Ask a Hutterite

The blog of a real, live Hutterite.

Reflection: American Colony (Episode 1: Harvest Party Scandal)


Breaking bread

Photograph by National Geographic Channels/ Collins Avenue Inc.

American Colony: Meet the Hutterites
Episode 1: Harvest Party Scandal
Aired: May 29, 2012

Beginning this series of reflections sounded like such a wonderful idea—an opportunity to respond with thoughtfulness to something many people feel strongly about. I hoped it would be something of a Verbeigeah, that I would be able to do it in passing. Reality has settled in and cleared away all remnants of this delusion.

My goal is to be as kind as possible and non-judgmental in my writing while at the same time provoke thought and imagination. I don’t want to make the people of King Colony and those who love them feel even worse than they already may. Unfortunately, this noble intention almost evaporated when I saw some of the American Colony characters defend themselves with a very arrogant attitude and crude language on a Facebook group. Though I may use negative examples from the show, I will attempt to frame them in a general way that all of us can learn from.

I write for my fellow-Hutterites who may be curious as to what other Hutterites think about the show, and for non-Hutterites who had their curiosity piqued about my people. If there is something here for somebody else that’s great. Please note that I live on a Schmiedeleut community and I write from this perspective. We have many commonalities with the Dariusleut, but there are some cultural differences. We share a common spiritual heritage and this discussion is spiritual in nature.

Convention dictates that I summarize the events of the episode, but for the sake of expedience I will assume that readers are familiar with them. Even if this is not the case, you should still be able to follow my logic on the themes I have chosen to discuss. There are many possibilities, of course, so I’m saving some for later because they come up in other episodes as well.

The more I watched of the first episode with a critical eye, the more holes appeared in its fabric: this is certainly not high cinema. (Nor was that the intent, I suppose.) An acquaintance of mine, the Mennonite filmmaker Burton Buller, summarized it well: “I see that National Geographic has created a series of programs on a Darius colony in Montana. I’ve seen some of the clips they’ve placed on the web. They are using the now stale reality show formula to tell stories of conflict. Kind of disappointing.”

The episode strings the viewer along like Tarzan flying through the jungle. There are times when it feels fairly tenuous because the actors are obviously not comfortable with speaking in English, but overall the editing is tight and drives the plot forward. I will not deal with obvious overarching matters in the episode reflections; check back to the general American Colony post where I keep adding overall issues as they emerge for me. The premise of the first episode is the pending harvest party at King Colony that winds up the community harvest. As the event approaches several conflicts come into focus. I have chosen two that I want to explore.

Elders versus the people

My understanding of ‘church’ as the mystical ‘body of Christ’ has been deeply influenced by my study of Hutter, Riedemann and the newly-emerged ‘New Monasticism’ movement. This first episode is a veritable study of the heart-rending opposite. I see a frightful breakdown in community that has pitted the actors in an ‘us vs. them’ battle with ‘the elders in Canada.’ Even the National Geographic has picked up on this, and shamefully uses it to defend feeble and sensationalistic journalism.

At several junctures the episode makes clear reference to this tension and disconnect. It is somewhat obvious that the elders are viewed as authoritarian ‘defenders of the traditions.’ Here are some quotations for context:

“The elders are worried that if the young people in the colony get too educated they’re gonna wanna leave.” [Wesley]

“It’s hard because the elders don’t want our kids going to high school…. Sometimes I wonder what they mean by man-made rule or god-made rule. I think God would want them to have the best education they can have.” [Bertha]

“Facebook, texting, english boys, these are all forbidden by the elders.” [Bertha]

Rite: “I don’t know if them elders know what Facebook means, but you never know!”
Bertha: “That’s what I’m afraid of.”

When community breaks down in such a way, everybody looses. Henri Nouwen, a Roman Catholic priest and brilliant writer on communal living, observed that if there are situations where a few people have all the power and others nothing, both sides loose their soul. Leaders must see themselves as the servants of their people, and the people in return must see their leaders as powerful spiritual allies in navigating the struggles life on this side of eternity throws at us.

It is the role of elders, like the biblical prophets, to call people to a faithfulness to God, but what happens with their voice is no longer heard? What happens when they do not have the means to effectively speak to their people because of broken relationships or the lack of communication skills? For example, I have been profoundly disappointed by the fact that Hutterite elders are referring the media to former Hutterites to speak on our behalf. Who are we, if we can’t even explain our deepest and most beloved ideals?

