KEYWORDS: kids, things, system, home, way, course

Relating to the System

David Berg

—"Be Ready Always to Give an Answer!"—1Pet.3:15.Maria #101DO 25458/89

By Maria

(Dear Family, GBY all for your continued faithfulness to the Lord & His Work, PTL! Dad & Mama wanted to thank all of you Home Field Returnees who filled out & sent in the "Home Field Survey" form (see GN 362), which has helped them to better understand your situation, circumstances & difficulties. These forms‚ as well as reports from your Home Field Overseers have helped the Folks to uphold you & your needs more specifically in their prayers, & have enabled them to pass on the Lord's guidance & counsel to you via the Letters & advice to your NOs.

(After going over a report that summarised some of the rather touchy & ticklish situations that many of you Returnees have been facing with the System, Mama shared the following counsel.—Advice that should be a great help to all the Family, but especially to those of you who are now back in your Western Home Fields! PTL!)

1. When our families return to their Home Fields, the parents need to try to explain a few things to their teens & children about what the System's like & how it operates. Otherwise, the poor kids are going to be completely embarrassed by not even knowing the basics! They need to not only tell their kids about the real bad parts of the System, but they also need to matter-of-factly explain to them basically what goes on in the System, how things operate & what to expect when dealing with Systemites.

2. In a way, I almost hate to see our Family kids have to get into all that, talking all about the System & what they do & how Systemites think & do things. Some of our kids might even be tempted to think, "Well‚ I wish we could do things that way too!" But if you not only explain to them the way Systemites do things, but also emphasise & teach them why our way is better, then they should understand.

3. They need to learn & know what the System expects young teens to be able to do. For example, we read about this incident where an adult Family member called a pet shop to buy a bird for their teenager. They told the shop owner, "We'll bring him over to get his bird," & the man replied, "Why, is there something wrong with your son? Can't he just take a bus?" What he meant was, "Is he disabled or mentally retarded or something?"

4. This typical Systemite shop owner was apparently shocked that the adults were so hesitant to just send their boy out on a bus across town all alone.—Which shows how much they expect a normal System teen to do on his own or by himself! So our parents need to be prepared with reasonable explanations when such instances arise. Of course, you may not be able to always give Systemites … the whole reason why we do things differently from them, & neither will your kids. You can't tell a Flatlander, "Well, we believe in going two-by–two because that's how Jesus sent out His disciples, & it's much safer that way‚ considering all of the evil spiritual influences out there!"

5. Of course‚ you could very well respond by saying, "Considering how dangerous & corrupt things are becoming nowadays, with all kinds of drug-dealers & homos & other perverts & weirdos running around rampant, I don't like my 15-year–old going off all by himself if I can possibly avoid it.—He might get in trouble!" You could go on the attack with an answer like that. They may think you are too strict & overly-protective, but at least an answer like that is something most people can relate to, & I wouldn't say that it's too weird or abnormal because there really are an awful lot of really bad things happening in most places nowadays!

6. How they accept your answers & reasons will largely depend on your attitude & personal conviction. I wouldn't be surprised if some of them would wind up admiring your conviction, & understanding what you're talking about!—Even if they do think you're a little overprotective. Of course, after your teen gets to be 16 & is even expected to be driving by then in a lot of Western countries, you'd probably need to think of some other reasons why you don't send him across town in a bus or car by himself.

7. But that's just one little example of the kind of questions that can arise. I'm sure there must be countless similar situations that will come up almost constantly with those of you with teens in your home countries! For instance, you can't have your teens telling the neighbour teens, "We're not allowed to go off of our home property [by ourselves]." If your kids say things like that, even though it's true, you would certainly be marked as a cult or at least as very very strange by your neighbours!

8. Another instance that was mentioned was where a neighbour lady asked one of our young teenagers if she did babysitting. Her mother was there also, & wisely answered, "Oh‚ she hasn't started yet. I'm real strict with her, you know, with all the problems that can come up & the bad things that are going on these days." Most Systemite mothers could at least sympathise & relate to that kind of reasoning. So you'll probably have to come up with quite a few good reasons to explain to others why your children don't do that sort of thing.


