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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."
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JESUS’ MODEL OF OPENNESS INSPIRES

Followers of Jesus Christ continue to look carefully at his life, ministry and words to rediscover the essence of what being a Christ-follower should be, and look like. What is important to God the Father, His Son - Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit? 

What adjustments are needed to transform us into more authentic and fruit-bearing Christians with the same heart and attitude that Jesus Christ embodied?  Jesus’ practice of openness to individuals, to divine appointments and to meeting real needs was crucial to fruit-bearing. 

Jesus was 100% open to his Father’s lead. While in route to Jericho several events unfold. Reading and studying accounts like these were important to us in our spiritual formation as ‘Jesus People’. The Scriptures gave us a vision!

“Jesus took the twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again (Luke 18:31-33).”

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The disciples didn’t understand, though this was the third time that they’d heard similar words.  Jesus knew the event of his crucifixion drew close.  It was a sobering time – yet he was still about his Father’s business. 

Alongside the dusty road on the outskirts of Jericho sat a blind man begging (for food or money) until he heard the commotion of a group going by. On learning it was Jesus and his disciples he began yelling, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Those who led the way tried to hush the man, but his yelling got louder.  Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him.  Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’  (Would he ask for food or money to sustain him?) 

Lord, I want to see,’ he replied.  Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus – praising God (Luke 18:38-43a).”   

The blind man’s use of “Jesus, Son of David” Luke 18:38 and “Lord” vs. 41 indicates his internal readiness to put his faith into to action when given the opportunity and recognition of Jesus’ role of representing God.

“Jesus went on to the city of Jericho and was passing through it. There was a rich man named Zacchaeus. He was a leader of those who gathered taxes. Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus but he could not because so many people were there and he was a short man. He ran ahead and got up into a sycamore tree to see Him. Jesus was going by that way.

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When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw Zacchaeus. He said,

“Zacchaeus, come down at once. I must stay in your house today.” At once he came down and was glad to have Jesus come to his house. When the people saw it, they began to complain among themselves. They said, “He is going to stay with a man who is known to be a sinner.”

Somewhere in the course of Jesus’ time with Zacchaeus:

Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Lord, see! Half of what I own I will give to poor people. And if I have taken money from anyone in a wrong way, I will pay him back four times as much.” Jesus said to him, “Today, a person has been saved in this house. This man is a Jew also. For the Son of Man came to look for and to save from the punishment of sin those who are lost (Luke 19:1-10 New Life Version).”

Jesus, though facing the most difficult days of his life on earth, was open to his Father’s leading. He was alert, ready and willing when it came to interacting with sinners and those in need. Jesus welcomed opportunities to represent his Father and demonstrate compassion. These two transformation events may have appeared as an interruption to the disciples, but both revealed the largeness of God’s heart and His power to do what was humanly impossible.

Background Information for Reflection

Luke 19:1-10 - Zacchaeus & Jericho: Jericho’s history is well documented in Old Testament times as one of the oldest cities recorded in the Bible.  Excavations date its earliest ruins at about 10,000 years old.  In Joshua’s day it was a fort and outpost with approximately a thousand residents (Joshua Chapter 5-6).

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In New Testament times Jericho was built up by Mark Antony and given to Cleopatra as a token of his affection. When Herod the Great and his son Archelaus assumed oversight of the city, new architecture was added and trees were planted along all the main roads.  It was considered a beautiful city often referred to as the ‘City of Palms’ (known for its Palm and Sycamore trees).  Nearby is a large spring that gives ample water for the residents, livestock and irrigation which is a huge plus for the city.  Jericho was and still is considered an oasis, pleasant throughout the year. 

Jericho was on an important trade route which ran back and forth between Egypt through Israel and up into the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon – and into the Syrian province and Damascus (notable for the area where Saul was converted to Christ) and beyond.  Cities near the Dead Sea area exported salt, sea salt products and healing skin balms.  Trade route buyers and sellers made Jericho another location ideal for taxation by the Roman government. It was Zacchaeus’ job to oversee the operation.  With Jerusalem just 17 miles away, Jericho was also a frequent stop-over city for Jewish pilgrims traveling to and from Jerusalem.   All in all, Zacchaeus had the world by the tail in this prime location.    

