As we mark our 150th anniversary and give thanks for God’s faithfulness, we remember that OMF is an organization committed to honouring God. But some memories are deeply painful, not joyous. This is especially true for victims of abuse and for their families. As we remember those who were abused, we are called to repentance, to contritely turn away from all that grieves God and wounds people. In our rejoicing with those who rejoice, we must not forget to mourn with those who mourn, especially as the result of the evil actions of those who betrayed a position of trust and responsibility.
Mr. Selmer Hanson worked for OMF from 1970 – 1974 as a House Parent, along with his wife, at Chefoo School Baguio, a school for missionary children in the Philippines. During that time he terribly abused a number of the children under his care. As the leader of OMF International, I am profoundly shocked, angered and deeply disturbed by the evil acts committed against those who were children at the time. My heart mourns and grieves for those who were hurt and are still hurting because of such acts.
Mr. Hanson left OMF upon his return to Canada from the Philippines in 1974. Fifteen years later in December 1989, his abuse came to the knowledge of OMF. We immediately began an investigation. As a result of the findings, we confronted Mr. Hanson in Canada in January of 1990. He admitted his involvement in the abuse that had been disclosed up to that time, and this admission was made in writing. OMF began the process of contacting all families who had children at the school when Mr. Hanson worked there. OMF leaders met with a number of those who suffered abuse and their families, expressing our grief and support to them in writing and face to face. OMF arranged for counseling and other support. At that time, the General Director wrote to all members of OMF to inform them of these horrific events. OMF informed the organization Mr. Hanson was working for at that time, which eventually led to his dismissal. We also reported Mr. Hanson’s activities to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in the expectation that appropriate action would be taken. The RCMP suggested that we leave the matter with them as it was their place to deal with it, and not ours.
Recently an adult group of abuse survivors has learned that Mr. Hanson has been working in a position of trust and responsibility once again. We are grateful that they brought this information to our attention. We fully support the efforts of the survivors to seek justice. We have again reported the abuse to the authorities in both Canada and the Philippines.
We acknowledge that we cannot undo the deep hurt inflicted on children by Mr. Hanson. However, we commit ourselves to seeking truth and justice as well as offering help and healing to those who are affected. The shocking and tragic reality of the abuse of children by someone working in the name of God and of OMF is a cause of great anguish for us. We are profoundly sorry that this happened to our children.
In deep sorrow,
Dr Patrick Fung
General Director, OMF International
As a direct result of these events, in the early 1990s OMF undertook a thorough review of its policies and practices regarding childcare and safety. Over the years we have continued to strengthen policies for selecting, equipping, training and supervising those who look after children as part of their work as OMF missionaries and staff. We have worked to raise awareness of the need for child protection across the organization and in the wider mission community. We continue to work to prevent abuse of children in any form and to ensure the protection of children in the present day.
If during their time at the Chefoo Schools network or in OMF-run hostels or boarding facilities, people had any experience that concerned them, they are invited to write confidentially International Child Safety Officer – int.safeguarding [at] omfmail.com
For general requests for information related to this matter, please write to us at email@example.com
Amended 5 June 2015.