Our world is changing, and it’s happening very fast. But people like things to stay the same, so everyone has a “normalcy bias”. That means we are prejudiced for what is normal and against change, especially unpleasant change. So we continue to say to ourselves “bad and unpleasant things will never happen”, or, “that could never happen here” even though there are warning signs. That is why the Jews in Germany before World War II didn’t think to escape until it was too late – they kept telling themselves that “it was silly to jump to conclusions” even though it was obvious what Hitler wanted to do to them.
Right now there are warning signs that unpleasant changes are headed our way in the United States: economic collapse, leftist revolution, and persecution of Jews and Christians.
I’ve had my eye on this for four or five years now and I believe it is guaranteed to happen. Europe is teetering on edge of economic colapse, it’s only a mater of when. We are past the point of finding a political solution in this country to our economic problems, even if enough of our leaders were prepared to do what is necessary. Best case scenario is we get severe depression and not collapse of our financial system. And/or, there could be hyper-inflation for an extended period of time (read about the Weimar Republic to see what that would be like). Should the worst case happen and the system collapse, it could happen suddenly, overnight. Banks would be closed, money would be worth little or nothing, and credit cards couldn’t be used (because they are part of banking business). If the economy doesn’t work, nothing works: gas stations run out of gas, city and town services shut down – garbage, water, electricity, etc. – grocery stores run out of food within a day or two, and other stores close because there aren’t any deliveries. People in the big cities begin to panic because there’s no food or water. Large numbers of people will probably begin migrating to rural areas where food is grown. I would guess that metro areas will get rocked by the same kind of lawless chaos seen in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. In time some sort of normalcy would be established, but whether that would take a few weeks or a number of years would depend on a lot of things. Yet, economic stability would be found eventually.
The Occupy movement is a revolutionary movement. Yes, revolution as in the overthrow of the U.S. Constitution. I know that makes me sound paranoid and delusional. But here are their own words from the occupywallst.org website: “we are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants … the only solution is World Revolution”. The “Arab Spring tactic” was anything but nonviolent, and their purpose was the overthrow of the respective governments. The Occupy movement has seen Communist, Anarchist, Nazi, and Muslim extremist groups working together, groups whose common ground is their desire to pull down Western culture and capitalism. It has also been a platform for growing anti-sematism, as well as a growing call for violence. When the Occupy movement gain steam this spring, it will become more violent. Worst case scenario is that “Arab spring” style violence erupts, and spills out into violent revolution similar to the French revolution. Best case, it serves as a lever to shove the U.S. political/economic system further toward European Socialism, which will cause economic failure that much faster. Economic troubles may add fuel to this fire, or this revolutionary movement fuels the economic crisis. Also pay attention to the fact that the OWS movement in the States is at least allied with similar movements around the world.
It is already more difficult to be a Christian than it was when I was growing up. Ever since 315 A.D. when Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, Christianity was central to Western culture. That is no longer true. It is virtually impossible to think of Europe as truly Christian, and in this country Christian virtues are no longer part of what it means to be American. Christianity is returning to its pre-315 A.D. status. That doesn’t guarantee persecution, but it does make standing for Jesus more difficult. Keep in mind that in the non-western parts of the world persecution of Christians is virtually the rule. But could it happen in the U.S. and other parts of the Western world? I believe the necessary conditions are emerging. During times of upheaval people look for scape goats, and the Jews are always first in line, followed by Christians. Leftist revolutionaries are always hostile to Christians, and either try to control the church or destroy it. Therefore, economic collapse might generate some persecution, but leftist revolution would guarantee it.
Personally, I believe it’s likely that our world is ramping up towards the Armageddon described in Ezekiel 37-38. Whether that’s the case or not, the warning signs are up that some kind of unpleasantness is headed our way. I keep going back to the story of Joseph when the LORD warned of the coming famine through Pharaoh’s dream; good stewardship meant getting prepared for the coming hard times. As a result, there was enough to save Egypt AND neighbors, including Joseph’s own family. In the same way, I believe we are to get prepared because: 1) it would be poor stewardship to be needy when we didn’t have to be, in the position of adding to overwhelming need; 2) when we could be giving help instead.
I’ve been thinking about how to prepare and respond to all of this for years. I want to pass along to you my four G’s for preparing to not only survive, but to also have resources that the Lord can use. I remember talking to old-timers in Potomac, Montana who had grown up there during the Great Depression; the little Potomac church didn’t exist because everyone worked so hard to survive that they had no time or energy to give to church. How sad is that? It could happen again – don’t let it. Be prepared so you can serve.
