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FSM 256 / FN 365
Special Issue!--Shepherding Lessons from Our Family in Europe!
Suggested reading for adults, YAs & teens. Not recommended reading for JETTs.
Copyrighted May, 1994 by Family Services, Zurich, Switzerland.

I'm Thankful for Your Forgiveness!
From Marie (of Matthew) Who Was a Shepherdess at the Budapest Training Centre (BTC)
       Dearest Mama, I love you so, so, so much! Thank you for the Letter you wrote to the Family in Europe. I'd like to share how impressed I was by the account of what happened at the BTC in your Letter, "Getting Back on Track for Jesus!", how accurate it was & how it helped clear away any of the doubts I had that maybe people didn't understand the full picture of what happened there.
       Your talk to us adults, Mama, was so liberating. It was very convicting & really broke my heart to see how much I had erred, but it was such a relief to finally see things clearly, & to realize where I went wrong. It was almost like a revelation to me that we should have kept reporting & shouting for help until we got results, as I thought sharing my heart a few times was enough. But it's clear to me now how I should have reported & kept on reporting about what was going on, instead of being afraid of getting in trouble or appearing not to have learned my lessons about not being so dogmatic. I see that these fears were a lack of faith & fear of Man on my part, Lord help me!
       I even went so far as to compromise when the adults in the Home reported what was going on with the teens & their battles about it. I'm ashamed to confess that I actually went around telling the adults to just trust the Lord & let the teens have their "RNR", & how it was better to let the young people experiment with their freedoms within the Family, rather than have them backslide.  Lord help me! That was such a compromise, when I didn't even believe it myself!  I was so preoccupied with showing the Teen Shepherds that I had changed & was no longer so dogmatic that I totally compromised.
       I'm so sorry, but I'm so thankful to finally see it clearly & to have this chance to get my heart right with the Lord, with you & with my Shepherds. I'm so thankful for your forgiveness. I feel like an unprofitable servant, & am so thankful for a chance to start anew. With the Lord's help, I want to get back to the basics of the Word & discipleship & I pray I can be a help & a blessing in re-building Europe, at least whatever part I'll be in. Thank you so much for giving us the Truth & setting us back on the right path. I love you & pray for you & Grandpa.
       Much love always in His service,
* * *

God Gets His Greatest Victories Out of Seeming Defeat!
From Matthew (of Marie) Who Was a Shepherd at the BTC
       Dear Mama, GBY! I love you! Your Letter to the Family in Europe was a real help to me. I am amazed at the insight the Lord gave you & how every angle was covered. I was left without any excuses!
       I am sorry to say that I had harboured a little nagging resentment in my heart after the BTC seminar over some of the details concerning the correction we had received at that time. I felt like the whole blame rested with me for the events that happened after the BTC seminar, & that maybe the European Shepherds were holding me responsible for the spreading of the teen rebellion throughout Europe & for the backsliding of some of the YAs. For almost a year I had been fighting this resentment. I knew that the Lord had some deep lessons for me, so I tried to take it by faith that the Lord knew what He was doing, though in my heart I still couldn't see things so clearly.
       After the BTC seminar, I got discouraged & weary & stopped reporting anything, thinking that I just needed to try to be positive about the situation.  When I heard someone say that that time was like the teens' RNR, I accepted that idea & concluded that I just needed to let the kids work out their own problems & operate according to their own faith.  I was hoping that the Word would eventually work in their lives, but in the meantime, I felt I just needed to be patient & not interfere with what was going on. But now I see that that was not the right attitude, because it hindered me from getting as involved as I should have in shepherding the teens & YAs through these changes, & helping them through their problems.
       When some of the backslidden YAs returned, it seemed to me like their motives weren't right in returning & that their service for the Lord was still very conditional, unfortunately I didn't share my heart with my Area Shepherds about this.  I was afraid of contradicting my Shepherds & being negative, so I finally just compromised & became frozen with fear & my own pride after the BTC seminar. Lord help me!
       I failed the teens, my Home, my Teamwork, the European Shepherds, & you, dear Dad & Mama. I am so sorry for all the heartache my failure has caused you. When I think about how many people were affected by my failure I can hardly stand it.
       Reading in your Letter the explanation of the BTC seminar & the mistakes that were made & your loving correction & explanations to us all washed all that condemnation, fog & resentment out of my heart. Your Letter clarified things & made it easy for me to finally fully accept the blame for my own failures at the BTC. I know I am so guilty of letting discouragement, fear of Man & fear of failure hinder me from reporting & being the help I should have been to the Teen Shepherds & young people there at the BTC.
       I know the Lord & you have forgiven me, & I pray that I can forsake my pride & condemnation, put the past behind me, & learn these lessons deep in my heart, so that by God's grace I will never let anything like that happen again.  I pray I can be a blessing & help to the Work here in Europe. I know that God gets His greatest victories out of seeming defeats, so I'm expecting all this to turn into a great victory, not only for me personally, but also for the whole Work here in Europe.
       Much love,
* * *

