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--Don't Give Up On'm!--While There's Life, There's Hope!
--By Maria\qr Maria #230 DO 2942 9/92

       1. I believe that some of our parents in the System, our children's grandparents, could possibly have a difficult time grasping the spiritual principles involved if & when we have to ask them to take in their grandchildren who aren't making it in the Family & wish to do something besides serve the Lord. Some of these kids who leave us are probably going to wind up being quite a handful. If they rebelled against authority when they were with us, then it's likely they will do the same with anyone who attempts to set down reasonable rules & guidelines for their behaviour. Another problem is that for years we've been telling these grandparents all about our wonderful way of life--that it's the best & it produces the best children--so it's too bad that we now have to admit that some of our children don't want to stick with it.
       2. When any of our teens seriously want to leave the Family, even though we can't change the situation, I think we should look at it differently than we have previously. Instead of looking at it as the end of the World & a terrible tragedy, & the most awful thing that could ever happen to them, perhaps we should try to look at it as something that the Lord has allowed, & certainly something that He will use in their lives, to get through to them & teach them the lessons they need to learn.
       3. Because of our emotional involvement, we may have a hard time relating to the fact that in most churches & denominations, very few missionaries' children remain forever with their parents on the mission field. At some time or another, most of them go back to their home country, & they often choose to pursue different careers entirely. In fact, in the System there are very few children of missionaries who become missionaries themselves. We can be thankful that so many of ours have chosen to go all the way with the Lord, God bless them! But when we need to ask grandparents to take in a grandchild who doesn't want to stay in the Family, most of them will understand & realise that, of course, not all children of missionaries desire to become missionaries themselves.
       4. We may feel sorry for these grandparents who are being asked to take in our wayward, rebellious progeny, but don't forget that there are literally millions of grandparents in the U.S. & other countries who have been compelled to care for the children of their children, frequently because their children are either unfit or incapable of parenting, because they are addicted to drugs, are involved with crime, are afflicted with AIDS, are abusive or involved in custody battles, are in prison, etc.--And such children are much worse off than ours! Our children's problems would be considered small by comparison. So I feel we need to get away from our apologetic, negative attitude about how bad our departing teens are! Compared to a very high percentage of the System's kids, most of ours are angels!
       5. But regardless of how good or bad they are, if they don't want to stay in the Family, & they want to pursue some other course, most grandparents will probably understand this. We can simply explain to them, "Junior has now reached the age where he is old enough to make his own decision about what kind of career he wants to pursue. And rather than serve the Lord & dedicate his life to being a missionary like us, his parents, he has decided to go his own way & try something else. So he now wants to get a college education"--or whatever it is he wants to do. "Growing up in the Family has been a tremendous plus for him, but it's a sacrificial life & what we believe is a `high calling of God,' something that each individual has to choose for themselves. So now dear Junior here wants to do something else, to explore some different options, & we don't want to hold him back from making his own choices.
       6. "Of course, we're disappointed & sorry that he doesn't want to serve the Lord with us as a missionary, but he wants to see for himself what the World has to offer, to get a taste of what's out there & more or less `journey to a far country' to investigate other possibilities." I think if we present it sort of as a natural course of events, something that many young people go through, particularly in the System, most of our parents & relatives would probably understand this.

System Teens Always Leave Home!
       7. The fact of the matter is that a lot of teens in Western countries make the decision at age 17 or 18 to leave home. Most teens stay home with their parents at least until they're through high school at the age of 17 or 18, but after that, the majority of them want to leave home & try their wings. At that age System kids also have to decide what career they want to pursue, by either getting a job or going to college to study in a particular field.
       8. Most kids in the System don't stay permanently with their parents & follow the same life's work their parents did. Of course, with the worldwide recession taking place right now, I imagine a lot more young people are staying at home until a later age, but from age 16 to 18 I'm sure a good many of them still leave home either just to live in their own place, go to college, or somehow strike out on their own.
       9. Of course, the great difference between us & the System is that we offer our kids something that's really worth sticking with.--Which is why so many of our teens & young people choose to remain in the Family, not just to keep from "rocking the boat" or to please their parents, but to please the Lord! In fact, most of our young people are not content to just maintain the status quo in the Family, but are earnestly giving their all to make it a better place, as well as to promote our message & wonderful way of life to others.
       10. So the point I'm making is that our relatives in the System should be able to relate to teens who choose to go their own way, rebel against their parents & leave home, since that's what most System teens are expected to do. But I'm not saying that this is what we expect our teens to do, since most of them genuinely love the Lord & are dedicated to serving Him with us, God bless them!

