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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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Most, who follow in Jesus’ steps, find this dynamic at work. We embrace a mission knowing it belongs to God.  We mentally acknowledge – we are dependent on God’s blessing i.e. strength, wisdom, anointing and divine help.  We fully understand the limitations of human energy and ingenuity but . . .   

Though we know this, our human tendency is to hold onto the reins and reluctantly relinquish our grasp. Much like the little boy – who couldn’t get his hand out of a jar because he was holding onto a cookie he didn’t want to part with.  Straightening his fingers meant he’d have to let go of the cookie.  Through a variety of life circumstances, failures, illness, disasters and life-trauma I’ve been forced to loosen my grasp many times.  I wasn’t always happy about it, but it’s what God wanted.  I’ve been put flat on my back more than once, as God’s means of emphasizing this point.  Around the time I think I’m finally getting this principle down– I grab for the cookie again.  All who represent God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit, need to reapply this truth – it’s God’s show! 

When Jesus explained to the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, suffer many things and be put to death and be raised from the dead on the third day, Peter didn’t understand.  “Peter took him (Jesus) aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you (Matthew 16:22)!”  Considering a violent death for Jesus was unacceptable. Wanting to change the outcome was understandable – but not God’s plan.    

The early church found itself caught-up in the dilemma of how to adjust to Gentile believers and what to require of them. This controversy climaxed in Acts chapter 15 (a good read).  It’s hard for us to wrap our heads around how radical this issue was for Jews at the time.  These early Jewish disciples would get it right. They yielded to God’s authority and accepted God’s decision to reach Gentiles.  The Lord was already using a number of them as Jewish-Christian leaders for this purpose.  So, God is God – who are we to try to control Him?  We occupy territory for the kingdom of heaven –for only a brief divine moment in time (in the expanse of eternity).  We are coworkers with God – called to continue to release the work back into His hands.  The New Covenant that we’ve been included in was initiated and will continue to move forward under God’s sovereign guidance and care.  The Holy Spirit of God is a capable overseer – better than any human leader.

New Territory for the Kingdom

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In the early 1970’s the greater Manchester area had a population of 2,730,000 people.  It’s fair to say the theater production outreach of Lonesome Stone only scratched the surface of reaching this massive population.  But, we were front-and-center and visible in the community, schools, on the streets, in the churches and covered by the media for a full month.

Spiritual discussions were popping up all over greater Manchester. “What do you know or think about this International theater team that claims through drama and song that Jesus Christ is not dead?” 

Questioning and thinking was good. Interest was aroused. “Lets talk about it over tea.”  A new presence in the city – followers of Jesus with a message and availability to share their lives and faith was stirring things up.  I’m convinced this is why God sends us into the world beyond the confines of church walls – to make His presence known (Matthew 28:18-20).  Without the dialogue there is far greater chance of people not thinking about God’s offer.  According to the Scriptures, there is a need, an important responsibility – to make God known (Romans 10:13-15). Someone must go – be the sent ones.  In Manchester, God’s seeds were landing in good soil.

It wasn’t long and new believers were aglow with the presence of Christ – letting their joy and thanks spill out to family, friends, neighbors and anyone who would listen.  By believing in Jesus Christ, there was an unleashing of the supernatural, otherworldly stuff, we call miracles.  There was deliverance from hardness, stubbornness, fear, hatred, bitterness, confusion and bondage vices.  Those who experienced these results, or others close to them, could see the transformation. This wasn’t a magic-trick, or some human charade.  What was occurring was consistent with centuries of divine intervention in human hearts since Jesus Christ was raised by God the Father from the dead.  Spiritual rebirth and regeneration was taking place (Romans 10:13).

People queried, “Is God behind these life-changes?  Does he still do this kind of stuff?”  This sparked the interest of the skeptics and curiosity seekers.  “Let’s go down and check it out and have some fun scoffing!” Sometimes this backfired.  A scoffer might wander too close to the presence of Jesus Christ.  When this occurred, their conscience was activated by the Almighty – their spiritual eyes opened – and instantly they knew the truth for themselves – God is not dead! Jesus is alive!

