These are Aarron Messer’s own words from his public Facebook page. He is once again allowing me to post his thoughts to my readers.
Side note: I posted the Petition to FHE: Remove Kerry Messer on FHE’s public FB page and it was quickly removed.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Today, a letter requesting that FHE distance themselves from my father began to circulate. I, too, am surprised that FHE has continued their relationship with my father as a representative of the organization. I understand it’s hard to take that step and separate yourself from someone who has been a champion and celebrated voice of your community. Being homeschooled was one of the greatest advantages of my life. It has been something I have been proud of. The work my dad has accomplished for FHE and many wonderful institutions supporting families throughout Missouri has been immeasurable. I, too, do not want to see Kerry’s ministry and work tarnished in this way. I want to pull back the curtain today. The point is not trash homeschooling, my parents or FHE, but just to remind us all that we are people.
Every movement every cause has supporters. Each church is filled with people as in our families and homes. Those people are sinners. They make mistakes and their lives are scarred by the consequences of their actions. Just to illustrate that I am going to share some details with you. Many of you will know the people I am talking about. They are my family and yours. I won’t give names, but I want you to know that your champions are flawed. Every one of them. I am no different and neither are you. You, too, can fall. Sin can wreak havoc in your life just as it has in many of our friends and loved ones in this community and in mine.
Homeschooling is wonderful, and it is rooted in a basic return to fundamental truth. Children are the responsibility of parents. Teaching and preparing your children for the world is your duty as a parent. Let me tell you about my family. If you were homeschooled, you may have had similar experiences or heard stories much like those I am about to share. My parents were from a rural community in Ste Genevieve County, but that isn’t the whole picture.
See my Grandparents on my dad’s side left Arkansas when they were 17, got married and moved to Illinois. Seven months later, my Uncle Danny was born, and no one talked about it. My grandfather was illiterate. He had lived in poverty working is his entire childhood as a sharecropper. His family owned nothing. They worked to keep a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. He taught himself to read as best he could from the Bible.
He did what he could as a 17 year old father and husband – he went to work. He worked in meat-packing in East St. Louis. He worked hard to support his 3 boys and a daughter who wouldn’t live past her 1st birthday. He worked hard and long hours on the kill floor. He saw the money being made from farmers bringing their beef to be processed. He dreamed of having something of his own. He bought the family farm my dad owns now and tried to become a farmer over and over again. He would borrow money, buy a herd and inevitably sell off the herd to pay off the loan. He didn’t make it, but when he moved from Illinois to Ste Gen County and to the farm multiple things happened.
The family had no phone. The boys in middle school were held back a year. Danny, Kerry and Gary lived on DD. As many of you who have lived in this county know, they were labeled as trouble makers from K Road. My dad was a loner – he was from a a Baptist family in a Catholic county. They were snubbed in Ste Gen and they made Festus home for all their shopping needs. The school policy prohibited the kids from taking school books home after school. The bus ride an hour away to Ste Gen was more than enough distance to separate a family from the school. With no phone, the school had little contact with my grandparents who were unaware their kids were held back a year. My dad was a classic middle kid. His older brother and younger brother ganged up on him. They skipped school together and when my dad threatened to tell, they broke his arm.
My grandfather was a quiet man who didn’t really know how to communicate with his kids. There wasn’t much family bonding shall we say. I know every one of his kids was cut at one point or another by his chainsaw gathering firewood. He wasn’t abusive, but he was just kind of unobservant. Danny, the oldest, graduated and joined the military. Gary was popular as the youngest, but he went off to Florida and unfortunately was killed by a drunk driver. From the rumors my dad shared when I was kid, he was probably in Florida running drugs.
The stories I was told of my dad’s school experience went something like this: he didn’t want to do homework. If he didn’t do homework, he got a whipping at school, but he just took his whipping everyday. He could take that and then he didn’t have to do his homework.