Trusting the Lord for Romans 8:28!
From Angela, Shepherdess at Combo in Southern Europe
       Dear Mama, ILY! I was in the Combo in Southern Europe that is talked about in your Letter to Europe.I was one of the Shepherds during the troubled times you describe.  I'm so terribly sorry for everything & for the heartache that situation caused. You said it all when you asked where we adults were at & where was our spiritual connection.
       I feel so ashamed of myself! I've asked myself, "How could I have let this happen?  I've always loved the Word & prided myself in my strong convictions.  How could I fall into such deep confusion?"
Well, going back to the beginning: I was very thankful for G.'s initial visit to our Home, during which time he held some meetings with our young people. I know we all needed it & it brought in a breath of fresh air. At this Combo, we had always had a high opinion of ourselves, of our "training & traditions," but deep inside I was longing for a more loving, sincere Home, with less formalities & legalism.  G.'s meetings with the teens & with our Home Teamwork definitely started shaking us up, causing us to take a good look at ourselves & our hypocrisy, which was manifested mainly in the way we treated the teens & children, & even the adults.
       It's so true that we had a few rotten apple teens at this time, who from the very beginning misused the changes in the Home to their own advantage, which hindered our progress & made a mess of our Home in a very short time. We failed not so much in seeing what was happening, but in taking a united stand against it. After G. left, we lacked the unity needed to win the battle.
       Personally, I was very spiritually sick with a serious case of Man-pleasing, Lord help me!   Because I was trying so hard to please others, & was so concerned about what people thought of me, if I felt there was a discrepancy between what the Word said & what my co-workers or others were doing, I would usually just go along with them, rather than buck the tide by voicing opposing views. So as a result, even if I was reading the Word, I wasn't obeying it!
       So I didn't have any excuse.  I was given the best direction possible, but I failed to follow God & believe that the Word is alive, true, & sufficient.  So I started looking to Man (in this case my NAS Shepherds) for the answers. I also didn't want to appear to be too negative, so my reports lacked desperation & thoroughness. In fact, I almost stopped reporting altogether, because "truth resisted loses its power over the mind."  I practically gave up & just resigned myself to shepherding a Home that didn't even seem like a Home any more, hoping that someday things would change.
       During this time, I did have some times of real desperation, knowing you couldn't possibly approve of what was going on.  I felt something inside of me pushing me to do something about it, but I lacked the courage & the conviction to do anything.
       I really dishonoured my place & responsibility in the Family, & failed my sheep. I especially failed the good teens, who were trying to do the right things--the ones who became known as "the holy ones", & who got terribly persecuted by the others during this time.  I only offered those poor kids a shoulder to cry on & nothing more. No wonder they felt like leaving the Family!
       My daughter was in that state of despair when your Letter (in answer to hers) came in one of the Hope Mags. I remember crying & crying when I read your response to her, because I felt that even though I had been faithless, yet you remained faithful, Mama, & were able to encourage her to start fighting again. Thank you so much for taking the time for that, & also for taking the time to write all of us in Europe such a beautiful, loving & clear Letter that spells everything out so well, with the Lord's Spirit.
       Dear Mama, please forgive me! Thank you for sparing Dad from the awful details of our problems! Like the beautiful song that was written at the YA seminar, I promise "never again"!  Just the thought of the past sickens me, & I know that it's only the Lord's & your mercy that we didn't get a bigger spanking, as we really deserved to be excommunicated!  
       I pray that whatever it takes, you'll one day be proud of us, & that out of all this will come a greater victory, the biggest Romans 8:28 ever! Your Letter to Europe makes me want to fight more than ever for this Family, in whatever capacity possible, just in plain gratitude for the trust you are bestowing upon us. I feel the Lord has something special in store for this country.  Our sins were standing in the way, but now He really wants to get the job done!
       With much much love, your daughter,
* * *
What a Relief to Be Back in God's Loving Spirit!
From Martin, Teen Shepherd in Southern Europe
       Dear Mama, God bless you!  I love you!  I can't express how thankful I am for your Letter.  It made me wake up to reality & see things in the right perspective, thank You Jesus!  I was so into the forest that I couldn't see the trees.  I was the adult who slept in the teen boys' room in one of the Combos that had serious problems, so I was right in the thick of the whole mess.  When I saw all these out-of-it things happening, I excused myself, telling myself that I shouldn't interfere with what was going on.  I closed my eyes to everything & I tolerated everything without saying a word.
       As things quickly worsened, the conviction grew within me that something had to be done, as this freedom was turning into a demonic control that was hurting people left & right, & causing countless problems, which have all been exposed now, thank the Lord! But like the quote says, "Truth resisted loses its power over the mind," & pretty soon I learned to close my eyes & take it.  Some Shepherds even complimented me for being so "patient" to be able to "survive" in the same room with the teens without losing my temper.
       Sad to say, it didn't take long for me to go from being mad at the sin to tolerating it.  Then the more I listened to the teens' side the more I was agreeing with them.  Many times I was advocating such "teen freedoms" & made other adults who weren't so "up-to-date with the changes" feel like they were old bottles or wrong to expect the teens to behave themselves.
       I apologize to all those who I've hurt or discouraged through my wrong self-righteous attitude. I'm not saying that everything was wrong with the changes that were happening, but I'm finally seeing now the right balance & how some values & truths that we have in our Family just don't change, as they are our foundation, our basic, Word-based beliefs.
       At times the Lord was faithful to show me & the teens how wrong this rebellious "free" attitude was. For example, I went to a meeting with one of our European Shepherds, which took place right after Josiah & Solomon's visit to the Combo in Southern Europe.  I was the Teen Shepherd in my Home, a Teamworker, & I explained to our Home about the sobering lessons & the need to change that had been brought up at the meeting.  When we prayed together with our Home, the Lord gave us the Letter "The Cesspool," which we read at devotions the next morning. (See ML#664.)
       To emphasise the sobering message in this Letter "The Cesspool," the Lord did a literal physical skit, which illustrated our spiritual situation:  Just one day prior to our return from that meeting, our sewer system got clogged up & we had sewage straight from the toilet coming out of a hole in the wall behind the kitchen cabinet!--Shit & sewage water poured into the kitchen, going all over the cooking pots, the floor, etc. It was disgusting! When I went to fix the problem, I found to my amazement that there was a knot in the rigid plastic sewage pipe. It was all warped & at one point it was disconnected from the rest of the pipe, causing the leakage.
       It was amazing to see how the Lord was showing us in detail how we were in a cesspool state. Lord help us! We were all sobered up about this & things did improve a little, but maybe due to familiarity & deep-rooted bad habits, things didn't change that much--certainly not enough!
       Finally through your Letter we can all know where the right balance is, & by God's grace we can get on track. It's such a relief to be back in God's loving Spirit. Thank You Jesus, & thank you, Mama, for all your prayers & for passing this message on to us. I'm sorry for my part in letting all this happen.  Lord help me to learn my lessons & be more on guard & have strong convictions! I love you!
* * *

