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.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

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.”

Fall 2019 Update

Welcome to our new website! This has been an incredibly amazing journey in the past weeks to accomplish this goal. What a blessing this has been and we pray, will be for you!

Our site was in much need of an update and revision. With hearts of deep thankfulness and gratitude to Dustin Samko, we now can welcome you to our new and improved website. Dustin has volunteered countless hours of time, talent and labor to design and create this. He very graciously has put up with my lack of technical knowledge. Together, with the much needed help of Sarah (my daughter) to help with technical support on our end, we are so excited to share this with you.

It’s hard to believe that it has been over a year since I have put an update on this page. Hopefully with the website changes, updates will come a little more easily! A more detailed update on the ministry will follow soon. So much has happened in our personal lives that is seems my time and attention have been pulled somewhere…every time I sat down to share with you, something else would take me away from writing. I am quite sure that many of you can relate.

If you are new to our site, a return visitor or new to the work of my late Father, Art Katz…I would encourage to you spend some time reading previous entries and getting a better understanding of Ben Israel prior to this point. Our website is filled with the history of the ministry along with great resources, information and our bookstore.

So again, WELCOME and thank you for visiting our site.

With many blessings,

Sissie (Katz) Pennel
Ben Israel Fellowship
Art’s Legacy

The Katz Essay: Unless We Are Groaning Presently

So, if we agree that the world is hopelessly evil, and that God’s righteous people are under ceaseless attack by the “ruler of this world” and that the whole world lies in the wicked one who afflicts the righteous by his demonic and human agents, then we agree that they are soon to be overcome and that evil rule is finally to be ended by the direct intervention of God who will create an entirely new, perfect and eternal age under his immediate control, “a new heaven and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

And, one thing that will save you from being a merely phraseological Christian who subscribes to the correctness of this view, is if you are now already groaning over the evil in the world, and that your soul, like righteous Lot, is already presently vexed, so that you cannot stand to flick on the television or to walk into a home that happens to have it on and to see endless advertisements or commercials, as I did, for these contests with these monstrous cars with the giant wheels where the announcer promised there would be devastating collisions like you’ve never seen before, and that the impact will be astonishing and more crashing and crunching than ever before!

And you don’t gag when you hear that? That you don’t bend over? You don’t feel the puke rising?

I want you to, and God wants you to hate what he hates and love what he loves. He wants you to hate iniquity and to love righteousness that will make you a marked man. Unless we are groaning presently for the vile things that are already spreading over the earth, how shall we have the blessed hope of the church that expects the alleviation of these evils and the establishment of the righteousness with his coming? God forbid that this should become for us only “doctrine” because that is exactly what will characterize the apostate church! They will give verbal ascent for exactly the same things, but they will not hold them dearly. They will not believe them. It will just be a mere phraseological Christianity, and they will be strangely irritated by those who do. The words “fanatic,” “heretic,” or worse, will begin to describe the strange enmity that will come forth from that religious body against the smaller.

…this is not something that happens when God’s back is turned

But, that has ever and always been the case. How much more so at the end and consummation of the age will be the persecution of the one by the other? And if you but knew that this is not something that happens when God’s back is turned, and that he is fully cognizant of the entire process, and that he himself is the one that set it in motion by giving us a foolish gospel to believe and a hope beyond the suffering that is inflicted on the saints for their unwillingness to enter ecumenical, global world order – and to suffer! For that releases the very thing for which God is waiting that consummates the age, that there is something in the suffering of the saints that is something more than is doleful and mournful and needs patiently to be borne. It’s a release, a demonstration of something that breaks the last vestiges of the power of hell and the usurping principalities and powers of the air and releases captive mankind!

We’re coming to an hour when we will have no alternatives. Even though we’re nice and believe in balance and moderation and neutrality and have no stomach for radical extremes, I want to say that I don’t believe that we’re going to have any other alternative than to be either radically or apostolically committed – or find ourselves radically apostate. There will not be any neutral ground.

This is a cosmic conflict and always has been, and we are privileged to be the agents of God at its conclusion.

And the world has done everything to dupe us and to domesticate us and to rob us of the apostolic content of our life and our calling by giving us a format of Sunday services and mid-week bible studies and privatized lifestyles and homes and detachment and all kinds of other things that are terribly incompatible with the kind of people that God calls us to be in the community of the saints.

