Thanksgiving 2019

Dear Family and Friends,

Soon it will be that time of year where those you love will gather from far and near to celebrate and be thankful for all that He has blessed you with, encouraged you with, brought you through and is even teaching you. I have attached a photo that is both beautiful and deeply significant to me, one that I am thankful for on a much more personal level. It is a representation of my amazing parents, now in their heavenly homes. The maple tree and the bush also known as the “burning bush” are planted between my parents. Originally, both were planted by my mother at the graveside of dad.

The leaves are now gone. The green has faded to brown. The earth is cold and still as Winter sets in. I look out over what used to be a garden and just sit…remembering…pondering…pausing. So many families and individuals had invested themselves with deep commitment to this ministry. The memories and connections are endless. Those days of the ministry will ALWAYS be a framework for the foundation that was built.

I love to be in dad’s office at his desk when I write, a rare moment as you can tell from the frequency of me be able to sit and share again. I tend to push off the other things that need to get done when I am here. This allows me to more deeply reflect on so many years spent in this old farmhouse, in the living room or a shared meal together around the table. My mother was in her element as she loved having people to feed and what a hostess she was! I am so very thankful that she instilled that in me.

I was asked a while back in several emails to share what is actually happening on the farm now. Hopefully with the website changes, updates will come a little more easily! In between, if you have emailed, I have at tried to keep up with responses in a somewhat timely manner and do enjoy hearing from you.

It seems that three very common threads have been present in almost every email I have received in the past months, some very interesting and challenging to respond to. The common questions I receive are…what is happening with the ministry, can we come spend time at the community and what can I tell them about the network of churches that my father often spoke of to help Jews in flight? The first two questions are more easily answered than the third.

So to clarify…the community that once was here and that so many have read of or heard about, does not exist. The “glue” that held the skeletal framework of the community together has been resting in the arms of His father, his physical work on earth done long ago. It was no longer possible to function in the former community lifestyle and changes had to be made.

Does this mean there is no life here? No, it means that life here is different from the days in decades passed. To answer the question of what is happening….that will take a little more elaborating. Unless you like a lot of details, you can skip this and read the end!

When we first moved here four summers ago, we came because we felt we needed to. We, being my husband Keith of now almost 27 years and our daughter, Sarah who is now 23. The two remaining families were leaving and someone needed to be here. Dad, Mom, my sister Emi, Mama Pearl Rose and one of my step nephews are all buried here. The property needed work. Books had to go out, etc…We didn’t come with any ideas or any pretense of how to change things. We simply came out of obedience and the knowledge that someone needed to be here to take care of the property.

And to this day, that remains our heart. Keith has taken up the responsibility of the physical care of the property. There have been a few work crews and very gracious volunteers who have come to help get as much of the property work done as possible and put to order. 40 year plus of people living here has left much to be taken care of with buildings needing work, the barn to painted, the house to be painted inside and out, needs in individual homes with repairs, etc… Books still go out on a regular basis which is a miracle and a blessing as this sustains the property financially. The lodge at the old Camp Dominion is another update, just by itself!

The other current active piece of the ministry (and one the we implemented) is that anyone who is here and staying long term, needs to have a ministry focus. This doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be with Ben Israel, but they need to be actively involved in ministry locally, internationally or somewhere. We have a Pastor and his wife (Dr Rick and Billie Jean Weinert) living here on the farm. He is involved with Oak Hills Bible College in Bemidji and does a significant amount of work with the local pastors. This month, another family who will be working with the Mokahum Ministry Center will be joining us. We have had bible college students and missionaries stay here as well. We do charge a very small amount of rent and everyone that lives here is responsible for meeting their own day to day expenses…a huge change from years ago.

We are waiting on the Lord for what is ahead and feel that at present, our job is to clean up, maintain and be preparing for what is next. What “that” is, we do not know! We also have on our hearts that this is a place of refuge and rest for missionaries or ministers on sabbatical or furlough. How that all would look is still not clear.

We welcome guests when possible, currently on a limited basis and that is mostly due to our schedule. Winter is also a challenging time of year to visit if you have ever been to Northern Minnesota! Keith is the pastor at a local church that we started ten years ago and he is the Director of Education at Mokahum (the local Native American Bible College). His plate it full with all of this so I tend to all the other details which includes updates on the website! I am also a nurse at the hospital, I run the office and I help with our church along with numerous volunteer opportunities. So, life is busy! Sarah is away currently, doing a six month DTS with YWAM but when she is here, she is also actively involved in the life of what we call “the farm”.

The final question and maybe the hardest to answer is, what do we do know of the network of fellowships that were established world wide for those being persecuted in the last days? My answer…I know of a few from old conversations but only a few, none by name. There were several I had heard of. Dad did not tell me of them or who to contact, quite possibly to protect and preserve what had been started? I wish I had a better answer. If you are part of this network and would like to contact me privately and confidentially, please do so. Others are looking for you!

I know that so much has been covered in this “update”. My prayer is that next time, it won’t be as long in coming or as long to read through. Please continue to hold us in your prayers, reach out to us with questions and know that we have been blessed over the years by those who continue to hold us up, those who are seeking more and those who want to know more about life here.


With many blessings and thankfulness for each of you,

Sissie (Katz) Pennel
Ben Israel Fellowship
Art Katz Ministries

Thanksgiving 2019
“So he rose and did according to the word of the Lord.”