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PERSONAL LETTERS!--Number 1.       Maria #221       DO 2931       Comp.6/94
--Letters to Mama & Her Replies!

Intro from Mama
Dear Family,
       1. DAD & I RECEIVE MANY PERSONAL LETTERS from DO & TRF Supporter members alike in which you pour out your hearts about your situation, or about questions you have. To us, each one of these letters is very precious, & your burdens become our burdens; your heartache becomes our heartache.--And we pray for you & wonder if there is anything we can do to help you.
       2. We're very sorry that we can't answer most of you personally. We would love to. With each of your letters, we would like to sit down & talk with you intimately, putting our arms around you & holding your hand & stroking your hair, & wiping away your tears, & comforting you with His Word. For those of you who are asking questions, we would like to sit with you & counsel & pray together, & get some answers from Him. For you who are simply expressing your love for us, we'd love to thank you face-to-face for your encouragement & prayers, & tell you how much you mean to us. Each of you is special to us! Please believe this. Don't ever doubt it.
       3. Again, thank you so much for your letters over the past months, Regina, Sharon, Rebecca, Brian, Claire, Amor, Kezia, Anaik, Angelina, Karenyna, Joao, Anna Lisa, Anthony, Cedar, Art, Tiago, Raquel, Elaine, Dawn, Seek, Arthur, Mary, Benjamin Phillip, Nathanael, Martin, Arrow, Bethel, Jane, Kathy, Genai, Brisa, Ruth, Caleb, Francis, Allen, Loraine, Caryn, Harvest, Becky, Catherine, Lamb, Adria, Charity, Eliza, Clair, Abigail, Ahlai, Amanda, John, Clarinha, Eman, Apollos, Christina, Sapphire, Lisa, Daniel, Jo, Angela, Daniella, Natasha, David, Amy, Davina, Joshua, Stephen, Andrew, Davida, Judy, Reina, Elisabeth, Victoria, Abner, Bethy, Softy, Cedro, Emmanuel, Jay, Estie, Christian, Faithy, Havilah, Fran, Gabe, Carl, Jubilee, Knight, Gary, Lucas, Gideon, Simon, Kristy, Katherine, Clare, Ginny, Gloria, Hannah, Blessing, Carmela, Matt, Heaven, Jason, Isaac, Jared, Sammy, Solo, Dulcinea, James, Anne, Joanna, Kris, John Paul, Promise, Matthew, Jose, Simeon, Lance, Michelle, Jondy, Peace, Cherish, Joseph, Sara, Victory, Day, Josue, Eden, Karin, Joy, Joni, Carmen, Crystal, Julie, Justin, Heidi, Katrina, Kristine, Pedro, Livia, Maria, Clara, Meekness, Solly, Laura, Naarah, Gentleness, Cathy, Nehemiah, Nina Christina, Pablo, Josh, Paloma, Chris, Paul, Free, Joanie, Paula, Liz, Timothy, Chepe, Gabriel, Sam, Peter, Stefan, Phillip, Mariane, Trust, Phoebe, Anisa, Teresa, Julia, Richard, Esther, Praise, Celeste, Tirzah, Michael, Ready, Josiah, Love, Renee, Cassandra, Rosa, Marie, Ruthie, Jessica, Miguel, Sarina, Servant, Pearl, Faith, Amira, Solomon, Lauren, Aaron, Steven, Theresa, Jasper, Marie Joy, Karen, Valentina, Rachel, Rose, Vine, Windy, Cielo, Tim, Dan, Ann, Debbie, Etoile, Stevie, Marianne, Rima, Tom, Willing, Mercy, Mary Jane, Pandita, Carmel, Susanna, Ivan, Happy, Meek, Soraida, Bethany & so many others of you who have written or will write! (We just can't remember all your names right now, or find all our records, so please forgive us if we didn't name you! And of course we don't forget the many of you who have written us in years past, & whom we love, each one!)
       4. We appreciate your openness & honesty. We are thankful for your suggestions, for your questions & for your analyses of various situations. You're a vital part of our Family & we are interested in what you have to say.--And we listen to each of you. Not only are we interested, but we need to know how things are where you live & what you think we can do to make our Family a better place to be. What can improve our service to the Lord? What new methods have you been using that have proven fruitful? What testimonies can you share that would be an encouragement to us & others?
       5. Dad & I want you to take this as our special thanks to each one of you who write us--even though we can only personally answer a few of you. However, you can be assured that we consider & pray over each letter. We'd love to spend more time in communication with you personally by individual letters about your particular questions & problems, but the Lord has shown us that our priority must be on our general letters to all of you, as well as the multitude of other publications that help you in your growth in the Lord & your training for your service to Him.
       6. However, there are times when the Lord lays a special burden on our hearts to answer a particular personal letter. You may know someone who has received a personal letter from me, or some words of love from Dad on a note that they sent him. We hope you won't be hurt if we have not been able to answer yours individually, but that you will know that we have prayed for you, which is the greatest response we can give you in return.
       7. Along with praying for you, we take what you have to say into consideration when praying about the needs of the Family. Of late, a number of you have written to ask questions about how the Homes are operating, suggesting that some alterations be made. Your letters have often been confirmations of the direction the Lord is leading us as we pray about & prepare for some fairly major changes ahead.
       8. A number of you have expressed that our Homes are too large, too regimented & too institutionalised to allow you to accomplish all that you believe the Lord wants you to. We are in the process of praying about & formulating some changes which will hopefully alleviate some of these matters. We hope to present these changes during the next Birthday Fast, God willing. Of course, no modifications are going to solve all of our problems, but we believe the Lord is leading us to solutions to many of them. Please pray for us as we work on these changes & the publications which explain them.--And, in the meantime, if you're struggling, please hang on. Don't give up! The Lord can pull you through! "Hold that fast which thou hast, let no man take thy crown!"--Rev.3:11.
       9. In this series of GNs we are going to present a few letters that we have responded to personally so that you may also share in our counsel. Since in this GN series we want to highlight the counsel which was given rather than the person to whom it was given, we will not use the names of those who wrote letters to us & who we answered, just initials. In some cases we will either use their entire letter, or excerpts thereof, where it is necessary to understand our response; in other cases we will only include the counsel which we gave. We hope that, by sharing these letters & our responses, we can be helping many others who may have had the same question or problem. Our desire is that these few letters will be representative of many & will be a blessing to you, our precious Family.
       Love & prayers,

