Sunday, December 16, 2007

Kibbutz Beth-El: An Inside Look by a Former Member

The following article takes a critical look inside the ways and beliefs of Kibbutz Beth-El, located in Zichron Ya'aqov - Israel, as personally experienced during the two and half years that I lived there. The intention of this writing is not to express resentment nor achieve any sort of vindication. It is meant primarily for those Christians who do not belong to Beth-El but may come in contact with them and wish to have a more objective view from someone with an intimate knowledge of what goes on inside of the kibbutz. Most Christians who visit the kibbutz or partake in a Bible course there will generally find the experience joyful and blessed. While the preachings in general are more or less in tune with the word of God, the actual actions and lifestyle principles that go on behind-the-scenes are very revealing and disturbing as will be pointed out in this document. This article covers several areas that are considered major issues for most Christians, including the subject of marriage, giving up ones entire property, democracy within a commune, military service, doing business that is considered by many to be "pro war", the right of education and other issues that members of the kibbutz must deal with. But more importantly, it touches on the reasons why many of the members left their native countries to join the kibbutz and the role the kibbutz believes they play in Israel today.

In August of 2007, I was expelled from the kibbutz. I had been there 2 and half years. The reason for the expulsion? Officially it is because I refused to blend in, refused to do the work given to me and was doing private work. This of course is true. But like a doctor examining a sick patient, the root of the sickness is sought out and not the results that the sickness are causing. So what was it that caused me to quit working for Beth-El and ultimately lead to the breakdown of my marriage? Like the good doctor examining his patient, he will want to know his past conditions to better understand what lead to the current problem...

In the Beginning...

Let's take a look at some historical circumstances. It will help to put the future circumstances in a proper perspective.

Several years ago, I had noticed that Beth-El had no real productive business. Most people were aware of this. As I was living in Germany at the time, I felt convinced that it would be worthwhile developing a product that would not be dependent on a war crisis. Beth-El had been heavily dependent on the manufacturing of their bunker air filters. These would sell good when a political threat was present but vaporize once the threat was gone. I left my job and began developing a product for tracking everything from cars to people to animals by means of satellite navigation. The first 3 years were very difficult and a financial strain and even affected my marriage. Still, the interest was very strong for the product I had developed and inquiries came in from around the world. My first customer was CNN, the world's largest new media. It was at the point where my product started to generate much interest and when I began to see some light at the end of the tunnel, that the door to Israel was opened for many in the church.

While it is true that I had waited, like most, many years for an open door to Israel, it is also equally true that I watched Beth-El go from better to worse. I was very reluctant to go to Israel at that moment. I was in Israel on business when my wife called me up to tell me the news that the door had been opened. She could sense that I had no joy. I felt that the time had not come for all of us. Something in my heart convinced me that a catastrophic event was in the waiting if I went. I told my wife when I got back to Germany that I had no joy to go. She was very upset and left me for a week. She reminded me of the promise I made to her before I married her, that she would only marry me if I promised to go to Beth-El once the door was opened. It is true that I made this promise, but 10 years earlier, Beth-El was under a different spirit and things were completely different. It was really a big mistake on my part to have made such a promise as a prerequisite to getting married. Marriage is a holy matter before God and should never come with such strings attached. I believe that the most important thing a husband can vow and should vow is to fear God, love his wife and provide food on the table. Adding anything beyond this is not from God.

It was over the last 5 or so years that the Lord began to show me serious cracks in what was going on in Beth-El. For the sake of my marriage, I agreed to go with my wife but deep down inside, I knew a fatal event was probably going to happen. If I had demanded that we stayed in Germany, my wife would have most likely have forsaken me. I had no intention on staying in Germany all my life, but I did feel we needed to wait a little longer. As the husband, it really falls on me to have the guidance from above to know what is from God and what isn't. A wife may feel led under certain circumstances that something is from God, and by all means should always feel free to share it with her husband. But ultimately it is the husband who must make the spiritual decision, even if at times the decision could be wrong. And the wife must respect her husband's decision.

Yet I loved Magdalene and really didn't want to do anything to jeopardize our marriage. If something was meant to happen that I would otherwise prefer to avoid, then all I could say to God was, "Your Will be done".

Even before I left for Israel, it was clear what they wanted me to do in Israel. Br. Theo Schneider, the leader of the kibbutz, had a special job working with a startup company that they invested in. It was to help develop the sensor used for detecting intrusion into areas where certain people should not be. The company is called Spidertech. However, I did bring to the attention of the leaders in Beth-El the product I had developed and pointed out that I even had customers. They were not interested. I did this at least 2 more times over the next year and a half but each time, they had no interest. They simply felt that they had already invested in enough new business ventures and didn't want to get involved in more. They said that they didn't have enough manpower or even people with the skills that were required. While this may be true, I really didn't need financing from Beth-El, nor would I have had problems hiring workers. In fact, that was really one of the reasons why I came to Israel – to give work to Israelis. No amount of discussion was going to change their decision, so I put the whole thing on the back burner. Still, they didn't entirely write it off. They just felt that it wasn't the right time.

For the first year I worked a lot with Spidertech but during the second year, very little. It was during this time that I felt compelled to bring up the issue of developing a new product because it was very apparent that Beth-El still did not have a reliable business. However, this time I would do it differently. I knew that the leaders of Beth-El were very much against any product that was based entirely on computer software. I decided to offer them the ability of creating a new product using some technology that they never had before but was not entirely software. It would be almost entirely designed using electronics. I spent months researching the materials and put together a presentation about how it would help Beth-El. One additional blessing was that there were 20 young people who wanted to learn something beyond running a milling machine. They wanted to learn electronics. The leaders were very excited about what I had proposed and gave the go-ahead to purchase and prepare the technology. It still wasn't clear what kind of product we would develop but the technology could be used in many areas. Shortly after I had ordered the materials and began some development, Beth-El had received their request for a product that would require the technology that I had introduced. Initially, I was quite happy about this. Months later though, I would regret it. The product involved building a computerized device for monitoring air parameters in military vehicles. As a Christian, I have always been turned off doing anything for the military. I spent the first 6 years of my life on a military base with my father. As I grew up, I realized what militaries really amounted to: broken marriages with very high divorce rates, the killing of thousands of innocent people in countries around the world, and everything that goes contrary to God's word. Beth-El had been involved with various militaries for years. Now it was about to go full scale.

The decision to build this product actually took place before I introduced the technology and Beth-El had no idea that this technology would be required later on. Still, the decision to build this product was completely one-sided. Neither I nor most of the workers in Beth-El had any say in it. In spite of all of this, I was still confident that we could develop a product that was for peaceful purposes and sell good at any time and not just during a war crisis. This was even supported by Albrecht Fuchs, the leader of Beth-El's businesses, who gave me the clear go-ahead to design a special monitoring device for other applications that had to deal with clean air but not for military purposes. While it was mostly meant for our own production, it had the potential to become a product of its own. After all, Beth-El had become an expert business in clean air.

It was then in December of 2006 that a company in Zichron approached Beth-El to develop a device for medical purposes. This company had already worked before with Beth-El on getting the device developed but the person in Beth-El who was responsible for developing it really didn't have the technical skills required and created a prototype that was useless. It was then that they approached me to build something. I was very happy to do this and the technology I had introduced in Beth-El was perfect for the task. The product was actually to be used together with another product that had existed on the market for years. It was a respirator device used by patients who had difficulty breathing. The device was designed by a doctor in America and even had patents on it. They told us that once we successfully built the device needed to monitor the air, we would have orders around 10,000 a year. I was very excited about all of this because it was a sign that the Lord had given us a product that was for peaceful purposes but even more so, it was used to help sick people. And it even did fit somewhat into Beth-El's product line because Beth-El was a developer of air filtration systems. So not only would could we provide clean air, but even monitor it.

For the first time in almost 7 years, I felt that things were moving in a very positive way. Beth-El had gotten a product from the technology I introduced, the young people were learning something that they had real joy about and now a company had come along to ask us to build something to help sick people and the potential for production was very good.

It was around the 4th of January this year that it all unraveled and everything fell apart. I was called into Albrecht Fuch's office and told that everything I was working on was to be canceled. He also canceled the contract with the company in Zichron. It was not to being put on hold, but rather completely canceled. The company in Zichron was completely shocked. To save face, Beth-El reimbursed them for their losses. My new task was simply to write English manuals for filters destined for the military. Being in a state of utter shock, I asked why? They simply stated that they already had the product that they were producing and had no interest in anything else.

It is very difficult to describe in words what went on in my heart at that moment. But if I could possible write it in one sentence, it would be this: Something within me died at that moment.

Though I argued the case against this irrational decision for over 4 hours long while sitting in Fuch's office, it became clear to me before my time with him was up: I was dealing with a very dark spirit in that room. Even while I was trying to convince him that it was a severe mistake to throw away what I firmly believed was given from God, Br. Theo came in at one point and said to me that I had a thick head and was stupid. He demeaned me in front of the others. I turned to him and sternly asked him, "Where did you learn to call people stupid? From the Lord Jesus? Be very careful how you deal with others because on the Day of Judgment you will have to give an account of it.". I could clearly see on his face that he was completely under the power of a very dark spirit. He said no further word and left the room.
When I left that meeting, I knew deep down inside, that my days in Beth-El were now numbered. I simply knew that that was not my place. Nine months previously, I sat around a table with these leaders who prayed for God's guidance over the work I was to undertake. They believed that it was God's will and gave me their support. To top it off, they even had successful results in a short time. And now?? Is that the way God works? You pray for God's guidance and then when He gives you success, you turn around and throw away that which He really intended? Did they even consult the members of the church over this matter? Apparently not. As with most matters in Beth-El, they are simply dictated.

Seeing Ourselves Through God's Eyes

The reality of the situation didn't sink in right away. It took several weeks. But it eventually became clear to me what the real root of it all was. This was not an isolated situation. It wasn't even something unique to me. It was the culmination of years of portraying a "spiritual holiness", of leading others to believe that what they (the elders) decide, is entirely under the leading of the Holy Spirit and that it was wrong to contradict their "judgment". Being years in the church, it went without saying, that I, like most in the church, would not dare to bring their judgment into question. It wasn't because I had a fear to do so, but rather because it just didn't seem possible that they could ever make a serious mistake. After all, we had been going to Bible courses for years, hearing the Word, all had a love for Israel and all wanted to "Reach that Goal" - the famous three words echoed around Beth-El till this day. We work hard to give jobs for the Jews, we build up our businesses so that we have a good income, we build the nicest homes that no other kibbutz in Israel can compare to. The choir sings for all the groups that come in and we feel that we simply are a "light" to the poor lost Jews. How on earth could anyone possibly deny the presence of God among such "believers"? And especially through all those deep revelations, especially when they touched us personally?

