Every story has a beginning. Ours started over thirty years ago when God spoke and told us to gather together our two families, the Balistreris and the Hettigers, to seek Him out. So we did, and God began preparing us for ministry work. In 1988, that ministry began on the near-southside of Milwaukee. We did everything—from food delivery directly to people’s homes, to Bible studies for men, women, and in Spanish, groups of all ages, youth groups, monthly kids programs, and even Vacation Bible School in summer. We handed out clothes, appliances, produce, dairy, and even birthday cakes. God had us totally involved in people’s lives. We were blessed with the privilege of attending their weddings, their funerals, and even their kids’ school programs. It was a tremendous ministry which required us to rely on God at all times in order to provide for the people who were in turn relying on us.
In 1993, we incorporated and became a non-profit organization called the Jerusalem Christian Center. We ministered to hundreds of people. God was in everything we did and provided in greatness just as He had in the past.
But then in 2008 God told us that we were supposed to move our two families up into north-central Wisconsin, and we had to leave all of that behind us. It didn’t seem to make sense—why, after all that we had done, would God put us out in the middle of nowhere? He told us that the purpose of bringing us there was so that He could do a work in us. We did do some ministry work the seven years we were up north, but not to the degree that we did in Milwaukee. It was difficult going from a full-time ministry to just one that barely existed. We sought God out every day for His will in our lives.
A New Beginning
While we were starting to get comfortable up north, God began revealing that it was time for something new. In 2014, God began to speak to us about a new ministry, one that would take us throughout the United States and Canada and even up to Alaska. He gave us over five hundred names of towns and locations that we were supposed to travel to. The easiest way this would happen is if God would give us RVs, so we began preparing ourselves for such a lifestyle. He also told us to sell our house and to dissolve our corporation. We began getting rid of the ministry and personal belongings that we felt we would not be able to carry on an RV. The new ministry required a new website and a new name: the Jerusalem Christian Center was now to become the Judeo-Christian Clarion.
As we prayed about all these things, we began to see that the first step of our journey was to move back closer to home, in particular Ozaukee County. In the months before we needed to leave our home in Edgar, we searched for two apartments; but we had trouble renting because none of us had a job in Ozaukee County, so no one wanted to rent to us.
One day, I began looking at apartments in the city of Brown Deer in Milwaukee County, which is just across the border from Ozaukee county. Everything in Ozaukee seemed to be a dead end, and we were running out of time. As I was looking, God spoke to me and said, “You are looking in the wrong place.” I said, “Then where is the right place?” God said, “Sycamore St.” Finally, we had some direction! I began looking at all the areas in Wisconsin that had a Sycamore St. and also had a house for sale or for rent, but again I came up empty. Although this was somewhat disappointing, we knew that eventually God would show us what we needed to see. Well one day (and it was not by chance), I saw that there were climate-controlled storage sheds on Sycamore St. in Cedarburg, which is in Ozaukee County. The light went on! Maybe we are going to start traveling at this time, I thought. In response to this, we took several loads of our belongings down to the storage sheds in Cedarburg.
On the 25th of August, 2015, after a long day of packing our remaining possessions into two U-Haul trucks and our two vehicles, we, along with our cat, left our home. By the time we had gotten everything out of the house it was 8pm, and the sun was just going down. None of us wanted to spend a restless night on the floor in an empty house, so we decided to drive down to Stevens Point and stay at a hotel.
Early the next morning, we set out for Grafton, where there was a UPS store we had prayed about taking out a temporary address at, which we had to still pay for. We were hoping that God would meet us somehow, some way, down here and show us where we were supposed to go. When we pulled up in front of the UPS store, we saw that right next door was a Comfort Inn Hotel! Immediately we headed inside to book two rooms, and found that yes, they allowed cats. The next several days we had to unload our cars and trucks into the storage, but we also knew we needed to look for a more permanent place to rent as soon as we could.
As hard as it was to believe, three weeks later we were still sitting in the hotel. When the weekend arrived, I told everyone that we needed to go to the church in Cedarburg. God had told me that if we found the church, we would find the place where we would live. Although we keep the Sabbath on Saturday because we are Messianic (we keep the Biblical Appointed Times), we also are Pentecostal, Spirit-filled Christians. So we went to the Assembly of God church in Cedarburg, where we were warmly welcomed and found many people who were interested in Judeo-Christianity. One lady in particular befriended us, and when she heard that we were in need of a place to rent, she said, “I have a friend who has not been able to sell her house, and maybe they would rent to you!” That afternoon, we were there looking at the house, which just happened to have four bedrooms and three bathrooms and was laid out just like the house we left up north, sitting on 3.3 acres of land out in the country in Cedarburg. When we had packed, we were expecting to live in a smaller home, but this house was actually about three-hundred square feet larger than the house we left! The people, without even knowing us, rented the house to us, but on one condition: the house had to remain on the market for two more weeks. We knew that God was opening this door for us, and so we agreed and moved in.
It was wonderful to once again be in a home! Over the next two weeks, the house was shown three times. One couple came back twice and the other showing was done by the realtor who had sold our house when we moved up north. By the time we came to that last day, the people who owned the home turned down the chance to show the house another time and said, “No, we like our tenants and we are going to take the house off the market.” So there we were! By the way, the storage sheds were less than 6 blocks away from this house. Easy move!
We found the church, we found the place, and so now we knew that it was time to do the work God had for us to do. Marathon County had been great, and of course where we had lived was superb. We had wonderful neighbors and the area had a great sense of community, but above all that we simply loved the area that we were in. Now, however, it was time to put all of that behind us and focus on the task at hand.
We came to sign the lease, which initially was set to be for six months. But when we arrived, the homeowner wanted it instead to be a month-to-month lease. God always knows what is best!
We got settled in the house—maybe too settled. We celebrated the Fall Feasts, birthdays, and holidays with our family. Life was good. For the celebration of Hanukkah, we had the pastor of the church and his family over. He asked us what we wanted of him and the church. Our response was that we wanted to have a Bible study about the Jewish roots of the Bible, and he agreed. So off we were, preparing for this study, which he deemed an advanced course, on the Old Testament. We began with Abraham and the patriarchs and went all the way to Mount Sinai and the giving of the Torah. We included the priesthood, holiness, the tabernacle, what the Torah is and what it is not. This study was like eating a seven-course meal. We had seven faithful people who came every week, and they ate of that meal! They loved the study and us, and we loved them. We had such a connection!
Biblical Passover came, and we did a Seder meal at the church for twenty people, which included the Pastor. Everyone was so excited, but what they did not know was that we were about to move on. Through our praying, God showed us that we were not staying at this house, and in March we gave our notice. Right after we put the notice in the mail, the landlord called us. He asked us to stay on and sign a year’s lease and he offered to lower the rent. What the landlord did not know was that we had already given notice. We said no, and we began to pack.
Once again we were hoping that God would provide another house, but He did not. Instead, He told us that we needed to begin our travels. Not only that, but we needed to part with all of our furniture and anything else that would keep us from going forward. We did, as hard as it was. We let go of almost everything. We rented one storage shed to keep things like family pictures and things like tax papers. We still were praying that God would provide us with two brand new RVs, but the time for them wasn’t for now.
Instead, God told us that we were to stay in Wisconsin, staying in hotels as we travelled. We prayed to know where to begin, and He told us Green Bay. And so we began to plan, following the route God had given us over almost the last two years.