Admitting Our Teens Face a Choice
       11. In the past, I believe we have in some ways resisted even admitting to ourselves that a choice exists that each of our teens has to make for themselves. We haven't even wanted to face the fact that some of them might want to do something other than serve the Lord in the Family & be missionaries. I think that some Family Members have probably done everything possible to avoid talking about really giving them a choice.
       12. We've done our best to try to hang on to them, even to the point of trying to persuade some of them to stay with us long after it was obvious that their heart was not in the Family & that everyone would be better off if they were elsewhere. It's just such a heartbreak to see them leave the Lord's service, knowing what they are giving up & what they are going to have to go through, I think we've felt that if we didn't even mention that there was any alternative to the Family, maybe they wouldn't even think of it. At least we hoped they wouldn't.
       13. But now we've been more or less forced by circumstances & by the decisions of teens who have left to bring the choices more out in the open. For years we've tried to show our Family teens that they've personally got to choose to commit themselves to the Lord, & we've challenged them to, "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve! If God be God, serve Him; if Baal be god, serve him!"--Josh.24:15; 1Kg. 18:21. But I think that now we've got to make it clearer than ever to them that if they're not really intent on serving Jesus & living for Him, then there are alternatives to being in the Family, & we'll do what we can to place them somewhere in the System if that's what's really in their hearts.
       14. Of course, there are a lot of pluses for our kids staying in the Family & serving God with us. Also, most of them are better grounded in the Word now than they used to be, they're better trained, & many of them are already working in ministries that they really love & enjoy. They're also more able to get out in the World & mingle with people, helping & healing those in need. In doing this, when faced with the desperate needs of their peers in the World, as well as the spiritual darkness, evil & utter selfishness of the System, they are also able to see by contrast what a wonderful life they have & how blessed they really are in the Family.
       15. But on the other hand, there is a pretty strong pull toward the System as more teen backsliders are out there taunting & tempting our teens to follow them &, as they say, "get out of the restricted confines of this horrible mind-controlled group where you can't do your own thing!" Some of the more vocal teen backsliders have fallen in with our most bitter enemies from the "anti-cult" crowd, & they'll try all sorts of ploys to try to get others to leave. Of course, one of their favourite lines is, "Why stay in the Family where you have to endure all kinds of rules & restrictions, & possibly even persecution from the System, when you could be out here with us, living really free!" Their idea seems to be that it's better to "enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, than suffer affliction with the people of God."--Just the opposite of what the Bible says! (Heb.11:25.)
       16. So the choice is very clear-cut & it's becoming more & more a definite decision that each of our kids is faced with like never before. Previously, some of our kids haven't so much chosen to stay, but they were just here & they stayed because this was home, this was all they knew. Some hadn't yet really made a definite decision & commitment that the Family was "it" for them, the greatest vocation they could possibly choose. Some have probably sort of felt, "Well, this is home, & besides, where else could I go? So I guess I might as well stick it out."
       17. For some of those uncommitted teens, the only definite decision they made about their life was when they decided to leave the Family. But now it looks like the Lord is laying before all of our teens the definite choice between whether they really want to make a total, 100% commitment to serve Him & a definite decision to stay in the Family, or whether they want to make a definite decision to leave because they no longer want to follow the Lord or His call in their life.

