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Central Valley Baptist Church used its tax status for donations for Laura Silsby’s New Life mission

It has been apparent for some time now that  the “New Life Children Refuge” Laura Silsby and the teams in Haiti and the Dominican Republic were working on didn’t just magically spring into being.

It was a project built upon church networks, and supported financially by churches and the members thereof.

In this post, I’m going to focus on Central Valley Baptist, but obviously it represents only one of at minimum, five churches that had members either in Haiti or the Dominican Republic working as part of the “New Life Children’s Refuge” team:

  • Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho (Laura Silsby, Charisa Coulter, Carla Thompson, Corinna Lankford, & Nicole Lankford)
  • Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho (In Haiti- Pastor Paul Thompson, Silas Thompson & Steve McMullen and in the Dominican Republic- Matt Crider, Lora Crider &  John Requa)
  • Paramount Baptist Church in Amarillo, Texas (Jim Allen)
  • Bethel Baptist Church Topeka, Kansas (Drew Culbert)
  • First Baptist Church in Andrews, Texas (see Bastardette’s post)

As I said some time back, prior to the (vastly premature) release of the 8 missionary scavengers, to even begin to get a handle on the scope of the effort, a thorough investigation would have to take place in at least three countries:

A full investigation would require information gathering in at least three countries at this point, the United States, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti itself.

Sure enough, evidence of church financial involvement has begun to surface.

Take this document,  Google’s cache of Central Valley Baptist Church’s  Haitian “orphan” mission that had been on Central Valley Baptist church’s website.

CVBC’s Pastor Clint Henry describes 5 of the 10 who go on to be arrested in Haiti, including Laura Silsby and Charisa Coulter as

our Haiti Rescue Team

as part of his plea to raise money for expenses relating to the team’s child collecting trip in Haiti.

Carla Thompson, herself one of those who goes on to be arrested in Haiti goes on to add:

We have sent a team to Haiti…

Carla Thompson is listed in the document’s sidebar as Central Valley Baptist Church’s Missions Coordinator.

Her arrest in Haiti as part of the child collection mission then must be viewed in full context, that of the CVBC Missions Coordinator arrested in the course of her missionary work on behalf of the church itself.

Silby’s New Life cannot be viewed as a distinct entity somehow separate from Central Valley Baptist Church, rather, it must be viewed as a project of the church, receiving direct financial support by way of Central Valley’s church tax status as donations to the New Life mission were explicitly being solicited for and collected by Central Valley under the umbrella of the church’s tax status. Again see the document from Google’s cache (emphasis is my own):

We need to raise $2,000 in the next 24 hours for our Haiti Rescue Team. We have already had $10,000 committed to this mission. Please help us! Call the church office and bring your gift in right now!



*Support the Temporary Orphanage in Cabarete, Dominican Republic
*Support a Response Team to Dominican Republic $1500.00 each

Both of these are tax deductable donations that need to be given through Central Valley Baptist Church. Write on the Memo Line: Haitian Orphans.

Finances to support these on-going needs:
Needed NOW!

* Teddy Bears for a Traumatized child to hold New (or almost new)
* Non Latex Surgical Gloves
* Diapers & Pull ups
* Wet Wipes
* 100 Twin Sheets , 50 Full Size Sheets clean, (used ok)
* Baby & Toddler Formula
* Pediasure & Powdered Gatorade
* Powerbars
* Hand Sanitizer
* Hospital Soaker Pads, Surgical Masks, Gauze, Antibiotics and ointments
* Tylenol Liquid & Chewables, Deworming Medicine, Hospital Soaker Pads

Please bring these donations to Central Valley Baptist Church. A bin will be located in the Hall by the kitchen.

Central Valley was collecting (what it claimed would be) “tax deductable” donations on behalf of their team: Sislby and other “Central Valley Baptist Church team” members.

Once the request for donations went out, CVBC saw its members respond:

Before the Jan. 12 earthquake, two church members had started a charity in hopes of building an orphanage in the Dominican Republic for Haitian children. But once the magnitude of the devastation became apparent, Laura Silsby, 40, and Charisa Coulter, 24, accelerated their plan.

They asked the church’s missions program to help them get to the impoverished island nation as soon as possible and, according to family and friends, secured a motel in the Dominican Republic that could function as an orphanage. The congregation responded, Henry said. Stacks of donated goods began piling up in the church lobby.