If buying and selling is the privilege only of those who take upon themselves the mark of the Beast – and taking that mark upon you means to violate any relationship with the Lord and to destroy your integrity and to make you a candidate for His eternal judgment – how then shall we live?

I tell you, folks, it makes good sense to begin to contemplate those questions now. And, especially if you live in an area where there is some possibility for the attainment of land of a rural kind where we can learn again how to raise food, how to sustain life, how to provide shelter, how to keep ourselves alive – if the “system” becomes such that we are cut off from access to it by virtue of our unwillingness to take upon ourselves its mark. Or, that the “system” itself will collapse with such debilitating global consequence that if we’re so tied into it that we’ll have no alternative but to perish – or cry “uncle!”

I’m presently living in Minnesota and was brought there originally for the purpose of establishing an agriculturally-based community. And people have looked askance at me and think that’s the delight of men who have that kind of peculiar interest. I want to say I don’t have that delight, naturally speaking. I’m a very private man. I’m the kind of man who would be happy with an attic somewhere in which just to enjoy a book. But to be in the thrust of a band of life in daily intensity and intimacy and demand which community is – well, that is not my natural propensity. But, I tell you, it will be a life-saving provision from God, not only for our bodies but for our souls. It has a wonderful sanctifying effect to be “found out” in the immediate intentions of the daily life lived together. You can’t sweep the unhappy things under the carpet. They are there for all to see.

And, of necessity, we have to go through painful periods of disillusionment and shock with the conditions of the saints – and our own.

Transcribed from a message given in New York City (1989)

Occupy Til I Come

Art Katz first arrived in Europe—Catania in Sicily—as a self-described tall, cocky, seventeen-year-old merchant seaman in 1946. The shock of surveying the ashes and wreckage from World War II drove him back to Brooklyn where, a few years later, he was drafted into the Army and returned to Germany as part of the American army’s “occupation” in late 1951.

His initial arrival in Europe had shattered any idyllic hopes for adventure, according to his autobiography. He was horrified as he surveyed the town with its gutted harbor and half-submerged, broken skeletons of ships and zombie-like civilians trudging past piles of garbage, stopping to forage through the same rubble that they’d scavenged through the previous day. He rarely made mention again of his disillusionment at the squalor and destruction from three years caused by the pulverizing  by the Allied and German barrages during landings. He groped for explanation, numbed by an eerie impression that some vicious inhuman fist had smashed everything in a fit of indescribable hatred. Death prowled invisibly past collapsed buildings, alleys, and waterfront debris.

Occupy Til I Come

Any jubilation had been short-lived in Catania and throughout Sicily following liberation after German occupiers fled in 1943—just ahead of British and American troops who, after ridding the countryside of one enemy, resumed another occupation by foreigners. The war had eventually ended and to be followed by two tortuous decades of “reconstruction”, economic booms-and-busts, a plague of crime, neo-fascist outbreaks and, briefly, civil war. Governmental paralysis provoked massive civilian migrations to northern Italy and abroad through the end of the 20th Century, as the generalized weariness gradually subsided, allowing tedious rebuilding and social reforms.

But, the occupations—whether by German and Allied troops, the home-grown insurrections or local gangs—had seemed peculiarly cruel, excessive and strangely living force that stifled a return to any life in Catania and across the rest of Sicily.

“…The famous parable has no military nor warfare implications. Or does it?

Occupy Til I Come

With few exceptions “peace-time” transitions for nations and regimes are rarely without lengthy aftershocks of harsh poverty, plunder, and violence. The stigma of military occupation is historically negative if not worse—for resentful civilians and abusive though equally entrapped soldiers! 

Katz’s ancestors 1,900 years earlier had subsisted under Roman “occupation” that, according to most historians, lasted from 63 B.C. until 410 A.D., and had included the infamous judgment and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

The single reference to “occupy” in the New Testament parable of the Nobleman (Luke Chapter 19) was spoken by Jesus to show the higher spiritual expectations of fidelity and diligence in advancing His Kingdom.

Conventional commentaries seem to agree that the scant uses of “occupier” and “occupation” in the scriptures applied instead to business and secular pursuits. Especially, in the example of the Nobleman’s servants who were charged to be wise and fruitful in their expansion and management of his “business” holdings and profits until he returned from traveling to a “far country” (Luke 19).

At first glance, the famous parable has no military nor warfare implications. Or does it?

