Preparing Kids for Disasters, by J.B. in Montana

Consider this possible scenario: Let’s imagine for a moment that nuclear fallout or a tornado is approaching your home. If you said to your child, “Stop what you are doing- go to the basement right now!” – would he obey without question or hesitation? Would he even pay attention to your voice if he were deeply involved in a video game or a text message? Would he whine “WHYYYYY? Do I HAAAAVE to? It’s not faaaair. Bubba got to play longer than meeeeee!” Would your daughter pout, glare at you, and sulk if she had planned to go to a party instead of to the basement? Would your toddler know how to “hush and be still” on command, or would he strain against your arms and accelerate into a loud temper fit? What decisions do I need to make right now, if I really believe that some time in the perceivable future, events may occur which will require my family to function as a tightly-knit team, whether we decide to stay put and dig in or in the event we need to make a mobile evacuation.  The groundwork we lay today may mean life or death tomorrow.

I share these concerns from a position of experience. I am the father of nine children, three grown and raised, six still at home.  We have put these following principles to the test while traveling in hazardous conditions, preaching in ghettos and foreign (dangerous!) countries, and being in natural disaster zones. Our family has spoken at home-schooling and preparedness conferences about developing a lifestyle that fits the times in which we live. This is not a time to be numbed by addiction to amusement, stuffed with junk food in our bodies and brains, or to be slackers in our child training. Public school will not teach these principles to your children. You must or they will not survive.

With this in mind, let’s take a reality check.  The first priority is to establish authority. This may step on some toes but home was never designed by the Creator to be a democracy, but a benevolent theocratic dictatorship. God rules, then Dad in cooperation with Mom, period.  Children must see and know that Dad and Mom are under God’s authority.  Under God, children must obey their parents. If this chain of command does not exist in your house, fix it. Buck up men; you are not in position to win a popularity contest but to lead your family to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. This is not always fun or “happy”. It requires a stiff backbone, the ability to say “No!” and mean it. These principles apply to Moms too.  Good Moms are not “sappy” pushovers. As a popular movie stated- walk tall and (when necessary) carry a big stick. Children from wimpy parents become narcissistic whiners, unfit for counting on in hard times. This is not to say that respectful (again I emphasize respectful!) appeals cannot  usually be brought to the table for consideration and negotiation- after all, I did state this is a “benevolent dictatorship”- but ultimately the authority must be firmly established in the home.  Passive or active rebellion, complaining, or whining are deadly enemies. Right heart attitudes are your ultimate survival tool. Read one chapter each night from the Bible book of Proverbs for some great attitude adjustment and family survival training.

After establishing authority, you can focus on intensive Spiritual Preparedness. This is achieved by attending to three training areas:

  • Scripture Memory- We live in a day of great deception and an appalling lack of common sense. People run around the country chasing the latest faker proclaiming a revival or “rapture”, while Bibles sit on shelves gathering dust or are watered down by publishers for political correctness. And profit. Consider another scenario: There is no “rapture” before the stuff hits the fan and the world becomes increasingly chaotic. Natural disasters and wars increase. Churches are either targeted for attack or are succeeding because of compromise. Your children are separated from you, like Daniel and the three Israelite children, Moses, or Joseph. This nightmare has happened to children throughout history and is reality currently throughout the world. How will your children stand for truth without you? By grounding them firmly on the Word of God today, while there is time. How do you do this? The same way you eat an elephant- one bite at a time.  Use the KJV for its poetic vocabulary and look up the words you don’t understand. Mental gymnastics are good for you. Keep small pocket-sized whole Bibles on hand for easy transport- keep in mind ¾ of the Bible is before the Gospel of Matthew and these Hebrew Scriptures are not disposable, according to the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:17-21. Choose “thought chunks” or chapters rather than isolated verses that can be manipulated by deceivers. Use a rhythm or a tune, then add one phrase per day, repeat what was learned on previous days. Start with Exodus 20 – the Ten Commandments verbatim (it will thoroughly mess up your theology – it did ours!) After accomplishing this, go on to Psalm 91 and 23 (protection), Matthew 5, 6, and 7 (the Sermon on the Mount), Matthew 24 (current events), Genesis 1 (the true Origins of the Species) – the possibilities are endless. We are about 3 chapters into the book of 1st John and will be finishing the book by summer’s end. Why is this such a big preparedness priority?
  • We must hold fast to the faith as it was once delivered to the first-century culturally Hebrew saints and be prepared to be Kingdom witnesses, Kingdom ambassadors, and if He wills, Kingdom martyrs.
  • We must return to “ancient paths”- Apostolic foundational doctrine versus fragmented self-help, “touchy-feely” modern heresy rampant in the modern church.
  • We must preach with actions louder than our mouths. Put up or shut up.
  • Our children need to discern between the few true sheep – friends who have right actions, and the many wolves in sheep’s clothing – enemies who say one thing and do another. They will smile in your face and plan your destruction. Peer-dependent wimps are tomorrow’s traitors.

