From the Editors

The uncomfortable truth about Hillcrest

How missionary work can create the conditions for child abuse to thrive unchecked

It would be easy to glance at “Surviving Hillcrest,” the feature article we recently published about Hillcrest School in Jos, Nigeria, and see what you’ve seen before: people in positions of institutional authority accused of abuse. We accept such familiar stories as routine. But look more closely, and you will see a much broader indictment—one that includes all of us.

The few news stories that have been run about the physical and sexual abuse at Hillcrest suggest that people whose whole lives were dedicated to the Gospel had something go terribly wrong. Scandalously, the boarding school where parents left their children while they pursued God’s work had mishandled that sacred responsibility, allowing abuse to be rampant.

But with a close look at this story, another picture emerges: in this case, the missionary work itself—not a deviation from it—created the situation in which child abuse thrived unchecked.