August 2016 Update

Dear Friends of Ben Israel,

As some of you may know, we moved to the Ben Israel property last summer. The two remaining families that had been on the property left to be closer to family and for healthcare reasons. Since the homecoming of Art (Sissle’s father) in 2007, those who have been here have wrestled with the question of what will become of Ben Israel Fellowship and the lodge at the former Camp Dominion. We also wondered if there was any part of the original Ben Israel vision that would and could still come to fruition. Through much prayer, we ourselves believe that God has a continued use for the property beyond even what the initial vision was that Dad had over 40 years ago. What all of this looks like, is still unknown to us. However, we believe the Lord will unfold His plan in due time.

Many have been wondering what is taking place on the BI property. Our primary calling at this time, is to steward the grounds and buildings so that when God does give the green light for further ministry to start up again, the buildings will be in good and usable condition.We also continue to oversee the sale of Art’s books. As part of walking this out, Sissie has resigned her Director of Nursing position in order to be more available to help with the work on the property and with the church we pastor in Bemidji. This is a huge step of faith for us!

When it comes to stewarding the BI property, there are major projects that need attention which include re-roofing and replacing the siding of the garage, scraping and repainting the barn, tractor repairs, farm house (community center/office) exterior scraping and painting along with needing new plumbing and a hot water heater, as well as repairs and updates in two other mobile homes that could be used for housing and ministry. The list seems to grow daily!

As we have been praying about the future, we are sensing that God might want to use this place as a prayer and retreat center. We also feel this could be a place of respite; where pastors/missionaries, their wives and families could come to be rejuvenated for a short period of time. We even see the potential for a discipleship training school of some type. Again, we are waiting on the Lord’s guidance, direction and timing for what His desire is for this property.

After much prayer and dialogue, we believe that the lodge should be used during the summer months for faith based camps, seminars and retreats. The desire is to be able to have it up and running so that beginning next summer, it can be used. We are currently discerning how the vision for this will unfold. We know that we will need someone with a heart for this type of ministry, that can run the day to day tasks of overseeing the lodge during months of operation and be the “go to” person. We had several requests to use the lodge this summer, but felt that there needed to be proper organization and more thought put into this before opening it up for use. There are several updates and repairs that are needed which we are currently evaluating more thoroughly. The septic system needs to be checked for compliance, broken windows need to be replaced, and replacing of exterior doors to keep out bugs and rodents is a priority…day to day things that have not had the attention needed to keep it up and running.

We recently found out that a portion of the original Camp Dominion property is for sale! The land available includes where the old Camp Dominion Tabernacle was located. This would give us access to Steamboat Lake again, something that has not been an option at the lodge since the Camp Dominion property sold several years ago. There are no financial resources available to make this purchase; however we strongly believe that the Lord can provide and we are exceptionally excited about this potential opportunity! Please pray specifically for this.

There is new life on the farm! This month, we will be joined by Pastor Rick Weinert and his wife, Billie Jean. Pastor Rick was the Senior Pastor at a local church in Bemidji. He resigned his position recently to take a step of faith in a different direction in which the Lord has called him. We are also happy to be able to provide housing for two students and their families who attends Mokahum, a Native American Bible College in Cass Lake. Our niece and her husband, Cody and Jessica Theisen also moved to the farm (Jessica is Emi and Dwayne’s daughter, for those of you that know the Totzauer family). Cody has multiple skills and abilities and will be a huge asset in assisting with maintenance needs on the property.

We were recently blessed by a work crew that came up from North Carolina. What a precious group of saints (Art would have fallen in love with them!) that served and volunteered over 100 hours of labor in cleaning, scrubbing, painting, organizing, hauling trash, and other tasks that needed to be done. We ended their time here with a meal and worship together in the old farm house, just like the old days! We included a few photos below.

Now, how to wrap this all up? Would you be in prayer for us as we steward the property and that God’s purposes would be fulfilled for this place? Please also pray that He would provide the financing it takes to complete all the repairs and ongoing maintenance. Art’s books sales are our primary source of income and He has been faithful to provide and meet the current needs! Would you also be praying for the potential land purchase at the lodge, the vision for a camp and retreat director and additional volunteers who are able to assist with the ever present work projects and ultimately, that the lodge would be used as a resource to disciple and train people for the glory of God?

