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Salem Joy Pleyer

The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. (Proverbs 18:17)

My name is Joy Salem Pleyer. I grew up in the community of the Twelve Tribes. I was born in America but grew up in France until my early teenage years. I lived on a large farm with about 40 people. We had goats, chickens, ducks, cows, a donkey and horse. I still remember how we have often helped all together on the field during the harvest season. This was neither hard nor gruesomewe had a right rollicking time together. Often we went then to the dam where we jumped into the cool water, or spent time watching the salmon. I had so many friends and we loved being together.

I had loving parents who looked after me and my six siblings well. I was the oldest and so I was busy helping my mother with my younger siblings. I loved the life I grew up with and can honestly say it is the best life that anyone could want for their children. I learned to respect my parents and other people and to live a moral life. My parents loved me and gave me everything I needed.

I loved my parents and my greatest desire was to one day have a marriage like their’s where my husband and I would have the same heart and raise our children in the wonderful, loving, and caring environment of the Community. I wanted to raise my children the same way I was raised. I wanted that they would love and care for others and give their life serve God in His people.

We give each other our lives and we do not live for ourselves. I never wanted to build a house and just have a nice family and grow old. I wanted wholeheartedly to live this life I was raised in and see many generations take on the same the faith as their parents.

When I was a teenager, I moved with my family to Germany. I spoke at the time only English and French and so then began to learn German. There were many Germans in the community who wanted to bring this same full-bodied (abundant) life in their country. Like I said, my greatest desire to marry a man who harbored the same desire to serve God, to learn to love as the Son of God loved, and that we would jointly educate our children for this purpose. When I was 20 years old, Robert Pleyer and I married.

I was completely convinced that he had this same heart and his desire was as strong as mine to raise children in the way of Abraham (Genesis 18:19). I never wanted to leave this life and my only desire was to see this life grow, so that there will be a place where people can find refuge in this world of selfishness and darkness. My life was always full of meaning and I did not have to satisfy myself with television or games.

So in 2003 I got married. We were good friends and I respected him. When our first daughter was born, he began to talk about itthat he wanted to leave the community. That was very hard for me, because I never wanted to leave. I could not understand what had swayed him — why he was changing his mind. Because of his instability, I often felt very unsafe, even in his love for me.

I trusted that he had given his life to God and that he would lead our family to Him. But I was torn in the back of my heart, because he so many times threatened me with leaving and taking the children. A few times he even locked me in a room to convince me to go along with him, or else he would take the children without me. All this left me very confused

(To be continued.)


To read the touching story of their marriage, see the post, “Robert and Salem’s Wedding Day.”

Instead of keeping his vows to his bride, Robert Pleyer went on to take his children and attempt to take his wife out of the community — repeatedly. In the end he became a “career dropout.”

For more of this story, read Part 2 and Part 3 of, “Robert Pleyer’s (former) wife speaks out.”