Movies & Books!
From F. (19), 1/94
Dearest Grandpa & Maria,
       10. I really love you & by the grace of God I pray I'll never fail the Lord or you. I just wanted to write with some questions of controversy that are perhaps grey areas within our Family, things that have been matters of opinion, I think. I don't want to sound like I don't agree with Family policies--these are just questions I have, & if I'm wrong I wouldn't want them to hinder my usefulness for the Lord or even my being in the Family. If what I ask is off the track, I wish to be corrected.
       11. I don't want to make a big deal out of these subjects, but they are things I've had questions about & face quite regularly, especially having worked with JETTs for the last three years. Actually, the video issue comes up almost every week with the JETTs. For example, the movie list contains a list of teen movies & a list of JETT movies. My question is, how do the movies get categorised?
       12. For example, the movie "The King & I" is rated for teens, & the movie "Clean & Sober" for JETTs. Maybe you haven't seen these movies, but in my personal opinion, "Clean & Sober" is way above JETT understanding compared to "The King & I," & has a lot of badmouthing, etc. I don't want to criticise the movie list & I know movies are not the priority in the Family at all & shouldn't necessarily be, but I'm just wondering how they get rated. Are we going by Dad's standard or others' opinions & leadings?
       13. My view on books is that we should be sure to have the right balance with the Word & other books, as I've seen a lot of teens very familiar with the Word. I think it comes from people only allowing Word to be read, so they then have a hunger for other things because they can't have it, & also become dissatisfied with the Word, to where it just becomes routine. I hope you understand what I mean. For example, I grew up in the Family, & when I was young, reading anything that wasn't Word was looked down upon, & I resented that. I think it's good that we have a balance in that.
       14. I believe the PER is really growing us all together, & I don't blame the adults if they feel reluctant to have us sort of take over, ha! I think it would be pretty hard for me too! I really admire the adults who have faith in us, especially you, Grandpa & Mama. I pray I can be more like you as I grow in this wonderful Family. I really love you & appreciate you.
Love, F.

       Mama's Reply to F., 2/94:
Dear F.,
       15. Thank you for having the faith to write your letter with questions on music, books, videos, etc. You brought up some very valid concerns; that is one of the things that makes a good leader--the ability to see the problems & try to find a solution.
       16. You will be happy to know that we are addressing the music issue in the Fast Letters, as well as a Christian Digest & some Hope Mags, which, Lord willing, will be in your hands within a few weeks. I don't know if these will be exactly what you're looking for, but I believe they will answer some questions & be a help to our young people. (See GNs 575-577, Christian Digest 12 & Hopes 41-43.)
       17. As far as the video situation: No, Grandpa & I do not have anything to do with the rating of the movies. It's such a difficult job, we're glad we don't have to. I can't watch movies any more because of my eyes, & Grandpa doesn't get a chance to watch as many as he used to, so we have to let others take care of this job. Because the number of our pubs personnel is limited, sometimes the responsibility of rating the movies falls on only a few people.
       18. The judgment of movies is often very subjective & there are often differing opinions & interpretations. In general, however, I think the folks who have reviewed these movies have done quite well. However, as you bring out, sometimes they've missed it. It may be because there have been different groups evaluating different movies & these different ones have slightly different standards. They do the best they can & they sacrifice to work on these lists, hoping they will be what they should be. When they miss it, though, they appreciate the help.
       19. Since the ratings on the movies are often somewhat controversial, because of the subjectivity that enters into their judgment, we have made the goal in producing these movie lists to save the worldwide Family time in locating decent movies, more than to give perfect, balanced evaluations.--Although the folks working on these try to do their best & I know they put a lot of prayer into the project, & are generally in agreement.
       20. Since I don't have anything personally to do with these ratings, I wanted to be sure that I was answering you accurately, so I passed on your comments to one of the folks who is involved in the movie evaluations, & I thought you might be interested in his reply:

       "I sent out a very long list of all of the older JETT-&-under movies from all of the old movie lists to the CRO MOMs & asked them to rate them, which they did. I then compiled all of these movies & only put a certain movie into a certain category if three-quarters of the votes were for it. In addition to this, I included all the votes from one of our Units. And then even after that, the whole group of folks who always check each publication before it goes out had a chance to question them. So I believe these movie lists were pow-wowed & prayerfully compiled.
       "On the two movies F. mentioned, I actually remember that 'The King & I' was rejected for JETTs because the woman was so disrespectful & snotty, whereas 'Clean & Sober' was chosen because of the good message it had about the dangers of substance abuse, which it was felt that the JETTs could benefit from even though it had some rough language. In other words, we felt that the benefits of the message on substance abuse would be greater than the detrimental effects of the bad language.
       "You're almost always going to have something in a System movie which is ungodly & not according to Family standards. And if our kids want to continue watching them, they will probably be affected by some of these negative things. There's not much we can do to get away from it. I'm sure, however, we did miss it on some of our ratings, as you mentioned. I hope this reply about the ratings is helpful. I love you!"

       21. On the subject of books, it depends upon what books you are talking about. Each book would have to be judged individually. Moreover, it would probably depend a great deal on the person themselves & what effect the book would have on them. Different books affect people differently; whereas one person might read a book & be weakened by it, another would have no problem.
       22. It seems like there is so much Word nowadays that our folks cannot even read it all. I'm quite surprised to think that our young people would have a lot of extra time to read, especially considering that there are thousands of pages of past Letters, & hundreds of pages of new literature being printed each month on many different subjects. I know that other books have their appeal, but the MO Letters have the power to give us the strength for these Endtime battles. There are a lot of other books that are good & interesting & informative, but if they take away from our time in the Word, they can be detrimental to our spiritual--& even our practical--growth.
       23. One important thing that I'd like to ask you to do, F.--you & our other YAs--is to make a habit of going to the Word for the answers.--For you personally, as well as for the young people whom you shepherd.--Not only to dig out the answer yourself, but to help them to learn to do the same.
       24. The Lord is repeatedly emphasising the great importance of the Word in our young people's lives. If our Shepherds are not a sample of living in the Word, we will see the same weakness in their young people. So, F., I'm counting on you to give your young people the Word. It doesn't have to be boring--you can pray & ask the Lord for exciting new ways to share it. Okay?
       25. Thank you, F., for being a concerned & loving Shepherd for our dear JETTs. We know the Lord will richly bless you for it. Would you like to write your testimony of how you got started working with them, & how the Lord has given you the burden?--We are trying to help some of our other young people to see the value & blessing of working with our kids.
       26. I love you, F., & am thankful to hear from you. Keep up the good work!
       With love & prayers,

P.S. from Techi: Reading Ideas!
Dear F.,
       27. Hi! GBY! ILYSM! Mama asked me to read this letter from her to you, as it has such good & interesting counsel about some things that I've wondered about myself at times. I wanted to thank you for "letting your request be made known" about some of the things that you were wondering about. I thought that was sweet of you as a Shepherd to take into consideration the questions that the JETTs had about some of these different things. It's such a blessing & privilege to be able to ask Mama personally about our questions. She's always so loving & understanding to answer us, God bless her!
       28. Something I shared with Mama that she suggested I might like to share with you is that I can understand that some of the JETTs could perhaps be a little bored or familiar with the Word that they read, especially if they read the same Letters again & again. I'm not 100% sure exactly what your situation is, but I know that although there are "treasures new & old" in the Letters every time we read them & we shouldn't really get bored with the Word, in order that we don't get familiar with the Word, the Lord has supplied volumes & volumes of Word for us, so we can have variety.
       29. One thing I did that really inspired me was to start reading through the DBs, & in that way read the different, more unfamiliar Letters. Also, it was very feeding; especially Daily Breads 4 & 5, which are the older Letters, & the ones I wasn't so familiar with. There are lots of very feeding Letters, the real basics, which were very interesting to me to see where a lot of our doctrines & rules originated.
       30. I don't know if all the JETTs have already read all the DBs, maybe I'm just behind, or if they would consider that new & different reading; but it was very interesting to me. It also gives you a goal, to read through the whole book, & when you get through all of those, then there are all the Volumes. Something I would love to do & that I'm looking forward to doing in my free time, would be to start reading some of the Volumes & work through those. There are so many neat, different Letters in there, all Grandpa's dreams, etc.
       31. Sometimes I feel bad that I don't know what the adults are talking about when they talk about a Letter or a period of time in the Family. I wasn't around in the beginning when all the Letters were just coming out. I'm behind, & I'd like to catch up. Besides these old pubs, we have all the new pubs that are coming out, which are really exciting. If I didn't have new things to read, I would be bored also. It's true that System books do have an appeal, especially if you have a hunger for knowing everything you can, which I do, & I think a lot of people do, so that's why I'm so interested in the Letters that I haven't read yet.
       32. I also have a burden for the JETTs & pray that they can be inspired & challenged, as I was a JETT just a couple of years ago, & it's true, it's a turning-point age. I really pray for them & their Shepherds, like you. I think it's great & a blessing to have a YA Shepherd, as you are closer to our age & understand what it's like. I'll pray for you! I really love you! XXX! GBY! Bye!
       Love, Techi
* * *