We appreciate your support and encouragement and know that many of you think of this place from years gone by with fond memories and love. We also know that there are many that remember the vision Dad and others had for this property and have been standing in prayer alongside us, waiting for God’s time and revelation as we seek Him. We know we are not alone in this and are truly grateful for the years of friendship that have been established. If you have been a part of the BI family in the past or present, we are cooking up a BI Family feast on August 13th and invite you to join us for supper! Please contact Sissie if you plan on attending.

Mama Rose who had been a significant prayer warrior here for years, (now in a nursing home in Walker) put it best when she told Sissie during a recent phone call…

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not in thine own understandings, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path.” Proverbs 3:5

And we respond…


Keith and Sissie (Katz) Pennel
Ben Israel Fellowship
Art Katz Ministries

War College Report – 10/30/2014

The Blood Sacrifice

by Art Beebe

Some of the attendees at War College II. THE SECOND SESSION of the War College – held Labor Day weekend – began with a smaller group than the first session.

To provide for maximum involvement without distraction, the agenda was very flexible and there was no financial burden for anyone. The frills of “music by instruments” and the usually expected commercials, announcements, etc., were done away with. Meals were simplified but adequate – to reduce the effect of “stuffed” lethargy.

As the participants came together a more serious tone was set from the start. Because of the smaller group the seating around the tables put us closer to each other. We started off slowly and brought our thoughts together. My thoughts were focusing on ‘What does the Lord want to do this time?’ We always try to maintain an attitude that will allow the Holy Spirit to have optimal freedom to speak and act through any participant.

I recalled my musings after the close of the first college (July 25-27) about the feeling I had of something not quite in tune with what the Lord wanted to accomplish. After having spent some time in prayer about the matter, I had the impression the Lord was telling me that before any fruitful work could be done, the words of the prophet Jeremiah needed to be heeded. There was need of ‘tearing down and rooting out’ before ‘building and planting’ could be done (1:10). I took that to mean that we should tear down any false teachings or bad theology, break up the hardened and thorn-choked earth, before attempting to begin any exploration and teaching about “powers and principalities” or spiritual warfare.

People want to return to the “high places” where their “idols” are kept

Pulling down of strongholds (religious traditions and practices) would be no easy matter, as the leaders in Israel discovered. People want to return to the ‘high places’ where their ‘idols’ are kept. Souls that are not clear of conscience and well-grounded in fundamentals of faith would be poor candidates for doing battle and wrestling with the unseen forces of spiritual reality. I recalled the words of a respected Bible teacher when he said he met the strongest opposition from believers who had not been taught the fundamentals as addressed in the sixth chapter of Hebrews (v. 1,2) – repentance from dead works, faith toward God, the doctrine of baptisms, the laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. How could we be assured that everyone could pass an examination over these issues of the doctrine of Christ? There would not be enough time, obviously, to correct any such deficiencies.

So, I felt an urgency to begin with the foundation on which the salvation of all souls is based – the blood sacrifice. “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin!” Without much waste of time I presented a very basic teaching about why the blood is so important to Believers in Jesus.

Many times we get so caught up with advanced or exotic ministries and teachings that we neglect reviewing such a basic ingredient of our faith. This, I believe, is what the Lord was after – tear down some false conceptions and break up the compacted soil of our minds that had been allowed to harden through neglect. It is difficult to discern how much effect any return to basics really does, but reviews are always helpful.

As we progressed through the rest of the sessions the work was having an effect. One lady was encountering this idea of spiritual warfare for the first time, and gave testimony as to the peace and calm that came over her. She had been struggling with life as she and her husband grew older, and was dealing with health issues. He came with her and their daughter, but couldn’t remain as his health would not permit prolonged time away from his familiar surroundings of home. She had not been made aware that the unseen spirit world could be influencing much of what was happening to her, and them.

There came the recognition that the enemy was at work−and we rallied

A young wife and mother came who knew these unseen evil forces were at work, but had never considered the depth and impact of their strategy to destroy her marriage and family. She said afterwards that she felt strengthened and renewed, and some possible answers came for a long standing problem in her marriage. Her comment – “I have been able to see and experience firsthand koinonia and ekklesia fellowship… I am so thankful the Lord led me here this weekend for this Divine appointed time.”

