Mate Scriptures

The premise behind the method of study employed by the "Assembly of the Body of Christ" is that one must find the Greek and Hebrew "mate scriptures" in order to truly understand the will of God and His truth. Here is an excerpt from their website (click picture for link to site)

The scripture used is Isaiah 34:16-17. The ABC's non-contextual interpretation of this scripture alleges that this scripture proves their theory that one must find "mate scriptures." I declare this is not necessarily true.

The ABC strictly adheres to a method of bible study in which one examines an entire context in order to properly understand the text. That is truly not a bad idea. Any thought taken out of context can be twisted and distorted to have it say something it does not say. Again referring to their website it states you must own

"A Panin's translation of the New Testament to determine the full context (complete thought) where any N.T. Bible verse is found - so we can see the full puzzle piece."

The bible translated numerically by Ivan Panin works only for the New Testament but I would assume the same principle; examining the entire context; would also carry over to the Old Testament as well. It rightfully should if we are to have a good understanding of what is written.

So, looking at Isaiah 34:16-17 in its entire context let's examine this "scriptural mate" theory and see if it holds up to scrutiny. Here is the entire text surrounding Isaiah 34:16-17 (the whole chapter). I have highlighted verses 16-17.

Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it. For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter. Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness. For it is the day of the LORD'S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion. And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever. But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness. They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing. And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls. The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest. There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate. Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them. And he hath cast the lot for them, and his hand hath divided it unto them by line: they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein. Isaiah 34:1-17

As you read through this context above ask yourself this one question. Is this context referring to proper bible study or is it referring to the permanent destruction of a set of nations? I have underlined the beginning of the context to show that it is indeed referring to a set of nations.

One of the biggest bugaboos of our language is the use of pronouns. They make reading more pleasant but if one does not properly refer the pronoun to its subject, the meaning of a sentence can become grossly distorted. To understand who or what verses 16-17 refer to I have replaced all of the pronouns below (in parentheses) with the intended subject.

Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of (the world). For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and his fury upon all (the nations) armies: he hath utterly destroyed (the nations), he hath delivered (the nations) to the slaughter. (The nations) slain also shall be cast out, and (the nations) stink shall come up out of (the nations) carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with (the nations) blood. And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all (the nations) host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, (my sword) shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, (the sword) is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. And the unicorns shall come down with (the lambs, goats and rams), and the bullocks with the bulls; and (the nations) land shall be soaked with blood, and (the nations) dust made fat with fatness. For it is the day of the LORD'S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion. And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. (Edom) shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through (Edom) for ever and ever. But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess (Edom); the owl also and the raven shall dwell in (Edom): and he shall stretch out upon (Edom) the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness. They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be (in the kingdom), and all (Edom's) princes shall be nothing. And thorns shall come up in (Edom's) palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and (Edom) shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls. The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to (the satyr's) fellow; the screech owl also shall rest (in Edom), and find for (the screech owl) a place of rest. (In the kingdom) shall the great owl make (the great owl's own) nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under (the great owl's own) shadow: (in the kingdom) shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with (the vulture's own) mate. Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of (the dragons, owls, wild beasts, satyr's screech owls, great owls, etc. ) shall fail, none [of these ](wild creatures ) shall want for a mate: for (God's) mouth (yes God's mouth) hath commanded, and (God's) spirit hath gathered (the wild creatures). And God hath cast the lot for (the  owls, wild beasts, etc. ), and God's hand hath divided (Edom) unto (the wild creatures) by line: (the wild creatures) shall possess (Edom) for ever, from generation to generation shall (the wild creatures) dwell therein. Isaiah 34:1-17

So pulling out verses 16-17 with the pronouns replaced with the subject of the pronoun:

Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of (the dragons, owls, wild beasts, satyr's screech owls, great owls, etc. ) shall fail, none [of these ](wild creatures ) shall want for a mate: for (God's) mouth (yes God's mouth) hath commanded, and (God's) spirit hath gathered (the wild creatures). And God hath cast the lot for (the  owls, wild beasts, etc. ), and God's hand hath divided (Edom) unto (the wild creatures) by line: (the wild creatures) shall possess (Edom) for ever, from generation to generation shall (the wild creatures) dwell therein.

So, you see, this scripture has nothing to do with finding "mate scriptures" when we look at the entire context. It has to do with the complete destruction of a set of nations (Edom, Bozrah, Idumaea) which would become no longer suited for habitation by mankind and would instead be forever a habitation of birds and wild creatures of various sorts. Here is a quotation from "Easton's Bible Dictionary"  regarding the Edom of Isaiah 34.

There are many prophecies concerning Edom (Isa 34:5-6; Jer 49:7-18; Eze 25:13; 35:1-15; Joe 3:19; Am 1:11; Obadiah; Mal 1:3-4) which have been remarkably fulfilled. The present desolate condition of that land is a standing testimony to the inspiration of these prophecies. After an existence as a people for above seventeen hundred years, they have utterly disappeared, and their language even is forgotten for ever. In Petra, "where kings kept their court, and where nobles assembled, there no man dwells; it is given by lot to birds, and beasts, and reptiles."

Or this from the Jamieson-Faussett-Brown Commentary

16. book of the Lord-the volume in which the various prophecies and other parts of Scripture began henceforward to be collected together (Isa 30:8; Da 9:2).

Seek-(so Isa 8:16, 20; Joh 5:39; 7:52).

no one . fail-of these prophecies (Mt 5:18).

none shall want . mate-image from pairing of animals mentioned, Isa 34:15 ("mate"); no prediction shall want a fulfillment as its companion. Or rather, "none of these wild animals (just spoken of) shall be wanting: none shall be without its mate" to pair and breed with, in desolate Idumea.

my . his-Such changes of person are frequent in Hebrew poetry.

them-the wild beasts.

So, you see, this scripture used to prove the "scriptural mate" theory has nothing to do with "scripture mates" whatsoever; it has to do with the mates of  birds and other wild animals who reside where Edom once stood. Edom, representative of those nations who were not serving God, was destroyed by God and left desolate forever and became the breeding ground of wild animals only and not fit for the dwelling of man.  

I wholeheartedly agree we should look at ALL scripture in a contextual way and it is by applying that principle to this scripture it is proven that it does not refer to the seeking of  "mate scriptures" through Greek and Hebrew word studies as the ABC alleges.