Though small, our impact in Manchester was felt. The newspapers were for the most part supportive and our theatre production reviews were affirming.  Who can judge the success of faith endeavors?  For those who came to faith in Christ – this outreach brought a new beginning, rippling out to families who had no compass of faith – many of whom had never darkened the doors of a church. Many of the hundreds of mid to late teens who attended Lonesome Stone would infuse their church youth groups, their schools, and part-time jobs with a spiritual spark; new music and a boldness to speak, sing, pray, praise – letting the presence of Jesus Christ shine out.  

The Lonesome Stone team as a whole had occupied territory in Manchester for a season.  Inherent in any traveling outreach ministry – it was time to move on.  Those of us who stayed behind did so to retain the territory gained, to water and nurture spiritual seeds that were now sprouting.  To those without a church home – we became their spiritual family.  We picked up younger teens and others with no means of transportation and met for Bible Studies, prayer, recreation, breaking bread and outreach.  This was God’s doing and we praised him!

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The Old Rectory

Sure enough Martin (Curly) and Julia Evans and Nick and Glenna Stone agreed to be the first to occupy the redundant old rectory with myself.  The prolonged vacancy at the rectory with heavy demolition all around left the old rectory a dusty, untidy – bit of a mess.  To wash everything down from top to bottom took a goodly number of days.  The old building had a spacious kitchen and fairly large downstairs meeting room.  Getting the electrics and gas turned on was a high priority.  Once that was done – the couples could move in.  The place seemed brighter with all the TLC.

God was faithful to provide this place of shelter at no cost along with food which often came in by the day through unusual and unexpected sources.  Living at the Rectory as well as other Jesus People houses reminded me of George Mueller of Bristol England.  I’d first read about his ministry while living with Kent Philpott and family at Golden Gate Seminary.  Mueller’s biography outlined his habit of praying in faith privately for specific needs to provide for a sizable group of orphans he cared for in England.  The faithfulness of God to honor and answer these prayers was an ongoing series of one miracle after another. 

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I felt similar about so many of the practical provisions of daily sustenance during Jesus People days.  I especially sensed the hand of the Almighty when he provided two British couples from the ‘Mighty Flyers Band’ to take on the follow-up ministry to the teens from Wythenshawe Housing Projects, Stockport and the surrounding Manchester area.  Both couples had street-smarts, compassion, humor and strong music gifts making them a perfect match for those they would minister to.  The Wythenshawe Housing District was the largest in England at the time – notorious for being a melting pot of broken homes, crime, illiteracy, and addiction. Alcoholism was a way of life even among young teens who’d often run the streets in packs. 

Martin (Curly) and Nick were humorous type blokes, with lots of patience.  Julia and Glenna provided a softer presence of grace, warmth, hospitality, the spice of humor as well – and they could cook!  All four were dedicated to growing in their faith. The arrangement of these two couples living at the rectory and conducting ministry was as near perfect as anything could be. 

A friendship with the ‘Mighty Flyers’ grew as did our continued outreach and joint endeavors.  The Flyers adopted a handful of us from the Jesus family and we them.  With the Flyers based mostly in Manchester, ongoing outreach brought more interest and opportunity for ministry over time.  We managed to get ‘The Sheep’ back to Manchester from Lonesome Stone for a rare gig during a down-time from touring.  This was a treat!  

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The ‘Mighty Flyers’ were a hard working British band.  David Reese, band manager and lead singer was committed to musical excellence, which made for focused rehearsals, giving ample time for newer tunes to be integrated before introducing them in concert.  England’s long line of successful bands and musical heritage seemed to infuse upcoming bands with the idea that in order to be successful – hard work was a requirement, along with tight musicianship.  On the flip side, most of the Brits I came to know had an incredible sense of humor woven into their days; a time to work hard, a time for tea and other down-time outlets for fun.      