Shepherding Lessons from YA Shepherds
--Lessons Shared at the European YA Seminar
       YA Meekness: I like the phrase "shepherding before administration," because I know a lot of us have had the false notion that being a Shepherd means staying at a desk with a "do not disturb" sign on the door. Now that we're getting our priorities straight as to what a Shepherd really is, we will be a lot more approachable, we'll get a lot more done, & we'll get a lot further, because we'll know where the flock is at & we'll know which direction to lead them.

       YA Noah: The Lord has been helping me see where I went wrong. At one point, I got hurt by the teens, as to them I was a "nerd," since I was teamworking. I let these things get to me, & then the Enemy used that to build up a wall. Also, the business & paperwork deadlines of my ministry were important & very demanding of my time, so when I felt like the teens & YAs wouldn't receive what I tried to give them, I turned to my office work. I figured at least my computer & papers would receive the input.
       I cannot blame the European Shepherds, NASs, or the adults for the problems we've had, & I will not. I am also to blame, as I didn't persevere to set things straight. I tried & gave up, tried & gave up.
       It's so clear to me now that my brothers & sisters & lost souls are the most important things for me to give my time, energy & prayers to! I think this is a good lesson for other YAs who get a ministry, or who are being trained as Shepherds: Don't get into a rut thinking your priority is always just to stick with your normal work, like I did, but always be ready to jump in with your whole heart to do something when there's a special need, or something's not right.