On the matter of true authority and leadership, I appreciate the writings of Jean Vanier, a Canadian-born French communitarian:

True authority is exercised in the context of justice for all, with special attention to the weakest people, who cannot defend themselves and are part of the oppressed minority. A family or community authority, as well as having this sense of justice and truth, needs personal relationships, sensitivity in its action and the ability to listen, trust and forgive. None of this, of course, excludes moments of firmness.

To exercise authority is to feel truly responsible for others and their growth. The greatest danger for someone in authority is to manipulate people and control them for his or her own goals and need for power.

To lead is to judge situations and make wise decisions. And judgement is always in respect to certain criteria; these criteria are the goal or objectives of the community. That is why the leader must continually keep the goal in view; even more, they must live it and love it.

Leaders of communities need to organize the community so that each member is in the right place and things work smoothly. Members can sense very quickly if those with responsibility in the community love and trust them and want to help them to grow, or if they are there just to prove their authority, impose the rules and their own vision, or else are seeking to please.

If the response of Hutterite leadership is problematic, the choices and actions of the people of King Colony are even more so. For example, Bertha observes that, “Facebook, texting, ‘English’ boys, these are all forbidden by the elders.” My question is, why doesn’t Bertha have a problem with these things? Being concerned about these things sounds like a pretty good idea to me; it is not the role of our elders to act as policemen! Further to this, why is she choosing to subject herself to the soul-torture of staying in a church-community that has values and standards she does not share? In my experience, the Hutterite church is not a prison that has you locked in. Yes, there are some leaders who use bad theology to coerce people to stay, but Bertha strikes me as a fairly strong woman in her own way.

I confess this ‘us vs. them’ approach to communal living sounds pretty bleak indeed. What are we, if we are not a people gathered to serve each other and to make “the kingdom come?” What can be done to restore such brokenness and who’s responsibility is it?

The ‘Run away’ conundrum

The second issue I want to consider is the idea of leaving the Hutterite community. Like the episode, I will focus primarily on young people leaving for reasons such as finding the Hutterite lifestyle restrictive to their right to have fun.

To begin with, I find the word ‘run away’ both as a noun and verb terribly colloquial. I will use ‘former Hutterite’ as a noun and ‘leave the community’ as a verb. I realize that ‘run away’ has a interesting ring to it that captures the element of excitement of a foolish young man leaving, but other than that, like most direct translations, it leaves much to be desired.

As I see this issue there are two primary levels of tension that need to be wrestled with: first, the young person wanting to leave versus the parents not wanting them to, and secondly, the level of acceptable interaction between youth off the community and those still living there and having to observe the value system. I know there are more layers to this, but for now I am restricting myself to what I see in the show.

Let’s look at the latter first. Here are quotations for context. All of them are spoken by Claudia’s character:

“I’m not really interested in dating any Hutterite boys right now, so I don’t see the problem in dating off the colony. I just want to have a little fun; it’s not like I’m going to marry the guy. So, I’m just gonna do what I want.”

“I don’t care what people will think. He’s just a normal guy and I just want to have fun with him.”

There is so much that could, and perhaps should, be addressed here, but I’ll stick with the issue mentioned. Essentially it seems that Claudia wants the ‘right’ to stay in her community, but doesn’t want to claim the partner ‘responsibility’ of observing its principles. Case in point:

“It’s times like these that make me want to leave the colony.”

“I feel that there is too much judgement here and too many rules that don’t make any sense.”

This attitude is not unique to Claudia. Clearly, a lethal sense of entitlement has infected our communities. This is, of course, very similar the the historical Ehrenpreis era where the church had to deal, not so much with external persecution, but rather internal systemic decline. Will history repeat itself?

The second struggle relevant to this matter is Bertha’s difficulty in navigating communal Hutterite mores and her parenting responsibilities.

“I can’t bear to tell Carver not to do something he loves.”

“I’d love to see Claudia living in a Hutterite Colony all her life, but I want to see her happy too.”

My heart goes out to Bertha because as a single parent she bears a huge burden. This is, however, one of the more beautiful reasons why we live in community: that we can support each other in doing things that are right, even when they are difficult. Imagine a community where parents help and support each other raising their children. Imagine communities where parents can openly discuss their children’s development and growth with leadership where no misuse of this information will be used for slander or manipulation. That should be every Hutterite community!