It wasn’t often that our Jesus Family team would plan for days of recreation, but the ‘Mighty Flyers’ were keen on not letting opportunities slip by.  The Flyers and some of the Jesus Family gathered in a park in Manchester for a friendly game of Rugby.  As you’ll notice, someone was always messing about. 

Don’t ask me where we managed to find a camera, but someone put one in my hand. Just getting the group in this semblance of order was a feat, but I managed to muddle through and it’s turned out to be one of my favorite blurry photos from the day.    

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 They were a ruddy lot.   Fitter for rugby – than a day at the pub!

Working Together

Jesus People in England were drawn by the Holy Spirit to work together for the purpose of lifting up Jesus Christ to the glory of the Father.  With just 7% of England’s population claiming any Christian spiritual affiliation – the work was enormous.  The fields were white for harvest and the laborers were few (Luke 10:2).  At the time, only a handful of Christian bands were out and about playing Christ-glorifying music other than the Salvation Army from an earlier time period and genre. The ‘Flyers’ represented the best of what would come in the days ahead.  They were more than willing to work together with other ministries, churches, or para-church ministries like the Jesus Family and Deo Gloria Trust, for the greater cause of lifting up Jesus Christ in their motherland England. 

David Reese, Nick Stone, Nick Brotherwood and Martin Evans comprised the ‘Flyers’ with others being woven in for gigs here and there.  The ‘Flyers’ had no problem not being top-billing for a concert and exemplified the roll of putting others before themselves.  They genuinely enjoyed the Jesus Family, The Sheep, and the Lonesome Stone theatre team and welcomed us into their world as we did them into ours. Once Lonesome Stone had moved on to other cities, the Flyers would have considerable interaction and a mutual working relationship with Mike Damrow, Ben & Roslyn Day and I.  Relationships with area pastors would also develop – vital in the follow-up ministry among those who’d received Christ.

A number of area pastors brought as many of their parishioners, youth group members, along with their friends to Lonesome Stone and Flyer concerts that continued.  Pastors who were keen on outreach had taken advantage of the momentum surrounding our citywide outreach and had reaped the benefits of new conversions.  By acknowledging the work of the Holy Spirit a number of congregations were infused with fresh energy, new life and a swelling of attendance.  This gave way to terrific opportunities for discipleship and ongoing outreach locally through creative endeavors they would come up with – suited to their location and gifting.  

Teamwork that Glorifies God  

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Pastor John Yates was an area pastor who led his church in embracing the continuing Christian presence of outreach in Manchester.  Some from his church family had attended Lonesome Stone and Mighty Flyer concerts on a number of occasions. This interaction grew into a friendship and a relational bond. Members and teens from John’s church that had received Christ, or finally taken the step of making a confession of faith were appreciative for the impact our ministry had among them.

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John & Kath Yates’ church was nearby greater Manchester, in Dunkinfield, Chesire.  As the Mighty Flyers modeled the best among a handful of British Christian bands – John and Kath Yates did likewise, by their attitude and practice of relational openness with Jesus People.  Among pastors there is often a control and protective mentality which limits or blocks cross-pollination.  This hinders the body of Christ from functioning at its best – through non-competitive endeavors that glorify God.  

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I recall Pastor John inviting David Reese and I to participate in the baptism of many young teens from the congregation including one of his daughters Alison, to be held at their home church in Dunkinfield.  Being present was a precious lifetime memory – a highlight David Reese and I would cherish.  In outreach ministry, it isn’t always possible to be brought into the inner circle of what happens after an event is over and the dust settles. To witness what unfolds in the days beyond reveal the true miracle that has taken place.  This particular baptism included around twelve new believers comprised of young ladies and men.  

Being welcomed and included in this baptism event revealed Pastor John’s open-heartedness and appreciation for our ministry.  He took an additional step of maturity, by inviting David Reese and I to be in the baptismal with him – alternating in lead roles. Few pastors are confident enough to do this – honoring the ministry of others in public ways.  This open invitation allowed us the opportunity to rejoice with these young converts and the church family as a whole who would nurture them in the days ahead.   Thankfully, someone was positioned behind a camera and took these pictures.  Amazingly, I’m still in contact with two of the girls who were baptized in these photos.  God is good – all the time.  All the time, God is good! 

