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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 at the beach

Back in the City –
San Francisco

It was late July of 1968, and my spiritual ties to San Francisco brought me back to the streets where I’d first encountered Jesus. It felt good to be back in the city, and I was excited to reconnect with Kent, Sisters Yvonne and Drayton from the Anchor Rescue Mission, and other friends and meet new brothers and sisters who had turned to God in prayer and received Jesus as Lord. 

Having experienced Lancaster, I was confident in God’s ability to do the impossible and lead me by His Spirit.  Balancing this, I felt humbled and introspective about how my marriage engagement had failed. 

Kent filled me in on his witnessing outings and new relationships he was developing with residents and street people in the Haight. We were both excited about this, because the Haight was continuing to become bleaker for street people.  The fading glory of ‘Flower-Power’ did not stop people from continuing to migrate to SF – not knowing what awaited them. With the popularity of the area, inflated rent prices followed – making it difficult for newcomers to find affordable lodging.

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Being sold bad drugs, running out of money, being ripped off, robbed, or taken advantage of was a reality many street kids were encountering.  Hope and anticipation of the goodness of fellow humans – especially hippies, was often replaced with a nightmare experience.  In desperation some became drug-dealers, made things to sell on the street, became somebody’s love slave – or simply begged for survival money.    

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Ma & Pa Davis Visit

Ma and Pa Davis were an amazing African American couple in their mid-seventies who adopted and loved on me when I’d first moved to San Francisco in 1966.  Both were short in stature. Pa Davis was slight in frame and Ma Davis was stout – with a double portion of love to go around.  Pa Davis took care of the boiler room in the apartment building where I had lived, and Ma Davis did maid services nearby. The Davises lived in a small, one-bedroom, basement apartment next to the boiler room, with a rent reduction in exchange for maintenance work that Pa Davis did for the Landlord.  Neither Davis drove, and they were poor as dirt, yet never ceased to amaze me how they’d plan ahead and share meals with me out of their poverty.  They knew my room was without a stove or refrigerator and they wanted to share. Their belongings wouldn’t fill a pick-up truck – but in spite of their low-income and physical problems, they were genuinely thankful – always praising Jesus!

A wave of thankfulness came over me as I thought of them.  Before each meal they’d bow their heads and pray in gratitude for everything they had and for Jesus’ power and love to be known in the world. I had attended their church for worship and a potluck and had liked it, but my interest was in world religions other than Christianity.  When I’d left San Fran for Bible College I missed connecting with them. Now, back in the city, I was eager to see them – so I jumped on a bus and headed down to the Filmore.    

When I entered the old stone building memories flooded back – about where my thinking was when I used to live here.  I’d been searching without any clear direction – trying to find God on my own.  But things were different now – I was convinced Jesus was Lord!  Inside the building I took two short flights of stairs down to the Davis’ apartment door – and knocked firmly.

“Who is it?” Ma Davis called out.

“David who used to live upstairs,” I spoke loudly.

“Oh, my Lord!” she exclaimed as the door swung open and she welcomed me with a big hug and kiss. Pa Davis got up from their small table – moving less steady and shuffled over to grab me – holding on with a long bear-hug squeeze.

“So good to see you, my boy!” he whispered with a sigh of relief, “And that you’re okay.” 

“Come on in honey – we’re just so glad to see you!”  Ma Davis piped in.

Not able to hold it in, I said, “Guess what happened to me?”  

“Come on now boy, tell us! We want to hear everything!” Ma Davis blurted out.

“Okay!” I said with excitement.  “I’ve received Jesus Christ into my life!”

“Oh my, oh my, oh my, Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Oh, David – this is such wonderful news!” Ma Davis gleefully exclaimed. 

“Praise You Sweet Jesus, Praise the wonderful Name of the Lord!” – Pa Davis added.

“This is such wonderful news and we’re so happy for you!  So glad that Jesus saved you! Come sit down and tell us all about what happened,” Ma Davis went on.  By now she was beaming from ear to ear. 

They were so happy that it made me feel good.  Gathering herself, Ma Davis sat down saying, “We’re gonna have a good ole visit – now come on David, come over here and sit down.” As I was sitting down Ma Davis leaned toward me and chuckled, “We’re going to celebrate and you’re gonna tell us all about how Jesus saved you. Now, what can I get you to drink?  We want you to stay for lunch!  Oh, David, this is the best news!”