To further complicate matters parents occasionally put communal values in second place as far as their offspring is concerned in order to keep them from leaving. When parents compromise the health and well-being of the community in the form of permissiveness and ignoring core values to cling to their children, the community becomes populated with people who are not genuinely committed to the Hutterite lifestyle and spirituality. And this doesn’t even begin to speak to the accompanying problems like favouritism and nepotism. Communal living is a challenging road–imagine traveling on it if you are not 100% convinced that this is the best path for you! Or having to travel with people who’s hearts aren’t in it?

Our life together is of a spiritual nature and as such our focus must be spiritual as well.

Thank you for reading my reflections and the questions that come up for me. As you can see, I don’t have too many answers. What are your thoughts? I hope for a fruitful discussion. Keep it civil, keep it clean; refer to Questions and Comments for my unabashedly stringent comments policy.

Editorial disclaimer: I reserve the right to continue editing my writing. What you see one time may not be here the next.

Assorted negative and positive snippets cited out of context because I found them interesting for various reasons.
Read at your own risk.

“Would you date a Hutterite girl, if she was hot?”

“I know I have God, and he will watch her too.”

“That’s how it’s always has been, and that’s how it always will be.”

“You live in the colony, you know what your place is, period!”

“The people around here don’t like change, especially the men.”

“The colony wants us to go to school, but the elders want us to drop out at 15…so we can help on the colony…. And besides, there’s nothing on the colony that interests me. I’d rather get an education.”

“Hutterites are the key strong point to the football team.”

Carver: “Hutterites are like chick magnets, you know.”
Wesley: “Yeah, maggots.”

Hutterite tradition says that we are never allowed to wear our hair down and that we’re always supposed to wear a shawl. But to be honest a head scarf does not define me as a Hutterite or as a woman. [She dramatically lets kerchief fall to floor.] I feel like if I wanna wear my hair down I should be able to without people judging me. It doesn’t make me any less of a Hutterite. I’m sick of listening to everybody and not sticking up for myself…. I’m a Hutterite with her hair down, and that’s all. [Claudia speaking about wearing a head covering.]

“Mom is always right.”

“When we get to tomorrow, we’ll worry about tomorrow.

32 thoughts on “Reflection: American Colony (Episode 1: Harvest Party Scandal)

  1. Wow, Kenny Wollman, that’s an awesome post, I was a little more upset in the beginning of all this than I am right now, obviously NatGeo knew of some conflicts between the Hutterian church and the individuals of this colony and this is what they chose to exploit. As we all can see it is scripted, and what really upsets me about NatGeo, is the lengths they went to show the world our flaws. C’mon, bar age is 21 in the states, (or at least in Montana) and so they couldn’t get those young ppl in a bar there, they sent them to Saskatchewan/Alberta where bar age is 18 and then they film them drinking! Any respect I have ever had for NatGeo is over.

    To be fair to the whole of King colony, I don’t think they realized what this would turn out to be, but still, how can an outsider know what shunning is or understand the purpose of it? If I were an outsider I would actually think that a person who is shunned is not allowed eat at all!

    Now about using an outsider to speak for us, I am not entirely in agreement about that myself, for sure, let MaryAnn Kirby say what she will, and even if it is positive, is she the best candidate? I read “I am Hutterite” with mixed feelings, and I still think she wrote with prejudice, but who am I?

    anyways good post!

    • Thanks Lydia. I would love to interview somebody from King Colony, but they are probably pretty tired of the whole thing already. 🙂

      • I’d say they are sick and tired of all this, it certainly blew out of control, notice they didn’t film too much of our way of life and why we live the way we do? guess it wasn’t what they wanted, not dramatic enough, shame on them, and shame on the poor ppl they took advantage of! I really think ppl that know us, will know the truth, but for those that don’t…

        Have you ever seen “the devil’s playground”? when I saw that a few years ago, my first thought was this is not the real or true Amish! I have Amish penpals and old order Mennonite penpals, and never ever have I felt that they participated in all of that. even if some of those things are going on, it is not the condoned by them, now I know for a fact that it too was staged and acted.

        Anyways, hopefully it will blow over, and as disgusted as I am by NatGeo, I will continue to watch the episodes as I can, and I won’t cancel my dad’s subscription to the magazine either, lol after all my money is in it.

        • Perhaps the biggest regret is that it is a “reality show”, and not a documentary. Judging from the comments, it seems many Hutterites wish it had been the latter. On the other hand, as the film crew reports, it was virtually impossible to get the folks at King Ranch to abide by the filming schedule. Of course the colonists can’t do that! They have far more important duties to perform. The folks at NGC should have known this!