9. Of course it's not only our kids who need help along these lines, there are also very many ways in which our adults are very different from the System & its Systemites as well! For example, one way that most of our Family adults in the West apparently differ very obviously from the System is that they don't use credit cards.—Something that almost all Systemites use nowadays!

10. If people question you about that, you could just tell them that you don't believe in using credit, that you only like to spend exactly what you've got, so you'll know what's left & won't spend beyond it. Who knows, if you honestly explain it to them like that, you might even get them under conviction! Also, whenever people use credit cards, they have to pay a percentage surcharge on every purchase, so why waste all that money? There are a lot of good reasons why cash is more convenient. Of course, there's also the added [privacy] factor. … But when you use a credit card there's a trail behind you of everything you ever bought with it. …

11. Besides, from all that we've heard, they're very hard for most Family members to get anyway. So it's good that our people know why they don't use them. The only time it might be beneficial to have a credit card would be for I.D. purposes & to help you appear respectable. But it's definitely preferable not to use them because of the above-mentioned reasons.

12. (Fam: Credit companies readily share any & all specifics about you with … your government, as well as with the phone company, the banks & almost anyone who asks about you. … That's one of the first methods the private investigators use when they're trying to find someone; they just phone up the credit company & get your name‚ your latest address & the latest purchases that you made. They can get all those details on you in a flash, it's very quick & easy. …)

13. Well, maybe that's why the Lord has let them make it so difficult to obtain a credit card. I doubt if very many of our returning missionaries would be able to get them even if they wanted to.—Unless their parents or relatives somehow help or intercede for them in a big way.


14. Another question that's been raised has to do with when your children are questioned about their grades & schooling. Apparently, some of our Family kids don't seem to realise how much schooling they've had‚ so when other kids question them about specific school subjects, some of them have a tendency to hem & haw, "Well, um, we don't really go to school." They apparently don't have the conviction to answer‚ "Yes, of course we've studied this subject & that subject! We get to have school at home!"—And considering the horror that public school has become, there will probably be lots of System kids who will be envious.

15. Well, we don't like to teach our kids to brag too much or to be self-righteous, but in cases like that where they're talking to the System, it really helps if they can show a pretty large measure of confidence! Our parents should [help] the kids on how to answer such questions & explain their schooling with conviction.

16. Returning teens can also say that they've "studied abroad" in whatever country they were serving the Lord in. Just the fact that they've been able to survive & function in a foreign country speaks very highly of them & their education. Parents can relate the experiences their kids have had in foreign countries in terms the System can understand & it will show that, if anything, their education has been superior to anything they could have received in their Home Country.

17. They could say, "We major on practical–life courses. Listen, I get to do all kinds of really neat things!—I get to cook all kinds of things by myself & make all kinds of special goodies for people," or "I get to grow all kinds of things in my own garden, & I get to do maintenance work & carpentry & construction, etc!" They should show that they enjoy the things they learn & do.—"And I go on all kinds of fun excursions here & there. I don't have to just sit & study for hours at a time.—Most of my classes are incorporated into all these different fun things that I get to do!"

18. That's just one angle to take, one way they could approach it. Our kids should be able to make them envious! We do have the best educational methods & we do have fun‚ TTL! They don't have to just sit around & spend all their time poring over boring textbooks in order to learn things. Maybe they're not always learning exactly what's in the System's textbooks, but they're learning a lot of things that are much more important & valuable!

19. Of course, they should also be able to talk about actual school subjects. (Fam: They've learned so much Geography, Social Studies‚ foreign cultures & languages, plus practical knowledge, not to speak of all they've learned from the Letters. A lot of our kids are tops in these subjects because they've actually lived in so many different countries.)

20. Yes‚ they can say, "And I've travelled all around & have even lived in all these different countries! I've gotten a lot of my education just from learning about & experiencing various cultures & their languages, etc.!"

21. Of course, the next question would probably then be, "Why have you travelled around so much?" In which case, they could answer with conviction, "My parents are missionaries!—And they've been busy helping people in different countries all their lives!" And if they say they take a correspondence course, they certainly need to know the name of the correspondence course, as well as where their correspondence materials are being sent from.