FFing Misconceptions!
From K. (18), 4/94
Dear Mama Maria,
       33. I really love you so much & am so thankful for all that you do for each one of us & all the time that you spend trying to make this a better Family for us to live in. I wanted to write to you about something that has been on my heart recently & something that I wonder about. I work with teens quite a lot & these are things that I have noticed in my interactions with them.
       34. Recently I went to the court in England to testify on Pearl's behalf. I was asked some different things about the Family, & the opposition really tried to shock me with things like the Dito book, the dance videos, FFing, etc. I was able to tell them that these things did not shock me, as I understood the concept behind why we did these things.
       35. What I am concerned about is the fact that many YAs & teens do not have the right impression of FFing. Whether this is due to the fact that the subject hasn't been directly addressed to the Family teens or whether it is just something that they would rather not understand, I do not know.
       36. I was wondering if something could possibly be written to address this subject, directed at the young people in the Family.--Something that would explain FFing, what it cost in personal terms, & why we stopped.
       37. It seems to me from talking to different ones that they think the reason we don't say much about FFing any more & the reason that we stopped was because something was wrong with it. This idea is very wrong, but sadly I feel that this is the concept that many young people in the Family have. Many of our teens & YAs have never read the FF Letters. Others have merely skimmed through them, looking at the pictures & the "interesting" stories. This may have added to the fact that they do not fully understand the sacrifices & the amount of love that it took.
       38. Most of us haven't always read all of the lessons that were learned through FFing, so we may have the wrong impression. Also I think that a lot of young people mistakenly think that the reason we purged a lot of this kind of lit, Volume 4 for example, was primarily because we wanted to hide the fact that we had ever practiced it. The effect that this wrong thinking has had on many young people is that they feel that this (FFing, etc.) is something that they do not think was the right thing to do.
       39. I know that doing it was entirely up to the individual. Whether the teens in the Family today feel that they would have gone to such lengths to win a soul is a personal decision. And it's a hypothetical situation, since we no longer FF. But it is nevertheless very important that we understand why it was done & how this was possibly one of the biggest tests of yieldedness & show of love that anyone could ever make.
       40. I hope that this letter is understandable & that it was all right for me to say these things. Although I know that it is not my place to make generalisations about the way things seem, after I thought & prayed about it, I decided that it would be better to mention it & be told that I was out of line rather than to have it continue if what I have written was indeed the case, as it definitely seems to be in the area that I live in.
       41. Once again I wanted to say how much I really appreciate you & Dad. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. Thanks so much for your prayers & help regarding the court case & the proceedings here, I know that I really felt the power of prayer behind me when I was on the stand recently, TTL! I really, really love you!
       Much love, K.

       Mama's Reply to K., 6/94:
Dear K,
       42. I love you. God bless you. Thank you so much for sending us that beautiful letter with your observations of the attitudes that many of our young people have toward FFing. Your views were very well presented & your concerns were those of a good Shepherd. I'm proud of you for your discernment, your thoughtful attention & care, & your wanting to do something about it. Several others have also expressed concern about these distorted attitudes, so it seems as though this may be a problem not only in your area, but in other areas as well. The greater the number of folks who write us & let us know about problems of this nature, the better we can get a clear picture of how widespread a problem is & what we need to do to try to correct it.
       43. There has been a suggestion that we reissue the FF Volume for our adults & YAs to read, not as a call to begin FFing again, but simply for them to be able to reflect on the true & sacrificial motives behind the FFing ministry, as well as the wonderful fruit borne from it. If an archive copy of this "Adults Only" book were made available, it would be a blessing to our YAs, but unfortunately, for security reasons, we would probably not be able to make this reissued Volume available to our other young people, whose attitudes may be even more "off" than the YAs, wouldn't you say? At least, that's my impression, that our teens have even less of an understanding about the true nature of FFing than our YAs.
       44. Someone also suggested that we could do some video testimonies for the benefit of our younger Family Members, featuring interviews with those who FFed, as well as some who were FFed into the Family themselves. This might be very effective, although, of course, it would take some time to work on.
       45. Another idea--& one which we have in the works, & which could probably be done more quickly--is to publish several good FFing testimonies in our pubs. As Grandpa has always said, "There is nothing like a personal testimony to 'sell you on the product' & to convince you of people's sincerity & their cause."
       46. K., your letter has spurred us to want to make it a priority to get these testimonies out to the Family as soon as we can, God willing. It may be several months yet, but we will work on them as quickly as possible. When you receive them, please let us know your reactions & if you think they are helping to change some of the young people's misconceptions about FFing.
       47. Thank you again, dear K., for your letter. And thank you especially for your willingness to be one of God's shining witnesses in Pearl's court case. I'm sure it was a scary experience, at least at first, but as you say, you felt the Family's prayers & God's special touch upon you as you witnessed for His Cause. The Lord gave you a big job to do for Him & you did it well & wholeheartedly. God bless you!
       48. Most of all, we thank you for being faithful to the Lord & His Family & fighting battles daily that are part of our life for Jesus. While they are not so easy to take, each battle nevertheless makes us stronger soldiers & more capable of being used greatly by the Lord in the future battles to come.
       49. So don't give up! Keep going! Don't let the Devil get you down, nor discourage you with your mistakes or failures. We all make them; it is part of our learning process, & part of the Lord's way to keep us humble & useable. The Lord also allows us to make mistakes so we'll understand what others go through & be able to "comfort them with the comfort wherewith we have been comforted."--2Cor.1:4.
       50. We are counting on you--& our other dear young people--to keep going, to keep shining, & to keep fighting for Jesus & His Family! We love you!
       Love, Mama

* * *

       Letters from the Melbourne Teens About System Influences!
(3/94: The following are excerpts of responses to a message that Mama sent to the Melbourne Home about System influences, "A Caution Not to Compromise," to be published soon, D.V.! These reactions were written before receiving the "Back on Track" GNs.)