God's Challenge to Commitment!
       18. More of our teens are now reaching the age where they can leave if they so choose, or they can decide to really stick with serving the Lord with us. They have had a lot of Word & training, so they should be able to make the decision very responsibly. They know what the Family is all about & what is involved in serving the Lord, & a lot of them also have a pretty good idea of what the System is all about & what is involved in being in the System, & they are being required to make a decision.
       19. You can see why the Lord is now bringing them to this crossroads. After all, all of us had to make a very similar definite decision to leave the System & join the Family! So this is nothing new, God has always challenged His people to "choose ye this day whom ye will serve!" Like Dad has always said, the Lord has no grandchildren; each generation has to decide for themselves to either serve God or to serve Mammon, self & the System. (Mat.6:24.)
       20. At some point in his or her life for the Lord, everyone has to make this choice. In a sense, most of our children never even had to really make a decision to receive the Lord, it was just part of their life; that's the way things were & that's what happened, & they did it as a matter of course. It was something that they were asked & expected to do as small children in the Family. There wasn't a lot of decision-making going on there; they didn't have a huge battle in saying "yes" to the Lord for Salvation, like many of our adults had when they were presented with Salvation before they joined the Family.
       21. So it seems that the Lord is requiring our older teens to make their big decision for Him now, at least those who have not already committed themselves to Him. Even though most of them have never fully experienced life in the System, they're realising that if that's what they want, they can have it. But if they want to serve God with us, then they're having to forsake any desires or ideas of trying it out, of living for themselves, of having the independence that the World offers, etc.
       22. But even more than a forsaking-all like most of us went through, they are being required to embrace all--embrace the Family & the Lord's ways wholeheartedly with no reservations, to deny themselves & take up the cross & come & follow Jesus wholeheartedly, putting their hands to the plow of His service with no turning back. Of course, this is nothing new, there are oodles of Scriptures that show that these have always been the Lord's requirements for genuine discipleship, & it's something we've been emphasising to our teens for years & years. (See Luk.9:23-24,58-62; 14:26-33, etc.) They're all faced with a decision to join the Family wholeheartedly, unreservedly & with total commitment. Because until they make that wholehearted, unreserved decision to commit themselves for the rest of their lives, as a personal decision that is totally their own, between themselves & the Lord, they'll never have the strength or inspiration that the Lord wants to give them.
       23. Our power to live our lives for the Lord comes from presenting our bodies "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God," & from our minds being transformed, so that we can "prove what is that good & acceptable & perfect Will of God."--Rom.12:1,2. It comes from setting our face like a flint & not looking either to the left or the right, & from keeping our minds stayed on Him.--Isa.50:7, 26:3. It's when we give our all to Jesus, taking up our cross & dying daily for Him, that His life & power are manifested in & through us. "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me! Not by [EDITED: "your"] might, nor by [EDITED: "your"] power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord!"--Gal.2:20; Zech.4:6.
       24. For our kids it's a decision similar to the one young people in the World make when they decide what career they're going to go into for the rest of their lives, except for our kids it's a much more thrilling career & a much more important decision.
       25. Of course, we hope & pray that they will commit their lives to serving Jesus with us in the Family. We know that the Lord will greatly reward those who have given their all to Him in this great Endtime Work, & that they will one day receive a glorious "prize" & eternal glory for sticking to the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus & keeping their hand on the plow He called them to. God is proud of His children who are willing to forsake all for Him, who set their hearts & affections on things above, declaring plainly that they are strangers & pilgrims in this World, seeking a better country, that is, an heavenly. He is not ashamed to be called their God, & will honour & reward them before all Heaven, praise the Lord!