       YA Kezia: The Letter from Mama is just perfect. She hit the nail on the head so accurately. It totally dispelled that big grey cloudy feeling I've had.  I couldn't put my finger on it, but yet I knew something was seriously wrong, & I felt so frustrated, because I didn't know what to do about it.
At first, it was a bit difficult to see that I needed to take the blame for the problems too.  I was feeling quite self-righteous about the whole situation in our city, as I felt like we were giving it everything we had & trying our best to get things going, but now I can see that I was trying too hard in the arm of the flesh. Had I been more in the Spirit & more prayerful about everything, we probably would have been a lot more successful.
       When reading Mama's Letter, I knew I needed to take the blame & take everything to heart & I really wanted to, but I was having a hard time, so I prayed that the Lord would somehow get through to me. Then finally when it was time to go & talk to anyone we felt we needed to ask for forgiveness, I had a few people on my heart. I didn't even know what I was going to say, but I went for it anyway & just started to apologize for being so distant from them & for my attitude of not wanting to get too involved & messed up with them to the neglect of being able to reach out & help them in some way. Sure enough, the dear ones I talked to had felt that from me.  And here I was supposed to be their loving & concerned Shepherdess.
       That really helped the scales fall from my eyes & helped me see that there was so much more that I could have done to help the teens.  But instead, I had the attitude that it was the teens' fault because of their lack of love for the Lord. I felt it was their own choice to get into all that bad stuff & if that's what they wanted, fine, but I was just going on for the Lord, with or without them.
       I was very convicted by the things Mama shared about us being our brothers' keepers; & also how Josiah brought out in his report how upset it made him to see the attitude the adults had taken toward the teens. Lord forgive me, my attitude was much the same.  Although it was breaking my heart to see the way the teens were & how many we were losing, I didn't do much about it, because the resistance to the Truth was pretty strong & the situation looked so overwhelming. I was so very selfishly content just to try to stay on the track myself, without getting very desperate to try to help those teens as well. LHM!
       I just pray with all my heart that the Lord will forgive me & give me more of a Shepherd's heart to go all the way to help my brothers & sisters around me, & that I'll do whatever is necessary to love & encourage them. I also pray that the Lord will give me a whole lot more conviction to stand up in the right spirit & with the Lord's power.
       Mama's Letter renewed my love for the Lord & the Family so much.  I'm just amazed at the faith she has shown in us through her Letter. She's so positive the whole way through!  It makes you want to get up & fight & go on the attack against the Devil when you know that she has so much faith that we can change, no matter how desperate our situation has been. Also, it was good to hear what the European Shepherds shared about how the "scrub-down process" doesn't have to take a real long time, because the Lord can do miracles. Praise the Lord!

       YA Maresha: I've been hit every now & then with the temptation to compare myself to others who have a lot of fire & charisma. I've kind of felt out-of-it for not contributing as much as others do during meetings, because I've gotten a lot of training too. The Enemy has tried to tell me that it's only the outgoing, charismatic YAs who have leadership potential. But the Lord helped set my priorities straight as to what really counts--loving the Word & having the dedication & determination to put it into effect.
       The Lord also helped me see that I am going to have to be a Shepherd--with or without the title--because I know the standard. I'll have to fight to live it myself all the way, & challenge others to do the same.
       Another thing I'm seeing is that I need to stop constantly thinking about how incapable I am, because that will cause me to hide behind others. It's time for me to really hang on to the Lord & His strength & answers.

       YA Noah: In Bulgaria I was the Business Teamworker & oversaw the lit-pic also, which was quite a job. When I first started working on this I tended to be very business like with the ones I was working with, mainly nationals. But after a while the Lord broke through & showed me the need to fight my shyness & be human with people. I obeyed this & when I started shepherding, or should I say when I started "getting in there" with the adults & nationals, I found it to be one of the most fulfilling & inspiring times of my life.
* * *

Trusting the YAs & Teens to Do the Job!
--More Lessons from Adults in Europe
       Simon (of Vicky):  In the video from the YA seminar I saw in these YAs the conviction, the loyalty & the commitment to want to turn things around. I saw real Shepherds in them, Shepherds' hearts to help the younger generation, because they've gone through it & they can now be touched with the feelings of the other young people's infirmities. I think that as adults we need to make room for them to help with the shepherding. We need to bring them in & listen to them. The Lord is going to anoint them.
       It touched me to see a couple of the YAs who were at the YA seminar later come to the Home in Budapest. They were leading the inspirations & devotions & they were talking to & challenging the teens. They were taking Personal Time with some of the teens & were there to lift up their brethren, that was their attitude.  What is a Shepherd? It's not just years of training--it's love for the sheep & a desire to help others, & these YAs have it! Praise the Lord!
       I have asked myself, "What is a `training centre'?" Because to be honest, in the past I was a bit leery of going to a "training centre" in this area because I felt they had been symbolic of efficiency, a perfect schedule, lots of hard work, a very clean house--but with very little love & interaction between people, & Shepherds who are unapproachable & very far from the flock. I could be wrong, but that's how I felt.
       When I joined the Family I didn't join because of the efficiency or the perfect housing, the nice sample, the good standard & the cleanliness--I joined because I saw people who loved me & cared for my heart, & that is what won me to the Family.  I think the new slogan should be that if we want to have a sample Home or training centre, we should have a Home of hearts, a Home of Love. I don't care if we don't have a perfect schedule or tons of efficiency & all these things, the most important thing is that there is Love!

       Nehemiah:  I was thinking back on my own life--how many times I've blown it & failed--& it was just somebody being there & showing faith & trust in me & kind of holding me by the hand that gave me the faith to try again. A lot of our young people are in that position now. They know they've made mistakes, & they're looking to us to show faith & trust in them. It's sad that sometimes we're like fickle lovers, where as soon as they make mistakes we distance ourselves and become standoffish, instead of lifting them up & walking along with them & showing them the way.

