KEYWORDS: lord, children, things, people, kids, course

My Christmas Letter to My Relatives

Karen Zerby

—By Maria Maria #92 DO 2514 12/88

Precious Family, 12/88

1. My warmest Christmas greetings to all of you! I'm really praying that this year will be filled with all you need and hope for. As times wax worse I pray that in your lives Jesus' Love will grow and that life will be better for you in many ways. Even though you may encounter more difficulty financially and politically and healthwise etc., I pray that those very trials will draw you closer to Him and deeper in His Love. Such trials of your faith are but a promise of the Crown of Life you're going to soon receive, and these many afflictions, though difficult, are but for a moment‚ and then He's promised to deliver us out of them all.

2. So as His coming draws closer we can be happier knowing that things getting worse and more evil are only a sign that they're going to get better. The darkest hour is just before the dawn, and we know that it's going to be a glorious dawn, and we have that blessed hope as we look forward to His appearing. We know that it won't be very long now because things are so bad, He's got to come soon and He's got to stop it all soon and rescue us out of it all! So if we can just keep holding on (and we can hold on because He's promised to give us the grace no matter how difficult things are), we'll soon receive the reward that He's promised.

3. I hope that the children and I will be able to bring you some added happiness through our Christmas tapes this year and that you'll enjoy them and be able to get a little idea of what the kids are doing and how they've grown since last time. I suppose that you (probably even more than I) can see by their tapes how they mature from year to year.

4. Techi really likes to talk and express herself on tape, and she was very excited about doing her Christmas tape to you so I gave her leeway to say as much as she wanted. As you'll see, she got quite long-winded! She was thoroughly enjoying herself, enjoying reliving her activities and telling you about everything. So I hope it won't be too boring for you.

5. Since you only hear from us once a year, Dad and Mother, I thought, "Well‚ grandparents can stand a lot!" So I just let her go on as long as she wanted. She did her tape over a period of days, 15 or 20 minutes here and there. She looked forward to it every day. Beforehand we went over all the different activities she'd been doing recently and the things that she'd like to tell you, and she was quite thorough in recounting everything.

6. David, as you can see‚ is a man of few words, and he gets what he wants to say over and done with quickly! He reminds me a little of you, Dad. I don't recall hearing you talk a lot except, of course, in the pulpit where you certainly did a good job. But he really redeems the time and doesn't gab or waste words. Techi, on the other hand, really enjoys talking and expressing herself and even listening to others. She likes to carry on long conversations with people and find out what they have to say, always adding her comments, and she's very enjoyable to listen to. So I think you will enjoy the tapes except maybe sometimes where she gets a little carried away talking about the cats or something she's particularly involved with.

7. The children are such a joy! I could never have imagined children that were such good kids and so outgoing, well–adjusted and happy, considerate and loving as these two are! I just know that the Lord has given me so so much more than I deserve, because I remember how I caused such trials for you‚ Dad and Mom, when I was young, and even for Jeannie and Rosemary.

8. Even though we had the benefit of a Christian home, everyone still has to make their own choice, and I know I was quite a problem for you at times, especially when Jeannie and Rosemary and I didn't get along too harmoniously. But I still really believe and know that we had a wonderful home life compared to those who don't know the Lord and those who didn't have such loving parents. But I'm sorry for my mistakes and sins and my sibling rivalry, I guess we should call it, and the jealousy and contention and the fighting that went on. That was sad, and was mostly my fault, and I take the blame for it and I've really repented of that and been sorry for it.

9. I'm so thankful that Techi and David get along so well, that they really love each other so much and live together harmoniously. Of course, they have normal little spats here and there, and David as a big brother teases his little sister sometimes, and she can tend to aggravate and annoy him. But in general they get along very well. She's rather the gusher type and very enthusiastic and the kind that likes to throw her arms around her brother and say‚ "I love you, David!" David's more conservative, and not so ready to enter into a big display of emotions, or at least as much as Techi would like! So he just chalks it up to her enthusiasm and he sometimes shows his annoyance at it. But more often than not he's very understanding and very tolerant of her even when she disturbs him while he's reading or working or trying to sleep or whatever.

10. You know, Mother and Dad, I feel very sad for you sometimes because I know it must be very very difficult to reconcile what you hear from me about the children, as well as what the children themselves say to you on their tapes—the spirit that they portray and the happiness that comes through their voices and what you actually can tell in your own spirit about them on tape—and what you hear on the news and on television and in the newspapers and on programs like the "20/20" show. It really makes me feel bad. I feel very sad for you because I know it's a big conflict.