From D., 15:
Dear Mama,
       51. God bless you, I love you! I just wanted to say how much I appreciate all that you do for us & for all the counsel that you send to keep us in line.
       52. We just read & pow-wowed the counsel that you sent concerning our compromises with System books & music. I was very convicted as I've noticed the standard dropping quite a bit. I mainly noticed that I don't always have a hunger for the Word like I should. Going out early in the morning on court business, I don't have time to read so much before I go, & then after being in the System for six to eight hours I find myself not wanting to read, & I start letting the standard down. It's a vicious cycle.
       53. One of the lawyers who is very firm in her convictions said to one of our adults, "Do your kids really believe & have the same conviction in the Family as the adults?" It got me thinking about how much do I really stand up for the Family? I am very proud of being in the Family & all that we believe in, but how much do I profess it & live it? I know the lawyers admire us a lot when we stand up for what we believe.
       54. Hearing about how some of our witnesses have taken the stand & answered with their Bible made me want to take memorising more seriously, as I certainly don't really know how to "rightly divide the Word of Truth."--2Tim.2:15. I want to try much more to memorise & hide the Word in my heart.
       55. I have made a real commitment to change, & to sum it all up, to be more like Jesus. Thanks again for all of your counsel. God bless you!
       Tons of Love, D.

From A., 15:
Dear Mama,
       56. Thank you so much for writing us that Letter. I really needed it & it made me feel special to have a Letter from you. It really convicted me, especially about the System novels.
       57. Ever since I was little I've been into reading System books & novels, usually to the neglect of the Lord & the Word. I had stopped reading them about a year ago & I didn't have a problem with this any more, but recently I again found myself hungering for System books.
       58. Before, once I got ahold of a book, I would read it every spare moment to the neglect of my work & others, & it made me quite introverted at times. So I'm going to forbear reading System novels as I can see how they are a hindrance. I'm so thankful that we have such a wonderful & loving Shepherdess like you & that you are concerned & care about each & every one of us. I really love you.
       Much love, A.

From M., 14:
Dearest Mama,
       59. The thing that stood out to me most from your message to us was about reading System books. When I read System books it's really easy for me to get "sucked in," because once I start a book I want to finish it. I read it every spare minute, & it can get in the way of my Word time & other more important things I could be doing.
       60. I was surprised at how many things there are in the Word under so many different topics, & if I have a topic I'm interested in I can make a Word study on it & it can be just as interesting, if not more so, than a novel, & much more useful & inspiring; after all, it's the Word that's going to keep me in the Family & going for Jesus!
       61. I really love you & appreciate all you've been doing to make things more exciting & challenging for the teens in the Family! God bless you!
       Tons of Love, M.

From D., 14:
       62. I think what Mama said about the music is very true. Even if we may think it is harmless, it's not all uplifting & I think it's slowly deteriorating us, & in a way separates us from the Word & the Lord & each other. What I mean is, it's not strengthening us, especially if we are fighting a battle. We'd get up, go to court without reading any Word, & then, during the long & boring legal proceedings we'd read a novel. What we need is strength & unity, which you can't get from System music & books. Also, it would be a good sample to our lawyers & Community Services if we practiced what we preached!
       Love, D.

From A., 14:
Dearest Mama,
       63. Thank you for all your concern for us here. It's made me feel much closer to you & Grandpa. I'd also like to thank you for this counsel we received about System music & books, which is something the older JETTs & teens have been getting into a lot lately. I never saw how much of a bad influence System music can be on us spiritually.
       64. I personally don't read novels, or any System books for that matter, if I don't have to, because I'm not a very intellectual type of person & I would much rather go & dance or play the guitar. But I know that reading System books in any spare minute or free time that we get is happening a lot, & now I'm seeing the JETTs & younger kids just picking up a System book in their free time & reading it. That showed me that everything we do is getting passed on to the younger kids. I love you lots!
       Love, A.

From S., 16:
Dear Mama,
       65. God bless you! I appreciate the time you took to write that Letter. It was really sweet. It was a real encouragement to me to know that you are thinking about us teens here, & your counsel was just what a lot of us needed.
       66. I have been into System music a bit & I know how too much System music & not enough Word can lead me off the track, so I was really thankful you shared that counsel with us. We are in a battle & on the front lines, & since the Word is on trial, we do need to spend all the time we have in the Word.
       67. I am personally not so interested in novels, but I was interested in computers, & since I was working in the office at the time, I used my free time to get tripped off into different time-wasting computer programs.
       68. I still have other problems, like with my speech, as well as along the lines of honesty, but I am learning to be more open & honest. This is not to say that I have arrived yet, but I know that I am a lot closer to the Lord than I was before.
       69. God bless you! I really love you & Grandpa! Thank you for all you have done for us.
       Love, S.

       Mama's Reply to the Melbourne Teens, 5/94:
Dear Melbourne Teens,
       70. I love you, & want to say how thankful I am for such wonderful young people who love the Lord & want to please & serve Him with all their hearts, & who are willing to stand up for the Truth. You all have been brave soldiers & warriors of the faith, God bless you!
       71. We are so thankful for the marvellous victory the Lord has won through the mediation of the Melbourne court case. I know that has been a great encouragement to you, & a real reward for your having endured a very long battle & fought through to victory! This mediation is a tremendous victory for not only you teens & our dear Melbourne Family, but for our whole Family around the World as well; & it would never have been possible without your desperate prayers, your obedience, your fighting spirit, & your faithful untiring labours of love & faith! Praise the Lord! God bless you!
       72. I also want to thank those of you who recently wrote me. Thanks for your words of love & appreciation, & especially for sharing your reactions to the pow-wow you had on System influences, books, music, videos, etc.
       73. I am proud of you for your wise, cheerful reactions, & for your being willing to make the sacrifices necessary for your spiritual growth & to be what the Lord wants you to be. I know it is hard to give up or cut down on things that you've gotten used to doing or having, & that you like.
       74. It's difficult to sacrifice present pleasures for future spiritual gain. But that's what the Lord loves about Christians who are willing to do so, & why we are special to His heart--because we are willing to forsake our own selfish desires in order to be strong soldiers to fight in His battles for the hearts & minds of folks that desperately need Him, & who need to see a sample of dedication & conviction & spiritual strength in us. (Heb.11:25-26.)
       75. Really, when you think of it, such sacrifices are small compared with the rewards that God is going to give us for making them. "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us!"--Rom.8:18. Jesus said, "He that forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be My disciple."--Luk.14:33. But He also said, "To Him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne."--Rev.3:21.
       76. I know it's a battle, & it's so much simpler to do the things that make us feel good & don't require such a spiritual effort or struggle. It's so much easier & more fun to sit down with some System novel & escape into the world of romance, mystery or adventure.--And once you get hooked, to keep doing it over & over again. I understand that not doing so is a pretty big sacrifice.
       77. However, you are the children of the Most High, you are the King's precious anointed ones to whom He has given a special honoured commission, & because of this, He is asking a sacrifice of you. He is asking you not to stunt your growth with things of the World which will make you spiritually weak & lazy & lost in the world of fantasy.
       78. He is asking you to stay on guard, to be alert, & to be ready to fight at a moment's notice. You are some of the few whom He has chosen. You in the Family are of all young people the most privileged & honoured, the only ones in the World who have the distinction of being born into His Endtime Army. He loves you & cherishes you & nurtures you & watches over you, & wants to be proud of you, & to be able to use you fully as His Endtime Ambassadors. He is challenging you to put away childish things & the sins which do so easily beset you, to run the race that is set before you with patience, knowing that your reward will far surpass any sacrifices made here, & will not be long in coming.
       79. The Enemy has many ways of lulling us to sleep & of getting us to waste God's precious time with activities that don't count towards Eternity. God needs us to be awake & alert, trying every minute to redeem the time, because the days are so evil & time is so short.
       80. So I was glad to hear your reactions & to know that you're willing to make these sacrifices for Jesus, & to give Him all your time & attention, so He can make you into the kind of soldiers that He needs on the front lines. You're in a very key place with many eyes focused on you, & what you do or don't do is extremely important, much more important than you will ever realise.
       81. The forces of good & of evil are fighting a constant battle to try to affect your decisions, control your thoughts, & influence how you invest your time. The Enemy would like to destabilise you, immobilise you, incapacitate you, & knock out your effectiveness, because he fears you & the power you have through Jesus. He trembles in fear of you when you stay close to the Source!
       82. God fights for you because He knows what a formidable force you are against the Enemy & his people, & He needs you desperately in this war. You're some of the few soldiers He has for this battle. You're the ones that He has invested in & nurtured & cared for, & He has brought you to this point that you might fight in this war. So please don't disappoint Him. Please don't let Him down. He needs you & we need you!
       83. I love you & am so thankful for each of you, & that we can count on you to do your best for Jesus in this battle!
       Much love & prayers,