          My sense is that the film crew went about the colony, shot film about the daily life, and then asked the lead characters to flesh out what had been filmed that day. Perhaps Claudia let on that she was going to test the colony in a particular way on a given day…and the cameras followed her. The lead characters are made to explain for the viewer what is happening. They in essence provide “color commentary”. This makes the film appear scripted. This, I suppose, is what reality TV is about (I would not know; I don’t watch that type of stuff).

          For comparison’s sake, the NGC show about Amish leavers, “Out of Order”, seems much less scripted, more “natural” and more convincing. I actually find it interesting to learn more
          about the harmful practice of shunning. The show can serve as a springboard to serious discussions, and that is what I hope will happen here.

    • MaryAnn Kirkby never was a member of the Hutterite church, although she lived in a colony as a child. Her book is very much an attack on that colony and is largely fiction. Anybody reading her book will NOT want to become a Hutterite. She failed to grasp the spiritual element of the Hutterite Church, and appears to have extremely limited knowledge of Hutterite history and martyrdom. Now some claim she’s advising the elders on how to deal with the King Colony matter. Somehow that doesn’t ring true. If she is, then be careful.

      • Hi Ermle,
        I too have misgivings about her being the spokesperson, not that I think she will say anything negative about us, but the point is she wrote her book, and she hurt alot of ppl thru it, and only from hearsay herself, a sad and disappointing book, but I don’t know if she is in fact advising the elders on how to deal with the matter, hardly think she can, I believe they are experienced enough, to say their own bit, (although they did give her permission to speak on our behalf.)I think our elders are going to take the silent route to the media, but that maybe only my impression that they will…

  2. Hi Kenny,
    Your reflection is bang on, you raise a number of excellent points and I could not agree more with your views of this show. I have been trying to put my opinion and judgement of the show together since it started and was having some difficulty until my two young boys started watching it with me. I let them watch for about 2 minutes and then I had to shut it off. Then it hit me, a Hutterite show that I will not even let my kids watch. That’s really all I have to say on this matter. Its too bad that this is how the show turned out.

    I will probably NOT be renewing my National Geographic subscription when it is due next time. Hugely disappointed in NG.

    Thanks for your efforts,
    Colin Wollmann

  3. Kenny, that would be interesting for you to in view someone at King-Ranch, keep it in mind.

  4. With this Kenny disecting this ,are we not just getting a one person opinion?On how he would have the Hutterites be Hutterites?

    • Yes, how could a personal blog offer anything else? Your comment is a blazing glimpse of the obvious. 🙂

      Have you got any specific thoughts on the blog post?

    • Jeff, if it were an opinion that most of his readers don’t share, he’d get flak right here. The “opinions” kenny stated are not far removed from what you arrive at when listening to hutterite sermons. It becomes obvious when watching the airings that some key christian virtues are missing. It’s hard to disagree with that.

      • Hey Kenny. I really wish you well with this.  I do hope this all doesn’t cause you too much undue stress ( it doesn’t me). It’ll blow over in a short while. The more fuss one makes about something, the longer it stays current.

        Myself,  I feel very comfortable and secure with who I am.  We, the Hutterite people, do not have to defend ourselves at all (who we are, our whole way of life, what we believe, etc). Western society really ought to take a closer look at our model and see what can be done to cure some of societal ills (and we can all make our own long list of those).

        And no, we are not perfect by a long shot. But if you can find a better place where one can raise a family and live a happy peaceful fulfilling life, please let me know where and I’ll go see for myself.  In my colony there are no gangs, no broken families, no problems with addictions, no crime, no violent TV or movies.

        In reference to King Ranch colony. Their feeling toward their Elders, their foul language, lack of character, etc., well that’s who they obviously are. They speak for themselves only. We can’t, however, deny that those issues do come up among us (otherwise we would’t be human). It’s not prevalent at all though.

        But really, this all doesn’t change my view of NG at all. Represents nature, but deny its Creator.

        Have a good day,

        • Hi Stanley, I like your last comment, “Represents nature, but deny its Creator” that’s saying it all in a few words.
          But the fact remains that most of us, even when we don’t or didn’t agree with NG and its evolution theories, still thought of them as admirable and honest when portraying cultures, all that has been shattered and their credibility has been destroyed, and to me that is the worst.
          Of course the way our elders were slandered in this film was not done by NG even if they exploited it, not once did any parent say, “What would Jesus say?” and this is how we should live our lives, not in fear of our elders, for if we are one in Christ we need not fear anyone.
          And yes, to some point we have all issues that we may not agree with, but thankfully we weren’t “used”. I think most of King colony’s members are to be pitied and prayed for…

        • Stanley,i agree with u,but this might open up King col eyes as to what a hutterites life is all about,as a christian people. I have put someone that i know in touch with Carver to help the family deal with what happened with their dad,something like that stays with u ur whole life,it makes me wonder if anybody has ever reached out to the family.And they’er not all bad,really.They just need to get out more and know how other colonies are,out of Montana i mean.