* * *

How to Take Our Teens Leaving
       26. (A few days later:) If some of our teens choose to leave the Family & go to live with their System grandparents, how will we react? I still think we should continue to do all we can to show our teens what the System's really like, I'm not saying we should change our stand on that. But after we've taught them about the System & shown them what it's like, if they still want to go, then I don't think we should act like it's the absolute end of the World or try to force them to stay.
       27. We heard that Katrina (Watchman's ex-mate) had to talk to her son Romeo on the phone when he wanted to leave, & he said, "Mom, I don't want you to feel bad." And she said, "Well, Honey, of course I'm sad, but I just want you to be happy." God bless her, I felt that probably took superhuman effort. I thought it was pretty miraculous that she was able to say that. But that's what we're going to have to be able to say--to not act like we're forcing them to stay. If we've made our position clear, so clear that they couldn't mistake it, & they definitely decide to leave, then why keep trying to force the issue? Just let'm go!
       28. Our enemies accuse us of keeping our teens by force, but of course they always fail to think how they would act or what they themselves would do if one of their own kids wanted to leave home. They are so hypocritical, they'll never take into consideration the fact that parents never want their kids to leave home! Of course they're going to try to convince them to stay, parents always do. Talk about force, look at the lengths some parents & enemies have gone to with their adult children who have joined us, forcibly kidnapping, imprisoning & deprogramming them!
       29. No matter when their kids go or under what circumstances they go, parents almost always try to keep their kids, with very rare exceptions. Most of our parents tried to hang on to us, even if they sent us off to college for a few years more education. Of course, if you become such a stinker that you are causing havoc in their home, they may act otherwise. But you usually have to be pretty bad for your parents to want to get rid of you. Most of the time they want to hang on. That's just the way parents are; it's natural & normal. And for our Family parents, it's more than just a natural possessiveness of their flesh & blood; it's wanting to hold on to you young people for the sake of the Lord's Work.--And because they know that is the only thing which will make you truly happy.

Trusting the Lord More for Our Backslidden Teens
       30. I think the Lord is showing us that we're going to have to trust Him more to do the work in our kids' hearts. We're going to have to stop trying quite so hard to get them to do His Will. We're going to have to just let Him work in their lives, & we're going to have to try to do our part more through prayer.
       31. Of course, when anyone appears to be backsliding or stepping out of God's Will, it's true that we do have to fight for them in the Spirit. We just need to learn the balance. Yes, we need to fight for them in the Spirit, but once we've done that & they're still determined to leave, then we've just got to let them go. Let the person make their own decision & try to send them off without a big fuss.
       32. I must say, I think Dad has always handled things like that very well--probably much differently than a lot of the rest of the Family has. It would be good to refer to the Letters to see examples of how Dad has treated backsliders. He didn't threaten them when they wanted to leave. While he's come down very hard & severely against backsliders in some of his talks, when individuals have gotten to the point where they have made the decision to leave & they were voicing it, Dad did not hit them over the head & threaten them with Hell & damnation if they left! He said, "Okay, if you want to go, go! If you don't want to stay, we're not going to force you to." Here are some fitting excerpts from Dad's Letter, "Backsliders":

       "It's always been our personal policy, when we found someone wanted to leave, to simply ask them why, maybe answer any questions they might have or correct any misunderstandings which may be responsible, apologise for any of our mistakes which might have caused them to want to leave, but not to discourage them from leaving if they still want to.
       "We personally have never threatened, badgered, scolded, or beaten them over the head with Scriptures to try to scare them into staying.... I've always kept sweet, loving, gentle, kind, sympathetic, & tried to be understanding with these weak ones who want to go home. I have only tried to make sure that the fault was not ours through some misunderstanding, & apologise if it were, so that we would not be to blame.
       "I usually just asked them a few questions, listened to their answers, tried to correct any misunderstandings, apologised for any mistakes, explained any difficulties, rebuked any officer who might have offended them, & told them we were sincerely sorry if it had been anything that was our fault, & tried to be as understanding as possible of their reasons for wanting to go back.
       "If this gentle clarification of the issues at stake did not clear up the matter or change their minds, we would usually have sweet prayer together, kiss, embrace--sometimes cheerfully--and offer to help them call home for the funds to return, & take them to the airport or station with a genuinely loving farewell ... assuring them they would be welcome to return if they ever felt led to do so!
       "This gentle, loving, & understanding treatment of those who want to leave has often paid off, not only in keeping them as a friend instead of antagonising them so that you send them away as an enemy, but it has frequently encouraged them later to return, after having again found out that the Pit was not where it's at!" (ML #140:11-15.)

