My wife and I this past Monday, standing in front of the Huon River, south of Hobart, close to the blueberry farm owned by Willard Brubaker, a descendant of the plain mennonites who grew up in the community in Waterloo County, Ontario, who has lived in Australia over forty years.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I write this letter to you all to share what has been going on in my thoughts these last three months. I have had the most glorious time with God these last months. As the weeks go on I find myself slipping further away from this earth. At this point I find myself mostly in heaven and only a little bit in the earth.
Since my operation in July, many of you brothers and sisters have been writing to me from all over the world. I want you to know that I appreciate it very much.
At this point it looks like I am very close to death and to new life. I will be on my way down to Hobart for another surgery in two weeks; the outcome is, of course, uncertain. I may die, or I may live a little longer. I have total and complete peace about the situation, and am delighted in my heart. I find myself completely dependent on God.
I cannot read the Bible very well at all any longer. I see words and know what they are, but my understanding is getting less and less, as is my ability to write and listen to what others say. Everything is falling away from me, but in my heart, my connection with God is getting more and more. This world is sliding away and God is becoming brilliant in such a way that I cannot even describe it. Closer and closer. The more I lose of this world, this earth, the more close and wonderful Jesus becomes. I love Him and trust Him. I praise Him unspeakably much.
With Jesus, everything becomes more and more beautiful and clear, the closer I am to Him.
We are having a very difficult time as I might be dying, but everything is going very beautifully with our community. They will help my family after I die. I am so blessed by the community. The community is a blessing in an amazing way. God has provided exactly the right people for everything we need. It has been such a blessing to experience the communion of the brothers and sisters. We share the communion meal together the way the early Anabaptists and the early Christians before them did: every week. It is such a blessing to sit down together will all the brothers and sisters after each week of work and turn our attention to Christ and His miracle. This has made me very, VERY HAPPY!
I am very thankful since 1975, when I became a Christian. I have had a long Christian life, however I recognize that I had many things to work through. I was very cocky when I started out. As a 22 year old I was a confident preacher-missionary. Jesus saw that I was not worthy and that I was damned. I was not ready to see him. I got involved with the Beachy Amish in Costa Rica. I was banned by the Beachy Amish, and they were right. I was wrong. I was guilty. At the same time, as I came to Jesus and the Bible, I started to see many things, that all Anabaptists were wrong. We were not ready to meet Jesus. While I was in Costa Rica, I began to want community, but I was not ready for it. The Lord did not give it to me just yet.
We have a beautiful community. We started out in a wicked place, but God has given us a wonderful community. We are so thankful to be here in Australia in a peaceful community. We are the only community here in Tasmania, and we are very thankful that Jesus has helped us. We are very thankful for the numerous Bruderhof communities in Australia, and many other friends here in Australia. Community is a great picture of Christ and his people while He was here on this Earth.
I am so blessed by wife, who is well connected with our community. My children as well. We were thirteen years married without natural children. Then all of a sudden children were born to us in Costa Rica, then Pennsylvania, New Zealand, and Minnesota. Two of my boys (age 16 and 14) are baptized and in full communion with the brothers and sisters here. One of my daughters (13) is getting baptized. All six of our natural children are very much connected with the community and solid with Christ. Praise God! They are on a good road.
I also have one son, adopted from Mexico, in the Elmendorf Community. He is married with a daughter. They are connected in a good way with everyone in the community. I also have one daughter, adopted from Mexico, here in Brisbane. She is a Christian, and we hope to see her next week.
I am done. I have lived a long life. I have written many things in many languages. I have seen and heard many things. So many that I cannot write them all down. I am
Our little island here is beautiful, but the closer I get to god, the more I see that this island is broken, wrecked, groaning to destruction, needing a new total transformation.
I want to say one thing, brothers and sisters, and that is that it makes no difference at all about this group here or that group there, this church or that one. People argue about this book or that book. It's not about which book, not even the Bible. Nothing of any of this is important any longer. Nothing.
Nobody can make themselves perfect or great or high. I am a sinner. In my own strength I sin horribly. God is so merciful to me in that it has nothing to do with my own works at all! I am one hundred percent dependent on Jesus and what He gives me.
I want to explain another thing to you. There are hundreds of examples, but I will choose three to illustrate. I have been greatly impressed by three men and their books that they have written. Roger Hertzler, who wrote about non-accumulation of wealth, Geoff Thorn, who wrote about simple living and asceticism, and James Landis, who wrote about the earth and how we ought to deal with the current state of nature, and use it. These three men, along with hundreds of others, write very good earthly material. What they write is not wrong. It's true! But all three have are horizontal in their scope. All three are concerned with things of this earth and this existence, not eternity. Many, many people have many true things to say about the situation here on this earth, but what we need to do is shift our focus from a horizontal outlook to a vertical one. We need to be focused on Christ.
The apostle, Peter, writes:
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness" (2 Peter 3:10 - 13).