These statements are not in agreement with the majority “false unity” movement who makes statements about “laying aside doctrinal differences” to promote a one-world homogenous religion that offends no-one and promotes a New Age Gospel. The truth causes division. There is still only One Way, Truth, and Life. Follow Him and live eternally.  His followers love and obey His commandments. His Precious Blood is the only payment for our sin. Because of His loving sacrifice, we owe Him our full obedient worship. Period.

  • Character Training- In our home we have a few forbidden phrases:  “I’m bored….”, “Its’ not fair…”, and responding to a command with a whining “Why?” or “Why not?” top the list. Another parental pet peeve is comparative statements like, “Sister got two wobbly widgets and I only got one”. A parent of nine would go crazy (and broke!) keeping everything equal and to be honest, we have watched parents who try. They inevitably raise whining, self-centered, covetous hellions. This does not set the stage for great teamwork, now or in the future.  These families do not make great neighbors, let alone brethren in fellowship.

One solution we have found for building right heart attitudes is community service.  There are always elders who need snow-shoveling, widows who need weeding, and new mothers who could use a spare hand. By being community servants, you build community solidarity and favor- necessary preparedness tools in hard times.

Where do we start, you ask? In the Bible book of II Timothy chapter 3 it says “Know this: in the last times perilous times shall come. People shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false-accusers, lacking self-control, violent, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof…ever-learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth…”  Does this sound like front-page news?

Start by expecting your children to be capable of living the opposite of this. Expect them to be unselfish, appreciative of what is theirs’, humble, obedient, respectful, pure, kind to their brothers and sisters. Expect them to keep their word and have integrity, to refrain from slander,
to be willing to defend the weak but accept persecution for His sake, to have righteous friends. Expect them to be loyal to their faith, their family, and their country. Expect them to be truth-seekers.  Set the bar high, live it in front of them, and expect them to follow your example, more than your words. If you don’t like the way your children act, look closely at the way you act around them. (Ouch-painful, but true for us all!) Reward the good, discipline the evil. Simple.

  • History and Heroes of the Faith- Our children need to know their origins. They are not animals. They are also not the latest, greatest thing that ever happened. They are part of a long chain of people who have been faithful. The history of our country is sadly neglected in the public education system. It is up to families to introduce their own children to the foundations of freedom and liberty secured by the sacrifice of patriots and martyrs throughout history. The writings of Charles Carleton Coffin have been indispensable in exposing the hand of God in the battle for liberty. Read aloud The Story of Liberty and his other well-written sequels. Read the stories of remnant movements, missionaries, and martyrs throughout history. The DVD series The Seventh Day is eye-opening and fascinating.  Our family is particularly interested in the history of World War II, the birth of modern Israel, and the connection of blessing or cursing upon nations who stand with or against her. For some excellent historical fiction about this era and the issues, read the Zion Chronicles and Zion Covenant series by Brock and Bodie Thoene. Our country is not exempt from the Scriptural pattern of blessing or cursing and our current foreign policy is a good reason to focus on preparedness.

As foundations are laid in spiritual preparedness, the next priority is …
Practical Preparedness:

  • Plan- This is the subject of many preparedness conference speeches and dozens of books, but little emphasis is placed on the family. Can you believe we have been invited to speak about preparedness at home-school conferences which are not family-friendly?! What an oxymoron! Okay, here goes another scenario: What if your wife was shopping, your older children were taking some little ones to visit a relative and a national alarm was sounded. Is there a designated meeting place? Would everyone know where to go? How to get there? How to communicate effectively? What to do if they can’t communicate?

One method we have found indispensable in a large family is “the buddy system”. Since early childhood each child has been assigned to another child who is about five years younger as a delegated authority. They take care of daily responsibilities pertaining to this child. In the morning they see that their buddy is properly groomed, served breakfast, and supervised throughout the day. If we go to a restaurant or to visit another family, they get their buddy’s plate, cut the meat, watch their manners, wash hands before and after, and hold their hand when leaving or crossing the street.  On an everyday basis, this sense of order presents an excellent testimony to our community; we like to rock the perspective that children need to be disorderly, loud, and self-centered.  Not true! Once again, community favor is an important survival tool! In the event of an emergency, each “big child” needs to know where their buddy is and get them to safety. Backpacks with emergency supplies are prepared to provide for each “big child” and “little buddy” team. It would be our hope to be together throughout any emergency, but in the event this plan fails, each big buddy is a competent delegated authority who would protect and defend his/her buddy. Because the relationship was formed over years of service and set in place by the parents, the correction and leadership of the “big child” has been deeply respected. This is enforced by Mom and Dad.