       33. I think we ought to handle people who want to leave a little more like Dad has always taught, & try to help them on their way, & not make them feel so condemned. The Lord will work in their lives, & He will give them chastisement or judgement if that's what they need. We just need to trust Him more, that He knows what they need most, & He will take care of them.
       34. We usually feel like we're failing if we don't do everything we can up to the very last minute to warn them & cajole them & beg them & plead with them that they've got to stay. We feel compelled to plead with them, "Look how you're throwing your life away!" The Lord does say to warn the wicked of his wicked way, but I think we need to decide when we're going to warn & when we are going to stop warning, & we've got to come to that decision earlier on, & recognise that point, after which we shouldn't say anything else.
       35. After knowing everything we have taught & having had our warnings, if they still decide they want to go, then we should say, "Okay, praise the Lord! You go out there & do the best you can, & we'll pray for you & we'll help you as much as we can. We'll do what we can to help you get off, & we'll try to make some arrangements for you. And we want you to know that we still love you, no matter what. We hope you'll be successful." One thing I'm sure of, they will be a much better testimony to the good fruits of the Family if they do well than if they do not.
       36. And if our backslidden teens wind up becoming "successful" in the System, we shouldn't worry that their worldly attainments will prevent them from ever returning to the Lord's service. Remember, not all of us were criminals or druggies or prostitutes or completely down & out when we became fed up with the World, & the Lord reached out & got ahold of us. Neither have all of our backslidden teens who have returned to the Family been on the scrapheap of society, but some of them had respectable jobs, excelled in their schooling, etc. So no matter what they wind up doing out there, the Lord is able to get through to them & show them that whether they are a success or failure by the System's standards, it's all "husks" in His eyes, & none of it will ever truly satisfy them.
       37. I think we just need to pull back a little bit & find the fine line in how to treat people who wish to leave or are leaving. Yes, we've got to warn them, & it's true, you hate to see them go; you know what they're getting into & it really breaks your heart, especially when it's your own kids. But we're going to have to ask the Lord to help us try to keep our emotions under control.
       38. When we know that they've been sufficiently warned & they know what they're doing, if they still want to go, then we should just send them off with our love & prayers & wishes for their well-being & safekeeping. The Lord can get through to them regardless, whatever their position in life may be after they leave us.--Whether they get into outright evil & corruption as some of our backslidden teens have, or whether they go to school & are "good" boys & girls & start going to church or whatever, as others have. Whatever they wind up doing, we know that "nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His."--2Tim. 2:19. Wherever they may go, He's right there with them, & will keep His hand upon them one way or another.

Keeping the "Big Picture" Regarding Our Backslidden Teens
       39. They're His, & they've been His many years, so you can be assured that He is going to continue to keep His hand upon them. Really, when you look at it from the Lord's point of view, this present time is just a small moment in the eternal scheme of things, & it doesn't warrant us getting so frantic over it. The Lord looks at the whole picture, & the present is only a small part of His picture & what He is doing in their life out there in the System--whether they're into stripping & the underworld, or whether they're making a name for themselves in the business or academic world. Whatever they're doing will somehow work together for good in His plan for that person.
       40. Just look what's ahead of us! Look at the thousand years of the Millennium & the forever of Eternity that are ahead of us! So what happens for a few short years now is not such a major thing that we should collapse & be traumatised over it. When you look at things with a more long-term perspective, you realise this time is going to be over pretty soon!
       41. In a few years when things really start to get tough & the Tribulation comes around, these kids are probably going to be so frightened after a while, they'll see that if they're going to confess their faith at all, they'd just as soon do it with us! Well, who knows how they're going to react, but I think we will just have to try to encourage ourselves by looking at things more positively when someone chooses to leave. Then we're not going to be so frantic & worried about them--especially about kids who are leaving their parents. I realise that it's a very heartbreaking situation, but maybe we can look at it like, "Well, it's not so bad as it seems, because the Lord still has His hand on them."
       42. I don't think the Lord had them be born & brought up in this special Family for 17 or 18 years just to dump them & forget all about them! He is still going to continue to work in their lives no matter how bad they get or how far away from Him they drift. We can take comfort from the marvellous promises found in Psalm 139, which can easily be applied to our backslidden children: "Whither shall they go from Thy Spirit? Or whither shall they flee from Thy presence? If they ascend up into Heaven, Thou art there: if they make their bed in Hell, behold, Thou art there. If they take the wings of the morning, & dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand lead them, & Thy right hand shall hold them. If they say, `Surely the darkness shall cover me,' even the night shall be light about them. Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness & the light are both alike to Thee. For Thou hast possessed their reins: Thou hast covered them in their mother's womb."--Psa.139:7-13. Praise the Lord!
       43. They are His, & even if they believe not, He remaineth faithful, for He cannot deny Himself or His Own! (2Tim.2:13.) And I believe that the Lord is eventually going to bring a lot of them back, & they're going to be part of His plan in the future.