* * *

Letter from a Male Teacher!
       (From a European Shepherdess, 2/94:) I thought it would be interesting for you to get the following letter that I received from one of the male teachers here in Europe. It expresses the thoughts & battles several other male teachers have shared with me during our travels:)
       84. (From G.) One thing that's been on my heart off & on for some time is the balance between teaching & childcare. Some years ago my wife & I worked temporarily as Area Shepherds before moving over to make room for people coming back from the East. At this point I felt called to become a teacher. At the time, it seemed to be almost like a life-saver for me & gave me a new start. Also, the School Vision Letters were just coming out & the need was obvious.
       85. As the years passed by (five so far), the Lord kept calling me to continue to teach, & any hopes of change or "promotion" (whether conscious or unconscious) seemed further & further away. I have experienced a lot of joy, fun & challenge in teaching, but also negative feelings of being "stuck with a group," doing what often seemed like "inferior" work.
       86. I've battled with many comparing trials toward those who are called to shepherd, work on Teamworks, attend Delegates Meetings, etc. Also I have worked alongside many in childcare who later became Shepherds & were put into more seemingly trusted positions of responsibility, or sent to the EE front lines, "promoted" to Teen Shepherds & so on. My wife is presently a Teamworker, while I remain in childcare helping to teach & provide a (much needed) father figure for some of our children whose fathers aren't with them. In spite of the importance of my job, I still feel as if these things have taken a certain toll on my self-esteem or feeling of self-worth, to the point of almost giving up a few months ago. My Shepherds have faithfully shepherded me through these things, & the Lord's shown me many lessons on pride, envy, comparing & so on.
       87. But the reason I'm writing you all this is--can we get more mileage out of this situation? Would upcoming Senior Teens & YA boys want to become like me?--A male teacher that goes to childcare or Teachers Meetings with mainly women?--Who mainly work under Home-Moms, some of whom are excellent teachers, while others know less about the teaching side of childcare? Would YA boys be comfortable in forsaking the seemingly more trusted ministries in the Family to stay home with the kids? I'm wondering if Family education may lose potential upcoming teachers, as YA boys I've talked to have expressed many of these feelings.
       88. I feel the mothers will always be miles ahead of us men in childcare for obvious reasons. Therefore, would it be an idea to separate childcare & teaching?--To challenge upcoming male adults that they can become recognised teachers & educators of our younger generation. (Maria: Yes, absolutely. I agree!) That it may not mean being "stuck in a group" or heavily involved in the more "motherly" side of childcare.
       89. Could we more clearly separate teaching from the overall childcare work? Could this in turn provide more positions of recognition &/or influence for Young Adults that feel called to teach but are afraid to be "stuck in a group," & generate more boys in childcare as teachers (not necessarily childcare workers), plus lift the standard of teaching & Ministry Training?--To challenge some of these smart & capable YAs to become educators of our children? (Maria: Very needed! Yes!)--To help them to realise that education is a field of its own, where they can even hold positions of influence on a leadership level one day?--A ministry with a "future," & not merely a springboard to being "promoted" into pioneering, shepherding or something else?
       90. I know teaching is pretty much a profession all its own in the System. It's quite recognised & seems to be equally represented by men & women at all levels. The other night in a meeting someone accidentally put a man's name under the slot for a Childcare Area Shepherd, & everyone laughed. (Maria: So sad! Our men are needed in childcare!) I believe this little incident somewhat illustrates my feelings. I'm also concerned about what message this sends to our Senior Teens & YAs.
       91. Although my personal battles with pride, unyieldedness & comparing probably can be felt in what I'm writing, I still wanted to pose these questions. Could there be something to this? Do many others feel this way? GBY & thank you so much for all you do for us. I really love you!
       Much love, G.

       Mama's Reply to G., 2/94:
Dear G.,
       92. God bless you! I love you, & want to tell you how proud I am of you for sticking to your calling as a teacher. One of your Shepherds passed on to me a letter you had recently written. I am very thankful that you have expressed your feelings about the situation with male teachers, which after checking further into it, seems to be quite widespread. Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention. We want to try to change people's perception of childcare & teaching as just being a woman's job, & we'll be working on this. So please pray that the Family will be willing & able to change their attitudes & perceptions in this respect.
       93. Thank you again for your very good input. Please continue to feel free to share any further observations or suggestions that you may have on this subject.
       94. You sound like a wonderful, concerned teacher. I wish I had had you for mine! Keep up the good work. You're in the most important job there is!
       Love, Mama