Don’t get me wrong; dad is smart. He remembers and shared how college and career day in Ste Gen high school consisted of every kid from in town being taken to college tours. The county kids were given job applications for the factories and mines. He told us of teachers who were drunk in every class, who gave grades on the basis of how short your dress was and if you sat in the front row uncrossing your legs often enough for him to have a peek.
My dad fondly kept a creative writing paper on how to make the perfect peanut butter sandwich which he turned in 3 or 4 times to the same teacher cutting the grade off each time. The teacher was too high to notice it was the same paper. He fondly recalls fostering a relationship for a whole year with the psychology teacher just to tell him off on the last day of class. That’s right – my dad spent the entire semester becoming the teacher’s pet just to be able to call the teacher an asshole in class on the last day of school.Respect for teachers and the education system was not exactly fostered in their home.
Just over the fence from the farm was an old one room school house long abandoned. It had fallen in before I came along, but I remember it and my dad shared how he learned more sneaking into that building and reading the old books left behind in it than from his teachers. Now, my dad is no dummy. In Jefferson City, many people assume my dad is an attorney because of his familiarity with the law. He isn’t. He never went to college – not one day. In fact. he told me not to bother going – it’s a waste. Unless you have to have a degree for your job, you’re just wasting money to go to school.
My mother grew up with 2 sisters. She was a middle child and rebellious against her catholic family. When she fell for dad at 14, she turned her back on her family and it got ugly. My dad was older. He graduated and went to work in St. Louis at a grain elevator. At 17, my mom ran away from home and lived with my dad’s parents. In December, they got married. It was her senior year and the school looked at her academic record. She had all her credits needed to graduate, but getting married. . .ah…you didn’t need to do that, so they refused to give her a diploma. Few people realize that high schools can actually withhold your diploma and refuse to allow you to graduate for any reason they want.
Fifteen months later in St. Louis, I was born. Thirteen months later, Abram came along as well. Young parents popping out kiddos, their hands full, a mortgage, a job, volunteering with their church as bus captains and youth leaders – active as can be. Enthralled with the theological fallacies of the day, they fell headlong into the “Tim Lahaye-the-end-is-near” malarkey. They thought, “We don’t have time to raise a family. We need to be busy serving God.” So, my dad had a vasectomy. A few years later when they tried to get it reversed and the reversal failed, my parents wept over never being able to have more children having believed that it could be reversed anytime. Not having the money for the private Christian school at their church and living in the City of St. Louis, my mother and father were disgusted with public schools, so as my mother would say, “If I can teach them to tie their shoes and teach them the alphabet, I can teach them to read and write.” So we were homeschooled.
Now, homeschooling was technically against the law in Missouri at the time. My parents – true rebels and in probably their most radical years – made a plan. If anyone tried to stop them from homeschooling, my mother would take us and drive to Arkansas to family who would hide us from the authorities. My dad would stand boldly and dare the State to arrest him for teaching his own children. He went and stood on the steps of the capital in Jefferson City and publicly declared, “I am homeschooling my children in violation of the law, arrest me or change that law.” This is how Kerry Messer started to fight for homeschooling in Missouri. Just as the theologians and the Christian Coalition kicked off in the 80’s, MFN my dad’s ministry began and he has served in the political field for years since. Yes, we stood by families threatened by DFS for homeschooling. We saw the laws change and Missouri has the best homeschooling laws in the entire country.
But, that doesn’t make us good people – we are just people who have done some good. My dad is hard headed and self-determined. Of course, that apple hasn’t fallen far. You know when I learned of his secret affair with his new Girlfriend back in April and May of 2015, I confronted him. My single biggest objection and concern that I shared with him over and over was how all the good things, all the positive work, all the people who have been blessed and honored by his service and his ministry now have to face the question, “Who is Kerry?” How can his work mean anything when he is a liar and a cheater and maybe he did something awful to his wife?
To quote a Senator from Missouri when asked about Kerry this legislative session, “He wasn’t welcome in my office before he killed his wife.” My father has tarnished and ruined the reputation of his ministry and our family. I sat and I implored him and I was baffled at his replies.