Parents of Backsliders, Take It Easier
       44. I just don't think we as parents should take it so hard. I know I take it hard myself when I hear about any of our teens having problems or leaving the Family. After putting so much into them, & wanting them to be the Lord's Endtime witnesses, it's very difficult to have to give that up. But who knows? Maybe they will be Endtime witnesses! Maybe they'll be out there where they can influence people who we can't reach! And maybe in the End they will stand up for their faith!
       45. We don't even have to wait until the very End to have some of our young people come back, because some of them are already returning after finding that the System has not satisfied & is not what they want. As Dad has frequently said, experience is a very effective teacher, & like the Prodigal Son, many of them have now learned through bitter experience that "riotous living" in the "far country" of the System ultimately results in them landing in a swinepit of some kind, which has made them finally appreciate how good they had it back in the Father's House. Here are a few quotes where Dad describes how difficult this kind of experience can be:

       46. "That's the way some have had to learn. They have to learn the hard way by bitter experience, which is the best way but worst teacher & the hardest, that causes the most pain & the most suffering & the most grief. `For the way of the transgressor is hard.'--Pro.13:15." (ML #1879:26.)
       47. "If we don't learn from warnings by the Lord, if we don't learn to obey His Word when He's giving it to us, etc., He'll sometimes let us learn by bitter experience! That's the toughest school, the school of hard knocks & bitter experience!" (ML #2500:65.)
       48. "God gives us His Word & tells us what He wants us to do, & warns us about what not to do. But if we flatly refuse to learn by listening, He has to let us learn by bitter experience. If we refuse to learn by the shortcut of obedience, then we have to learn by the hard knocks of disobedience, & by His consequent chastisements, spankings & judgements! When we go astray, He is then forced to chasten us with the rod to rescue us from the ruin of our own folly!" (ML #2543:8.)
       (For a short & powerful lesson on this, see "A Wise Man Will Hear," ML #2543, GN 393.)