– First, know God, and be known by God NOW. Read the Bible, pray, worship, build Christian relationships, serve in the present tense. Seek Jesus with a sense of urgency.
– The 2G’s of the Great Command and the Great Commission will always be your compass for determining God’s will: love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, love others as well as yourself, and go make disciples.
– Turmoil and hardship will make shambles of how we have believed the world was supposed to work. People will have a hunger and thirst for Jesus like the United States, the whole world, has never seen.
– Having the four G’s and living by the 2G’s will position you to participate in God’s great rescue mission.
– Learn Romans 8:35-39:
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christs love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from Gods love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from Gods love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
– As Christians, it will be important not to fall into a mentality of hoarding. Yes, make as much as you can, save as much as you can, but also give away as much as you can. That will enable you to love and serve others.
– Remember 2 Corinthians 9:8: “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”. Yes, even when it looks like the gold and grub are disappearing, you can still be open handed.
– Scripture is clear that Christians are to respect civil authority. Become familiar with Romans 13 and 1 Peter. Remember that these words were written to Christians living in the Roman Empire, while Christianity was viewed by the empire with suspicion at best, and hostility at worst.
Food prices are already on an upward trend, WORLD WIDE. In economic chaos, food will be prohibitively expensive and probably scarce. Having a garden will be important to feed yourselves, and OTHER PEOPLE.
– Hreen vegetables are nice to have, but a staple food like potatoes would be more important to grow. You will have to make decisions about how much garden space to devote to what.
– Sweet corn is yummy, but “field” type corn could provide a staple (and you can eat it off the cob while young).
– Seeds from hybrid varieties cannot be saved from year to year, but seeds from the old heirloom varieties can.
– Good garden soil comes from adding lots of organic material like compost or livestock manure (dog poop doesn’t work because it carries parasites that affects humans).
– Think of the garden as a mechanism that converts and stores summer energy. Some how all that energy needs to be saved for the winter. Freezing, canning, pickling, and drying are the primary ways to do that. Drying is easiest (just find a sunny location). Freezing is almost as easy, but frozen food breaks down over a period of months, and really fast if there’s no electricity! Canning is the most work, but is not at the mercy of electricity, and probably has a longer “shelf life”. A pickling process, brining, like that used to make sauerkraut can be used for many other kinds of vegetables.
– “The Encyclopedia for Country Living” (ECL) is a great resource for learning all kinds of things about gardening, vegetables, raising and using animals, and lots more. Look through it to get ideas not only about how to grow, but how to use what you grow. Some times you have to work backwards and decide what you are willing to preserve and use in order to decide how much of what you want to grow.
– There is no right or wrong in growing things. Experimenting and trial and error are part of the process and are to be enjoyed.
– Should you lose electricity for long enough that frozen food begins to thaw, fire up the canner! The ECL should have the information you need.
– Remember, if you grow and preserve enough of one thing someone else doesn’t have but wants, you are in a position to make a trade.
– It is possible that municipal water won’t be available. Don’t forget that there’s water in rivers, creeks, ponds, etc. It can be purified by boiling, of course, but remember that chlorine works just fine too. Check the ECL to see if it has more info. People living out of town will have well water that they might share, if they have electricity or some other way to pump it.
– Gold and silver are sort of like freezing vegetables in that now days they are a means of storing financial energy.
– Silver and gold aren’t used as money any more. That means that in a crisis they become something to barter with. In other words, you and the other party need to agree on the value of the gold or silver you are offering.
– Right now the worth of precious metals are determined by international markets, and their values fluctuate hour to hour. Prices are set per Troy ounce of metal. A widely respected source for tracking the value of metals is kitco.com.
– When selling gold or silver, expect to sell it at a discount – a few percentage points lower than the official market price. That’s because the buyer of the metal needs to make a little profit when they turn around and sell it it to some one else.
– As things are right now, gold and silver can be converted to cash by selling it to: 1. A local coin shop. This would be the fastest way, with the least hassle. It may cost you a greater discount than 2. A major gold dealer. I have bought gold and silver from both Gold Line (goldline.com) and Kitco (kitco.com). Both will also buy it back. Details are available at their websites. Because they deal with such large volumes of coins, the discount may be smaller than at a coin shop. But check first to see if the shipping and insurance costs offset the coin shop discount.
– There are two primary kinds of coins: 1) bullion coins which have never been official money. They are a piece of gold or silver in a weight and purity guaranteed by a government. The most common in North America are U.S. Gold or Silver Eagles, South African Gold Kugerands, and Canadian Gold or Silver Maple Leafs; 2) antique gold and silver coins, either U.S. or from other countries, usually European. The U.S. stopped making silver coins in 1964, except for half-dollars (they were 40% silver from ’65-70).