The quote above from the L.A. Times makes it appear Silsby was the one requesting the donations, but as we see from the cached document, no less than CVBC’s Pastor, Clint Henry himself was asking his membership directly.

Money, as well as items came in according to Henry:

The 500-member church, where signs taped to large bins on Sunday read “Donations for Haiti,” gave several thousand dollars toward the mission, Henry said.

But even while employing language such as “our team” and using the church’s tax status as means by which money could be funneled to New Life, the church has attempted to create the fiction of a “separation” (emphasis mine:)

Henry told reporters Sunday that the organization and the mission is separate from the 25-year-old church, which has been involved in at least 100 different mission trips involving construction projects and assisting in medical relief efforts both in the United States and overseas.

Let’s be clear here, you cannot both collect donations headed for New Life and promise donors that their donations, funneled through your church will be tax deductable under the church’s tax status and then turn around and pretend New Life is somehow “separate” from the church.

While Laura Silsby (listed as “New Life Children Refuge Executive Director and Founder”) and Charisa Coulter (listed as VP and co-founder)  also headed up New Life, New Life cannot be seen as a separate entity from Central Valley Baptist Church.

New Life was, in effect was Central Valley Baptist Church’s Haitian “orphans” mission.

The media has a terrible habit of attempting containerize people and organizations, feeling that if they can be associated with one organization that somehow precludes involvement in another, as if church and ministry involvement for individuals is some kind of zero sum game. Yet clearly, Silsby, Coulter, Carla Thompson and others are better described as “both/and” or as wearing multiple hats at any one given point in time.

This has led to false impressions of Laura Silsby (who is let’s face it, is quite the unsympathetic character with a previous history of screwing over her own employees) as some form of evil mastermind with other ‘god fearing, do-gooders’ in tow, merely along for the ride, naive and innocent of any nefarious plans. In the pop perception Silsby alone bears their animosity, whilst the other team members actions are excused.

She makes a good ‘fall guy’ and allows American’s notions of the ‘nice church folk’ down the block go unchallenged.

These artificial barriers are useful not only to the media narrative, but certainly to the other ‘team’ members and churches as well.

Occasional blog posts such as Why is all the blame being put on Laura Silsby when her own pastor was involved? point out the foolishness of such container-i-zations.

Silsby AND the rest of the CVBC arrestees were working together on behalf of their church’s mission’s program. ALL bear responsibility.

Furthermore, Pastor Henry and those who wrote the checks that enabled Silsby and the rest of the Central Baptist team to do what they did may also bear some responsibilty.

The cached document that had been on Central Valley’s website lays out their team’s “plan” sumarized thusly:

Rescue Orphans from Port au Prince, Haiti

JAN. 22 (Friday/Saturday): NLCR team fly to the DR

JAN. 23 (Sunday): 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

JAN. 24 (Monday): Bus arrives in Cabarete, DR at New Life Children Refuge

Nowhere in that summary is there any mention of gaining permission from Haitian authorities. If anything, in the sidebar, under “prayer requests” the document ONLY makes mention of the role of the government of the Dominican Republic:

For God to continue to grant favor with the Dominican Government in allowing us to bring as many orphans as we can into the Dominican Republic

Note that this even goes beyond the 100-150 kids mentioned at various points, expanding the goal all the way out to an open ended “as many orphans as we can.”

As other bloggers and I have pointed out repeatedly, the documents the “team” had drawn up before leaving for Haiti, their mission plan were clearly known beforehand to at least some in the church structures. Note that this document, for example, has been, and continues to be available on the Eastside Baptist Church website.

Return to the Table of Contents of my Haiti series.

11 Responses to “Central Valley Baptist Church used its tax status for donations for Laura Silsby’s New Life mission”

  1. Baby Love Child » Introduction to the Haiti series- “It is madness. It is insane…” Bribes, Bullies, and Traffickers extract kids Says:

    […] Central Valley Baptist Church used its tax status for donations for Laura Silsby’s New Life mi… […]

  2. Teresa Says:

    If I may, I would like to share a comment I posted last night on this blog (that is still awaiting moderation….)

