Laura Silsby’s Messiah Complex
Laura Silsby, leader of the group of American Baptists arrested for illegally attempting to take Haitian children to the Dominican Republic, appears to suffer from delusions of grandeur and a messiah complex.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, Laura Silsby and her live-in nanny Charisa Coulter formed a non-profit organization last November. The “New Life Children’s Refuge” is, according to Silsby,
dedicated to rescuing, loving and caring for orphaned, abandoned and impoverished Haitian and Dominican children, demonstrating God’s love and helping each child find healing, hope, joy and new life in Christ.
Drew Ham, one of the pastors at Central Valley Baptist Church of Meridian, Idaho, informs the WSJ that the pair brought their idea to his congregation, which shared their desperate desire for heroics by swooping in uninvited and “rescuing” children in other nations with different cultures.
In 2006, Silsby was eWomen's Businesswoman of the Year.
The Godly gals traveled to the Dominican Republic late last year, to begin preparations to purchase land and build an orphanage for 200 children. The Wall Street Journal reports that Silsby also met with Eric Evans of Eric Evans Construction in Meridian about building a “multimillion dollar complex” for runaways. (Update at end of story; Evans denies this.)
Unfortunately, it seems Silsby hadn’t any money to get these grand plans off the ground.
Ms. Silsby had purchased a two-story house in Meridian, where a neighbor said she was known for her blue Lexus convertible and her dog, Bentley. Her financial difficulties mounted last year. Idaho court records show several judgments against Ms. Silsby in 2009 . . .
One suit, filed in federal court in Miami, alleged that Personal Shopper [Ms. Silsby's now failed business] owed more than $320,000 to Florida-based TSG Media Inc. The suit was settled in November 2008, according to an attorney for TSG, David Filler. He declined to disclose the terms of the settlement, but he said that Personal Shopper failed to make good on the settlement
In December, her house was foreclosed on, according to John Browning, a Boise broker who said he was hired to sell the house as part of the foreclosure.
Ms. Silsby said she would be leaving the country soon, said Mark Ehlhardt, who runs a UPS store in nearby Kuna where Ms. Silsby rented a mailbox.
Further, 14 former employees of Silsby have filed suit, seeking unpaid wages over the past two years — including time before the company ran into financial difficulty. I guess Silsby doesn’t need to honor her commitments.
Following the quake, Silsby and Coulter got busy. Shucking off all connection to reality — lack of funds, lack of legal counsel, complete personal financial collapse — they came up with a half-baked plan and took advantage of the quake to gain donations.
. . . they planned to rent a 45-room hotel in Cabarete, a coastal town in the Dominican Republic near Magante, where they intended to house Haitian children while building their permanent facility. The plan was to drive a bus to Port-au-Prince “and gather 100 orphans from the streets and collapsed orphanages,” and return to the Dominican Republic, the document said.
The document may be found here. In part,
Another attempt to gain glory leads to another fall.
Rescue Orphans from Port au Prince, Haiti
• Friday/Saturday, Jan 22nd : NLCR team fly to the DR
• Sun Jan 23rd: Drive bus from Santo Domingo into Port au Prince, Haiti and gather 100 orphans from the streets and collapsed orphanages, then return to the DR
• Mon Jan 24th: Bus arrives in Cabarete, DR at New Life Children Refuge
• Haiti Team: Laura Silsby, Charisa Coulter, Carla Thompson, Nicole & Corrinna Lankford
Paul Thompsons Team from East Side Baptist Church, Twin Falls
Provide love and care for the children
• Interim New Life Children Refuge Location: NLCR is in the process of buying land and building an orphanage, school and church in Magante on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. Given the urgent needs from this earthquake, God has laid upon our hearts the need to go now vs. waiting until the permanent facility is built. He has provided an interim solution in nearby Cabarete, where we will be leasing a 45 room hotel and converting it into an orphanage until the building of the NLCR is complete.
This interim location will enable us to provide a loving environment for up to 150 children, from infants to 12 years old.
• Team Needed: NLCR is praying and seeking people who have a heart for God and a desire to share God’s love with these precious children, helping them heal and find new life in Christ. Please prayerfully consider a 2 week or longer mission trip to help NLCR provide rotating staffing for the care of the children over the next 6 months.
• For discernment of God’s will and direction throughout this trip and for Him to prepare the way before us
• For God to continue to grant favor with the Dominican Government in allowing us to bring as many orphans as we can into the DR
• For God to guide us to the children He wants us to bring to NLCR and for their physical, emotional and spiritual healing
Not having money for this expensive feat was no problem. After all, their deity was helping them in their heroics. And people online were praying for them! (Oh, and asking for donations. We can’t expect God to do the heavy lifting.)
Showing up with a bus, with no knowledge of local laws or culture, would be far more helpful than, say, contributing to aid organizations working to do something useful!
Silsby wouldn’t let details get in her way . . . like documentation. She had a mission from God to save these children from voodoo and introduce them to her far better deity!
Last week, the group entered Haiti from the Dominican Republic, met with the pastor and gathered a group of children, Mr. Ham said. The group had signed permission “to take children from Haiti back to the Dominican Republic,” as well as documentation from the Dominican Republic itself, he said. But when the group got to the border, Haitian officials told the group they lacked “one document,” Mr. Ham said.
Carlos Castillo, the Dominican Republic’s consul general in Port-au-Prince, gave a different account: In an interview he said he met with Ms. Silsby on Friday and told her she lacked any documents to transport children, and warned her not to try or she could be arrested.
Sounds like someone’s not telling the truth. Does anyone care to guess who?
What is accomplished when we decide to engage in great heroics that bring us personal glory, instead of helping in a more humble, yet productive way? In this case, a number of children are removed from their parents, and put through additional hell, to no useful purpose. And the would-be heroes likely get six to nine years in jail.
My question for Silsby: If your goal is to help children, aren’t there plenty of abused, poverty-stricken, neglected kids right here in the United States that you can help? Why is it necessary to be the Great Hero swooping into another nation and taking children away from their home?
Granted, it does have certain Christian appeal. Many Christians, for example, believe in the “Rapture”, in which all “True Christians” will be
abducted by aliens lifted up to Heaven in an instant, before God unleashes years of torment upon humanity. Is that not exactly what Silsby was trying to do? Provide a “Rapture” for Haitian children, snatching them away from the failing world of their birth to take them to a new, beautiful place where they would live in peace and serenity with God?
UPDATE on Laura Silsby:
Silsby’s group attempted to abduct the adoptive children of a Bowling Green, Kentucky couple during their Haiti trip.
Richard and Malinda Pickett of Bowling Green, Kentucky have spent five years working to adopt three Haitian children. Despite Malinda’s insistence that they did not want Silsby’s “help”, Silsby showed up at the orphanage in Haiti to pick up their children . . . claiming Malinda had sent her.
More HERE. And a h/t to PPT at Websleuths.com for pointing out this disturbing twist!
UPDATE on Eric Evans:
Evans wants everybody to know that not only is he not building a complex for Silsby, but he’s never even discussed it with her:
Evans has been deluged by reporters calling him and knocking on his door wanting to know more about the Kuna project, which he had never heard of until today. He said he did talk to the Journal, but did not know where the information about the Kuna home came from.
Kuna City Planner Steve Hasson also has not heard of any such project.
Evans met Silsby, who has been charged with child abduction in Haiti, a couple of years ago when he sold her a house in Meridian. He has not worked with her on any other projects since then, Evans said.
Thanks to commenter Tai for the Evans update! -Jenny