22. The kind of questions that outside kids are likely to ask your kids are‚ "What's your school like? How long do you have to sit & study? Do you have to take tests? How much do you have to write?" Of course, they could then easily wonder, "Hey, how come she doesn't have to sit down & do hours & hours on end of boring school work but I do!?" Next thing you know they'll go home & tell their mother, "You know that kid next door, she doesn't have to sit down & spend all her time in a classroom or doing homework!"

23. So you'd better go over your answers, & they had better be good & acceptable & pretty solid. Even if your kids aren't going over to the neighbours, you never know when your landlord might show up & decide to strike up a conversation with them.

24. It's also pretty important for them to know some of the general facts about the country they're living in.—Especially if it's supposed to be their home country! Do they know who the president or head of state is?—Or the mayor of their city, or the names of the major political parties? It would look rather strange or odd if they don't know anything about that sort of thing. And even though we personally don't get involved in System sports, it wouldn't hurt for them to at least know the names of the local major teams, as that's all such a big part of everyday life for normal Systemites.


25. We, of course, have to [instruct] our kids with the … reasons why we do things the way we do. But the lesson you homegoing families need to learn is that you need to give your kids answers & reasons [using terms] that will be acceptable & relatable to outsiders. … But if such answers would sound totally odd or weird to the System, they'll have to have some alternative [terms]. …—And it's your responsibility as their parents to give your kids such alternatives.

26. If you can at least give outsiders part of the reason why you don't allow your teens out by themselves with conviction, even if you can't go into detail about all the negative spiritual influences, etc., at least you can say you don't want your kids attacked by homosexuals or drug dealers or gang members! That is part of the reason why we're so protective, we're concerned for our children's physical safety & well-being as well as their spiritual safety & well-being.

27. So if you can't give them the whole reason‚ at least give them part of the reason with conviction. Of course, if you can give them the whole reason without stumbling or shocking them too much, & you can make it sound convincing & even convicting to them, then go ahead & do so.

28. If your kids can give System acquaintances the whole reason why they do things a certain way, fine. But if they can't, at least try to give them part of the reason. If they can't give them any of the reason without causing the Systemites to stumble or start raising questions‚ then they better have an alternative answer that sounds plausible. We're supposed to "be ready always to give an answer" (1Pet.3:15), & it's vital that your teens who have contact with the System know how to relate to outsiders & answer some basic questions!

29. But if they know nothing about how the System operates, not even knowing what things are considered "normal" behaviour & what things Systemites consider abnormal behaviour, you could have some very serious … problems! If your kids don't know anything about how to relate to outsiders, they could start an innocent conversation with some System kids, & they're apt to say something that could sound absolutely crazy to a Flatlander!

30. And if that happens, it will probably get back to the kids' parents, which means that those adults are going to immediately put you under close observation, & it's going to throw a lot of suspicion on you as to who you are or what you are & what you're doing! You're probably already strange-looking enough in the eyes of most of your neighbours! But if you don't teach your kids properly & they slip up, you may immediately be branded as a cult or whatever other strange thing they might deduce from what your teen has said!—All because your poor teen didn't even know what was abnormal or would sound weird to the System!

31. One good approach they could try is to simply say, "My family's a little bit old–fashioned, my parents are old-fashioned." That doesn't sound too religious & it doesn't sound too weird, it just sounds like they're good old-fashioned people. Or they could say their family is strict. There still must be some strict parents around, especially when you consider all the terrible things going on nowadays!

32. It's obviously a real time of learning for all of you who are getting back into your Home Fields again & dealing with the System in your own countries. Keeping peace with the neighbours is difficult in almost any case, but it's especially so in your own country & in your own language! Some of our people are finding it's not so easy to try to appear & sound normal to your neighbours when most of your time is spent out witnessing & preaching the Gospel!

33. Even though you're religious, you have to do your best to avoid appearing religious!—At least not fanatically religious! Our families in situations like that have got a big job on their hands, & it's going to take a lot of wisdom & prayer & a lot of training to not only get the teens to where they can say the right things, but to train the adults as well!


