So we are not going to go through the tribulation, but there have been plenty of times in history when sudden hardship struck a nation and the people were thrown upon their own resources to survive. We could suffer national or local tribulation before the Great Tribulation. It is a small possibility, but very real, that some of us could, in our lifetime, experience a Hurricane Katrina, or Sandy, or devastating tornadoes, earthquakes, or the ravages of war—foreign or civil—or an outbreak of disease that would require us to self-quarantine, maybe something so bad it would be wise to move into the wilderness until it all blew over. Therefore, should I make preparation for such a day?
If you are a parent, or are responsible for the safety and security of others, then you have an obligation to be prepared to feed and shelter them in adverse circumstances.
“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8).
Have you considered what it might take to secure their safety? Are you prepared?
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?” (Luke 14:28, 31).
Many people have a store of food they expect to last three months or a year. They spend lots of money on freeze-dried staples not to be eaten except in a survival situation. Eventually, when kept for a long time and not needed, they are thrown out or fed to the birds. About every 10 to 15 years there is a popular panic like Y2K or the election of someone named Hussein, and they refresh their stores. I have been around since the end of the Second World War watching the fear cycle repeat itself.
I could not hide in my basement, grinding my wheat by hand and baking bread, knowing they were next door starving.
I, too, have been concerned. I maintain a limited store of basic foods and have made preparation to have plenty of water on hand and some fuel for my vehicles and tractors, a generator, and the ability to defend my family, but my perspective is quite different from the so-called survivalist who prepares a bunker stored with food and ammunition. I feel an obligation to my brother (anyone I have not yet met) as well as to my family. I cannot turn away a person in need. (However, I reserve the right to determine whether a person is truly in need or just in want.) If I had 20 buckets of wheat and I were aware of a hungry family, I could not hide in my basement, grinding my wheat by hand and baking bread, knowing they were next door starving.
Living on a farm as I do, if society were to fall apart and there were no more gasoline, food, or electricity, and a family were to come up dragging their meager belongings in a pushcart, children hungry, wife exhausted from carrying a baby, and the husband/father filled with fear and concern for his family, I could not point my gun at them and tell them to move on down the road, saying, “This is my food.” Inconceivable! What would Jesus do?
If you live in a city and society were to degenerate into chaos and desperation, do you want your children and you to be the only fat people on the block? The hungry might eat you!
Does your Christianity go on hold when there is not enough bread for everybody?
“And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
“Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matthew 5:40–44).
Now I am going to share with you the heart of my preparation, and it is my suggestion for you. The best preparation for adversity is not in the stores you maintain but in the knowledge and skills you possess. It is better to be resourceful than to have resources. Knowledge is better than gold and goods. Your ability to assess your surroundings and adapt to them is something you take with you when you are stripped naked and left for dead. A man dependent upon his storehouse of treasures is necessarily a fearful and anxious man. For a Christian, it is a big dilemma.
How can you reconcile eating while others starve? How can you refuse shelter and aid to anyone in need?
Are you prepared to send rain on the unjust? I know this is radical, not very Southern/Mid-Western macho male, but Jesus said:
“And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
“Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:34–38).
I am not a pacifist. But after being a Christian for 54 years, walking after the Spirit of God, having my own spirit rebuked and checked 10,000 times, I have come to share a little of God’s heart in these matters, and I still have a Bible that overrules my personal feelings and institutional ideas.
Prepare your mind by learning and practicing any skill that might be needed in difficult times. Where you live will dictate areas in which you need to be prepared. If you live in New York City, you will need different skill sets than if you live on the bayou in Louisiana. I am going to share with you some of the skills I have learned that leave me comfortable with any eventuality. But the basic principle is that you must address your own personal fears and insecurities by attacking the darkness that leaves you feeling uncertain and insecure.
If I lived in New York City, I would want a hot air balloon to launch from the roof of a building and float away. If that were not possible, then I would want an inflatable boat with a 15-hp motor that I could transport to the water and make my exit. If that is out of the question, then I would want a bicycle in good condition—one for every member of the family—and a couple of trailers to pull behind the bicycles, one for each child too young to ride and one for provisions—water and a little food. You would be wasting your time trying to exit the east coast in an automobile. It would take a month and a lot of bulldozer work to clear out New York City. If I lived in NYC and had a bicycle, it would make me feel that I was in control of my own life.
Of course, you would need to know that you could ride 150 miles in a day and then camp out in the woods at night, snare wild game for food or make a fish trap, build a shelter, and start a fire.
