22. My Vision II
You will spend time working with the members of the family in the fields, in the barns, in the gardens, in the kitchens, in all the workplaces where the normal work of the community takes place. You will eat in the community dining rooms – all of your food will be natural and organic. You will enjoy skits and choral music put on by the young people. You will laugh; you will sing along. You will join the family in awesome worship and praise. You will be asked to share Christ from your heart with all. You will hear the goodness of God in thanksgiving. You will learn what speaking Christ really means. On your way back to Fort St. John, on the paved highway once again, you turn to your wife and say, “Can you believe that, Sweetheart! That was the most incredible, fulfilling “vacation” time we have ever known. Did you notice how much those Christians love one another?”
22. My Vision II
What you are about to read is the most vulnerable I have ever made myself. Normally, here is where I bolt and hide. The Lord spoke to me this morning, as I was contemplating doing just that, “My soul has no pleasure in those who draw back.” That is not a word of condemnation, but of the deepest encouragement. (My soul has great pleasure in those who persevere.)
I know, in sending this vision out, the Lord Jesus will not laugh at me, that He carries my own heart carefully in His hand, and that He regards with highest respect the deepest recesses of my heart.
Some, reading this, may well call it fantasy. Technically they would be right. But what I share comes out of years of real experience and years of thoughtful contemplation of that experience before the Lord. The idea that one moment of my life would be pointless or wasted does not fit in my philosophy. I have always weighed everything carefully, seeking the Lord to understand His ways in all things. By sharing my dream, I lay my heart open either to ridicule or to glory.
For eighteen years I have carried a word inside of me, a word that has never let go of me, holding to it by faith, knowing that God does what He says. But outwardly, by the sight of the eyes, that word has been dead for 14 years.
God spoke to me on September 24, 2012, in the midst of the Feast of Tabernacles, “I will finish the word I planted in your heart.” As He spoke, the vision of returning to Blair Valley in British Columbia leaped full-sprung with all joy inside of me.
Now, let’s get the first business taken care of right off the bat. There are three distinct problems with the idea of my family and I returning to Blair Valley with others of like precious heart to build there a Community of Christ, a city on a hill, that will be a light and a hope and a rejoicing to many across this planet.
Problem # 1. It is impossible.
Problem # 2. The whole idea is ridiculous.
Problem # 3. It is patently absurd.
Those who wish to argue any point of those three real arguments with me will hear complete agreement from me. They are correct – and I suspect that I may know the reality of those three objections more than they.
In fact, after I had written the first part of “My Vision,” I finished watching a movie, Bleak House, by Charles Dickens. In that story, a man pursued and was consumed by a dream. When he finally achieved that dream, staggering in a state of madness, it proved to be 100% empty. He died in brokenness and despair.
Bang! I was hit with the full and knowledgeable realization that I was mad, that maybe this is “the devil” tempting me to leap off the cliff. I quickly decided never to let “My Vision” see the light of day.
I have a distinct problem, though. God is always welling up inside of me, and so I send the thing out anyway. Oh well. If I am mad, then I am mad because of my love for Jesus and for His revelation in His people.
But let me share with you a secret. Should the day come, soon, when I find myself standing there, between the ridges, looking out across the fields of Blair Valley, with the title deed to the property in my pocket, with the full provision (money) to build the community of Christ that is in my heart, a city on a hill, with strength and vigor returned to me, and with brethren of like precious faith standing by my side, heart to heart, something will happen in that moment.
I will command the heavens, and angels will give me ear. I will command the earth, and all men will turn to me in silence. I will command the dead, and they will give me heed. I will declare to the universe: “God does what He says! God speaks the truth.” And no voice will ever stand against His word again.
The ages are turning; the serpent is being cast out of the heavens, about to show up physically in the earth; the sons of God are stretching their faith and the glory of their hearts across this planet.
Kingdoms fall into ruin. Fear grips the nations. And the Kingdom of God arises from beneath of us and flows out from our bellies.
Okay, back to the vision of my heart. Let me say this first. I do NOT believe in isolation or “hiding.” Why God would choose such a remote place for a light that will shine to all nations is His business, not mine.
A healthy community MUST keep a continual and carefully tended balance between nurturing the heart of the family, those who have made their homes there, and the outflow of life to others, those who “come and see,” but go forth strengthened with joy, to see God move in similar ways back home. It’s not 50-50, it’s 100% careful nurture of the heart of every individual there: FAMILY. And it’s 100% outflow of life and blessing to others.
