EVJ banner
"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 the beach

Episode One

THE SF BAY AREA

JESUS PEOPLE
MOVEMENT

 Only One Way to Heaven!

This message sparked interest, anger, confrontation and intense discussion when presented to those of the universal religious persuasion, or those with zero beliefs in absolutes. Our message was not new – but was the heart and soul of the Bible’s New Testament; one great shepherd, one savior, one door, one gate, one salvation and one means of forgiveness – God’s gift of His Son, Jesus Christ!

When Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth  and the life and no person comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6), we were 100% convinced this was the truth. We’d experienced the witness of the Holy Spirit confirming this amazing truth in our hearts, minds, and spirit.

We were now followers of Jesus. Until our conversion most of us had been aimless and searching, without a clear purpose – but now we had something of value to live for and spend our life’s energy on. Without formal training or education we were given a job and mission – to carry the incredible message of Jesus Christ to our world. We were an unlikely bunch similar to Jesus’ early disciples, but on the plus side, we were ready to go, to follow, and to obey. We were not attached to material things, didn’t own much, were ready to travel and had been given something to do.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:19-20  NASB)

We were the new unconventional Jesus Freaks – standing up and making our presence known for Jesus! We offered an alternative to the get-high, forget-about-it, mystical drug trips of the day, counterfeit religions, the status quo of society, and a church that had retreated to the safety of worship buildings and were for the most part not visible among the many pockets of need on USA streets.  

We were not timid or ashamed of the name of Jesus!  We represented a revival of ‘simple faith’ that many church and mission groups had prayed for.  But when we arrived on the scene, most churches didn’t know how to welcome us, were leery of being tainted by our shaggy appearance and unorthodox ways – afraid of what they didn’t understand and couldn’t control. Some Jesus People cut their hair and tried wearing traditional church clothes to be accepted – but it usually backfired. Our calling was not to conformity – but to let the light of Jesus’ powerful, life-changing Gospel shine out to a lost generation.  We would eventually become a witness and spark of inspiration to many churches that had lost their fervency to get the salt out of the salt shaker.

In God’s plan an unleashing of God’s Holy Spirit began occurring simultaneously in different parts of the USA.  Kent and I were back working and witnessing together in the Haight, and we sensed a difference in how the locals were responding with more hunger. Our message had not changed – but unbeknownst to us God was acting supernaturally, bringing forth an awakening.  It was still in its infancy but was soon to spread rapidly.        

The Living Room & House of Acts

On a brisk afternoon I left Haight Street where I’d been engaged for several hours in lively dialogue with a variety of individuals about Jesus. I decided to walk a block north to less congested Page Street to clear my head.  Walking leisurely, I found a newly occupied storefront called the ‘Living Room’ on the south side of the street. The door was locked with no one was present, but I saw a collection of magazines and ‘Good News’ Bibles on some of the end tables. The storefront was decorated in a modest artsy way with old living room furniture, pictures and plants, and a large table in the back with enough seating for eight or ten people. I was intrigued. Kent and I knew about another location in the Haight run by Dick Keys which was like a Teen Challenge Center / Church. They did a good work, but were not geared to street people unless you turned totally straight in appearance. I told Kent about my find and discovered he was aware of this new mission through his ties with Evangelical Concerns and John McDonald of the Mill Valley Baptist Church and others who were helping pay the rent for this mission storefront.

A few days later I popped by again and found the ‘Living Room’ open. I met Rick and Megan Ricketts, Danny Sands, and Lonnie Frisbee, each of whom were linked to a Christian commune called the ‘House of Acts,’ located in Novato, north of San Francisco. They helped with the day-to-day outreach of the Living Room. Danny was a mellow, winsome guy with shoulder length thinning hair, who lived with his wife Sandy in Marin City. Rick had a huge smile, was direct but friendly, and had a bushy afro and beard. His spouse Megan wore a long dress and had a gentle, sweet spirit, and they lived out of a bus he’d converted. Lonnie had an intensity about him and was no-nonsense when it came to telling others about Jesus. He had a beard and long hair – the Jesus type.

Lonnie Frisbee

On this particular day the ladies from the House of Acts had prepared and sent a commercial sized large pot of soup and homemade bread to feed the team and those invited to, or who wandered into the ‘Living Room.’ Coffee and tea were always brewing as well. The Living Room offered a quiet place to get away from the noisy, drug-infested streets. Anyone was welcome, questions about anything were Okay, and visitors often found it hard to resist the truth they were hearing. Free Bibles and literature were available, and conversations seemed to lead naturally to the identity of Jesus Christ and his place in human and eternal history. 