At the end of the second day the rigorous discussions and activity appeared to have exhausted some of the group, especially following our evening meal. A few questioned whether it would be better to make an early night of it, expecting to be rested and more fit to resume the final day-and-a-half of rich participation and fellowship. A couple others agreed. At first it seemed innocent and understandable enough. But then, there came the recognition that the enemy was subtly at work − and we rallied. Two hours later a woman who was long beset with doubts, inner torments, and weights of grief and depression over the loss of a son realized deliverance was at hand. She received prayer with anointing and instantly experienced release and joy which resulted in a complete change in her demeanor during the remainder of the college being visibly evident in her speech and happy demeanor up until she left for home. Others likewise were stirred and encouraged ─ all resulting from our refusal to listen to the flesh and to instead obey the bidding of the Holy Spirit to press beyond what we did not “feel like doing.”

A well-compiled folder by Peter Brock was presented that contained a valuable review on ‘What is a War College?’, along with statistical analyses from secular and other polls and surveys showing historic trends over the last forty years about today’s Christians and their attitude about Satan, demons, and faith in general. All sources surprisingly agree that by a three-to-one margin, people in all six major ethnographic regions of the world believe in “spirit-possession,” and Christians, by the same ratio, believe in the devil. Yet, traditional churches ignore teaching the existence of Satan, hell, demons and fallen spirits!

This emphasized how the ‘…principalities and powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places’ enumerated in the New Testament are having a ‘heyday’ among Christians as well as the rest of the world population. There is virtually no opposition, let alone any mention of them and their evil deeds coming from today’s ‘end-time church’. Published researches into topics such as the ‘…Flight of Young People from the Church’ and alarming voids of ‘Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults’ are reasons to become serious about ‘wrestling’ with these ‘powers’.

This summer’s war colleges are thus all the more relevant and important. Attention was also called to chapter five, ‘Israel and the Powers of Darkness’, from Art Katz’s latest book The Final Mystery: Israel and The Church. This book along with Hendrik Berkhof’s booklet Christ and The Powers were made available to all participants.

Occult symbols and artifacts creep into our culture and become mini-idols

A session about practices and traditions that have been allowed into the Church over the centuries gave pause for reflection. Even such things as the traditional cross, star of David, the fish sign (icthus or icthys), were called into question. Why? Occult symbols and artifacts creep into our culture and become mini-idols. So, how can we confront the shamans, witch-doctors, medicine men, all with their charms, amulets, medicine bags, etc.? Fear of superstition and “curses” likewise figure into the warfare. Do we really know the meaning behind “signs and symbols,” or do we just accept them as part of our culture? The powers know!

One obvious expression of success in deliverance is the peace of mind that comes afterward. Fear, doubt and unbelief are replaced with peace, calmness, confidence and boldness. When the presence of Jesus Christ settles upon a person the inner change produces an outward effect on the person and all who encounter them. The King reigns within!

We eagerly looked forward to the third and last War College at the end of September.

NOTE: To date, approximately 55 persons have attended, including numerous visitors who have come from Kansas City, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Canada, along with regional Native Americans, missionaries, and from local communities.

We Must Study to Show Ourselves Approved

Joel Schneider (left) from Kansas City…

Like the seventy disciples returning from being sent out by Jesus to engage in spiritual warfare, we are rejoicing after the completion of this summer’s first War College here at Ben Israel.

About forty attendees ─ from Kansas City, the nearby Native American community, nearby communities and other locales ─ labored in the Word and shared rich fellowship and important insights during the first of three “colleges” held July 25-27.

Being Berean…

The second gathering on Labor Day weekend (August 29-September 1) originally included an expanded holiday agenda, while probing the vitally important topic of Basics of Spiritual Warfare, searching the Scriptures in a diligent group study.

One of the most striking conclusions, some agreed, was the crippling absence of a basic understanding of the New Testament terms used in the 10 instances pertaining to Principalities, Powers, Thrones, Dominions, rulers, angels, demons, etc.

“We MUST study to show ourselves approved on these subjects which was the mainstay of spiritual battle for believers in the first eleven centuries of the church’s history!” was one of many exhortations considered ─ and debated.

Many of the participants in the first college said they welcomed discussions and exchanges on such topics as:

  • The Enemy’s Devices.
  • Who and What Makes a Good Soldier for Jesus Christ?
  • The Enemy’s Personal Strategies Against Believers.
  • Encountering Opposition.
  • The Need for More Understanding About Principalities & Powers?