11. On the one hand, you want to believe the kids. There they are, how can you not believe them? But on the other hand, you have been brought up with, "What's in the news must be the truth. If so many people are saying it, it certainly must be right.—And if they have all these supposedly documented facts and all these testimonials against a group‚ then certainly that must be the truth!"

12. And, of course, you've heard enough from me through my own mouth and through our writings to know that we are different and we have some rather radical interpretations of some Scriptures on various subjects. So you may figure that since you didn't approve or agree with some of these things, that those were just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg, and it can't do anything but get worse and worse! You probably figure that our doctrines have lead to these things that you're now hearing on the news and seeing on the television.

13. It all looks very logical, and you probably figure, "Well yes of course, it must be true!" But then you listen to your own grandchildren and you know in your own spirit that they're happy and they're content and they love the Lord and they really are good fruit, and you figure, "Well, how can the Children of God be so bad and our grandchildren who were brought up in it all their lives be so good?" The Scripture says a bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit‚ or a good tree cannot bring forth bad fruit.—Mat.7:18.

14. So I realise that it must be very confusing for you and very difficult and almost irreconcilable in your minds. The only thing I can do is pray. I don't have the faith to pray that things will ever be completely resolved in your mind until we meet in Heaven. But I do pray and hope that at least you'll know that the children are good fruit and that whatever you may think of the beliefs we hold that are different from yours, that you will be able to just take all these things that you don't understand about some of our beliefs, and wrap it all up in a bundle of faith and hide it in your heart, and reserve your final judgement for Heaven when you'll meet the One Whose judgement is pure and righteous and unerring, Who Himself will show you what is right.

15. I don't really blame you for not understanding or accepting everything we believe because I know it's very, very difficult for you to change that‚ having been brought up a certain way all your lives. I know it's almost an impossibility. In order for people to change lifelong beliefs and doctrines, it usually takes some very great traumatic experience, like that which happened to Saul when he was persecuting the Christians. He had a preconceived attitude towards the Christians and he was intent on putting everything he had into carrying out his beliefs and fighting for what he believed was right. He represented the established church of the day‚ and he was certain that this little cult was wrong and off the track and of the Devil‚ and he was going to do all he could to stamp it out! So it certainly took a major change in his life to get him to think anything differently.

16. We were brought up to think the Catholics were completely off the beam and that very few of them were going to get to Heaven. We thought the same of the Baptists, since they held different beliefs, that most of them weren't going to Heaven either, as well as the Pentecostals and many others. I'm sure that your ideas have changed somewhat along those lines over the years when you have met many wonderful Catholic people, many wonderful Baptist people, many very deeply spiritual Pentecostals who you knew must belong to the Lord, must be Christians. In spite of what you felt were their inaccurate or misleading doctrines, or actually wrong and unscriptural doctrines, you must have realised that the Lord was still somehow going to take care of them and pull them through.

17. Well‚ maybe you could just look at us the same way, that even if you feel some of our doctrines are wrong and unscriptural and that we must definitely be off the track in some things, that nevertheless our hearts are in the right place and we're right on Salvation and we're right on our ministry to go into all the World and preach the Gospel to every creature. Even if you think that we're wrong in certain areas, can't you at least believe that the Lord is going to have mercy on us?—That we're going to get to Heaven?—And that the Lord is pleased with what we're trying to do?—And that we're not evil and going to Hell and full of Satan and abusing our children, as some have falsely accused us! Somehow, can't you see that we are the Lord's and we're going to make it one way or the other?

18. Maybe you could look at it from that viewpoint, and that might make you feel a little better. I understand that the pressure is very, very intense to turn the World against anyone who holds different beliefs and views from the majority's. That's always been the case. But the pressure is on even more than ever today, and it's motivated by the Enemy, inspired by Satan‚ to seriously alienate and vilify anyone who is actively preaching the Gospel in a big way throughout the World and getting the job done for the Lord.

19. Though we are a small organisation, our methods have been very effective in reaching many throughout the World. We've reached many more in proportion to our numbers than almost any other group, and we've had very good results at getting people saved and filled with the Spirit, as well as getting them turned on to witnessing and to winning souls themselves.