Zacchaeus was a Jew by birth, now considered a Publican by his vocation as a tax collector for Rome.  As a chief tax collector he would have others under him and he would be one of the richest people in Jericho.  Chief tax collectors had a reputation of cheating, extortion and exploitation, skimming off the top of other tax collectors – and they were hated for it.  Jesus on the other hand had taught his disciples not to hate tax collectors, or even Samaritans by his example (Matthew 9:11-13).  To Jesus, tax collectors were like everyone else in need of truth and transformation.  The religious of the day, on the other hand, were so steeped in self-righteousness that their eyes, ears and hearts were for the most part closed to the words of the Messiah.  

In Jericho, by the reaction of the crowd in verse 7, Zacchaeus was no exception to the stigma of hate directed toward tax-collectors.  In the minds of those present that day, Zacchaeus was not worthy of Jesus’ company.  In Jewish understanding, it was unheard of, for a Rabbi to pollute himself by staying at or visiting a Publican’s home. The crowds knew Zacchaeus was a cheat, a sinner, having obtained his wealth dishonestly. The Jews considered him a disgraceful traitor, oppressor and crook.  Scornful eyes followed this immoral man who took advantage of the poor and powerless for his own gain.  Zacchaeus’ punishment was public shunning.  He was for the most part, a social outcast.

Zacchaeus would have only a small circle of friends that might include a few minor Roman officials, those in his employ, his family and a few drawn to his wealth.  Hearing Jesus’ words, the crowd’s displeasure turned on Jesus for inviting himself to be the guest of a sinner.  Did they fear that Jesus was going to be corrupted by interacting with this publican?

This backdrop intrigues me.  Jesus did not condone Zacchaeus’ practice or lifestyle, but was open to what His Heavenly Father would do.  Remembering the rich young ruler who turned away, Jesus seized an opportunity to engage a different type of wealthy man known for corruption and greed.  When Jesus entered the perimeter of Zacchaeus’ life, an impromptu miracle occurred that astonished all who saw and heard it – equally powerful as the healing of a well known blind man!

Zacchaeus blurted out, “Lord, see! Half of what I own, I will give to poor people. And if I have taken money from anyone in a wrong way, I will pay him back four times as much.” 

This promise and public proclamation was huge!  Who is willing to give half of what they own to the poor?   And who is willing to pay back four times what they’ve cheated people out of in a sketchy vocation like that of Zacchaeus?

  Zacchaeus’ conscience was obviously quickened – and his heart was changed. This public announcement was not an empty promise, but one he would need to make good on.

No wonder Jesus acknowledged immediately the spirit of God moving on Zacchaeus’ heart, by saying, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too, is a son of Abraham.”

Restitution to the tune of one-half of all one owns and four times repayment to those who have been cheated equaled the playing field for many residents of Jericho.  Can you imagine what impact this had on those barely able to feed their family?  What about Zacchaeus’ fellow tax-collectors, his own household and servants? Jericho’s population at the time was relatively small, ranging from 1,500 to 2,500 depending on travelers frequenting the city.  The ripple effect of salvation coming to the house of one chief Publican and his willingness to give half of all his possessions to the poor and repay all those he’s cheated four-fold was the kind of miracle that touched and affected hundreds of families in this small community. 

We live in a time of blindness and greed – found everywhere.  I’m so thankful Jesus took time to stop twice in his travels around Jericho to encounter a blind man and a greedy personCan you remember what it felt like to be “without hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12b)?”
The blind man might have felt without hope.  The greedy tax collector may have felt gripped by
shame and ridicule to the point of thinking surely God doesn’t want anything to do with me. 

Do We Remember What Being Lost is Like?

Remembering what feeling lost, in despair of life, with heart and soul in anguish and hope in short supply – is of value.  Enduring slavery, torture, ethnic cleansing, terrorism, brutality, senseless violence, abuse, emotional, physical or mental pain can cripple us.  When tragedy strikes unexpectedly we may find ourselves curled in a ball of hopelessness, feeling life is over for us – but a new day may bring rescue, deliverance and a rebirth of hope.  

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If it does, we will be thankful – but never forget what being lost was like. I’ve felt what being lost is like and still remember the feeling.  I like to think about God’s initiative to go where lost people are, his ability to accept them without judgment and engage himself in becoming involved in their lives – no matter how messy or dark their world might be.  Someone once claimed that God leads a very sheltered life, up in heaven where everything is orderly, where there is no mess or pain, sickness, or sorrow. God decided to remind them that his own Son, Jesus endured a cruel, ugly, torture, followed by an excruciating crucifixion with nails piercing his flesh to hold his body in place on a Roman stake.

I don’t think that’s leading a sheltered life!