    I find your article insightful without a doubt. However, if you would allow me to bring up one point that I find the press and other writers are totally overlooking (or maybe purposely ignoring), it would be most appreciated.
    I see that your entire piece centers around this question: “Why did Silsby try to illegally smuggle Haitian children across the border?” The two answers you relayed were these: “out of duty to help the Haitian families”, and “to alleviate her feelings of helplessness”. I will agree with you on the latter as well, but not for the same reason as you.
    Since the story of Silsby’s and her companions arrests, I have followed this drama closely. The reason behind this is because approximately 29 years ago, I was a resident of a fundamental girl’s home in Louisiana called New Bethany. The director of this place (who also ran a boy’s facility under the same name) would tour all over the United States with select “residents”, prompting them to sing like angels and give testimony to the congregations of the numerous churches they would visit. Then this man would solicit church members for a “love offering” in order to finance his operation. He would declare that his “homes” were supported only by donations submitted by church members or private organizations who had been blessed by the singing and testimony of “his” girls(made to feel the obligation). Little did these church members know that the parents of these same children were invoiced monthly for the schooling and boarding of their children. The director of this home would claim from whatever church pulpit he might be standing behind at the time that his “girl’s refuge” was a christian, love-filled place where girls were given the opportunity to have a good education, horse-back riding, swimming, and all number of recreational activities. Please, if you would, remember this part, as it is important.
    A rough calculation had been done recently by another former resident who found that possibly THOUSANDS of children had resided under this man’s “care”. While we girls lived in a roach-infested dormitory, being fed starch-laden (and who knows what else) food, and made to bathe in and drink water so sulphur-filled that it smelled of rotten eggs, the director and his family lived on the same property in a newly-built, two-story brick house with a separate water supply.
    To get to my point, when the Wall Street Journal article came out a few weeks ago about Silsby’s failed “pre-Haiti” plans in Kuna, ID with the following description: “Ms. Silsby had equally grand ambitions closer to home, according to a local builder. The Idaho plan called for a “multi-million-dollar complex” for runaway children on a 40-acre lot in Kuna, Idaho…… Ms. Silsby told him it would have an indoor swimming pool, tennis courts and dormitories for the children….”, the familiarity in this description jumped right out at me.
    Considering all of Silsby’s failed “business ventures” in Idaho (one I’m sure being her “children’s home”) before her jaunt to Haiti, I most certainly can see how she might feel helpless, and even desperate in finding a way to validate herself from a combination of a “christian/BUSINESS” standpoint.

    I won’t go into all the OTHER things that happened over the space of three decades at New Bethany. I have included the URL for the website for that. You can also glean a plethora of additional information by simply googling the name.

    Lasly, I would like to add that there are MANY homes operating as mirror images of New Bethany in the United States as we speak. As a matter of fact, TODAY 3/1/10, if you google “Reclamation Ranch” you will find that the director of THIS place was scheduled to be in court in Blount Co. AL facing some pretty serious charges. He is also blatantly asking for “donations” to his legal defense fund.

    My primary question about this whole debacle is: Considering that Kuna, ID appears to be a hotbed of fundamentalism, containing churches that support places just like the ones I described above, could it be possible that Laura Silsby knew of them? Or maybe even knew someone who formerly/presently operate(d)/(s) or was employed at such a place, and filled her in on how much money she could make if she opened one? I think if this question could be answered, then quite a few more answers regarding her true intentions would come to the forefront. Thanks for letting me post here.

  3. Baby Love Child » Laura Silsby’s pipedreams of a future in the child containment industry Says:

    […] Central Valley Baptist Church used its tax status for donations for Laura Silsby’s New Life mi… […]

  4. Baby Love Child Says:


    Thank you VERY much for your comment and insight.

    Rather than attempting a response here, I turned your comment into the basis of my next post, as I feel it deserves broader attention.


    And again, thank you.

  5. Marley Greiner Says:

    This is a very important article and should be distributed freely.

    I have a couple small points.

    I have been struck by and keep going back to Mr. Pickett’s contention that Silsby planned to use the Haitian kids she attempted to move to the orphan hotel as props,. That is, use them as the advertising and fundraising “models” –her ringers– so to speak of the happy Haitian “orphans” that would in turn generate funds, support, and I think in her special case, self-aggrandizement and self-worth. I don’t think you can separate her motives which are many,with her inner life. I bet she can’t.

    Now, how Silsby thought she would pull this off is anybody’s guess. She seems to be an “idea” person with no clue about product fulfillment in Personal Shopper or this.