* * *

YA Comments on Teen Marriages!
From G. & M., 2/94
Dear Mama Maria,
       95. God bless you! We really love you, & pray for you daily. We are so thankful for all you do for us, & the love the Lord gives you for us. We can't repay, but pray we'll live up to all that you've poured into us.
       96. We are YAs & are married, & have two children. We are both presently on the NAS TW shepherding the YAs & teens. We are responding to the point you made about having the Homes pray & hear from the Lord about whether a teen couple in their Home should get mated, before they are mated.
       97. It is true what you shared, that it is a big step to take, & we can sure see how it could be a real help to have the Lord's confirmation in the mouths of two or three witnesses. When we got married it was a big help to have prayed about it & gotten specific word from the Lord, confirming it in our lives.
       98. We were wondering, if such a policy was implemented, would it also apply to adults who want to get together? If the policy was only for teens, we wondered whether it might be interpreted by some that teens can't hear from the Lord as well as adults can, if no explanation was given.
       99. Another thing is that many of the teens here were quite discouraged by hearing of a lot of YA marriages that didn't work out. In one country recently, the teens had the slogan circulating, "Never Get Married."
       100. We've always tried to encourage these teens about all the successes (of which there are many) which they haven't heard about. But a lot of teens are a bit cynical about marriage & don't want to get married, so we don't know if a policy like this could possibly make them even more uninspired about it.
       101. When we got married, a lot of prayer went into it. But it would have been kind of embarrassing to have the Home itself pray about it (although we definitely would have been willing to let them).
       102. Another related point, which we must confess has bothered us as well, is that a lot of Family couples are breaking up nowadays because they are bored with each other. Of course, it does go deeper than that, but in some cases, it isn't too much deeper, & certainly isn't anything like the reasons of hitting, yelling, etc., that you spell out in the Letter "Separations." It just seems too easy to get separated, to the point it is getting harder to find teens who have married parents. This has also helped add to the cynicism that we have found about marriage amongst many teens. We realise in all this we don't necessarily have a full picture, but these are a few things we've noticed.
       103. Also, a lot of teens see "Make It Work" as almost the same thing as marriage, so when it doesn't work out, it is almost seen as a marriage failure. This of course defeats a lot of the purpose of just getting to know each other so there aren't so many marriage failures. Therefore we were wondering about the possibility of changing the name back to "going steady," to clarify that it isn't necessarily something that has to be permanent.
       104. Another suggestion is to have more testimonies & lessons from marriages that are working, as well as why some didn't work out, the mistakes & pitfalls, & maybe how they could have been better shepherded, as a lot of Shepherds on the field don't have a clue where to begin (although I must admit it is all in the Word).
       105. There is one other thing we weren't too sure it was our place to comment on, but since we were writing about marriage anyway, we just got the faith to share it. It's about something we read regarding YAs working side by side with adults. It was mentioned that a lot of YAs only have "textbook training," & it might be hard to have them shepherding adults.
       106. In our area, some adults definitely do go through trials about YA Shepherds, but from our experience, many (if not most) don't mind even coming & asking for personal time, etc. We have even met adults who prefer it.
       107. Also, it seems that a lot of YAs don't just have "textbook training" here. We don't know if maybe the person who said this was generalising about the YAs a bit more than necessary, because the YA group can be quite varied. Maybe the person who made this statement may not have seen many YAs who have already gained some experience.
       108. We pray this isn't too long, or a waste of your time. We really love you & need you so much! Thank you so much for your concern for us, always trying to make the Family a better place of service!
       Much Love, G. & M.

       Mama's Reply to YA Couple, 4/94:
Dear G. & M.,
       109. God bless you. I love you!--And am so thankful for you dedicated young people who are giving your lives in service to the Lord & His Family. Thank you very much for your letter with your good questions on marriage. I'm certainly glad that you feel free to ask questions when you don't know the answers.
       110. Also, I appreciated your prayerful suggestions, & I hope we will be able to pass some of these on. You will be happy to know that we are working on compiling the excellent testimonies from YAs on their marriages that have been sent in recently--including yours--& we hope to be able to publish them, God willing. If you feel that you could contribute another testimony, perhaps more along the lines of how your marriage has progressed since you got together--any lessons, reactions, or observations--we'd be very happy to have your comments, as it could be a help for others to hear positive testimonies from YA marriages which are happy & fruitful.
       111. Thank you for requesting a clarification as to whether only YAs should ask for special prayer as a confirmation to their marriage or whether the adults should do it as well. I think it would be wonderful if all of our folks who are seriously considering getting together would seek the Lord for His confirmation & stamp of approval by having some or all of the members of their Home unite in a time of prayer & hearing from the Lord together. Actually, I was in no way inferring that you YAs cannot hear from the Lord yourselves. However, "in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established." (Pro.24:6b; 15:22)
       112. Certainly in such a serious decision it seems like both parties would welcome all the counsel they can get. In fact, being able to unite in our Homes & hear from the Lord for each other is a very beautiful experience, & a very special privilege to think that we love each other this much, & that the Lord loves us so much that He is willing to speak to us with His precious Words of encouragement & instruction.
       113. I'm sorry to hear that there seem to be Family couples who are breaking up because of boredom with each other. It certainly seems we have enough excitement in the Lord's Work that even if they decide they're not excited with each other, they should be able to stick together for the sake of the Work & their children, & be excited together because of these very important reasons.
       114. This is what gives real true excitement--the excitement of the Spirit. It's true that the excitement of the flesh may not last forever, & couples do often tend to get familiar with each other as time goes on. But perhaps the Lord allows that so they won't be totally wrapped up in each other but they'll be more outgoing toward others & toward His Work. This is where excitement can be lasting & where the Lord wants our attentions to be placed, & excitement in seeing souls saved & doing His Work should never fade or wane.
       115. But if a couple is bored with each other, they should discuss it & see where the trouble is. Maybe they aren't excited enough about the Lord's Work & working together to see things happen for Him. If a marriage lacks only excitement, I don't think that this alone should be grounds for separation, since with a little work & prayer it should be able to be remedied. However, most of the separations that I've known about were for reasons that were much more serious than just being bored with each other. Perhaps in some cases boredom may seem like the reason people are splitting up, but upon deeper investigation one might find that there are more complicated reasons.
       116. I have no objection to our folks calling our young people's probationary period "going steady." Whatever will work the best & bear the best fruit, we have no objection to using, & we're always open to change to help improve things.
       117. Thanks for your reaction to the statement that most of our older adults might be hesitant to receive counsel from those younger than themselves, particularly from the YAs, because they have only had "textbook" training. You suggested that perhaps the person who expressed this opinion did not realise that there are YAs who have had hands-on experience & not just "textbook training." Your assessment of this situation is certainly encouraging, if this is indeed the case. Praise the Lord!
       118. God bless you! You sound like a very precious & dedicated leadership team. Please keep up the good work for Jesus & don't get weary in well doing. It's a difficult job, but He has a great reward if you stay faithful. Our love & prayers are with you.
       Love, Mama

* * *

Mama's Letter to Mark Elder!
       (The following is a letter written to a young man, Mark Elder, who left the Family two years ago at the age of 19. His letter, to which Mama is responding, will be published in an upcoming Hope mag.)

To our dear son in the Lord, Mark, July 1994
       119. God bless you! I love you! After receiving a copy of the letter that you wrote your loved ones in Peru, relating your long, hard experiences after leaving the Family two years ago, I felt burdened to write you. I am so glad you wanted to write in order to share your testimony in the hopes that it would speak loudly to our other young people.
       120. More than anything you've ever done to positively influence your peers, this one letter that you have written could have the greatest effect & will make everything you have suffered worthwhile. Even if you are not presently a good role model within the Family, you can still be an example to our teens from outside the Family as to what not to do. Even though you did not stay within God's highest Will, you can still do a very important work for Him in warning & "instructing those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the Truth."--2Tim.2:25.
       121. In your letter you say to them, "I could say so much more that would convince you that it is not worth it to do what I did." Will you say it? Will you take up this challenge that God is giving you?--This second bus of opportunity? You missed the first one but there is still another. I think the Lord has great things for your life, & wants to use you right where you are in greater ways than you have imagined.--By writing your testimony & experiences, by witnessing to your workmates, by sharing the Word, etc.
       122. I cried as I read your letter, & I prayed for you, that God would reach down & help you to see how much He--& we, your Family--still love you, our wayward son, our prodigal son. You know, Mark, we've all been prodigals at some time or another. We've all at some time strayed far away from the Father's house, if not in body, at least in spirit, & we've all had to eat husks & find them unsatisfying & then return to our Father, Who, seeing us afar off has run to greet us, with arms outstretched. He has already been looking for us. He is expecting us to learn our lessons & come back. He waits for us in Love until we find that nothing else satisfies & we turn toward Him, & then He can reach out & heal us with His wonderful touch. Like that little chorus:

              He touched me, oh, He touched me,
       And, oh, the joy that floods my soul.
       Something happened & now I know,
       He touched me & made me whole.

