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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Teigrob

What Growing Up in a Mennonite Family of 10 Taught Me About Survival

Henry and Anne Teigrob with seven of their 10 children.

In 2022, a group of the ultra-wealthy asked journalist Douglas Rushkoff to meet with them in a secret desert location. He figured they wanted to hear his thoughts on the future of tech, a topic he is famous for writing about. But Rushkoff soon realized the group was much less keen to hear from him about tech and much more in his evaluation of their bunkers and other survival tactics.(1) It seems this company of ultra-wealthy was ultra worried about a coming societal collapse.

Not even uber amounts of cold coin can stave off the fears people are feeling about the future of our world.

Separate surveys in the U.S.(2) and Canada(3) in 2022 and early 2023 showed people are more worried and overwhelmed than they have been in years. Most blame the constant stream of crises over the past several years, including inflation, as the source of their new levels of anxiety.

It’s as though a new kind of wilderness is creeping into the comfortable lives of many of us in the west. In the natural wilderness, we must brave wind, weather, and wild animals. In this new wilderness, we are facing:

  • Rising costs of living.

  • Rising hostilities (This is shown in part by the jump in mass killings.)(4)


When we head into the natural wilderness, we don’t bring a moving truck with all our stuff. No, we prepare and pack survival bags. We cram in very simple, compact, and highly efficient items so that we can:

  • Forage for food;

  • Build shelters;

  • Find our way.

Similarly, as we step into the new wilderness encroaching on our lives today, we can’t take the same approaches we’ve always relied on. We need simple, highly efficient practices and wisdom that will help us get through financially, mentally, and relationally. We need to start packing survival “suitcases,” if you will, for dealing with the hazards of this new wilderness we’re facing. What Growing Up in a Mennonite Family of 10 Taught Me About Survival unpacks some of those practices and wisdom. The goal is to help all of us:

  • Provide for our families financially both now and for the future;

  • Build a shelter of mental health for ourselves and our families;

  • Find our way through today’s relational challenges among our families, churches, and workplaces.

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1. Rushkoff, Douglas. “The super-rich ‘preppers’ planning to save themselves from the apocalypse.” The Guardian. Sept. 4, 2022.

2. “Stress in America.” American Psychological Association.

3. Bruch, Tim. “ ‘Canadians are worried’: new poll suggests cost of living crisis is bad…and getting worse.” CTV News. Jan. 12, 2023.

4. “How Many Mass Shootings Have There Been in the U.S.?” BBC. May 9, 2023.

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