The last two years have been a rushing river of activity, carrying our fellowship to new frontiers both individually and collectively, geographically and spiritually. Like the early colonists who settled this country and the pioneers of days gone by, we had the privilege of similarly hearing God's call leading us out of the country of our spiritual beginnings as a body of believers and to a new and promising land.
Men with no previous experience loaded up rented 18-wheeler "Conestoga" tractor-trailers and, in nine trips, moved over one hundred people across the fruitland of America and the Great Divide of the Rockies to the western slopes of Colorado. Many raised in the ghettoes of the East—New York, Newark, Detroit, Chicago—had never seen the real America before. One picked up a tumbleweed and sent it back to his parents. Others had never seen the grandeur of the majestic Rocky Mountains and the endless expanse of wheat fields on the one hand and evergreen forests on the other. Indeed, vegetation of any sort was rare where some of our brothers and sisters had lived.
To pay for the move, the brothers driving the trucks, upon delivering our household goods in Colorado, would pick up onions and other produce in Idaho and elsewhere and drive them back to the major ports of the East such as Boston. Not only did these brothers have no experience operating these behemoths of the road, but they did so while still holding down their regular jobs back East, driving straight through day and night to meet their demanding schedules. Many used their vacations to be able to help with the move.
The challenging logistics of terminating New York and New Jersey jobs while finding others in Colorado, and leaving East Coast housing while finding housing in Colorado, had to be worked into the necessity of making a limited number of trips in a limited amount of time to get the most out of our rented trucks and brothers' free time. Otherwise, we could never have paid for the move. This necessitated some families whose household goods had, for logistical reasons, already been sent to Colorado but who needed to stay on their jobs back East until their notification of severance time expired, to move in with other families who had not yet forfeited their housing. Those who owned their own houses were the last to leave. But even then, there were often as many as twenty people living in the same place, sometimes with all the household goods already shipped ahead. Never, however, was there one complaint, and the love of Christ prevailed in those homes when no comforts and few luxuries were available.
Meanwhile, other brothers were busy locating housing for forty households and jobs for even more people on the Colorado end. Forty houses are not easy to come by in an oil boomtown of 50,000 where housing is scarcer than fuel in the gas crunch. But the Lord provided not only housing but housing together for all of us.
The brothers and sisters would move out a household at a time. As soon as one got established and acclimatized, both financially and spiritually, another would come. Still, since we could only have housing together if we took the houses one at a time as they were finished, there were many times when we had to double up in Colorado housing as well until the new rental homes were available. In this manner, within eight months, the whole fellowship was finally established in Colorado.
Once here, we took great pains to let our "light so shine before men that they would see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven." The Lord brought our lives under greater discipline and control than ever before. But it paid off in great spiritual dividends for us and our testimony in our new community. We esteemed it a great privilege to uproot from the concrete megalopolis of the East Coast and find our place among more rural people who were at least still partially connected to the glorious land surrounding them. We did not take this privilege lightly and did everything in our power to be worthy of God's blessings and the respect of the people. In one case, where two of the men in our fellowship failed to do a job reflecting the excellence of the Lord, other brothers in the fellowship, with no connection to these brothers' employment, took it upon themselves to stay up all night and at their own expense completely redo the job, to the amazement of the employer. So conscientious were all the brothers and sisters in this that members of our small fellowship have established six thriving businesses in two short years. One of these businesses, starting from scratch, grossed over a quarter of a million dollars the first year and over a million the second.
Because of the testimony of the fellowship members in their hire, other businesses in town have asked if more fellowship members were available for employment. Considering the unemployment problem in our country today, this is a testimony to the glory of diligently conforming our lives to every pattern of God. That it can only be God and conformity to the commandments of His word is evident when one realizes that many of these same people who are such a testimony today were, before giving their lives to God, on welfare and unemployment and even often proud of it. In return for any employment they then had, they gave their employers nothing but grief.
With few exceptions (and these were not from Colorado), the people of Colorado have not disappointed us. They have been gracious and generous with their time and sound advice. Their goodwill and good manners have been a testimony to our East Coast brothers, who are not accustomed to such behavior from their native region.
The Lord has also worked mightily through His people as they give themselves entirely to Him in many other areas besides work. The church has doubled in size since moving to Colorado. Of course, quantity has often become nothing more than the servant of vain ambition and selfish kingdom-building. But the Lord has increased the church without compromising the high standard of obedience and holiness that the Lord demands of His people.
Through the publication ministry, countless thousands have been ministered to by the Lord. When we first arrived in Colorado, we intended to move slowly so that no one would think that we were arrogant outsiders with a know-it-all attitude trying to impose our views on others. We only wanted to fit into everything of God and limit ourselves to our place in the Lord in our new community. We still feel the same way, but the Lord had different plans regarding our publishing timetable. Right away, people began to have questions about a group of people that would move across the country together. So in answer to their inquiries, we published the "Colorado Manifesto" in the local newspaper explaining our motivations and intentions. Following that article, the newspaper did an incredibly fraudulent and misrepresenting article on us, the ramifications of which the Lord is still blessing (yes, blessing) us with.
