As stated in our About Us and History pages, the idea for Dai Mission Ministries was originally an idea for Dai Mission alone: an old style Christian mission site — a combined Messianic yeshiva (Jewish educational school, typically focusing on theological & philosophical instruction), monastery (a communal living space for religious anchorites), and house of worship for the members of the Dai — updated for modern Messianic Jewish spiritual sensibilities that would be constructed in the Gila Mountains of New Mexico. The Mission would be open to mainstream Christians, Messianic Jews, and non-believing seekers in need of physical rest, spiritual rehabilitation, and separation (temporary or permanent) from the outside world. The Mission would be a place where someone could (as Ben Terry once put it) “get your mind right, get your body right, get your life right.”
While this concept might seem alien to modern Jewish adherents (Messianic or otherwise), organized monasticism in one form or another has been a part of both Judaic and Christian religious history since the days of the Essenes — the celibate, ascetic sect of Jews (2nd Century BC – 1st Century AD) who gave us the Dead Sea Scrolls. Other monastic sects of Jews and Christians (aside from the obvious Catholic monastic orders, of course) from history to the modern era include:
- The Perushim, separatist Ashkenazi disciples of the Vilna Gaon (Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman, the famed kabbalist) who endured numerous hardships to leave Lithuania and settle at Safed, Tiberias, Jaffa, and Jerusalem in Ottoman-governed Israel during the 19th Century.
- Like the Roman Catholic Church from which they diverged, the Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, and Presbyterian denominations have all established monastic orders throughout their histories.
- While not monastic by creed, the beliefs espoused by the Anabaptist movement — a Christian movement that began during the Radical Reformation in the 16th Century and later gave rise to the Amish, Mennonite, Hutterite, Bruderhof, Schwarzenau, and Apostolic Christian sects — often involved monastic concepts, and some Anabaptists lived communally.
- The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (commonly called “Shakers” due to their almost Charismatic forms of worship), a breakaway Quaker group founded in the 18th Century, have practiced pacifism, communal living, celibacy, and simple living since their onset. (Unfortunately, only one Shaker community exist to this day; two official members of the Shaker community at Maine’s Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village still adhere to the Shaker beliefs, though several “unofficial” younger members reside in the area as well.)
- While not monastic in the strictest sense, the kibbutz movement — which began at Degenia Alef in Israel in 1909 and eventually diverged into the secular Kibbutz Movement and the Religious Kibbutz Movement — began as a utopian vision for an agrarian society that combined socialist ideas with Zionist philosophy to be practiced on communal farms around the Sea of Galilee and the Jezreel Valley. Though many kibbutzim have become privatized in recent years, over 200 kibbutzim still exist in Israel today.
- In modern times, an ecumenical “New Monastic” lay movement has emerged among Christians worldwide since the 1970s. Modern ascetic Christian communities were initially based upon Catholic and Hindu ascetic concepts proposed by Bede Griffiths (a Benedictine monk and Hindu yogi), Raiimon Panikkar (a Catholic priest who specializes in inter-religious dialogue), and feminist theologian Beverly Lanzetta. In 1998, Protestant theologian Jonathan Wilson published a treatise entitled Living Faithfully in a Fragmented World that advocated for the emergence of a new monastic movement from within the Protestant Christian tradition, eventually leading to the establishment of the communal Rutba House in Durham, North Carolina by Jonathan and Leah Wilson-Hartgrove. In 2017, American author and commentator Rod Dreher published The Benedict Option, which outlined a strategy for the average Christians to live a lifestyle steeped in monastic concepts in the modern era; his ideas were later expanded upon by writer Leah Libresco in her 2018 book Building the Benedict Option. A new form of loose asceticism has developed among modern Christian adherents from the works of these and other theologians.
Though the concept of Dai Mission from 2008 would ultimately expand into Dai Mission Ministries over the years, the idea of building Dai Mission as a Messianic Jewish monastery-cum-yeshiva was never forgotten. Indeed, the Dai Mission concept is still one of Dai Mission Ministry’s long-term plans. In the near future, Dai Mission Ministries hopes to raise the funds to begin building this monastic Messianic yeshiva in the heart of the region overseen by the Goshen Messianic Union. While a specific property — the Shadow Mesa Ranch site near Cedaredge, Colorado, north of the Uncompahgre National Forest — has been selected, plans are still tentative and open to change in the future.
Additionally, the construction of Dai Mission itself is only “Phase One” of Dai Mission Ministry’s long-term plans, with “Phase Two” — the settling of Kibbutz Goshen around the Dai Mission site — to occur later.
Of course, we can’t do any of this without your support! If you would like to donate to the construction and equipping of Dai Mission, please contact us for more information or visit our Donations page.
Keep your eyes on this page and on our News page for future updates about this exciting project!