Red Flags at Reaching & Teaching International Ministries (RTIM)

Reaching & Teaching International Ministries (RTIM) claims that it “exists to reach the peoples of the world through evangelism and by meeting the great need for deep discipleship, pastoral preparation, leadership training, and theological education around the world.” A Godly, righteous-sounding mission. Yet incredibly, at one point in the not-so-distant-past, three men who were either credibly accused or convicted of abuse were employed and/or traveling with RTIM at the same time: Dr. David Sills, Dean Bertsch, and Don Foose.

Dr. David Sills was the founder and president of RTIM, He resigned suddenly without explanation in May of 2018. Almost 10 months later, in March of 2019, it came to light that he had been credibly accused of sexually abusing one of his Master of Divinity students. As is typical of abusers who “resign,” Sills appears to have been paid a hefty severence when he stepped down in 2018. While most years he made between $0 and $36,000 a year for an average of 20 hours of work per week, in 2018 he suddenly made $72,739 for working 20 hours a week for only about two-thirds of the year. On top of that, the new interim president, Jon Deedrick, also made over $48,000 for the last third of that year. That’s over $120,000 for one part-time position that year! RTIM’s financial info can be seen in full here. The screenshot below is from the 2017/18 tax year.

Dean Bertsch was a “Global Trainer” at RTIM and a pastor/elder at Oakwood Baptist Church. He was fired from RTIM in October of 2019 when it came to light he had his own questionable history of allegations with a young woman. He was also involved in the cover-up of Pastor Don Foose’s child molestation convictions at Oakwood Baptist Church.

Don Foose traveled on multiple occasions as an RTIM missionary over the years. After serving as a pastor at Oakwood Baptist Chruch and also the superintendent of the Oakwood Baptist Dayschool for 12 years, it was discovered that Foose was a convicted child molester.

Following is a thread of emails between me and the newest president of RTIM, Ryan Robertson:

As I said in my email to Ryan, I am glad to hear RTIM made improvements in their hiring and screening process, but I still have much concern that these men were ever hired in the first place and that they trained other men to be pastors. Dean Bertsch would probably still be employed there if it weren’t for my vague yet public twitter comment. Has anything been done to find victims? Is anyone holding this organization responsible?

Three men (that we know of) with abusive histories were employed and/or traveled with RTIM during the same time period!  That is a very, very bad track record indeed.  Is this merely coincidence? I leave you with this testimony about David Sills’ teachings at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  I wonder if these men who so revered him and served with him agreed with his viewpoint that child prostitution is actually helpful to families:

Gallery of relevant emails and social media posts:

Edit: An earlier version of the story said that Sills taught at Southwestern Biblical Theological Seminary. This has been corrected to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Comments and questions are welcome:

3 Replies to “Red Flags at Reaching & Teaching International Ministries (RTIM)”

  1. Your research and documentation reveal very troubling issues with this mission organization. The newly installed president could offer no explanation as to how a CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER was allowed to serve in this ministry that was primarily focused on children. This is abhorrent and inexcusable. Any churches that are supporting this ministry need to be notified. These orgs depend on outside funding & typically ‘pay themselves well’ because there are little to no checks & balances. Do we know if the IMB is involved?

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    1. I don’t think the ministry was primarily focused on children, but in training pastors. Still very concerning, IMO. I am especially concerned that child sex trafficking is rampant in many of these countries, and Sills allegedly stated that child prostitution is good for families. I have not been able to find any connections to IMB being involved, and the president did not answer my question about who is overseeing or holding them accountable, even though I explicitly asked twice.

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