25-The end of the matter

After I was ex-communicated, the second time, it seemed as though a great flood had gone through my life washing away everything I thought I knew.  After  I surveyed the wreckage I tried to pick up the pieces and reconstruct something that looked like what I had before but that would be the wrong path to follow and would never work. I looked for another person that would help me reconstruct the debris but  no one was willing to help. Eventually I cleared away the rubble myself, took stock of what I had left and found there was not much usable material. I ended up discarding almost everything I once found true and started again from scratch.  If you look about my spiritual house now you might find a piece or two  of the old dwelling here and there but really very little. When the flood of man swept through my life there was immense devastation and emotionally I looked a total loss. The relationship I have with God inwardly remains solid.  That relationship with God is the only hope I have in this world and one I truly value.

Here is a Psalm that sums up the end of the matter for me.  I hope you enjoy it.
 
My soul rests in God alone. My salvation is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress-- I will never be greatly shaken. How long will you assault a man, Would all of you throw him down, Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence? They fully intend to throw him down from his lofty place. They delight in lies. They bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah.


My soul, wait in silence for God alone, For my expectation is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress. I will not be shaken. With God is my salvation and my honor. The rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times, you people. Pour out your heart before him. God is a refuge for us. Selah.


Surely men of low degree are just a breath, And men of high degree are a lie. In the balances they will go up. They are together lighter than a breath. Don't trust in oppression. Don't become vain in robbery. If riches increase, Don't set your heart on them. God has spoken once, Twice I have heard this, That power belongs to God. Also to you, Lord, belongs loving kindness, For you reward every man according to his work.
                                                                          Psalms 62:1-12

24-A few anomalies

I list here just a few of the anomalies that developed during the "Mexican Ministry" period.  I list these things because they are examples of the things that caused me to be pushed out of the  ABC the first time having been charged with being "rebellious".   One of the most prominent changes was that my dad decided, since we were dealing with Mexican citizens who were predominantly Catholic, we should assume their customs and begin to wear clerical collars whenever we went into  Mexico.  He also then began wearing one in the U.S. as well. Prior to this, I had always considered we, the ABC,  were different than the other churches. We were the exception to "Mystery Babylon" (which was considered by the ABC to be the Catholic church and all her denominational daughters). We all knew, or thought we knew anyhow, that we were different than the rest because we met in homes, "had no name" (even though we really did have a name), did not "ride on the back of the government" (even though we had incorporated and shared in the same tax breaks all the other denominational churches did) and it was for certain we did not do things like the Catholics (even though we were now expected to wear clerical collars). This sudden abandonment of theological position, to such a large degree, was very disillusioning for me and it caused me to take  a close look at what we were actually building.  It made me realize we were really not that much different from any of  the other denominational churches. This did not sit well with me. It ended forever the illusion I had of the ABC as being "different" and not a denomination.  True, we met in homes instead of church buildings but everything else was mostly the same as any other denominational church. In fact...we were just a new denomination and a very aberrant, even cultish, one at that.

I refused to buy one of the clerical shirts, even though I had been commanded to do so by my  "father in the Lord". Eventually a shirt was purchased for me  anyhow and I came home from work to find it hanging on my front door. There was a note ordering me to wear it.  There was a teaching in the ABC that we were to be "experimental believers"  so I did wear it one time to Mexico; to experiment; but when the people began to kiss my ring, as if I were a priest, I was not comfortable.  When I expressed this opinion later I was told I should just allow it as their way of showing respect for our position. It still bothered me immensely and I decided I would just stay away from Mexico rather than wear it again.

The "Mexican Ministry" was beginning to consume more money than was currently coming in through tithe and offering.  Any alms that came in were secret so no one had any idea how much money was actually coing in earmarked as “alms”.  The tithe money was paying for the "Casa Grande" (a huge house in Chula Vista California),  a trailer in the mountains, a condo at the beach, a fleet of vehicles, lots and lots of new furniture and lots and lots of  other stuff. This was all very very expensive stuff and very little money was actually making its way to helping Mexican families in their poverty.  The theory was, as my dad explained on the Luis tape, tithes and offerings could not be  used to help someone in need...only alms could be used for that, so, the tithes and offerings ended up paying for lots of  things that "supported" bringing teachings to Mexico. Very very little was used to feed the poor or help them in their poverty. If an alm came in, that money was usually used to buy bibles and this did not sit well with many people and began to create quite a rift not just in San Diego but among people everywhere.  This eventually caused two more major splits in the church.

In an effort  to raise additional money to keep "the corporation" afloat bake sales were initiated in front of various supermarkets. We, the members of the ABC in San Diego, were expected to bake goodies for these sales then help staff the tables on weekends. Knowing the money was not flowing to Mexico to help those in poverty I participated in none of them.  Another method was to have members of the ABC sit during the middle of the night at highway rest stops to give out "free" coffee and ask for donations  for the "Mexican Ministry" from travelers. Many in the ABC did  not participate in these endeavors since they were not comfortable giving the impression the  money raised was  being  used to feed or clothe Mexicans. It was not. It just bought stuff for the Casa Grande and supported an ever more lavish lifestyle.

One of the more unusual ways the Mexican Ministry "ministered" to the shopkeepers was by hauling  goods for them across the border in the trunks of cars; as if the goods were souvenirs. These goods would then be packaged for shipment  on the U.S. side and sent to stores in Los Angeles.   By doing this,  the shopkeepers avoided paying duty on their goods as they passed across the border and could then undercut their  competitor's price and make more sales.  This allowed them to grow their businesses more quickly. It was also very illegal. If the shopkeeper was discovered participating they would lose their merchandise and be fined however if a U.S. citizen was discovered assisting in this plan they would have had their car seized at the border for smuggling, could possibly be arrested and charged.  Many, including me, chose not to participate for this reason. The shopkeepers made more sales and were told the prayers prayed in their shops were the reason.

I arrived at the Casa Grande one weekday morning and was told, by my dad, I was being made the new treasurer.  About an hour after arriving everyone left to go to Mexico to visit the shopkeepers and I remained behind. During my day at the Casa Grande I received a phone call from the Internal Revenue Service.  Since I had been made treasurer that very morning I knew nothing about what was going on and could not answer any of their questions knowledgeably.  When everyone returned from Mexico that afternoon I inquired, as "the new treasurer", what was going on with the IRS. I wanted to know why they were investigating.  The only reply I got was "maybe it's not a good idea to have you as treasurer."  That was that. I was treasurer for just that one day.  I never did discover what the IRS trouble was all about.