And it would be good to have a destination. Make preparation to move in with a family member or friend who lives away from the big cities. Visit them once or twice a year and store your goods in the back of their garage or in their barn. Develop a partnership survival pact in case it is needed. If you don’t have family or friends in safer areas, buy a run-down, cheap farmhouse on a small piece of land and make it a family project to fix it up as a vacation house and a survival enclave in case it is ever needed. Get to know the locals and learn your way around the community. A three- or four-hundred-mile bicycle ride in one week is easy to do. Traffic jams and fuel shortages won’t be a problem for you.
Most of us do not live in the heart of big cities. Yet there remains a sense of insecurity when we imagine a national crisis. No matter where you live, you need to have the skills to live off the land like the pioneers and mountain men did 175 years ago. You may live on a farm right now, but what happens if you are chased off of it by government thugs or overrun by people from the cities? Can you just walk out into open country and survive with some measure of comfort?
There are many books and websites on survival skills. It is not enough to view them; you must practice. Make it a family hobby to build a fire and cook on it. Build a fish trap from old chicken wire or from willow branches. Go ahead, catch some fish, and then cook them in the wild. It will do you a world of good. The thing about survival food is that it doesn’t have to be good enough to be sold in supermarkets. A cup full of minnows will add sufficient protein to your wild salad soup to sustain the entire family. Wild game is quite limited and will disappear rather quickly when a number of people begin to depend on it, but ponds, streams and lakes contain an endless supply of protein—turtles, frogs, fish, even snakes and lizards. And it is a lot easier to trap fish than it is to catch a squirrel or rabbit.
Because I know I would share what I have with any who needed it, I know I can never store enough food to have any sustaining effect. So I do not have a big store. I have the ability to forage the fields and woods to gather wild things to eat. Saving garden seeds, I am prepared from one year to the next to grow what I need to eat. I save enough corn seed each year to plant and feed several hundred people for an entire year.
If hard times come and a family comes to my farm, I will give them a chain saw or ax and show them how to build a log cabin in the woods, and then I will show them how to gather wild stuff to eat—greens, seeds, nuts—and show them how to walk the three miles to the river and use fish traps. I will help them become self-sufficient. They will have to plant and hoe the corn, bend over and pull the weeds, and then harvest it and grind it by hand into meal, and then cook their corn bread to go with the wild greens and acorn cakes they will bake. If they want something sweet, they can follow the wild bees and harvest honey, or in the spring they can tap maple trees and then cut and split the wood that will be used for cooking it down into syrup.
I know many people who laugh at the thought of a time of deprivation…because they know they can weather anything the world throws at them.
It will not be easy, but they will survive if they are willing to work. If they are lazy and will not work, I will not feed them. I will not give them my bedroom, and I will not cut their firewood, I will not gather their wild plants or prepare their meals. “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
Depending on one’s knowledge and skill instead of a hoarded store is most liberating. I will have nothing to steal, nothing to protect. If a man wants to take my cup of fish or my basket of wild plants, I will let him have it and go gather some more. I can give to any who ask of me and never run out, for God supplies my needs through nature. There are hundreds of books covering all the skill sets you will need, but you must have hands-on experience to gain the confidence that takes away anxiety and fear. Become a practitioner of the wilderness arts.
I know many people who laugh at the thought of a time of deprivation, not because they do not believe it could happen, but because they know they can weather anything the world throws at them. They will grin and say, “It sounds like fun.”
Start camping out or buy that old farmhouse and make it your “little house on the prairie.” Buy some books or go online and learn to identify edible plants. Half of the plants growing in a field can be eaten. The other half will make you sick. You have to harvest and eat them now if you are going to be ready. Make and use small fish traps in local streams or ponds. Go for the little fish and minnows. Learn to use hand tools as well as power tools. Build something. Construct a temporary shelter out of materials you can forage—old carpet, plastic, cardboard, trees and branches, scraps of wood lying around. The kids will find it more fun than anything they have ever done. Take the family hiking and exploring. Learn the wilderness around you—water supply, caves, building material, abandoned buildings that could be commandeered in hard times. Keep on hand the tools that would be useful—chain saws, cross-cut saws, axes and hand saws, hammers and sharpened knives and machetes. Rope and wire are handy as is plumber’s tape. A small amount of chicken wire to make fish traps would be useful. Outdoor cooking pots and pans, matches and lighters, flashlights, a small solar panel to charge a radio and flashlights. I have a Geiger counter and keep iodine on hand in case the unthinkable happens.
Learn how to treat disease and wounds without modern medical help. Learn how to gather and use healing herbs. Right now, begin growing something to eat. You can grow vegetables in a one-gallon pot sitting in a window. You can grow an entire garden on asphalt by using bales of straw. A garden 10 by 16 feet will feed two people all the vegetables they can eat. Most people start their gardening experience with a plot that is too big, and the labor is so intensive, they give up. Become a student and a practitioner of growing your own food.