Compared to eternity, our struggled existence on this earth is minuscule. This earth will be burned up, melted down, and created anew. It will be a glorious change where everything will be restored. We need to keep our focus on God and Jesus Christ. That is the only thing that matters.
For the last one hundred years, all our “accomplishments” as humans has gone wrong, and it will turn out to be a dead end. We have created so many “modern wonders”, like computers, cars, airplanes, even filing cabinets! Everything on this earth is going down the road to “modernity”, the direction away from Christ! We think what we have now is so clever! We can fly in airplanes to Australia and Russia! We can drive in our cars along the highways! Upon the arrival of the new heaven and the new earth, the very idea of needing airplanes and cars to get us from one place to another will seem ludicrous! There won't be any need for such things.
Everything in this earth right now is struggling. It is too cold in the far north, too hot at the equator, and too dry in Australia. Nothing is quite right the way it is. All of creation is groaning as it is eagerly waiting the time when the new earth will be unveiled. At that time, everything will be burned and melt away, but we who are close to Jesus will not be lost.
In our present state we are locked to this earth. We cannot see beyond the clouds. We can only catch very small glimpses of what is really out there. God has made an incredibly immense universe. Most people exclaim that when they die they go zooming out of this reality into another one, and where do they go? They say they go to New Jerusalem. They create a fantasy out of the symbolic picture of New Jerusalem in Revelation 22. They have a description of what it looks like, the number and likeness of the gates, and then they situate it upon some clouds. This is a big mistake, and is one of the biggest made by Christians today. They are taking unreality as reality and throwing out what God has created. There is only one reality, and that is what God made. What does the Bible actually say? It says we will meet Christ in the air, that this world will be melted, not destroyed, but made new again! And those of us who are close to Christ will descend back upon the new earth, the difference being that we will have connections with the rest of creation, not just our small little planet, but all of creation.
We are fully expecting a complete restoration of our earth. Right now we are struggling with food, money, weeds, buildings, horses, ploughing, but when that time of restoration arrives, everything will be natural and easy. I am reminded of that when I look at the birds. They are able to fly high above the earth. It is a picture of freedom. Freedom from the struggles of this life in the next.
When Jesus was on the earth, He was human, and He had a body just like the rest of us. He died like we die, and He rose again, like we will. After He rose what was His body like? He moved from place to place without needing to go through doors that were locked. He went to the lake and cooked fish and ate. This is a picture of what our resurrected bodies will be like. We will eat, and we will not be constrained by doors or walls. We will be able to go anywhere in the universe immediately.
When I think about the last five hundred years of the Anabaptists, I realize they are greatly mistaken. Right from the beginning, they were banning people because they disagreed with them. They banned many groups all over the place, simply because they disagreed with them. This is a great mistake. It is wrong. The only banning allowed in the Bible is towards those individuals who are disobedient to God. No one can ban an entire group, only disobedient individuals. I am very concerned because Anabaptists the world over are banning one another and they are not ready to meet Christ. It is one of the worst things that ever happened to us.
The fundamentalists are also wrong. In the late 1800’s as a counter-attack against liberalism they went back and swore on the Bible. They treated the entire Bible as equally as profitable. They flattened it. This is how they could justify going to war, because the people of God went to war in the Old Testament. But, the reality is this: That nothing of the Bible was written until three thousand years ago. Moses knew a little, but nothing like we know now. The first time life after death is mentioned is in the days of Ezekiel. Everything that came before was incomplete, not wrong, but not altogether there. We look to Jesus. With Jesus came more revelation. With the early apostles came even more. Even then, Paul and Peter and John writing knew nothing of other galaxies, and other people in other continents. The point is, is that the fundamentalists, taking the entirety of the Bible as equally as profitable is wrong. God has revealed more and more to us as time goes on. Today, we look to Jesus.
Obedience to Jesus is the only way. We are completely ignorant. We must be one hundred percent serious and obedient to Christ. It is a serious matter, this obedience. A matter of life and death. It is absolutely necessary that we are very serious about our faith. A big problem facing many Christians today is that although they say the trust God, they are not obedient to Him, which makes them lost. It's time to get sober. Think about obedience.
I am very eager to communicate with anybody. If I have ever done any wrong with anybody, I am very happy to talk with anybody. I am far from being right. I am very sorry that I have made a lot of mistakes. All I can say is I’m sorry. I am happy to talk with any person that has a problem with me. I want to see them when we are before God.
When I think about my life here, I am very satisfied. If I got everything done that I was supposed to than I am totally happy. I will be very eager to meet you all in a restored new earth, with Jesus, forever!
May you all come with me!
(P.S. For those of you wanting to read the rest of James Landis’ book, “The Overflowing Earth”, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also thankful for my brother, Joey Davis, for writing out this letter for me. I cannot read or write, but the Lord has given me speech, and I am so thankful to God that he has provided someone who can fill out my thoughts on paper.)
Rocky Cape Christian Community
19509 Bass Highway
Detention River, Tasmania 7321