I liked the casual and comfortable feel of the Living Room and the open-dialogue style of connecting with seekers who came by to check out what the place was about, or just pop in for food and a warm place to be. This ministry became a significant encouragement to a number of us who often felt alone witnessing on the streets. Getting to know the House of Acts team and having a place to bring or refer interested people on the west side of the Haight near Golden Gate Park was an answer to prayer. I still worked and lived out of Anchor Rescue Mission, but it was a mile and a half away from the Haight in the Fillmore – and not a safe neighborhood.

Ted & Liz Wise

I visited the House of Acts on a number of occasions and became friends with Ted and Liz Wise. Ted had bushy hair and a long mustache and was the jovial type with a nice laugh and friendly demeanor. Ted was gifted in leading Bible discussions, allowing ample room for dialogue. He had a keen wit and depth of understanding and exercised the ability to gracefully bring the conversation back to center on the person of the Lord Jesus Christ from some wild side-tracks. Ted was also an artist, dabbling in a variety of art forms. The graphic to the right is one of his from the early days. On one of my visits, Ted told me he was friends with Pastor John McDonald of the Mill Valley Baptist Church, who had helped reach out to him and his wife Liz. Liz had brown, long hair and seemed like she had slipped right out of the pages of the Bible with her gentle and graceful manner.

Others who lived at the ‘House of Acts’ were Jim and Judy Doop, Steve and Sandi Heefner, Lonnie Frisbee, and several single women. One of the single ladies I eventually married – which gave me reason to frequent the Novato’s House of Acts whenever possible. Lonnie mentioned that his girlfriend Connie also stayed at the House of Acts when visiting from Southern California, and we eventually met.

Creative Outreach
Design of circle and cross

Creative replication and risks were part of our outreach strategy. When I first came to the Haight in 1966 I stumbled on a free concert in Golden Gate Park where the ‘Steve Millers Blues Band’ played from the back of a flat-bed truck. Fast forward a couple of years, and Kent and I, along with a group of novice Christian musicians, attempted the same thing. We secured a permit, handed out flyers, and set up on a large flat bed truck near an expanse of lawn used for concerts on the north side of Golden Gate Park. We were less than ‘professional’ on guitar, bass, and drums, and our sound system was inferior to the quality of the bigger bands – but we gave it a go!

That day I remember playing and singing one of the first Christian outreach tunes written by Don Matthews in early 1968. Don was one of the early converts from Lancaster, CA, a part of the Way Inn Ranch. The song was ‘One Day Came’ and the lyrics were:

1. One day came – when I looked around – said to myself
Where is love – that is to be found – from anyone else I realized – the false disguise – that there is none wise
Our hope it lies – in – Jesus Christ
A truthful Word - in a sinful life
Pull away from the darkness and strife!

2.   Fear not child – The Lord has said – I’m not dead
Hunger friend – for righteousness – and you’ll be fed
Bring your life – and lay it before –  the Son of God
Don’t deny – the need inside
In your hard heart – His love can abide – He’ll break down the stones!

Dave Hoyt with guitar

Bridge: Everybody says – what can you do /
Everybody’s wondering – where is there Truth
Everybody’s looking – where is there love
You’ll only find this – This from above!

3.  Lord, O Lord – I know You hear my plea – I bring it to Thee Your will not mine – let my light shine – like Yours that’s divine
Soul and mind – Holy Spirit – guide through all of time
Let me live—in the light of day / Singin’ praises to Your Name
With patience waiting for that blessed day / When He comes - Jesus the Son
When He comes –– Jesus the Son – In that Name I adore.      

As we’d hoped a few of those who came to see and hear what was going on in the Park – hung around and engaged in dialogue about issues of faith and God. We weren’t anticipating huge numbers, but believed God to bring those who were hungry for truth.  There might have been fifty or seventy five people who drifted into ear-shot of this concert and that was Ok.  We were sowing the seeds of God’s truth and life in Jesus Christ and all was good in heaven and earth on a beautiful day in Golden Gate Park. 

Kent Philpott with guitar

This outing was a preface to many creative ventures to come and the writing of many outreach songs and new songs of faith for believers.  God was freely pouring out spiritual gifts to match what we encountered and the need! 

Kent was beginning to look more like he belonged on the streets, while I and others were trying desperately to get up to speed on understanding the truths revealed in the Bible and to gain the ability to communicate the message of Jesus Christ clearly.

