Since 1986 when it was officially organised, the Chavurat Bekorot, which is the spiritual community to which my family belongs, has been painstakingly laying out the plans for an alternative Christian/Messianic communal culture which it began implementing in 1992 with the establishment of the first of what we hope will be many communities in which polygamy is accepted for those called into it. The purpose of these communities has been to foster an alternative culture to the secular one and to ultimately prepare a dozen of these worldwide to pass through the seven-year tribulation unscathed by the New World Order and Religion established by the Antichrist with a view to seeding the first colonies in the Millennial Reign of Christ. They are to be Arks of Refuge which, like Noah's Ark, will pass into the new Messianic world of peace amd prosperity.
We share, in many respects, the values of the Anabaptists and in particular the Amish, a Christian group formed by Jacob Ammann who in the 17th century broke away from the more liberal Mennonites. Like the Amish, we believe in adult baptism and living apart from the world and ideally prefer a simple agrarian lifestyle.
The Amish migrated from Switzerland to the United States and elsewhere and in the former number probably somewhere in the order of 150,000 people, and are largely concentrated in Lancaster County and other parts of Pennsylvania and in parts of Ohio, Indiana, Kansas, and Canada. 250 years on and amazingly they have changed very little.
The Chavurah Bekorot community, whilst happily utilising modern technology, is nevertheless prepared so live the more simple lifestyle practices by the Amish and which will enable them to survive and prosper when of necessity we and they become cut off from the wider society because of persecution and societal breakdown.
Like the Amish, we are committed to the principle of gelassenheit which is a German word meaning 'submission'. We, like them, believe in complete submission to Yahweh in every aspect of life and living. We believe that the home is a temple of Yahweh and is the primary place of assembly for worship, though we do, of course, congregate together for larger services. The Holy Order, which in the Amish system is called the Ordnung ('Order'), contains the rules and outlines the values of our respective communities. Unconditional love, humility, obedience to New Covenant Torah, simplicity, sharing and community cooperation are the central tennets of our Order.
The Amish are a little more austere than us when it comes to dress and is perhaps why they are often called the 'plain people'. Pride is a sin in their community and is regarded as the evil face of individualism that is believed by them to be the death of the community and of the family, a value system which is reflected in their clothing. Hooks and eyes therefore replace buttons, short pockets are prohibited as they can become a place to display fancy things and hence are prideful. Where the Chavurat Bekorot differs would merely be in degree.
The Amish do not condone technology unless it is clearly beneficial to the community by making it possible to continue as a community, a principle we adhere to as well. The Old Order Amish, however, are more extreme and avoid any use of electricity or cars because they consider that cars threaten the family, so horses and carriages are used which symbolise as well the tradition of the slower pace and closeness to nature. Telephones are not permitted in their homes but may be found in booths across the road from an Amish home for they believe that their presence in their homes could lead to a change in values. They have, however, adopted automated milking machines now because their use continues to make the family farm possible. The Beachy Amish, named after their leader Moses Beachy, divided from their more conservative Amish in 1927 over the use of automobiles and modern farm equipment.
The Chavurat Bekorot differs from the Amish in that it is an evangelising community which goes out into the world to spread the Gospel and for this reason feels it must utilise existing technology both to facilitate communications as well as to create a lifestyle that frees its members for more than just farming. At the back of our minds are, however, the dark days when an Amish-type lifestyle will become inescapable for survival and prosperity. The Chavurat Bekorot therefore encourages the formation of both what we call proto-firstborn colonies as well as full firstborn colonies, the latter being the more Amish-like tribulation-type colony and the former an interface between the world (with its technology) and that which must be the final form. Where technology can be sustained without the need of the outside world this would also be incorporated into any firstborn communal way of life.
Being as the Chavurat Bekorot is moving towards an agrarian-type of culture, large families are naturally important. The average Amish family consists of about 7 children per monogamous family. Because the CB accepts polygamy these will in time become very large families which will create a social landscape distinctive from the Amish one. Like them we are patriarchal where women are respected and given the stewardship to run the home though with husbands having the final say. In proto-firstborn communities women play a wider rôle in evangelism though retaining their primary duties at home and within the family and communal industries.
The Amish have received a unique status in the United States educational system. The practical skills of everyday life - spelling, English, German, mathematics, geography, and health - are taught in small private schools. Parents are involved in the curriculum, instruction, and administration of the schools. Religion is not taught in class as it is believed to be too important to be taught there instead of in the family and church. After the 8th grade, Amish children may continue education at home on the farm where they learn the practical skills of providing for family and community. Further education is discouraged as it instills feelings of superiority that would lead to placing the needs of the self over those of the community.
The CB is unlikely ever to achieve the kind of status that the Amish enjoy because it is not so well established and because it is currently very small, and for this reason has opened for home education. All education is conducted at home with the state regularly testing the pupils. Whilst the Amish fears of élitism and pride are shared regarding higher education, we do encourage higher education where this is clearly revealed to be Yahweh's will though this would be done within the community with a view to advancing knowledge rather than acquiring secular degrees, unless these are acquired by correspondence courses or similar. An exception would be in the medical field whilst recognising that when the dark tribulation times come upon us such medical facilities as are enjoyed today will in large part be absent and force community members to rely on other methods. The acquisition of medical facilities and skills are encouraged where this is economically feasible.
