So he rose and did according to the word of Lord... Arthur Katz 2/13/1929-6/28/2007
How is it even possible that eleven years...ELEVEN YEARS have gone since my Papa was called home to Heaven?
Today is the date that was his last on this earth-6/28/2007...the last day his anguished body fought for each breath, and then no more. In a mere moment he went from being on his deathbed to being whole and restored with the Lord.
So many of you knew him, but many did not have the blessing of knowing him when he was alive, and have only come to know of him after he passed.He so believed he would die a martyrs death in Israel. He was in disbelief that this disease would take his body! I still recall every conversation about what was ahead as if it were only yesterday. But he was able to make that choice. The Lord would either raise him up or take him home...those were his words when I sat down with him to talk about “things” a mere week before he died.
And there we sat a week later, the living room filled with close family and friends, watching and waiting, taking turns sitting by the bed that had been set up in the den.I clearly recall Dina Herrera looking up at me when he began his journey. She knew. I could tell by the look in her eyes that there had been a swift change. I literally jumped from my seat, calling for my mother to come.
My dad lived and loved this song....“I see a man coming down from the mountain, I see him clearer each day. I see a man coming down from the mountain and he says, prepare ye the way. Prepare ye the way. Prepare ye the way. Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” He had done so and now he was ready. His hands moments prior had lifted off the bed in praise to Jesus as He was calling to him to come home. He had been in a unresponsive coma for three days, so to see this was really a sight to behold, and a moment of memory frozen in my mind. And shortly after that knowing and loving look from Dina, his body breathed his last rugged breath, and he was gone. That moment forever stopped in time...
Oh that there could have been more time with this amazing man who was able to impact more lives than any of us will ever know! Dad wasn't a "Jesus Freak" or a cult leader, or anything else beyond a man who loved the Lord first, with his whole heart. He devoured the word as if it were air itself and it was the life he lived and breathed. The choices he had to make...obedience to God and the calling on his life first and foremost, literally willing to leave everything he had to follow what the Lord wanted from him, not something I understood, appreciated or remotely respected as a child and teen but only came to honor, respect and understand in my adult years. There are "what if’s" that will only get answered on the other side of heaven.
And eleven years later, I’m still trying to learn, hear and understand the way he did. It is highly probable that I never will as there has not been and likely will not be another like. him. Dad's ways are not my ways, yet His way is to somehow keep the journey my beloved Papa started on...alive through the journey He alone has placed my family and I on. Somehow....
Life...death...a moment, a journey, a legacy, never forgotten, a daughters heart still aching for her father.
As I look out over the deck of what used to be my beloved father's office, I am looking out as the early morning fog rolls in and it almost blocks my view of the former garden. It moves with a delicate ease in to the family cemetery, the place where my loved ones are now resting until He returns. The beauty is so peaceful and surreal. It reminds me so greatly of the love our Heavenly Father has for us, not pretentious or full of expectations, just full of grace that we all need to walk in, His peace and His never ending love. Someday, a book will come that tells of His grace for me. It's inspiring but sad in so many ways, to sit in the chair where my dad once did!
Unfortunately, the flashing lights of the the computer draw me away from this tranquility and I am abruptly aware as the clock ticks away, its knowing gnawing tap reminding me that I must get book orders done, leave a huge pile of miscellaneous paper work, receipts and filing for our sweet bookkeeper Jessica, and hurry out the door to my "other" work place. Even in the scurry and pace of life, His love will remain steadily with me!
To give you all a belated update...our beloved "Uncle" Arthur Beebe was called to his heavenly home on June 28th, 2017 in Joplin, Missouri. His death was ten years to the date from when my father was called home. A coincidence? Many of us think not. His services were in July in Springfield and in Joplin. Keith and I were able to attend, along with my two brothers (David and Ariel) and so many others back from the days of a more active Ben Israel including Shelly Volk, Roy and Julie Allen, Dina Herrera and some of their family, along with all the Beebe children and grandchildren. It truly was a blessing to be there! The military service moved all of us and it was so sweet to listen to Uncle Shelly share again, just like in the days past. Please continue to hold Mary and the rest of the family closely in your prayers.
Art had been one of our Board Members. He was replaced several months back when he became ill by Pastor Rick Weinert, who is serving with his wife, BillieJean. The Weinert's live here on the farm with us. Recently, Joann Brock stepped off the board after graciously staying on until we could find the right person to step in to her shoes, not fill them or replace her, but continue with the same heart. Jeannie Klink and her husband will part of our Board of Directors. We are hoping to have our first meeting in person this Fall. Thank goodness for internet, as that as been a primary source of staying in touch!
Keith and I continue to oversee the farm. The project list does not get any smaller, but several things are in the works! The garage is nearly done being resided. It has a new roof and new doors in place. There were leaks and holes that would have made the damage already present worse in the Winter months ahead, if not repaired. Keith is close to being done with the gutting and remodeling of the bathroom in the cabin after finding out that what we thought was a mold issue, was actually rotted wood and flooring that had destroyed the under-flooring. Our nephew Cody (who currently lives here on the farm with with his wife, our niece Jessica), helped "Uncle B." and we were also deeply blessed by a young man, Chance Storey ,who gave us two weeks of his vacation time to drive up from Texas and help with the repairs. We would not have been able to accomplish what was done without him. Evenings were spent with food, laughter, games and building a strong friendship. We pray he will come back soon, just because we love him like family!
What needs to be done next? We have students with families and a staff member with his wife who are part of Mokahum Native American Bible College in Cass Lake, but were in need of housing. The staff member and his wife, Bill and Cindy, will be moving in to a larger home but this home had some damage left to it, needs to be painted, have flooring redone and a major cleaning! We had hoped to accomplish this task in July, as we had a dear sister from Florida offer to come up and help us, but our July was here and gone before we knew it!
Does this mean that we have become part of Mokahum? Not, but this means ministry to us. We do not charge much for housing and this opens the door for them to learn about the Lord, teach about Him and be able to do what otherwise might not have been possible. It blesses all of us here to be a part of this vital ministry. This is an opportunity to serve, while we continue to seek His will and plan for the farm, and it provides a source of income to help meet the growing expenses on the farm.
Dad's books continue to sell for which we are so grateful as that does pay for the significant tax bill every year. Books are being printed in so many languages...Hungarian, Bulgarian, Portuguese, French, German, Romania just this year alone...it's amazing! Thank you all for supporting this ministry!
The lodge is in desperate need of work and to be used properly, but it's going to take a miracle. There are significant signs of damage from season after season of rough weather and lack of use. There is the risk of losing the building which would be a heart ache, but we trust that He will give us wisdom on this building!
For those of you that know our Mama Pearl Rose, she remains in the nursing home in Walker, MN. She is currently bed bound with her kidneys failing but, she has a strong spirit and her smile is ever present. Whenever I can be with her, I open up my Facebook app and we go"live". She giggles and gets such joy from this and she loves to share, sing and pray over everyone. If we are friends on Facebook, take a peek a the previous videos. You will be blessed!
Life here doesn't stop for anyone, anything, or any season...it just keeps moving, whether or not we want it to. The fog rolls in, the fog rolls out, the shadows of the day rise and fall, we get up and we start again...gently, gently as the leaves fall.
Thank you everyone for your love, prayer, and encouragement as we continue on in Him, taking care of this land and believing that "for such a time as this", we are called.
Sissie (Keith and Sarah) Pennel Ben Israel Fellowship Art Katz Ministries
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