Many in the San Diego group who chose not to participate in these and other  things were  labeled as "rebellious". I was among those who chose not to participate as many of the things happening seemed not quite right. I have mentioned only a few things here to illustrate life in San Diego during the Mexican Ministry days/ There were many  many other incidents, some much worse, as well as things  that should  not  be put into print.  The general theme was that if you did not do what you were told you were  labeled "rebellious" and would then be humiliated or put out.  There was a great absence of free will which is a distinctive mark of a cult.

There was a group of three families that were put out in one day at a  "body counsel" due to these "rebellions".  All of us men who were put out were  considered  as "elders" at the time. One of these  families moved away to Washington, another remained in San Diego for a short period then moved away to Arizona and I stayed behind for about  a year before  moving away to the northwest again. One of these men, Robin Hesley, eventually divorced, returned to the ABC and married again. When I got away from the  hustle-bustle of the "Mexican Ministry" and the constant commands from my dad to go do this, do that it would once again be a time of peace.  This  would last for a number of years but I would unfortunately return to the ABC and soon after be acknowledged as an "elder" again. This time however I would be "eternally judged" and ousted once again. This time however not for “rebellion” but for "blasphemy".

I have put this narrative forward as a "history" of the Assembly of the Body of Christ" but in reality it is a history from a mostly singular perspective...mine.  I have relied some on letters, teachings and documents that show the rise of this church out of the "Latter Rain Revival" movement and show how it progressed through various stages to get to where it is today. Much is based on my own observations and things I have been told or shown over the years.  I have tried to avoid the "pointing of the finger" and undoubtedly failed at times in that regard. Some of these  issues still hold pent up emotion for me.  I'm human.  I am perfectly willing to accept   that anytime I have  pointed  the finger I have three fingers pointing back at me.  If someone were to write a history of my life it would also include a good share of pitfalls, foibles, errors and things I would not be proud of.  We all make mistakes. I certainly do not write this to place myself above any other.

The majority of my purpose in writing this narrative  is to illuminate the actual path followed by the ABC is not as has been charted and portrayed to its members and followers.   The true path it followed and still follows is quite far from the map shown to newcomers. In other words there are a great many falsehoods told to make the ABC look different than it really is and entering its doors is not wise.

While it is true my dad was not very good at the family thing  I too failed in many ways in that regard.  I was much too hard on my kids as they grew up, did not give them the space they needed to grow, was overbearing and as a result am not as close to them as I would like.  I parented the best I could, given the information I had at hand, but that information was highly deficient. I had no good model to follow in my life and this, more than anything else, brings me the most pain. If one examined the outcome of the children of those in the ABC there is a consistent pattern of kids rejecting the path their parents followed since it was full of abuses.

Some have expressed sympathy that I have been through so many things.  I do not need sympathy because most, if not all of us, go through similar storms in our lives. The storms that passed through my life were more visible than most because my dad was a bit of a minor celebrity in his own right; having started a new denomination. He was respected for his position as the founder and leader of that new denomination, but that only leads to the formation of myths and utter falsehoods about his character. Even today, long after his death, his teachings are the "ordained" teachings of the ABC and anything outside of that is suspect.  My dad's teachings stemmed directly from the other men I have written about (Watt, Prince....) and they undoubtedly had those they drew them from and so it goes  back through history. 

I have been mostly a willing, even if ignorant, participant in my own life  and  have made my own decisions based on the information I had at hand. Many times it was clearly the wrong decision. I think nearly every person looks back on their life and wishes they could go back and do it all over again, make the right decisions this time.  It is not possible and so we are left to live in the life we construct.
I fear that in my ramblings I may have written things that could  be construed as bitterness towards my father.  There was a day I was bitter against him but I have years ago resolved that. It has not ended the sadness I feel when I see our broken family but I am no longer angry with him.
 
I believe my dad meant well when he began the ABC but unfortunately  he made the error  of translating his abusive family practices into the building of the abusive aberrant denomination he started. This carryover into church doctrine has caused, I believe,  the many episodes of abandonment that have occurred in the church over the years. My father abandoned his entire family and it is not expected that the institution he began would behave much different.

This journey I have taken through a very small part of my own  history has brought me through many ups and downs emotionally; and, like Solomon in Ecclesiastes, I too have thrown up my hands at times and stated it is all just vanity and not worth it. In the end, it has actually been a worthwhile journey to write this down and has helped me understand where I sprang from. It has helped me burn a great deal of wood, hay and stubble in my thoughts in the process as well and for that reason I am a much better person. I am much more tolerant and kind. The Pharisaical ego I once had is mostly gone.  The fires have burned large at times in my life and when they died down I had not much left to call my own so I, like Solomon,  now reach the end of the matter.

NEXT POST

23-A letter

Below is a letter that was sent out about June of 1983. This letter was sent because there were many rumblings about the way money was being used by the “Mexican Ministry”and the rumblings could no longer be ignored. This letter was intended to quiet the agitations but it was not effective.  It was essentially a threat to all in the ABC they must not make waves or question how the money was being used or else there would be consequences. 

Click on picture to read entire text.

NEXT POST

22-The Progression of the Mexican Ministry

In a previous post I covered the actual rooting of the Mexican Ministry into the ABC with the story of Luis. This post is an explanation of the growth.

The Mexican Ministry began to take visible shape about the time I returned to San Diego. My dad’s visits to, and befriending of, the shopkeepers in Tijuana eventually yielded visits to their homes and this brought requests for teachings which meant that homes were needed in Mexico for foundation meetings. Most of the available homes in Tijuana were very small, some had dirt floors and none would accommodate a meeting. Rather than renting a building or hall, a small apartment was rented in the La Playa area of Tijuana on the western edge of town instead. This was not far from San Diego but since the Tijuana roads were seldom maintained this at times made for treacherous driving. It was a long slow commute up the hill as well--especially when it rained. It was not unusual, in a heavy downpour, to encounter a roadway that had become a raging torrent of flood water. Very often in Tijuana the homes would wash down the hills in these downpours as they were built on tires and other debris. There were usually a numbers of deaths from the floods. Poverty can be deadly.

The Crown Victoria and other sedans my dad was using to get to this apartment; as well as to pick up some of the Mexican people on the way; were not suited for the journey over the deeply rutted roads so an offering was requested to buy a large van. The money was raised and the van was purchased but within months it was quite apparent this vehicle as well would not hold up to the strain of the Tijuana roads so another call went out for more money to purchase a large Chevy Suburban with four wheel drive and high clearance suspension. This was a more effective vehicle to maneuver the back roads and alleys of Tijuana and became a bus of sorts for picking up people to take to meetings.