20. One thing you have to realise is that right now, in this point in history, when we're so close to the coming of the Lord, the Enemy, as the Scripture says, "Knows his time is short" (Rev. 12:12). He's doing everything he can to stop the Truth and to overwhelm the World with his evil and his lies.

21. One of our major ministries has been exposing his devices and his worldwide conspiracy of evil, and of his Antichrist to take over the World! We have faithfully done this through our writings‚ pictured it in our Posters and preached it by word of mouth. We've done this frequently and faithfully, and this is one thing that is probably making the Enemy the most furious of all. We are telling people what's going to happen, we're telling people that the Antichrist is about to take over the World, exposing how he's going to do it and warning them to be prepared for him, showing them that they can fight him and don't have to receive the Mark of the Beast‚ and that the Lord will take care of them!

22. I know that's another doctrinal issue (post-Tribulation or pre-Tribulation) that maybe we're not in complete agreement on. But nevertheless, the point is that we are preaching the End, we are preaching the Antichrist taking over, so, of course, he doesn't want this message given worldwide and he's therefore furious at us! Of course, he can't come out with the real reason, telling people, "Well, this is the reason we are persecuting these people and this is the reason we hate them so much!" So he has to use other things and he has to use lies and misinterpretations and distortions and anything at all that he can come up with to arouse the public's ire and antagonism.

23. Awhile back it was the FFing method of witnessing, but then when we stopped that for various reasons —one, because of the danger of the AIDS epidemic—he had to find something else. So he started falsely accusing us of child abuse, when, in fact, we'd never ever do anything to hurt our own dear children!

24. In some countries our enemies have accused us of being the CIA—in certain Third World countries where they're more Communist or Socialist inclined. And in other countries where they're more Capitalistic and more pro–U.S. and pro-democracy our enemies have accused us of being Russian agents. Although it's serious business, it's also a little humorous in some ways when you realise they use whatever they can, whether it makes sense or not, if it is apt to arouse the fears or the antagonism of the people in that particular area.

25. I'm not saying that we haven't made mistakes and that we haven't been unwise in some things, but I am saying that for the most part these things that you hear in the newspapers and on TV are very vicious lies! I've read them and I've seen them, and I think you can take it from me, I don't think you can hear it from a more reliable source, and I'm telling you that most of these things are absolute lies. And when they're not blatant, outright lies‚ they are very vicious misinterpretations, because the Enemy is an expert at taking the truth and adding lies, resulting in misinterpretations and distortions.

26. I'm sure, Mother and Dad, that in your own ministry, especially in the past when you were pastoring churches, that you experienced this sort of thing time after time. You're no stranger to such lies or half-truths or false interpretations and vicious distortions‚ and they hurt, and they're very serious because they can ruin your ministry in an area and ruin your reputation and completely negate your credibility.

27. I'm sure you weren't perfect and you probably made a lot of mistakes, but you knew in spite of those things that you were sincere‚ your heart was in the right place and you were trying to do the Lord's Will. So to have something like that ruin your ministry is very sad. It's also a serious thing because the Lord is going to hold these enemies accountable for the souls that were lost and the people that couldn't be helped as a result of the vicious charges that they levelled against His children.

28. It's sort of like that little song: "Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the World." To me that verse almost seems like a parallel of our ministry and of your ministry, or that of the Catholics and the Baptists and all these different groups, many of whom really do love the Lord. We're almost as different as the "red and yellow, black and white" people of the World with all their differences in culture and colour and language and climate and locations, we're almost that different if not more so! But we do belong to the Lord, all of us who have accepted Him into our hearts and been cleansed by His blood, and therefore none of us have a right to utterly and unconditionally dismiss as evil other Christians who believe differently than we do.

29. We have to somehow leave room for the Lord to work, and realise that our interpretation of the Scriptures might not necessarily be the only one. We might not be seeing the entire picture, there might be room for some differences. I think you've probably learned that. I know even when I was at home you had definitely learned a lot of tolerance even at that time for other people and others who had different beliefs. So I hope and pray that you are able to ask the Lord to help you to see past this flood of misinformation that you're getting and really ask Him to let you see the truth, or at least to help you try to understand or to be tolerant and open to understanding, that you won't just swallow this flood of very vicious propaganda that is constantly being published against us.

