By Michael Pearl
...Thirty or forty years ago, even before it looked like the country would descend into anarchy or civil war or financial collapse, before it was obvious that social engineering and overregulation would prevent us from living our convictions, I was concerned about keeping my family in a position to survive all the crazy, dire possibilities of doom and destruction.
When I was in my teens, I knew several “whacky” adults who followed the John Birch Society. I passed them off as conspiracy nuts. Wikipedia says of the John Birch Society:
The organization identifies with Christian principles, seeks to limit governmental powers, and opposes wealth redistribution and economic interventionism. It opposes practices it terms collectivism, totalitarianism, and communism. It opposes socialism and fascism as well, which it asserts is infiltrating US governmental administration. In a 1983 edition of Crossfire, Congressman Larry McDonald (D-Georgia), then its newly appointed president, characterized the society as belonging to the Old Right rather than the New Right.
In the fifties and sixties, the warning cry was against creeping communism. The USSR was spreading its philosophy around the globe, and our leaders spoke of the “domino effect.” One by one the countries in Asia and Africa, and even our neighbors 90 miles away in Cuba were falling to the “Reds.” At the time there was serious concern about an eventual communist invasion of our homeland, taking away the liberties granted to us by God, as denoted in the Constitution.
I must confess, back in the late sixties and early seventies, I saw nothing that indicated our freedoms might be at risk from within. The prophets crying doom seemed to be fringe indeed. Then the USSR dissolved and sought democratic reform. We won! Our republic would survive. No communism for us.
With the “fall of communism” and the arrival of the prosperous eighties and nineties, the John Birch Society and other like organizations faded from the public eye, appearing to be discredited prophets now irrelevant. Little did I know that the “communists” would not come to America in landing craft and parachutes; they would come from our universities, be called “progressive,” and be voted into office by the people who wanted government to be the source of their prosperity. Our personal, family awakening came when the progressives (socialists) tried to engineer our family for us.
By the late seventies, Deb and I had begun homeschooling, a practice unheard of in Memphis, Tennessee. After three hostile visits from Child Protective Services (CPS) with threats to take away our children, and then our big day appearing before the judge, we were beginning to wonder about a 1984-like scenario and Big Brother. Could the John Birch Society and its kind be right? We were pressed to form plans to escape the hand of those who “knew best what was good for our children.” The kids knew the signal that meant they were to go to the basement, climb up on the washing machine, open the window quietly, and slip through the woods to an old, abandoned barn about one mile away and wait for their grandparents to pick them up and take them out of state to a secret location.
After several visits and warnings from CPS, a certified letter delivered by a sheriff notified us to bring our children and appear in the judge’s chamber on Monday morning at ten o’clock. We stowed the children for hasty departure from the state and went to see the judge alone. It was the first volley in a battle we fought and eventually won, but it did not give us any confidence in the goodwill of what I now knew to be our socialist government.
We had raised the kids in the country, fifteen miles outside of Memphis, providing them with a pond in which to swim, free access to the woods and bottom lands, hunting and fishing, planting a small garden, and working in my wood shop. They had lots of Christian friends, most of them adults who shared their interests. We were part of a strong ministry of winning the lost to Christ and building them up in the faith. The kids saw God save thousands of people and change their lives. They knew God was the center of it all.
But by 1988, with five children and the oldest having gone through puberty and one other not far behind, knowing the time of great temptation for the children was approaching, we had enough of the rat race and of trying to provide artificial community for the kids. Many of the people who shared the ministry with us did not fully embrace our convictions. It was obvious that their children would not grow up to be what we wanted ours to become. Their sons and daughters would not make good spouses. And young people tend to pick the fruit closest to the ground, hanging over the fence in their own backyards. So we sold our four-acre estate and moved to a 100-acre piece of unimproved ground in the hills of Middle Tennessee.
It was a wild, crazy adventure. We logged with mules, sawed our lumber on a homemade saw mill, and built our house, barns, shop, and outbuildings. We cleared new ground, plowed, strung fences, milked cows, chased chickens, trying to recover their eggs, grew our vegetables, killed deer for our meat, ground wheat and corn for our bread, and generally lived very poor, plain lives. We loved every minute of it and the kids grew strong and resilient.
None of our neighbors went to public schools or public churches. Every kid had to work hard all day long. They met at the swimming hole in the late afternoons and sometimes spent their days exploring the wooded ridges within a five-mile radius. The kids never went to a mall or movie theatre. There wasn’t—and still isn’t—a television in the house. Not one in the barn either. We did get a 15-inch screen and a VCR and on occasion let the kids watch 101 Dalmatians, The Sound of Music, and other like movies until the tapes wore out.
