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"...for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."
--1 Corinthians 2:10b Mo Letters from David Berg and the Children of God / The Family

"The Office of a Bishop"

March 9, 1973 #210 by David Brandt Berg


Forward from Webmaster: This is a blast from the past about the pioneering days of the Children of God. On March 29, 2019, I shared it with my wife Tess who has never been a member of the Children of God or the Family International. I shared it because I wanted her to know how frugal our beloved Pastor David lived, sacrificing his own comfort for the benefit of the Lord's work of which he had the responsibility of as a good shepherd of the flock of God.


Dear Brothers Paul, Cephas, Elkanah, Corny, Caleb, Amminadab, Megiddo and Sisters Ruth, Shiloh, Ashah, Shalom, Lydia, Marsena and Mara, and All Our Dearly Beloved Bishops, Shepherds and Shepherdesses around the World:

Greetings in Jesus Precious Name! Thank you so much for your good letters, reports, tapes, birthday remembrances, pictures, news items, books, gifts, etc. Your thoughtfulness, faithfulness, diligence, loyalty, love and prayers truly warm our hearts! David indeed has the most wonderful children on earth and is blessed above all men as God promised! God bless you all! We love you, too!

Greetings to you all in the Name of the Father and of the son, Jesus, and of the Holy Ghost!--Greetings to you also in the name of the World Council of Ministers and the other Bishops, Brethren and Sisters--for whom I write. After some discussion and prayer regarding your recent communications, and after days of thoughtful consideration and prayerful planning in view of some of the questions you have raised and subjects you have mentioned on which you have requested our counsel and our advice, we write unto you that which seems good unto all of us and which we feel is the leading of the Spirit and which it has been agreed upon by the Council to suggest to you, and which we trust will seem good to all of you, as well, that we may be of one mind, one heart, one body, in the unity of His Spirit and with only one Head, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Praise God!

First of all, we rejoice in Him that hath called us, as well as in you that are called, that you have obeyed His calling so that we are now truly going into all the world and already preaching the Gospel to many creatures in approximately fifty countries on all six Continents and many islands throughout the Globe! Hallelujah! He is faithful to fulfill all His good promises!

IT WAS WITH THESE WORDS THAT WE ORIGINALLY OPENED THIS LETTER to you which we had intended to write about certain matters which we hope will herein follow. However, on that first attempt the Lord took over with His own right of priority by His Spirit and delivered to you His pre-empting burden on the "Wonder Working Words" and the urgent necessity that should take precedence over all others to get His Words that Work to the World--of which we shall have yet more to say also in this Letter, God willing.--So here we go again to try again!


I'M SORRY I'M NOT AS PERFECT AS YOU ARE, BROTHER KING--I make mistakes!--Neither am I as strong--in fact, I'm very weak.--Nor can I boast like you that I have total victory over the flesh and all my besetting sins--of which I have many. In fact, I sometimes wonder why God uses me at all, since I am so nothing, when He is so Everything! God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!-- (<\\Gal.6:14&&PUB=Gal:6:14^>)

AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED, IN ME DWELLETH NO GOOD THING!- <\\ROM.7:18&&PUB=ROM:7:18^>--It's all Jesus! Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you! for I think that God hath set forth us the Apostles last...We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised!...We are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day!--I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you: For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the Gospel. Wherefore, I beseech you, be ye followers of me...For the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power!-- <\\1 Cor.4&&PUB=1Cor:4:1>. Read it all, and Chap.5 too!

Unlike you, I have really never cared to be an administrator, much less a King. I've always shunned administrative responsibilities as much as possible, and really preferred to let others run things for me. I particularly hate to have to handle finances or deal with business details or legal affairs, which is why we have almost always had someone else to handle these matters for us, so that I personally have not myself handled any of the official funds of the Family for many years--in fact, not since we were a very small Family of a only a few in the very beginning and under an entirely different name, when there was no one else to do it for us!

Beginning in Grandmother's little cottage at the very beginning so long ago when we were only a dozen or so, I turned all of these affairs of business, money and office administration over to someone else, and so it has been ever since. Since that time I have insisted that others handle the finances and business administration, which is really the work of deacons in the indispensable job of tending tables, while I myself preferred to devote my full time to the major ministry God has given me, that of an elder ministering the Word. I by far prefer, therefore, to sit high and alone atop my mountain hearing the words of God and feeding them to His sheep, rather than to become involved in the intricate and time-consuming business affairs of feeding them physically.