  5. I Love, Love, the show!! I hate, hate, the swearing and drinking and partying. I don’t think Nat.Geo. Is to blame for that. I think they are very hard working people, and it seems to me the colony is not ‘well of money-wise’, I have no mercy with people spending the Colonies money for alcohol , Seems to me they have a lot of that. There are a lot of misunderstandings to, I think, Bertha over and over says the ‘Elders’ make her wear the shawl, No the ‘Bible says ; “Is it comely for a women to pray without her head covered”?The girl getting baptized,, NO it’s got nothing to do with age, Our Pastor got baptized with 18, and my daughter was 19,, both having made a commitment for Christ, I could go on and on, I think this is a “WAKE-UP CALL” for our ‘Hutterites”, WE need ‘Godly Men’ that will go to King Colony, and share the gospel, and turn the “Hhearts of the Fathers to the Children”.And Yes like the last comment, They are to be pitied and prayed for. I’m not sure God will wink at that ignorance.I still will say, Nat. Geo. is not to blame for other people’s actions or what they say, neither is Jeff Collins, I think it’s a job well done,( I use to live at King Colony,, many years ago) loved it.

    • Really Marie, I do think NG should get up and take some of the blame, they obviously knew of those issues and they exploited them, using ignorant ppl who didn’t really know what they were getting into, no they probably didn’t have to tell them to swear and use God’s name in vain, but it is obvious what NG wanted from them and it wasn’t on how we live our faith. Tell me why didn’t they even try to touch on why we live in community, or get the ‘real’ reasons to why our elders didn’t want those children to go to high school? the explanations given don’t make sense. Yes, King colony did some dumb things, but NG certainly showed the whole world who they are too.

  6. Yes Lydia, you are right to a certain point, from what I gather, Jeff Collins made the movie and didn’t have enough money to produce it,he went to Nat. Geo. and because they had before made movies of Hutterites they grabbed the show,,, anyway, have lots of relatives in the area, Quote> a lady from ‘King Colony’ asked a relative of mine, “So (relative),, what do you think of the show,, my relative said,, (in german> mir shamen uns ganz gorss The King Colony lady said That is Life at King Colony I agree with you on the dumb stuff, but lets face it,I will never believe Other people made them act and talk like that, ,

    • Unfortunately, this IS life at King Ranch Colony. It’s a fair representation, and unfortunately there are other colonies just like that, some even worse, and some pretty close to home. Of course not all Hutterites are like that, but there are way more than we want to admit. It’s a wake up call.

  7. I like the way Kenny keeps saying ‘As it appears to me’. It keeps it fair and honest.

  8. Kenny does your, “Confession of a Hutterite Blogger”, article not answer one of your questions on your episode 1 reflection?

    Namely, “Further to this, why is she choosing to subject herself to the soul-torture of staying in a church-community that has values and standards she does not share? In my experience, the Hutterite church is not a prison that has you locked in. Yes, there are some leaders who use bad theology to coerce people to stay, but Bertha strikes me as a fairly strong woman in her own way.”

    You also admit that you “do struggle with some of our communal values, traditions, and beliefs. I occasionally cause problems in my community. I, and those who are acquainted with me, know this to be true…”

    Aren’t Bertha’s struggles much like your own?

  9. Interesting question. Thank you. Yes, there are some similarities, but the way we are choosing to deal with them is quite different.

  10. Here’s a bit of perspective about the situation from a non-Hutterite. For many years, my husband and I did not subscribe to cable TV, so we had no access to the National Geographic Channel. I fondly remembered the magazine from my youth (I’m nearly 60), as well as the wonderful “National Geographic Specials” that would air on TV from time to time.

    When we finally gave in and started watching cable TV, I was eager to watch the NG channel. But I was shocked at the gory images on many of the wildlife shows, many subjects or scenes that seemed to be included only for shock value. I remember thinking how bad it would be if I were a parent of young children — my instinct would be to give them free rein to watch the channel, not knowing how, um, NASTY some of it would be.