THE SUNNY-SIDE

It was a warm, sunny morning in San Francisco, when I jumped off the bus and walked up the hill to the small independent Pentecostal church I attended. My heart felt clean, and I knew I was a new person because of Jesus Christ. With a Bible held firmly in my hand I could hardly wait to be in the company of fellow Christians and sense the love and freedom we shared together that crossed racial and economic lines. My feet felt light, and I was full of excitement and anticipation of worship, to learn more about God's amazing love and Word! The church was comprised of mostly African-American believers with a smattering of other nationalities. There was something very special about how I felt among these brothers and sisters in Christ – a sense of acceptance and love that was very different from my past.

Since becoming a Christian I'd had the opportunity to visit a variety of churches. Doing so had broadened my perspective of the Body of Christ – Black, Latino, all-White, Greek, Asian, and racially-mixed churches. Some churches I visited were conservative, traditional, quiet, and reverent; others were energetic and lively – each with a unique style.

Bell Tower

I was gradually beginning to understand the value of having a ‘home church’ where I was accepted. It also took the work out of deciding where to take part in worship. Getting to know other Christians on a deeper level and developing new friendships felt good. Small group Bible studies and prayer gatherings were a part of this experience. The key was finding a church or ministry that was centered on God, Jesus Christ His Son, and the Holy Spirit, and on a right dividing of the Word of God. When this was the focus, I always got fed and inspired to live closer to God, and I could sense my faith growing. I also needed teaching that was balanced and practical to everyday life.

The awkward side of being a new Christian was knowing how to distinguish between what was of Christ and what was ‘religion’ that didn't free you but squeezed the life of Jesus out by requiring outward conformity to human  rules. Kent told me that this was the Pharisee’s emphasis in Jesus’ day – zeroing in on outward appearance and conforming policies for those of the Jewish faith, so much so that they lost sight of what God’s heart was for his people. The parable of the ‘Good Samaritan’ (Luke 10:25-37) and Jesus’ fierce condemnation of legalism in Matthew chapter 23 helped me understand this truth.

I came to understand that human nature pokes itself into the church as much as any place else and sometimes with more intensity. We saw the same thing in our young ministries. Humans are prone to elevate leaders beyond what God intended. The same was true of special doctrines, traditions, and denominational loyalties that often superseded the Word of God or to whom our first and paramount loyalty and dependence should be – The Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and The Holy Spirit. 

As our numbers grew we found an increasingly small number of churches to which we could bring new Christians, where they would be welcomed “as is” – and where they taught the truth without extra religious trappings. This left us vulnerable in a variety of ways which would show up in the days ahead.

YOUNG AND DUMB

With my girlfriend living at the ‘House of Acts’ in Novato, and my residence at Anchor Rescue Mission in the city, it was difficult to connect. She eventually agreed to move to the city and found lodging with a couple I knew who restored violins. She babysat in exchange for room and board, while I continued working at the mission. We were young and immature; both of us had been runaways, experimented with drugs, and rebelled against authority. She wanted to go slow – I, on the other hand, was battling lust and wanted to move forward.

As time passed, we finally concluded we were as ready as we’d ever be. Despite her parent's refusal to come to our wedding, our lack of funds and belongings, and no substantial means of earning a reasonable living – we got married. Shortly, we were both reverting to our old ways of handling problems. She was a mixture of sweetness and fire and I had a similar personality – ranging from mellow to intense anger.

Anchor Rescue Mission in the Fillmore District was a less than desirable place for us to live. We felt isolated because of the dangerous neighborhood that limited our outdoor movements. Fortunately, we found a home to rent in Marin County, moved in, and were happy there. Living on B Street in San Rafael was just what we needed. During this time we enjoyed going to Stinson Beach, taking leisurely walks in a safe setting, or visiting her sister who was always fun, as she had a contagious laugh.

A  WAVE  OF  GOD’S  SPIRIT

The ‘Living Room’ ministry continued to reach street people, and Kent and I began brain-storming ideas to provide follow-up for those who were responding to Jesus and receiving Him as Lord through our witnessing endeavors and contacts.

ZION’S  INN  FOR GIRLS
Girls at Zion's Inn

Spiritually speaking, we were in the midst of a move of God's Spirit. The solution we decided on was similar to ‘The Way Inn’ and ‘House of Acts’ – to start more ‘discipleship houses.’ Kent and spouse began looking for a spacious home to provide housing for the growing number of single women who were coming to faith in Jesus. They located a two story home in the center of San Rafael at 128 Greenfield Ave. This would become ‘Zion’s Inn for Girls.’