However, conducting routine “business” under the eyes of Roman occupation troops was risky enough, as is the reality now in everyday cutthroat commerce that is characterized as war-like with myriad human casualties and irreversible environmental corruption. Empires rise and topple in the fever of Mammon-worship while the environment suffers simultaneous mayhem.

Even so, the desperate, wicked and chaotic conflict being waged in unseen realms by the enemy finds the church languishing further into spiritual enfeeblement—forsaking the responsibility to “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against the spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6)

Even so, the desperate, wicked and chaotic conflict being waged in unseen realms by the enemy finds the church languishing further into spiritual enfeeblement—forsaking the responsibility to “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against the spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6)

“One of the scandals of contemporary Christianity…

“Spiritual warfare” remained an intensifying theme cited by Art Katz toward the latter years of his long international ministry, whether in London, on many occasions in Germany, or far-flung locales of The Ukraine, Africa, India, Southeast Asia, South and Central America, San Francisco, New York City, in Onalaska, Wisconsin, or at home on Chippewa Tribal lands in northern Minnesota. He ceaselessly warned the church about its unseen enemy and the insidious reality of the spiritual strongholds of evil:

“One of the scandals of contemporary Christianity is the negligence to appropriately ‘teach’ the importance of spiritual warfare, especially in these Last Days when Principalities and Powers and the innumerable, rebellious ‘angels’ and fallen spirit beings plot ruin and instigate genocidal horrors worldwide.”

Truly, unseen realms over the nations swarm with hosts of demon antagonists desperately determined to pervert governments, institutions, societies and races. They deceive and animate earthly life among mankind which is tragically unaware of the brutal harassment and varieties of enslavement.

Although warfare is a constant theme throughout biblical history, Jesus’s confrontation with demons and the Principalities and Powers was no bidding to wage open war with the Romans by Jewish zealots nor between classes and factions of fellow humans.

Rarely was the topic more comprehensively portrayed or concisely presented as in the chapter, entitled “The Powers of Darkness,” in his new book–The Final Mystery: Israel & the Church. For more information on how to obtain a copy of this First Edition, click on http://artkatzministries.org/online_bookstore/books

Why a “war college” and considerations of “spiritual warfare” at Ben Israel?

Occupy Til I Come

Yes. Considering the past ‘schools’ conducted on the cutting-edge themes of things “apostolic” and/or “prophetical” …Why, indeed? The answer, as it quickly became apparent in later decades when the “charismatic movement” had become bloated, increasingly self-celebrating, lapsing ever closer to irrelevance, or worse!─was obvious, and compelling. Art Katz began a succession of ‘schools’ during summer months at Ben Israel that focused on the foundational crisis of leadership and authority in the church.

Our wholesale spiritual bankruptcy and corruption confesses our present decimation of fundamentalist and evangelical ranks, movements and denominations, exceeding any merely passive or religious sloth and secular abandon. True faith has been robbed by the “tradition of men” as a determined and desperate adversary fearlessly rampages and ravages throughout but unacknowledged and unidentified despite Biblical warning, growing and unprecedented evidence and an untapped and apparently ignored abundance of available teaching and timely literature!

Accordingly, this summer’s three “war college” sessions (July 25-27, August 29-September 1, September 26-28) intended to modestly explore this sober theme of “spiritual warfare”, deliverance, and the root issues of Powers and Principalities.

My Present Journey

My Present Journey

I began this present journey in 2005 and in a state of lethargy and disillusionment with “church” as I was encountering it. I had been involved with the ministry of Art Katz and his view of today’s “Christianity”. I was a part of the attempt at community life in 1975, known first as “Dominion (Farms)”, then later as “Ben Israel Fellowship”. As a brother in a responsible position of leadership I was faced with both conflict and blessing. This lifestyle lasted for ten years of my life. When I and my family were forced, or “invited”, to vacate the premises, I returned to living like most of today’s church lives ─ with secular employment and the routine of neighborhood living.

About five years ago I was in a state of nearly being “blinded”, spiritually. I had been reasonably successful at the employment the Lord had provided, and recently “downsized” from my job. I wasn’t consciously calling out to God, but somehow he arranged circumstances to get my attention. A small booklet arrived in the postal mail addressed to my wife, Mary. I don’t know if she read it at that time, but I saw its cover as I walked by the table where it had been placed. It was titled Christ and the Powers, by Hendrik Berkhof. It was small, and I was bored, so this should at least relieve some of my boredom. Little did I realize this little book would start me on a journey that is exciting to this day!