It was the Lord who was now about to take me aside and show me something that he only shows to those he loves very deeply. He was going to show me something that we as men cannot achieve on are own. It is either revealed by God's Spirit or it is not revealed at all. It can only come from within and can never be given to us by others...

A man is truly only born again when he sees God how God really is and sees himself the way God sees him. A man can repent of an evil life, believe since his youth on the Lord Jesus, do mighty things in His Name and live all his life under a conviction that he is doing God's will. But for all it is worth, it does not change two irrefutable facts: All of us are sinners before God. And ONLY by God's love and grace will we ever enter the kingdom of heaven. Anything and everything that we ever attempt to do to justify ourselves before God, even in the smallest detail, is the most vile and filthiest of rags that God will ever look upon.

Only when we see ourselves in this way, will we ever see our fellow man in the image of God. And once we see men in the image of God, we will never be the same again. It is only then that we begin to see through the eyes of God. Until then, we only see through the eyes of men. And is there anything that we can rely upon as a sure sign that we really see through the eyes of God? Can any person even dare to say that they see through the eyes of God? Yes! If God really lives in you, you will see with His eyes but even far more important, you will live as He lives. And the one profound sign that is unmistakable is summed up in the most used word in the English language: Love.

Though this word appears over 1 billion times on the Internet in the English language alone, it is this very word that most men have the least understanding of. It is sung in countless songs, written in innumerable books and spoken of every day in every corner of the world. Yet in spite of all this, men fail to understand that the One who authored this word is the very one who embodies it as well. And that is God - and Him alone. That is why it is unmistakably written: "God is love". 1 John 4:8

It is one thing when men love each other out human respect. It is entirely a different thing when we love someone because it is the love of God in our hearts that compels us to love them. Yesterday, one young woman who also left the kibbutz shortly after me, told me how a woman in her church was standing in line at a grocery store recently. The woman felt compelled to turn around and look at the woman behind her. When she turned to look at her, she saw that the woman was deeply afflicted and greatly distressed. The Holy Spirit told her to give her a hug right there. The woman hesitated and said to herself that she couldn't just give this strange woman a hug right there in line in front of everyone. But she prayed for God to give her the power to show a token of God's love somehow. The woman saw a bunch of flowers for sale at the checkout. She quickly grabbed a bouquet as she payed for her items. Then she waited for the lady behind her to finish making her payment. At that moment, she turned to the woman and extended the flowers to her. She said, "I am a Christian and know you are in distress. I give you these flowers out of love as a direct gift from God." The impact this had on this strange woman may never be known, but it conveyed something that we as men are not capable alone of doing, and that is, through the love of God, we can lift someone out of the deepest pit and set them free. No human power on Earth can even come close to what the power of this love can accomplish. And the power of Satan is microscopic in comparison.

The Price of Freedom and Truth

Over the next month, it became apparent to the leaders of Beth-El, that we could no longer work together. The trust that had existed weeks earlier had now completely vaporized. This was not the first time this trust has been violated but as far as I was concerned, it was going to be the last. They left me alone. Though I waited nearly 3 months for a serving brother to come and talk to me, not one out 14 ever came. I was hurt over this and eventually went to Jürn Jochen Groß who was formerly my neighbor in Germany but was now living in the kibbutz. He was one of the 14 serving brothers. When I asked him to come to my office, he never showed up for the next 3 weeks although he worked in a building next to me during this time. When he did show up, he said quite bluntly, "I don't want to know about your problems". This was the same man who every year near Christmas for 10 years washed my feet in his home. I was very much disturbed by his behavior. I thought to myself, "If this is what I can expect from the one who washed my feet all those years, then it is obvious that my situation in this place is totally hopeless". Seeing that he had no interest in the problem that I had faced, there really wasn't anything to discuss. Nevertheless, I told him that because not one of the 14 elders ever came to see me, I would not speak with any of them but only with him. Eventually, word spread around the kibbutz that the elders wanted to talk with me but I refused. This simply was never true. It was only after 3 months of waiting when I realized that none of them had any interest in talking to me, that I told Jürn Jochen that I had no interest in dealing with them.

After the enormous effort I put in helping Beth-El to develop a new product, I now felt that I had been used no less than like a sheet of toilet paper. I now realized that I was just another cog in the machinery of Beth-El. A cog that was not meant to think, feel or express itself. I had made the long journey over the years through enormous trials that left me with a broken history. And after all of these years of waiting to come to Israel to live the fulfilling life of service among God's people, I was now to reduced to a mindless state of submission regardless of pain, opinion or aspirations. What I was now essentially being asked to do, is to once and for all acknowledge that every aspect of my life will be controlled by other men, as they see fit. They, and only they, will ever decide the will of God for my destiny. And not only of mine, but of all those "beneath" them. But to make the point as clear as possible, what I was really being asked was to think, believe and accept everything in total agreement with the leadership with absolutely no regard to my own inner conviction. Was this something that I could really do? Is that normal? Is that what God wants me to do or anyone to do?

I now had to make a serious choice. I had to either sell the principles of life that I believe I received from God over my lifetime and submit, obey and "blend in", or hold on to what I believe was a priceless gift of God, risk being thrown out of the kibbutz and ultimately lose my wife.

This was the most horrendous moment of my life. It meant that I had to search my own soul and re-evaluate everything I believed in and ask whether it was from God or from my own making. And once I determined if something was from heaven, was it right to sell it? Humanistic things can be removed if one has a sincere intention to do so, but what about those priceless gifts given to us by God. What were they and how could I identify them?

If a man searches his heart and is open to the Holy Spirit's speaking, he will know whether his principles are based on the word of God or not. Only those who are afraid to search, will live a life based upon indifference and simply accept things with no regard to truth or fact. Recently, a Jewish family was invited by us in Oberndorf for dinner. The man was once a Christian but converted back to Judaism. Originally, his grandparents were Jews who were probably forced to convert to Christianity during the second world war. When we talked about the Jewish laws, he said that he simply accepts them as dictated by the Jewish rabbis who wrote them down over the past 2000 years. He said that if a Jew really had to live like the Jews in the Old Testament, no Jew living today could possibly live a righteous life. For this reason, he simply does what they are commanded without questioning the reasons why. But the word from our Lord comes to my mind when I hear men speak such things:

"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." Matthew 15:8-9

These verses have a very powerful meaning. Either we are worshiping the Lord in truth or in vain. Either we are keeping His teachings or keeping the teachings of men. Note that the Lord did not say that their teachings are "partly" taught by men. No, he said clearly, their teachings are "but" rules taught by men – that means all of them. The Lord made it clear, that these men had absolutely no foundation upon the word of God whatsoever. Can the same be said of Beth-El? The only way to know that is to examine the way of life in the kibbutz and see what foundation in God's word it has, if any. Yet that is easier said than done. Since the very day God gave men the gift of His word, they have polluted it with every pathetic imagination of the human nature that if God Himself asked for a copy of His Word back, He himself wouldn't even recognize it as His own work. Is it any wonder why there are some 35,000 different Christian denominations in the USA alone?

One man recently in the news decided to live an entire year according to the Bible, keeping every single commandment. Even at one point in his journey he met an adulterous man. The person interviewing this man, asked him if he was able to keep the commandment where he was to stone the other man for being adulterous. He said yes, but with a slight twist. Instead of taking a large rock and stoning the guy to death with it, he picked up a bunch of small pebbles and gently tossed it in the adulterer's face, "symbolically" stoning him.

The story of the adulterous women about to be stoned has a very deep meaning. Though by law they had the right to stone this woman to death, the Lord Jesus showed that when we (and I mean all of us) see ourselves as God sees us - as pathetic sinful men - we could never have a conscience to condemn others for their sins. It is written,

"There is no one who does good, not even one." Psalm 14:3

Yet we feel more than justified when we condemn those who don't measure up to our level of acceptance. This is nothing more than justifying ourselves through the law. But it is clearly written,

"You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ." Gal 5:4.

A person who is alienated from Christ will never notice it. They may even be the leader of a church and feel that they are leading the sheep the right way. But in truth, they are so far away from Christ that anyone who tries to admonish them is considered "on the wrong way" and not to be heeded. A few verses later is a sentence that sums up virtually everything written in the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation in regard to what the purpose of the Bible is all about:

"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" Gal 5:6

If our Lord had to leave a single sentence for every Christian to carry with them in this world, it would be this verse alone. Faith cannot exist on its own. It is an expression of love. If you have no love, you cannot have faith. It is this love that must be the foundation of a Christian's walk of life. Everything else depends upon it. If you wreck this foundation, everything else comes crumbling down. And that is exactly where Satan will attack. Once he undermines the foundation of love in a church, he is almost certain to have completely destroyed that church. This is why the Lord warns us by his Holy Spirit and by His word to be awake against the schemes of the devil. They are so subtle and deceptive that we almost never notice it until it is too late – if we even notice it at all.

As I was waiting on the Lord for a clear direction during the weeks that I stopped working for Beth-El, I spent time examining those things that eventually led to this catastrophic event. I needed to know how God understood those things and what His word has to say about it.

The first thing I came quickly to realize is that the leaders of Beth-El made a serious mistake decades earlier by creating the so-called "Gütergemeinschaft", which translated to English mean "common possessions". While it is true that the early Christians did sell their belongings and had things in common, there is nothing in the Bible that actually indicates that this was even from God or even whether God supported it. While they did share their things with each other, the Bible does not say that they "lived together". They definitely were of no comparison to any form of a modern day kibbutz. While we may feel that these Christians did a noble thing out of love by having their belongings in common, it is very questionable whether it was really under the leading of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord Jesus never commanded it. I don't believe the Lord was indifferent to the believers initiating this lifestyle but I do believe that the Lord knew that it wasn't going to last. It couldn't last because it was built upon principles that actually went contrary to God's will. The most significant of these principles is that all men are different. All men were created differently in God's eyes. They think differently, feel differently and live differently. To one, God gives a gift to create the most beautiful music ears have ever heard. To others, he endows them with something that may not seem significant in the eyes of others, yet it is all the same the gift of God. But when Christians try to live a communal life, it forces them to deny the uniqueness that God gave to them. If God gave you a gift to paint such beautiful pictures like the 12 year old girl named Akiane whose pictures sell for $50,000 and upwards, you probably could not exercise this gift to the degree you would want to because it probably wouldn't fit into the commune's way of living.

It is only when leaders of a commune try to force others to conform in every detail of their life to a common set of rules and behaviors, that you begin to destroy the freedom that God gave to each man. This is not to say that some form of order is not required. It most definitely is. What I am talking about are the moral issues that ultimately dictate how these people will live. Forcing people to conform to a common set of beliefs leads to the suppression of the Holy Spirit being able to speak.