God chose a number of individuals to reach out to me.  Each had to be open to being his instrument and vessel.  Each took a risk, investing what time they had available.  Each cared in some way, saw something, obeyed God’s voice and were open to what God might do, not knowing for sure what the outcome might be.   I’m convinced that being open to God, giving their time and prayers in faith – is the reason I’m a follower of Jesus Christ today.
                                   
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As a kid growing up in southern California, I loved hiking with a few buddies – especially along the river wash, on remote trails, along hillside crests and checking out tracks and critters we ran across. 

One day, four of us set out on a hike with pack lunches going farther into the foothills leading up into the Angeles National Forest than in the past.  It was late afternoon, we’d woofed down our lunches a few hours back and we were tired – mostly in agreement that we were lost. As nerves set-in, we started ragging on each other about who was responsible for getting us into this mess. 

In the middle of our ‘little argument’, we stumbled on a large ranch home nestled in the middle of nowhere.  We could hardly believe our eyes!  Where did this house come from and was anybody living here?  The structure was white stucco with curved adobe red roof tiles and thick Arborvitae shrubs growing close to the home. There were no fences.  Walking around the property we found a large backyard with a splendid mountain view.  The yard was composed of small rocks and grass.  An orchard behind, a wood picnic bench and some nice flower beds scattered around.  As we were taking in the sights, a middle age woman came out the back door and greeted us. “Well, well, well, what have we here?” she said in a kind voice.

The feeling of relief was similar to escaping a spanking – almost too good to be true.  We quickly explained being lost and she volunteered to drive us back to our neighborhood after getting us some refreshments.  She disappeared into the home and returned a few minutes later with a tray of water glasses, peanut butter, sliced apples and oranges, and a chilled cut up pomegranate.  I can remember sitting on the wood bench with my buddies refreshed by the water and fresh fruit, feeling an incredible sense of peace come over me.  The drastic change from feeling lost, stressed, anxious and fearful to this moment was one of the most memorable inner- world changes in my young life.  A second new experience was eating my first pomegranate sucking the seeds and skin for the sweet and tart combination flavor. 

After finishing our refreshments we piled into her station wagon and she drove us down to Foothill Blvd. and over to Arcadia a few miles to the west.  We quickly figured out what had happened. We’d wandered onto the Monrovia side of the foothills in the Angeles National Forest and gotten lost.  Thankfully, God led us to a kind woman’s home and hospitality, and back down the foothills to safety before dark – and our mysterious host was open to an interruption in her day!  We thanked her from the bottom of our 9 year old hearts and each headed-out to our perspective homes.

Following Jesus’ Lead

I wonder how many of you have similar stories of being lost and rescued.  I hope you’ve had someone extend kindness and take time out of their day to assist you in a time of need.  When this happens it boosts our faith.   Those who practice compassion are God’s instruments whether realizing it or not.  God uses humans but He’s behind these outpourings of mercy. Keep alert and be open as a giver, or possibly a receiverof random deeds of kindness, truth and love!

As Jesus People we were first-receivers of God’s incredible mercy, grace, forgiveness and love.  Then, in short order – the transforming power of Jesus Christ infused us with the desire to make Jesus known and follow God’s lead by extending the same Truth and Mercy we’d received to others. Paul, formerly known as Saul was a persecutor of Jesus’ followers until he encountered God.  In a very short period of time he was preaching the good news of Jesus Christ in Damascus (Acts 9:1-21). 

“But Saul grew more and more powerful. The Jews living in Damascus couldn’t believe what was happening. Saul proved to them that Jesus is the Christ (Acts 9:22 NIRV).”

Saul who became Paul was a somebody, educated, having achieved a place of status in the Jewish religious ranks – but suddenly was reduced to starting over.  Jesus People were starting over too, most without formal education, social status, or pedigrees.  Most of us were not wealthy, powerful, eloquent, or worthy of honor.  We soon learned that a number of Jesus’ first disciples were similar ‘mutts’ and this was encouraging.  As the Scriptures teach:

“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord (I Corinthians 1: 26-31).”

Where did we hail from, and why did we work together so well?

In the Jesus Family in England, we came from different countries. We were each called by God to work sacrificially together for a season of time.  We didn’t always live together in harmony, but we learned to.  Living in community requires sacrifice.  We didn’t always get our way. The close proximity of those around us was not always desirable.  Team members got sick, tired and frustrated. We had to choose to love – by putting the needs of others before our own. We supported one another through mundane work, giving of our time, mutual prayers and serving one another.  Out of respect we waited our turn gracefully (most of the time).  In the insignificant things of daily living we became more considerate, better people, more accustomed to putting our love into action – beyond lip service, by actually practicing the spiritual discipline of servanthood (James 2:14-22).