1. Bullion coins have an advantage because the exact weight and purity of the gold or silver is stated on the coin. Therefore there is no question about what your dealing with, making it easier to decide on it’s value.
2. Antique coins vary in the amount of gold or silver that they contain. Of course, in a pinch, a silver dollar is a dollar, a silver quarter is .25 cents. But that would be a wasteful use of a valuable resource, because right now the amount of silver in a silver dollar is worth around $25; the amount of gold in a $1 gold coin is worth over $80). The idea, therefore, is to use antique U.S. coins at least according to the value of the gold or silver they contain.
3. Precious Metal Content of U.S. Coins: (both silver and gold coins contain 90% precious metal, 10% copper)
Gold Coins ( a rough rule of thumb for gold coins: prior to 1933 gold had an official value of $20/oz. Therefore, a $20 coin should contain about 1 oz of gold, $10 coin 1/2 oz. etc.)
$20 0.9675 oz
* The 1964 Kennedy half dollar and Washington quarters were the last 90% silver coins minted in the U.S. From ’65-70 the Kennedy half dollar is 40% silver, 0.14792 oz. (The Bicentennial Kennedy half dated 1776-1996 are also 40% silver).
4. There are also European antique gold coins that many companies offer for sale. While there are different ideas about their pros and cons, their major weakness is that Americans will likely be reluctant to buy them or accept them in barter because they are not familiar. A second draw back is that every country’s coins are different in terms of how much gold they contain.
– US silver coins that don’t have much value for collectors (called numismatic value) are referred to as junk silver. Junk silver’s value is primarily its melt value – the value of the silver it contains.
– My suggestion is to hold the gold back for big stuff; one gold coin represents a lot of financial muscle. I would use silver bullion and junk silver for more common transactions because it will be much easier to use that way. Even then, use it wisely, in a pinch.
– There will still be regular currency to use. But – they won’t be worth a whole lot either because the system has collapsed, or there is run away inflation. Nevertheless, use currency as far as you can.
– Don’t forget that sterling silver contains 92% silver! It can be sold as silver “scrap”, or it would have value for barter for its value as silver. However, its value as it is will probably be greater than the melt value of its silver content.
– Heed the words of the Rabbi: “Making money is a matter of pleasing people.” Figure out what skills, abilities, or product you have or can make that would help someone else … Sewing, cleaning, pottery, tomatoes, music, teaching, child care, whatever. Learn to do it, make it, or grow it the best you can and sell it or trade it.
– There are two basic kinds of guns: a) long-guns – rifles and shotguns; b) handguns – pistols and revolvers.
> That means that after the shot, the empty case is ejected, and a new round is fed from a magazine holding the cartridges, into the chamber for the next shot.
> While this happens “automatically”, it only happens once every time the trigger is squeezed (A true automatic will continue to cycle automatically while the trigger is held down, until it is released).
> As a general rule, pistol magazines will hold more shots than a revolver. But in the cycle of loading a new cartridge there is the possibility of a jam – where something gets stuck half way in between.
– Pistols are sometimes referred to as “automatics” even though they are really semi-automatic.
– Revolvers have the cylinder that rotates after every shot.
> They come in single action, which means you have to manually pull the hammer back before you fire;
> Double action where the hammer is pulled back when you pull the trigger; and then revolvers that do both.
– Revolvers will shoot just as fast as any semi-automatic, but they don’t hold as many cartridges, and they are much slower to reload. Their advantage is that they are very simple, and won’t jam between shots.
– Rifles fire a single projectile, a bullet. Rifles are more powerful out to longer distances than the other kind of guns. They require a fair amount of skill to use effectively.
– They come in single shot, lever action, bolt action, and semi-automatic.
> Obviously, you need to load single shot rifles for every shot.
> Lever action rifle are often called Winchesters, even if they aren’t made by Winchester. Most lever actions have a tube magazine that runs underneath the barrel. There are a few that have an external magazine, sort of like semi-automatic pistols do. As a general rule, lever action rifles aren’t as accurate as bolt action rifles.
> Bolt action rifles have some type of magazine; either built into the rifle itself (internal magazine), or external magazine (much like a pistol).
> Semi-automatic rifles almost always have external magazines.
– Shot guns are usually used to fire multiple projectiles at once, called pellets. But they can also shoot slugs, which are very large bullet-like projectiles.