Work is important to both our communities. Work is preferred over idleness, which is believed to breed laziness, a trait of the outside world. Work is also the means of bringing generations together on the farm or in community industries: grandparents, parents, and children all work together. In Amish society work brings the community together in such projects as barn raisings. A more modern development of the Amish and source of income is handcrafts such as quilts, rugs, furniture, and other household products. Amish handcrafts, prized for their design and workmanship, are sold to the 'English' world ... anyone who is not Amish is considered to be 'English'!
But perhaps the most important characteristic of the Amish in contrast to the dominant culture is the way change is handled. Change does not come easy to the Amish. Many considerations must be examined before a change is adopted in the community. Thus any change which would decrease the amount of family or community solidarity, increases visibility, promotes individualism, or threatens the values of the Amish in any way is rejected. If a change will better the life of the community without threatening the Amish society as a whole, it may be gradually adopted into Amish life.
The tradition of the Amish is farming - and the farms are profitable. Cultivating and nurturing the land is an important Amish value. But increasing population and land prices force change. Some Amish have emigrated to other areas to continue farming. Others have taken non-farm employment to make it possible to remain near family and community.
The greatest problem that we in the CB face is making an 'about face' by entering a way of life that we have little or no experience of. Farming is not a dominant occupation these days and yet clearly it has to be in any cities of refuge that need to be built. The logistics of starting a community, as I know some polygamous families are considering, is daunting and fraught with potential difficulties. Converting Amish, Mennononites and others like them both to polygamy as well as to the wider vision of the CB may well prove to be the only way to realise the kind of communal projects we have in mind. Given the land problem at least in the traditional Amish centres it may well be possible to persuade those raised in such a system to lend their skills and aid in the formation of firstborn communities.
Christians/Messianics are, naturally, very concerned about the time factor. How much time do we really have? Of course, the majority of Christians/Messianics believe in the Rapture Doctrine and so are little concerned about building community, believing they will be whisked away before the Tribulation begins. We do not subscribe to that belief. But it is not just the fact that we believe that there is no convenient 'escape' for Christians/Messianics who would rather not get blood on their skirts but also because we believe this kind of lifestyle is going to dominate the Millennium. We believe that, with the exception of Jerusalem, there will be no more big cities. Cities were invented, with few exceptions, by wicked men and for wicked purposes to concentrate power and gain control over people. It is from such centres that wickedness has always developed. And psychological studies have shown conclusively that mental illness is a city phenomenon. Farris and Dunham made a survey of Chicago in 1939 and plotted the distribution rates of mental illness and discovered that they are highest in the centre of cities and decrease as one moves towards the periphery. An exception was with manic and depressive psychoses which were distributed randomly amongst the various zones. He discovered that schizophrenia results from the disorganisation associated with ghetto life. Where there is order combined with a rural communal life there is the best mental health. The suicide statistic of cities is well known.
I have consistently maintained at this ministry that the polygamous family, which by its nature is a microcosmic community all of its own, can only really thrive where there is an extended community of families living together communally which a single Ordnung like the Amish. To work, though, it must be well formulated into am established set of values or Code. Other polygamists will, of course, pursue the individualistic ethic of the dominant secular culture, and encounter the difficulties that ineditably arise in an intimate environment like polygamous marriage when its members are all striving to be individualists. In such an environment, I maintain, the kind of echad unity which was the plea in Yah'shua's (Jesus') High priestly Prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, is just not possible. The worldly environment and its Babylonian system is, by virtue of its proximity, going to encroach on family life and abort any real chance of creating a second generation of polygamists especially if the children are a part of the state schooling system.
How much time do we really have? Not much, I venture to say. Life may go on normally for many years yet until one day we are disturbed by something far greater and more destructive than the suicide bombing on the World Trade Center in New York. It could be anything from nuclear or biological suicide attacks to full scale war, ending 'civilisation' as we know it in a day. People like ourselves, therefore, must have a finger on the pulse of prophecy, for without it we cannot possibly be prepared. We talk and pray much about such things in the Chavurat Bekorot.
It is my view - and the view of many I know both inside and outside the CB that we are due for a major destructive war. Numerous prophets are talking of a nuclear attack on the USA with Europe, Japan and Australia possibly being affected too. Punishment of the former Christian nations of the West is certainly long overdue for its epidemic witchcraft, mass murder of the unborn, gross sexual immorality, and every other sin. It's not so much whether the West will be punished but when and how much longer the inevitable can be stayed through prayer intercession.
There is much talk in polygamous circles of establishing communities but very little idea as to how to do it and where to do it. Our own Order recently published a vision of what would happen in the United States in respect of these planned projects. One gathering which started about two years ago in Nevada and which, in my view, was done far too hastily and which I counselled the leaders strongly against attempting to do has, as far as I know, met with grief, though I am still looking for corroborative information. It's focus was all wrong, it had no concrete long-term goal, and it lacked a proper system of Torah values that would prevent schism and dissolution. To read the vision, click the Olive Branch logo below:
The first stage is the creation of a local assembly (church) where people can start gathering at regular invervals, share resourses and ideas, and make preparations whilst still interacting with the wider society to make a living, whilst progressively withdrawing from it. The founders of any new communitymust know each other well in Christ and have a high degree of trust and commitment, qualities that need time to mature ... not too much time but certainly a reasonable amount of time.