       Paul (of Maria):  I got so wrapped up in my own little world, my own little business, that I was not really going after the sheep, I was not binding their wounds. All I can say is that I want to apologize to the teens & JETTs & to everybody, & ask how I need to change! I'm not always aware of my own weaknesses & I need help, so I want to get all the help I can. I want it all to be in the open so that even when I make mistakes I can start again & the Devil will not be able to use my shortcomings to discourage me!
       I was thinking about the slogan that we've now adopted here in Europe, "Trust & train!" I feel that my lack of trust when working with the teens in the past came from insecurity, & such insecurity comes from a lack of being close to Jesus & His Word. I want to change.  I want to get close to the Lord, close to His Word, close to Dad, close to the true spirit of the Revolution, so I can have that security, so I can let the teens burn free & not feel like things are going to get out of control--but at the same time, also feel free to pull in the reins if need be.

       John Dane: Mama's Letter helped me see how important it is for us adults to step down so the young people can have a chance to grow & do the things they are longing to do. We older generation can get too much in the habit of how we do things, like a routine, & the Lord's blessing is lifted because we don't roll over & let the YAs do more & share more of the load. I can see now how we have failed in not taking the young people in & training them to have more authority, & also by not prayerfully listening to their suggestions & ideas & acting upon them.

       Luke: Mama's Letter was so encouraging to me, because it gave hope in a situation where I saw only defeat & despair. It feels so good to know that there is light ahead & that this tunnel has an end.
       The thing that spoke to me the most is about the old bottlism I had gotten into in just one year. When I first came to Eastern Europe from Thailand, the DTR was fresh in my mind & heart, but when I came here to Western Europe, it seemed like the DTR hadn't happened yet. After trying a few months to put into effect the counsel from the DTR Letters, I slowly gave up & lost the vision & the initiative. Almost simultaneously, I could see myself getting more & more legalistic.
       Every attempt I made to change things, I made in the flesh & not in unity with my Teamwork. We would read the DTR Letters, but the Word was not alive as it should have been.  Some of our teens had serious problems &  I expected them to toe the mark & behave properly, but sad to say, I didn't have love enough to help them.
       I'm really thankful to Mama for giving us a new beginning & chance to start again! By God's grace, I will never let it happen again!
* * *

I Was Wishy-Washy  & Feared the Opinions of Men!
From Davida, Europe:
       First of all, I am so very thankful for the Lord's Love, mercy, forgiveness & patience with me & all of us, & for the very wonderful anointing He has given precious, sweet Mama to see the battle so clearly in the Spirit, & for giving her His wisdom & solutions to help steer us back on course for Him.
       Thank the Lord for His Light at the end of the tunnel, as this Letter is heartbreaking, as well as sobering & convicting & even shocking. It helps me see even more clearly how great the fight is in the Spirit for the future of the Family, because the Ol' Dragon is truly playing for keeps, & since we are nearing the end of the battle & approaching the grand finale, he's desperate for any wins possible. It also shows me the seriousness of giving in to him in any area, no matter how seemingly small--whether it be through negative thoughts, doubts or disobedience--& how very important it is to stay right on that little dog line & follow very closely.
       I was so thankful to hear that the majority of our young people in other areas of the World are happy & satisfied in their service for the Lord.  As I saw the standard slipping in our area, I had often wondered about this & if things had changed in the Family.  I asked the Teen/JETT Department in our Home a few questions about this, but the reply I got was, "We don't know ourselves," or "We're just waiting." But I can certainly identify with those Shepherds who, when recovering from their times of lesson-learning, don't want to fall back into their old bad habits & legalism, etc., & therefore go to the other extreme of failing to uphold the standard.  I am guilty of that myself. I often wanted to do something about the problems I saw, but in my fear of blowing it by being too legalistic, I'd just report things & then maintained a "let them handle it so I don't blow it again" type of attitude.         Another thing that I believe held me back from doing more was that I didn't want the teens to think, "Oh no, here comes that old crab, Aunty Davida, again."  So I tried to just be their friend most of the time. Lord help me not to fear the opinions of Man! At the same time, I was confused myself about what the standard was & if it was changing--when all the while, the standard was, of course, clear in the Word! I guess because of the lessons I had to learn in my communications with others when shepherding previously, I just went the way of the pendulum & swung all the way over to the wishy-washy side of things.  Lord forgive me for failing Him, others, & especially the teens.
       Praise the Lord, Mama's Letter & the SER (Shepherding Europe Revolution) are truly a wonderful answer to prayer from many, many hearts.  I pray to learn this lesson of upholding the standard & keeping it near & dear to my heart, no matter what the cost. Thank the Lord again for the Light of the Word, as He is helping us get turned around for Him! I have lots to learn & am looking forward to it!  Jesus is so good to us & is always there with the answers, changes & challenges we need! Much, much love & thanks!
* * *