       123. I believe that in your letter you have said in spirit, "I will arise & go to my Father."--But you just didn't realise the love & forgiveness with which the Lord--& we--would greet you, nor the joy that He--& we--would feel at your return. You probably felt like all hope was lost & there was no way of getting back. You felt that you had sinned beyond remedy, & that there was no further place of service for you in His Kingdom.
       124. You have probably lived under great condemnation for turning your back on God's Work & His Family, on the wonderful calling that you had as a special Endtime soldier in His Army, knowing that you had forsaken your birthright for a mess of pottage. You have felt sad remorse over those who were stumbled when you didn't value your place.
       125. You have probably cried so many tears over lost opportunities & felt you couldn't get through to God because you had failed Him & turned your back on Him. You felt like you were lost & groping & never able to find the way home. But when you take just that one step for Jesus, He'll take two for you.
       126. He's been there all the time, Mark, even when you couldn't feel Him, or couldn't hear Him. He's been there waiting patiently while you learned through bitter experience. He's been a disappointed Father weeping, weeping for you, His son (as has been your dear natural father who has been heartbroken over you & has never ceased to pray for you), pained that you had to do it this way, but caring for you & guiding your steps down the sharp & stony pathway.
       127. He still loves you, Mark, & He has never let you go. You're still attached. You've never been disconnected. You've just been on a long leash getting tangled up, but not detached. However, you couldn't feel the tug of the Master's hand because your line was so long & it had gotten all wound up around rocks & trees & barriers, & you couldn't untangle it. But the Father can & He is waiting on you to call on Him for His help.
       128. When praying for you, the Lord reminded me of this passage from "The Helmet" (ML#1058) that Dad wrote a number of years ago, & which I'm sure you will be able to find relatable, especially since you too are now in the armed forces:

       "When we're saved He implants a bit of Himself, His Spirit & His Love & His Spirit helpers, His controllers in our minds & hearts to guide & direct & protect & keep us in control, guided by His direct Will & leadings. Once we put that helmet on we are forever His children, & we can never take it off no matter how hard we try, & some have tried.
       "Some have backslidden but found they couldn't even stop witnessing. When I landed in the Army I couldn't stop witnessing. I couldn't deny my faith. That helmet was permanently attached. That electrode of God's guidance was buried in my brain, & my primary reactions were always to defend the faith & give God's answers no matter even if I was out of God's Will myself, rebelling against His service & trying to take off the helmet of His Salvation & don the uniform of the U.S. Army.
       "Once you're really saved, the helmet is there to stay. And everybody you come in contact with is going to see it & know you're different. Even if you've backslidden & forsaken the field & your plow, you're still saved & one of God's children. You can't hide it, you can't deny it.
       "God will not be frustrated. His plan is not going to fail. Though God may let you go back & learn bitter lessons through your backsliding, sooner or later you're also going to learn the benefits, that backsliding is a hell of a hole, & the System is a Hell hole & pit. You are going to get sick of the vomit & the husks & the mire & mud of the System & want to run back to the Father's house just as fast as you can go. Even though your feet were stuck in the mud of the pit, your head was stuck in the helmet of Heaven. And obviously, in the case of the Prodigal Son, the helmet's pull proved stronger.
       "It's not worth the price of dying for nothing & in rebellion & in your backslidden condition. If you'll even start God's way & turn toward Him, He'll be out there waiting for you & will receive you with open arms of Love & a new garment of righteousness, a beautiful new golden ring of reward that you don't even deserve. And a feast of thanksgiving & celebration.
       "Bless them & help them to return, Lord. It's not too late for some of them to come back home & serve faithfully on the farm again, & help with the work & the crop & share the blessing, if they'll come now.
       "Help them to forsake their pride & abandon their selfishness & evil ways & come back to the Father's house & fruitful service in the fields for Him. In Jesus' name, amen."

       129. There's hope, Mark! He knoweth the way that you take, & when He has tried you, you shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10.) The way has been hard, but it has been part of His training course for you, & one which He knew you needed to take. But remember what He says?--"The God of all grace, Who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."--1Pet.5:10.
       130. It's a hard road, but if you can take it & bravely face it & learn from it & see what God is doing in your life to strengthen you & humble you & mature you & make you dependent on Him & yielded to His Will in your life, it can be a wonderful victory instead of a defeat. If you can see His Romans 8:28 in what has transpired & start seeing the silver lining of the clouds & feeling His Love instead of the Devil's condemnation, knowing His forgiveness instead of the Devil's guilt, you can once again find great joy in your Salvation, as you rise from remorse & self-pity & look upon the fields so white to harvest, & know that the Lord wants you, who have been given so much, to do your part in the reaping.
       131. You've looked around you at the emptiness, the coldness, the fear, the loneliness, the desperation. You have the answers for others. Will you give them? Will you stand up & be counted? Will you put on the whole armour of God & fight His battles? You're still His son, you're still His child, you're still part of His great Family, & you're still part of us.--And your mission is to share Jesus with others. Will you do it? Can you comfort others with the comfort wherewith you are comforted?
       132. It sounds like you don't have much free time, but there is always something you can do to witness, even if only to those you work with. If you want to report & tithe & witness, you can be a TRF Supporter & receive new WS mailings regularly, plus we could try to make arrangements for you to fellowship with the Homes nearest you. Incidentally, many of the DO Members & TSers are in contact now, unlike when you left. You can also use the Posters & Tapes to witness, help support the Family, & write more of your testimony. The possibilities are exciting! The potential is limitless! God can use you as much as you want to be used.
       133. You can witness right where you are, & maybe start a Catacomb Ministry! We have catacombers in the U.S. Navy in Japan, & also in the past there was quite an active Catacomb Home aboard the 6th Fleet! These Navy Catacombers sailed around the Mediterranean & fellowshipped with the Family when they docked in Spain, Italy & Greece. Many of them tithed or helped the Family financially, as well as witnessed up a storm! A number of these Catacombers later joined full-time after they got out of the service & are still in the Family. So the U.S. Navy could prove to be fertile ground for witnessing & winning others to the Lord & as Catacombers.
       134. Please pray about this & write us, letting us know any other ideas of ministries you could have, & we can pray for you & put you in touch with the Family, wherever you are, who will help you all they can, God willing.
       135. Mark, here are some encouraging verses for you which I have paraphrased slightly, because the Lord wants to make it personal for you:

       "For I, the Lord thy God, am gracious & merciful & will not turn away My face from you, if you return unto Me. For a small moment have I forsaken you, but with great mercies will I gather you. In a little wrath I have hidden My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on you. If thou wilt forsake thine own way & thine own thoughts & return unto the Lord, I will have mercy upon you & I will abundantly pardon. I will not cause My anger to fall upon you, for I am merciful. I will love you freely, for My anger is turned away from you. Therefore also now, turn ye even to Me with all your heart, for I am gracious & merciful, slow to anger & of great kindness, & I will have mercy upon you & ye shall be as though I had not cast thee off; for I am the Lord thy God & will hear thee." (2Chr.30:9; Isa.54:7,8; 55:7; Jer.3:12; Hos.14:4; Joel 2:12,13; Zech.10:6.)