I do not believe in poverty or in a “god” of poverty. God is abundance, and all that we need to meet the needs of others flows out of our shared heart. Money is not evil; it is only a tool. The pride of poverty is as hostile to God as the love of money and possessions. All money on earth belongs to God, and His sons access that money as they have need. Jesus’ ministry was not cheap; it was financed by several wives or widows of rich men. Jesus never gave thought to “money,” but what He needed was always there as He needed it.
More than that, example after example through the Bible shows us the difference between those who believed God for little and received little versus those who believed God for much and received far more than they had imagined.
At the same time, just watch any of the money-grubbing shows on Christian TV, if you can stomach it. You soon won’t – stomach it, that is. I know well the politicking that comes into the room when there is real money at hand. And I have first hand experience when too much money for a project causes wrong decisions to be made. When money is spent on the wrong thing, that thing becomes a weight to pull the whole thing down.
That is why, I suspect, God would take the heart of a man into the tomb for 18 years and there, batter that heart all apart and rebuild it, piece by piece, inside the Lord Jesus Christ.
The greatest triumph of my creative ability is the Graham River Tabernacle. It stands today mostly empty and useless in the icy wastes of the Canadian wilderness. I know what it is to walk away from everything. I would do it again in a heartbeat to know the Lord Jesus in His glory.
I am not afraid of failure or making mistakes. I have no concern about shame. I will not pretend. I expect with all the expectation of God that I do not fall short of His glory. At every step along the way, I cast all that I have and all that I am before His feet. God and I walk together as one.
I say all this to dispel from anyone’s mind any idea that I’m thinking about a small group of people eeking out a meager existence, isolated and poor. I am thinking of no such thing. But I want to share the vision of community God birthed in my heart specifically as it could be inside the physical characteristics of the Blair Valley property. In that discussion, I must include a brief mention of money.
Let me say this. Since God birthed His heart for community inside of me on that hillside in Oregon in November 1994, the nature of that life together, what form it could take, has been my constant companion. I have labored deep and long over all of these issues. What I share comes out of the deep plowing of God.
First, every particle of the former Shiloh structures and debris must be removed. There are reasons for that, which I will not expand on. It’s possible that one or two buildings still have temporary value; but I see only new buildings for every function and need of the community.
Second, there is one means only by which a community of people living at that location could earn a decent living AND be a ministry to others. That is, the business of Blair Valley and the ministry of Blair Valley are one and the same. There are two things operating fully in Blair Valley. There is the family that can be described best by the word, “family,” and there is the business/ministry that can be described best by the word “hospice.”
Our business and our ministry is, first, hospitality; we are a teaching community. Some may call it a “vacation resort.” That’s not really what we are, but it does fit into that “box.” People spending their “vacation” time with us, engaging in all the farmstead and homestead activities of a simple life, will go back home deeply refreshed, inspired to something they had never considered before, AND with new skills and knowledge that will most certainly come in handy. Others may think of us as a “boarding school.” Again, that’s not really what we are, but that rough description is not “wrong.”
For a somewhat example of what I envision, you could peruse this website. I am referring to the outward, public part of this group’s ministry, not any of their inner doctrine or practices. http://www.heritageministries.net/home.html
Let me bring in a statement from my undeveloped website, yguide.org.
The delights of strong and healthy children, warm and inviting homes, the aroma of herbs, the cackle of chickens, the richness of the soil, shaping wood into beauty, tinkering with machinery, the comfort of a full and well-stocked pantry, the beauty of growing things.
Dream of a simple life, of the increase of the fruits of the earth and of your labor.
Share with others from your abundance.
This is part of the vision at the core of our business/ministry, our hospice.
For all these years, I have wrestled with this question. Is the vision of my heart a Christian community first? Or is it a school first? Or is it a hospice first? I now know the answer. Yes – to all three. Yes, yes, and yes.
Come with me on a visit to the Blair Valley I envision.
You are driving north on the Alaska Highway from Fort St. John. After passing the little town of Wonowon (Mile 101), be on the lookout for the Blair Valley sign at Mile 109; turn left. After about nine miles off the highway you will descend into the valley of the Gundy Creek. You will pass by a number of cattle ranches and hayfields. After awhile you will cross Townshend Creek on a narrow bridge and ascend a ridge. At the top you will see a Blair Valley sign; take a right. Have no concern; the road you are on is an all-weather road, safe and comfortable.