More Is Expected of Me!
From Claire, Europe
       Dear Mama, I love you very much & want to thank you for all that you put into guiding & shepherding us through this battle to victory. It is true that it has been a trying, heartbreaking & despairing time for many of us, but now I feel the lessons & victories we have gained as a result outweigh even our losses.
As an adult, parent & Shepherd, I feel one of my main lessons is about the need to grow up & take my responsibilities concerning our kids & young people more seriously.  I can't let them down, disown them, or just give up when the going gets tough with them. I'm learning to take another step in maturing in the Lord as a disciple & parent, & I see that more is expected of me now. If our teens are to mature, we adults have to mature first to lead the way.
       I want to sincerely apologize to you & Dad for my part in letting things get so out of hand through my lack of conviction & allegiance to Jesus, you & the Family standard. It is hard to face having failed the Lord, you & our kids, but by God's grace it will be a fall upward, where our failures & weaknesses can be turned into our strongest points, & we can be a bigger blessing & bear more fruit than before. Thank You Jesus!
       It is so true when you pointed out how immature many of us have been in our shepherding methods, & we have been lacking prayerfulness & knowledge & genuine understanding of the Word & how to apply it. The question you asked about us living, loving, obeying & having the Word as a priority in our lives was right on. We've been familiar with the Word & had a tendency to just snack on it, instead of realizing it is the very thing that will cause us to prosper & grow.  We also do not have enough fear of the Lord when it comes to obeying & implementing the new counsel as the battle plan for our field, I'm ashamed to say. Many of us have failed in really feeding our kids the Word, we haven't gotten down to enough serious study & prayer on how to use it & be more Word-based in the many aspects of our lives.
       Lord help us to change & be doers of the Word & not hearers only, deceiving our own selves! Like G. shared about tending tables, I felt the way I operated & the spirit in the Homes I was in was becoming so conformed, so fast-moving in the flesh, so accomplishment-&-requirement-oriented that the Lord's voice through prayer & the Word often got quenched. Although we still have a multitude of things to accomplish, I'm so happy that there is more priority on personal shepherding & training now, from the adults down to our children. I'm thankful for the added blessing of having our Area Shepherds meddle more in the Homes, but at the same time having the Home & departments run according to their own faith, so everyone is exercising their faith & praying for direction & solutions.
       Thank you for giving us all another chance. I want to stand up & be counted for Jesus, love & obey Him as a disciple, & be the parent & Shepherd our kids need. Please pray for us as we stick to our commitments & put your counsel into practice! Thank you for being such a wonderful Shepherdess!  I love you!
* * *

We Have a Mission in Life!
From Steven, Europe
       It was such a blessing & strength to get back to the absolutes!--That what the Word says is so, & what Grandpa says is so, & this whole Family & what it stands for is so! Lord forgive me for my terrible lack of conviction & deadness in the Spirit in not doing what the Word says! As Grandpa has taught us, we're in a war, & the Devil is playing for keeps!--He wants to see our ruin! But I am determined to be the fighter for the faith that the Lord wants me to be! I put my will on His side!
       I know that the Lord has a mission for us all. By God's grace I am not going to forsake my plough. Like a famous poet wrote, How do you know when your mission in life is over? If you're still alive--it's not!"
* * *

Lessons from Eastern Europe
Respecting our Eastern  European Nationals
From Ready, Eastern Europe
       Reading Mama's Letter to Europe unitedly during the Fast was a very inspiring time of rededicating ourselves to the Lord.  Some of our national disciples shared heartbreaking testimonies & questions they had about the sample of some of the rotten apple teens that had been here.  But it was encouraging that the nationals said they knew all the Family teens & YAs were not like that & that most of the Family teens had been very good samples to them--much more good than bad! GBT!
       Our Home really needed the input & Mama's Letter was "a word spoken in due season," as the PER being implemented here is an urgent need. Some of the things Mama said to the adults surprised the nationals & gave them the fear of the Lord, but at the same time it was very liberating for them! It seems like the fear of Man has somewhat bound some of the younger disciples here, & before reading Mama's Letter to Europe the nationals had questions about some of the activities that were going on in this area.--Not so much about System music or bad language, etc. (although there were questions along these lines too), but more so about how they are sometimes treated & spoken to, & about comments made concerning the standard of living in the Eastern European country where we live.
       After years of hearing negative comparisons made by Family Members from the West, now the EE nationals have fallen into mocking & being somewhat critical of life here; & overall they've been feeling inferior & like second-class citizens in the Kingdom, compared to the "foreigners from the West". They didn't feel they could speak up about personal burdens or different things in the Home that were not right, & in general were a bit fearful to voice their feelings. It was very sad to see the negative effects that the bad attitudes & habits of some of the brethren from the West have had upon our national Members.  Our EE nationals are very dedicated, sincere & precious, & it's a shame & a reproach that in some cases they have not been given the respect, support & appreciation they deserve.
       The Fast was the first step in beginning to make some needed & major changes in such things as people handling, ministries, outreach methods & the "train'm by trusting'm" vision. We are now praying & deciding about some fundamental changes in our operation & are re-evaluating what the Home's vision is & where it is going. It's inspiring to see everyone going to the Word with a renewed vision.
       There is a new air of challenge, excitement & burning free in the Home, with everyone thinking & praying about what their Home should be like. I told the Home Members, "Imagine if you were a Home Shepherd--what would you want to change in the Home & how would you like to operate as far as management, schedule, duties, outreach, spirit, etc.?  What would you like to do?  Where would you like to go?"  It was quite a shake-up & everyone is inspired & praying about it, & happy to have more of a voice in Home matters, instead of just following the "schedule".