This book from a friend had exposed me to an area of Jesus’ life and ministry that either I had not been aware of, or I had ignored it if or when I might have seen it earlier.

As I recall, I can’t remember it ever having been taught or referred to. It raised a question within me: “If Jesus had such a struggle with invisible powers and overcame them, why haven’t I learned to do the same?” Perhaps they don’t exist today or, having been ‘‘vanquished’ by Jesus, they are forever removed from our arena of life.

“No wonder I and others encounter so much ‘trouble’ every day of our lives!

My Present Journey

The problem is, Berkhof didn’t agree with that view. I had a decision to make ─ remain ignorant or explore the subject further. My personality will not allow me to remain static for very long. The more I read and reread this little book, the more my understanding came alive. It is not a book or teaching that will be conquered at the first reading. Each time I opened it I would find a nuance that I had not previously seen. I discovered the scriptures teach that there is an invisible government beyond our human eyesight that is constantly arrayed against all mankind, like a huge army under the command of a personality out to destroy and take over what has been meant for our enjoyment. No wonder I and others encounter so much “trouble” every day of our lives!

If such a large segment of my understanding of scripture is missing, then I needed to play “catch-up”, and very soon, because time was running out for me. I had already passed my 75th birthday.

The short verse in the Bible at Ephesians 6.12 begged for understanding. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”.

“We wrestle…”? I soon found this verse was not an isolated occasion where the apostle Paul and other New Testament writers referred to the “unseen” world of forces opposing us, as well as an array of good forces assigned to help us. It is packed with valuable information to which few, to my knowledge, pay attention.

Yes, I had seen those verses before, but since they were seldom taken seriously I supposed them to be just “filler” in the saga of Biblical explanation of man’s journey. Not so!

“The ‘powers’ …do not care what brand you wear, so long as you do not live up to it!

As I devoted some time to studying this little explored theme, I became aware of how much I had personally suffered because of my ignorance. I also observed that others, especially my now grown children and other family members, were being devastated and defeated over the same ignorance. It is not a matter of being a “Christian”, or “believer”, it is a matter of awareness and equipping to do something about it ─ to “fight back”.

The next year would be one of decision-making. The news that Art Katz had died brought a need to make arrangements to meet former friends, and relatives, who would gather for his funeral at the Ben Israel property to pay their respects. Another year would pass before I was faced with a new challenge and decision.

Today I find myself back at “Ben Israel Fellowship” with its disarray and shrunken form, only a mere shadow of what it once was. Mary and I had been “invited” to return, to help out with “peace-keeping” and administration, since Art’s passing had left a void which a number of persons were trying to fill.

At first I wanted no part of it, having remembered my former experiences at BI. Yet, the appeal came not because of what was needed, but on the basis that most of those involved “respected” my input, or “voice of experience”. I was acquainted with the people and the problems, from a distance. But I soon discovered upon my return, that the “respect” aspect was greatly exaggerated. It would take more than “reputation” to overcome such deep-seated differences that existed. I would assume a low profile for the next few months, as circumstances allowed feelings to surface.

It was during this period that I became acutely aware of the devastation being caused by the “unseen” forces which Berkhof was addressing. Here was an opportunity to see firsthand if there could be a solution to this disarray.

I discovered that human beings are held captive by these forces, and the forces do not go willingly or quickly. Yes, these were “Christian” people operating as a “Christian fellowship”. But the “powers” (the Greek word for them is stoichiea) do not care what brand you wear, so long as you do not live up to it!

The idea of a “War College” seemed to be a proper fit

A year after our return here, the brother that had sent the booklet to us joined us on the property. That began a time of exchange of thoughts and ideas, reading of related materials, amid the day-to-day chores and maintenance tasks. Our conversations invariably returned to the “principalities and powers” in Ephesians 6 because they were everywhere evident in common life, national politics, economy, religion. No area was exempt.

This past year we started to realize that if we were so ill-informed and ignorant, perhaps there were others who could benefit from what we have discovered. “Bible schools,” conferences, prophetic schools, etc., have all been tried but the benefits have been dubious. Somehow the idea of a session of coming together under the idea of a “War College” seemed to be a proper fit. That idea prompted a new enthusiasm not experienced around here in quite some time.

So, here we are…

– Art Beebe