I HAVE ASKED OF GOD NOTHING BUT MY ROOM AND BOARD and the barest necessities of life, and very little of that. These basic necessities were at first provided for by the Lord through my own earnings which I shared for many years with others, taking the needy into my own home and sharing my own room and board with them as members of my own family. Then, as our family grew larger, they no longer lived with me, but I with them, sharing their room and board, and such things that the Lord provided for all of us.

MOST OF OUR LIVES, I AND MY LITTLE ORIGINAL FAMILY OF SIX LIVED IN TINY TRAILERS, the equivalent of one room only seven feet wide and a mere ten or fifteen feet long, which was living room, kitchen, dining room, bathroom and bedroom for us all! As we began schools of witnessing for Christians we had to have more space for the students, so were compelled to rent larger housing to accommodate our larger Family, but my own little tiny family of six, even in these larger accommodations, continued to live in only one or two of the rooms, or in one of our little trailers parked in the yard.--And that was when trailers were still trailers and very small, and not the elaborate mobile homes of today!

STILL WE CONTINUED TO LIVE AND SUPPORT NEARLY THE ENTIRE WORK FROM MY OWN MEAGER EARNINGS as a travelling, poor and lowly television booking salesman, where I saved others millions while they paid me peanuts, but at least we were getting out the Gospel to hundreds of millions! Praise the Lord!--So, I'm not sorry. In fact, I'm very thankful for those years of preparation and fruitfulness, as David with Saul.

AS MY CHILDREN GREW OLDER AND BECAME TEENAGERS, WE MOVED INTO A LITTLE LARGER CAMPER, the inside of which was still only seven feet wide but now about twenty feet long, so we could house my growing family, who continued to travel with me in the Lord's work. But this still did not stop them from, in their joy and enthusiasm for God's service, inviting others to share our cramped quarters in order that they might forsake all and follow Jesus! We were often as many as ten in that tiny space, with even more out under the awning!--And we lived this way in this same camper for ten years, travelling hundreds of thousands of miles together for the Lord! Most of this time the Lord was financing this service by my own earnings from television. Living this close together, it's no wonder we learned to know, understand and love teenagers and young people--we had to! Hallelujah! God bless'em!--and still love'em!

Then as we launched into full time service with the little family by faith in our present youth work, we continued to live on some of our tiny savings, supplemented by equally tiny gifts and offerings from friends and churches where we ministered. When our family grew into our first large Colony, we simply tagged along and moved in together with them, still in our tiny camper, having our own little room thereby, and sharing their board, and eating what they ate, giving thanks! PTL! We never asked for any remuneration or salary or any kind of monetary compensation whatsoever other than these absolute necessities and needs, while others continued to manage the business and finances of the whole.

WHEN WE LEFT THAT COLONY, AND WENT INTO THE SECLUSION OF EXILE in foreign lands that the Lord might use us to teach them all by letters, as the Apostle did, we still asked nothing from them other than that which the Lord had already given and our own meager savings from former labours, upon which we continued to live under the humblest and almost unbelievably economical of circumstances! We lived in the tiniest and cheapest of rooms which no tourist ever saw, but shared by sailors and labourers and the poor! We lived like the hippies themselves and with the hippies in the very cheapest of boarding houses that the average tourist never heard of!

WHEN OUR OWN SMALL SAVINGS WERE NEARLY EXHAUSTED, OUR OWN CHILDREN OFFERED TO CARE FOR OUR PERSONAL NEEDS, AND HAVE CONTINUED TO DO SO ever since. We have absolutely no other personal income or resources than these little love gifts which they send to support us with the barest necessities, for which we are very thankful, for this is all we need. The two of us have lived on as little as less than a thousand dollars a year under these humble circumstances, something which the average tourist would consider impossible!--That's because we don't live like tourists, but rather like some of the poorest people of the land! The places where we live and eat we seldom even see tourists, for tourists rarely visit such places! we seldom move or travel, of course, except as visas necessitate and we hardly ever sightsee, which cuts out most of the expenses other tourists have. We are too busy writing letters for the Lord and his Children! Praise God!