For approximately 1200 years (300 AD to 1500 AD), the majority of Christians came under the powerful hand of the Catholic church. In the beginning it was little but by the time the Reformation took place, men were brutally murdered in the name of Christ if they so much as deviated from teachings of the Catholic church in the slightest detail. Down the centuries, popes one after another, enslaved the human mind and denied believers the gift of God to simply "think". Thinking was so dangerous that you would have been burned at the stake if you had even questioned the infallible belief that the Earth was the center of the universe and the Sun orbited it as well as all other stars.
It was only if you were a believer that life was dangerous. If you were an atheist, there was no danger at all. I was once in Salzburg, Austria visiting a castle. In this castle was a dungeon with a wheel and a blade attached to it. A prisoner's body would be cut to pieces by rolling the wheel over them. I asked the tour guide what sort of crime a person had to commit to deserve such a horrible punishment. She replied, "If you were a Christian but not Catholic". Murderers and thieves never received that kind of punishment.

Today, we see the Catholic church as the whore of Babylon and rightfully so. We think to ourselves, "How could people be so blind as to murder innocent people, in the name of Christ, simply because they 'believed' differently?". We think that we are much smarter today and under a completely different spirit. We would never condemn anyone for believing something that goes contrary to our belief. If anything, we simply wouldn't associate with them and definitely not allow them part of our fellowship. But condemnation is something Satan is more than familiar with. He will use it in the most subtle ways possible to achieve his means. Satan knows that when he can get the leaders of a church to use the word of God to find fault with innocent members of their church, he empowers these leaders with an aurora of "spiritual depth" and "godly authority". It has been a tactic of Satan's over the ages.

It wasn't until God sent Martin Luther to break the power of Satan that men began to realize the very meaning of the words:

"If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" John 8:36

Not only could men be really free from sin but even free from lies. It was no small thing for God to reveal to men that not only did the planet Earth revolve around the sun but it took hundreds of years more to show that we were merely one planet in a solar system with 9 other planets, that our Sun was only one star in a galaxy of billions of stars and one galaxy in a universe of billions of galaxies.

Of all the countless planets that exist in the universe, it was this one that God chose to put us on to show us his love. And yet how little have we really experienced His love?

Education can be an incredibly powerful tool in revealing lies and used to prevent the type of mindless subjection to "spiritual authorities" that was prevalent during the Middle Ages.

Education beyond the rudimentary grade 10 is not supported in Beth-El. After this grade, most of the young boys take on a general 3 year course that alters between learning to run milling machines, cnc, metal work, electrical and a few others. After that, they have the choice of choosing one of the things they've learnt as their major job. There are some alternate pathways that are open once in a while but in general, the possibilities are very limited.

Many of the youth have often expressed interest to learn at the Technion or a university. This has never been supported. The elders feel that "reaping from the tree of knowledge" is too dangerous and may cause some of them to leave the kibbutz once they get too educated.

If they really do want to learn at the Technion or university, they will have to leave the kibbutz altogether. One of these young men once said to me that he would love to study while living in the kibbutz and take what he has learned and use it for the benefit of the kibbutz. So it is not true that these youth are only intent on leaving once they have an education. The real danger however, at least as far as the elders are concerned, is that these educated youth may become very much enlightened that they start to think on their own. They will begin to have opinions. They will begin to question spiritual issues and possibly bring into doubt the stance that the elders have on certain issues. Let's face reality here. It was due to the growth of education after the 16th century that men began to question all the teachings of the Catholic church as well as the physics of the earth, Sun and stars. It was only after men gained insight from the "tree of knowledge", that God was able to put men on a pathway that led to a better life. Instead of an average lifespan of 30 years that men lived during the Dark Ages, men live to 75 today. In the past, having water in a home was considered spiritually dangerous. Eventually when they learned about hygiene, they realized just how important water was for preventing diseases. Taking a bath in those days was avoided like the plague. Human waste was thrown out the window onto the street below.

Eventually, education even led to the abolition of slavery. It is inconceivable today to even think that slavery could ever be reinstated. We see it as barbaric and from a primitive past in human history. Yet slavery existed almost since the day man has been on the earth. It was through education that we have food that doesn't spoil because we can put it in refrigerators We no longer need to be breathing in carbon from burning candles to see by night. Through education we understood the mystery of electricity and learned how to harness it for good. All of these things and countless more were a gift from God to mankind. Once men began to dive into the "tree of knowledge", there was no turning back. It also brought with it the ugly side as well. Men began to forget about God and didn't credit Him as the Grand Architect and Engineer of it all. So God let them play at their game of trying to get even more and more educated. With each discovery, God unveiled even more mysteries and the more scientists learned, the less they really understood. The result of this however has also had its positive effect. Today, many scientists around the world now realize that there really has to be a God who created all these things. They now understand that the likelihood of it all happening by chance alone is for all practical intents and purposes – zero! Today, we are seeing a whole new generation of scientists and educated people sprouting up. Many of these are deeply rooted Christians who know that God created the Earth and the universe a billion billion billion times more precise in its operation than a Swiss Rolex watch.

One of the most astounding pieces of historical artifacts that exist today and studied by the most prominent scientists of our time is the Shroud of Turin. This is a cloth measuring about 4 meters long and about a meter wide. Imprinted on the cloth is an image of a man nearly naked and having been beaten to a severe degree. Half of the cloth shows the man's front view while the other half shows his rear view. The cloth has been presumed by many to be the burial cloth used to wrap the body of the Lord Jesus. Scientists have indeed dated the cloth back 2000 years and have studied the woven strands, pollen and many other things imprinted or embedded in the cloth. All of the marks of torture described to Jesus are evident on the cloth. The image is no painting. It is though someone used the cloth as a large piece of photographic film that was sensitive to light. It is not possible to derive 3D information from a photograph, yet the image on the cloth contains 3D information. The most famous scientists today who have examined the cloth under the most demanding tests possible have stated quite frankly that nothing exists with our modern technology that could ever create such an image. And anyone who lived even 1000 years ago would have no knowledge whatsoever to create a fraudulent image. The image is as though an enormous amount of radiation from the body or onto the body seared every fiber with even the slightest detail that existed on the body including pollen samples. Many reason that this could have only happened at the resurrection of Jesus.

Whether the Shroud of Turin really is the burial cloth of Christ cannot be proven but scientists concede that nothing in this world could have ever created it with the knowledge we possess today. The Shroud may very well have been a token of evidence that God chose to leave behind to make men really think of whether Jesus might have been the Son of God and that he rose from the dead.

Yet in spite of all the wonderful things that God has given to men over the last 100 years, we still live in an age where some Christians still ascribe psychological disorders like autism to being possessed by demons. But when we really examine the world in which we live, maybe we will discover that filling the atmosphere with carbon monoxide for 100 years might have an effect on our health. Or perhaps giving your child 31 vaccination shots in 11 months as is done in the USA, might also have a potential side-effect. And what about all of those cell phones? Can they provoke the cause of cancer? George Carlo, a world famous doctor who has studied this is quite certain of it.

Can you get cancer from working night shifts? That was a totally ludicrous idea for decades. People aren't laughing at that anymore. The probability is quite real. Scientists have indeed discovered that the hormone melatonin, which can suppress tumor development, is normally produced at night. Scientists believe having lower melatonin levels can raise the risk of developing cancer. Light shuts down melatonin production, so people working in artificial light at night may have lower melatonin levels. Simply put, God never intended man to work the graveyard shift. He was meant to sleep during the night so that his body could heal during the day when he is exposed to the Sun. God not only provided the Sun to help us see by but added the extra benefit of using it to heal our sicknesses and diseases.
Once Christians get to the point where they look unfavorably on education, they are in fact demeaning the works of God. While God doesn't want us getting so wrapped up in this "tree of knowledge" that we fail to find time for him, He also doesn't expect us to label autistic children as demon possessed and come and have the elders lay their hands on the child and perform some exorcism when we are totally responsible for messing up the world we lived in – that caused autism to start with. God's answer to that is quite clear: Clean up your act!

Contrary to the teachings of Beth-El, there is nothing in the Bible that even indicates in the least that "eating from the tree of knowledge" - as they like to quote it - is bad. The few verses referring to the tree of knowledge are located in Genesis and refer to eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Note that I stress the word "good" here. When God calls something "good", you better be very careful of ever calling it "evil". When God gave man the "knowledge of good", He really meant it exactly for that purpose – for the good of mankind. To those who hold that that "eating from the tree of knowledge" is evil, they only need to read what the Lord said to Isaiah:

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter" Isa 5:20

I believe that God wanted very much to free men from those Dark Ages that existed for thousands of years. Today we think it primitive that men once worshiped golden statues or offered their own children as burnt offerings. But many things have never changed in spite of the great knowledge we have obtained. Catholics still worship a wooden cross and pray to statues no different than those primitive people long ago. Slavery may have been abolished but the USA allows the murdering of millions of innocent babies every year through the right of abortion. And while the rest of the world has outlawed capital punishment because it is considered barbaric, many states in the USA still carry it out.
In spite of the millions who go hungry every day in Africa, it was through the gift of knowledge that God gave to man to teach man how to properly grow crops, use irrigation, avoid diseases and prosper. It never entered once in the heart of God to see any country cursed and its people live destitute lives – including Israel's own enemies such as the Palestinians.

The leaders of Beth-El have treated education as a very demeaning "worldly evil" that should be avoided. While they are legally required to provide education up till grade 10, they frown on any further education. Recently someone from the Ministry of Education visited Beth-El's school and was shocked to discover that the Hebrew language was not being used by the teachers. Everything was spoken in German. This person apparently threatened to have an Israeli teacher employed in the school if this persisted.

Denying a youth an education beyond grade 10 is wrong. A youth at this age in most developed countries usually requires 2 more years to finish high school and another 2 to 4 to learn at a college or university. Since these youth cannot stay in the kibbutz if they choose a higher education, there is reluctance on their part to leave as this would force them to become financially independent outside of the kibbutz. They would receive no financial support from the kibbutz if they were to leave the kibbutz. As a former leader of Kibbutz Engedi, Ory Rosner (who works for Beth-El) once said to me that as a kibbutz, you are obligated to give your children a good education beyond the basic elementary grades should they desire it. If the kibbutz can afford it, they should pay for a child's further education. Someone wishing to study outside of the kibbutz may be required to payback their tuition and living expenses once they complete their education if they choose to leave the kibbutz permanently but support for further education should be supported. As Ory said to me, "If we love our children, we will want to give them a future, so that in the event that something happens in life, they at least will have had the chance to have learned a trade that they can depend upon. And if they choose to leave the kibbutz, it is only morally right to have given them something that they can start their life with."

Aside from the Bible, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the most translated document in the world. I have included a copy of it as an appendix. Article 26 states in item 1:

"Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit."