I was at a few of the meetings at the La Playa apartment. There were usually about five or six people from Tijuana and about the same number would travel over from the states. These were typical foundation meeting with singing (one of the Mexican people had translated a few of the songs into Spanish), a teaching in English interpreted into Spanish by a man named Pablo and prayer for any needs. It was not possible to construct a teaching in the same manner as before since the ABC relies heavily on the Greek to develop teaching points. To teach from the Greek would require translating from Greek to English first then from English into Spanish. This was proving extremely difficult and so the teachings moved in very slow motion. Most attending nodded their heads but one never knows if the nodding meant they truly understood or were just being courteous. I suspect it is the latter.

Not long after the apartment was rented in La Playa a large storm completely washed away the main road. This made the apartment inaccessible without a long drive through the side roads which would take more than an hour each way. A search was made for a new location to hold the meetings and a large house was rented closer to central Tijuana. It was up on a hill overlooking all of Tijuana and was constructed of stucco, stone and brick with lots of wrought iron. The pictures below were taken at this house. The first picture was at a kid's birthday party and the second is the view from this house at night. It had quite a view looking out over Tijuana.


This house was  too big to justify renting just for meetings and so David North moved his family to the house, enrolled his children in Mexican school and commuted to work each day across the border into San Diego. There was not much kept at the La Playa apartment for meetings; just a whiteboard and some chairs;  but after the move to the big house it still needed to be retrieved. I was enlisted for the long drive to retrieve them and David North rode along with me. Since I had to do this after work it meant driving into Tijuana after dark. While there one of my headlights burned out deep into Tijuana. I was stopped by a local police officer who spoke very little English and I spoke very little Spanish. I understood enough to know that wanted to take my car because it was not "legal" and then he was going to drop us at the airport. David paid the officer some money and this caused him to "forget" about impounding my car and he let us go. It was a tense moment. We found a headlamp that night at a little shop in La Playa and changed it before heading back to San Diego.

Meetings were held at the large central Tijuana house for a number of months but the massive flooding in La Playa and other areas had finally forced the Mexican government to address the housing situation. Since flooding problems occurred during every storm season the government decided to build large tenements of solid concrete on the mesa near the Tijuana airport. Flooding was not a problem here since it was on top of a large hill with excellent drainage.  A great many people were relocated from central Tijuana to these new housing projects, including most of the people who were coming to the Tijuana meetings. This made it necessary to move the meetings to the plains by the airport. The house was given up and David North and family moved back across the border to the Casa Grande and the idea of having a permanent house in Tijuana was abandoned. Yvonne would later acquire another home in Tijuana, after my father's death, but I will address that separately since it was not an official "sanctioned" part of the ABC.

After the central Tijuana house was given up the meetings were moved to the home of a woman everyone called  "mama". On meeting days the Suburban would leave San Diego several hours before the start time, make a "bus run" picking up anyone that lived too far to walk and take them to the meetings. Most of the participants in these meetings were related in some way and all were very poor.

Altogether there was only a small handful of people that were ever touched by "The Mexican Ministry" and it officially ended not long after my father's death. I do not know exactly when since I was not around at that time but I do know, from what I heard, that San Diego became a battleground for power and control. Yvonne, my stepmother, would leave the ABC and continue the Mexican Ministry on her own. During this time she negotiated a permanent pension from the tithes.  I was not part of the ABC then but I received regular updates on the progress from Yvonne by form letter.

In the next post, and the one following, I will introduce a threatening letter that was sent to all in the ABC and some of  the anomalies that developed...mostly due to the forming of the "Mexican Ministry".

NEXT POST

21-San Diego-Heart and Family

Activities in San Diego over the next few years could only be described as frenetic.  The  all consuming  pace  of the San Diego / Mexico events has caused most everything to run together in the sands of my memory and so I have divided this section into separate subjects because I find it impossible to keep a precise timeline.  Also,  I know very little of what happened in  the other areas; Grants Pass, Vancouver / Portland, Denver, etc. during this era so I focus my observations  strictly on the San Diego /Mexico events.

I lived in San Diego this time until February 1985, but was removed from the ABC in January 1984 by my father. I still lived and worked in San Diego but had very little contact with the ABC during that final year. I then left San Diego again and moved back to the Puget Sound region.

FAMILY CHANGES

Not long after returning to San Diego; in February of 1980; my grandmother on my fathers side passed away. It was not unexpected as she had pancreatic cancer; but it was still still difficult for me.  I dearly loved her and, knowing she was so ill,  had made an out of the way trip to her place on the move back to San Diego. I knew this would be the last time I would ever see her and it was heartbreaking to leave. It has been twenty-eight years at the time of this writing and it still feels like a great loss. Her death was quite a blow to my father as well. Having been an only child he had always been quite close to his mother. We visited often as I was growing up and spent  nearly every Thanksgiving or Christmas at her house. She was an incredible person and I still miss her very much.

About two years after my grandmother died my grandfather, on my father's side, died as well but his death created a great deal of tension in the family because of "things". My dad, worried that other members off the family would swoop in and grab stuff from his apartment, had me accompany him on a mad dash to Kennewick to empty out the contents and drive it all back to San Diego in a U-Haul truck. I did not know, at the time, that what we were doing was technically illegal since probate had not yet completed. It was rumored later, by my oldest brother,  that we had taken things from the apartment that were actually pledged to him by my grandmother in her will. That may have been; I really don't know;  I received nothing from my grandmother's things and it all went to fill up my dad's home in San Diego. It was also rumored an account had been established for each of us three boys payable after my grandfather's passing; and this may be true as well. My dad was executor of the estate and refused to show any of us the will. No copy was filed with the county as the estate was small.  I moved on though; it was only money and things; but the last time I spoke with my oldest brother (now my sister) he was still steaming about the way everything had happened.  I don't blame him for his upset. The allegation I had been party to this was not true as I had no personal stake whatsoever. I simply helped drive the truck at my dad’s request.

My dad was still in recovery from heart surgery during  this trip to Kennewick. It was his plan to drive my grandfather's car back to San Diego but he became too weak to finish the journey so we left him at an airport (I have forgotten which city that was in) and he flew back.  A man named Don and I then finished driving  the car and truck back to San Diego.  An interesting side note to this  journey; the truck given to us by U-Haul was very old and decrepit and literally got two miles per gallon, or less. This meant we had to stop about every fifty miles for fuel. In central California the exits are sometimes fifty miles apart so there were points in our journey we were unsure we could even make it to the next station. We did make it fine but documented the fuel guzzling with receipts and U-Haul reimbursed us for the fuel. 