In the final analysis, it is not the community or the church that produces great children and tremendous adults; it is home life rooted in sincere, relaxed love of God and family that bears eternal fruit.
In the evenings we played checkers and “bored” games (spelled correctly). The girls sewed while the boys constructed spear guns or glued fletches on their arrows or practiced their fast draw. We had Bible reading and told Bible stories. Two or three nights a week we had Bible studies with other families with the kids listening attentively, participating as they were able.
I took any kind of job I could get where the boys and girls could work with me, building barns and outbuildings, laying stone, or cutting hickory sticks for sale to rustic-furniture makers. The boys got a small percentage of what we made—7% and 5%, based on their age and abilities. In the spring and summer we grew organic vegetables and sold them in Nashville. That is the most difficult way to make a dollar. In the end I think I made about $2 an hour, and the kids got about $2 a day. Everybody was glad to see the end of our truck patch farm.
Even in our “Christian community,” there were some families with whom we associated who matured into immaturity. Not all reaped sweet fruit. A form of godliness may conceal, but it will never heal the depravity on the inside. In the final analysis, it is not the community or the church that produces great children and tremendous young adults; it is home life rooted in sincere, relaxed love of God and family that bears eternal fruit. A rotten relationship, or just an empty relationship, between husband and wife and parents and kids is a soul poison without an antidote. Genuine, laughing love immersed in creativity is a miracle cure-all that supercharges the soul and grows up children that are too healthy to come down with soul diseases.
My children now range from 29 to 39 years old and they have given us 21 grandkids—so far. I can say without reservation that the fruit of old age is sweet indeed. There is nothing but harmony and goodwill in the family. God has blessed us beyond our deserts. He gives us grace for grace.
What God began in a 13-year-old boy (when I was born again) and a 9-year-old girl 54 years ago, he has been faithful to continue in ways that leave us wanting for nothing and without regrets. From personal experience I can highly recommend the Christian life based on the Spirit of grace and mercy.
Now, it seems like I have gotten away from my subject of preparing for hard times, but I haven’t. I just want to testify that the dark curtain coming down over our nation does not cause us to fear. Hard times on the outside don’t have to translate into hard times on the inside. We do not want to be numbered with those whose “hearts [are] failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:26). Jesus said, “And fear not them which kill the body…” (Matthew 10:28). And again he said, “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7). And again Jesus reassures us, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
As to hoarding for hard times ahead, Jesus said, “Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth” (Luke 12:33).
Hard times on the outside don’t have to translate into hard times on the inside.
No doubt most Christians need to make some lifestyle changes if they want to be prepared for societal unrest and economic depression. But our starting point must be faith, not fear. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). We need to be celebrating life and liberty in the spirit, not complaining and whining about the poor state of the state. We must claim the promise, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10). I have a ticket out of here before the Great Tribulation (Jacob’s troubles/the time of wrath). More on that later in this magazine.
Come What May
So come what may, if the worst does happen, our generation will not be the first to suffer deprivation or persecution. The writer of Hebrews indicates that the trials that come upon us are to give us the opportunity to become overcomers, to crown us with glory, to build faith. He says of sufferings, “all are partakers” (Hebrews 12:8).
The writer of Hebrews dedicates an entire chapter to those in adversity who did not fear but established a testimony of faith.
“And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
“Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
“Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
“Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
“And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
“They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
“(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
“And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
“God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
“For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 11:32–12:3).
Caring for Our Own
If you are like me, you feel a strong, instinctual need to make provision for your family’s safety and comfort.
But just because we have peace on the inside and can overcome the world, that does not mean I want to be thrown into the fiery furnace, or go hungry, or be vulnerable to a political system hostile to traditional family and Christianity. It would be foolish to sit on my faith and take lightly the possibility of coming hardship and deprivation. We should prepare but not panic. We should plan while we pray. We should get ready but remain steady. While laying up our treasure in heaven, we should lay up a store for the day of famine here on earth. Did not God warn the Egyptians of hard times coming? And did not their preparation see them through the days of dearth? Noah received a warning of coming judgment and “prepared an ark to the saving of his house” (Hebrews 11:7). While believing in God’s care and provision, we can save him a miracle by using the brain he gave us to take care of ourselves. “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8).
If you are like me, you feel a strong, instinctual need to make provision for your family’s safety and comfort. A farmer should have faith, but he must also put his hand to the plow. The Pearl family has made preparation against the days of trial, and we are comfortable with our position in a worst-case scenario. So we dedicate this magazine to some very practical suggestions that, if heeded, can cause you to feel sufficiently prepared come what may.
We can say with the apostle Paul:
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand
of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
“As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31–39).