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"For we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not of ourselves."

Jesus People on Beach no. 8

Launched into a New Life

by David Hoyt

I felt surrounded and protected by God, and could sense his power and presence.It was a comforting realization that God was with, inside, and watching over me.

In the early weeks after encountering Jesus Christ I experienced several signs I was becoming a new person.  Growing up in correctional institutions and later prison I had learned to hate police and authority.  While out with Kent, driving the streets of San Rafael I saw a cop and no longer felt intense hatred.  This surprised me and was the first sign.  

In my search for ‘truth or God’ I’d encountered a wide variety of teachings and ideas about God.  When a clear path to God or truth remained elusive, a low-grade frustration seemed to permeate my days.  Falling asleep in a semi-confused spiritual state for over three years was the pits.   

Sometimes I was successful in blocking this out, but as it dragged on into my third year of the search I remained helpless when it came to ridding myself of an anxious tortured feeling about being lost in a spiritual maze of dead-ends.  World religions, deities, avatars, enlightened masters, swamis-- had all meshed into an unsolved mystery.  The second sign came when I woke up one morning and realized my spiritual confusion had literally vanished.  This was a huge deal—and welcomed!  

Was the ‘spirit of divination’ that Timothy had told me about the cause of my confusion?  Had God delivered me from this evil spirit?   As I continued to experience peace day after day – I believe God did in fact drive this spirit from me on the day I received Jesus Christ in the Krishna Temple

Being able to read and understand the Bible was the third indicator and sign of God’s work in me. There was no denying it – the light-switch had been turned on!   The more I read in the Bible – the harder I found to put it down.  No wonder it’s considered the greatest book of all time!  I’d enjoyed reading different books in the past – but never had an insatiable hunger to read any book like–the Bible.   

Reading in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John was like taking a road-trip with Jesus.  It wasn’t complicated at all.  The spiritual truths that seemed to ‘pop’ on the pages were deep and challenging, but Jesus’ interactions with people were not unclear in any way; fascinating – but not confusing.  What startled and held my attention was – nothing negative was edited out of the accounts.  This was as no holy book I’d ever read.  Most books about spiritual masters have a positive narrative that discusses who influenced them spiritually (i.e. their spiritual masters), how they became enlightened and their mission and life work, as in ‘Autobiography of a Yoga’ by Paramahansa Yogananda. 

The Bible was not like this at all!   It revealed the inner motives of the human heart; anger, hatred, selfishness, unbelief and how people reacted to God speaking to them.  The authors that God chose to write the Bible had the same ‘spirit of truth’ in them, retelling the events in a similar way – all utilizing honesty in revealing the mistakes humans made, including their attacks on God, his prophets, Jesus, or the disciples. The Bible was filled with nuances revealing the soft or hardheartedness of individuals, their faith and love, or lack of, in responding to God and their neighbors.

open bible with road into it

Sometimes after reading for a season, I’d put the Bible down and sit in amazement thinking –“This book which points men and women to God – and reveals Jesus Christ as the true Savior of mankind, God’s one and only Son, is alive! How could this be?” 

When I brought this up to Kent, he explained that it was the Holy Spirit inside of me, who was giving me understanding while reading the Bible and allowing life and faith to grow in me.  “It’s your spiritual food”, Kent said.   “Many read the Bible out of curiosity, for intellectual stimulation, or to critique and disprove it.  Some have had their spiritual eyes opened while doing so.  When we put our faith in God and call out to him like you’ve done, God seals the deal by putting his Holy Spirit inside of us to be our teacher about many things as well as opening our understanding to the Words of God recorded in the Bible.”

“Amazing!” I replied, realizing my spiritual eyes had been opened by the Holy Spirit. 

Listening to a recording by Billy Graham, I was encouraged to read in Psalms and Proverbs on a regular basis and incorporated this into daily study alongside the New Testament.  As I started doing this, a sense of safety was confirmed when I read in Psalms, “He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer, my cover and shield, in whom I find shelter.” Psalm 144:2 New Life Bible

Dark Side on the Run

I was thankful that Kent and his wife invited me to stay with them until I could get my bearings.  Kent and family lived in the Golden Gate Baptist Seminary apartments where he was a student. It was a peaceful setting and a positive place to begin my life as a new Christian. They knew my background but took the risk, trusting the Lord to take care of the details. He did. Positive events and breakthroughs were a regular occurrence as the weeks and months passed.  My old life was dying.

GGBTS entry

From the first day, Kent and I spent time reading and discussing parts of the Bible and prayed together. While he was in class I helped with chores around the house, took walks, and kept up with studying the Bible and prayer.  There was a lot going on inside of me spiritually.  Truth that I’d looked for during years of searching was now flooding my mind and heart.  In the evenings, or during Kent’s out-of-class time when he wasn’t working his part-time job at Penny’s, we’d hang out, talk about what we were learning, and he’d try to field my questions.

I had plenty of unanswered subjects to dialogue about and he seemed excited and willing to help. He’d answer the questions he could, or refer me to portions of the Scriptures that explained the topic. When he was stumped, he’d say, “I don’t know, but I’ll try to find an answer.”  During prayers, we’d pray for each other, for friends of mine who were still in the city, for missionaries, places of need, and for lots of things.

With seminary housing being compact, I slept on the living room couch. This was an obvious adjustment for the family but they handled it well. I guess there’s no convenient time to have somebody become a Christian that you’ve been working with and praying for.