What role does leadership play in a community missionary endeavor?

Godly leaders lead by example.  When leadership is God-fearing, morally ethical, truthful, visionary, caring, compassionate, heroic, humble, fearless, fair and careful to direct sincere praise and glory to Jesus Christ and God the Father as the author and finisher of our faith – there is an inspiration to follow. When a leader is willing to repent when needed and take responsibility for their sins – credibility increases.  In contrast: immoral, manipulative, exploitive treatment of those under a leader and doctrinal flaws are deal breakers for followers.  Dedication, loyalty, earned respect, devotion; admiration and love grow best under a model of godly character in leadership whether male or female. 

God’s Choice Worked Because . . .

As an anonymous voice said, “We were young and stupid.” We were also available – unattached to material things, creature comforts and the world’s security.  We believed God had something for us to do.  We were willing to present every gift we had to God for his service.  We were willing to learn new things.  We were interested in other cultures.  We were inspired by God’s love and acceptance of us.  We believed with all our heart and soul that the message of Jesus Christ was and is the spiritual solution for any person on this planet – if they hope to reach their full potential and purpose for living both now and for all eternity.

We had a unifying vision to be the feet, hands and voices of God to a generation that might otherwise never have the opportunity to be introduced to The True and Living God, Father, Son – Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  
An unassuming, gifted and gracious brother in Christ from England has compiled what follows – documenting his journey during the Jesus People Days in the UK and beyond.


Trevor Allen writes:

Jesus People, Lonesome Stone and Beyond - Part 1

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“It was January 1973 at the age of 25 that I reached the end of my spiritual trek. The adventure began six years earlier with psychedelic drugs, systems of meditation, dropping-out to travel to India and then off to live in the wilds of Wales. Now back in the South of London I was oblivious that this journey was nearing a climax. I thought I was back in the city to gather some money to travel to Africa – for what I didn’t know.  A part of me reckoned I had life figured out with a hotchpotch, philosophical mixture of religious beliefs. I thought there was some impersonal force behind everything – minus absolutes, with everything being relative. As sure as one can be – there remained a mysterious blank to be filled.

Suddenly, I was arrested by a random thought. Was I a good person, and would the world be any worse off without me? This ran straight-across my relativistic thinking.  Good and bad had not been a part of my paradigm of thought – and suddenly here was a truth I’d been missing.  I acknowledged there was more bad than good in me, which plummeted my emotions and thoughts into a downward mental spin, exacerbated by the stressful circumstances of moving and an uncertain future.  Following this disconcerting internal revelation, for most of a week, I sank to an all time low, fearful, anxious – sensing a spiritual need and void simultaneously.  Mercifully, a measure of peace returned, but my preconceived notions and strengths had been diminished, seeing them for what they were – haughty conclusions!  At last, I was humbled enough to begin to consider more carefully – that a greater truth outside of my brain existed, but had no idea what it was.  My peace was partial, but incomplete.

Walking into the flat shared with friends, I found a hippy-looking publication which I casually picked up and started browsing. I was surprised that it was talking about Jesus. It wasn’t the writing that held my attention, but the name, ‘Jesus’.  I was reminded of all the times in my life when this name had some sort of impact on me. When I had read something, or somebody had spoken about Jesus, or shared experiences – all of which I’d rejected.

I was overwhelmed by these recollections flooding my consciousness one after another. This got my attention.  Then, unexpectedly, I was aware of the presence of God in the room, and I heard Jesus saying calmly and gently, “I have tried to show you so many times that I love you. Why are you running from me?”  

All I could do was fall to my knees and tell Jesus I was sorry – that I wanted him in my life more than anything.  As I said this I was showered with a sense of peace and love.  In that unique moment in time, I knew I was being changed – becoming a new person.  I now belonged to Jesus, although I understood very little apart from the fact that he was God, he loved me and somehow he had died for me.

God can use any means he wants to get through to people. In this case he used a paper produced by The Children of God, whom I didn’t realize at the time, were a cult. I went searching for them in Bromley after this encounter with God.  I had a post office box number on the newspaper, but no other contact details. I looked high and low but found no trace of them. I later realized I’d walked within yards of their door and then turned around; such is the grace of God.