       49. The Lord is having His way, even with our backslidden children, so why don't we just decide to take it a little easier? The worst thing, of course, is if they go out there & they turn on us & become enemies. That is so sad, & of course we'd certainly rather not have that; but we can't help it if it does happen in some cases. We just have to pray & trust that whatever happens, the Lord is allowing it to happen.
       50. We need to get up & keep going for the Lord & just realise that the Lord is going to work out His plan. Just because some of our kids made the wrong decision when they turned 17 or 18, all is not lost, it's not going to be the end of them. The Lord still has some part in His plan for them, & eventually they're going to be used, one way or another.
       51. We say, "Oh, all those years thrown away, how horrible! How can we stand it?" But I think the Lord is actually much more efficient than that, & He is not going to allow those years to be thrown away & wasted. Right now it may seem like they are, but we're only looking at a few years in time. How inefficient & uneconomical it would be of the Lord to put so many thousands of man hours into a person & then just let them go & never use it again, just throw it down the drain. I don't think the Lord is going to do that. Even the experience they are going to gain during their time in the System, although painful, will no doubt prove to be very valuable as well, & something that the Lord is not going to let go to waste.
       52. Somehow, in some way, He is going to use them in the future. Those kids are going to come back to the Lord & somehow be used by Him. Just as Dad has said, if they're saved--which they are--we're all going to get together in the end, & we're all going to be used in some way. So I don't think we should be quite so panic-stricken or bereaved about their departure.
       53. I'm preaching to myself because I personally have to learn to relax about this topic. It is a very difficult thing for me & very heartbreaking; especially when I think about the mothers & fathers of our teens who have left. But if we would learn to look at it in not quite such a carnal & earthbound way, it should help. We need to remember that it is really a temporal thing & not such a permanent thing. We're looking at it like, "This is permanent. This is done. It's all over & they're gone." But if we can look at it more with the Lord's vision & His overall very great plan that reaches way beyond the boundaries of our tiny present existence, I think we'll be much more at peace about it & much more relaxed & at ease. Looking on our teen backsliders more through the eyes of faith will help us, & it will also help them.
       54. We need to show our kids the Lord's unfailing Love.--No matter what they do or what they decide or how far they go astray, we'll never stop loving them. Just like the Lord, Who says, "I am married to the backslider" &, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."--Jer.3:14; Heb.13:5. What makes us think that we can show a different attitude than that to our children? How can we withhold our love & prayers--even from the defiant & the rebellious--when now is the time when they most need to know that we love them?
       55. This more full-of-faith attitude might even help to frustrate our enemies, as they wouldn't have so much that they can throw at us & accuse us of! Of course, they'll just find something else, ha! But that's okay!--Because they just have to, that's the Lord's plan for them! They're going to find something even if we've scrubbed & polished ourselves so much that we're completely perfect! They would still think up lots & lots of things to throw at us. And when they don't have something concrete to accuse us of, they just make things up! Look at Jesus, Who, though He was perfect, was accused of all manner of evil, including being Satan-possessed! So just "consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied & faint in your minds!"--Heb.12:3. Look at Jesus, Who was in all points tempted like as we are, & in all ways criticised as we are, even though He was perfect, & you won't feel so bad!

While There's Life, There's Hope
       56. I think changing our viewpoint will help us all not to mourn & grieve as though there were no hope, because there is hope! As Dad has always said, "While there's life, there's hope!" So don't give up hope! These kids are saved & they're marked by the Lord as His special children!--Very privileged, special, a very few who, out of all the children who were ever born in the whole World, have lived in this Family. So I'm sure the Lord is going to take care of them & prepare a place where they can serve Him, & maybe even eventually bring them back to work with us.
       57. After all, a lot of these teens didn't have very good training; a lot of mistakes were made with some of them. You can't put all the blame on the teens. Occasionally you can, but who knows who gets the blame for this & who gets the blame for that? It's pretty hard to mete out the blame, because we always could have done better with people. But even if we assume the blame when they're younger, when they reach the age of accountability, or become adults, they have to take the blame themselves for their actions or reactions.
       58. On the other hand, we can give them a little bit of the benefit of the doubt & say that in some ways some of them didn't have a very good foundation, & maybe they weren't able to really see & grasp the thrill & the challenge of the Family. We can make a lot of excuses for them, some which I'm sure the Lord will take into consideration, too. They made the wrong choice, they shouldn't have done it, but the Lord sees all the extenuating circumstances & takes all that into consideration, & He knows their hearts.
       59. So let's learn to trust the Lord more for our prodigal progeny. After all, He spoke to Dad a long time ago about our children, promising that He would care for His Own. So can't we trust that He will work everything together for our good & theirs in the end? I know He will, for He that has begun a good work in us, and in our children, will perform it for His glory! He promises that He is able to make the crooked places straight, & we know by faith that the Lord is going to right all wrongs & work all things together for good in the end.
       60. We need to look to the Lord more & view things through the eyes of faith, looking on things more as the Lord sees them. Like that beautiful hymn that Dad has often sung, "If We Could See Beyond Today":

       "If we could see beyond today
       As God doth see,
       If all the clouds would roll away,
       The shadows flee,
       O'er present griefs we would not fret,
       Each sorrow we would soon forget,
       For many joys are waiting yet,
       For you & me!