Paul the apostle gave us an image of a seed planted, watered and its growth.  Paraphrased, “I planted, another watered – but God gave the increase. Neither is he who plants or he who waters working alone.  God is present – the One responsible for all that grows.  He who plants and the one who waters are working in harmony with God, who rewards each one according to their work.”  (I Corinthians 3:6-8)   

 Meanwhile at the Old Rectory

Spiritual life was blowing through and permeating every inch of this old building.  What had been barren and quiet was alive with activity.  Visitors and regulars were encountering acceptance, love, spiritual dialogue, truth and placing their trust in God’s ability to be the rock of stability that had been missing in their life. Martin and Julie Evans and Nick and Glenna Stone were naturals for this calling – full of grace and truth that was modeled by their Lord.  Most, who visited, came with questions and needs.  This prompted both couples into diligent searching of the Scriptures to be able to adequately teach, lead and nurture.   It was like watching the blossoming of a tree and witnessing the buds spring forth when the couples connected with those who came along for studies and activities.

In the midst of these showers of God’s blessing – I began to experience a melt-down, slipping into a depression.  It was as if the adrenalin-rush of activity surrounding being a part of Lonesome Stone and working with the Mighty Flyers had distracted me.  Now with more time on my hands, the gnawing, sobering internal pain of my family still lost within the Children of God returned in full force.

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It seemed like a long roller-coaster ride of internal turmoil since the COG entered the picture, took over a number of our ministries in the southern USA and now had control over my wife and three children.  Knowing my spouse was supportive of the COG and strongly disliked me for opposing them – turned over and over in my mind.  How in the world would I ever be able to wrench her out of something she now believed in adamantly?   I figured our children were most likely in a secret high-security kibbutz, so non-COG family members would have no access.  I didn’t know what to think, much less what to do.  The situation made me angry and short-tempered when I thought about it.  A convergence of emotional stress had culminated – leaving me frazzled.

When I became irritable and impatient with some of the young teens I knew in a Bible study, I was no longer an asset at the rectory.  Martin & Julia gently confronted me and I became defensive.  I knew.  I later apologized to them and began making plans to return to London.  All the internal signs suggested change. I’d broken out in a rash from head to foot that wasn’t going away.  I sensed my inner world was teetering on collapse – and I needed to get help.  My plan was to see a doctor to obtain some honest input and hopefully make whatever adjustments were needed to regain stability of heart and soul. 

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Trevor Allen writes:

Jesus People, Lonesome Stone and Beyond
- Part 2 of 3

Lonesome Stone rolled on playing at Birmingham, Bradford, Sheffield, Stoke on Trent, Liverpool (twice), Edinburgh, Horsham, Cheltenham, the American Air Force base at Lakenheath, Suffolk plus those at Ramstein and Wiesbaden in Germany.

The anecdotes and experiences are too many to relate but I do remember speaking to two teenage school lads after the show (I think in Sheffield) and explaining the gospel briefly, using scripture, and then asking if they wanted to commit their lives to Jesus. They both said yes and they followed me in a simple prayer for salvation. No emotion, nothing visible and after advice to get a Bible and find a good church, we parted. Sometime later (I think at Liverpool) I met one of them again after the show. Immediately I knew something deep had taken place. His whole countenance and manner had changed. I was talking to a born again Spirit filled believer, already showing signs of Christian maturity. It brought such joy to my heart and I thanked God that he had used me in aiding this young man to finding a new life in Christ.

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There were short times between touring engagements when we returned to our base at Beulah Hill.  Perhaps I did so more than others as a driver of personnel and equipment.    On one of these occasions I happened to be present when Jim Palosaari,   James Holloway and few others were dialoguing about the possibility of a new outreach.

James was part of a Christian band in Suffolk whom we knew through another Suffolk band who had been incorporated into The Jesus Family called ‘Capel House’.