Instead I walked into a Christian bookshop to ask if they knew where I could find them. After a long conversation with the storekeeper, I was made aware of the dubious nature of COG.  As I glanced at the COG paper again, things that were not of God stood out in sharp contrast, even to my newly reborn Christian eyes. This very patient bookshop employee said he knew of a group of Christians who would be able to help me – and allowed me to use the shop phone to contact them. A friendly American voice at the other end invited me to come over and meet a few miles away in Crystal Palace and within an hour I was there sobbing my story out to sympathetic ears.

This group was The Jesus Family, a commune of Jesus people emanating from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.  They had travelled though Europe and were now based in a large house on Beulah Hill, Upper Norwood.  Henry Huang, one of the leaders sat me down and explained that I could stay with them for a few days, to evaluate if we were mutually suited. I thought, “What is he talking about, I’m not going anywhere; I’ve come home” but just agreed.

In spite of a genuine spiritual rebirth – after a day at Beulah Hill, I found myself in the midst of a spiritual battle, under heavy oppression and was ready to pack-it-in and give up.  I told Dave Hoyt and another team member I was going to quit.  After Dave made a long, formidable attempt to dissuade me from doing so (which didn’t convince me) but had me dumb-struck, Dave simply said, “Lets pray.”  He and Dennis Knight laid hands on me and began praying in tongues.  As they were praying, I felt something dark and heavy literally lift from me and in its place something beautiful and fresh pour down and through my body as I was filled with the Holy Spirit. I felt as though I was walking on air and had to actually look down to see if my feet were on the ground. This was an important lesson and reminder that oppression must often be addressed spiritually.  If there is something demonic at work – it may never be solved by intellectual reasoning.

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The Jesus Family at Beulah Hill was comprised of a team of about thirty.  Many of the residents in the community had similar backgrounds to mine. There were a handful of married couples and children, but mostly young singles. Most were American, a few Canadian and the rest were a mix of Swedish, German, Dutch and British.  We were led by Jim Palosaari, a larger than life figure who wouldn’t have looked out of place amongst Old Testament prophets.

I quickly became familiar with the ways of 56 Beulah Hill. Although there was not a strict pattern to our daily routine, it quite often involved prayer meetings before communal breakfast, Bible studies, body meetings presided over by Jim, and we each had assigned chores we were responsible to accomplish.   We usually ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and headed out for street outreaches with our own Jesus newspapers, sometimes locally, sometimes into London’s West End.  We shared a communal dinner and often times had free time in the evenings for fellowship.

Witnessing on the streets was an exciting experience, often resulting in in-depth conversations with people and sometimes with great joy leading them to Christ. Every Sunday afternoon we held a worship service which was often attended by people from the locality and was the forerunner of the house church that would later develop.  We also had contact with local churches and on occasion would visit their services and youth groups with The Jesus Family rock band, The Sheep.  We also conducted local concerts.  On one occasion, The Fairfield Halls, Croydon was hired. In this venue the Sheep were the main attraction.  Siv & Irene and Dave Hoyt played acoustic tunes, Fred Gartner shared his testimony and Jim Palosaari preached the gospel. 

Faith was key to our ministry’s survival. At one pre-breakfast prayer meeting we were informed that our finances were zilch and we had better pray if we wanted breakfast. Before our time of prayer had finished someone came in and said we should thank the Lord for answered prayer as somebody had left a large box of food on our doorstep.  Every event like this strengthened us.

On another occasion, Jim took a group of us on ‘a faith trip’.  Ten of us piled into a mini-bus and headed off with limited finances to see where God would take us and what he would do through us. I reckon Jim had some plans arranged as we stayed at various places along the way without charge and had opportunity to witness and sell papers. We ended up in Edinburgh where walking along Prince’s Street I happened to stop a couple to witness. It turned out to be Jim’s brother and wife who just happened to be visiting at that time. They let us all come and stay in their apartment and this just blew me away. My faith was indeed strengthened, God is good!

Through the Jesus Family outreach and events to be recounted next, many young people were drawn to the group and numbers swelled. It was probably breaking accommodation laws but we were crowded into rooms filled with bunk-beds, one against another. It was far from ideal but the sense of God’s grace on our lives was such that made the circumstances insignificant and everyone just got on and rejoiced in their new lives. Eventually, however, practical steps had to be taken and numbers were thinned down at Beulah Hill with some residents moving to lodging in another large home in Bromley. 

