For us Y2K served as a prophetic warning for harder days ahead. I didn’t scoff or dismiss the warning like many, but rather asked some hard questions about the complacency of our lives – questions like would we be ready if there was a collapse or even a change in the affluent American lifestyle we have taken for granted for so long? During this time of reflection Nancy and I seriously examined our lives which brought about a startling realization of just how dependent we have become on the systems of commerce. For us it was a time of awakening knowing that if the economy collapsed, the market hiccupped or even if there was social calamity due to natural disaster or a terrorist attack, we would likely be in survival mode overnight. The truth of our condition frankly shocked us into action, not only in our personal lives but in the activity of the church we pastor as well.
As a pastor I began to teach on all the biblical examples of leaders who had prepared their people for hard times. Men like Joseph who stored grain in Egypt in preparation for seven years of drought and famine, and Hezekiah who prepared Jerusalem with a water system and supplies to sustain itself while under siege from its enemies. During those days we offered classes on sustainable living, teaching skills like growing and preserving food and purifying water. These were foreign ideas to many people in the church who felt that preparation for Y2K was a fanatical reaction to a conspiracy theory (and I would agree that many of their concerns were justified due to all the voices of fanatical reactionaries who were confusing the issues.) For many, many others the call to preparedness resonated as a responsible idea. It was then that we started our organic vegetable garden that now produces 25,000 pounds of produce each year for the poor. It was then that we built the Barnabas Center which operates as a food pantry and free medical clinic serving our community twice a week. It was also then that we developed our C.A.T. team (Compassion in Action Team) that has faithfully responded to national disasters across the nation. C.A.T. sent a team of eight to twelve people every single week for six months to serve in the disastrous aftermath of Katrina and later responded to the floods in Iowa and the hurricane clean up of Galveston, Texas in 2008. As a result of a partnership that was developed for Y2K with the Red Cross in 1999 we were able to send one of our trained staff personal to work in N.Y City after the crises of 9/11. The preparatory work for Y2K was not in vain but ended up blessing literally thousands of people.
In our personal lives Nancy and I decided to organize ourselves for the uncertain future we felt was on the horizon. It was then that we made plans to work towards what is now our Timber Butte farmstead. It took nearly ten years of sacrifice, hard work and what we now know was the miraculous hand of God, but we managed to accomplish our goal to live a more sustainable life.
Y2K was a prophetic wakeup call to many who listened and chose to respond. Because of my experience with it I was motivated to write the book Small Footprint / Big Handprint – how to live simply and love extravagantly which has served to help many others pursue a more simple and sustainable lifestyle. Ampelon Publishing has also produced a video series for small groups who are willing to evaluate their life situation concerning these matters.