My father decided within weeks of my mother’s “disappearance” death that having a girlfriend was more important than the entire ministry of MFN. It was more important than all the organizations he ever represented, than every cause every belief he ever represented. That made no sense to me.
How is it possible for a man to decide, “My wife is missing, but I would rather have a girlfriend today than honor my wife’s memory, her passions and beliefs, my own family or their beliefs and ideologies. I would rather give up every cause and every good thing I have ever stood for so I can have my girlfriend.” But he did it.
We are all sinners. We all screw up. Did Kerry do wonderful things for FHE? Absolutely. But does his life represent the values he once stood for? No. He no longer represents Missouri Baptists, his own church and many of his supporters have quietly walked away. And I warned him and I told him this was the result, and he chose this path knowing it would happen.
But let me tell you, in the community of homeschoolers, the families I have known – we are close. We grew up together. You don’t think that parents will let you down. My whole life, I was that weird kid whose parents weren’t divorced. I was the kid whose mom didn’t work and who cooked every meal at home and who sacrificed everything to raise us because it was her duty – her sacred privilege to teach us and to raise us to be godly, young men. And she did it.
I look around and I see those same parents, sacred elders, revered friends, folks I considered to be family – I see divorced homes. I see families suffering from mothers who left for careers they had abandoned or for men that had written them from prison and seduced them into leaving their husbands. I see a young man my age – a genius who earned full ride scholarships to be nuclear engineer – who had to raise his own brothers and sisters when his dad took his own life. I see that man espousing atheism and rejecting everything he was raised in. I see people who I revered and who I now know molested their own children. I see friends who lost their family farm because their dad died from a heart attack after his wife left him. I see my friends struggled to pay the bills left behind from their mother and father’s divorce. I see family after family who were homeschooled whose children are struggling realizing that their parents weren’t the saints they thought they were. I saw friends who were raised in loving homes, but who married selfish men who cheated on them and they live alone afraid to remarry or even date because of how they have been wronged.
Sin. I remember that spirit of rebellion and defiance so ingrained and so natural spouting through me. In the second grade Sunday School class, my teacher asked me, “What’s your favorite Bible story?” Showing off, I said, “That one where the lady drives the tent peg through that guy’s head.” In horror, the teacher said, “Oh, I don’t think that’s in the Bible.” My rebellious, little mouth shot off, “I know more about the Bible than you.” Then, the next week, I brought my Bible and pointed out the passage and proved how much smarter than her I was.
As a high school freshman, I left the youth department. The immaturity and lack of depth in the Bible study just drove me nuts. I started teaching the young adult class at 15. I went on mission trips. I was so sure of myself. I was better than the rest of you – or at least I was smarter, and, if not smarter, I was at least right and you were wrong.
Then I married someone. And I had no idea what I was doing. I stumbled in the dark for a dozen years – lost and confused and afraid. Afraid to ask for help. Afraid to admit sin. Afraid to say, “I am no better than anyone else.” Afraid to admit that I wasn’t smarter than you. Afraid that you might know better than me. Afraid that I might be wrong. I worked hard-headed and cock sure and my boss fired me. Two years later, he hired me back and he called me Aarron 2.0. He worked with me and he held me accountable. He made me say that I was wrong and that I was sorry. It was like being forced to hold your hand in the fire. It hurt. I grew. I learned that I am wrong. I make mistakes. I am fallible. My wife left me and I hit bottom, oh so hard.
Now, I know the truth. We are all guilty. We have all done wrong. We all need salvation. We need humility. I hurt when I see the pain of sin in my friends in my family. I cried when I read that letter.
If you have been a part of the homeschool community, your life has been deeply affected by the work of Kerry Messer. He had championed you and your cause for 30 years, but he chose to walk away from his values and his family.
I don’t like it, but he does not represent what he has done in the past or FHE or you or me anymore. I am so sorry. We love you and we love him, but don’t let his personal failure be the end of your passion. It won’t be the end of mine.