Then, one momentous day Jim called a ‘body meeting’ and  informed a stunned group that we were going to create and perform an evangelistic, multi-media rock musical and furthermore that we would open at the renowned Rainbow Theatre, North London within a couple of month’s time! This seemed like madness. Apart from Jim, who had a background in theatre, the only other member who did was Caroline Green who was in Hair. Some professional people; a director, stage manager and sound and lighting guys were hired. The cost of this was being borne by Mr. Kenneth Frampton, a Christian businessman who was the benefactor supporting The Jesus Family’s move to and subsequent stay in the UK. 

Rehearsals began in a disused theatre in Brixton about five miles down the road. I would drive our painted double-decker bus with the budding cast on board every morning and back again in the evening during some very hot early summer months. The weather was irrelevant as we were shut in to a dark auditorium all day and saw very little of the sunshine. Slowly and painfully it came together. I say slowly, but actually it was amazing how from a few ideas the musical was formed in a couple of months and found a name; Lonesome Stone.

It told the story of a young man seeking some sort of meaning to his life leaving a provincial town and heading for San Francisco at the height of flower power but only found disillusionment and lostness. But his life was turned round and the lives of many others when they met the reality of Jesus Christ. Some of the scenes portrayed were actual experiences of members of the cast so some real life emotion was injected into the performance. To be honest, the show would have benefited by more fine-tuning and polish. The reviews at the Rainbow were mixed and audience’s not as large as we’d hoped but we believed God was with us in this endeavor.  With the seating capacity of the Rainbow Theatre at well over a 1000, it was a bit ambitious for a new continuous running show to think we could fill our performances.  We’d hopefully do better.   

Lonesome Stone Travels North to Manchester

From there the show headed for Manchester and the vast council estate of Wythenshawe.  Here the response couldn’t have been different. Once word got around, we played to a full house nearly every night for four weeks in a 500 seating capacity venue. 

We attracted hundreds of young people, some returning again and again and many surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ. It was a privilege even at the end of an exhausting day to minister to someone and lead them to Christ. Because of the overwhelming numbers becoming Christians it was felt that some should remain in Manchester to follow up. Dave Hoyt and the Christian rock band, The Mighty Flyers, associated with The Jesus Family volunteered to do just that and set up ministry outreach in Manchester.”  – Trevor Allen



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During Lonesome Stone’s month long run at Wythenshawe’s Forum Theatre many of us were excited to be in the Manchester area of England learning and taking-in the new sights and cultural differences of the north.

We’d rented a large two story home in an older part of the city and packed our theatre team into these new digs. It was a fun and adventurous time for most of us. In spite of cramped living conditions we knew we were working with God – doing a good work.

We performed Lonesome Stone at the newly renovated Wythenshawe Forum Theatre, a 500-seat venue in the middle of what for many years was Europe’s largest local authority housing project. The proximity of the venue to this expansive housing population was ideal.  Sure enough, the crowds came and responded enthusiastically!  We were surprised and thankful to witness God’s hand of blessing on our fledgling theatre production and team – and more importantly praised God for the spiritual miracles that were occurring daily in the lives of those who attended the production.

Cast members identified with and got to know a goodly number of those who had received Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.  Unfortunately, our cast digs were across town which limited after hour interaction – but we did manage to start up one Bible study in Wythenshawe.  Though money was tight for many of the locals, individuals would often return to LS again and again to keep up with fellowship and a point of contact with their new-found spiritual family.  The cost for admission was minimal, intentionally lowered to make it more affordable for the large number of teens and lower income families in the community that wanted to come along.

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The neighborhood where we lived was a sight out of the past.  Most of the structures in the neighborhood were built in the early 1900’s.  The bricks and blocks were large bearing visible dark, soot-stains of days gone by when burning coal was the main source of staying warm.  By law, clean coal was now used, mainly for industrial use.  Manchester was an old city going back to Roman occupation. It had now been divided into districts within Manchester proper. Some nearby neighborhoods were under demolition.

The old British home we rented had a few interesting quirks with rooms tucked away in strange places.  Our upstairs bath was one of these.  The girls on our team had to go through a small shared guy’s bedroom that was similar in size to a large closet in size to get to the bathroom and routinely apologized for doing so.  It didn’t matter – we were on a mission ‘following in Jesus’ steps’ making the best of things.  With two bathrooms in the large home where 30 plus lived at any given time – we found that guys were usually quicker in and out of the bath than girls.  A solution was found when we stumbled on an old ‘Victorian Bathhouse’ a few streets away from our digs.