“I’ll have whatever your having to drink.”

“ You’re just not picky enough,” Pa Davis said grinning. 

“We gots to fatten you up a bit – and get some meat on your bones. But first, tell us how you found Jesus.”

“Well, when I thought of you and others who had shown the love of Jesus to me – it kept my heart open.  It was strange, I actually felt like people were praying for me like my Grandma had – Christians I’d met during my search for God. The Hindu temple I joined began looking like a dead-end for many reasons. Wooden idol worship bothered me the most. When my doubts were coming to a head, God sent two young pastors to teach me what the Bible said about false gods and prophets.

“Hearing what they said made me angry, at first.  Considering the possibility of being deceived was a hard pill to swallow – but it pushed me into earnest prayer. I prayed for God to show me the truth. Was Jesus the Son of God? Was He the true Messiah?  

“The war that was going on inside me was really between God and counterfeit religious spirits.  One of the pastors said, ‘Keep calling out to God and ask Him to show you if Jesus Christ is the true door to finding Him.’ This pastor was Chinese. He told me many things that cut to my heart – leaving more questions than answers. The battle in my heart and mind was confusing and frustrating.  In desperation I prayed harder.  One night before going to sleep I saw things that only God could show me about spiritual masters I’d admired – and about myself. 

“The words of the Chinese pastor kept echoing in my mind: ‘Stop chanting your mantra and call out to the True and Living God, and He will show you the truth.  He will show you that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and you will know for yourself!’   

“As this was going on, I had a simple realization: ‘Only God has the power to forgive human sin.’  The more I thought about this the more convinced I became that Jesus Christ’s identity was critical. If He was and is God’s Son, a part of God, sent by God – I would follow him. 

“Then, one morning in the middle of a worship service at the Krisha Temple, God visited me.  There was a small fire in the basement that put everyone into a panic. In the middle of this confusion I heard a voice say, ‘Call on me now! Call on me now!’ I whispered a short prayer – and immediately God’s spirit flooded my body with light. I knew that the spirit of Jesus Christ entered my body and that God was forgiving and cleansing me. In that moment Jesus cast out the evil religious spirits that had held me captive in confusion! It was amazing – suddenly in such a short space of time, God made things so clear.” 

“My, my, Mama – it sounds like he’s got the real thing! He’s truly been saved!  We’re so glad you came back to let us know. Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus!”

“Okay now David,” Ma Davis spoke up, “We want to hear everything!  Including what you’ve been up to since Jesus came into your heart. I’m gonna start putting out fixins for sandwiches.”   

Pa Davis leaned my way and put his hand on top of mine saying, “ David, this is a powerful thing that God has done for you. You’ve seen things lots of people never see!”

With a laugh, Ma Davis said, “Now you know for sure – Jesus is the Son of God! God is good and he’s good all the time!  Praise you Jesus!”

“Now, now, isn’t God great and powerful – His ways are past finding out.  It’s an amazing thing – what God can do in a human heart and spirit.  What happened next?”  Pa Davis queried.

“One of the two pastors who had been speaking to me about Jesus – Pastor Kent – invited me to live with him at Golden Gate Baptist Seminary. He helped get me into reading the Bible and prayer, took me to church, and I was baptized. ”

“That sounds like a fine start that God has given you,” Pa added.  

“Okay”, Ma Davis said, “Let’s pray and give thanks. Thank you Jesus for everything you have provided. All that we have comes from You. Thank You for bringing David to visit us today and for how You powerfully set him free! Praise you Jesus, Praise you God our Father! Bless and nourish us with this food – so we can serve you. In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen!”

Breaking into a little melody, Ma Davis began to hum and then sing, “O happy day, O happy day – when Jesus washed, when Jesus washed, when Jesus washed – washed my sins away, O happy day!”   This song led into a rich time of visiting and catching up – a happy day for the three of us – with Jesus at the center.

Anchor Rescue Mission

Another one of my first stops on returning to the city was Anchor Rescue Mission in the Filmore District – just down the street from the Haight and Golden Gate Park.   I applied for live-in volunteer work at the mission on Kent’s referral, and after a positive interview was accepted. Food and lodging freed me to assist with mission work and continue to do outreach in the Haight with Kent.   