James was also a farmer and the discussion was centered around putting on a Christian music festival which James seemed up for in the fields of Suffolk. ‘What are we going to call it?’ Jim asked. In the following conversation somebody mentioned its location in ‘greenbelt’ land.  Immediately Jim said, “Thats it, we’ll call it The Greenbelt Music Festival.”

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In the summer of 1974 we camped in a Suffolk field, set up the stage and equipment and watched the people arrive. It had a cozy, pleasant and relaxed feel in the beautiful August weather with only around 1,500 attending and was enjoyed by all. We won’t mention the toilets, however, except to say they were very primitive!  Greenbelt has become a regular annual event which still happens to this day, although it has changed in content and venue a number of times but essentially it’s still Christian and attracts something like 20,000.”  

           - Trevor Allen

Back in London I settled in my former one room sleeping quarters at the rear of our office building with one tiny window and an outside toilet.  It was damp and depressing, so I rented an upstairs flat near the crest of Crystal Palace with three large windows allowing plenty of natural light. This simple move lifted my spirit.  I rented by the week and it was affordable with my ongoing stipend from Deo Gloria.

I went to see a doctor to address an itching body-rash that now covered most of my body.  My British doctor told me it looked like a nerve related rash. Not beating around the bush, he asked a considerable amount of questions surrounding my work, my family, my emotional world and the like.  He prescribed an ointment for the rash, but told me I should consider making a change to lessen the stress I was experiencing.  This holistic approach to doctoring helped clarify a need to take better care of myself and gave me permission to do so.

The thought of making a life-change was interesting to ponder.  Just thinking about doing something different, perhaps returning to the USA gave a resurgence of something to look forward to. My reservations about doing so surrounded my family – still lost within the Children of God, somewhere in Europe.  Thankfully, my spouse’s parents became sympathetic toward me after their own encounters with the COG in France and Denmark– when attempting to visit their daughter and grandchildren. 

They sent me photos of the children mentioning the run-around they’d encountered and deceptive maneuvers by the COG making visiting a near impossibility – which they’d overcome through insistence.   They said my wife and the children were brought in for the visit from unspecified locations.  These tactics were typical of the COG’s cat and mouse game about the whereabouts of their members, when interacting with outside family or friends.  The important news was, they were all well and appeared healthy according to my wife’s parents, Don and Doris.  I was grateful for this news.

Within the Upper Norwood Jesus Family there were several of us who had been in the COG and found our way out. We developed literature to place in the hands of COG members and honed our apologetic approach of interacting with them.  Some COG members were courageous enough to listen, and act on their convictions by severing all ties with the group.  Meanwhile, in COG colonies, warnings rang-out in many teaching sessions about Judas and traitors – spelling out a judgment would fall on those who left the group.   This tactic backfired causing more doubts which intersected with the brazen immoral doctrines that were being introduced.  Here is the voice of one whose conscience was activated by the Holy Spirit. 

Paul Jones Writes:

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 "My experience of the Jesus Revolution"

I joined ‘the Green Berets of the Jesus Revolution’, as they were called by the UK’s Buzz magazine, a couple of days after my 18th birthday, in 1971.

I had become a Christian at a Billy Graham crusade in London when I was 12. Following Billy’s advice, I joined ‘a Bible-believing church’ and was baptized. I read the Bible and prayed daily, enjoyed learning a lot, and shared my experience with anyone who would listen. God had given me a new life, and I wanted everyone else to receive it, too!

But when I turned 16, I got into trouble. I started closely reading the Sermon on the Mount, and hit problems when I tried to live up to just one of the stringent demands Jesus made of his followers – telling the absolute truth. I couldn’t do it.

I was also struggling to synthesize the apparently irreconcilable doctrines of predestination and free will, both of which I found in the Scriptures. When I screwed up courage to talk with a church elder about this, his ‘Paul, stop trying to understand this stuff; just believe’ made me concerned that being a Christian might mean needing to switch off our minds. Fortunately, I later realized that Jesus has something to say about that…

For the following 18 months, I stopped saying I was a Christian, though I still believed in God and that I had become his child: I just felt that I was too poor a Christian to be called one.

