were donated to the school and we just looked at the dolls in plastic boxes. I do not think my parents knew about this, but even if they did, there was nothing to be done. Children could not stay at home with their mothers, because they had to go to work. I know that it is not as terrible as the children in this documentary survived, but I had a very hard journey forgeting things like this. I used to fell guilty for it, I thought that it was just, because I did not obey. I used to cut myself as a way of relieving the inner pain. Today I do not feel any anger or pain and I do not think about those years, but I will never let anyone do this to my children.

  9. alphabetjo

    Thank you. Im an MK who was in boarding school in Asia during the 80's. Although the sexual abuse wasnt an issue the psychological abuse certainly was. Whether is was intentional to harm or just that thr adults thought they were doing gods will I don't know. My heart goes out to the survivors and I think the more MKs stand up and say what was wrong with the system the more likely we are to prevent similar abuses recurring.

  10. Guest

    These chidren were living the Hell of adults.
    How many Africans were abused and still are by church missionaries? we will never know.

  11. Guest

    Is it just me? I get the impression that most of these people remained followers of some CHURCH despite what happened.

    1. Beverly Shellrude Thompson

      Yes!!! One of the untold facts is that missionaries also abused citizens in the countries they were working in.

    2. Beverly Shellrude Thompson

      Yes, many have stayed with in the faith and church in which we grew up in at Mamou. And many of us have left both the church and the faith. It meant starting a whole new life in my late thirties, but it was well worth it.

  12. metalmaji

    Bible has so many scientific errors. Why do we believe in a book that has sooo many errors and contradictions. Why don't we do our own research instead of depending on churches.

  13. robertallen1

    Missionaries are some of the vilest people on the planet. In their efforts to foist their misbegotten beliefs on others, they try to alter what should be left alone; they try to bring down other cultures which do not confirm to theirs and in general wreak havoc. They are so blinded by their aberrant religious creed that they abandon their children to seedy boarding schools so that they can go out and promote their version of a god.

    I don't know which is more sickening, missionaries, faith healers or they money they rake in.

    1. Beverly Shellrude Thompson

      I liked your line "they alter what should be left alone". And they don't create reform where it so desperately needs to be made.

  14. E. M.

    Thank you to the producers for making this film. My father was an MK (grandparents were missionaries for an evangelical denomination and sent him to a boarding school in central Africa). This film really shed some light on certain aspects of his childhood and attitudes he had as an adult. There is a lot I don't know about his childhood, but from what I do know, it seems that some of what he experienced may have (and probably was) similar to some of the stories shared in this film.
    My heartfelt thanks for making this film. I wish everyone involved in it happiness and admire their courage and strength in speaking about their experiences.

    1. All God

      E.M., thank you so much for sharing your personal thoughts. It means a lot to us to read this. One of the main reasons why we wanted to make the film is so that people would better understand their family member, who was an MK and may have experienced something vaguely similar.
      Thank you,
      Luci Westphal (producer)

  15. Kateye70

    My heart goes out to these survivors. I was sad to hear one of them say that he didn't believe anyone could have a happy childhood. But I had a wonderful childhood with loving parents and a close sibling group that is still my strength today.

    I had the opposite experience of his when I left home; I though that every child grew up with their equivalent of my own loving family. It took being abused myself as a young woman to learn that my ex-boyfriend had grown up in a home with alcoholics and that when he said and did hurtful things he really did mean them to be hurtful.

    It also wrenched my heart when the parents said that they did not know what was happening to their children, and the children replied "how could you not know." When the mother said that children believe their parents are all-knowing, you could tell she was so regretful. Parenting already comes pre-loaded with guilt feeling; how sad to add a real reason.

    It is easy for people who grow up in loving homes to accept at face value what they are told by their children's caretakers. It *is* naive, but if you have never experienced abuse it is hard to understand that someone could be so hateful on purpose. I hope the children can come to terms with that.

    I applaud their--*your*, since they are monitoring these comments--efforts to bring this issue to the forefront. Keep up the good work. Child abuse happens anywhere and everywhere, and only the vigilance of loving adults can prevent it.

    1. All God

      Thank you so much, Kateye70, for your thoughtful comments and sharing your personal perspective. Our heart goes out to you for having had to learn such hard lessons. I particularly like your statement: Child abuse happens anywhere and everywhere, and only the vigilance of loving adults can prevent it.
      - Luci (producer)

    2. Kateye70

      As someone else pointed out, our world-view about parenting--as well as abuse--has changed drastically in the last 50 years. Abuse of any sort happens best when the abuser can intimidate their victim(s) into remaining silent. That there is now so much public discourse is a good thing. Breaking the silence can only lead to breaking the cycle.

  16. metalmaji

    If Jesus was God, how could He pray to God?

    If Jesus was GOD, then why in Mark 12:29 Jesus said "Here, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord." The words "our God" indicate that Jesus had a higher God over him, a stronger God than him. Jesus didn't say "Your God". He said "our God" which includes Jesus as the creation of GOD.