34. … You've just got to train them the best you can. But the thing to be on guard against is having needless contact.


36. Fellowship with the World, friendship with the World, is enmity with God! (Jam.4:4.) Of course, it's fun to have friends, but if you're really living for the Lord & you want to live for Jesus & do His Will, you're going to have to do without some friends. … There are some sacrifices that our kids are going to have to make. (Fam: While our kids have to be in the World, they can't be of the World.) Exactly.


37. Another matter that our Home Field Returnees need to be forewarned about, a question that they will need to be able to answer with conviction is, "Why do you have so many people in your home?" That could present a problem for some, especially those who aren't getting trailers right away. In most places it's a little unusual to have two or three families all together in one house.

38. One way you could answer that is to honestly explain that you are returning missionaries, & that it's economically much cheaper to live when you have two & three families together. Just explain to them that you don't have a lot of extra money so you decided to band together. You could almost boast about it: "Look how much more economical it is for missionaries like us!—We share the food & the rent & utility expenses & only have to worry about the maintenance & upkeep of just one house instead of three! Besides, living like this provides our kids with friends, & our little kids learn from the big kids, & it's much better for them!"

39. Whether they think you're a little weird or not, they'll hopefully accept your explanation if you give it to them with conviction & sincerity. They may think, "Boy, I'd never do that, but I can see it from your point of view." If you explain it to them in a clear, sincere way with some kind of truth that they can latch onto, hopefully they'll at least have some degree of understanding of you.

40. People have much less fear about things that they can understand than things that they don't understand. …

41. People usually admire missionaries. A lot of them think they're strange & they're weird, & they know they never could or would do it themselves. But even some of the unsaved who think it's crazy for you to go around the World converting people from other religions‚ even if they don't agree with that, a lot of them will still respect the fact that you've given up everything for what you believe in. They respect the fact that your motivations are pure & you've got so much sacrificial love & conviction to go out & try to help or reach others.

42. Even some of the unsaved who don't think you have any business converting anybody, much less them, will still have a measure of respect for you. If you can give them a good reason why you're a missionary‚ they're going to think, "Well, at least this guy has a lot of guts, he has a lot of love for others, & even if we think he's a little weird, we've got to give him the benefit of the doubt. We've got to admit that at least he's sincere. We admire him even if we do think he's a little strange."

43. So if they're going to think you're strange for your lifestyle or beliefs, at least try to get them to admire you for being strange!—Which means you've got to give them something to hang onto‚ & the more reasons you give them that they can grasp & relate to, the easier it will be for them to be able to accept you.

44. (Fam: When pioneering & working in different fields in the past, I found that whenever we seemed a little bit odd or different to people, if we at least tried to explain to them why we did things a certain way, they would often then realise that maybe they had never considered or looked at things from that angle before.—And they'd wind up admiring us for deciding to go a different way. It would often affect their whole attitude, & they'd actually want to help us even more because they'd admire us, especially when they could see that we were honest & straightforward.)

45. People usually admire someone who's willing to buck the tide & be an individual. Hardly anyone dares to be an individual in the System, & a lot of people wish they could be but they can't quite muster up the courage to break loose. The Japanese are a good example of that, they really admire the crazy Don Quixote types who are willing to be different because hardly one in a million of them will dare to do it. But they'll often admire it, they wish they could.

46. Most people will begrudgingly accept you doing out-of-the–ordinary things if you have real conviction & if you can really tell them the reasons why. Even if you can't tell them the whole reason, you should be able to at least tell them some of your reasons. Make your pitch positive & make it convincing & give it some umph! Whatever you do, don't cower & defend yourself & apologise. If you act like that, you're completely lost!—You're going to be even more suspicious in their eyes than ever.

47. (Fam: I once read a story about a little girl who brought a rich friend of hers home. She lived on a farm & shared a room with her sister. She was all worried that her friend might not like her any more because of the humble way she lived. She was kind of holding her breath worrying about it‚ but when the wealthy girl saw her room she exclaimed, "You mean, you get to have somebody else live with you?!" It was like, "Wow! You don't have to sleep all alone!" The little poor girl was so relieved, she was not only accepted, but even envied by her friend.) Yes, who knows, they might even like some of your peculiar ways!