30. You know, the funny thing about most of these programs against us is that they're done by people who don't know us personally, have never seen us or visited us or talked with us, but who have just talked to disgruntled backslidden ex-members instead.—In other words, the prime source of information for these programs and articles has been people who for one reason or another have left us, and who to justify their leaving and their going back on the Lord, throw up all these different accusations.

31. Most of these reporters and interviewers very rarely ask for our side of the story, nor even show much interest in it. And, of course, you know why that is, it's because the bad news always sells, the gory, juicy‚ evil details are always the thing that make the news. Scandals and rot and sensational items are always the things that people are most interested in.

32. For example, on that "20/20" show, did you know that that mother, Vivian, had been away from her children for years and had voluntarily signed them over to her husband at the American Embassy in Bangkok when she left? She had absolutely no interest in them when she left Thailand. She'd never been a good mother, she had never even wanted to have the kids, her husband had been taking care of them ever since they were babies. She was a murmurer, a complainer, a very negative person, and she never wanted to have much to do with her kids. She was a preacher's daughter who had originally held high hopes of becoming somebody in the Christian World, not a mother saddled with a whole family of kids and having to take care of them and making them her ministry. So she was very resentful of them‚ and she voiced this resentment continuously.

33. All that to say, there is usually more than one side to the story. If you can get both sides, and fairly listen to them, then you usually start getting a much different picture than if you're completely one-sided.

34. You know, no matter how bad we may think something is, we'd do well to follow the Scriptural illustration and adopt the same attitude that Gamaliel did toward the little band of revolutionaries that was stirring up a lot of trouble by preaching their doctrines. He told their critics, "Refrain from these men, and let them alone, for if this work be of Man, it will come to nought, but if it be of God, beware lest anyone be found to fight against God!"—Acts 5:38‚39. And God Himself issued a pretty dire warning to those who were persecuting His people when He said, "Touch not Mine anointed and do My prophets no harm. For he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of Mine eye."—1Chron.16:22; Zech. 2:8b. I feel that unless people are somehow sure that we're not God's anointed, it would be a lot safer for them to seriously consider these Scriptural warnings before they say anything against us. I think there are going to be a lot of surprises when we get to Heaven, and a lot of people who are going to be very, very sorry and very ashamed of themselves for how they mistreated His little ones.

35. Well, I could keep going and going and keep trying to get you to understand and help you to see some of these things and keep defending ourselves, but I don't really think that would be too profitable because the Lord has to show you. If you really seek Him I think He'll show you in your heart, at least He'll give you some indication that will help you to understand that it's not the way you see it on TV and read about it in the paper and the scores of books that have been written against us. I really do pray—especially for your own sakes—that you'll be able to understand a little better. Of course, it would make me very happy personally as well if you did, but nevertheless I have to go on and do what I know the Lord wants me to do.

36. But I love you dearly and I would very much like you to understand and approve of my work for the Lord. I think that in hearing the children and what they have to say and listening to them, at least it will be some comfort to you because you just can't listen to them without knowing that they're loving and sweet and pure‚ that they're good fruit, and they're good grandchildren. You can certainly be very very proud of them.

37. I guess you can tell I'm enthusiastic about the children. I feel about them like Techi does about her favourite subjects: When she talks about them she gets excited and jumps up and down! But I'm not exaggerating when I say that truly, in all my life, I've never seen better children than these two, and all the glory goes to the Lord. I know it's nothing of me because I certainly wasn't any shining example of a child, and I haven't even had that much time to spend with them as a mother, although I love them and do care for them and spend time with them when I can. Like most parents, I haven't had my children to teach fulltime, they've had other teachers. But I have to say that the Lord's just done wonderfully for them and made them tremendous kids in every way! I wouldn't say they're geniuses, they're pretty average kids really; although they are very intelligent and very capable, they're pretty normal kids.

38. But they're above average in their loving sweet spirits.—They're considerate and courteous and are really conscious of other people's feelings. They're also very obedient to the Lord —not obedient in a cowering type of fearful way, but obedient because they love to be obedient, because they want to be good and be loving and they love Jesus and they love us and they want to show their love for us by their obedience. And they're happy and cheerful and go about their work every day with such a zest.