Kent invited us to join him in establishing this ministry, and we did for a season. At the time, we didn’t know that my wife was in the early stages of pregnancy. Sandwiched in a small room with poor lighting with a bunk-bed dorm room for girls outside our door nudged us to begin looking for quieter living accommodations.  

SOUL INN
Kent’s Recollections

“Lincoln Park Baptist Church located at 4031 Balboa St. San Francisco CA was a store front church – pastored by Al Gossett. Dr. Francis Dubose, professor of Missions and Evangelism at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, was a member and invited me to be part of the congregation after graduating seminary.

I carefully considered the offer and decided to join the church. Dr. DuBose was a friend and had a significant role in supporting and encouraging me in my street ministry in the Haight. In time, as ‘street ministry’ needs continued to increase, I convinced the tiny congregation to host a Christian house / commune within its facilities. We refitted three small Sunday school rooms with bunk beds, pillows, blankets, and other items donated by the Salvation Army.

Opening Night

As the opening of Soul Inn neared there was excitement as we mounted a sign on the outside of the building identifying this new phase of ministry. David Hoyt had helped pick out a name and painted the sign we mounted. For days I visited the Haight Defense Committee who had set up a table on the corner of Haight and Masonic providing information about housing, medical attention, food, and emergency services. At last ‘Soul Inn’ was ready! On a rainy afternoon I proudly announced to the Haight Defense rep that Soul Inn was open to assist those in need.

Soul Inn men
A Food Multiplication Miracle

That evening, Paul Finn, Dave Palma, and I had just finished eating a quart can of pork and beans, leaving about an inch in the bottom of the pot. We were sitting around a 4' by 8' sheet of plywood, propped up by four metal folding chairs, when the front door of the Lincoln Park Baptist Church was flung open – and in walked 26 wet, tired, and hungry hippies. They had walked several miles, all the way from the Haight-Ashbury, and there they were – our first guests.

We invited them to have a seat in the ‘sanctuary,’ showed them where the single bathroom was, and disappeared back to the small make-shift kitchen in an adjoining room. We were numb with the unexpected number and seemed to shift into autopilot. Paul, David, and I started dipping into the small amount of pork and beans and filling up paper bowls. I ladled, Paul held the bowls, and Dave brought them out to our guests, two at a time. We knew what was occurring but never said a word to each other – just kept on serving the food. If we’d thought about it, we probably would have said, “Sorry, we have no food.” Instead, we marched to the kitchen, forgetting to pray, dipped into a pot with only one inch of pork and beans, and a miracle of food multiplication began. 

Paul and David were each from different parts of New York. After some time, they both went home and started Christian houses themselves. Paul phoned me about six years ago in 2006 and asked if I had received a CD he had sent on the ‘Names of God.’ After a bit of conversation I asked him, “Paul, do you remember what happened the night we opened Soul Inn?” (I didn’t want to alert him that I was curious if he remembered the miracle.)

Right away Paul said, “Oh yea, wasn't that something!”

Miracles are mysterious – easy to doubt. This one was so incredible and unusual that it did not seem possible to have happened, but it had. I never saw this type of miracle duplicated again, though I did see a continual run of the miraculous throughout the duration of the Jesus Movement.

– Kent Philpott

BERACHAH  HOUSE

We opened a discipleship house for guys called ‘Berachah House,’ under the leadership of Paul Bryant, in San Anselmo, not far from Zion’s Inn. The two houses were close enough in proximity for joint meetings. With these start-ups, we were gaining momentum, and new believers joined us daily.

early members of Berachah HouseBerachah outreach growth guys

 

 

 

 

While attending a teaching event in Oakland, my spouse and I met a Christian couple attending seminary in Berkeley who offered us the use of their flat for a few weeks. This gave us our first taste of life in the East Bay area, and we liked it. Providentially, someone told us about a small home in Walnut Creek, which we then rented. The rent was a pittance, and I agreed to do work on the home in exchange for a further rent reduction. At last, a peaceful home setting to prepare for the birth of our first child. This move was just what we needed – more family time, less crowded living conditions, and a sense of peace. We visited a nearby, strong Bible-centered Presbyterian church and made new friends there. When the delivery date arrived, we hurried to a hospital in San Francisco where our first daughter was born. 