48. It might even be helpful in many cases when you move into new neighbourhoods in your home countries to perhaps send your spokesman or spokes-couple around & introduce yourselves to the neighbours.—If it's that sort of a friendly neighbourhood or area & the neighbours might think you're really weird or get worried or suspicious if you don't. You may find it's worth it to go around & say, "Hello, we're the So-&-so's & we've just moved into the neighbourhood, blah, blah."

49. It just might be to your advantage to go & introduce yourselves, at least to your immediate neighbours. You could say, "We're missionaries who have recently returned from the mission field, & we're coming home on furlough for a couple of years," something along those lines. Saying you're on furlough explains why you're not jumping totally into a Systemite way of life.

50. "We've come back home now & we're going to be in your neighbourhood. Since we've been out of the country awhile & we're not too familiar with everything that's going on nowadays, how times have changed, if there's ever anything that we or our kids do that bothers you‚ please let us know!" You could even add, "And if there's anything we can do for you‚ please let us know. We're missionaries & we're experienced counsellors in marriage & childcare & in all kinds of areas. If there's ever anything we can do to help you, please let us know!"

51. Just be careful not to push anything on them! Of course‚ at some point they're probably going to ask, "Well, what denomination are you with?" Everybody's going to have to be very prayerful & really think about what they should call themselves. Maybe you should just say, "We're inter-denominational" or "We've been independent missionaries." But most groups or organisations do have a name. … But you could still say you were independent missionaries, whatever name you may go by.

52. "And there are two or three families of us because we've just come home together. We don't have much money right now & we're trying to economise, so we're all staying together at least until we get on our feet financially.—So please bear with us‚ & let us know if there's anything we can do to help you!"

53. Of course, each particular situation should be judged on its own merits. As I mentioned earlier‚ if your neighbourhood is the kind where they would expect you to come around & introduce yourselves, then you should probably seriously consider doing so. However, in some instances, it might be better to just wait until you can casually make their acquaintance without making a special trip or visit to their home.

54. If you seem to be overly or unusually friendly to your neighbours, you might leave them feeling a bit obligated & wondering what they're supposed to do in order to repay you for your visit to their house.—And they just might feel obliged to do all they can to introduce you to the community; to try to help integrate you into their local clubs‚ churches, social functions, sports activities, etc., which to say the least, could certainly put you in a very awkward position, not to mention that it could be a distraction & [possible bother] as well!

55. Whereas if you meet them casually & informally, you can show yourself friendly enough to hopefully win them‚ but not so friendly that they feel obligated to be so "sociable" with you in return. Another advantage of such casual encounters is that it would be easier for you to limit how much time you spent with them & how much you say.

56. (Fam: It might make it easier to approach your neighbours if you have a question prepared that normal neighbours would be expected to know the answer to. You could say something like, "Hello there, I'm So-&-so, just moved in next door. I wanted to ask you if perhaps you know which newspapers get delivered here in this neighbourhood?" Or‚ "Would you be able to please tell me when the garbage collectors come around to pick up the trash?", or something to that effect.)

57. Yes, that might be a nice way to introduce yourself without having to get into too many details or becoming too intimate with them. Of course, you could then use the opportunity to tell them a little bit more about yourselves, & also to find out a little bit about the neighbourhood & the others who live around you.—You'll just have to really pray & ask the Lord for wisdom to know what is best for your particular situation & circumstances!—"Follow God!"

58. The Family has already learned to relate to others & carry on like this on quite a few mission fields, & I think it would be wise to do so in whatever areas our Family moves into.—Don't you? Try it!—You might like it!—And so will your neighbours & those you have regular contact with & must relate to! Amen? PTL!

(—Ye are as sheep in the midst of wolves!—Therefore be ye wise as serpents!—Ye are not of the World (System)‚ therefore the World hateth you! Beware of wolves in sheeps' clothing!—GBAKY!)