– Shotguns come as single shot, double barrel, pump action, or semi-automatic.
> For self defense, a pump action is best; they hold more shells than a single or double barrel, and they are more dependable than a semi-automatic.
– Ammunition for handguns and rifles is measured in caliber. The bigger the number, the bigger the caliber, and therefore the bigger the gun. For example a .22 (pronounced twenty-two) is smaller than a .270 (called a two-seventy).
> Caliber measures the diameter of the bullet. What makes all the difference is the case that the bullet is put with and the weight of the bullet. The bigger the case, the more gun powder, therefore the more powerful the cartridge.
> For instance, a .22 long rifle cartridge fires a bullet that weighs 30-40 grains (7000 grains/oz) at about 1000 feet per second. A .223 cartridge fires a 50-80 grain bullet at over 3000 feet per second. Yet both are twenty-two caliber.
> Before your eyes glass over completely, what you need to know now is that all ammunition deals with two thing – weight (mass) and velocity.
– Shotgun ammunition is measured first by gauge. All you need to know is that 12 gauge is bigger than 16, which is bigger than 20.
> In a particular gauge, shells come in different lengths. Most modern 12 and 20 gauge shotguns will fire both 2 3/4 inch, and 3 inch shells.
> Shells come in wide range of pellet sizes. With birdshot, the higher number of the pellet size, the smaller it is; 8 1/2 is about as small as it will come.
> But for self defense purposes, buckshot is used. Buckshot is much larger than birdshot, and comes #1 thru 4/0 ( number 1 through four aught). The higher the number, the bigger the pellet.
– The “knock down” power of any kind of gun isn’t as simple to determine as you would think. The little bullet from a .22 revolver will kill you just dead as a big 30-06 bullet from a deer rifle.
> How deadly a bullet wound is depends on if the bullet penetrates deep enough to hit a major organ, blood vessel, or artery, and how much tissue damage it caused on the way in.
> Remember that all ammunition is some balance of weight and velocity. Penetration and tissue damage are related to weight and velocity.
> A bullet weighing 230 grains, traveling at 1000 feet per second will penetrate farther and cause more damage than one weighing 115 grains at 900 feet per second.
> But the smaller cartridge will be easier to shoot than the bigger, meaning that you might shoot the smaller one more accurately. A .22 in the ear would be more effective than a .45 in the leg.
> It’s all a trade off between weight and velocity, and how much you can comfortably carry and shoot.
– For self defense purposes, a handgun is merely a major up-grade over a rock. They are harder to shoot well than a long-gun, AND handgun ammo compromises a lot in the weight/velocity trade off in order to remain easy to carry and shoot.
– A long-gun will always have the advantage over a handgun in terms of accuracy, range (how far from the target they are effective), and power (penetration and damage). The trade off is they are harder to carry around with you.
– A handgun is a close range weapon. I can shoot a .45 fairly well from 21 feet, but at 30 feet I’m pathetic. 21 feet keeps someone far enough away that I can get a bullet, maybe two, into them before they get close enough to start carving on me with a knife.
– A short barreled shotgun is a good compromise between a rifle and a handgun.
> It doesn’t have as much range as a rifle, but much more than a handgun.
> it isn’t as easy to carry as a handgun, but easier than most rifles.
> A #3 buckshot pellet is the equivalent diameter of a .26 caliber bullet weighing 23.5 grains. Now multiply that by 20, the number of pellets in a 20 gauge shell – that’s 470 grains – which equals one very large bullet! That’s much better than a handgun!
> Unlike a rifle or a handgun, a shotgun doesn’t require constant practice to maintain sufficient skill to use as a self defense weapon.
> A shotgun also has a very high intimidation factor!
> in addition, you can hunt almost anything with a shotgun, even deer.
Thoughts on Self-defense
– Killing and murder aren’t always synonymous.
– In my mind, it isn’t possible to love your family and neighbor as well as yourself, and fail to protect them from harm if you have the means.
– Peaceful solutions are always preferable, but that only works if both parties are willing to have peace, and have similar levels of strength. If one party is significantly stronger, it has no other incentive to negotiate other than moral incentive.
– By strength I mean the ability to inflict harm on someone else. Someone with only their fists and no training in hand to hand combat is weakest. A rock, a club, pepper spray, a knife, any kind of weapon gives them more strength.
– Immoral people who want something will take advantage of others who are weaker.
– Such a person will hesitate when the other party has equal or greater strength, or enough strength to make it difficult for the immoral person to get what they want.