To deny a young person the right to learn beyond the elementary grades is a violation of a basic human right. I believe that it was God who laid it in the heart of these men in 1948 to craft a document that would spell out what he considers the human rights he demands from all humans regardless of their religion. And if the leaders of Beth-El refuse to support further education for these young people, they are in effect violating the "law" God gave to mankind through the Univeral Declaration of Human Rights.

Considering the fact that Beth-El is the richest kibbutz in all of Israel, the issue of financing an education for those desiring it, doesn't even come into question.

The "Gütergemeinschaft"

The Gütergemeinschaft was a mistake from the start because it allowed people with money to live in the same community as those without money. The one with money who had worked years in Germany and had amassed a fat bank account could withdraw money whenever they chose. The others who were born into the kibbutz and had nothing, had to save a long time to afford some things. Where is the leading of God in such a thing? Where is there even the slightest hint of love? This has caused serious problems inside and outside of the kibbutz.

Yet there are other serious issues about this Gütergemeinschaft. For one, Beth-El is a legal kibbutz in Israel. Even though Beth-El has been in the country for around 40 years, it has only been for the last 5 years that it actually became a legal kibbutz. Before this, they were established as another legal entity that did not have the same classification as a kibbutz. At that time, the members were legally allowed by the state of Israel to have private properties and such things like private income and bank accounts. However, when Beth-El chose to become a kibbutz, they fell under completely different laws. Because a kibbutz is a special entity where its members give up all of their private property and income, they are entitled to a different taxation class. They also can reap the special benefits that only a kibbutz can have. The reasons for this are obvious. When the members of a kibbutz willingly give up their private property to support the general welfare of a community as a whole, the kibbutz is entitled to certain state benefits because its members do not earn any salary.

Beth-El violates the requirements laid down by the state by allowing its members to retain their private properties and their foreign bank accounts. As a result, the members of Beth-El who do have substantial amounts of private money allow the kibbutz to enjoy the state benefits while at the same time reducing financial strain on the kibbutz by allowing these people to purchase things with money that is unaccountable for. It is not hard to imagine what other kibbutzim in Israel would have to say to this nonsense. The members of other kibbutzim in Israel generally have a hard life. While it is true that they have prospered financially better than the public sector over the past 2 years, it doesn't mean that they have a higher living standard. On the contrary, most kibbutzim in Israel struggle to survive. Most of its members can never boast about the fine household appliances and furniture that the Germans in Beth-El have. It is no secret that Beth-El is the richest kibbutz in all of Israel out of the several hundreds that exist. But if the members of Beth-El had any decency and respect for their fellow Israelis who do live in other kibbutzim, they would give up their private property and money. The most pathetic part though is the pure hypocrisy of these people. On the one hand, they believe that they are a light to the Jews and live like the early Christians by having "all things in common". But this is totally false. Not only do they not have all things in common, but they even violate the law of the country that commands them to give up their private property.

When I asked one of the elders why they refuse to enforce this, he responded that 'We don't want to force people to give up their money lest they think we are only interested in their money." This is a pathetic argument. If the law requires you to do it, according to the Bible, you are required to keep the laws instituted by the government.
When asked why these people do not give up their property, the most common response you will get is, "Because we are uncertain how things will go in the kibbutz. If for whatever reason we had to leave the kibbutz or the kibbutz were to fall apart, we would need some financial security to fall back on.". Their argument has some validity. Take into consideration the following event that took place earlier this year in the kibbutz...

Otto Schechterle along with his family had lived in the kibbutz around 25 years. Most of his children, if not all of them, were born in the kibbutz. For whatever personal reason that I am not knowledgeable of, Otto's 3 daughters left the kibbutz about a year ago. They were in their early 20s. Several months later, Otto left along with his wife and youngest daughter. It came to my attention that when he left, Beth-El did give him a small amount of money to start his life outside of the kibbutz. Otto did not have any major educational background. In fact, he worked most of his life in the kibbutz painting buildings. While I do not know the amount of money given to him, it was clear from others that it was only sufficient for a short period, on the order of months. One former member of Beth-El who was living in Israel donated enough money to him so that he could at least buy some furniture. Whether Otto was ever insured for retirement during his years in the kibbutz is not known but highly unlikely. As a result, he will now have to work well beyond retirement to survive. He was able to find a job and the Lord took care of him.

Several questions will arise concerning what happened to him. If someone were to give up all their income and property and live and work in the kibbutz for 25 years and for whatever reason choose to leave, would the kibbutz have provided a secure and reasonable exit? While they could not lay claim to what they originally brought into the kibbutz, did the kibbutz at the very minimum pay for retirement insurance for them? Did the kibbutz have a formula that could be used to calculate a fair payout for their years of contribution to the kibbutz? The answer to these questions is a definite "no".

While Beth-El does pay some form of health insurance for the members of the Gütergemeinschaft, they pay nothing for those who are not members. This is very wrong. Both those who are in the Gütergemeinschaft and those who are not both work for the welfare of the kibbutz, yet these kibbutz leaders don't even have the decency to pay for any health insurance to those workers who don't belong to their Gütergemeinschaft. If this isn't a criminal act, it should most definitely be one. However, this is not to say that Beth-El won't pay for hospital expenses should something happen to you if you are not insured. They will pay out of their own pocket but it isn't clear to what extent. Nevertheless, it is very wrong to treat those who perform an equal amount of work on a lower level and exclude them from health insurance. These workers receive no salary at all. The very minimum that should be expected is to make sure that they are covered in the event of illness or accidents.

As far as the elders are concerned, any work contributed to the kibbutz is entirely for the kibbutz and if someone chooses to leave, they can only take what they brought in. However, if they sold their homes and gave up their bank accounts, the full amount would not be returned. In fact, the longer you've been there, the less will be returned.
So my question here is: Is this right?

Is it right that someone who has worked 25 years in a kibbutz without receiving a salary should go away with only enough money to hold them through for a few months? 25 years is a long time for a kibbutz to reap the financial benefits of someone who works for no salary, even if all their other needs are being provided for like a home and food. While I do not expect a kibbutz member to leave with hundreds of thousands of dollars (unless they brought in a few million), I do expect a formula to be applied that can be justly used to determine a kibbutz member's financial worth at any point in time during their stay at the kibbutz. Such factors take into account how much they brought into the kibbutz, did they develop a product for the kibbutz that resulted in the kibbutz making substantial amounts of money, their age and the number of family members. Beth-El has no such formula. If you choose to leave, you essentially start from zero.

So while a member of the kibbutz is helping the kibbutz to prosper financially, the kibbutz has no regard for the people who choose to leave. As one person in Germany recently said to me, "Beth-El only thinks about themselves. It's all about what can they get and not about what they can give.".
So why is it that these elders cannot accept the reality that there will always be individuals that will choose to leave at some point and that they should justly reimburse them for their service? The answer to that is actually quite shocking to say the least.

My brother-in-law, Markus, was formerly a kibbutz secretary. When I asked him who really owns the property in Beth-El and all the other assets, he told me that only those members of the "Amitar" legally owned the property. The Amitar is a legal entity setup in Israel for businesses. There are many different types of entities and each has its own taxation class and other benefits. A kibbutz is also an entity. Before Beth-El became a kibbutz, they were only registered as an Amitar. When they became a kibbutz, the Amitar still existed and all the assets were legal property of the shareholders of the Amitar.

It isn't clear to me what assets belong to the kibbutz entity but there are some.

The question that I then wanted answered was who were the shareholders in the Amitar. To my shock, Markus told me that only the elders were. What happened to all those kibbutz members that had given up their property and money and had lived and worked in the kibbutz for decades? They were not members at all and as such could lay no claim on any of the property. Immediately I felt that this was not right and asked Markus the reason why. His response was as follows:

"In the event that something ever does happen with the kibbutz and the kibbutz must be dissolved, these elders can take the entire property and rebuild another kibbutz."

So if you were wondering why till this day many of the members of Beth-El are reluctant to give up their private property and money, at this point it should not be of much surprise. When 14 elders in a kibbutz hold on to the property and assets out of fear that their kibbutz could someday be dissolved, it is a sign that they have never trusted their own members. Even if half the members were to split away from the kibbutz, this half could lay no claim on the property unless half of the 14 elders sided with them.

So what you have here are people who enter the kibbutz, give up their homes and money, work many years for no salary while all of this financial gain becomes legally the property of only 14 people. And this is just?? Is this how the early Christians had "everything in common"?

If these elders had the least amount of trust in their members, they would have made them shareholders in the property and assets. A formula would be used to determine a worth for any given time. The longer you live and work in the kibbutz, the higher this value would be. And if you chose to leave, you would be payed out according to your current value. Is this not fair? Of course it is. Any moral Christian with half a brain would tell you that God expects us to be just to our fellow man. Sending someone away practically penniless after 25 years of service is a sign of greed and lack of compassion. It is something that rates lower than a worms belly on a filthy ground.

It is not acceptable for any Christian organization to use as an argument that those who do not conform to the church's way of living should voluntarily leave expecting nothing. This is not only wrong but a grave sin in the eyes of God. It in essence says that the church cannot make a mistake and that those who leave are the ones with the problems. History has shown over and over that many Christians have forsaken their churches because the church began to deviate from God's ways. What right does any church have to withhold monetary reimbursement simply because an individual does not agree with their way of thinking? Such injustice will most certainly be reimbursed on the Day of Judgment. And those who were either thrown out of their church (or kibbutz) or left voluntarily because they were not willing to sacrifice their biblical beliefs and principles will be the ones God will honor the most on the Day of Judgment.

This divided camp of people could never really be one inwardly or outwardly. Only those within the Gütergemeinschaft would have any say in matters concerning the kibbutz. But even this is not really true. It has been reported to me by one person within this Gütergemeinschaft that only those matters approved by the leaders will be addressed. Furthermore, if you even dared to raise an objection to certain decisions of the elders, you would be dealt with on a personal basis in the following days in order to get you to "conform" to their way. Being called into the office of Br. Theo and having your "head washed" is a known fact that many can testify to. There is a word used to describe that in our day and age. It's called brain washing.

Beth-El's Mission

These few "elite" elders feel as though they were given the authority of God to force ALL believers within the kibbutz to either make them conform to THEIR way of thinking or have them forced out. But they have failed to realize that this is nothing other than sin in the eyes of God. It is sin because it forces others to conform to teachings and rules of living that have no basis in the Bible. Once leaders of a church feel that they are being led by God to make others conform to ways contrary to God's teachings, they fulfill what the Lord Jesus clearly taught:

"Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven..." (Matthew 5:19)

So are there things that these leaders are teaching that are contrary to the Word of God?

