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Honoring a Valiant Warrior

The story we tell is of one young man, just a small but significant part of his story. His parents are German, and he grew up much of his life in Germany, but he was born in America. Recently he spent some time with us where our communities began – Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was a youth taken in the September 5, 2013 police raid on Klosterzimmern.Why did he not come to love the world he was thrown into and hate the world he was ripped from?

Perhaps, after all, force cannot turn love into hate.

This must be such a disappointment to those who authorized the Raid on our Communities.

Chayah Markeli returned to the Community, “voting with his feet” which place was best for him — German society or the Twelve Tribes of Israel — after he turned eighteen. Conflicted whether to come home or stay because of his desire to protect his little brother, Addar, from the abusive treatment he was receiving at the institution they were both at, it was no easy decision for him.

(You can read of what he went through — the dishonesty and oppressive treatment at the hands of the Jugendamt — in the post, “A Family Torn Apart.” He waited in vain for a visit from the Jugendamt official he and his parents knew personally, whom they counted as a friend.)

Addar Markeli at the St. Nikolaus Improvement Center where he was held. Addar was freed on March 12, 2014.

For the last few months, the clan of Chattanooga had the honor to serve shoulder to shoulder with Chayah, the son of Boaz and Shua Markeli. Like a well trained son, he served us relentlessly. Day and night he was always ready to serve. There was no job too small or great — from making our Yellow Deli cornbread to helping repair vehicles. From making smoothies by night to lawn care during the day, he was willing and eager to give all that he could.

The days seemed to fly by and before we knew it, the time was upon us to send our faithful friend back to his tribe of Levi in Germany. Seizing the opportunity to give honor where honor is due, a celebration was called for this noteworthy son. (We now spell his name Chayim.)


Chayim Markeli

The children prepared a song, a throne was made, a delicious meal was prepared, a beautiful banner was painted, and best of all, hearts of love overflowed.

The theme of our evening was honoring a valiant warrior. Like a wounded soldier returning from battle, Chayim stood among us faithful and true. Though he was afflicted he remembered the purpose for which he was born.

His life was compared to an untold hero returning from the battlegrounds to tell his story. Although marked with battle scars, pain, and even at times a bit disoriented; still his heart filled with gratitude to fight and stand for a worthy cause. Much appreciation was bestowed upon him for his courage to stand. It was made clear to all that his stand was only possible because of the good things put in to him by his wonderful parents.


Tsel Shaddai Markeli

Tsel, his older sister, spoke in tears about the day of the raid. For weeks no one heard anything about the children. All we could do was pray earnestly, even crying out to their God. Finally, after six long weeks, small communications began.

Tsel spoke of her deep gratitude and love for her brother that he endured through this time and longed for a way of escape. It was very special for the Tribe of Benyamin (southern United States) to have both Tsel and Chayim together for a time. What honor they brought their parents!

It was no coincidence that Chayim came to Chattanooga at this time in his life. He came right to the place where it all began. At this time in Chattanooga there is a small band of nucleus who lived in the original Vine House. They have stood the test of time, knowing the purpose for which they were called. These are those who bear the marks of the loss and pain of the battle, but still remain loyal.

The greatest time of testing is yet to come. But, day-by-day we are closer to our goal. And like the words that rang out long ago from the heart of one of those loyal ones in the first Vine House:

“We have come to join an army,

One that has been marching forth for years.

But, we know the one we march for and we have grown to love His cause.”*

Chayim stood to his feet that night, tears streaked his face as he responded in love. He looked around the room, his eyes fixed upon our faces, as he peered into our eyes. Filled with gratitude he gave thanks for the opportunity to come to the place where this life first began. He thanked us for our love, encouragement, and gentleness towards him. A bond had formed that has the strength to cross into eternity.

Chayim, we love you. Thank you for standing with all of us. Keep on standing…

That which crosses over into eternity

There is a postscript to this moving story. Thrust back into the pressure cooker of life in our Communities in Germany, Chayim had a wonderful opportunity to speak up on behalf of his parents, our life, and his friends. It was at a town meeting on September 4, 2014:

Chayim ben Boas (ben = son of) was really able to show them that it was not that the children in Klosterzimmern had no hope in the future. When he was taken the day of the Raid, 5 September 2013, he and his brother were separated from their little sister and put in a home for youth who are hard to handle.1

His social grace, his diligence, respectfulness and trustworthiness stood out to all the instructors there and to the other young people confined there.2

He related that they rolled out the red carpet for him to have every opportunity to get set up with an apprenticeship and receive support from the government because of the way he was raised. But he chose to continue to further the life that his parents had entered into some 30 years ago. He told them that the only reason why they gave him all those opportunities was because of the way he was raised, because there were many other youth in that home who weren’t being given the same opportunity since they lacked such an upbringing.

But who listens to our children who love the Community of Faith their parents raised them in?

Like Chayim, we are thankful for the struggles we go through. Indeed, they are essential to enter the Kingdom of God!3 And like him, we press on. He is a hero to us, as are all our brothers and sisters there.

As they said in in the September 4, 2014 town meeting:

To close the evening we again sang the song, “In The Golden Fall,” but this time first telling them why we wanted to sing it to them – that we wanted to communicate that we were going to receive from our Father whatever He had for us and that we believe in Him and that’s why we are still here and we are not divided and not devouring one another. If He prunes or if He takes away, still from our heart comes a song – a song of joy and not of pain, a song of victory and gain, a song of peace.

This faith is what will cross over into eternity.



* Listen to the entire song, “I have come to join an army.”

  1. It was the Förderungswerk St. Nikolaus in Dürrlauingen.
  2. See Newsletter 24, “Behavior Unworthy of Human Beings
  3. Acts 14:22 says this very clearly: (Paul was) “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”