About thirty years ago, our culture began from a few people with childlike hearts who left the popular culture of the world, walking away from their old lives. At that time it was mainly young single people, but soon there were families with children, and even grandparents. They started giving up their houses, farms, and businesses to become part of the new life that they had found. Something special and exciting was happening — an enlightenment, a revelation was permeating us. There was an assurance of being cared for, a conviction of something worth living for. This caused us to cast off fear and self-interest so we could live for each other.
At that time we started to understand some of the things that were written in the Bible long ago: "I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields — and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life."1
The farmer was promised a hundred farms for the one he gave up. Those who gave up houses would gain a hundred in return. And all the people who were giving up parents, relatives and friends to be disciples would, in turn, live in those houses and receive an abundant social life with those hundreds of new brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers and children. What else could the Master have meant by those words? We saw that he was talking about starting a brand new culture, and we began to realize what was happening right in our midst - a new spiritual nation was forming.
Soon we began to form our own economy based on cottage industry, farming, and traditional crafts, because we wanted to keep this new culture pure, free from greed and selfishness. With conviction, we took our children out of the public school system in order to teach them at home. We realized that everything we did would be in vain if we left our children to be corrupted by the disrespect, independence, and peer pressure of the old culture.
We also began creating and making our own garments, to uphold modesty and purity and respect for each other. Each step of the way our Father was leading us to be more distinctive from the world that surrounded us (Isaiah 49:6).
And so it continues to this day. The meals we eat together are simple and nourishing, not driven by "health fads," but simply made from whole fresh foods. We like to focus on careful preparation and serving, rather than richness of ingredients, because we know that our Father cares about what we put into our bodies. We want to live a long life so we can serve the One who saved us from death.
This new culture is pure, so nothing strange or defiling from the old culture is allowed to come in. Everyone must give up everything to become a part of it, otherwise our new culture would become contaminated.2 It is not just material things that we give up, but also our strong opinions, philosophies, prejudices, politics, fears, and fantasies.
Our life is marked by compassion, practicality, and functionality. If someone is lacking adequate clothes or shoes, we provide them. If someone doesn't know how to keep his room clean, someone will show him. Someone who is lacking practical skills will be taught how to use his energies to serve in a cottage industry or a household or farm activity, learning a trade in the process. If a rich person comes, he gives up everything for the benefit of everyone, and of course his own personal needs are met in return. If someone comes without material wealth, he is no less significant and is taken care of as well.
We work and talk and sing and dance and eat together every day - except that we don't work on the Sabbath. As we continue knowing, loving, and obeying our Master Yahshua, we keep learning more and more about how we should be in this new culture. We have learned that our God continues to reveal Himself to those who obey Him.3 It only makes sense. Without revelation, we would perish.4
Our worship is in a circle, a gathering of men and women and children, young and old, married and single. All can speak, and all are heard, because our Father communicates with every one of His children. More understanding and revelation from His Spirit comes every day to help us know how to deal with the unusual situations, problems, and purifying circumstances that arise in everyday community life.
For us worship and service are the same. In Acts 26:7, "earnestly serving God night and day" the Greek word actually means both serve and worship —some Bibles translate it one way, and some the other. The way we sing to our God and what we say about Him, the things we say to and about each other, what we teach our children and how we treat them, and what we do during every day of our active lives — it all goes together. It must all be special, holy, and pleasing to Him. That is how it will remain a living, flourishing, and reproducing entity — the very life of God.
By far the most important aspect of that life is our children. They are very special to us. We respect, appreciate, and listen to them. We have a life that includes and makes room for them. This is their people, their culture, their heritage and inheritance. Everything we have belongs to them. They are not left to themselves, in their own world of skateboards, or to fill their souls with television and video games, or to have their consciences worn down by peer pressure. Children who are left to themselves to do these things have no idea who they are or why they are alive.
The way we raise our children gives them dignity and confidence. They learn to relate to and enjoy being with people of all ages. They have plenty of opportunity to show kindness and hospitality toward strangers and guests. How unique, in a world where people can hardly say hello to each other on the streets because of their fear and insecurity.
Also, we teach our children to be wholehearted. We want them to value and give all of their strength to everything they do. Why? Because we live for each other and no longer for ourselves.5 Our Master said, "I did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give My life as a ransom for many."6 Our children are learning along with us to set aside their own selfish interests in order to serve one another, for we are building a nation together, not our own personal kingdoms.
The generation gap is being bridged from father to son to grandson, and from mother to daughter to granddaughter. The bonds between the generations are being restored and strengthened as one of the most essential aspects of our brand new culture. Parents desire their children (from conception on — there are no abortions here) and thoroughly enjoy being with them. You see this as they generously share all that they have with them — all their wisdom and experience as well as their faith and their hope for the future. And so the heart of one generation is passed on to the next, and to the next after them!
As wonderful as our life together is, this new culture that is forming is not an end in itself. We have a magnificent purpose that is always in our hearts and on our lips. It is summed up in the chorus of a song we often sing and dance to; parents and children and single people all together:
We've not yet loved enough —
We'll love and keep on loving until it fills the earth!
Oh, if that is not enough,
We'll love and watch it fill the universe!