HEART DISEASE

During the holiday season of 1981 we went as a group to view the Christmas lights on a lane in Chula Vista. On this excursion, after walking just half a block from the van,  my dad became completely winded. He went back to the van and waited for the rest of us to return.  He insisted at the time that this was "just a cold" and said he felt like he had "asthma". He actually turned out to have a faulty heart valve and  congestive heart failure. He ignored this for a while longer but when it got worse he had no choice  but to seek  medical help. He had avoided visiting the doctor because he lacked  health insurance but once he visited a cardiologist, and was tested, he was scheduled nearly immediately for a valve replacement surgery and quadruple bypass. He was  actually near death on that outing to see the lights and his heart was in very bad shape by the time he made it to a doctor. A special offering was taken to cover the surgery costs.

I was not working at the time; since I had been injured on the job; and spent most of my days at the hospital until he was out of the woods. It was not clear whether he would actually survive the surgery; since it was so extensive; and for about five days two nurses monitored multiple IV lines that kept his heart rhythm stabilized. It was a grueling recovery and there was quite a bit of concern he would not survive.

My dad survived the surgery and, directly afterward, changed his diet drastically. He lost weight, began walking several miles each day and even joined a gym but these new habits eventually dropped off and his life returned to the hectic schedule he had kept before the surgery. The surgery saved his life and gave him an extra five or so years. He died on October 25, 1985 of a sudden heart attack in a Mexican Restaurant in San Diego. I know very little details of the incident but it is my understanding he was eating out with David North and his wife when he suddenly complained of weakness. After this, he fell from the booth and was gone. There were efforts to revive him by paramedics but they failed.  No one ever called me to let me know what happened. 

I am convinced part of him was lost during this heart surgery. I have read up on this extensively and am also acquainted with a doctor who specializes in the treatment of heart disease. This doctor helped move me beyond some major health problems of my own a few years ago; not heart related;  and I now follow his plan for my heart and health to the letter.  This doctor stated it is well known in the medical community; although not widely publicized; that small brain injuries occur during most heart surgeries. This is due to the plaques and fat globules that break free during surgery and strike the brain.  These injuries, when they occur, can alter mood and temperament if the damage occurs in the frontal lobe. There were specific instances after my dad's surgery I believe indicate this happened. My dad became much stronger physically, for a while, but there were things about him mentally that changed dramatically.  He had become much more emotional but not everyone noticed this. I did. One of the last times we spent together; at a restaurant in Alpine California; he broke down sobbing right in the middle of the restaurant. This was quite unlike him.  He felt he was no longer able to keep up with the pace of the thing he had created (the ABC) but felt it was an obligation "from the people" to keep going.  Then he began talking about his death--as if it were imminent. This was a good indicator he had become very depressed but I didn't understand that at the time. The next time I saw him, after this incident, he was right back to the mad dash that defined his life. He began to have frequent middle of the night sessions of extreme anxiety and would sometimes not sleep and pace the floor for hours. I discovered this when I spent a few nights at his house after my divorce.  It was also very soon after our restaurant encounter that I would find myself disowned.  I do not contribute the disowning itself to the changes after the surgery; it had happened too many times to others over the years; but I do however blame the vicious manner in which it was accomplished on these changes brought about by the surgery. At least I hope so. 

RESIDENCE CHANGES

When I arrived in San Diego the bus had been  permanently parked at the San Ysidro RV park and a park model trailer had been purchased and moved in next to it which gave my dad and Yvonne plenty of  extra space to live.  This also  allowed my step-siblings; who were now teenagers;  more room and privacy. Both bus and trailer were parked just ten feet from the Interstate 5 freeway though and the roar of traffic, even at night, was deafening. This was an unacceptable place for someone with serious heart disease to live so my dad's doctor ordered a move away from the freeway...right away!  

The first move would be to a small apartment nearby in Chula Vista. This move to the apartment would be the first time, since 1973, that my dad and Yvonne had lived in regular housing. After this  move  David North took over use of the the bus and trailer and my dad never returned again to living in them.
The apartment, a small two bedroom, got my dad into a quiet environment and it was here that he returned from his heart surgery. I picked him up at the hospital to bring him home and, for some reason, he wanted to get his haircut before he went home. This we did. It was a rather unusual request because my dad had very little hair left but the barber made a couple of small snips and he was done. I think it probably made him feel as though he could get back to normal life and was actually a good moment between us; one of very few. He was still quite weak and needed help walking so this was one of those very rare moments we ever had to just talk and be friends. It was odd for me because my dad was never one that needed much help.

I don't recall exactly how long my dad lived in the apartment but the move changed his outlook. He seemed to  no longer desire life as an itinerant minister. He just wanted to settle down and this was quite a change for him.  I remember one time; when I was thirteen and we had first moved to San Juan Island; we had gone together looking at an old small ferry.  His plan was to move a mobile home onto the car deck for instant living space then convert the passenger deck into a  floating church. He wanted to then travel from island to island preaching.  The ferry, as it turned out, had no engine, was sitting next to the Puget Sound on dry ground, and it would have cost a great deal to bring it back to usable shape. Then there was also the little problem of needing an engine crew to actually run it.  It was a fun idea at the time but was one he quickly abandoned as impossible.

Once my dad recovered from the surgery he decided the apartment was too small. He also felt it was senseless to pay rent on an apartment as well as two RV spaces. For the same cost he could purchase one large  home. I was not involved in the search for this home but he eventually found a very large home in a rather nice neighborhood of Chula Vista. It was soon labeled "The Casa Grande" due to it's enormous size. It had, as I recall, four bedrooms, a huge den / family room as well as a very large living / dining room. A large kitchen sat in the middle of it all and in back was a huge patio with nicely landscaped yard. This house was sold years later and another even larger home with an in ground pool was purchased. I was not in the ABC at the time but saw it when I returned for the funeral.

Not long after the move to Casa Grande, David North and his wife also moved into the Casa Grande as well. The trailer was towed to the Alpine RV park in the mountains and the bus, I believe, was moved into a storage lot. It was never used again by the ABC and I assume it was eventually sold.

In my next post I will detail the development of the Mexican Ministry and in the following post will cover a few of the anomalies it spawned.