These backpacks contain, among other things: A 2-person dome tent, a large but lightweight sleeping bag (sharing “buddy” heat is simple with toddlers), a water filter, clothing and diapering gear if necessary, vitamins and snacks, meds and first aid equipment, whistles, signal mirrors, fire-starting gear, a multi-tool, small Bible and child-friendly survival manual, mini-coloring books and colored pencils with sharpener for distraction, fishing line and hooks, snare wire, rope, mess kit, etc. By the way, all this is done in a way that is very non-threatening and pro-active. We do not live fearfully and we do not promote this with our children.

  • Drills – Practice makes perfect. Everyone has been in a building when a fire alarm goes off. Everyone is expected to assist the disabled or helpless, leave in an orderly manner, form up at a previously designated location, wait for a headcount and an announcement of “All clear”. How about home-evacuation drills? Each “big child” takes their buddy and backpack, and then meets at the designated area where Dad and Mom take a headcount. This is a great time to practice (with adult supervision and safety harnesses) ladder evacuations if children sleep on a second or third floor. If you have a “safe house” location, practice hiking there on-foot during various seasons and place “caches” at strategic locations. Make it an adventure with prizes for timing and skill. Debrief and learn from mistakes. Some drill suggestions are:
  • No grid electricity week – All “from scratch” food made on alternative cookers, “bucket brigade” laundry (Teams of a big child and buddy washing clothes using one wash bucket, one rinse bucket and a clean plunger as an agitator, hang on line to dry), use LED lanterns for light with solar re-chargers (These are a great improvement over smelly fire-hazard lanterns).
  • Outdoor Living Week – We typically do this with others in the Fall in association with the Biblical Feast of Booths (Sukkot)- the original ancient annual preparedness conference-but it would be great to do once each season to work out the “bugs” and mistakes. This is a great time to practice “fort-building”.
  • First aid drills and scenarios – Kids love to be the “victim”.
  • Hunting season – a big event in our house. We use everything, including the antlers!
  • Paintball – This would be fun on your own property and a great socially acceptable reason to build “foxholes” and other strategic places…
  • Rendezvous and/or Appleseed shoot participation – Learn history, mountain man skills, and safe weapon handling.
  • Other Outdoor Activities – Go on bike trips, canoeing, cross-country skiing, pack-animal outfitting, white water rafting; develop skills in alternative transportation. Practice crossing shallow water with walking poles in summer for “heat relief”. Take long “wagon walks” with little ones- buy a wagon with all terrain tires equipped to carry over 1,000 lbs. These would be indispensable for families! And if you have babies, get an ergonomically designed backpack made for hiking with small children, including the accessory rain-cover and insulated snug sack. Get panniers for the family dog and put it to work.
  • Skills – I may be preaching to the choir here, but if this helps one family it is worth repeating. We have to get back to basics! Instead of being a “preparedness junkie”, wouldn’t it be smarter to just retain the everyday skills and lifestyle common our grandparents just a few generations ago? Developing a sustainable homesteading lifestyle – even by growing container gardens in the city – is better than thinking you will suddenly become “Rambo” in a crisis. Stop living a “fast food” lifestyle, no matter where you live. Start somewhere.  Start preparing meals from scratch, baking bread, learn what is edible and medicinal in the wild spaces around you, unplug the cable television, video games, etc. Purchase real, durable child-sized tools, sturdy boots, leather child-sized work gloves and let them work with you rather than always playing. Look for the gifts in your children and equip them to operate in them.  We have a daughter who hunts, tans the hides, butchers and cooks the venison, and dances ballet. We have a son who hunts mushrooms and catches his daily limit of fish, and is an expert cook on a barbecue or an outdoor wood-fire. He is also an amazing evangelist. Every child has special gifts. Look for the talents in each one, as these are important survival resources.

In summary, teach by example. The thing I have learned (sometimes the hard way) is that children are watching everything we do, say, react to, and then they will imitate our actions-good or bad. They overhear our conversations with others. They hear what we say when we hit our thumb with the hammer. They see whether we treasure our wife as the Messiah adores His Bride or if we treat her like a doormat or a workhorse. They don’t need to see us absorbed in fearful preparations, worried about what we will do if someone comes to “take our stuff”. They need to see us living a life of faith and prudence, using discernment in our speech and actions, loyalty and generosity in our friendships, and courage in adversity. Children and unbelieving neighbors are watching us and following our example. They are looking for answers. Our priority must be our responsibilities as Kingdom ambassadors in a time of great darkness. We need to shine a clear light. If hardship becomes more intense in future days, we will be thankful to have used our time wisely in giving our children the best chance to flourish in spite of adversity. If things improve, (unlikely, but always possible) our children will have learned to enjoy adventure, function with optimal life-skills, and they will be a worthy contribution to the leadership of our future communities, congregations, and our nation. We can store a warehouse full of beans, an armory of ammo, and a vault of precious metals but eventually it will all burn. The only thing we can hope to take into eternity with us is our children.