This piece by Mercy Survivor Anna was originally published on her personal blog, External Mercy, and can be viewed here.
A review of Mercy Multiplied’s Guidelines for Establishing a Residential Counseling Ministry.
I’ll have to admit that I was excited when I first came to the section in the manual that was titled Operations Fundamentals. I naively expected this section to cover aspects of residents’ treatment that had been so sorely lacking in the content up until this point. I was disappointed (but not surprised) to realize that the operations that they are referring to are not the operations of the residential counseling ministry, but rather the operations of the non-profit that runs it. This section is over halfway through the manual, and readers haven’t heard anything about the residents that this entire manual is supposed to enable them to minister to.
I’ll also say right from the start that Mercy Multiplied specifically states that they are covering the concepts in this section on a “high level” stating the importance that readers “seek knowledgeable resources to address the specifics as they relate to your individual vision, mission, and actual legal requirements you will need to comply with.” We see the foreshadowing of the disconnect between recommending professionals for aspects of the organization’s finances and legal decisions and the obvious eschewing of any professionalism with regard to the residents’ treatment or care. Over and over again, the manual encourages legal counsel to be sought early and often and while they do encourage finding pro-bono or discounted services (because what Christian organization doesn’t feel entitled to having professionals do things for them for free), they don’t suggest that you get prayer ministers to do this work for them. Even the pro-bono work is assumed to be coming from, professionals, i.e. lawyers and accountants. In fact they not only recommend that these individuals be professionals (read: passed the certifications and requirements necessary to prove that they are knowledgeable and experienced in the areas they are advising in), but they even strongly encourage a “reputable attorney” with expertise in non-profits and a “reputable Certified Public Accountant”. So not only do they expect their financial and legal information to come from experts trained and certified in their field, they’re even wanting to make sure that these individuals are especially good at what they do.
Now let’s just contrast this with Mercy Multiplied’s attitude concerning the expertise of their staff that are actually interacting with residents that have major mental illnesses and require round the clock 24/7 supervision. This staff is not recommended to have any qualifications or certifications barring a general college degree. This staff is not recommended to come with reputations of successfully treating individuals with specific struggles that are common to the residents. It’s not even suggested that people consult with people who are qualified in psychology or mental illness.
What kind of priorities are reflected when an organization is requiring certified professionals for dealing with legal and financial issues to cover their rear legally, but has no requirements for individuals that will actually be caring for the individuals all of this is supposed to be about? Better make sure you get someone experienced to deal with your organization’s operations because everyone knows how important that is, but anybody can care for the residents—what kind of a double standard is this? What kind of message does this send to the residents about their worth? Does Mercy Multiplied really think that recovery from illness with high fatalities is simpler than doing their taxes? And the answer of course is, yes. After all, taxes takes someone who knows what they’re doing…training, education, even experience, but recovery from mental illness is as simple as praying and memorizing Bible verses so why would you need anyone special to help residents with that?
Oh, and they even recommend having an independent auditor review financial practices yearly to provide accountability to donors. And what kind of accountability checks are their for the treatment of residents? (In case you’ve forgotten, the residents are the people that they are so keen on helping and ministering too…it’s hard to remember since most everything that is recommended has nothing to do with them and everything to do with the organizations’ image and potential donors). So if you’re a donor, you get to make sure that your money is doing exactly what they said it would, but if you’re a resident you have no recourse if they fail to live up to the minimal expectations commonplace in treatment. Think about it, what can residents do if they are abused by this organization? There’s no professional ethics board when you don’t employ professionals to do your counseling. There’s no certification to revoke when the complaints come pouring in when you don’t submit to any treatment guidelines or certifications. There’s not even a way to show that their claims about “treatment” are even remotely true. But that’s obviously not the important thing…because the important thing is that there’s accountability to the donors. After all, they are the ones who are really running the organization, right? They’re the ones that matter.
Along the lines of this same disconnect between how money is handled and how residents’ LIVES are handled, there’s plenty of encouragement to keep detailed and accurate records for the organization, but if you’ve seen any of the stories about residents attempting to get records from their time in the program, you’ll know that this sort of record keeping is not considered important. Because, you can get in some serious trouble with the government for not keeping records on your organization’s tax-exemption, but who is there to get you in trouble if you’re not keeping treatment records? In Mercy Multiplied’s set up there’s nobody, and for an organization that claims excellence in caring for these ‘poor souls gone astray’, there’s not really any evidence to back those claims up. ‘Cause who would listen to a bunch of mentally ill young women anyways? And what would it hurt the organization if those women aren’t satisfied with the treatment or care they get? I mean, it’s not like they’re paying for it anyways…as long as the donors are happy the revenue stream is stable. Nothing else matters…nothing…as long as the organization can maintain its public image and engender financial support, there’s not any way to hold the organization accountable for any of its actions with regard to the residents. This is how Mercy Multiplied is set up. This is how they recommend similar ministries to be set up. The focus is not on the residents or the ministry as much as they want to make people think that it is, the ultimate priority is the organization, its leadership, and its financial backers. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how you establish a residential counseling ministry that abuses the very people they are claiming to help. This is the secret of Mercy Multiplied’s success that they are so eager to share with other people. This is Mercy Multiplied sharing how to create a monster that looks just like them.
**All quotes are from Mercy Multiplied, Guidelines for Establishing a Residential Counseling Ministry, Retrieved October 2015.**