When we first visited Israel in 1980 we were stunned and impressed by the working community of young and old people who had recently migrated to Israel from foreign lands. Many had no family or connections. They had lost everything.
So these homeless individuals settled into a "society dedicated to mutual aid and social justice; a socioeconomic system based on the principle of joint ownership of property, equality and cooperation of production, consumption and education…" (Jewish Virtual Library).
This is the Israeli model of the Kibbutz (pronounced kih boots' ). The word "kibbutz" comes from a modern Hebrew word, "gibbus" meaning a "gathering." As of 2010 there were 270 functioning kibbutzim in Israel! (Wikipedia).
A Biblical New Testament "Kibbutz"
Surprisingly, we see a type of working Kibbutz defined in the biblical book of Acts:
"And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need" (Acts 2:44-45, ESV).
This provided Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem and local converts a way to find food, lodging and protection as they converted and learned more about the nascent "The Way" religion (Acts 9:2; 19:9; 22:4; 24:22).
GRM's Kibbutz Style Living
While not meeting the exact definition, the Gospel Rescue Mission has a number of similarities with the modern Kibbutz. Our residents, both men and women, are working as a community to grow and harvest their own foods, engage in productive work and improve the Grants Pass area. For example, consider the following breakdown of functioning, working men at Wagner Hall:
Wagner Hall's Hard Working Residents
We have 6 men each working in the Recycling Center, 6 cooks in the kitchen, and 6 workers in the Thrift Store. We have four men working as donation drivers. There are 3 resident assistants, 4 working in house maintenance and 2 who dedicate themselves to doing laundry. There is 1 person working in the Mission's Garden Project. Surprisingly, we have 12 men who are working in paid jobs in the Grants Pass Community - they are working to achieve eventual independence. We have 1 person working as an office assistant, and 3 men who are part of a team of Forest Fire Crew.
It's Harvest Time
Finally, harvest time is coming. There will be teams of residents going out into the fields to pick corn and other crops. These harvested foods will help the Food Bank, ROC and our own Mission residents to eat healthy, home grown foods.
Is that impressive or what?
A hearty congratulations to our shelters for working hard to provide for themselves! We follow the apostle Paul's dictum:
"if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either" (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
Our Gospel Rescue Mission residents do not lead an "undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies…" (2 Thess. 3:11). Instead, we cooperate and work for our food and shelter!
The kibbutz. Jewish Virtual Library, a division of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. Available from: URL. www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/kibbutz.
Kibbutz. Wikipedia. Available from: URL. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kibbutz.
Authors Ken Emilio is the Director of the Gospel Rescue Mission in Grants Pass, Oregon, where his wife, Valorie, teaches classes at the Fikso Women's Shelter and writes articles for GRM's monthly newsletter.