Growing up in the Way

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From a Grown Daughter of the Twelve Tribes in Germany*

Dear Reader,

TehorahHello, my name is Sarah Röhrs. I was born and raised in the Twelve Tribes communities. Most of my years growing up I spent on our farm in Klosterzimmern in Bavaria, Germany. We have an outstandingly beautiful farm there, lots of fields and animals, a river, a playground and a lodge to dance and celebrate (even play indoor games). When I think about it now I really miss it – it was kind of like a little paradise!

I was homeschooled there – of course – and there were things for us children to do and to get involved in…..farm work, our sewing shop, our little café and store. We would play music, sing and dance, write and practice plays. We were needed also and at times we would have sewing pushes in our little school and sew for markets or go and harvest fruit when it was the season or landscape flower and herb gardens…or we would have some very entertaining games of volleyball, tag, etc. We had a great time and were able to meet a need at the same time – and we became better friends through it all. That always gave me a great sense of fulfilment.

We had guests staying with us all the time. Visitors enjoyed working with us on the farm, joining in our volleyball games, and seeing the things we did in our school – very creative and useful things. Many a time they would ask us if they could send their children to our school – “abuse” was never a thought.

At our annual Hoffest (Farm Fest) thousands of people would enjoy our farm, home cooking, children’s play, traditional music and folk dancing. Our guests saw that we were happy, content children who had a purpose.

The way I was raised in was a very special way…it is the way God commanded Abraham of old and his household to follow in the way of righteousness.

“For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” (Genesis 18:19)

Yehezekels 015My parents’ heart was turned to me and to my siblings (there are six of us, a lively bunch). Their love and devotion to us was shown by their interest and attentiveness to our needs, physical, spiritual and emotional needs. They taught me right from wrong – even how to love and respect others. I’ve grown up to love God and my neighbor with all my heart and to keep His commandments. I was praised for doing well and corrected or spanked for the things that were wrong and would give me a bad conscience.

This made for a childhood free from guilt, anger, and tension between us children and our parents.

It was usually peaceful. I was forgiven for things I did wrong. I don’t remember living with feelings of guilt or regret or having to live with a bad conscience for long. I have always felt loved – by my parents, my teachers and all my friends in the community. There are standards and guidelines in our common life to ensure order and respect. Within these boundaries I felt secure.

It was only when I was disrespectful or disobedient that I would need prodding (spanking) in order for me to “get back on track” – back on the way. I believe everyone knows that feeling of guilt and separation when you know the right thing to do but don’t do it. You feel bad and desire to make it right as soon as possible. When necessary, my parents would spank me and actually help me be the way I REALLY wanted to be: kind, respectful, caring. I could repent for my wrong doing and I was immediately forgiven…the wrong done was forgotten and our fellowship – our heart to heart communication was restored.

I never experienced my parent’s anger or frustration with me or their withdrawal of affection from me.

Things aren’t a big deal when they are addressed right away. It only takes a few minutes to make the wrong right and the end of a spanking was always a hug and a word of confirmation. Does discipline hurt? Yes, it does at the moment. But the positive long lasting results far outweigh the pain of the moment. Discipline has taught me the reality of life, that I am accountable for my actions, that my choices matter. I have learned to cultivate and maintain meaningful and deep relationships with the people I live with (in the community) and people outside of the community.

My parents had vision for me to grow up into a happy, respectful, secure and caring person. I am extremely thankful for that. It has helped me steer clear of the many troubles of youthhood and stay clean, pure, and free. Being disciplined has taught me self-judgment and respect towards others. I have learned about boundaries and the consequences that come from overstepping them. I believe it is the only way one can learn, gain character and maintain good morals. THIS is the way I will raise my children. It is based on the word of God and it works (history has proven this).

Training children is like gardening. If you don’t take care to remove the weeds while they’re small, they will end up overtaking the good.

Unresolved issues between parents and children pile up until someone boils over and reacts in anger. THAT is abuse!

When I see other youth my age outside the community, I actually feel for them – to see them trying to somehow fill that void inside. I see them chasing after vain, superficial and temporary pleasures, and acceptance by peers. Some express their discontentment and craving for attention through shameful behavior or outright acts of rebellion and violence. These young people weren’t given the attention and dignity they needed when they were children. Many of them were not trained to respect and honor their fellow citizens.

I am not a perfect person and I don’t live with perfect people – we all make mistakes and hurt each other at times. But it is because of forgiveness that we are able to live together and share all things in common out of real genuine love – for over 40 years now. The only reason we (who are here) are here, is because we WANT to be – it is a decision of our own free will – those who want to join AND those who were born here. I haven’t been a part of any other religion outside of our communities or even lived in the greater society, but I don’t desire anything else. The things I’ve heard and all I’ve seen has been enough for me to make a decision to live my life here. I am here because I believe in God.

