What's happening at Ben Israel? January 2017 Update Happy New Year ! Read below for the latest...
Happy New Year everyone from the white and snow covered land of Northern Minnesota!! Dad called the folks who lived on the farm the "frozen chosen" and this time of year, it really fits!
It's hard to believe that Summer and Fall went so quickly, and before we knew it, Thanksgiving and Christmas were here, and now the New Year.
What is that latest? If you read the entry from August, you saw that we had a massive " to do" list. Much of it was accomplished, but there is much still to get done. Keith, along with help from a family that came from Florida and our nephew Cody, was able to get the plumbing done in the former home for Mama Pearl Rose and the main farm house. He also did electrical work on several of the homes as well as replacing heaters, softeners and other appliances. Added to that, was a new roof to one of the mobile homes.
This might not seem much to some, but you need to understand that Keith is not trained in any of this...he is a Pastor! So, getting these tasks done were "miraculous" in many ways, as the Lord guided him and directed him, and provided him with people around him who could answer questions. It's amazing what you can Google or look up on YouTube!
I started a new position in September, as the Interim Executive Director at Northwoods Pregnancy Care Care Center in Bemidji. Added to that, I do all the shipping of book orders, office work and one of my favorites, is mowing acre after acre of grass (really, I do love it!) on our mower and I have the joy of watching the baby boy of one our church leaders when his Mama does her shifts at the ICU. Our days were long, busy and went very fast. With Winter here, we are hoping to catch our breath and catch up on what needs to get done. My father's office and library are in need of many, many, many hours of labor to organize and sort the boxes and files that have sat here since he passed. I have a dear friend who agreed to help, so hopefully we can start digging away at this project before Spring gets here!
We appreciate those of you that pray for us on a consistent basis! Your prayers mean so much to us. I do try to answer every email and the support given to us is greatly appreciated! We continue to oversee and steward the property, believing that God will keep us on track and focused on what He wants us to accomplish.
We are blessed to be able to provide housing to two students and their families from Mokahum Bible College in Cass Lake. Also living here, is Pastor Rick Weinert and his wife, Billie Jean. Billie Jean has taken over most of the Winter hospitality duties. She makes sure the farm house is clean and ready for any Winter visitors. Its a huge help and blessing! Rick has agreed to be a member of our Board of Directors. He has a heart for ministry and really is able to see a future for what the Lord has in store for us here. Right now...it's getting the property physically back up and running! Completing our family on the farm is our nephew and niece, Cody and Jessica. Cody is "Uncle B's" right hand and he keeps every motor literally running.... the shop has become a "man cave" and he is at work on something that needs to be fixed!
With that being said, we are sending out a request for physical help if the Lord should lead your heart to do so. There are so many things that need to get done, and quite honestly, we do no have the man power and resources to accomplish. On the list from August, was getting the lodge prepped for use by churches and fellowships this upcoming Spring and Summer. Without help, it won't get done and the building won't get used. We need volunteers with carpentry and building maintenance skills. We also need a couple (if and when the lodge is able to be used again), to live at the lodge, oversee the building, help coordinate the calendar of events, and be there on site for when assistance is needed. We have groups that want to use it! There are doors to replace, windows, carpeting and hundreds of ceiling tiles on the lower level that need to be replaced...the list goes on.
On the farm? The barn, garage and house all need to be painted. The garage needs a new roof. There is work inside the main house and on the property...so willing and skilled hands are always a blessing. Please pray if you could come as a team or as an individual with this skill mix to help! If you knew my Mama, you knew she could cook and she passed that on to me! We will make sure you have a roof over your heads and full stomachs! Send an email if you are able to help with these projects! We would need teams or individual from early Spring and on in to the Summer months.
As stated before, we appreciate your support and encouragement and know that many of you think of this place from years gone by with fond memories and love. We also know that there are many that remember the vision Dad and others had for this property and have been standing in prayer alongside us, waiting for God’s time and revelation as we seek Him. We know we are not alone in this and are truly grateful for the years of friendship that have been established.
May the Lord bless you and keep you in 2017...
Keith and Sissie(Katz) Pennel Ben Israel Fellowship Art Katz Ministries
As some of you may know, we moved to the Ben Israel property last summer. The two remaining families that had been on the property left to be closer to family and for healthcare reasons. Since the homecoming of Art (Sissle’s father) in 2007, those who have been here have wrestled with the question of what will become of Ben Israel Fellowship and the lodge at the former Camp Dominion. We also wondered if there was any part of the original Ben Israel vision that would and could still come to fruition. Through much prayer, we ourselves believe that God has a continued use for the property beyond even what the initial vision was that Dad had over 40 years ago. What all of this looks like, is still unknown to us. However, we believe the Lord will unfold His plan in due time.