NEXT POST

20-Back to San Diego-"Mexican Ministry" Roots

The rooting of the "Mexican Ministry of the Assembly of the Body of Christ" as part of the ABC dates to May 9, 1978. This is the day a tape was sent to all the elders asking for money to be paid for a man named Luis in Mexico.  This matter was introduced as a catalyst that would  "open a new ministry for every one of us".  The tape was recorded in San Diego just before I left to Grants Pass to finish school. At the very end it names me as the contact person but I did not actually remain in San Diego long enough to fulfill that role nor was I aware, at the time the tape was made that my dad was placing me in that role. It actually appeared to be an afterthought of his the next day.  I might have assumed that role if I had remained  in San Diego but with the actual direction the “Mexican Ministry” took I am quite certain I would not have continued for long.

The entire tape is 26 minutes long and has been converted to an .mp3 file. The link is found below should you want to listen to the entire twenty-six minutes. For those not wanting to spend twenty-six minutes listening I provide a quick synopsis in bullet points below. Should you choose to listen, it does take a moment for the recording to begin and it should open automatically in your default audio player (Real, Windows Media Player,etc.) If you desire to save the file, for review later, "right click" and then choose "save link as". 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE "LUIS TAPE"
  • Tape purpose: To open a new ministry for everyone.
  • My dad became close to man in Mexico named Luis, age 29, from Nicaragua, He took a trip with him from Tijuana to Ensenada.
  • On this trip Luis told a story in confidence about leaving Nicaragua after the 6.2 earthquake in 1972. He had, per his report, intended to enter the U.S. while the border was open for disaster evacuees. Luis stated he got a Visa to Mexico then hitchhiked from Mexico City to Tijuana. He then discovered the US border was closed to evacuees and so he alleged he became stranded in Mexico.
  • Luis is portended to be an honest man who speaks English, Japanese and several other languages. He now worked in Mexico, established himself in Tijuana; married, had a child, but then lost his citizenship in Nicaragua because he had been away for five years. He alleged he became a man without a country and stated he had to lie on his marriage certificate about his age, place of birth, fathers name and even falsified his name in order to get married. (Note: Luis never stated what his real name actually was and there were a few, including me, who questioned the validity of his story. A check of Nicaraguan law showed one does not lose citizenship by being away for five years.  The only way citizenship is lost is when a person voluntarily acquires a foreign citizenship other than with a country Nicaragua has a dual nationality agreement with.)
  • Luis wants help now to become a citizen of the US so my dad spoke with a US attorney. That could only happen if Luis had $40,000 or could find job no one else could do. Neither is possible for him.
  • Luis wants instead to become a Mexican citizen; then he can get a passport to enter US and get a job. It is Is a long process, very costly and since there are lies on his marriage certificate it is not possible without a Mexican attorney.
  • My dad found a tourist public defender in Mexico with ties to the Mexican Government that can bribe officials to have the marriage license changed to eliminate the four lies. If not fixed, Luis could supposedly be jailed.  Luis is considered by y dad to be a responsible citizen, not a  smoker, drinker, and happily married so this may be possible.
  • The reason for the tape is to ask for $2000.00, maybe more, to have this attorney pay off the four Mexican government officials and have the marriage license corrected.
  • My dad states he prayed about it and “the Lord showed him” the ABC had learned about tithing, and offerings but now God wants to use this opportunity to teach the ABC about alms.
  • My dad feels this is an opportunity to minister to Luis, have him become part of the ABC, and then through Luis get acquainted with other Mexican men and families that may want to associate with the ABC.
  • To help Luis the money cannot, by scripture, be used from tithes or offerings, it must come only from alms. If people will send the money for this my dad is confident "the Lord will bless the whole congregation."
  • It will take a year or two to complete the process but the attorney first needs at least $200.00 to get started.
  • Luis's wife was “impressed with my dad and the honesty in his face”. My dad states, God is moving in the Mexican area and they are dealing with another family too and plan to spend the night at this families house. Another  man volunteered to become an interpreter if my dad begins to teach in Mexico.  (It is interesting to note that no one in “The Mexican Ministry” ever took the effort to become fluent in Spanish.  Instead more money was always asked of the people to hire interpreters.)
  • Afterthought on tape: My dad said he couldn't sleep after making the tape and paced the floor all all night. He discovered there was an error on the tape. He stated alms are to be given only in secret and should never be made public. We are commanded to tithe he stated and are expected to give offerings he commented and we are blessed in these things through our obedience however it is only in giving alms we are truly blessed. Alms should be given quickly, he stated, before the right hand knows what the left has done.
From my many experiences with my dad calling to ask me to go begging for more money this tape seemed just another shakedown. The ABC, at this time, was becoming quite wealthy and my dad was even talking about the eventual purchase of a jet to fly up and down the coast to teach. The bus became a series of larger and larger and wealthier homes. The Casa Grande being the final one before my dad died.

I know very little of what happened in San Diego the two years I was away at school. By the time we returned in May of 1980 "The Assembly of the Body of Christ" group in San Diego had become much less Navy.  Most of the guys had fulfilled their enlistments, many had married, and most of the the original "San Diego group" had moved on to other cities. In their place, a smaller group of "just plain working folk" existed. While there were a few "new babes", most living in San Diego now had either moved in from other areas or had been around a while. This made the San Diego group mostly self-sustaining and my dad, freed from having to assist with the daily activities of the church in San Diego, and all other areas as well, began focusing his efforts out of the country, in Tijuana Mexico.

The bus was permanently parked at the San Ysidro RV Park in South San Diego; just one mile from the Mexican border; and my dad had also purchased a park model trailer  that sat next to the bus giving them much more room to live. This permanently ended their cramped living style in the school bus. Jon and Lavonne maintained their bedrooms in the dual lofts in the bus and my dad and Yvonne used the trailer as their primary living area.  The downside was that LaVonne had very little oversight and her drug habit was now completely out of control.  David North, his wife and family had also moved into the RV park and were assisting with the newly forming "Mexican Ministry."

Gilbert Larson had begun forming a new group in Denver Colorado; Bruce Leonard had moved to Vancouver Washington  from Seattle and there were  meetings being held in both Vancouver Washington  and Portland Oregon; across the Columbia river. Grants Pass still continued meetings after I left but was in a slow process of separating themselves permanently from the ABC. A few of the ex-navy guys from San Diego had moved to Belfair Washington and had begun civilian work at the naval shipyard and they had a very small meeting with just their families. This group never gained much in attendance beyond just those few families.

We spent the first few nights after our return to San Diego on the fold out bed in the back of the bus while we looked for a place to live. We eventually found a nice apartment near where we had lived before and, about a year later, moved to an apartment in subsidized housing.