Then my best friend, the Head Boy and leader of the Christian Union, whose weekly meetings were normally attended by about 6-12 boys, invited a group of radical Christians who had set up home in our town to come and speak one Wednesday lunchtime.

The meeting in the art department was crammed out by about 100-120 boys attracted by the visit of three long-haired ‘Jesus Freaks’ to our conservative grammar school (and maybe by the fact that one was an attractive girl).

They shared their stories, sang a song and challenged us to follow Jesus.  Afterwards, when we should have been playing football during our games period, six of my friends and I subjected them to the third degree on every objection to Christian faith we could think of. There was myself, my friend and another member of the school magazine editorial committee; and then three members of the alternative magazine I had founded, can. These might have been more sympathetic to our visitors, as they were members of a student rock group, and some had experimented with drugs.

But we spent the next two hours aggressively seeking to demolish them intellectually. While one was clearly rattled and angry, and the girl was upset, the third just calmly picked at his guitar, and from time to time made a thoughtful comment.

This calmness under pressure impressed me, although I felt that they had come off worse during the exchange. So that evening I visited their community in Bromley, and spent about three hours going over some of the things we had discussed with ‘Zohar’, who was someone better able to give good answers to such questions.

I revisited the following evening, and didn’t go home. I had joined the ‘Children of God’ (COG).

Initially, the experience was a discipleship ‘boot camp’. Two meals a day of admittedly generous portions of low-grade food, long sessions listening to readings of letters from the founder of the group, David Brandt Berg, known as ‘Moses David’, memorizing two verses of scripture each day, and spending three or four hours on the streets witnessing to people mainly our sort of age, were all a shock to the system. But it was not the highly regimented daily routine, or the high-intensity sessions and atmosphere that most struck me: it was the idea that at last, I had joined a group really committed to being disciples of Jesus.

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Each of us had ‘forsaken all’, as Jesus calls his followers to do. For me, that meant my family, my education, and my future. But what we gained was a spiritual family of precious brothers and sisters equally engaged in bringing the true message of new life that can be found in Christ alone.

We slept in two derelict houses in Grove Park (girls in one, guys in another) and went to a disused factory in nearby Bromley for our breakfast, teaching sessions, and preparation for witnessing forays to London or local streets. We had a double-decker bus which was an ideal way to get a team to wherever there were young people, as well as providing a place for conversation, and a way to get them back to base, if they looked like possible converts. The properties and bus had been made available by Kenneth Frampton, a Christian businessman whose sons Keith and David also joined the group.

Our tracts were printed in the factory, and in Grove Park, ‘Eman Artist’ designed the tracts and the New Improved Truth newspapers we distributed on the streets. It was only after I left that I realized that David Berg had been living just a couple of hundred meters down the road from the factory: his identity and location were always closely-guarded secrets, even from the members. We never saw him, though we certainly saw his daughter, Faith (the only member, to my knowledge, allowed to use a birth name), son ‘Hosea’ (Jonathan), and (briefly), his other daughter, ‘Deborah’ (Linda).

In those early days, we handed out gospels of John to people interested in our message, and invited people back to the commune each day for an evening meal and further talk.

We had been love-bombed: hugs, passionate songs, conversations and expectations were the order of the day, and we aimed to love-bomb others into the kingdom of God.

I started as a ‘babe’, went on a two week intensive leadership training course in a village hall in Horsmonden, Kent, and returned to become a provisioner – someone who got up at four to ask for donations of crates of unsold goods at the early morning London food markets.

There were no radios, TVs, papers or books in any of these properties; the daily routine was highly regimented; and the atmosphere was extremely high-intensity. It was only later that I realized that combined with a low-quality diet and sleep deprivation, these are classic factors of alienation and brainwashing techniques.