Anchor Rescue Mission

Working at the Mission  was an invaluable experience – leaving an imprint I will never forget.

I’d first become aware of the Anchor Rescue Mission shortly after I moved to San Francisco, back in ’66, going there for a meal when I was hungry and broke.  I’d met the sisters who ran the mission back then and saw them again after receiving Christ. Anchor Rescue Mission was founded and run by two African American Christian women. Their names were Sister Yvonne and Sister Drayton, and their mission was located on Page Street in the worst part of the Filmore District near the crossroads of Haight and McAllister – a dangerous place at night.

Ironically, a few decades earlier this same district had been safe – hosting many up-and-coming musicians and singers like Ella Fitzgerald.  A motto for the area at that time was “Give me your tired, your poor, and your talented.”   With these days gone – it had become a broken down ghetto, much like the Haight a mile or so up the street – a place where alcoholism, gambling, and crime thrived among a predominately African American population.

An unlikely mission for two Christian women, unless God had placed them there – to aid those who’d fallen victim to temptation, addiction, or hard times, due to no fault of their own. Small and large Missions like this exist the world over, because Christians have sensed God calling them to provide tangible, practical help to the down-trodden of our world – while at the same time holding out spiritual hope and the beacon of the Light through God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  This mission was not a state or federally funded institution – but was sustained through prayer, faith, and benevolent gifts given from a wide variety of sources.  

Sister Yvonne was single – a short big-woman, about forty years old with a smile and fresh words of encouragement that would brighten anybody’s day! Sister Drayton was a distinguished woman in her late fifties, always dressed modestly and superbly. She had severe medical issues but never made mention of them at the mission, so I learned of this quietly, through Sister Yvonne. Both had musical gifts. Sister Yvonne played piano and both led music and did special numbers for the mission worship services.  The duo was clear about their role as the prayer, administrative, music, food procurement and preparation arms of the Mission.  In a pinch, both could speak very well – but yielded the pulpit ministry to a rotation of pastors who preached the services at the mission.  In my heart and mind I can still hear them both singing the old hymn, ‘Love Lifted Me.’

I met many dedicated pastors from a variety of church backgrounds who gave of their time to preach the mission’s services before hot meals were provided for all guests.  Praying with the pastors before the services and listening to them preach helped me learn many valuable truths from the Bible. Without exception their sincerity and clear message about Jesus Christ inspired me and often connected with the hearers visiting the mission. 

On a regular basis visitors would respond by opening up to God after years of running in the opposite direction – and the wonderful miracle of salvation would occur. Sister Drayton had done an excellent job screening the gospel speakers who were on this rotation – who consistently gave Christ-honoring messages and an opportunity for anyone to receive God into their life.  Both sisters were committed to making sure every person who entered the doors had an opportunity to hear the “good news of Jesus Christ” and to hear that God’s love and forgiveness  was greater than any of our sins!  

The mission was clean but housed in an old building comprised of two downstairs storefronts.  On entering the mission there were rows of adjoined church chairs with seating for approximately 75 – which was the missions chapel.  At the front was a piano, a pulpit, and a curtain that opened into a prayer room used by the staff and visiting pastors, and behind it a spacious kitchen. The opposite side of the storefront housed freezers and clothing.   

Sisters Yvonne and Drayton practiced deep intercessory prayer for the salvation of the lost, the body of Christ, and the many practical needs of the mission and their home church.  For the most part, they did so in the ‘prayer room’ on their knees – crying out to God.  The frayed carpet revealed knee marks – proof of their focused devotion, love for God, and dependence on Him.  Of all the lessons these gifted women passed on to me – the power of prayer offered in faith was significant. They were steady and serious about carving out time to pray. Jesus was the vine and they were His branches. The only way to bear fruit was to abide in Him!

They taught me that spiritual warfare was real and that Satan and his demons were not a myth. They encountered the dark working of the enemy in many of the lives that entered the door of the mission.  They were accustomed to demons speaking out – and seeing the oppressive grip that the evil one had on the vulnerable of this world. At the same time they never gave in to Satan, but fought his forces through the powerful blood of Jesus Christ. They prayed over the entire mission, asking God to make it holy ground to all who came through the doors of the mission. They prayed for Jesus’ light to shine brightly – causing men and women’s hearts to turn to the Almighty and find new life in Him.  