God is love and here is where I experience love. We are learning to love others and receive love in return. I deeply love my friends here — we know each other’s hearts. But first one must extend oneself. It is a matter of the heart, whether I really want to or not. My hope and vision is that there will be future generations that will take on this heart – just as I have taken on my parents’ hearts.

If you’d like to hear more about what it’s like to grow up in the Twelve Tribes, feel free to come and ask questions.

Yehezekels 007

From a daughter who grew up in the Twelve Tribes of Germany.

If you understand German, you will enjoy watching this interview of Sarah (whose name in the Community is Tehorah) from the summer of 2013.

For photos of the 2008 to 2013 Hoffest (farm festivals), go to this link: Hoffest.

* Sarah’s talk was first presented at the CESNUR (Center for the Study of New Religions, Turin, Italy) Conference of June 2014 in Texas.

Read her father’s noble words at the 2004 Press Conference preceding his arrest for not sending his children to school.

Unwavering Determination

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A follow-up on one of our Families

Since September 5, 2013, many things have happened to our families once living in Germany. There has been a virtue to the things they have suffered and the losses they have experienced. They report a depth of trusting our Father and of learning to pray in ways that no lesser experience would have made possible. Here is one more chapter in the story of Abiyah and Rekah Schott, this one involving their second daughter, Chaninah. She has had several posts on this blog. Just search for Schott or for her name. 

Abiyah announced one evening that his daughter Chaninah would make a covenant with our Master on December 31. We have heard how when she was in captivity in Germany that she counted every day until she and her younger sister (Ishâh) were released, holding unwavering determination that she would return to her parents.

She heard that if they would leave the community that she would be released, so she told them that she absolutely did not want them to do that, but that they should remain faithful and she would come back to them when she could. It has been evident from this family’s arrival in our community that she has a heart for our Master and is very loyal. Still, to make a lifelong covenant with our Master and His people calls for embracing the gospel in a genuine surrender. Her parents and she have been in preparation for this essential step.

Before going to the water, we assembled for an unhurried presentation by Abiyah, Rekah, and Chaninah. about her path up to that point, including the difficulties in Germany, and her confession. She mentioned several matters in which she saw clearly that she needed salvation and knew that our Master Yahshua could help her. It was clear that her sensitive conscience had done its necessary careful work. She would be forgiven much and therefore she would love much.

It was especially touching that she presented a poem for her parents that she had written, that she and her friends had set to music.

Verse 1

From the day that I was born

You raised me in His way

Dedicated in the way of Yahweh

Your unity made me secure

Your trust in Him helped me endure

Through the darkest, most painful time.

Chorus

Even when the struggles seemed impossible to bear,

You stood fast and did not compromise.

You loved our Master with all of your heart—

Because of your faith I am here.

Verse 2

As the waves of life came crashing,

You did not lose heart.

Into His hands you placed our lives.

Never doubting His lovingkindness,

Never doubting His salvation,

You said, “If not today, it will be tomorrow!”

(Chorus)

Verse 3

Now I will take on your heart,

Embrace the struggle by your side,

Letting my roots grow deep in the land.

The battle is not over yet

We must endure, press on together.

I give my life to see His will be done.

(Chorus and Interlude)

(Chaninah’s Chorus)

Even when the struggles seem impossible to bear,

I will stand fast, I will not compromise.

Love our Master with all of my heart,

Standing in faith I will endure.

(together)

Even when the struggles seem impossible to bear,

We will stand fast, we will not compromise.

Loving our Master with all of our hearts,

Standing in faith we will endure.

Standing in faith we will endure.

She went eagerly into the frigid water with her abba and David, cried out, and has been radiant ever since, honoring her parents, joyfully serving in the work, and sharing worthy insights in the gatherings.

There are still miracles

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For all those who wonder what happened to the boy who ran out of his home two months ago because he was threatened with a psychiatric treatment …

Will the little voice be silenced?

He had been moved to another facility in the summer. Therefore a new court was responsible for his family life. The competent judge was very concerned about the well-being of the boy and proved to be extremely conscientious. So he did everything in his power in the short time before the Christmas holidays to help the fugitive boy.

The family was blessed in its misfortune!

The family judge arranged and reached a reasonable agreement with the Jugendamt. Thus, the boy does not have to go into psychiatry but can remain with his family until a final decision is made.

The eleven-year-old is therefore happily reunited with his parents and his youngest sister after three long years of separation.

The happiness of the family is almost complete again.

Only his five-year-old sister still has to remain with state care-givers.

The boy can now visit his grandmother again. He was never allowed to do this during his state custody.

One last visit to his grandfather unfortunately is no longer possible. He died while his grandson was forced to live in state custody.

A Follow up Report on Hermann

The return of one of our sons was a great joy to us, prompting a festival including a wintry sleigh ride!

 

 

Will the little voice be silenced?