The Blessing of Forgiveness & Starting Anew
From Luke (EE national)
       To me the most wonderful thing I saw during the Fast is the all-encompassing universal forgiveness that we can experience in the Family. I have just gone through a time of real heavy trials along the lines of overcoming doubts. In the aftermath of those battles, one of the things I've been fighting very much is condemnation. Although I believe in the Lord's forgiveness, in this case, I had a harder time believing I would truly be forgiven by the Family & especially my Shepherds who are living close to me & witnessed the most severe period of battles I was going through. I know that takes seeing things with the eyes of faith & not looking in the flesh, & I realize that's one of the most important lessons for me.
       I'm extremely thankful for Mama's love that is manifested in her Letter, & that as far as she's concerned, we can all start with a clean slate. I also realized that the Family is the only place in the World in which you don't have a permanent "bad record," & if you want a new start & a complete change in your life for the Lord, the Family will support you & help you in every possible way. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

Coming Back to the Word
From Jan (EE national)
       The thing that I'll never forget about this year's Fast, which caused a real turn-around in my heart, is the big "come back" to the Word.  Things are now like they were in the beginning when I first joined the Family. Back then we were spending every spare minute reading the Word. But lately I was spending my freetime busy writing follow-up letters, or thinking about tomorrow's plans, or organizing things, or cleaning the garage I'm responsible for. Lord help me! I can testify that after this Fast I see a real change. Now when I have any spare time I'm choosing the Word. This not only brings spiritual victories, but good results in my work too!
* * *

Tips for Home Organization & Progress

Dividing the Home into Three Departments
From Norway
       Because we are all excited about improving things in our Home & there is so much to do, we decided upon three main departments in our Home: childcare, home care & outreach.  All our Home Members have chosen which of these three departments they would like to work in & where they'd like to invest their energy to help push the needed changes through. This way the most important things can be attacked simultaneously, but independently, & we see faster progress, which is encouraging to all.

PER Committee Appointed
From Italy
       On the second day of the Fast, we wrote all the different points that we have progressed in on one side of a whiteboard; & on the other side, we wrote all the areas in which we are falling short of the goal. We decided to have a PER committee to keep tabs on our progress & the needed changes. We also decided to read the PER GN over again & set weekly goals & see them through. It was a refreshing new start in the Home for all of us.

Practical Ideas for Witnessing & Better Word Time
From Switzerland
       One of the practical steps we took action on right after the Fast was having a united outreach meeting where we brainstormed new ways of witnessing & asked the Lord for some specific direction as to what project He wants us to sink our teeth into as a Home. The teens want to do more personal witnessing.  On their first day out personal witnessing, the teens won 30 souls in 45 minutes! Other ideas that came up were night singing & side-by-side follow-up & provisioning.
       In order to have better quality Word time, we revamped our schedule & started having separate devotions so all the adults have their devotions first thing in the morning while the teens care for the kids.  Then the teens have their Word time. It's a real big help & everyone is more inspired.
       Shepherding-wise it's also a big blessing, as we're able to follow-up unitedly on projects & areas to work on with fun Word studies, etc. Before it would get frustrating sometimes as whenever we would try to get the Home together, there were always so many people missing, so this is helping a lot with our unity. We continue to have united adult/teen meetings & open-forum discussions, but it seems to meet our needs better to have separate Word classes, as it's easier to implement Mama's suggestion to do fun Word studies on non-NWO topics, which is what the teens need to help them develop a hunger for the Word. We also started memorizing again as a Home, thank You Jesus!
       We still haven't arrived, every day is a fight, but we can feel in the spirit that the Lord is giving us solid victories, & He's going to do it as long as we keep praying, loving & serving Him with our whole hearts.  Praise the Lord!
* * *

