“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times” Doug and I and our three kids moved to Berkeley in 1971 to share the good news with the thousands of young people seeking love, peace and meaning for their lives. They flooded the San Francisco Bay Area with “flowers in their hair”. Many became involved in drugs, sexual perversions, eastern religions etc. They came from all over the U.S. Most came from middle class families of the privileged and disillusioned- perhaps a reaction to the bizarre events in the 60’s: the shootings of President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
There were only 35 of us in the beginning. We sold our home; Doug gave up a tremendous career at the California State Legislature. God was calling and we answered. We rented a large home where several young girls moved in to be discipled. Brothers and Sisters houses were established to provide an escape from the drugs, sexual excesses and spiritual darkness that prevailed on the streets. Families took in new believers who were transformed into “fishers of men” by returning to the streets the next week with us to share the good news with others. Couples lived with other couples in apartments to save money to give to the church. Giving was more satisfying than receiving. We prayed and God answered. Hundreds of young men and women responded. On one particular evening the “fishers”- those selected to share the gospel on the streets daily while others donated their paychecks to support them- returned with 17 new brothers. That evening 18 brothers had accepted Jesus and been baptized in Ludwig’s fountain, 17 moved into the house! We had moved into a Julia Morgan mansion with room for 40 men. Next door 38 more brothers lived. Life was not easy. Three women cooked dinner daily for them-I was one of them. Daily we saw lives changed. It made it all worth it. It was a genuine outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the harvest was ready.
In the years to come we would remember what God had done when we had totally trusted in Him. Of course everyone worried about our children and what they were exposed to. So did we! It is my belief that God loves our children more than we do and that He was with them through all that happened in Berkeley. For example, when we first went to see the children’s prospective school, all the windows were boarded up. We were horrified. Wouldn’t they be allowed to see out? The principal proudly showed Carole Adams and I her immaculate facility. “Oh no, the windows are just boarded up for the summer,” she assured us. Hallelullah! We were ecstatic. Emerson was the best school the children ever attended. The parents and community around it supported the school. God blessed our children. They saw faith in action. They responded with belief.
This week I was horrified at the news report that 100,000 “Christians” in England were renouncing their faith on Easter in London, England. It is doubtful that any of these had had a real encounter with the Lord of Heaven and Earth or with our Savior Jesus Christ. Their main objection was that they had been baptized as infants and had had no choice in the matter. Certainly infant baptism is no guarantee of a relationship with the Savior, but this report is very upsetting for the reason that these persons are obviously lost to the church and to Christ. In a sense it is a result of the failure of the church. Whenever truth is compromised in church practice, future generations take degradation of the faith a step farther. When the inerrancy of the scriptures is challenged, subsequent generations challenge the existence of God himself.
In the 1960’s, there was a movement which questioned the existence of God. “God is dead” became a popular motto. Billy Graham’s answer was,”No He’s not, I talked with Him this morning.” People with the reality of the Christian faith must stand up and be counted. The truth of the scriptures must be contrasted with the ridiculousness of the worldly accusations. When this occurs, revival comes to the church.
This was exactly what happened in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. There occurred a rebellion in the mainline denominations among the young believers in America. They were bored with conventional Christianity. Traditions, forms, dogmas, rituals all spoke of the “deadness” of the church to this group. They sought spiritual renewal outside the established church. Jesus answered with what is known as the Jesus Movement. It occurred on the beaches of Santa Monica, the streets of Berkeley, San Francisco, New York, Portland and Madison. Young people came to Christ “outside the box” and established new streams of life in the Christian church. Jesus houses, Coffee houses, house churches, Christian communes and world wide evangelism was renewed. Not unlike Jesus preaching outside the synagogues these groups flourished outside the established orthodoxy!
We are in danger today in the American church of compromising the essentials of the faith. Many denominations are confronting the issues of gay marriage, abortion as well as divorce and child abuse. The breakdown of our culture is occurring much faster than anticipated. Our duty to a future 100,000 who could face the Almighty totally unprepared is to uphold our real Christianity whatever the cost.
For the father seeks such to worship Him …those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in reality.
One hundred thousand people in England have never confronted or experienced the reality of a Christian conversion or opened up to the Savior. Certainly they bear a personal responsibility, but the impotent church in England will answer for them also.
Swine Flu is bearing down on us according to the media hype. It is described as an End Times pestilence comparable to the Spanish flu of 1918 that killed a possible 100 million people world wide. Already several hundred have perished in the U.S., and last year’s flu vaccine is reported to have no prophylactic effect. To mothers and fathers of small children and families with elderly and weaker members this is disturbing news.
We are not used to being vulnerable to health contagions in this generation. Pictures of emaciated, fly infested children have assaulted us only from afar. Our sense of safety has not been shaken with so widespread a threat: 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina were localized tragedies. The rest of the nation could respond and help. They were local tragedies from which we slowly recovered. This danger is indefinite, uncontrollable and geographically vast in its nature.
This is scary stuff. Initially I thought, aha! the “mini” apocalypse predicted in The Revelation. Then I began to consider the implications for my life. My grandchildren would be at risk. So would my husband, children, siblings, in-laws and friends. This was a panicky realization. I spent several hours listening to the ever frightening reports.
Suddenly I realized God was in control. A touch with the eternal God engulfed me. Whatever we might endure we can count on God’s love. Whatever route He chooses we will all go to meet Him someday. We have to believe that He will take care of us. I suddenly realized we could live in the center of an epidemic and survive if He willed it. If not, He has said in his Word that He has prepared a place for us where He will be and we will see Him and be known by Him “But then I shall know just as I also am known.” I Cor.13:9. We can’t forget our belief and security is in God’s unchanging love no matter how threatening the current pestilence may be. We depend on the great physician for our health and strength daily. Everything we own has been given by Him, and nothing we do, can be done without His strength. We can not be overwhelmed by fear of circumstances. The interesting thing is, when we are actually confronted by this disease we realize how puny its power is against the army of God: King of Kings and Lord of Lords - to God be the Glory!