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Containing important corrections from the original German post:

Once again the Jugendamt (the German Youth Office) informs the press in an incomplete and misleading manner. The background of the boy’s flight is as follows:

For three years the young boy has begged to go back home to his parents and to the Community of the Twelve Tribes he was raised in. He was kept at the “children’s home” (orphanage) only because he held onto the hope that he could go home at the end of the protracted court proceedings.

Above all, he wanted to return to his parents. He believes also that it will work out well. As he has been at the home for a long time. The child offered various reasons why it would be better for him to be with his parents. He misses his parents. There were more festivals in the Community of Faith and better food. He could play outside and climb trees. Perhaps he will even meet his friend […] again.

When asked what would change for him, if he were with his parents again, the boy enumerated exclusively (from his viewpoint) positive changes. He could help again in the garden and drive with his father on the tractor. He could join in with the festivals and fry potatoes in the fire in the Feast of Tabernacles.

(Quotation from the expert.)

But the Bavarian authorities persistently try to break the will of the eleven-year-old child. p13The boy is not heard nor respected by the judges or the youth office workers. For three years he has only been allowed to see his parents under strict supervision once every three weeks for two hours each time, without any privacy. It is said to protect him from the influence of his parents. Once a week he can make phone calls, but never without being listened in on.

As a matter of fact the court appointed psychological evaluator, Dr. Kindler, reports that the boy suffers massively under “only” two years of being separated from his parents at the time of the expert report.:

Once he laid his head on the table and hid his face with his arms, sobbing and telling me how much he misses his parents. Talking of how he was dealing with the pain of separation and his longing to be with his parents, he said he tried to distract himself with computers and television programs.

Moreover, some of the boy’s remarks indicate that he understands his institutionalization as a punishment, and he concludes from its increasing duration that the end of his time in institutional care is drawing near.

(Quotation from the expert.)

Last summer he was transferred to another institution, and the Higher Regional Court (OLG) ruled that the removal of the parents right to care for their child remained. The painful separation from his parents and sisters was increasingly expressed in frustration and anger by the troubled boy, so he was to be placed for psychological treatment in January of 2017 in a closed section of the Josefinum. There his despair will be “treated” with drugs to “calm” him. Shall his small human voice be silenced in this way?

The worried parents have begged the Youth Office leader to return the boy back to them, but the latter rejected the parents’ plea with the banal excuse that he was no longer responsible…

The only way out was for the boy to run away!

Now he has finally managed to flee, just like some of his older friends before him fled, and he has now arrived safely with his family. He never expects to be separated from them again. But will he succeed? According to the Jugendamt a major manhunt has been launched against him. . .twice already he has been torn by force by the police from his family. How much cruelty does he have to endure?

Besides, there is still no court order that would allow the violent separation of him from his family and and placement in psychiatric care.” That means that even if the police could find him, they could not take him against his will from his parents, but merely inform the Jugendamt (Youth Office) of his whereabouts, and that he is well. In order to again separate the boy from his parents, a court must order the use of force against the boy himself.

In the past, the Youth Office has not complied with this.

Turning in a circle, always the same everyday

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Someone recently commented on Sarah Roehr’s post, “Growing up in the Way.” Below are her words.1

Dear Sarah,

Thanks for the loving presentation. I am very very happy that there are people such as you. You are a wonderful young woman. Your parents can really be proud (in a good way) of you. Your parents have done everything right. You are the living proof of that.2

I always think of you. It causes tears in my heart to learn of your destiny. This uncommon injustice has been converted from evil [thoughts] into [evil] actions. It is most definitely the day where the good Lord will dry your tears and hold the people who have done you this to you accountable.

I am aware that it is not enough to write only a few sentences here. I often get angry at myself and the many others who live paralyzed lives and do nothing to help you. If we had something would already have happened.

Instead, turning in a circle. Always the same every day. Get up, go to work, home, cooking, shopping. Like a robot, do the tasks of the day so the bosses, the company, and the people around you are satisfied. No thanks or recognition or anything else. That’s life today.

I fall tired into bed every evening. I feel the the futility of it all extremely. This unhealthy dependence on money. Without money you can not exist in the world today.

I envy you Sarah for your life. You describe how you live and what has made you the person you are today. Your life was filled with meaningful tasks. You’ve been lucky enough to live a full, happy life until the day when evil has sought [to bring] a complete surprise to your home.

Dear Sarah, you and your parents and all other people in the community, you are really great people.3 I wish you God’s blessing and protection. It has done well to read your lines. It is good to know that in this world there are still people who have God with all my heart love and respect His commandments and live the commandments.

I carry you in my heart.
Doro

Notes

  1. The German original is at the post, “Meine Kindheit in den Zwölf Stämmen” (My Childhood in the Twelve Tribes).
  2. If you understand German, you will enjoy watching this interview of Sarah (whose name in the Community is Tehorah) from the summer of 2013.
  3. Here is a picture of Sarah and her family when she was younger. Yehezekels 015