    Anyway, a year or two later, I found myself in the company of a couple of top-notch wildlife documentary filmmakers who primarily work with NG funding (although not on the sort of films I had found so objectionable), and I gingerly asked them about the “disconnect” between my image of National Geographic and the unpleasant stuff I had seen.

    You’d have thought I’d thrown life preservers to drowning people. “YES!”, they said. “We all HATE the sensationalist junk.” But they explained that the National Geographic Society, the actual organization that publishes the magazine and sponsors research and expeditions, had made a sort of “deal with the devil,” because finances are always a problem.

    The result is that the television channel is a joint venture between National Geographic and . . . FOX CABLE NETWORKS. The big money comes from Fox and helps to underwrite the high-quality efforts of the Society. So it’s not a surprise that they’re airing things like “Grisliest animal attacks,” or — “American Colony.” Fox has made its name and fortune on sensation, scandal, and outrageousness (if that’s a word).

    These wonderful filmmakers I met nearly pleaded with me to send my comments to John Fahey, who is the head of National Geographic. That was in 2005, so you can see how much good I did!

    But do understand that the quality and rigor we all associate with projects by the National Geographic Society are in no way related to many of the things that are shown on the National Geographic Channel. Like so many things in life, it’s all a matter of money.

  11. I know the King Ranch people personally. This is a fair representation of who they are. This is simply them. How they manage to remain in the Hutterite church is beyond me….maybe the elders are not tough enough.

  12. Ermle, you are SOOOO brave to make this statement! I used to live at King Colony, many years ago. It was not like that then, but as the saying goes, “Times change, and so do people, for that matter.” On the Hutterite Fellowship, there’s a post where CBC interveiws Jeff Collins. I would just love to ask the people of King colony, if actually this is the way it was supposed to turn out. (According to Jeff Collins it was.)

  13. “…why is she choosing to subject herself to the soul-torture of staying in a church-community that has values and standards she does not share?”

    She has only an eighth grade education, owns no property of her own, is a widow, and all she has ever done is work in a kitchen. How would she support herself, and her underage child, away from the colony? She is stuck, she understands this, as does anyone who is looking at this with open eyes.

    • SUZY,,there is no better place for a widow than in the colony where she is safe and provided for! trust me these people are happy and confident and love this way of life…they were just acting out on a outsiders view and prospective….and even if she had a high education? she would be socially incompatible in the outside world….and she knows that…

  14. Let’s put the education part aside for a moment. I think Bertha still has a love for the common good, meaning, ‘Head-cooks’ in the colony work extremely, extremely, hard. (Keep in mind, she has no husband.) She is very, very brave. I think she’d be smart enough to make it on the outside.

    • I am sure Bertha works extremely hard, but in the real world, you have to have an education to make a living wage. She does not have that, unfortunately.

  15. Sure the scenes were staged, but they were setup based on what the producer saw…that’s the way it works.

  16. Thank you, Kenny for giving this thoughtful response to the show. I came to your blog to get a Hutterite take on the show, and you have done a fine job. I had never heard of Hutterites before this show. However, the King Colony members are really likeable. I especially like Bertha because she has had a rough life and works as hard as she can to keep everything together. I was very surprised to see some of the colony members cursing. I have never known a Christian who curses. I think a lot of people, including myself, watch this show and envy certain parts of this way of life just a tiny bit-namely the working together for the common good and depending on the community.

  17. To me, it seems like the central problem in this episode is that the people are not converted, not regenerated, not born again. I remember young Christians in high school being so eager to share their faith with everyone. It’s perfectly possible for youth to be full of zeal for Christ.

    Perhaps if the Hutterites had special meetings for young people to motivate them to serve Christ, many of them would repent. If they had special meetings to teach them and motivate them a couple of times a year (with other colonies), it would really help.

    I find it really helps young people to see unfortunate people and get to know them while they help them. Why not send young people to help with Christian Aid Ministries during the long winter? It will give them a sense of purpose. They will help the colony prosper so it can help the poor. CAM serves the Old Order and conservative Anabaptists and would expect the youth to follow the Ordung of their group while there, so the ministers need not fear.

    I used to be on HSN a lot and noticed some Hutterites who really loved Christ and others who were as heathen as can be . . .
    The elders need to pray and ask God how the Hutterite youth can serve him and commit to a plan.

    Maybe some will go to faraway lands as missionaries, but isn’t that better than losing them to a worldly life or a worldly church?

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