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This discovery met a huge practical need for our cast members – especially the guys.  Earlier in the century, bath –houses had been built to accommodate poorer people – serving as a public bath-house and recreational center with a large swimming pool in the center of the complex. They were built with care and artisan detail. The fees were a pittance – affordable.  I recall paying 20 pence for a hot bath and the use of a huge white towel. This was doable and much appreciated.   

The first floor pool was always in use during my bath house visits.  While bathers washed-away, or soaked in the luxury of a large tub they did so to the sound of swimmers laughing and playing in the water. The top of the Bath Houses had a long glass portion in the ceiling that allowed the facility to be lit by natural light during the day. Some larger bath houses had bath stalls upstairs and down.  Our local bathhouse had 10-12 upper bathe stalls.   

As a special treat we were always on the hunt for some reasonable priced eating venue.  We found one nearby that served a huge plate of noodles, or rice with a conglomeration of beans, onions, vegetables and sometimes a smattering of some type of meat.  It was run by Pakistanis’ who offered this special for 75 pence a plate.  If we were feeling indulgent we’d order some flat-bread to accompany our meal.  I remember feasting with Henry Huang, Dennis Knight and Mike Drahfel at this ‘hole in the wall find’ more than once. A handful of us received a small stipend in appreciation of our work with Deo Gloria Trust.   Most team members were dependent on personal money and an occasional gift of spending money from Deo Gloria Trust.  When we had a little extra in our pockets we were inclined to treat each other to recreational or eating outings.

Irish Fighters

Nearby to our digs was a huge long building that was used as an Irish dancehall and pub on the weekends.  It was large enough to accommodate 300 + people and it was packed every weekend.  On one particular evening, it was late when a city bus let me off near the Irish Club. As I turned a corner heading for my digs I ran into a sizeable fight scene taking place in a paved parking area.   A crowd of about 75 were gathered around placing bets on two fighters.  At first glance I thought of breaking the fight up – but after a few minutes of taking in the situation – I concluded there was something cultural going on.  It was rainy and cold and from the looks of things both fighters had had more than a pint or two. 

Their faces were bloodied – like they’d be at it for at least twenty minutes before I arrived.  The onlookers were blokes and birds – gawking, yelling, betting, and cheering for their mate.  By the looks of things this fight could go on for some time.  Both blokes were landing solid punches to the face and body. Blood was splattering on those pressing in the closest for a better view of the action.  I usually know what to think, but I was uncertain what to conclude, other than, these were two tough blokes – hammering it out in the rain.  Among cultural first’s – this was memorable. At one point I pressed through the crowd to the front to see the fighters up-close, wondering if I should intervene because one fighter had been taking a serious beating.  When I finally got a better view the fighter who’d been losing – had a resurgence of energy and landed a few hard punches.  As the rain picked-up, I decided to head home –processing the fight, a rowdy crowd and two tough Irish dudes bare-fisting it out in the rain.  As I passed the Irish Dance Hall building in the weeks that followed – I could visually see the fight scene in my head.  It was strange how it burned its way into my subconscious.

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David & Barbara Clapham & Family

While in Manchester, David & Barbara Clapham and family extended their kindness and hospitality to me and others from the musical team of Lonesome Stone.  They resided in Woodford, Stockport, Cheshire in a large family home. They owned horses and open pasture land.  The countryside near their home was gorgeous; a great place for country walks which I availed myself of whenever possible.  They had three young adult children named Phillipa, Debbie and Chris.  The Clapham family added a delightful bright-spot of  human connection with the greater Manchester Christian community and countryside living.  They were a host family for me personally and aided the ministry of Deo Gloria Trust in a variety of supportive ways.  David was a respected businessman in the community.

Teamwork in Recording

A number of us were writing new music and a musical camaraderie was established between some of the ‘The Mighty Flyers’ band, Phillipa Clapham and a handful of the musicians from LS.  The Clapham family hosted rehearsals at their home prior to us venturing into recording sessions in a Manchester Recording Studio.  The supportive teamwork was a breath of fresh air for me as the group helped me lay down tracts for a number of songs that would later be remixed at the infamous Strawberry Studios.  This interaction and other joint endeavors with ‘The Mighty Flyers’ and the Clapham family was musically and spiritually encouraging.  Those who helped with these recording sessions were: Nick Stone - lead guitar, Evan Martin – hand drums, Nick Brotherwood – set drums from ‘The Mighty Flyers’, Phillipa Clapham – keyboards, Mike Damrow – bass, Ethal Krauss – flute, Margaret Stiveson, Mary Damrow and Caroline Green – background vocals. 