To start with, the Lord gave Beth-El the following mission:

"Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give." Matthew 10:6-8

This message was preached over and over and over again during the 40 years that Beth-El had Bible courses. Yet today, these elders have forbidden any member within the kibbutz to preach to any Jew about the Gospel. Recently, one such woman who was led by the Holy Spirit to tell the Good News to Russian Jews was told to stop. These were old Russian Jews living in an old age home in Haifa and nearing death. She felt led by the Holy Spirit to share with them the Good News before they died. Because she could speak Russian, the language would not be a problem. Shortly after she stopped, she left the kibbutz and returned to Germany.

It is a very well known fact that Beth-El does no missionary work in Israel whatsoever. The reason why? The elders are afraid of repercussions from the authorities such as losing their good visa status. But the truth is, is that these elders DO NOT feel that it is their mission to "go to the lost sheep of Israel and... preach this message". As Ran Bruckner (a building engineer that has worked with Beth-El for decades) told me personally earlier this year when I asked him what he liked about Beth-El, he said:

"I find it nice that these Germans want to live among us but have NO interest in converting us to Christianity.".

That sums it up. The Jews are glad that Beth-El doesn't preach the Word and so are the elders.

Yet the Lord Jesus said:

"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters." (Matthew 12:30)

Anyone who calls themselves a Christian and forbids another Christian to preach the Gospel of Salvation to lost souls not only is completely alienated from God but even borders on an unforgivable sin. To make it very clear, when Br. Theo or Albrecht Fuchs forbids a member of the kibbutz from preaching the Word of God to Jewish people, it is a sign that these men are under dark and demonic spirits.

The members of Beth-El need not deceive themselves into thinking that their mission "is to be a light by living and working among the Jews" as is often said by many in the kibbutz. The Lord Jesus didn't tell us to come to the Land of Israel, to build up a kibbutz, to work endless hours our whole life and just be "a light" to the Jews. Not only is the Word of God the most needed thing among the Jews today but so are those things that the Lord commanded his disciples to give: heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out the demons. Have you ever heard of Beth-El doing any of this? Unless they preach the Word of God to the Jews, they cannot expect such miracles to happen among themselves. But make no mistake, there are Christians in the Land who are doing these things.

And contrary to some who believe otherwise, there is NO law in Israel that forbids missionary work. Anyone who tells you otherwise is greatly mistaken.

The Military

In many cases, the leaders of the kibbutz have demonstrated their disregard for the Word of God by doing things that go very much contrary to it. The most notable of these is their involvement in the military. Beth-El builds filtration systems not only for hospitals, schools and homes in order to provide clean air for people. This is a noble line of business that does not go contrary to anything in the Word of God. Even filters for bunkers to protect human life is a worthy cause. But the elders in Beth-El went beyond what is acceptable to God and touched one of the most cursed things in this world – the military.

The filtration systems that they build for tanks and military vehicles is a sign just how far this kibbutz has fallen from the grace of God and and understanding of God's own thoughts. There are two views to the business of building filtration systems for a military. The one view, and that held by the elders of Beth-El, is that it protects the lives of people, regardless whether they are soldiers or not. They argue that by protecting the life of a soldier, you even help these militaries to defeat their enemies. And when it comes to the enemies of Israel, they feel even more than justified to protect the lives of Israeli soldiers.

This view, while at first might appear not to contradict anything in the Word of God, in fact goes against everything that our Lord taught us.

First and foremost, we are taught by our Lord the following:

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:27-31

The Lord even stated very clearly:

"...all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword." Matthew 25:52

The Lord wasn't just referring to people who take up the sword to fight for some cause, but he was including even those who "take up the sword" to make a living from it as well. As Christians, we are called to take up a completely different kind of sword:

"And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Eph 6:17.

The foundation of all our Lord's teachings is to "love" - to love one another and especially to love our enemies and those who hate us. But if we are commanded to love our enemies, how much more should we love those who are not our enemies, but say, the enemies of Israel? By the very words of our Lord, are we not commanded to also love the Arabs? To love the Irakis and Iranians and Palestinians?

Shortly before I left Israel, I had a conversation with Israel Blind. He is the 12 year old son of Joachim Blind, who is a preacher in Beth-El. I told him how I felt that my helping sick children was a far worthier cause than producing products for a military. He said that we have a right to kill the enemy. I told him that it is wrong for us to kill any man. I told him that the Lord Jesus told us to love our enemies. But Israel said that the Lord only meant that we, the Christians, should love each other but not the enemies of Israel. I told him that this was wrong. He turned away and said that I was crazy. I asked him where did he learn to hate the enemies of Israel? I asked him if his father taught him that. I then challenged him to go and ask his father whether what I said was true or not. He only walked away and said that he didn't want to speak to me anymore.

I found it rather sad that a 12 year old child who was the son of a preacher, would even have such thoughts. Didn't his parents ever take time to teach him about loving our enemies as the Lord taught us? Sad to say, it has been reported to me by others in the kibbutz that other children share the same view as Israel. Beth-El has gotten so involved in the military that they no longer realize what effect this has had on their very own children.

When we supply products to a military, we are in effect accomplishing two things: Promoting wars and reaping financial gain at the lives of men.

The war in Irak is the most obvious case. It is no secret that the Bush administration has reaped billions of dollars on a war machine whose purpose has absolutely nothing to do with saving the lives of Irakis from terrorists. Militaries pay extremely well to contractors when a war can be "justified". But most wars today are almost never justified. The agenda of governments around the world has nothing to do with sowing peace. Their agenda is to create a one world government and the means of achieving this is to undermine countries around the world by raising what is known as "false flags". By using the pretext of "having weapons of mass destruction", the Americans unlawfully invaded a country who never threatened them. And no weapons of mass destruction were ever to be found. But that didn't matter. Getting rid of a dictator like Saddam Hussein and bringing democracy to Irak was worth it all, wasn't it? At least that what many Christians believe today. But take a hard look at the facts. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Irakis have been killed by American soldiers. Every day, Iraki women and children are raped and murdered. Families are destroyed. Thousands of innocent Irakis die every month. And all of this for a mere 3500 American lives. You don't believe this? Then you've been way out of touch with reality. I can partly understand the people of Beth-El not knowing this since they are forbidden to have Internet access. As one soldier in Irak standing next to his tank said in one video posted on YouTube:

"When we first came here, we shot anything that moved. We could not tell who the enemy was. We killed a lot of innocent people. We still do so but much less today."

It is wrong to paint the militaries around the world today as some form of entity put there by God to protect the lives of innocent people against terrorists and dictators like in North Korea, China, Vietnam and Cuba. Militaries are godless organizations setup by Satan whose sole purpose is the destruction of life. Jesus came to save life and NOT to kill it.

Beth-El has stained their innocent Christ-like nature with the blood of countless men, women and children. While thinking they are protecting the life of a single soldier in a tank, whose purpose is to fight the enemy in order to save lives, Beth-El only protects the life of a soldier so that he can go on another day and kill thousands of more innocent people. What price can you put on the thousands of lost souls compared to one godless soldier whose life you might have spared?

One of the greatest tragedies that took place at Beth-El was when Beth-El made an agreement with the Ministry of Interior about 4 years ago. At that time, the Minister of Interior was a man named Avraham Poraz. Mr. Poraz belonged to a very secular party in Israel. He had a certain compassion for Beth-El and felt that the Germans had been mistreated badly by the Jews over the past 40 years. This is quite interesting when you consider that it was the Germans who annihilated 6 millions Jews during the Holocaust. Being in the position that he was in, Mr. Poraz was able to provide an open door to Israel for many of the church members who lived in Germany. This was not a guarantee of any kind of permanent residence but a permission to come and live in the kibbutz. In fact, the permission to work in the kibbutz was a separate issue somewhat outside of his jurisdiction. Furthermore, he even gave a better visa status to those who had already been living in the kibbutz. Some even received the highest form of visa status that was possible. However, not one person ever received a 100% citizenship, including those who had been born in Israel.

In return for this favor of granting an open door to Israel for those in Germany and improving the visa situation of those already in Israel, Beth-El was required to have their young men serve in the military. The girls would be exempt. A selection list was drawn up and only certain youth would be enrolled – mostly those who had been born in Israel and were under 25 years of age. These young men would do the 3 years of basic military training like all Israeli men. Beth-El however requested that because they were Christians, that after the 3 years of training was over, these men would do their 4 weeks of yearly service in a service that was not involved directly with fighting or bring them in harms way. The military agreed to this. Instead, they would do things like serving in hospitals, and other pacifist work assignments.

At face value, some Christians might be inclined to argue that doing 3 years of full military service and then a pacifist job for 4 weeks every year until they were 42 years of age was a good bargain considering what Beth-El got in return.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. To start with, as I mentioned earlier, we are Christians, and as such, we don't kill nor do we get involved in military operations. Did the elders of Beth-El even ask the members of the churches scattered throughout Germany what their view was prior to their making this agreement with the military? Of course not. They took this decision entirely upon themselves with absolutely no regard to what the members in Germany or elsewhere had to say. In fact, most if not all of the members in Germany had no idea whatsoever that this was a requirement. Furthermore, what is very disturbing about this agreement is the fact that not one of the young people serving in the Israeli military is even a citizen of Israel. This is complete nonsense. What country would ever allow or force people to serve in their military when such people are not even citizens of their own country? This is totally absurd on Israel's part and shows the stupidity on Beth-El's part. If the Israeli government really felt justified in having the young men of Beth-El serve in the military, they should have had the moral decency and granted them full Israeli citizenship.

Making the young people do 3 years of full military service was a very grave mistake indeed. They should have told Mr. Poraz that in return for better visas, the young people would opt to do 3 years of some form of civil service instead. The elders of Beth-El should have stated clearly to Mr. Poraz that we are Christians, we don't fight and have no need for 3 years of full military service. Sending a young man to learn how to fight and kill the enemy goes contrary to what the Lord Jesus taught us. Some may argue that all the young people are doing is just their time and will never fight. But that is wrong. That is very wrong. As Christians, we are called to be a light. If I, as a Christian, were in the Israeli military with a gun in my hand doing training and then turned to an Israeli soldier and told him that in a real war, he need not depend on me to fight for Israel, what do you think that soldier would think of me? Even worse, what if I went around trying to convince the other soldiers that we should love our enemies? Not only would they think you are totally crazy but they would probably have you kicked out of the army for discouraging the other soldiers. Yet on the other hand, if I had agreed to do 3 years of civil service working in a hospital or cooking food for the poor, not only would I have been helping others who were in great need, but my life would not be a lie. What kind of testimony is it when you tell your commanding officer that your are doing your service because it is required but in the event of a real war, you will not fight? In Israel, if you refuse to fight, you can go to jail. But if you tell the military from the start that you are a pacifist Christian and would never kill another person and that you would even goes as far as to teach the other soldiers to do the same, you can be quite certain that they will have no need for you in their service. They may however be persuaded to let you do a civil job. And doing a civil job for 3 years is a far healthier thing than spending 3 useless years of military training that benefits no one.