We know you are coming; we are on the lookout for your arrival.
As you drive north through poplar woods, you will notice two ridges arising on each side of you, one to the west and the other to the east. You are in the valley of Blair Creek. A few miles more and the road leaves the poplar/spruce woods. You are looking over a long field of grass. A mile in the distance you see some buildings. You have arrived at Blair Valley.
Now, before continuing on, I want to speak of costs. In 1998, I estimated the costs of raising our winter access road to an all-weather gravel road to be around $150,000. In the 14 years since, the value of money in this world has dropped more than half. Thus the same thing today would likely cost between $350–400,000. That road is essential, before even arriving at Blair Valley. It is one of the large differences between isolation and the ministry of Christ, between “eeking out” in poverty and a city set on a hill.
I do not consider going back into Blair with less than five million dollars, though that is around 1/4 of the costs of what I am describing and would leave us stunted right at the point of making the difference.
I am not interested in limiting God, even with the figure of $20,000,000. It all belongs to God, and we are His sons, the expression of His hand. Endurance and example guides my thoughts, not extravagance.
…a place prepared for her… Revelation 12
The buildings in the distance take shape as you drive closer. To your left is the large southern hayfield; to your right is the eastern ridge rising up from the road. The tops of the two ridges are just over three miles apart; the ridge to the west is a bit higher, about a thousand feet up from the valley bottom. The valley itself averages about a mile in width. Blair Creek is about a half mile to your left, just below that line of poplar trees on the edge of the hayfield.
You notice that the two large buildings just ahead are shops, a mechanics shop and a wood shop, but the main road turns to angle across the field. You pass by emblems announcing: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Is the Lord of Hosts.” You begin to sense that you are entering a place devoted to the glory of Jesus.
To your right is a row of houses stretching along a small wooded valley just behind them. You pass the nearest one and dip down into the little valley across a small dam. To your right is a pond stretching back into the poplar trees. To your left you see gardens dropping down the slope below you. Your car comes up again on the other side. On your right is another home; on your left is a longer building with a wrap-around porch. You see a group of people sitting on the porch; they seem to be shelling peas. Just ahead is a parking lot where you park your car.
As you step out of your car, the man and woman whom you already spoke to are there, greeting you with warm smiles and a hearty handshake. “Welcome to Blair Valley.”
You look around; everything is brand new to you; you’ve never before seen anything like the wholesome, life-filled village that now surrounds you.
One thing you notice is that the buildings, though varying in size and shape, are all the same style. All the roofs of all the buildings are a light, pastel green metal. They all appear to be log cabins, the logs sanded and varnished clear and scribed carefully together. The trim is quaint – Scandinavian or Dutch, maybe, and different homes have different colors of trim, though all are a light pastel. Everything is orderly; everything fits.
Behind or to the side of every building stands a bank of solar panels turning with the sun. There is a generator up behind the shops, but it runs only occasionally. There are no ugly wires visible anywhere.
What you will learn later is that the logs are the outer wall; the real walls of all the buildings are solid concrete, with a warm BLANKET of insulation between the inner and the outer walls. If you come in the winter, you will be astonished at how warm and cozy every corner of the buildings are and how little firewood it takes to heat them, even at fifty below. Almost every building has a wall of south-facing windows to garner the winter sun.
What you may never know is how blessed the men of the community are – all through the long winter months – that they do not spend so many long, hard hours at great cost of equipment, securing unending piles of firewood to feed insatiable furnaces that still leave frozen corners and ice next to people’s beds. No, at Blair Valley, we simply spent a bit extra money in the beginning on a wise design to eliminate one-third of the outside labor of a community.
Let me make a comment here. I have spent so many hours and days and years rebuilding poorly built buildings somehow to keep them meeting present needs. I have faced and dealt with every kind of construction difficulty you could imagine and many you could not imagine. It is foolhardy and wasteful to build cheaply and for the moment only. To me, it is a moral issue. I build for my children and their children. I would see generations yet to come enjoying the fruit of my labor. The modern practice of buildings made to last 50 years is abhorrent to me. A building should be comfortably useful and easy to remodel for at least 200 years, or better yet, 500 years.
The gospel promises us everlasting life. I have no plans to go anywhere; I’m in this thing for the long haul. It would not surprise me in the least if you visited me at Blair Valley 300 years from now and found me living in the same home, sharing life and joy with many.