It’s interesting how the Spirit of God speaks to us individually.  Toward the end of our tour at the Forum Theatre, I felt less inclined to go on with the show to destinations unknown and more committed to the idea of follow-up of the many new believers from the Wythenshawe outreach.  I wasn’t sure what this would look like, but I knew these believers would need nurture and spiritual care.  I mentioned this need to two couples from the Mighty Flyers, Nick and Glenna Stone and Evan & Julie Martin who shared a home in the Manchester area.  They agreed to pray about it, as I was. 

Two Stones – the Passing of the Baton
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While carefully considering this need, I notified Jim Palosaari that I was thinking and praying in this direction.  He affirmed his support of whatever God led me to do – adding his voice of concern for these new believers.  It would have been ideal to have a church family we could refer Wythenshawe adults and teens to where they could be easily assimilated – but this was not the case. Some decisions take forever to be confident about. Not so with transitioning out of Lonesome Stone to provide follow-up for new followers of Christ in Manchester. I decided in the affirmative and let Jim know.

He went to work immediately on securing my replacement.  The plan arrived at was agreeable for all – making for a seamless transition.  The decision was for Rich Hass who played ‘Milwaukee Rich’ in LS, to take on the songs and dialogue and become the new ‘Stone’ with an expanded role.  As Rich was a gifted singer and musician this was a perfect match.  More importantly Rich had a huge heart for serving and evangelism and he excelled in these new responsibilities – doing a great job.  This was a relief to me.  With this solidified, I contacted David Clapham and presented the need for a location to conduct follow-up.

The Old Rectory – Stockport Manchester

A fortnight (two weeks) later, David Clapham called to say we could use an old rectory in the Stockport area.  It was on the docket for demolition in 10-18 months, but in the meantime it was ours to use if we wanted it.  This was exciting.  When I secured a ride to go see the property – I must admit I was taken back.  Everything around the old rectory had been demolished.  It stood there alone, a strange sight on the horizon of grays and empty land around it.     

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There it stood, a lonely reminder from the past that once was surrounded by a thriving community, homes, stores, churches and schools.  The whole of the neighborhood had become redundant – slated to be torn down and all that remained was the old rectory.  I often wondered why they left its removal till last.  Perhaps some historical battle was ongoing over its demise.  As with many areas in greater Manchester – old structures and neighborhoods were making way for the new, with better infrastructure, insulation, more efficient use of space and more economical utilities.

Under each of the chimneys in the old rectory was a tiny fireplace for modest coal burning when the temperatures in winter chilled you to the bone.  I attempted staying warm on many occasions using paraffin and clean coal, but the fire never lasted more than a few hours. I think the old coal – though dirty and sooty burned better and longer.  The old rectory heated water on demand through wall mounted gas ignited small furnaces in the kitchen and bath tub areas.  Sorry, no showers or central heat!  The kitchen oven would be a gas burner as well.  On freezing nights, I’d turn the oven on and open the door for a half hour, to cut the chill, over a cup of hot tea. Some drink a nip of sherry to warm the belly – and it works.     

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My buddy Chris Frampton came up from London several times to visit Manchester and see what we were up to with LS.  As a gifted photographer he enjoyed taking photos of interesting texture, contrast – old England and the transitions that were occurring in society. At a demolition site in the first neighborhood I’d lived in, he captured this shot – very similar to what happened in the Stockport area.

What will the future hold for an old redundant (non-functioning) rectory in Stockport?  Will anyone visit such an isolated dreary looking structure?  Hmm.   And, what about the Lonesome Stone theatrical production and team – where will the Spirit of God take them in the days ahead?  I’m happy to report  we have a variety of writing voices that will weigh-in on this history as it unfolds.  

    A special thanks to Trevor Allen for sharing Part 1 of his story.

To Be Continued


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

Part 13: The SF Bay Area Jesus People Movement - Episode One

Part 14: The SF Bay Area Jesus People Movement - Episode Two

Part 15: Mission in Our Blood

Part 16: Crossroads

Part 17: Our Decision - Their Agenda

Part 18: Over My Head

Part 19: Dark Night of the Soul

Part 20: Spiritual Life Bursting Forth

Part 21: The Origins of a New Christian Multi-Media Theatrical Show

Part 22: The Adventure of Following in Jesus' Steps


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 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.

 

 

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Last Update: 2017-07-24 19:00