Another Krishna Devotee is Converted to Jesus

There was lots going on in the way of outreach, and my new focus was Walnut Creek and Berkeley. While talking to people about Christ on the streets of Berkeley, I decided to visit the new Krishna Temple I'd heard about. I attended one of their worship services, and like Kent, sat through it – cringing in my spirit at the idol worship. Afterwards I engaged in conversation with a number of devotees, until someone in charge forced me to leave. He'd recognized me from the San Francisco Temple days and overheard me sharing about Jesus Christ. One of the devotees followed me outside to hear more, being intrigued by the unfriendly and hostile response of his leader. This young man was living in the temple, much the same as I'd been several years back, and he wanted to hear my story and why I left. I shared what led up to my Jesus encounter in the temple and how I was flooded with the presence of Jesus Christ. He asked me to help him do the same, and we prayed on the spot. Gathering up his few belongings from the temple to leave caused no small scene. The temple leader/commander followed us out – threatening and cursing damnation on us.  This response helped my new brother in Christ make a clean break with the Krishna Movement.

HOME FOR HIS GLORY

That evening our Walnut Creek home got its first live-in guest straight out of a Krishna Temple. Our home was very small, but we made due temporarily – we thought. Gradually, other new converts and friends came to live with us. Some came by way of our street outreach in Berkeley and Oakland, others migrated from Marin County because of roots in the East Bay, and some came because of their personal connection with us. In a short period of time our small private home became Home For His Glory.

To adjust to our growing numbers, our landlord helped me lay a tongue-and-grove wood floor in the attic of the home – a new sleeping quarters for men. This man was a committed recycler and hoarder and owned a number of rental properties. If they weren’t rented, they were filled with building materials he’d acquired at auctions. He was so frugal that we reused old nails removed from other properties, hammering them straight again to lay the floor in the attic.

Description: Upper Streams new crop sm.jpg
UPPER STREAMS

Fortunately this landlord liked me and agreed to rent to us a second, much larger home a few blocks away, so my wife and I could live in less-congested home. We named this second home Upper Streams. It had an expansive living room, perfect for group meetings and outreach. The presence of God’s Spirit was strong at Upper Streams. In the early days, we'd throw a party on a Friday or Saturday evening and go out to the streets and strips, inviting whoever wanted to check us out at Upper Streams. It wasn’t unusual for fifty to seventy teens/young adults to be crammed into our home and living room. We’d have plenty of refreshments on hand, contemporary music playing in the background, and every half-hour or so have someone stand up and share why they believed in Jesus, then sing a song or read a portion of the Bible – and God did the rest.

Sometimes God’s presence was so thick our team couldn’t speak, yet people would still come to Jesus Christ – crying, praying for forgiveness, and asking God for help. On a regular basis visitors who had no faith in God would tell us that as they approached they felt or saw the presence of God around this non-descript ranch home. What did they see? I never saw anything. With or without us, we were in the midst of an awakening that God was initiating. Some of the new converts would spread the word to all of their friends, and an avalanche of new Christians would be swept into the Kingdom of God.

Becoming a Christian was the first step – but continuing in the faith when temptations, doubts, and problems arose was something each of us was learning to apply. The solution was relatively simple but hard to practice: personal prayer time, study of the Bible, group study, and worship. The other ingredient was carrying the incredible message of Jesus to those who were in the world, without hope, and without God (Ephesians 2:12). I later learned that the ingredient of ‘going out’ was what the organized church had let slip into their history by lack of use, fear, or complacency.

Worship in song, prayer and Bible Study was what kept ‘Jesus People’ on track. Every Christian house I knew of in the Bay Area had this in common. In addition, anyone was welcome regardless of color, hair length, clothes, or status in society.  New worship songs were being written and introduced regularly.  A typical gathering would be Bible-centered, with time for personal sharing and questions. We’d usually read a chapter or portion of scripture, discuss what we read, ask questions, shared insights and talk about how to apply what we were learning. The goal of application was usually beyond our ability to practice fully. All gatherings included open times of prayer.  We understood clearly – we were sinners being transformed by God through Jesus Christ – as we continued to yield to the Holy Spirit and present ourselves before Him.

Description: List of UYM Participants sm.jpg
United Youth Ministries

As growth came we formed United Youth Ministries which encompassed some of the Bay Area Christian houses and ministries. This was a testimony to how many of the early Jesus People SF Bay Area leaders were linked relationally, or became so by non-competitive interaction and cooperative outreach. United Youth Ministries was an attempt to link us organizationally, but it lacked cohesiveness as rapid growth continued. Each ministry was working hard to keep up with needs and expansion – sometimes overwhelmed. The unspoken agreement was to stay in touch as often as possible and get together for joint events when able. 

At the same time, new Christian ministries were springing up with their own unique vision locally and throughout the USA. It was exciting to see what God would do next.

To Be Continued

Dave 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

Part 12: Back in the City - San Francisco

Bookmark and Share

Last Update: 2017-07-24 18:57