Hey, I believe in Jesus; I am convinced He speaks true. We are called to declare Christ, to be His witness. Let us do so with all abandon, regardless of the cost.
As you step away from your car, you come up to a lane that you crossed, running east and west, perpendicular to the road you came in on. You are now facing in the opposite direction, due south. You spend a few minutes gazing around. Behind you is a dense forest of short spruce trees, almost a bog, but not quite. To your left, stretching up at an angle to the northeast of where you stand are two more rows of homes on either side of the lane. Behind the one row is the dense spruce woods, behind the other is the little poplar valley you already crossed. In-between are open grassy yards and short white picket fences. You will learn that each home includes an acre of trees and lawn that “belongs” to that family.
Right in the center of these homes is a slightly larger building, a lodge. You will learn that the family calls it “The Tabernacle.” It is their living room, their community dining room, their place of relaxation and fellowship. You are welcome to join with us at any time. There is no distinction known here.
However, the permanent family homes and living are all to your left, in those three rows of homes joined by many walk ways and little bridges, white-picket gates and flower gardens with the Tabernacle in the heart of their life together.
Straight ahead of you and to your right are the buildings and lawns that make up the Hospice part of the community. But your immediate attention is drawn to your far right, just behind you, to a large structure extending beyond where the spruce woods end. “Is that a fort?” you exclaim. Your hosts laugh.
“That’s part of our hospice,” they explain. “Inside are all the little shops and workrooms, many of which you indicated you want to learn while you visit with us. There’s a blacksmith shop, pottery and leathermaking, spinning and weaving, soapmaking, an herbarium – and so on. You’ll probably want to try your hand at a number of traditional homesteading activities while you are here.”
“The building you passed by with the wrap-around porch, straight ahead, that’s our family homesteading work-place. It’s where we process and store our food on one end, on the other end is a modern sewing-craft room for the family’s use.
“You’ll find that we have two kinds of work going on here. One kind utilizes full modern equipment and facilities to meet the needs of the family. The other kind is pioneer, hand-tool types of work, the way people used to live before electricity. You are welcome to learn from and join us in both.”
Your hosts grab your luggage and walk with you across the lane towards a large lodge located across a grass lawn, at the far southern point overlooking the Blair Creek below. You have rooms reserved on the second floor of the lodge. You signed up for the three-week full program at Blair Valley Hospice.
You pass by a large building on your right, shaped like an H. “That’s our school building,” your hosts mention. “You will enjoy theatrical and choral presentations there in the main room of the school. On the far-side is our craft store, run entirely by our students. Feel free to visit there any time; make any purchases you wish. Everything in the store is made or grown right here.”
To your left, you see a chapel overlooking the gardens below; to your right, on the other side of a lane, is a gymnasium.
The large lodge sits at the very point of the bluff. You notice a large sign above the entrance: “Speak Christ and Enter.” Passing through the entryway, you find yourself in a large “living” room. The ceiling is the slope of the roof high above stunningly beautiful log trusses. Behind you is a rock wall with a large fireplace in the center. But you are drawn to the far side, to high windows overlooking the gardens and the Blair Valley below. As you approach the glass to look out, you are stunned by the natural beauty of the place God has brought you to.
You are looking out to the western wall of Blair Valley, the high, steep, and wild ridge stretching at an angle to your view. Straight below you are gardens and walkways, gazebos and green houses, spilling down the undulating slope. To your right is the Blair Creek, winding around its channel and around more gardens. To your immediate right and just below, you notice a cabin, the first of a number of cabins scattered among woods and meadows and ponds between Blair Creek and the higher bluff on which are the Hospice buildings. These are guest cabins.
“You are welcome to go swimming in the Blair Creek, but the water is nippy! You might enjoy the small indoor pool on the ledge just below the bluff instead,” your host explains. “But we will enjoy a picnic with the whole family down along the Creek this Sunday afternoon.”
Later on you will learn that for a mile further to the north of the village are more hay and crop fields. Inside one of the nearer fields is an airstrip with a small plane, available for any emergency need. Up the eastern slopes of the valley, behind the mechanics shops, are the large barns and some of the farmsteading activities. The barns are grouped together in a large horseshoe shape so that no one feels isolated in the dark days of winter. You will learn that the farmstead specializes in rare and unusual breeds of animals: horses, goats, chickens, and sheep.