I personally knew Christians who were imprisoned for refusing to take up arms because of the same pacifist beliefs I am stating here. One man I knew spent about 8 years in a prison in Hungary back in the 60s. Now THAT is a testimony. When you are willing to suffer everything possible including prison or even death for refusing to take up arms, that is one of the most powerful testimonies that will ever affect the lives of those you come in contact with. Anyone who sincerely wants to follow in the footsteps of the lamb must live like our Lord did. He never hurt anyone and expects us to do the same.

A week ago, I received an e-mail from someone in the kibbutz. The e-mail was actually a forwarded e-mail written by Michael Fuchs, who lives in Beth-El. Now I knew Michael quite well. He is about 25 years old. He often came to my office to use the Internet. We even made a trip together to Jerusalem shortly before I left Israel. Michael was special because he had a burning love for the Lord and loved living both in the kibbutz and Israel. The following is his e-mail, word for word, as he wrote it in English:

Shalom yall,

Are you interested in a short update? Maybe I just write a few lines and you can imagine the rest…!???

Well, last Friday we celebrated a big "Mesibat haChajalim" (soldiers party). Some of you might know already, but for those which don’t: Next week 5 guys of us have to go and serve in the IDF!!!!

The fact itself is quite special. German non Jews serving in the IDF! Stand together with Gods people in the daily fight for peace! So, we had over 40 guys together singing famous army songs, having Mazteball soup, French Fries, BBQ, salad, garlic bread, filled croissants, "glowing wine" and other delicious stuff prepared, cooked and mixed outdoor!!! Turned out very tasty!!!!

We turned a shack from the gardener with lights and benches, keyboard, guitar, beamer, amp & stuff into a "worship&party-center"! (if something like that exists...hehe)

As the "soon to be soldiers" and most of the other guys there are not tourist but pretty Israelis (depends what you look on ;-) we had the whole thing set up in Hebrew. The songs, sharing the scripture, prayer….

After dinner Yishai was sharing a wonderful word from Joseph and some references to Daniel and his 3 friends. Out of that story he took 7 keys to inherit the great blessing Joseph/Daniel received later on from God. Let me see if I can coun’t ‘em up:

  • - Joseph got to a place he didn’t want to (got sold)

  • - He came as a foreigner …a servant

  • - He was humble

  • - He kept his heart clean from sin

  • - He brought questions, sorrows before God in prayer and thanked him

  • - His asked 4 forgiveness for Gods people and prayed for Jerusalem.

  • - Willing to take the risk to fall into prison for serving God (no discounts)

I might have mixed the order or forgot one or changed, but that was mainly the basics of a very powerful message that night. We also sang some of my favorite songs like: ki ko ahav Elohim et ha Olam: Ahavat Yeshua: Yeshua El Yakar….awesome songs! (some of you might know ‘em)

The rest of the evening was just sittin together, laughing, eating, drinking (not too much), some Powerpoint presnt. Some played table tennis outside….netto fun!

I just want to remind you, that many new things come along with it!! You probably can imagine that some oldies are a little afraid about it with acceptable reasons…but the guys themselves look forward to it with great joy. We just hope and pray for the best, eh!?? And you can pray too to have and keep the guys strong in Yeshua and be a light where ever they are.

Thanks -

Last week we had heavy rain (100mm in 3days) but now the weather is warm and sunny again. Some over 20°C! And since we have so wonderful weather I just decided with a few buddies to take Friday off and go Thursday noon up to Jerusalem. There is the end of the 40 years celebrations and many things are open for free!! Gotta go, eh??

Ahm, I kinda run out of time, but its enough, anywaz!!

Till another time!!

Yours Mike,

P.s. By the way today was Jerusalem Chief Rabbi (Metzger) in the factory for a visit!! Don’t know much details, but he was happy and saying nice things…in Hebrew slang "mapzut"!!

What I found very disturbing in this letter was the following:

The fact itself is quite special. German non Jews serving in the IDF! Stand together with Gods people in the daily fight for peace!

Fight for peace? And there is glory in it?? It is quite clear from this letter that the youth in Beth-El not only are serving in the IDF under compulsion but are more than eager to be part of the "fight for peace". Where did the Lord Jesus teach us to "fight for peace" by joining an army and taking up arms? Where is there any glory in killing off the enemies of Israel? Did not our Lord rebuke Peter when he took up a sword in an act of defence? Was our Lord not spat upon, brutally beaten and led like a sheep to the slaughter? Did he defend himself? Did he not say that he could have called on 12 legions of angels to come and save him? Did he not say that if his kingdom was from this world, his servants would fight so that he would not be delivered from the Jews? There is not a single instance in any of the teachings of the Lord Jesus nor a single instance of anything he ever did during his lifetime that indicated "fighting for peace". He only taught the opposite and lived according to what he taught others. What Michael wrote is a complete reflection of what lies deeply rooted in the hearts of the youth at Beth-El, from 12 year old Israel Blind right up to the elders. The members of Beth-El have lost their sense of the purpose God had originally called them to and that was to preach the way of salvation and way of peace through love and faith through Jesus Christ. Now, they have learned the "way of peace" through the crosshairs on their M16s and bullets.

Beth-El now belongs to that delusive group of Christians who advocate that fighting in a war does not go contrary to God's word. In the US army, there are many "Christians" who see themselves as "defenders of peace" and sincerely believe that God is with them. There are pictures and videos all over the Internet showing soldiers in Irak praying together. At the one moment they are praying for God's protection and in the next they are killing men.

Often the thought comes into my mind of two people standing before God on the Day of Judgment One is a "Christian soldier" and the other is a non-believer who the soldier killed on the battle field. The Lord passes His judgment on the unbeliever and condemns him to hell but allows him to make a final statement before being hauled off to the Lake of Fire. The condemned soul turns to the "Christian soldier" and out of utter anguish wants to know why the soldier killed him and ended any chance of him finding salvation someday. The troubled soldier thinks over his answer carefully. If he says because he was his enemy, the condemned man will quote the words of Jesus where he said, "Love your enemies". If the soldier answers that it was because he was afraid to die and so it was better to kill than be killed, the condemned man will ask him what he had to be afraid of since he believed that he was saved and should he die had a better place to go to. Then the Lord turned to the soldier and asked him one simple question: "Before I condemn him to hell I will ask you one question. Why did you kill him?" The things the soldier could never say to the condemned man are: You deserved to die. God commanded me to kill you. You were not a believer. I was just doing my job. The Lord will answer such people and say to them, "If while you lived you believed that you were a believer and had eternal life, would it not have been the greatest act of love for you to have offered your own life for his since he was not saved? Was that not what my only beloved Son did for you? If he had died at the hands of unbelievers, that would be one thing, but he died at the hands of someone claiming to be a Christian If you had spared his life, perhaps that might have moved him deeply enough to turn to me or at the very minimum it might have prolonged his life longer and I would have found an opportunity later on for him to turn to me. What entered your heart when you felt that you could stand in my place and take someone else's life?". And then the Lord tested this soldier with the ultimate question: "But even now I am willing to spare his soul on one condition. You trade your salvation for his condemnation. Do you accept? After all, while you lived you did not lay down your life for him out of love. Are you willing to do it now?"

How many of these "Christian soldiers" do you believe would be willing to trade their salvation with a condemned man if the Lord ever did offer such a thing? I highly doubt even one. If they cared nothing about the condemned man's soul while he lived, how much less on the Day of Judgment. Yet out of great love for the Jews, the Apostle Paul says:

"For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel..." Rom 9:3

The arguments that many "Christians" advocate today is that if they don't fight, the enemy will prevail and cause much harm to many other people. This simply is not true at all. When King Jehoshaphat was threatened by a vast Moabite and Ammonite army that was ready to wipe him and his people off the face of the earth, he called upon God and said:

"O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you." 2 Chro 20:12

God allowed this vast army to come upon them to teach Israel that they must always depend on him regardless how big or small their own army was. The Lord said to them:

"'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you." 2 Chron 20:15-17

Is it no wonder why the Lord Jesus said that when he comes again, would he find faith on earth? "Christian soldiers" may argue that had they not fought against Hitler, many more lives would have been destroyed and perhaps even all of the Jews would have been wiped out. This is not true at all. If these same people would learn to commit the battle to God and let him take care of it and devote themselves to prayer and intercession, God would never allow anything to go beyond His will. It is nothing less than a lack of faith when "Christian soldiers" feel they must take matters into their own hands and fight in order to bring about a victory. When Jehoshaphat believed that God would deliver them, he simply resigned himself to the one task that God took great joy in:

Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

"Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever." 2 Chron 20:21

As a result of this praise, God destroyed the Ammonites and Moabites without Israel having to have lifted a single finger.

The time will certainly come when the young men of Beth-El will have their own blood spilled either on the battle field or protecting the borders of Israel. And when their parents weep at the death of their children, they need only look in the mirror to find the one guilty of having permitted it to take root in the beginning. And the sad part of it all is that not a single drop of their blood will have brought any peace and definitely not the peace the Lord had in mind. Their death will have been in vain. Did all of the fighting that Israel has done against their enemies since 1948 ever gained them peace?

The worst however is still to come. A time will come when the military will not remember the agreement Beth-El made. Another generation will rise up and the old governments and military will have longed passed away with no remembrance of agreements made with Beth-El. They will even demand that their girls do training. And when a war does come, and it most certainly will, they will have no recollection of any agreements about the young men not having to fight. They will be either forced to fight or be jailed.

Sadly to say, the young men at Beth-El are more than eager to do their military service. Perhaps at the moment they may have reservations about doing real fighting, but for now it's just a way of getting away from the kibbutz and doing something else. As Ran Bruckner said to me not too long ago, "When these young people go to the military, only half of them will return. The other half will find life out there to be more interesting than in the kibbutz." I believe that he is right.

The elders of Beth-El had a choice to make: Better visas but with compulsory military service or no better visas at all. If the members of the church, and I speak about all those throughout Germany and in the other countries, had any choice, you can be certain that many would have had said that they would have preferred no better visas than having to send their children into harms way, especially considering that their children wouldn't even be considered Israeli citizens when serving in the IDF. While it was not pleasant from a financial point of view to have to leave the country once or twice a year, most had no problem with this at all. In fact, many were more than glad to have had a chance to leave for a short visit to visit family or friends. One girl who was born in the kibbutz once said to me, "It is too bad that we have better visas now. Now I have no chance at all of making a trip abroad. It would have been nice to have seen something other than this kibbutz.". I can sympathize with her on that. The fact is, is that it was actually a blessing and not a burden for Beth-El when its members had to leave for a short while. Today, it is extremely difficult to obtain permission from the elders to make a trip to Germany to visit even one's parents. Traveling abroad is very much frowned upon, even if the person could pay for the trip themselves.