This time I would not be attending school so I set out to look for work. I could not find work right away but got by fine with a few temporary positions; such as delivering telephone books. Borrowing on my previous vending experience I eventually found a job with a vending company. It was a great place to work and I had a great boss. My wife was able to find work at the Glorietta Bay Inn in Coronado.
In Grants Pass we were able to sustain our family on just my income, and my wife stayed home with the kids. In San Diego it was much more expensive to live and that required both of us to work. Not ideal, but we managed.

My first introduction to how the "Mexican Ministry" operated came about a week after we arrived back in San Diego. My dad invited us to go along with him on his “rounds” in Tijuana. I had been to Tijuana many times as a tourist but my dad now had certain shopkeepers; in a mall area below the main boulevard; he visited several times per week. During these visits he would pray for their businesses. He had, it seemed, become good friends with many of the people in the mall and a few in the shops on the main street above as well.

In the next post, we settle into San Diego again and life begin to take a lot of turns.

NEXT POST

19-State of the Family Address

As I move into the final  San Diego period;  well final for me anyhow since I have no plans to live there again; I jump slightly ahead in the story and talk about the impact my dad's "church-building" had on both his natural and adopted family. This is important to reference because if a man cannot build an earthly family correctly, and give it some glue, how can he be expected to build a spiritual family that also maintains some glue. It is, I believe, not possible.
...but if a man doesn't know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the assembly of God?
                                                                1 Timothy 3:5
I claim no perfection with family building since in many ways I failed that role myself. I did what I learned; even if what I learned was very wrong but I have no intention of ever starting a church, as my dad did, and do not feel qualified.  I do not regard my dad as being qualified either.

A major era in my life  ended in San Diego and the events during this period caused my dad to thrust me completely out of the church he started as well as out of his life.  In many ways I was present in his life but not once did I really ever feel I was in his life. When he finally disowned me completely; because I would not see everything exactly as he did; he did not tell me himself. He left word with another individual that if they saw me again they were to tell me he never wanted to see me again. It is a promise he kept to the day he died and is a scar that will probably never heal.  Despite our differences, and despite the pain he brought to me and to many other people, I still wish we had been close for at least a short period.  It never happened. Sadly, only a very few questioned his actions...then or now.  It is, and was, assumed that since he had appointed himself  "the apostle", everything he did or said must have been correct and "from God." From an insider of both his family and church it was not.   He was fallible just like anyone else. He committed many acts which would have caused anyone else in the church  to be "disciplined" or cast out. Yet, because of his self appointed status, he was never once called to account for his actions.

After my dad's death, and after many of the facts of the  "Mexican Ministry" period began to surface,  Gilbert Larson visited me at my home in Port Orchard WA. (I had moved there shortly after being ex-communicated the first time.)  Gilbert acknowledged I had been wronged, apologized on everyone's behalf, told me God needed me "in the body" and requested I return.  After my dad thrust me out I had no intention of ever returning to the ABC; especially after the humiliation I suffered in front of my brothers when I was told by David North I was not welcome at his funeral.  My  brothers; who had long ago rejected the ABC; were apparently welcome to attend, yet I was not.  (Note: after my oldest brother made a scene and threatened a lawsuit against the ABC they backed down and let me attend. However I was told if I attended I was not allowed to speak. I went to the funeral but it really just felt like the final abandonment by my father. He seemed to reach beyond the grave to wound me one more time. That sting  hurts to this day. If I were to put our family history on display my dad had a history of abandoning his family even long before I was born. )

After Gilbert visited my home I did not return to the ABC right away but my wife did. I waited a few months then, taking the apology bait, returned. I had no idea then I was simply being played on a hook by Gilbert so he could trade more easily on my dad's name.  My first realization of this came when I discovered Gilbert was reprinting  the book "The Three Rests"  my dad wrote when he was living and was putting my father's name, picture and mailing address on the back cover as if he was still alive and on could write to him!  I was deeply offended by this and told Gilbert so quite emphatically.  He suggested, when we spoke, that perhaps he should have talked to me first before representing my dad on the book as if he was alive.  I would have said no" and  am quite certain this is why he did not ask but the practice of presenting someone who is deceased as having a PO Box where one could write seems out of line with normalcy.

My brother, two years my senior; and also once an elder in the ABC holding regular meetings in his home;  left "the group" suddenly in 1978 declaring  it to be "cultlike"  and overly authoritative. He told me then he did not like the directions things were heading since he saw that people were beginning to lose their ability to think for themselves. At the time he mildly suggested I get out too. I did not listen then but I wish I had.

As a teen and pre-teen my oldest brother ran away from home on a frequent basis and had to be forced back. This made him an angry person when I was a kid and when he turned seventeen  he began bothering my parents about dropping out of high school and joining the Navy instead. He could not stand living at home any longer. This was much more than a teen rebellion. He had good reason for wanting to get away from our home.  There is no reason to list all the messy details here but life at our home was much less than calm. My parents would not sign for him to join the Navy right away but  he continued to bug them and when he graduated  high school, seven months later in June the following year, they finally relented and signed him into the Navy.  He left home, four months before his eighteenth birthday, and shipped out to Viet Nam.  The last time I saw him  he was still venting about the abuses he suffered in our family home.  He is no longer the oldest boy however.  Not long after our last contact, at age fifty, he changed his gender through surgery and identifies as female.  He was never part of the ABC.

I have two step-siblings; a stepbrother Jon and a stepsister LaVonne. I  have not seen them since the day I was disowned so I know little first hand about their current lives. I know only what I have heard through the grapevine.  My stepbrother, while I lived in San Diego, had a few run-ins with the law, as well as a substance abuse problem. The last I heard he had moved to LA, straightened out his life and had a great job with a telecommunications company.  He was very smart when he applied himself and I have no doubt he has done well.  He too separated himself from the ABC as soon as he was able to leave home and did not  return. 

My stepsister began drifting into drug use at about age eleven or twelve. At last report she was trying to survive on the streets of San Diego with  a serious substance abuse problem and was making money for her drug addictions in any way she could.  If she has straightened out her life since I wish her well.

My stepmother, Yvonne, retains a monetary connection with the ABC  through a retirement fund paid from the monthly tithes. That retirement plan has been a point of contention within the church for many years.  She no longer has any connection to the meetings, decision making or to the church in any other way than monetary. 

There was a time not many years ago when all of the anger I had stuffed about what my dad had done to our  family and his adopted family  began leaking out whenever I was alone.  I would shout at him even though I knew very well  he lay silent beneath the ground at the Naval cemetery in Point Loma and could never hear or respond. These one-sided angry  dialogues served no real purpose other than to reveal I had plenty of buried anger to deal with. I have done that, but still so much wish he was not beyond the reach of my words so I could tell him how I feel.  He left behind quite a lot of pain in our family, as well as many other peoples families and lives, that will never be resolved.
 