Inside the four-acre “fort” there is no electricity, nor anything “modern.” Everything is as it would have been for those living in 1800’s Canada. You will get to experience true authenticity, but then go back to your comfortable room after.
Everything here is solid and well-built, but also practical and comfortable, with no show of “luxury” or ostentation. You feel safe and taken care of, but you are excited at the thought of your next three weeks.
Let me briefly explain the “three-weeks Hospice program” you selected. I will not create an exact “schedule,” here, just an outline.
Your time here will be fairly structured. Certainly, you will have times of privacy and leisure, but you did not come to sit and be bored. At the same time, you signed your initials on the line stating that you also wish to be included in the “Christian” activities. You are welcome fully, one way or the other. No one is pressured to drink of Christ; all are free. We see so many lives transformed, so many hearts melted into His love, but no one is thought a bit less of who chooses only the “secular” activities.
You chose hand woodworking as your main craft; your wife chose pottery making. You will spend a few hours most days working in those shops inside the “fort” learning your trades. You will spend some time learning other crafts as well, entirely as you wish.
You will spend time working with the members of the family in the fields, in the barns, in the gardens, in the kitchens, in all the workplaces where the normal work of the community takes place. You will eat in the community dining rooms – all of your food will be natural and organic – you will enjoy tender moose roast; you will participate in the habit we have of EVERYONE helping to wash the dishes after most of your meals. You will enjoy skits and choral music put on by the young people. You will laugh; you will sing along. You will experience one awesome candlelight full service dinner during your stay, and you don’t have to help with dishes after.
You will hike along the creek and up to the ridge tops. You will take an impressive horse buggy or sleigh ride. You will enjoy picnics along the river (if you come in the summer) or skiing and skating (if you come in the winter). If you’re young and hardy, you might enjoy a backpacking overnight further up the Blair Valley.
You will join the family in awesome worship and praise. You will be asked to share Christ from your heart with all. You will hear the goodness of God in thanksgiving. You will learn what speaking Christ really means. You will sign up for different “Bible” courses. You will sit under profound sharing from the throne of God. You could even take Daniel Yordy’s writing course; he’s one of the brother’s here, the guy with the bald head and the goatee.
You can spend time in the prayer hut next to the rose garden, meeting with the God who always fills you full.
On your way back to Fort St. John, on the paved highway once again, you turn to your wife and say, “Can you believe that, Sweetheart! That was the most incredible, fulfilling “vacation” time we have ever known. Did you notice how much those Christians love one another?”
Now, I want to go from the eyes of a visitor to a structure of sorts for the permanent family. First is the injunction to cast the vision and to make it plain.
On the one hand, I delight in other people’s ways of doing things. Much of what I share here MUST grow out of the combined hearts of a number of committed people. Their welcomed input is part of what I desire. Things could well look a bit differently than what I have described. I can picture the wheels turning in the minds of those who have lived at Blair, trying to figure out my “locations.”
But on the other hand, I cannot walk with those with whom I am not agreed. I cannot give myself to something that does not flow out of the witness of my own heart. There are many things which I will not compromise on. At the top of that list is that we will treat every individual person, from the least to the most, with the utmost regard and respect. Our main task as fellow believers is to guard one another’s hearts. Everyone who comes, guest or family member, will be more blessed and honored in their going than they are in their coming.
These people belong to Jesus, not to us. Every way in which we treat one another, we are literally and actually treating Jesus.
Rules are important for any life together. But I have watched more people destroyed by the enforcement of rules than just about anything else. May I suggest the example of God. Yes, God gave some rules, and then He bore all punishment upon Himself for every broken rule. What if we allowed God to be Himself through us, carrying the weak, bearing even our enemies inside ourselves in tender compassion, laying down our own lives for our friends.
Here’s what I know. Everyone appreciates it when the vision is clear, when the course is marked all the way to the end. In that way, some, looking at the clearly cast vision, might say, “That sings in my heart; I belong there.” At the same time, others can look at the clearly cast vision and realize, “No, that’s not for me.” Both are well-served.
I have seen too many times when the vision was not cast clearly and some came, only to discover that it was not really for them. They had not known what they were leaping into. How badly those precious brethren were treated! How broken and confused they were as they escaped a nightmare to preserve their sanity. Some did not succeed.