       136. Also, Mark, I'd like to share with you excerpts of various prophecies which some of our Family Members received recently for a young man in their Home who had some of the same problems of pride & rebelliousness & independence. The reason I am sharing these with you is to show you that no matter how far we stray & how badly we hurt Him & others & ourselves, He continues to love & care for us & never leaves nor forsakes us. I pray these will be an encouragement to you.

       137. "Behold, he is on My radar & I shall never leave him. Cast your burden upon the Lord & He shall sustain you. Cast this burden upon Me. Cast this young man upon Me & I will sustain him. And the days shall come when he shall be in the belly of the whale, like Jonah, & he shall cry out to Me. He shall cry with his whole heart & he shall say, 'Behold, salvation is of the Lord!'
       138. "I shall never lose him, he is in My hands forever. Behold, this is for a time, this is but an infinitesimal little speck of time. But he must go through it, he must go through this knothole. I can only use broken men & women, no others will do. There are no exceptions to this law of Mine. Ye have done what ye could. Cast this burden upon Me & I will sustain him; & he shall cry unto Me in that day, & it will be a mighty awakening. These are lessons of My Love for him. I love him dearly. Behold, now ye mourn, but ye shall rejoice."
* * *

       139. "For he is like the prodigal son which saith, 'Give me mine inheritance that I may launch out, for it is my right & I would have it now.' He would have all that is his in one instant to spend as he would like, but he will find that it is husks between his teeth, & his teeth will be set on edge as he tries to devour those things which are not of Me.
       140. "How much better it would be if he would learn from the Word, from what I have said, from the example & the counsel of others. But he will not. He will say, 'I would learn it myself, I would try it myself.' For he will not accept this burden of responsibility. He will not accept the burden of the duty that I have laid on him. But this is true love: To take willingly the yoke that I have put upon him. This is even true freedom, for My yoke is easy & My burden is light. But it is in fighting this yoke that he has such unhappiness & such misery & such darkness.
       141. "By this shall a young man cleanse his way, by taking heed thereto according to My Word. For he that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out, but I will sustain him through all things. And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that He which hath begun a good work in this young man shall perform it unto the end. For foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the school of hard knocks shall drive it far from him.
       142. "He would set his sights on adventure & on romance, knowing not that these are fantasies. His mind is as the mind of the immature, the untested, the untried, of the one who rejoices before putting on his armour & boasts of what he could do. His heart is lifted up in pride, but lo, it shall be brought low. For every high place shall be brought low. And all those that would exalt themselves in their own eyes shall be brought low. For the Lord God dwells only with those that are of a humble & contrite spirit. These He doth love & doth seek to live with, but the proud shall be left with the husks & the ashes of their own ambitions.
       143. "Be ye not afraid, for shall I not care for Mine Own? And indeed he is Mine Own, & I will care for him & I will be with him whithersoever he goeth. My hand shall be upon him & I will cause him to prosper. For he shall yield to Me & he shall come to Me, & shall grow & become the man that I would make him to be. Therefore, be ye not dismayed, for it is but a time & but a testing. All these things are necessary, but be ye not disheartened. For he must learn even as each of you have learned, for he shall grow through experience.
       144. "This one shall pass through the Valley of Baca, but from it shall come strength. Trust Me, he is in My hands, & I will lead & care, & I will work in his heart to bring about My Will in his life. But ye must pray. He is heavily attacked & he needs your prayers. Reach out, touch him, help him."
* * *

       145. "I love thee as a Father, therefore I chasten thee, for I would draw thee closer to Me. I will accomplish My purpose in thy life. I wish to gentle thee, as one gentleth a horse, & to teach thee My ways in a gentle way. But if thou wilt not respond, I will use heavier measures to bring about My purpose. The choice is thine. I will accomplish My Will. Whatever thou wilt choose, I will change thee & I will remold thee. If thou shouldst seek the pleasures of sin for a season, thou wilt not receive what thou wilt. For only in seeking My Will wilt thou be blest. If thou couldst only see the things which I have in store for thee, & the blessings that I would bless thee with, if thou wouldst believe! But if thou shouldst harden thy heart, My hand will become heavy on thee, because I love thee, & I will draw thee closer to My bosom.
       146. "Thou hast a choice--whether thou wilt break quickly & easily, or whether it will be hard & long. Thou must choose, for a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. Therefore choose which way I will break thee. But know that I love thee, & I would love to gentle thee, but the decision is thine. I pray that thou wilt make the right choice, for I have prayed for thee. While Satan hath desired to sift thee as wheat, I have prayed that thy faith fail not. Hang on to Me & seek My face & thou shalt win. For there is no other way, there are no other pleasures, there is no other fun. All of it is vanity & all of it is husks. Follow Me & thou shalt have more than thine heart can desire & more than thou canst imagine. Follow Me, I say."
       147. (I had a little vision of two roads. One was very long & hard & arduous with lots of scraggly trees & roots along the road; & the other one was short with sunshine, & it seemed like there was just so much joy on that road. But the funny thing was that they ended at the same place--except that one was very long & went way around in a circle, almost 10 times as long as the other, but they ended at the same place.)

       148. Mark, one thing that is very helpful for the teens is when they hear examples of how bad the System can really be. For example, how you said that you get five hours of sleep a night & you get yelled at all the time in the Navy. In your next letters will you try to include more such specific examples? Also, you could specifically talk about what other backsliders are going through.
       149. One of our young men, Jo, who was in Brazil for years, later backslid from a Home in Europe. After a taste of the System, he recently came back to the Family & wrote his testimony of being in the System. One vivid example of the selfishness & lack of compassion in the System that he wrote about was his first day on the job when he & his work mates went for lunch. For some reason Jo hadn't brought any money for his lunch with him, & upon hearing this the other guys told him, "Well, you can just wait here while we eat," leaving him to sit in the hot truck while they went in & bought lunch for themselves, never offering to buy him lunch or share at all, & even flatly refusing to loan him money when he asked if he could borrow enough for lunch, promising to pay them back the next day.
       150. Well, we realise that not everybody in the System is like this, but there are enough cases of it to make it really add up & to make you feel like running right back to the Family if you ever get out of there.
       151. In your next letter could you please tell us what literature you have with you? What Books, etc.? Thanks. Dad & I love you, Mark, & are praying for you.

       152. P.S. Dad read your letter as well, & at the end he wrote: "God bless you! Thank you!--We love you!--While there's Life there's Hope!--And Jesus never fails!--He got me out of the Army!--Just as bad!"

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family


Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family