Anchor Logo

The anchor logo rising from the deep represented God’s power to rescue anyone who calls out to Him.

The cross as part of the anchor represented the hope we find when we place our faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the One who anchors our soul in a relationship with God that is firm and secure! 

In my mind’s eye I can see Sister Yvonne and Sister Drayton, Yvonne playing the piano and Sister Drayton leading the music – their voices filling the chapel with sweet praise and devotion.  Those who frequented the mission were always in for a treat: a meaningful worship experience for those with ears to hear and a hot meal prepared with love. The guests of the mission were the homeless, hippies, alcoholics, vets, drug addicts, and runaways. Foul breath, smelly clothes, and the stench of the streets permeated many of those that shuffled in for respite from the harshness of life and the streets. The contrast of human despair and the grace of God’s love were always present in this little mission. One by one, miracles occurred – prayers were answered and lives were changed.

I learned first-hand how God miraculously provided for this small mission that fed 40-60 people each day. There were days when the staple cupboards and freezers were nearly empty – until the gift of money, food, clothing, or other useful items came just in time. It was similar to the events that took place at the orphanages led by George Müller of Bristol, England. The need and earnest prayer were the prelude to a miracle – as in the feeding of the multitudes in Jesus’ day. Certain days of the week we visited the Farmers Market. It was an eye-opening experience. The sisters prayed for the specific needs and went to the large outdoor produce market and a bakery or two – expecting God to provide. 

They didn’t go to buy or beg, but to receive whatever sellers chose to discard or give out of charity. As they walked the produce line, I could tell that certain growers knew them. With a nod of the head, or a subtle face gesture, it was apparent whether they were able to donate that day. In the course of an hour the mission vehicle was overflowing. “To God be the glory, and God bless you,” the sisters would say as each gift was given. I gradually caught on – God’s provisions were ample to meet the needs of those who truly represented him.

Working at the mission in the Filmore district was not without its problems. Unruly and violent guests were always a problem. At night the streets were full of drug dealers, pimps, alcoholics, violence, and crime. When I stepped off the bus I could count on facing three dangerous blocks before I reached the door to the mission.  I purposely took a back route to avoid the concentration of street activity. A white boy stood out like a marshmallow in a chocolate factory!   

Duo facing off

As careful as I was, a young thief once cornered me at knife-point just as I reached the front door to the mission.  “Give me your money, or I’m gonna stick you!” he blurted out – seeming desperate and nervous.

Looking at him squarely, I said, “I’ve only got change.”  He looked to be in his early twenties –African American. 

He persisted, “Come on man, I’ll stick you if you don’t give me all your money!”

“I work at this mission and everything we do is about Jesus Christ changing lives. I’m a servant of God and the truth is – you shouldn’t be trying to rob anyone!”

He seemed stunned as our eyes locked in a stare – then, he folded his blade and took off down the street. I don’t know what spooked him, but I was relieved and thanked God for His protection!  My adrenalin gradually subsided after getting into the mission with the door locked behind me.  Sisters Yvonne and Drayton were no strangers to these types of attacks, having encountered these types of incidents over the years. It didn’t cause them to waver but seemed to make them stronger, and it didn’t touch their contagious joy.  

Prayer, helping do food prep and kitchen clean-up, organizing donated food and clothing, and providing security for out-of-control guests were my first assignments at the mission. As time passed, Sister Drayton would allow me to share my testimony or preach, if a pastor cancelled and Kent was invited to be part of the pastor rotation at the mission.  

Outings in the Haight were connecting us with lots of people and were beginning to spark interest in the hearts of those with whom we shared Jesus. Both Kent and I were developing relationships and open doors that we could revisit. If individuals were without food, we’d invite them to Anchor Rescue Mission. Street people began to recognize us and see us in a positive way. We were ‘Jesus Freaks’ to them. 

The Haight and those who frequented it were ripe to hear and experience truth – something other than self-appointed messiahs, gurus, or rock gods. Every day in the Haight we were reminded of Satan’s deception cloaking itself as light. At the same time we saw that God’s power through the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit was superior in every way! The battle for the hearts and minds of a lost generation was heating up. 

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 installments 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

Part 8: Launched into a New Life

Part 9: A Steep Learning Curve

Part 10: God - An Incredible Teacher

Part 11: Lancaster - A Desert Call

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Last Update: 2017-07-24 18:57