    If Jesus was GOD, then why in John 20:17 Jesus said I ascend to my God and your God? This tells us that we and Jesus have a common GOD.

    If Jesus was GOD, then why in John 8:28 Jesus said "I do nothing of myself"? Can't GOD do anything he wills?

    If Jesus was GOD, then why in John 14:28 Jesus said "My Father (GOD) is greater than I"?

    If Jesus was GOD, then why in Luke 23:46 Jesus said "Father (GOD), into thy hands I commend my spirit"?

    If Jesus was GOD, then why in Matthew 19:16 Jesus said "Why call me good, there is none good but One, that is GOD"?
    If Jesus was GOD, then why in John 5:36-38 Jesus said that GOD had assigned him (Jesus) work and GOD is a witness on Jesus?

    If Jesus was GOD, then why in John 5:32 Jesus told his followers that they have never seen GOD at anytime nor ever heard his voice?

    If Jesus was GOD, then why did he pray to his GOD in Luke 5:16?

    1. robertallen1

      You might be able to find answers to your questions if you knew something about the history of the New Testament. There are many fine books on the subject.

  17. metalmaji

    I'm sorry if I'm saying something wrong. I don't mean to hurt anybody's feelings. Anyway, I did my homework. Churches say Jesus is God.. .But there is NOT a single unequivocal statement in the complete Bible, where Jesus himself says... 'I am God' - or where he says... 'Worship me'???... Churches say God is ONE.. God, Jesus and Holy Spirit. These are three different forms. So, 1+1+1=3.. Eg, water, oil and soil cannot be one... Churches say God SENT Jesus to be killed... 1-A God cannot die...2- If God sent Jesus, that means there are TWO.. (earlier they said its ONE).... Churches say Jesus in sitting right next to God.. (this again shows there are two).... When we asks Churches about this, they say "don't ask questions, just believe it".

    1. metalmaji

      Praying to Jesus is putting a human in front of God.That is contradictory to the very first commandment FROM God HIMSELF. God has no limitations that includes death. Jesus had limitations. We are all born in the image and likeness of God. But that does NOT make us God.

      The vase example is flawed. If God himself resided in human form as Jesus, HE would have no fear of what was to come. That fear is human and God in flesh would still transcend human attributes.God is all knowing. So why did Jesus have fear and no knowledge of being "god" while he was here? That infers that he wasn't all knowing.

      If Jesus is part of a holy trinity he would be all knowing in human form so to say he prayed to God the father or had fear or didn't know he was God is not god-like. He would not say pray to me to get to God. He would say follow how I lived to get to God.

      The word Christianity or trinity doesn't exist in the full Bible. Jesus never heard the word Christianity.

    2. tomregit

      Oh no! Crap and dammit you are using logic to analyse religion! You should know better. Jesus loves you?! You're not Muslim or Buddhist are you? OK, Jesus loves you.

  18. All God

    The recent statement from the Catholic Church is shocking. However our film is focused on a Protestant Church based in the US called Christian and Missionary Alliance. The abuse of children is not just a problem within the Catholic Church. Sadly it's very widespread.
    Thank you so much for watching.

  19. tomregit

    "We would pray and ask God to take care of them". I guess He must have been busy with more important work like they, the parents were.
    You may think it unfair to blame the parents, but they are a part of the whole rotten, misguided belief system.
    I was raised as a Roman Catholic but was fortunate to have escaped their abuse and eventually their God. I have personally tried to be more understanding and patient with religion than I once was, but seeing this sort of thing angers me even more than it does the victims of religion. It's too bad they couldn't have had their rapture today and leave me and the rest of the unbelievers to our tribulation.
    Welcome back Achems, play nice now. :0)

    1. Jack1952

      I was going to give all my stuff away but I had to pass a kidney stone and was too busy to follow through with my good deed. I was a little upset that God put me through this pain just before he raptured me. For some reason, I feel better that the rapture didn't happen. Selfish of me.

    2. tomregit

      Not to worry Jack; there will be another rapture coming up shortly.

    3. Jack1952

      Thanks Tom, but I want a pass on that kidney stone thing the next time.

  20. Achems_Razor

    Hi am back, hope nobody missed me to much, (LOL) yet have to watch this doc. Will watch now and give more info on what I think, notice nothing happened today, no rapture for the religee's means they are all still here, damn, all except Charles of course, would miss him.

    1. Gary V


      If you are the real Achems_Razor then welcome back my friend, you have indeed been missed. There was no rapture & there never will be. There is more chance that John Frum will return to the Pacific island of Tanna, if you haven't watched it yet then I highly recommend the doc "God is American". I think that you might like that one.

    2. Achems_Razor

      Yes, am the real Achems, thank you for your welcome, had to completely re-figure my computer system, why was off for a while, and will watch the "God is American" doc also, thanks.

    3. His Forever

      Achems, your avatar icon is getting creepier even still! Might I interest you in a butterfly? I've got several pics I took myself.