    As of this writing we don’t know of any connections she had with legitimate groups and agencies (though that can change). She was not operating an adoption agency, no matter what she thought, and she’d have to partner and network with established agencies who are Hague approved at some level. Of course, subcontractors go deep down the ladder, but under Hague rules, agencies are legally liable for what they do. It’s certainly possible, to connect but it would take some work, especially after various Haitian orphanages slammed and locked heir doors to her. While we may not especially like these orphanges word would get around. So, if she were to work with Haitian orphanages, they’d be the offbrand, unregulated places–if she worked with orphanages at all. Most crooks have their standards, and even a sleazy agency with a brain that wanted to use her longtime “services” would check her out. Once they saw her disastrous business record back home, they might dump her. But who knows? I’m just throwing that out, thinking this out as I write.

    Silsby appears to be an unknown and would have to work within an existing network where she could have some legitimacy. I’d start by looking to see what Hague accredited agencies are located in Idaho or are Baptist affiliated, especially within the region. We clearly have a network of Baptist churches and it appears CVBC is at the center. These churches were willing enough to jump into her plan. I’m sure there are many more associates who were interested. The Magic Valley Baptist Association interests me and I’m still very curious why Nancy Rodriguez’s visit to the orphan hotel is all but invisible.

    Secondly, somebody, maybe on my blog, mentioned that Silsby looked like she was running her scheme on the Lester Roloff plan. When I read that, I didn’t think that she was, but I wonder now, in view of Theresa’s comments. on Bethany which was certainly operated along those lines. I do believe, though, that much of Silsby’s “mission” is psychologically based. We see her doing such and such, but she might not even be aware of the model for her actions. She’s a Bible toting dot com baby and could very well be operating the same pipe dream selling cemetery plots or magazines. This is a contemporary tale of the Gospel of Prosperity.

  6. Kity Says:

    Good article.
    I submit to you there may church members duped into thinking they were doing right. These churches which give their support to Ms. Silsby’s enterprises are full of people who are doing just that. They are blindly supporting someone because they believe “God’s work” is being done through that person. Now, this church cannot separate themselves from this mission, for exactly the reasons so clearly mentioned in the above article.
    This is a common theme in churches, from the support of missionaries, to the support of these children’s “homes”. that Silsby and others have claimed need of. Of course, the congregations were told that they would be taking little beggars off the street. This was not the case, however, as Ms. Silsby gathered up little children from villagers who could not care for them adequately. Why not get that money and help the entire families? Surely this money could have gone to help the families rather than to support care givers as they also care for the children, paying for buildings, utilities and necessities? Haitians live on much less than their white counterparts. These children belong at home. Ms. Silsby and her followers never took any little beggars off the streets. They instead mislead their financial backers and misled the relatives who gave up their kids in good faith.
    It is entirely plausible that Silsby was trying to live off the misfortune of others, depending on white guilt of the churched to support her every need. If one looks at her doomed finances and plans for a youth home in Idaho, the picture becomes all too clear.
    Make no mistake, there are thousands of people “doing good badly” by supporting those who claim to be helping children. Look at the trial of Jack Patterson’s Reclamation Ranch tactics, of Mack Ford’s New Bethany being forced to close, of Olen King’s child abuse charges, and the list goes on and on. This is not an isolated incident of church support gone wrong. It goes on to this day, all over our land.

  7. Baby Love Child » the raw unvarnished audacity of of the (missionary) adoption mindset Says:

    […] Central Valley Baptist Church used its tax status for donations for Laura Silsby’s New Life mi… […]

  8. Baby Love Child » Charisa Coulter’s release papers signed, Silsby becomes a useful scapegoat Says:

    […] Central Valley Baptist Church used its tax status for donations for Laura Silsby’s New Life mi… […]

  9. Baby Love Child » Charisa Coulter, “VP and co-founder” of New Life Children’s Refuge released from Jail in Haiti Says:

    […] was listed in the Central Valley Baptist Church online marketing material for the mission as New Life Children’s Refuge “VP and […]

  10. Penny Says:

    I have used some of your info at my blog. I have creditted you for finding it, good job btw.
    Good job!

  11. Baby Love Child Says:

    Actually, I merely incorporated it into my post, if you search back through my twitter stream, you should be able to find who originally tweeted it, and how thereafter, I re-tweeted it.

    I don’t have time at the moment to tackle this project, but the original finding of the material definitely does not originate with me, I merely published it in this form.

    Thanks for staying on the story.

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