Amsterdam

From Bromley I was sent to ‘colonies’, as the communes were called, in Brussels, Antwerp and finally Amsterdam. I became a ‘welcomer’ (someone who deals with outsiders) and a trainee colony leader. At midnight, when most of the others got into their sleeping bags on mattresses on the floor, guys on the first floor, girls on the second, I would go up to the leaders’ quarters on the third floor to hear ‘Peter Amsterdam’ (Stephen Kelly) read restricted circulation ‘Mo letters’. I would get to my sleeping bag at about 4:00am, then get up at 8:00am at the start of the next day’s routine. The leaders were not usually seen at that time, though…

In Amsterdam, we were within walking distance of Dam Square and Vondel Park, the Dutch equivalents of Trafalgar Square and St James Park in London. Here we met hundreds of American and European hippies who like us had ‘dropped out’ seeking truth, or perhaps a lifestyle of drugs, sex and rock and roll.

It was wonderful to spend four hours in the summer afternoons connecting with people, telling our stories and the message of Jesus, and then being able to invite them back to the colony for a meal and further talk, sometimes late into the night. We were a colony of about 60, and during the summer months often entertained about 100 guests in the evenings.

At that time, our doctrines and practices were standard evangelical stuff. So it came as a surprise to discover during a late-night reading of, I think, Old Church – New Church, that David Berg had separated from his wife, Jane, known as ‘Mother Eve’, and was now in an ongoing sexual relationship with his secretary, ‘Maria’ (Karen Zerby).

It would have been one thing to discover that he had committed adultery, but repented of it. It was another thing to be presented with this as a revelation of the license granted to ‘God’s End-Time Prophet’ whose teachings and revelations were to supersede those of the Bible.

Each night I would adopt a Muslim prayer position on my sleeping bag, and pray for a very brief time before sleep overwhelmed me. I knew that what David Berg was doing was not right, according to the Bible, but I struggled with the conviction that I had to leave the group.

I am ashamed to say I even bargained with God, thinking that the story of ‘Gideon’s fleece’ endorsed this. I was giving my life to share the good news with young people; I deeply loved my fellow-members; I had forsaken all. Didn’t God understand that? Couldn’t I continue to do all this good stuff even if the leader was practicing a sinful lifestyle?

And there was a major barrier to leaving for every member of the group: the leaders held our passports, and none of us apart from the leaders had any cash at all.

So I told God, ‘If you send one of Moses David’s own children to Amsterdam to tell me to return to the UK, then I’ll know that this conviction comes from you, and I’ll leave’.

Three days later, that happened. ‘Hosea’ came to Amsterdam and two or three days afterwards asked me to take some materials back to Bromley. I took my passport, some cash for the ferry, made the delivery, and returned to my parents’ home. Not knowing what else to do, I picked up my education, with a view to going to university.

From Bad to Rotten

David Hoyt, a more important member, having been a leader in a US Jesus People group which merged with the COG, also left at about the same time. Somehow I came across a ‘Mo’ letter that referred to him and me as Judases who were not to be readmitted, and in fact were effectively excommunicated.

I learned of the death in Switzerland of Berg’s older son, ‘Aaron’ (Paul) who had fallen from a mountain. I had seen him once, accompanied by people I was told were his bodyguards because he was so ‘spacey’. He certainly looked it: maybe he had mental health problems.

I wondered: unlike his brother and sisters, did he have no role and prominence in the group because he disagreed with or was rejected by his father? Did he commit suicide? Was he even pushed? All that was pure speculation… but when I read in a paper that two members of the group had apparently committed suicide on the same day by jumping from church towers in Belgium in towns about 60 miles apart, I thought the coincidence was too great.

This may seem paranoid, but I later discovered in Deborah Davis’s (Linda Berg’s) book, The Children of God, that some members of the wider Berg family consider both possible, and Deborah confirmed that his father had rejected him.

I also met other former members who showed me ‘Mo’ letters that advocated ‘Flirty Fishing’ (essentially, religious prostitution), promiscuity among members, whether or not they were already married, ‘spirit guides’, and even sexual relationships with children. I remember a line from one letter that said: ‘Jesus calls you to lay down your life for your brother. Would you lay down your wife for your brother, if he has the need?’ Anyone not prepared to follow this teaching was to be understood as an ‘old wineskin’, not worthy to be part of the ‘movement’.