Another absolute for me is that there will be no separation inside or out. When we look at our brother, we see Christ alone; his flesh is the flesh of God. We honor him or her no matter how silly we might think they are. And in the community at large, there is no “us versus them,” no class structure. Every person, male and female, 25 and above is part of the government and ordering of the community. Every person, 16 and above, will have the chance to be “the boss” over some area of work during the course of the seasons. I will take as much delight in having a 16-year-old girl give me and others our instructions as we line up to help her harvest her garden patch that she has been responsible for as I ever did in leading large crews of men. Strong oversight is required for work flows to be successful, but who is the oversight will be fluid and regularly changed.
The ministry of Christ is a service, not an office. It is a lifting up, not a “place above.” No one except Jesus is “responsible for the kingdom.” No one is under the “displeasure” of God. Every person is invited freely to share Christ in any and every way their heart would express itself in the good flow of honor and purity.
Sin? There is no sin ever committed not found in Christ, dead upon the cross – and there is no sin in Christ. The incredible conceit that “we are responsible for the kingdom,” or, “God is displeased with all of you because of your hard hearts,” dishonors Christ far more than any teenage indiscretion.
There is only one reason why those who are wise in the community would step in to ask an individual to leave. That reason is the actions of abuse. That’s an important distinction to make. We all make foolish mistakes and become frustrated with one another. We all do things that require us to ask forgiveness. That is perfectly normal.
But in any group of people, over time, you will find that there are those few who move in a level of abuse against others that is cynical and cold. When that is not stopped immediately by removing the abusive party entirely from the community, great harm comes into people’s lives. I have known young people who were shattered life-long by such abuse, abuse that was tolerated because of “grace and mercy.”
If someone hurts one of these little ones, they can find all the grace and mercy they need – somewhere else. They can find it even in a prison cell if such a place is warranted by their actions. God in His grace makes good use of prison cells.
Every where one looks throughout the community or all through the day one sees or hears the speaking of Christ, the seeing of Christ alone, the tenderness of His heart, the light touch of His hand.
In my previous community experience there was a fetish, almost, with iconoclasm and a run-down, almost derelict appearance. Some of the communities were so ugly and trashy it was hard to visit them.
Let me point towards a philosophy of life that so agrees with the way God made my own heart – if I were free and had the strength to see things happen this way. I am referring to the book, A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander. I have read with inspiration from this book, though I do not own a copy myself. But I do have Patterns of Home along with Home by Design by Sarah Suzanka which come out of that way of thinking. A Pattern Language postulates that really beautiful design grows organically, bit by bit, out of spontaneous lives and the needs of the people of a village. In contrast, I have presented a fully-formed view of a village. I have to see the whole picture myself in order to know where any of the parts go. But I am more than ready to see any of those parts altered to fit the spontaneous reality of those who are part of the community.
Yet I know this, when the design of a community flows out of a beautifully conceived idea and order, the entire place takes on a feeling of beauty and design. This, also, is important to me. The lack of concern for beauty at many of the communities I lived in never appealed to me.
There are seven elements of the Blair Valley Community that we focus on and cultivate. Each of these seven elements is structured or ordered slightly differently. Government is part of all life together, but there is never “one size fits all.” Anytime a “wineskin” is no longer usable, we gleefully toss it away. New wineskins are a lot of fun!
Here is the short list – in order of importance.
1. The Family
2. The Church
3. The Subsistence Tasks of the Community
4. Business/Ministry (actually, the larger group of what follows)
7. Outward Ministry and Service
I want nothing to do with the “elders” - “body members” class structure I knew in move community. That so-called “order” is neither Biblical nor godly nor conducive to the goodness of Christ. It comes from the same theology as some of the worst elements of Catholicism and slowly creates the same class structure of aristocracy and serfs that developed over centuries under European Catholicism.
The family consists of all those who are at Blair Valley for longer than the three-month Hospice plan. This includes those who are living fully at Blair Valley as well as those who come so that their children can attend the school. People can get visas to come from other countries to be with their children for the school year. They will be reckoned as fully members of the family as anyone else.
Our life together in community overall is governed by the adult members of the family, all age 25 and up. Typically the direction for the community is decided by consensus, though there is no reason why we cannot choose to go with a large majority (75% or so) vote on some issues. Yet we never disregard the heart of a brother who just cannot connect with the “majority.”
The church is our life of worship together. There are some gifted to share words and teachings – all will have opportunity to share Christ in the gathering together of services. Some are gifted to lead praise. As I share later in “In the Womb of the Church,” in The Kingdom Rising, God is both orderly and spontaneous. He does wonderful things when He is free to lead.
