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Beginning on the mean streets of Manhattan and migrating to the serenity of the Texas prairie, 43 Christian families are living together in a bold experiment on a 500-acre farm north of Waco, Texas. Many Christians talk about overcoming American individualism through Christian living. But the residents of Homestead Heritage go beyond talk.

This intentional Christian agricultural and crafts community blends Pentecostal fervor with Anabaptist simplicity and accountability. The group is divided into the Brazos de Dios residential community (named after the river that runs through its property) and Homestead Heritage, the umbrella organization under which they do all their work. Brazos de Dios residents are not Amish or even Mennonites, although they have forged close ties with traditional Anabaptists. Rather, they are Christians from many different walks of life engaged together in a modern-day experiment in radical discipleship.

The Homesteaders' unadorned dress and plain hairstyles draw whispers in supermarket aisles: "They're from Homestead Heritage." And their handmade furnishings draw thousands of marveling visitors to their craft village.

Outsiders also flock to the farm's festivals every year to experience life as it was 150 years ago: breaking the sod with horse-drawn plows, growing enormous vegetables naturally, grinding grain into flour in an old-fashioned gristmill, making "chocolate" ice cream using carob instead of cocoa.

Not all visitors to Homestead Heritage have a clear idea what lies behind the living-history farm and craft village. With heavenly food, handmade chairs, and gorgeous quilts for sale, some just become loyal customers of Homestead products.

But the biggest crowds at Homestead Heritage turn out for this ...

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February 2005

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