The Gift of Prophecy

It is my conviction, and I speak by the Holy Spirit, that on the day that Beth-El undertook to participate in reaping financial gain from godless militaries around the world, they separated themselves from the leading of God and have brought upon themselves a severe judgment.

But the Lord warned these elders over and over again to stop, yet till this day they have refused. In one of the most shocking events that took place, God could not have been more to the point – He took the life of Br. Gerhard Strayle, one of the older leaders of the kibbutz. The Lord sent a man named Helmut Nähring to Israel and gave him a revelation. Helmut did not belong to the kibbutz. He lived in Germany. During one of the services, Helmut spoke of a vision of a white locomotive being pulled by a black locomotive. The meaning of the vision was given by Helmut and it meant that the sheep were being pulled by the darkness of a self pious spirit that wanted to lead them in the wrong way. The elders were very disturbed by this and took it as a personal attack on them. Shortly afterwards, they called Helmut into their office and told him that he must either recant what he spoke or he would be expelled from the church. Helmut told them that the revelation was not a personal attack on them but rather a revelation given to him from God that the Beth-El church was in grave danger of coming under the power of this dark pious spirit that had already destroyed countless churches around the world since Christianity began. The elders didn't care about this. They gave him an ultimatum to either recant it in front of the church or be expelled from the church. Helmut said that while they have the authority to do this, he is responsible only to God to do what God commands him and that they should judge whether it was more important to obey man or God.

Several days later, Helmut went to the evening service. Though at the time he did not know it, those guarding the door were commanded to not let him in but somehow he managed to get in. During the service, he stood up and gave the same revelation once again that he gave earlier. Br. Gerhard Strayle was furious and stood up and rebuked him in front of everyone. He demanded to know from the congregation whether they felt that the elders were leading them the wrong way. A few of the elderly spoke up for Br. Gerhard. But it was Br. Hermann Sauerbrei, another serving brother, who stood up and walked over to where Br. Gerhard and all of the other elders were seated and lifted up his hands up and in a view that was clearly seen by all, worshiped Br. Gerhard and the other elders in a way that will never be forgotten. As Margot Grünginger, the wife of Hartmut Grünginger (another elder) later commented, "It was as though we were witnessing the demonic worship of humans that took place during the Second World War when the Nazis were worshiped by men."

After Helmut returned home in Germany, the elders agreed together that they would tell Helmut that he was no longer welcomed in the church. Some of the top elders had met in Br. Gerhard's office and had come to decision to expel Helmut from the church. Br. Gerhard then left his office and went to Albrecht Fuchs to communicate this decision. Br. Gerhard's office was only a few meters from Albrecht's office. But before Br. Gerhard even made it to Albrecht's office, he died instantaneously there in the hallway.

Not long before this, even Hermann Sauerbrei died, although for several years before his death, his health deteriorated badly.

But even this event had little effect at all. It is not surprising though. A year earlier, Br. Theo, Albrecht Link and Jürn-Jochen Groß visited Ernst Link in Germany. Ernst was an elderly man who offered Beth-El his large barn as a storage facility for shipping containers to Israel. Containers were shipped periodically and usually contained personal belongings of those moving to Israel. He had been a member of the church for many years. Ernst asked Br. Theo a very direct question while he was there. He asked him whether he believed that the revelations given by Helmut Nähring and Rüdi Schertenleib were revelations from God. Rudi Schertenleib was a serving Brother in the church located in Switzerland. Br. Theo's response was unmistakable:

"They are only soulish revelations. They are those of whom it is written: 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Him quoting Matthew 7:22-23).

To have the audacity to refer to these two men as "evildoers" - and one who is a serving brother at that - is a true sign of how far this man is from the Spirit of God. But when Ernst asked him what he believed about revelations today, he responded with:

"Where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away" (Him quoting 1 Cor 13:8)

If this poor man had any deep understanding of the Word, he would realize that it is written:

"Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy." 1 Cor 14:1

But it is because he does not "follow the way of love", that one can understand why he demeans the gift of prophecy. Yet the Apostle Paul warned very clearly:

"Do not treat prophecies with contempt." 1 Thes 5:20

These leaders have treated the gift of prophecy with contempt. That is not to say that they don't "prophecy" themselves. You will often hear "prophecies" in the services from some of these leaders. But is it from God? Can anyone prophecy by the Spirit of God if that person teaches things and lives a life that goes contrary to God's ways? I don't think so. I am constantly reminded of the word that the Lord gave to Jeremiah:

"Then the LORD said to me, 'The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds'." Jer 14:14


The last subject I want to touch on has to deal with the one I have experienced in a very deep personal and painful way – marriage.

The Bible has so much to say on the subject of marriage, that it really leaves me with scarcely anything left to say. Yet in spite of all that is plainly written, marriage troubles abound all over the world today including Christian marriages. In the past, it was taboo to even consider divorce in a Christian marriage. Today, it's in. The Lord Jesus clearly stated that if a man divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries someone else, he commits adultery. And the Lord clearly states that no adulterer will ever enter the kingdom of heaven. Still, many Christians do get divorced and remarry and it often has nothing to do with marital infidelity.

I have learnt over the years that the reason why most Christian marriages fail or find themselves in grave trouble has to do with the failure to understand how God expects a marriage to operate if it is going to succeed. A business can only succeed financially if it operates under an orderly system, proper planning, treating the workers with esteem and setting realistic goals to be achieved. A marriage is no different. It too requires some orderly structure, proper planning, esteem of of one another and working together to attain some realistic goal.

The major problem in all of these is having an orderly system in a marriage. There simply cannot be two heads in a marriage. The wife cannot wear the pants and expect her husband to lead the family spiritually. The wife must make what appears to be a huge step of faith and simply trust her husband. This is not really a step of faith but more of an implementation of humility. If a wife cannot learn to trust her husband in every matter in their marriage, the enemy has a foothold in their marriage and will use it to divide the two even further apart. This does not mean that the husband will not make a wrong decision. He will and may even do it a lot. But the wife must always respect her husband's decision even though she doesn't necessarily agree with it.

There are two verses in the Bible that I believe most married Christian women have a hard time swallowing in these days:

"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." Colossians 3:18

"Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." Eph 5:24

This sounds like totally slavery. And I just finished preaching against slavery. But is it slavery? It would be if I told my wife constantly every day to do this or that and had no regard to her feelings. Now that's slavery. But the Bible does not say that husbands are to treat their wives that way. On the contrary, it teaches them to love and respect them. Here are some well known (but often ignored) verses:

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself...However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Eph 5:25-33

"Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them." Col 3:19

Many husbands want respect from their wives but are not willing to return that respect. Should a wife expect to be respected? Only if she gives her husband the due respect he deserves or even doesn't deserve. If a wife only respects her husband when he has earned it, she in effect is creating a "Grading Scale of Respect" with an invisible "threshold of acceptance" that her husband will only constantly check to see that he is living up to. Does the husband do this or that what the wife expects? Does the husband actually feel like he is a prisoner in his own home? Some do. I most certainly did. Most men have a very low tolerance for this kind of behavior from their wives. Many pack up and leave and in some cases even throw out their wives.

You will find nowhere in the Bible that God made respect from a wife conditional. God expects us to respect people of higher position even when they mistreat us. Take the example of what happened when they hit the Apostle Paul in the face when he testified before the Sanhedrin:

"God will strike you, you whitewashed wall." Acts 23:3

When they rebuked him for saying this and he realized he was dealing with the high priest, he changed his behavior very quickly and said:

"Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: 'Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people." Acts 23:5

Paul knew that in order to gain respect from those who were above him and about to condemn him, he had to show utter respect for them even when he was beaten in the face. Once Paul realized this, the Holy Spirit was able to then use him in a powerful way. Immediately, the Holy Spirit delivered Paul from his accusers when he spoke of the resurrection. God has ways of delivering us out of bad situations if we remain in respect of our enemies and let Him provide a way out.

In the same way, a wife must respect her husband no matter what he believes or does to her with some common sense exceptions. If a husband beats his wife, threatens her life, or causes serious emotional distress, she should forsake her husband. No wife is bound to such a demon possessed man under these circumstances.
And there are a few additional exceptions as well. A husband who is an alcoholic should also not be tolerated. A husband who refuses to work when he is capable of doing so and doesn't provide for his family is also reason to forsake him. A husband that refuses to have sex with his wife is also reason to leave. Under Jewish law, that would even be grounds for a divorce. And finally, a man messing around with other women gives reason for her to leave.
Sadly, many wives forsake their husbands for far less serious "crimes" than those listed here. A wife cannot forsake her husband due to differences in opinions, or because they both don't go to the same church, or because the wife feels "called by God to do so". There are no grounds for this in the Bible whatsoever. On the contrary, it clearly states:

"And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband." 1 Cor 7:10

"So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." Matt 19:6

When I left the kibbutz, me and my wife separated. This however was not a voluntary choice on my part. She simply did not want to return with me back to Germany. On the one hand I could understand that, since Germany was not our destination, but on the other hand it really went against God's word.

The truth of the matter was that my wife loved the kibbutz and her brothers and sisters in the kibbutz far more than she loved me. She felt that I had gone the wrong way. She tried to remind me over and over that I promised before we got married that we would join the kibbutz someday when the door would be opened. While I promised her that, it was a promise that I could not inevitably keep because it would come in conflict with my promise to God to follow only Jesus and keep his commandments and those beliefs would eventually come in conflict with those of Beth-El's.
When I left my wife, it was the saddest day of my life. I had loved her. I never mistreated her, either physically or emotionally. We always had food on the table and were able to pay our bills. And like most married couples, we also had times of difficulties but not anything that was totally unbearable. And my wife enjoyed a freedom that very few wives ever live to see. I almost never prohibited anything for her to do because I simply trusted her judgment But she did not really trust mine. While I did respect her even though I didn't agree with her at times, I myself felt very little respect at all. I really felt beneath her. Don't mistake that as having been too weak with her. I simply could not imagine being an overlord in her life and having a tone of some dictator. If this respect and submission were to come, it would have to come voluntarily. In the end, it didn't come and we parted ways. Even now, I am completely convinced that the failure in my marriage had little to do with anything I instigated but mostly because she failed to respect and love me for the person God created me to be.

The saddest part of it all is that with 14 elders in the kibbutz, not a single one of them had the moral decency to stand up and quote the verses I mentioned earlier in regard to a wife's responsibility to her husband. On the contrary, they allowed her to stay in the kibbutz and separate from me. In all of the other churches I have ever been to in my life (and I have been to many), not one of them would have tolerated what she had done. They would have inquired about our marital situation to see if I had beaten her or was an alcoholic, involved in drugs or refused to work and if this were true, they would have rebuked me personally or expelled from the church. But my being ejected from the kibbutz was based upon principles, beliefs and opinions – things that can never be used to justify a separation in a marriage.