– Pepper spray has a great neutralizing power, even against a knife or club in certain situations, is easy and safe to carry, but it will never neutralize a gun.
– A handgun beats everything EXCEPT for a long gun (rifle or shotgun).
– Unless you have extensive training and experience in some kind of martial art, hand to hand combat is the last thing you want to do, even if you have a big knife.
– If you bring a gun to a knife fight, chances are good the other guy stands down. If you bring a shotgun to a pistol fight, the other guy should be smart enough to stand down.
– The saying is sure and worthy of acceptance: “if you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.” The moral is, do everything you can to have more firepower than the other guy. In many cases that will help you avoid the fight.
– Making the other person stand down and avoiding a fight is the best case scenario. At that point a peaceful resolution is possible, and as a Jesus follower, you can begin to find out how Jesus’ love intersects their need.
– All of that is to say that simply having a firearm may go a long in preventing a confrontation from developing.
– Don’t ever take off the safety and point your firearm at someone unless you are absolutely certain the situation is deadly and you are ready to fire.
– While we’re at it, racking the slide of a pump shotgun or the slide of a pistol to ratchet up the threat of your response is nothing but Hollywood bull, uh, stuff. Pure malarkey. You had better have a shell loaded and ready to go in the first place. When you mean business, all you are actually going to do is disengage the safety, point the weapon and shoot.
– Based on Scripture, and the long history of Christian martyrs, I do not believe that a Christian should use a weapon to resist arrest – even if the arrest is part of unjustified persecution. Romans 13’s charge to submit to authority is very influential in my thinking on this.
– Does that mean that Christians should not pick up arms and participate in open rebellion against a government that is systematically oppressing its people? I don’t think that is the case, because I believe that Christians are to stand against evil and injustice. The sad truth is that quite often standing against evil requires deadly force.
You survive the crisis, you’ve pulled neighbors into your “lifeboat” and helped them survive, so what happens now? What should you expect? I have no idea. I really don’t know. But in many ways, that’s up to you – what kind of country will you help rebuild? Create a library of books that represent the best of Western and American (or your own country’s) culture, history, and ideals; books that will help you learn how to think, evaluate, and express ideas. Books that will teach you about things like courage, exploration, determination, the rule of law, freedom, selflessness, and how to be a Christian citizen. Have them on the bookshelf waiting for you when you are ready for them. Build well.
Appendix: Urban Agriculture Ideas
I wrote this for my family. We live in a small town in a very rural state, so it doesn’t have an urban context. I do have some familiarity with urban life – I’m writing this while visiting friends in Seattle’s Queen Anne Hill, where homes have yards the size of a postage stamp. So while I am not any kind of expert on urban agriculture, perhaps I can provide some ideas to help you get started creating your own expertise.
> An amazing amount of food can be grown in small areas.
> The traditional large plot of ground tilled up and planted in rows isn’t the only, or the best, way to have a garden. Get to your library and explore the many ways to garden intensively.
> Think outside the lines of whatever lawn you may have. There is probably space for growing food along the house, along fences, on decks, and in areas you now have in landscaping.
> Form partnerships with your neighbors. Tear down metaphorical and literal fences, merge your backyards and create a large garden space; or you can offer to grow as much of one thing on your available space, if they agree to grow something else in theirs, and someone else grows a lot of something different.
> If you are an apartment dweller; you’re not necessarily screwed in terms of growing food.
* Community gardens have a long history in urban areas. However, my impression is that they are few and far between. So scout around for undeveloped ground, form a partnership with other people like yourself, and figure out how to turn that space into a garden. Many churches have open spaces on their grounds; the right church should be willing to work out turning some of their open space into a community garden area.
* Do you have friends in the suburbs? Form a partnership with them and plan a garden.
> An alternative to (or on conjunction with) growing and storing your own food is buying and storing food. Think of it as an investment. Whatever you can buy and store now will be worth much more in the future.
> If storage space is an issue, you might want to look into prepared meals
* Military MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) are available from any number of mail order companies. There are a wide range of choices, and they are fairly tasty. Search the Internet for “survival food”.
* There are also companies like foodinsurance.com that sell freeze dried meals in quantity. This company, for instance, offers a plan with enough food to feed a family of five for three months. While it represents a definite financial investment, for many people it offers an alternative to gardening, or storing large quantities of canned goods.
No matter how you do it though, the goal is the same; strive to become as self sufficient as you can so that you are not a burden on others, and so that you can be a source of God’s generosity to others.
If you have other creative solutions, please share them here in the form of a comment. I would be particularly interested to hear how churches can help their members and communities prepare.