A Pledge of Love & Loyalty
From Michelle, Europe
Dearest Mama,
       GBY! I love you so much & pray for you. First of all, I must say how very saddened I am by the heartache we have caused. I pray that we all, the European Family as a whole & myself specifically, can bring forth fruit meet for repentance & once again be united with the same standard as our precious Family worldwide.
       I know I have been very guilty of just waiting on the sidelines to hear more counsel from our Shepherds to solve our problems, like waiting for a knight in shining armour to ride in & offer all the solutions to us on a silver platter. Just like was mentioned in your Letter, we had sent our Shepherds some questions & detailed our difficulties after hearing rumours about the BTC seminar, but this information was buried in all the other reporting details. But we didn't keep on asking for clarifications although the problems still remained; we just left it there, feeling we had done our part by reporting it once.  We were guilty of the fatalistic & lazy attitude that was exposed in the Letters.
       I could also see very clearly that the fear of my NWOs cropping up again kept me from questioning things any further.  I didn't want to appear to be self-righteous & legalistic.  But as you so clearly put it, dear Mama, the fact that many of my shepherding methods & attitudes do need to change was not sufficient reason to abdicate my role as a Shepherd & a mother altogether! I let this discouragement about my NWOs stifle me instead of taking up the challenge to change my ways of relating to our young people.
       I sure have been a deadhead, old bottle Shepherd, but by the grace of God I am determined to change & learn to live the PER! I am so desperate to have these changes in my life, as I can see that the way I come across makes a world of difference to our dear teens!
       For example, a while ago I got together with my 15-year-old daughter, who has been taking care of our pre-school group.  We were going to go over the curriculum planning for the next marking period. We talked about different things to do, but I could sense that she was a little down.  I then felt compelled to tell her how well she teaches the group & how she truly is an inspired teacher & that I admire that quality in her. Upon hearing this, she just broke down in tears! She shared that she felt like such a mess & that she can never do things right. This broke my heart, as I know how easy it is for me just to give correction & point out how to do things better, but I hardly ever comment on the thousands of things that our dear teens do right! Lord help me to truly change & have a much more encouraging & uplifting approach with our young people.
       Another thing that has been intimidating & affecting the adult/teen unity has been the impression that only the Teen Shepherds are capable & qualified to address & shepherd the teens. Thus many of us adults had only limited, superficial communication with our teens on daily practical matters, which tended to make matters worse. I know I was guilty of nagging the teens & then letting resentment build up in my heart against them. A lack of deeper heart-to-heart communication between us adults & the teens also contributed to the feeling of frustration between us.
       I am very thankful for your admonition, Mama, about the need to now give our teens & JETTs time, love, encouragement & real loving shepherding, instead of clamping down on them, which would have been my natural inclination. I pray the Lord will help me to be a good sample of a disciple & the kind of Shepherdess He wants me to be, having real patience, love & understanding, as well as conviction. I know that comes only through soaking myself in the Word & doing my best to apply & obey it!
       Thank you, dearest Dad & Mama, for your sample of loving shepherding & having faith & forgiveness for your straying sheep. I pledge my love & loyalty to you, the Word & the Family. My earnest & heartfelt prayer is that, as the sheep whose leg was broken, I will now follow closer than ever & not leave the Shepherd's side!
With much love, Your ever-thankful sheep
* * *

A Personal Word from Mama
Dear Family in Europe,
       God bless you! I love you! I want to thank you who wrote such beautiful letters & reactions to my Letter to Europe! I appreciate your taking the time to write down your lessons, & your willingness to let them be a testimony to the worldwide Family.
       It's wonderful to hear from you & to see what changes have occurred in your lives because of the Lord's Love & instruction.  While I am greatly encouraged to hear that the Lord has helped you through these Letters, & that you appreciate my part in them, the Person you need to thank the most, of course, is the Lord. He is the One Who gave the message & it is His Love & His counsel. I'm very thankful to hear from you & to hear how the Letters have affected you & helped you, but please, always give the glory to the Lord & not to me.  Along with you, I say, Nothing in my hands I bring; simply to His Cross I cling." So please be faithful to give the Lord your thanks in the form of your praise & words of gratitude, & most of all, in the form of a change in your actions.
       I also thank those of you who may not have written letters or reactions to me personally, but who have nonetheless taken the lessons of this Letter to heart & have thanked the Lord for them & have made changes in your lives as needed. I appreciate the love for the Lord you have all manifested & your willingness to do whatever it takes to get back on the track.
       What I said months ago to some individuals in Europe, I say to you all:  I do not want you to feel condemned, but instead to go & sin no more".  Any of us in the same situation could have made many of the same mistakes & might very well have.  I appreciate the good you have all done & the blessing you have been in your years of service to the Lord & the Family; & I admire your determination to go on from here & do even better. I want you to know that you're forgiven!  I'm thankful that you're still fighting & hanging on, as I know that you can continue to be a great blessing to the Family in Europe.  Dad & I are counting on you!  I love you very much!

Copyright 1996 The Family