There is a role for the service of elders inside the part of the community called church. There is a place for directing the services and all our times together in the Holy Spirit; and there is a need for counseling or for resolving difficult and private disputes between individuals. There is no rigid “group” who are “the elders,” however; although those who have wisdom in that area usually move in that role.
The subsistence tasks are the work of the community including serving guests in any form other than teaching. They include farming, gardening, remodeling, mechanics, and so on. They include cleaning rooms and cooking meals for guests, and so on. Projects in this category always need a boss. However, the “boss” changes from one job to another. Everyone, 16 and up, should get the chance to be “the boss” at least now and then. The boss moves in personal authority, but operates under a set of “policies” established clearly by the overall community.
Business/Ministry is, to a certain extent, a one-man show. That is, the overall direction and flow of the community flows out of my own heart.
What I mean is this. Blair Valley is a teaching and hospitality community. All the many ways in which that expresses itself must come out of the hearts and interests of all the members of the community. But I cannot live anywhere else than inside the word of Christ flowing through me these last few years.
I welcome all word that comes alongside the word of Christ which I teach. I have no problems with differences of view or expression from how “I would say it.” That’s part of normal church life. But I cannot be a part of that which I am not agreed. The revelation of Jesus Christ in His people in ALL that it means, seeing Him alone in each one, and seeing all things out from His heart must fill the Word that underlies the community.
The Word is the foundation of the Church. She lives entirely by the Word that she carries.
Hospitality is our primary business/ministry. There will be a certain charge to those who come for any of the “vacation packages”; beyond that donations will be most welcome. All visitors will be slotted into working at community tasks as part of their overall experience. The “store” will allow visitors to purchase homemade items to take back home with them.
Our goal is to bless people with the goodness of the Lord and with no strings attached. Everyone understands that we must make a “living.”
Teaching is our secondary business/ministry. This includes older students who come to Blair Valley for their final years of high school as well as some families who come primarily for their children to enjoy the school. It also includes specific ordered training offered to guests.
This means that most everyone in the community will learn to be a teacher in some way. And every one will learn two or more crafts or art skills that they could teach. For instance, I would teach writing to our guests, as well as English and Social Studies in the school. I also would love to teach gardening. Individual members of the community would go out and receive specialized training in such things as blacksmithing, horse farming, and so on – the list is endless – all crafts that are a necessary part of full village life.
Outward business/ministry consists of two things. The first is a website similar to my vision for YGuide that will be an extension of what we do all over the world. That is – homesteading and farmsteading crafts. One individual will spend full-time working on the website, but will include write-ups, videos and so on from all the many craftsmen and craftswomen in the community. The goal would be to build a website that heritage craft and “back to the farm and the simple life” people all over the world would value and make use of.
This website would be our primary means of advertising and would likely draw people in to the Hospice from all over the world.
Finally, the outward ministry could include some going out from time to time with a word of the gospel of the kingdom and of the revelation of Jesus Christ. There is no real “go and tell” in the gospel without having a “come and see” to which the minister of Christ can point. If there is no church, no body of believers, walking in all the life of the word one is preaching, who send that person out from their own gathering, then “go and tell” becomes little more than empty words about empty ideas.
Outward ministry would also include teachings and books going out by the Internet and other means.
I will close off there. Sometimes one cannot see clearly without writing things out. I must say this, however. There is no question in my mind that I have gone way out on a very high limb and thoroughly sawed that limb off. I am fully cognizant of the possibility that some will come along twenty years from now and say, “Oh dear, there’s that Daniel Yordy, the guy with all the big dreams that never happened, all the bold proclamations that went nowhere. Sad, very sad.”
The truth is, I really don’t care. I am almost 56 years old. My heart, hammered and battered and shaped and filled by God for 37 years, cannot be engaged anywhere else.
I would rather die believing God than live in the empty shell of what might have been, if only.
And yet I know this. There are so many dear hearts all across this planet, beloved of the Lord, whose hearts long and cry for just such a place for themselves and for their children.
It is for their sakes that I carry this thing through until God proves Himself mighty.
John Gray pointed out that Jesus named “Lazarus” when He said “Lazarus, come forth”; otherwise all the dead would have heard His voice and come out of the grave.
Blair Valley, come forth!
But it is no longer the time of in-part. We live in the turning of the ages, the fullness of times. All that God speaks is fulfilled in our lives. The kingdom of God is village life, real and tangible, spreading across the earth.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.