We didn't mean to tell you our life story again, but we said all that to say this: We, as the Lord's spiritual Leader, have for many years lived on the barest of necessities and refused to have anything to do with the business or finances of our many families, except for advising and counselling them on how to handle their own in their individual Colonies, including our Office Colonies. I have always insisted that each Colony be completely independent financially and handle its own finances and business, except as it may have need for help from others, or as it may be able to share with others as they may have need.

Contrary to what many people think, we are a tight and disciplined organisation only in spirit, fellowship, message and method. Otherwise, as far as finances, individual business, administration and government of the local Colonies are concerned, each is totally on its own and strictly independent, except for their dependency on each other in love and its manifestation in mutual help of each other voluntarily--no more! God warned me of this long ago, that each should operate this way, so that the world could not accuse us of the very lies with which I knew they would try to accuse us some day: that we are some kind of religious racket making millions for someone's personal gain!--which as you know, we are not!

This is why I have always insisted that each Colony handle its own finances absolutely independently, including the Office Colonies, except as they help to support each other with voluntary gifts when so needed.--And this is also why we have refused to accept any personal remuneration whatsoever, except for their own little loving voluntary gifts toward the absolute minimum of our own personal barest of meager living necessities!

Therefore, we have also insisted that our various leaders should always live together within the Colonies of which they are members, sharing with them such things as they have, as the Scripture says, and as we did for many years personally until our present retirement in exile, and receive absolutely no other compensation or remuneration for their services, just like all of our other disciples. Like ourselves, we have always advised our other spiritual leaders also, Ministers, Bishops, Elders, Shepherds, etc., to have as little to do with the finances of the Colonies as possible, but let each handle its own under a Deacon appointed by each Colony for that purpose, who should bank all income in the name of the Colony, and who alone, with his wife or possibly another acting Deacon, personally sign the checks for the Colony's business and expenses.

SINCE OUR EARLIEST DAYS, I HAVE NOT HAD MY NAME ON ANY OF OUR COLONY CHECKING ACCOUNTS NOR BEEN A PERSONAL SIGNATOR TO SUCH CHECKS; and, if you are, each of you spiritual Bishops, Shepherds or Overseers, going to follow my example as a faithful Bishop or Shepherd of your flocks, and be the good spiritual counsellors and even business advisors that you should be to your Children in the Lord, you will have as little to do with the personal tending of their material tables as possible, including the avoidance of having your own personal name on the titles or deeds of any properties or vehicles or bank accounts, or the signing of your own personal name on any Colony checking accounts or checks! Amen? Let only your own local business Deacon or financial Minister do these material duties for his Colony at the agreed and united behest of all the Colony's local leadership according to his appointment for this purpose. PTL!

Personally, I have preferred to have so little to do with finances, that I do not even like to read their financial reports expect in times of trouble to help them find where they made their mistakes. In such cases, I may try to advise or counsel them on what they might do to rectify the situation, particularly spiritually, but I try to avoid any personal involvement whatsoever beyond such mere overseeing or supervision.--Let them do their own pick-and shovel work according to their own needs or desires and/or leadings of the Lord, while you stay in the spiritual background: This way you will neither get the credit for their successes nor the blame for their mistakes! You will just try to help them all you can, but if they don't want to follow your suggestions, there is nothing more you should do.--Let them do their own and learn the hard way in such cases!

OUR MINISTERS, BISHOPS AND SHEPHERDS SHOULD NOT BE DICTATORS NOR BOSSES, NEITHER LORDS OVER GOD'S HERITAGE, BUT RATHER THEIR HUMBLE SERVANTS, helping them all we can, but not doing it for them personally in matters which they themselves should handle. When I foresaw the downfall of the dollar, I strongly advised that if any of our Colonies had any large surpluses they should move them out of the Country into foreign accounts and exchanged into other more stable currencies abroad. Because some of them did not do this, thousands of dollars were lost in the subsequent devaluation of the dollar! Too little and too late some finally moved theirs, resulting only in the saving of a few hundred instead of thousands!

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family International

James Arendt
James Arendt

My name is James Arendt. I was raised in the Hegewisch neighborhood on the southeast side of Chicago, Illinois, served in the USAF from 1970 to 1974, and became a full-time missionary for Christ living 40 years in Japan, 3.5 years in Russia, and a few months in other countries such as Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China where I also served the King of Kings, Jesus, as an Ambassador for His Kingdom.

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