39. David said today‚ "Oh goodie, this is a work day! I get to work instead of study!" Even though he loves to read, he is very‚ very interested in all kinds of work‚ especially things like electronics. In fact, he just recently put in most of our intercoms in a house where we lived. He is a good carpenter as well. He just made me a little bedside table that's beautifully done. He even likes to take care of children, although that's not his favourite thing to do. But he's very good with them and they love him and look up to him. And he likes his garden and planting little plants and tending little bulbs etc. He also likes birds and cats and dogs, and he's just a real good boy and a real pleasure to be around.

40. I guess I say more about him here because Techi said a lot about herself on the tape. I wouldn't have to toot their horn so much if they were where you could see them because they would of course speak for themselves by their behaviour and their actions. But I thought you'd like me to tell you a little about them because you can't get a chance to be with them.

41. Of course‚ one reason that they are such wonderful children is that they've been kept pure and uncontaminated by the very anti-God school system.—A system which is unimaginably worse than it used to be‚ since they've now thrown God and the Bible out. As a result, the poor kids who have to go to public schools are almost uncontrollable now. I really pity them. They're besieged daily by every kind of evil. It's a cruel and very very difficult World for any of those children who love Jesus and want to serve the Lord.

42. The late John Holt was a very famous American author and educator who wrote quite a few very significant books. He worked within the public school system for quite a few years trying to reform it. Finally in 1981 he got so fed-up with it that he wrote a book in which he very definitely and convincingly advocated taking your children out of public schools and teaching them on your own. Here's one short excerpt from him:

43. "If there were no other reason for wanting to keep kids out of school, the social life would be reason enough. In all but a very few of the schools that I have taught in or visited or know anything about, the social life of the children is mean-spirited, competitive‚ exclusive, status-seeking, snobbish, full of talk about who went to who's birthday party and who got what Christmas presents and so on." He continues, "I remember my sister saying of one of her children, then five, that she never knew her to do anything really mean or silly until she went away to school. A nice school, by the way, in a nice small town." He then brings out the things that of course we all know are prevalent in public schools today: The drugs, the drinking, the cigarettes‚ the witchcraft, the homosexuality, the deceitfulness‚ the wide array of very serious problems that are now besetting kids who attend public schools.

44. So I think one reason why I can tell you that Techi and David are so well-behaved and such beautiful children is because they haven't been contaminated by that kind of horrible atmosphere. Peer pressure is one of the very strongest things there is, and even though most children don't want to do bad things, even though they know in their hearts they're wrong, even though they detest doing them‚ if they're put in that position (even our sweet Christian children who love the Lord), it's almost impossible for them to resist, and that's all there is to it. They rarely can do much else, it's very very difficult.

45. When I was in school, I didn't do those things, as you know‚ but I was a very lonely child and I was labelled as the preacher's kid, and I didn't have many friends. But back then was a long time ago and things have gotten so bad now that you are not only ostracised if you don't do the things the other kids do, but you're persecuted, severely persecuted, so much so that most kids just can't take it and they end up joining the gang.

46. I'm almost at the end of this tape now. I didn't mean to give you a sermon on this‚ but I'd be real interested to know what you're doing with your children‚ Rosemary, and how they're faring in public school. You know, a lot of times the parents really don't even know what's going on because the children are hesitant to let them know. But I guess you can tell by the effect that you see it's having on their lives. Anyway, you might like to read this book, it's called, "Teach Your Own—A Hopeful Path for Education" by John Holt. It's a Merloyd Lawrence book, Delacourte Press, Seymour Lawrence, and copyrighted 1981.

47. I want to wish you a very happy Christmas! I'm sorry I couldn't send more than one copy of these tapes but I hope you'll be able to pass them on, Mother and Dad, to Jeannie and Rosemary, of course, and all my dear aunts and uncles. You all were a real blessing and inspiration to me as I was growing up, and I know I absorbed some of your life, and so you all live in me. You helped make me what I am, and I really am grateful and owe you all a debt, which I'm trying to repay by being the best kind of daughter for the Lord that I can be and doing the best kind of job that I can for Him.

48. I really love you and I'm praying for you and I'll be looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you for the sweet birthday cards you've sent me, I do appreciate them. And again‚ I thank you, Mother and Dad, for being such good parents and giving your lives to the service of the Lord and sacrificing in so many ways for all of us. And thank you, Jeannie and Rosemary, for your sweetness and being good sisters to me even though I often didn't deserve it. But that's the way the Lord's Love is, He gives it to us whether we deserve it or not.

49. God bless and keep you all and give you a happy and fulfilled New Year in Him.


Maria (—AMEN!)