Kent took me with him to a few seminary classes and other recreational activities at school. Also to church and out to the streets, parks, and beaches surrounding San Francisco.  He was outgoing and seemed to find it easy to start up conversations with people who were total strangers.  He’d begin by discussing general or spiritual things and by asking questions to stimulate dialogue about beliefs and philosophies. Before long, Jesus Christ was at the center of the conversation.  This approach was effective and impressive, and he seemed able to do it so effortlessly.

I’d usually listen, because I was on a steep spiritual learning curve and unable to find or remember Bible subjects like Kent could.  It was interesting, especially if we were talking with someone who was really seeking “God.” My understanding was growing by listening. One realization that struck me was the majority of people we talked to were confused about spiritual things.  Most had a smattering of religious exposure, but not enough to be sure what they believed.

SF city view
Visiting My Krishna Friend Wayne

Kent and I went back to the streets of San Francisco, and I hooked up with a number of my old friends. My Krishna buddy Wayne continued with the temple, and he was nervous talking to me, because everyone who lived or worshipped at the temple had been warned by Swami Bhaktivedanta about Christians since I’d become a follower of Jesus.  Bibles were banned from the temple, and the swami urged everyone but fund raisers to shave their heads. They were allowed to leave a small pony tail in the center of the back of the head called a ‘Sikha.’ These changes were employed to solidify devotee commitment to Krishna and the movement and to close the door to Christian or any other religious influence other than Krishna Consciousness.

I asked Wayne to take a short walk down Fredrick Street with me to get us out of direct view of others who were hanging around the temple.  He was dressed in the traditional light orange wrapped temple garb and said we could only visit for a short time.  I shared with him about Jesus Christ’s provision of forgiveness and acceptance based on his work of dying on the cross to pay the debt for our sin. I did my best to present and explain this awesome truth about God’s gift to us, one we can’t earn or attain to through self-denial, good deeds, or the strictest of disciplines.  I urged him to consider looking into what I’d found, saying, “We can go directly to God through Jesus Christ, because He provides the way to contact God!”

I knew Wayne was trying to understand, but something was blocking his concentration which was visible in his facial expression and eyes. We had some history and a friendship together, and I sensed he was trying to pay attention to honor this. At the same time he was taking a risk of being reprimanded for even talking to me.

  Front of Krishna Temple in SF 

Wayne had joined the Krishna Temple before me, but we’d both been initiated at the same time by Swami.  I knew he had doubts about the temple Jaggarnaut statues – because we’d talked about it in the past. But I didn’t know what might have happened at the temple since we’d seen each other last.  Had he put these doubts out of his mind?  I knew with certainty that the Temple rules had been tightened and my conversion to Jesus Christ had caused a stir. 

As I shared, Wayne gradually drifted in and out from listening, to nervously fingering his prayer beads in the pouch on his waist, praying his “mantra” under his breath. I continued anyway hoping something would get through.  “God confirmed the work and words of Jesus Christ by raising Him from the dead. And Jesus helps His followers to know these things are true by putting the Holy Spirit inside us.”

Standing near Wayne, I saw his eyes were glazed, and his face grew pale. I suddenly realized he wasn’t listening any longer; his look was distant, as if miles away. When he refocused there was sadness in his eyes and I realized our close friendship was being separated by two distinctively different belief systems.  

He’d chosen Swami Baktivedanta and was unknowingly turning away from the God of Truth and Spirit.  No words were used.  We knew what was happening.  We hugged and looked at each other one last time before he turned and walked back down Frederick St. to the temple.  Standing there and watching him disappear into the Krishna Temple hurt at the core of my being.   I had not been able to get through the Krishna mind-set of indoctrination. The intensity of the spiritual battle that was being fought over the souls of men became more evident through this short visit with Wayne.   

I saw Swami A.C. Baktivedanta twice after I left the Krishna Consciousness movement. The first time we spoke was following a ‘Kirtan worship service’ at the temple.  I shared with him briefly how I had experienced forgiveness in God through Jesus Christ, and how God’s Spirit had visited me. He called me by my Hindu name saying, “I’m sorry you have chosen a lesser path,” and motioned with his hand saying, “That’s enough!” The second time was from a distance when he was speaking at an event at Golden Gate Park. After my exodus from the temple, things had changed drastically for devotees.  It appeared they’d become more radical for Krishna than ever – and closed to any outside input.  

Haight Street sign

I remained very concerned for Wayne and others I knew at the temple - also for other friends and acquaintances I’d known, or lived with prior to hooking up with the temple.  Kent and I visited a number of them, but none of them seemed very open to Jesus.  Most of the SF ‘Haight Ashbury District’ population was open to a variety of drugs, free expressions of sex, and psychedelic music.  On the flip-side, the majority of Hippies resisted anything they perceived to be of the system.   Christianity represented organized religion and was an oppressive reminder to some of their childhood memories and forced religious legalism they wanted to shake off.   The Christian religion was equal to the ‘The System.’  This was a barrier we’d have to find a way around.    


TO BE CONTINUED

David Hoyt

 

Dave Hoyt and his wife Ginny reside in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He grew up a troubled teen in Los Angeles. In 1966 he moved to San Francisco’s ‘Haight District’ seeking truth and God. Reaching a crisis of belief in Eastern Religions – he turned to prayer and came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. He went on to be an early participant in the Jesus People Movement in the USA and Europe. He continues as a follower of Jesus Christ.

 

Read previous articles in David Hoyt's "Jesus Revolution" Series:

Part 1: Jesus People Days

Part 2: A Cry Rushed Upward to a Place Called Heaven

Part 3: Ripe for Change and Heart Revolution

Part 4: Recollections of My Search for Truth

Part 5: My Search - A Prelude to Finding God

Part 6: A Search for God Unraveling

Part 7: An Appointment with God

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Last Update: 2017-07-24 18:56