Survival

I was occasionally tempted to return to the group, despite all this. The churches I visited seemed so lukewarm, worldly and middle-class. They were not engaged in reaching out to people with the gospel they said they believed. Their Christianity did not seem to cost much beyond a couple of hours on Sundays. After all, I wouldn’t need to take part in immorality, I reasoned… and I had successfully resisted leaders’ pressure to marry one of the members who was romantically interested in me.

But God in his continuing grace let me discover other expressions of the Jesus Revolution that were radical and counter-cultural, but without the heretical teachings and cult practices. I became aware of Jesus People USA’s Cornerstone magazine, the Christian World Liberation Front’s Radix magazine, Keith Green’s Last Days Ministries Newsletter, Calvary Chapel’s The Truth newspaper, and some papers produced by Australian Jesus People groups. These showed that there were groups seeking to live out radical Christian discipleship, and that Christians could present the Good News in a culturally relevant and exciting way, energetically engaging with the intellectual, social and political issues of the day. Subscriptions to Cornerstone and Radix were my life-savers.

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I started a Christian magazine called Apocalypse. There were articles by writers I admired, cartoons and youth-oriented illustrations by friends. Mr. Frampton saw it and invited me to work for him in a new charity named Deo Gloria Trust (deo gloria means ‘to God be the glory’). I withdrew my university application, and went to work at Deo Gloria Trust.

Deo Gloria sponsored the Jesus Family, led by Jim and Sue Palosaari, which put on Lonesome Stone, an evangelistic rock musical which told the story of how many young people at that time found true peace and love in returning to Jesus Christ, despite having sought it in drugs, sex, music, meditation or Eastern religions.

Meeting the Jesus Family was great. Lonesome Stone was excellently done, involving a rock band, a good storyline, and emotive imagery projected onto screens at the back of the stage – an innovation at the time, although a standard feature now. Like the COG, they were committed to sharing the Good News, and lived in community. But unlike the COG, they were not heretical.

I got to know some of the cast and technicians as friends, and interviewed band members for their magazine, Everyman. This helped me to realize one of the things I enjoy doing: writing and working on magazines, which I had played with at secondary (high) school.

I ended up as a self-employed graphic designer, writing and designing on magazines and literature mainly for Christian charities and mission agencies.

Reflections

Was the Jesus Revolution a good thing or just a flash in the pan? I think it was a wonderful movement that offered new life to hippies and young people generally, and also the churches willing to open their doors and hearts to them.

The Children of God became a cult later known as the Family International, or just the Family, which has wrecked thousands of lives. I thank God that he got me out of it before the teaching and practices became completely immoral. Had I stayed, or married a fellow-member, it would have become much harder to leave.

The Revolution lasted a few years, producing some things that lasted, and others that didn’t. A few of the ongoing results: ‘Jesus Music’ which became the Contemporary Christian Music movement; Jesus People USA intentional community; and the UK’s Greenbelt Festival. But most important are the individuals who met the risen Jesus through members of the Revolution, and who are still following him today.

Footnote

I no longer call myself a Christian, but a follower of Jesus. I find this is more helpful in opening conversations with non-Christians. I explain that to me, ‘becoming a Christian’ may be misunderstood as entering a static state, like ‘becoming a Communist’. But Jesus called people to follow him, rather than to ‘become a Christian’, ‘let him into their hearts’, ‘give their lives to him’, or other phrases which are not found in the Bible. It’s an ongoing relationship of learning, obedience and transformation. Crucially, I have had to learn to hear the voice of Jesus leading me away from religion’s false teachers and into truth and freedom.  

– Paul Jones UK

 A special thanks to Trevor Allen for sharing Part 2 of 3 of his
 recollections.  A grateful thanks also goes out to Paul Jones
 from the UK for sharing his journey to freedom from the COG,
 experiences in the Jesus Revolution and beyond. 

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

Part 23: Jesus’ Model of Openness Inspires


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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 19:01