      Yeah, I'm still here too. I was rather disappointed, but not surprised to wake up on the 22nd and my wife said, "Well, we're still here!"

      But, Jesus did say that only the Father knows the time, and not even the angels in Heaven, so I'm not surprised, just a little bummed.

      I think this doc would just make me too upset to watch. Why wouldn't they just TAKE their kids with them on the mission field? I do. Wherever I go, they go too. I'm even thinking about missions in Cambodia---I''m sure they'd like that! (or maybe not).


    4. Guest

      I do think his avatar looks like the face of a butterfly, a close-up one, a Blue Morpho.
      Many religious people were hoping for the rapture to happen, people tend to think that the rapture will be like a tornado that will wash off the earth all the none believers.

    5. Achems_Razor

      Charles, what do you mean my Avatar is creepy, its right from the movie "Avatar" I suppose you never even watched the movie? A good family movie (LOL) there is even gods in the movie. Right up your alley. Butterfly's wont cut it with me.

      You should watch this doc Charles, and you should get upset, that is what religion is all about, subjugation of the masses. Again you are cherry picking, only what you want to watch and hear EH? This doc will show you the idiocy of the religious.

      Watched the first portion of the doc and of course my PC crashed, still trying to work out the bugs of my new system.

      Forget about the rapture stuff, I realize you talk as if the bible is real time stuff, and your Jesus is real. Maybe to you but not to me.

    6. Hesusa

      Sorry Charles... was busy on 22nd. Will come for you on Friday. Oh and pack light because its damn hot where we are going.

  21. Guest

    @Vlatko...just want to say: nice addition to have the year a doc was made at the top!

  22. Jaak Wassmuth

    How primitive is this? Religion controlling the expression of love. Love and religion have nothing in common other than religion tries to usurp the power of love. Love is real. Faith is imaginary.. Get used to it.

  23. Gary V

    A good but disturbing doc about the systematic Spiritual, physical & sexual abuse of children by the members of a Christian Church.

  24. Heather Wade

    The Catholic Church is just pissed that they lost control over everyone, and are desperate to get it back.

    1. Gary V

      I don't think that this doc was about the Catholic Church but it was certainly about the Christian Church of which they are part or at least about it's followers. It never fails to amaze me as to the depths of depravity that some Human beings will stoop to under the guise of religion. As Richard Dawkins once rightly said religion is "the root of all evil" & the world would be a lot better place without it, in my opinion.

    2. All God

      You are absolutely right, Gary. The Church that ran the Mamou Alliance Academy was the Christian and Missionary Alliance, a large proselytizing Evangelical Church based out of Colorado Springs.
      Thank you for watching the film.
      - Luci (producer)

    3. Gary V

      Thank you for making the film & exposing these evil people, the world needs to know about these things. I hope that the victims of these horrific crimes eventually get the justice that they deserve, Please pass on my kindest regards to them all.

    4. All God

      Hi Heather. Thank you for watching our film. However, Gary V is right. This film does not focus on something happening in the Catholic Church - but on a Protestant Church. It was the Christian and Missionary Alliance that ran the boarding school for missionary kids, where these abuses took place. They are considered an Evangelical Church.
      - Luci (producer)

  25. Mario Silverio

    real sad

  26. wald0

    Haven't you guys heard, the catholic church completed a study into why this type of thing happens. Turns out it has nothing to do with the priests being celebate, homosexual repression, religious guilt, etc. It was those gosh darn sixties and the sexually permissive attitudes of society, LOL!!! All joking aside, the catholic church should be ashamed of itself. I didn't think there was much they could do to make this situation worse but, they just did. The sixties are to balme, give me a break!!

    If you would like to know why they blamed the sixties look into Pope Benedict's opinions about the new and updated catholicism that emmerged in the sixties. It's no coincidence that they blamed it on the sixties, look into it and you will see what I mean. Benedict has been trying to get the Catholic church to return to the old ways every since they modernized (so to speak), you can bet when it is all said and done he will be blaming the updated catholicism for this tragedy. He wants to return to the days of indulgences and the inquisition, the days when evolution was rejected as heresy, etc.

    1. Sieben Stern

      I think old ratzinger was in the old office of the inquisitor, just with an updated title - it's in the docu about the spanish inquisition...

      heh of course the catholic church would find it did nothing wrong! it's like asking the regulated to watch themselves.

      what i want to know is why none of these parents called the authorities or the police when they returned to america? it's no wonder they continue to get away with abuse and molestation :/

    2. Guest

      Marx was right: Religion is the opium of the society.

    3. Jack1952

      I'm a product of the permissive sixties. I still can't approve of the behavior of the people in that school.
      Why can't the Catholic Church admit that the wrongdoing was human failure and their own failure lay in the fact that they ignored, or worse, hid the wrongdoing to avoid embarrassment? That would be honest. That would go a long way towards minimizing this kind of tragedy. Blaming someone else for your own shortcomings will never solve them.