       "If we could know beyond today
       As God doth know,
       Why dearest treasures pass away
       And tears must flow.
       And why some darkness leads to light,
       Why dreary days will soon grow bright,
       Some day life's wrongs will be made right,
         Faith tells us so!"

       61. So let's keep our eyes ever towards the Lord in regards to our young people who have gone astray, & of course, let's continue to pray for them, & encourage & do everything we can to help our kids in the Family to make it for the Lord, shticking with us to reach this needy World for Jesus. But if & when one of them is determined to leave & voices this desire over & over, let's "commit the keeping of their soul to the Lord in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator" (1Pet.4:19), knowing that He has them in His hand, & that He will continue to work in their lives, for He is with them, even unto the end of the World. (Mat.28:20.) Amen? Praise the Lord!

Making It Easier for Teens to Rejoin the Family
       62. P.S. For some time I've felt that we need to make it easier for our backslidden teens to return to the DO Family if they're repentant & have learned their lessons. When we have teens who have been having problems, & they choose to go to the System to sort of try it out, to see what it's like, I don't think we should necessarily immediately label them as out-&-out backsliders. Even if they "went out from us," maybe they're still "of us" (1Jn.2:19), but they just happened to succumb to temptation, or they became very discouraged with themselves, or had a falling-out with their Shepherd, or something like that. Then once they get out in the System, if after a few weeks they begin to wake up to what it's really like, they could very well yearn to return to the Family. But if they feel that they are going to be forever stigmatised as a "backslider" or a "traitor," this fear of being condemned & held in contempt by others could be the very thing that the Enemy uses to prevent them from returning to the Father's House.
       63. As Dad has often said, the hardest words for anyone to say are "I was wrong," & for anybody who has backslid to come back to the Family, this is exactly what they are saying by their actions, "I was wrong, the Family was right." This can be hard enough on their pride, without our "rubbing it in" by treating them with disdain or contempt. In such cases, we need to be more like the father of the prodigal son, & not like the resentful older brother. If they're truly repentant, we should welcome them back with open arms, rejoicing that they've returned.
       64. I just don't feel that such people have to be permanently branded as backsliders, especially if their time out of the Family was only a few weeks & they return sick of the World & more determined than ever to serve the Lord. In such cases, I think we need to make it a little easier for them to rejoin the DO Family.
       65. I feel that any of our teens who leave the Family should not be considered backsliders until they've been gone for six weeks. If, at any time during that six-week period, they decide that they have made a mistake & have had enough of the System & don't want to be there after all, they can return to the Family Home from which they left, knowing that they will be welcomed back. Hopefully, that time visiting their System relatives or whatever they were doing will have given them enough of a taste of the System to want to come back, fully persuaded in their own minds that the System is not the place for them.
       66. However, even after just six weeks on their own in the System, we can be pretty sure that they'll need some spiritual cleansing & washing up, so we will need to require that they return on Babes status for three months. This would not be to punish or humiliate them, but would be to provide them with an opportunity to get strengthened & back in the Word & to renew their relationship with the Lord.
       67. We don't want to judge them too harshly for their decision to leave. However, because they left their plow unattended in the field, they are obviously quite weak spiritually in the first place, & could therefore benefit from three months of being spiritually restrengthened. They would be freed of all of their previous responsibilities & wouldn't need to keep up with the current mailings, but could devote their time to getting back to the basics & being strengthened in the fundamentals of the Word, getting their questions answered & their doubts dispelled through the washing of the Word.
       68. We shouldn't just completely cut them off if they leave. If they are truly God's sheep & they're truly Family material, & they come to their senses within six weeks & recognise that they've made a mistake, that the System is not where they want to be, & they want to turn around & come back, I don't think we should penalise them any further than putting them on Babes status. Of course, once they've been out of the Family for longer than that, then perhaps they should undergo a "trial period" which could be a time of evaluation in a strong Home where the Shepherds can assess them for a week or two, & where they can get a taste of DO Family life, where both we & they can make sure that they are up to the rigours of full-time discipleship before allowing them to move in again, lock, stock & barrel.

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family