This was written for the ten year anniversary celebration of the 1984 Raid on our Community in Island Pond.
Ten years ago when several police officers came into our homes I was afraid of the unknown, but at the same time I had peace and security with my family and friends. I didn’t know what the outcome would be, I knew we were in this together. I didn’t really understand as the police searched the house for evidence of child abuse. They were picking up “so-called evidence” such as knitting needles and pieces of wood that propped the window open. (These are things that stand out in my mind.) I remember thinking this seems so ridiculous because I knew the truth. If they only knew how much I was loved and how much our children were loved! And I knew child abuse did not exist in our house or our community; I had lived there for five years.
They gathered us all in the living room and started asking questions, mostly one on one. I remember clearly one police officer asked my date of birth and if I had any children. He wrote something on his note pad and walked across the room to counsel with another police officer. A few minutes later I heard him say, “1966…wait a minute, she’s 17.” My heart skipped a few beats as I realized they were talking about me. The next thing I knew all of the children from newborn to 18 were being put on buses. I was the oldest child taken. They took us to a gymnasium in Newport, Vt. Of course, our parents came with us even though they were told they didn’t have to come if they didn’t want to. I remember that my mother had peace but I sensed she was experiencing something very difficult. I knew how much she loved us.
After we got to the gymnasium we learned that we would be taken from our parents and be physically and educationally examined. Then we would be put into foster homes. I did not understand. If parents have the greatest authority over their children, then why all of a sudden did they have no rights? Our parents were certainly not the ones in control. This seemed unjust. I could understand if we belonged to abusive parents because I have seen children who do and felt so sorry for them. These children were not in the community, but outside of it. I have seen parents lash out in frustration or violence. Their frustration comes because they have no authority in their child’s life.
But these people had no idea how our parents treated us. They didn’t even know our names. They didn’t know my parents either. I belonged to the most wonderful parents who have always loved me from the time I was born, who disciplined me, taught me right from wrong, and put good moral standard’s into me. I had no complaint against them. Not one time had they abused me. I loved them so much. The thought of being taken away from them and put into a foster home with someone I didn’t even know was a nightmare. Besides I was old enough to leave my parents if I was truly being abused. And even if I was to live with some relatives which wouldn’t be as bad as someone I didn’t know, I would still be unhappy. This is where I wanted to be. I had chosen to live this life and to follow my parents.
Instantly, my mind was spinning: “How would I escape and return to my parents? What about my sister who was 3 ½ years younger than me?” On and on my mind turned. But there was more involved than just my mind...and that was my heart. I knew that I had conviction in my heart. I knew that I had given my whole life (by my own choice) to serve a God who hears the cry of His people. I knew that my parents trusted Him and this is why they could have peace in the midst of this great battle. I understood that it was a battle between God and the evil one for my life and lives of our children. I cried out with all my heart that our God would deliver us and bring justice.
Many of the very small children had no idea what was going on. They thought we were having a celebration or a wedding because we sang and danced most of the day. As I looked around the gym I thought, “Can’t they see? Can’t they see – all these police officers and social service workers – how obvious it is that these children are happy, secure, and full of peace?” The whole gym was filled with a couple of hundred people of one heart, in unity, loving one another in the midst of the most difficult experience they had ever known. Parents were loving their children, children were obeying their parents (which is the fruit of discipline). I could see it so clearly and I wanted so bad for all of them to see it.
As the story goes on...everyone knows that were released to go home in peace. I can’t tell you how relieved and how much joy I had that our God heard us cry out to Him. He is the One who delivered us. He heard our prayer that the judge would be a servant for our God to use. To this day I am very thankful for Judge Mahady, even though he is no longer alive. He was the one our Father used to bring deliverance and justice to His people. My conviction, my faith, actually grew that day.
Over the last ten years I have come to understand even more about the raid. Now I am a mother of three children and I fully understand what our parents went through. I was looking at my one-year-old baby, imagining the thought of him being taken away from me. To me it is equal to the thought of him dying. I have thought this thought several times about all my children. I remember that on the day of the raid, one woman from our community was there with her nine-day-old baby. After the exhaustion of a hospital birth, a Caesarian section, she was peacefully resting and recovering at home. Suddenly and rudely she was awakened and faced with the horrible reality of losing her newborn baby and her other two children, when all she was guilt y of was raising them in the best environment on planet Earth and loving them. This was injustice.
I say the best environment because my parents moved into the community when I was 12 years old. Even though I grew up a Catholic and my parents got involved in many churches and Christian groups searching for the truth, I did not know what God was like. It wasn’t until we moved into the community that I began to see His character, that His love was demonstrated to me through real human beings. There’s something that happens when another human being loves you, it causes you to know the God of heaven loves you. I never want to leave this life my parents brought me into. I’ve chosen the life I am living so that this love can be demonstrated in the whole earth. I see if we had been taken ten years ago in the Raid, there would not have been another generation to carry on what’s been started. In the same way without my children following me and taking on my heart, I am living my life in vain. I have given my whole life to this. I want to see the end of sin and injustice.
All you have to do is open your eyes and look around you. The world is full of hatred, strife, selfishness, immorality, and all sorts of evil — and this is what the world has to offer their children. Children are growing up unrestrained and undisciplined into totally rebellious and disrespectful teenagers who have no idea what their purpose is in life. They don’t even know why they are alive because they are left to themselves to decide for themselves what is right or wrong. Therefore lying, stealing, immorality, or even taking the life of another human being is no big deal. I live in Boston where you see it every day. But, it is a big deal because they have an eternal destination according to how they have lived their life. Don’t their parents care? Raising children without authority is the greatest child abuse. I am thankful my parents loved me enough to put me on the right course.
It is obvious that we live in a time when evil is called good and good is called evil, just as the prophet Isaiah1 warned long ago. It used to be that discipline was good, but now it is a bad thing. There is something wrong with this society that we live in.
I will forever be so thankful for my parents who loved me enough to discipline me. Who knows where I would be today or what I would be doing if they had not? I’m grateful that I didn’t have to go to high school or college where I would have learned to reason away my conscience, instead I was saved to live in a much better environment. I want to raise my children the same way. I have a lot to offer my children and I ‘m thankful they are growing up with a purpose.