Many have been wondering what is taking place on the BI property. Our primary calling at this time, is to steward the grounds and buildings so that when God does give the green light for further ministry to start up again, the buildings will be in good and usable condition.We also continue to oversee the sale of Art’s books. As part of walking this out, Sissie has resigned her Director of Nursing position in order to be more available to help with the work on the property and with the church we pastor in Bemidji. This is a huge step of faith for us!
When it comes to stewarding the BI property, there are major projects that need attention which include re-roofing and replacing the siding of the garage, scraping and repainting the barn, tractor repairs, farm house (community center/office) exterior scraping and painting along with needing new plumbing and a hot water heater, as well as repairs and updates in two other mobile homes that could be used for housing and ministry. The list seems to grow daily!
As we have been praying about the future, we are sensing that God might want to use this place as a prayer and retreat center. We also feel this could be a place of respite; where pastors/missionaries, their wives and families could come to be rejuvenated for a short period of time. We even see the potential for a discipleship training school of some type. Again, we are waiting on the Lord’s guidance, direction and timing for what His desire is for this property.
After much prayer and dialogue, we believe that the lodge should be used during the summer months for faith based camps, seminars and retreats. The desire is to be able to have it up and running so that beginning next summer, it can be used. We are currently discerning how the vision for this will unfold. We know that we will need someone with a heart for this type of ministry, that can run the day to day tasks of overseeing the lodge during months of operation and be the “go to” person. We had several requests to use the lodge this summer, but felt that there needed to be proper organization and more thought put into this before opening it up for use. There are several updates and repairs that are needed which we are currently evaluating more thoroughly. The septic system needs to be checked for compliance, broken windows need to be replaced, and replacing of exterior doors to keep out bugs and rodents is a priority...day to day things that have not had the attention needed to keep it up and running.
We recently found out that a portion of the original Camp Dominion property is for sale! The land available includes where the old Camp Dominion Tabernacle was located. This would give us access to Steamboat Lake again, something that has not been an option at the lodge since the Camp Dominion property sold several years ago. There are no financial resources available to make this purchase; however we strongly believe that the Lord can provide and we are exceptionally excited about this potential opportunity! Please pray specifically for this.
There is new life on the farm! This month, we will be joined by Pastor Rick Weinert and his wife, Billie Jean. Pastor Rick was the Senior Pastor at a local church in Bemidji. He resigned his position recently to take a step of faith in a different direction in which the Lord has called him. We are also happy to be able to provide housing for two students and their families who attends Mokahum, a Native American Bible College in Cass Lake. Our niece and her husband, Cody and Jessica Theisen also moved to the farm (Jessica is Emi and Dwayne’s daughter, for those of you that know the Totzauer family). Cody has multiple skills and abilities and will be a huge asset in assisting with maintenance needs on the property.
We were recently blessed by a work crew that came up from North Carolina. What a precious group of saints (Art would have fallen in love with them!) that served and volunteered over 100 hours of labor in cleaning, scrubbing, painting, organizing, hauling trash, and other tasks that needed to be done. We ended their time here with a meal and worship together in the old farm house, just like the old days! We included a few photos below.
Now, how to wrap this all up? Would you be in prayer for us as we steward the property and that God’s purposes would be fulfilled for this place? Please also pray that He would provide the financing it takes to complete all the repairs and ongoing maintenance. Art's books sales are our primary source of income and He has been faithful to provide and meet the current needs! Would you also be praying for the potential land purchase at the lodge, the vision for a camp and retreat director and additional volunteers who are able to assist with the ever present work projects and ultimately, that the lodge would be used as a resource to disciple and train people for the glory of God?
We appreciate your support and encouragement and know that many of you think of this place from years gone by with fond memories and love. We also know that there are many that remember the vision Dad and others had for this property and have been standing in prayer alongside us, waiting for God’s time and revelation as we seek Him. We know we are not alone in this and are truly grateful for the years of friendship that have been established. If you have been a part of the BI family in the past or present, we are cooking up a BI Family feast on August 13th and invite you to join us for supper! Please contact Sissie if you plan on attending.
Mama Rose who had been a significant prayer warrior here for years, (now in a nursing home in Walker) put it best when she told Sissie during a recent phone call…
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not in thine own understandings, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path.” Proverbs 3:5
And we respond…
Keith and Sissie (Katz) Pennel Ben Israel Fellowship Art Katz Ministries