A wife of one of the elders in the kibbutz told my sister-in-law that the elders could not force two people to live together. That may be true, but neither do they have the right to support a wife forsaking her husband due to differences in opinion. They should have requested that she leave the kibbutz. When I joined the kibbutz I even signed a document that clearly stated that if I leave the kibbutz, I must take my whole family along. Although I have no children, my wife was still part of my family. One person in the church in Germany asked me whether Beth-El signed the contract as well. I said no. His response was, "That is typical Beth-El. Everything for them and nothing for others."

Over the years that I belonged to the Beth-El church, I sometimes heard Jews in Israel refer to the kibbutz as a sect. I used to defend the kibbutz when I heard that and say that we were not a sect at all but just conservative Christians who wanted to live like the early Christians But that changed when I realized that the leaders of Beth-El had nothing against a wife remaining in the kibbutz after they have kicked out her husband due to not fitting into the kibbutz because of his beliefs. If there ever was a litmus test to determine whether a church is really a "church" or just a sect, the stance a group of "Christians" take in regard to marriage is definitely one of them. Any church that causes a wife and husband to separate or supports it in any way can only be labeled a sect.

God instituted marriage as a very holy thing in His eyes. First comes God, then comes Christ. Below Christ is the husband and below him is the wife. A church is always below the family. Any organization that puts themselves above a husband in a marriage is nothing more than a sick deluded sect.

When my brother-in-law Thomas, who lives in Germany heard that we were about to separate, he called Reinhold Bayer, who was one of the elders in the kibbutz. Reinhold Bayer was one of those who help found the kibbutz. Thomas tried to reason with Reinhold to find some way to save my marriage. I was unaware that Thomas did this until he told me personally. The response from Reinhold basically sums up the degree that kibbutz Beth-El has fallen far from the word of God. His response was merely: "God leads each person differently."

Reinhold, who was also a preacher, had basically disregarded my marriage and consented that my wife could stay because her calling was a personal calling by God. Yet this man has gravely erred. My marriage was sanctified in heaven before the angels. A marriage is holier in the eyes of God than a church. A church can fall apart and its members can always start a new fellowship with those of the same beliefs, but a marriage is a lifelong obligation that we have vowed before God and men to carry out with God's help.

It was clear to me that the elders of Beth-El have considered their way so much higher than a marriage, that even a separation between a man and his wife due to differences in opinions is valid enough to be warranted.

Because of this, I can no longer label Beth-El a "church". What they have done is so wrong that the only fitting label for this group is nothing other than a "sect". When all the leaders of any group of Christians knowingly and supportingly agree to a separation of a wife from her husband when there are no valid reasons in God's eyes for doing so, such a group can only be labeled a sect and treated as an enemy of God's true church.


What I have written has dealt with many serious issues concerning Beth-El. I do not want the reader coming away from this with the impression that everything Beth-El does is wrong. As I mentioned earlier, if you ever visit Beth-El as an outsider or partake in a Bible course, you will most likely come away feeling blessed and uplifted. You will find the people pleasant and a fun to talk with. Many Christians who have visited Beth-El from abroad have generally never found much negative to say against the kibbutz. In fact, many feel almost envious that this group of "Christians" managed to get permission to live in Israel when so many other Christians are denied any work or resident permit.
But like a friend of mine who also left the kibbutz shortly before I did said, "You don't know how wet it is until you actually put your feet into the water.".

During my 2 and a half years in Beth-El I have seen 4 families, 1 elderly woman and two young twin sisters leave the kibbutz. All of them left like I did for the same reasons: they too felt that Beth-El had taken a pathway down the wrong road.

Probably around half the members of the kibbutz do not belong to the Gütergemeinschaft and probably never will. If the Israeli government ever gets wind of the fact that there are many people in the kibbutz who have private property and have access to money in foreign bank accounts, I would not be surprised that they would be fined, have their status as a kibbutz revoked and possibly have certain members deported from the country. The impact that this revelation to the Israeli public would have on their image would be disastrous. And yet this has been going on for several years now. So often the Lord has rebuked these elders for leading the people the wrong way and yet they refuse to alter their behavior. Sooner or later, they will reap the fruit of their doings.

The purpose of this writing is to expose what is going on in Beth-El in light of God's word. Some people tend to argue to just leave it and let God deal with them. Yet we are commanded by God with the following word:

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible." Eph 5:8-14

Christians visiting Beth-El really need to be aware of the issues that have been raised in this article and ask themselves where they stand in regard to Beth-El's teachings and actions. If the Holy Spirit convicts you that what they are doing is very wrong, you need to ask yourself whether it is in tune with God's will to have fellowship with such people. As the verse above indicates, "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness". Christians visiting Beth-El should also be aware that it is legally forbidden in Israel to do any kind of work (even unpaid voluntary work) as a tourist. Beth-El has broken this law for years and has employed their visitors in their orchards. While some Christians may think that it is harmless and would be fun, it indeed violates the law in the country and any tourist entering the country has their passport clearly stamped that they are not allowed to work. Israel employs primarily workers from Thailand to do their menial jobs such as orchard work. Every time a tourist works in an orchard or does any other form of work, they are taking away income from these Thailanders. These workers earn the lowest level of money in Israel and are often separated from their families back in Thailand for several years in order to earn enough to support their families. Beth-El has reaped many years of financial gain at the hands of many tourists working for them when it has been forbidden.

Although I, along with others, approached the elders of Beth-El on the subject matters I have written about here, they refused to listen. Their response? The leader of the kibbutz, Br. Theo, stood up in front of the congregation in November of 2007 and said to the entire congregation that "If anyone could not conform to the rules and regulations of the kibbutz or if they are not happy here, then leave."

It was this very man that saw me for 8 months in the factory when I stopped working for the kibbutz, who preached in the services in my apartment and had confession services in my home. It was this man who was one of the founders of the kibbutz and had received enormous amounts of money from the church members abroad to build up a kibbutz for all those who had waited one day to move to Israel. After 8 months, this very man had me kicked out of the kibbutz, but not once, and I can tell you in all truth, not a single time during all those 8 months, up till the day I departed, did this man ever have the decency to come and speak to me. Yet the Lord Jesus clearly commanded his disciples:

"But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church." Matt 18:16,17

Was I brought before the church? No of course not. Yet I was expelled without having ever been heard by the members of the church to offer a defence. If I had, no doubt others might have raised the same issues. And it was perhaps for fear of this that they did not want to bring me before the church. Why did the Lord command this to be done in this order? Because he also very well knew that many innocent believers would be wrongfully expelled one day. And on the Day of Judgment, every one of those elders will be asked, why they expelled a believer and contributed to the ruin of his marriage without his having been brought once before the church body.

Br. Theo is no doubt the greatest coward I will probably ever know in my lifetime. He never cared the least bit about the sheep of God. For him it was all about presenting a self righteous image before the Jews. If a sheep was injured and stood off in the far distance of the pastures, you need not depend on this "shepherd" to go out and seek the lost and broken sheep. He belongs to those of whom the Lord Jesus spoke of when he said:

"The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep." John 10:13

All those who were ever hurt by this cowardly man - and many are the souls he has truly hurt - can all take comfort in the following words:

"It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them." Deut. 32:35

I hope this man comes to his senses and realizes before he dies, just how many people he has harmed during his lifetime. I hope that God will lead him to a very broken repentance so that he will not leave this world in the condition he is in now. But even though he helped cause the separation of my wife from me, I forgive him. I just pray that God will do the same for all of the horrible things he has done to many people over the years.

I cannot imagine that things will ever get better in Beth-El. One woman in the kibbutz with a large family told me shortly before I left Israel that all they can do is wait for the older generation to die off and a newer generation to rise up. But if the comments like those that Mike made are any indication what to expect from the next generation, then the kibbutz is on a totally hopeless crash course with the fate that they chosen for themselves.

The Apostle Peter warned us about these last days and exhorted us with the following word:

"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves." 1 Pet 2:1

I do not wish the kibbutz evil but neither do I wish them anything well. When a group of believers begins to travel down the wrong pathway and are warned on multiple occasions to stop and turn the other way but refuse, one can only expect the worst to happen to them. It is very much unlikely that Beth-El will ever change course on the way they have now taken. Too many churches have started out on the right way only to deviate years later and become a Church of the Dead. Some however do manage to find the grace of God and go through a rebirth.

For the time being though, I see things only going from bad to worse. Their sons have been committed to the military and are going gladly. The "war" in Irak will probably continue for a number of years, fattening up Beth-El's bank account with the blood soaked up from their filter systems employed at the battle field. And through all of this, the choir will go on singing praises to God as though God were pleased with this sort of offering.

Though I now live alone in an isolated village in Bavaria, Germany, I keep on praying every day that the Lord will bring me back to Israel. I was called to help the Jews and if God is willing, He will open the door again. I pray that God will heal my broken marriage but I am just as ready to accept a marriage that may never heal again. I loved my wife and never once had anything evil in my heart towards her. On the contrary, we used to pray together before the situation in Beth-El divided us. On each of her birthdays while we were married, I would lay my hands on her and bless her that God would be gracious and grant her children. Though for 12 years we have remained childless and my marriage is badly ruined, I know that God never makes a mistake.

Yesterday a package was placed inside my door at the house entrance. Without having picked it up, I laughed at myself and said that it couldn't have been for me but was probably meant for my brother-in-law. After all, after nearly 6 months of separation from my wife with hardly a letter from her, I couldn't imagine her sending anything. Of all the gifts I sent to her during the time of our separation, I never received much of a thank you. When I picked up the parcel, sure enough, as suspected, the package was for my brother-in-law. But today, on the day when I have completed this writing, my sister-in-law came knocking on my bedroom door and said that someone outside had a parcel for Johann Kluge. Now I was confused. Was it a parcel for me, Johann Blake, or for my brother-in-law, Stefan Kluge. I went outside where the courier was waiting. When I looked at the handwriting on the package, I didn't even need to read the name. The handwriting was more than familiar. It was my wife's. Before I opened the package, which took several minutes due to it being well sealed, I wondered if the package was a good sign or a bad one. Was she returning something of sentimental value that she didn't want anymore now that we were separated? When I finally managed to get the box opened, I was rather surprised to find two Tupperware boxes filled with baked cookies and a few bags of munchies along with a card that read:

"Dear Johann, a small Christmas greeting and all the best in the New Year. Magdalene"
Was I happy? Most indeed! The Lord can soften even the hardest of hearts. There is hope.

Johann Blake
Bavaria, Germany

17 December 2007

Universal Declaration of Human Rights