Subsequently, we published several other articles in newspapers, not only locally but statewide. These articles included topics of vital concern to us as a people. Many were in response to media attacks on vital Christian concerns, not merely peripheral to Christianity but which affect the destiny of Christianity in America: separation of church and state, education, creationism, pornography and so on. Publishing these articles led us to initiate a Christian journal and review of the news and various books. These publications have connected us with an ever-widening spectrum of Christians around the country. Many of these are advisors to the president, senators, congressmen, leaders of other Christian groups and publications. And most importantly, many of them have become our close friends and co-workers in the cause of Christ.
After our publications on education here in Grand Junction, seven new Christian schools came into existence, and a "Christian Coalition," involving twelve churches in Grand Junction, Colorado, has been started. This has allowed us to come closer to our brothers in Christ in other churches and allowed us the inestimable privilege of sharing their knowledge and guidance and, most importantly, their love and brotherhood. Because of this "unity of the Spirit" that the Lord has allowed us to enjoy with other Christians not only locally but statewide and even nationwide, we have all been able to share the things that God has given each of us so that our faith will be lacking nothing, with the added promise of perhaps ultimately attaining to the "unity of the faith" and its accompanying "full measure of the stature of Christ" that is promised to the corporate body of end-time Christians everywhere.
In addition, the Lord moved my own family to San Antonio, Texas, for six months, where we had the joy of initiating another fellowship of believers and seeing the glorious patterns of the restored New Testament church duplicated there. As a result of that work, another church has sprung up in Fort Worth, Texas, with the promise of other churches coming into being in both north and south Texas. We are also praying about several open doors in Mexico and elsewhere.
Some of the literature is being translated into Spanish by Richard Martinez, a beloved brother in San Antonio. He still retains his Mexican citizenship and has shared much of the current revelation of God's patterns of restored church structure with many of our Hispanic brothers. Other doors are also opening in Mexico.
The Lord moved my family to a cabin on our fellowship's recently purchased ranch upon returning to Colorado. Actually, there are two ranches: one in the mountains and one nestled in the magnificent canyon of the Smith Fork of Colorado's Gunnison River. These ranches, we hope, will serve as a source of blessing to Christian brothers and sisters everywhere in every way.
In a year, we have accumulated approximately 100 sheep, five cows, eight goats, 200 chickens, ten horses (six draft and four riding), tons (literally) of horse-drawn and hand-powered equipment and a storehouse full of both good food and irreplaceable experience. As I now look out of my office window, I see shocks of hand-scythed oats, corn drying in the field, the snow melting off the canyon slopes, sheep grazing in recently cut hay meadows, and the bounty and blessings of God everywhere.
Perhaps one of the greatest blessings is seeing the bounty of the Lord overflowing from our children (we now have four, with another on the way). Kenny (our eight year old) sets his alarm and rises with the sun to milk the cow in the morning. He'll milk her again just before sundown. Amanda, our five year old, made butter from the cream this morning. After breakfast, which Regina cooked on our wood-burning cookstove (it also takes off the morning chill), they all prayed and began their school work. Amanda then collects eggs from the chicken coops. All the kids in the fellowship have workdays on Saturdays when they do chores together: gathering sheaves of grain behind the hand scythes, threshing grain, shucking corn, cleaning up and a thousand other chores that are always waiting on the ranch.
All in all, it is evident that the ways of the Lord are good, that His blessings follow obedience to his Word, that His mercy and love endure forever. But despite all that the Lord has blessed us with now, we must still say that His blessings and grace were no less when Regina and I moved into that one-room, cold-water flat in the slums of New York's Lower East Side over eight years ago. And no matter where He moves us in the future, and we feel sure of yet more forthcoming moves in accordance with His great purpose, we know that our blessings will not decrease but increase, though our circumstances and surroundings become less beautiful than they are on this magnificent Colorado December day.
And it must be remembered, too, that all the blessings that His people here in Colorado now enjoy were not unaccompanied by sacrifice. There has been vicious, sometimes frightening persecution and slander. There have been battles with the most potent forces regarding the education of our children. There have been health breakdowns at the tremendous burdens borne under the weight of the efforts it takes to accomplish anything truly worthwhile. And the battles and persecution, slander and sacrifice are not over; there will be yet more to come in the future, probably greater—until He comes. Still, we are assured that just as victory prevailed in all past trials, so shall it persist in all future battles. And in a day when most have lost the strength to fight, our God shall strengthen us to continue to fight the fight of faith, ever empowered to struggle through greater conflicts ahead. And we are finally convinced that whatever we suffer in this world is not to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us when He appears.
As you can see, it's been a full two years.
May the reality of His love be with you in the coming days.
Yours in Christ,
Regina, Blair, and Family