The last day I saw my dad alive was in that hastily called "body counsel" in San Diego, I had asked to speak to him privately in his office but he adamantly refused. He became enraged at my request, ran out the front door, got in his van in a  rage and drove out of control across the lawn. He did not return that night before I left and passed word through others he had  disowned me. It was heartbreaking then, and even more so now. When I see others present him as a "man of God" and feel that he had something more from God than the rest it is quite honestly painful. He was not in control and this last incidence of rage was not an anomaly. I have no doubt the grace of God and his mercy will cover the  mistakes he made but I cannot view him  as someone more special than any other person.  He was simply a man with faults like any other and the myths that have grown around his life are hard to hear because I was there in his real life and know the truth.

My dad was loved by many and honestly, despite my anger at his actions toward our family, I  loved him too. He was my dad, he did have a good side, and I would never regard him as plotting or evil.  He was simply driven to fulfill his goal of heading up a church and mistakenly let that goal own him. Even to the point of abandoning his family responsibilities and even to point of being deliberately manipulating through lies.   I was, at one time, early on, an admirer of what I thought was his vision--that of a group of people could serve God in peace, love  and true fellowship--but the words he spoke never quite matched  the reality of what actually happened. 

While I loved my dad, he did not ever truly love or respect his natural family back. We were mostly a burden to him that interfered with his "mission" of building a church of his own design. He pulled us along on his ever growing quest to build the church simply out of obligation. On San Juan Island, when that burden became too great, he simply left his family behind and  pursued his "church building" instead but with even more fervor. For some reason, at this time; and this has always confused me;  he abandoned his natural family but then immediately adopted a brand new family. 

My dad left a legacy of  a broken family then left behind the legacy of a very broken church. This church "The Assembly of the Body of Christ"  follows in the footsteps he left behind and leaves in its wake broken hearts and broken people just like my father left behind a broken family.  The concept of abandonment in the ABC was  learned directly from the practices and example of my father Ramon A Haas. Gilbert Larson told me more times than I can possibly count that God hates divorce.  Yet my father not only divorced my mother, he also divorced his family. It is only  because my mother was not a stronger person that we boys ended up living with him. It was clear we were not entirely welcome in his home.The bible states that Jesus came to heal,  lift burdens and set us free:
The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, Because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim release to the captives, Recovering of sight to the blind, To deliver those who are crushed, And to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke 4:17-19 
When I removed the polarized lenses that shielded my view of all that is unpleasant,  it became glaringly clear to me the concepts of Christ's ministry; healing, lifting burdens setting at liberty, etc. are opposite of those in evidence in the ABC and that causes me great sadness.

In the next post I will share a tape sent to the elders at the very beginning of the "Mexican Ministry and a little on how the Mexican Ministry got started.

NEXT POST

18-Grants Pass

I loved  Grants Pass. The town, the climate, the people, the river, Blind George's popcorn, and especially the peace and quiet of a small town. I've been back a few times, just passing through mostly, and the small town has now grown into a small city. It is not the same as in the 70's when it was a wonderful peaceful small town place to be and very friendly.

When we first arrived in Grants Pass from San Diego we had an apartment waiting for us. Gabriel, the guy with the figs in San Diego, had left the navy, moved there and was friends with the manager of the complex where he lived. As such, he had arranged to have an apartment ready and waiting for us when we arrived. We just showed up, moved our stuff in that night and the next morning signed the paperwork. It was the easiest move I had ever made.

We settled in quickly, I enrolled in school for my remaining two terms and before long I had earned all the credits I needed to graduate and receive my diploma from Southwestern College in Chula Vista CA. This I got in May of 1979...but without the transfer certificate. I contacted a few four-year schools and found that without that  transfer certificate many of my credits would not ever transfer, not even in California. It was very disappointing and since my school trust fund was scheduled to be broken soon; on my twenty-fifth birthday; to continue school would have meant making another move. I had two kids by this point and we decided we were not quite ready for that. For now, I planned to pursue full time work to pay the bills.

It was not a large group in Grants Pass. Altogether there was only about a dozen or so people, not counting children. Thursday foundation meetings were held at Rod's house and Saturday communion meeting was at Lowell's. Gilbert Larson still lived in town for part of the time I was there but then soon after moved to Denver.  He and Craig and I worked together one summer on a small surveying project in Northern California slope staking a new logging road. It was hard work pushing through fields of Manzanita  but on our very last day in the filed we managed to dig out an enormous boulder perched on a hillside and let it roll down a very large hill. It was such a great experience watching that boulder tumble and only later did we begin to wonder if there was perhaps a scout camp or a ranger station at the base of the hill. I saw no news reports of flattened cabins so I think we're probably ok.

A few families lived outside Grants Pass; in Cave junction and Merlin; so meetings were occasionally held at their houses as well. I taught a small foundation meeting in an unnamed community west of Grants Pass once per week on Tuesdays and every other week I traveled north up I-5 to teach at Mel's house in Merlin. On alternate weeks, on Saturdays, he and his wife would drive down to Grants Pass and attend the Saturday meeting there. I kept busy.

My dad was spending most of his time in San Diego now so the bus had been moved away from its place outside Lowell's house in Grants Pass and was now permanently parked at the San Ysidro RV park near the Mexican Border. This was the beginning of my dad’s forays into Tijuana and he had befriended a number of shopkeepers and was praying  for their businesses each time he would visit. This was the seed that would later become "The Mexican Ministry" and from it would be spun off a separate corporation.

My dad still made occasional trips up and down I-5 to teach at the Apex Airpark, Vancouver and Grants Pass, but always by car. The bus remained permanently planted in San Ysidro. Most times he would stop in Grants Pass for just a day or two and stay with Craig, Gilbert Larson's brother in law. Only once did he ever visit my house so I generally saw him only at the meetings.

At one Saturday meeting in Grants Pass my dad made comment he was having a difficult time keeping up with the request for his teaching tapes. He was using four cassette players with patch cords between them and copying tapes in real time. I told him, after the meeting, there were machines that copied tapes at high speed and, with one of these machines, he could duplicate a tape in about five minutes instead of the current hour.  He elected me then to the task of locating one of these machines and, after a couple trips to the library--the Internet did not yet exist--I found a mail order supply house called "Wholesale Tape and Supply" in Chattanooga Tennessee (a company I highly recommend if you have need for such things) that could supply him with the machine. They seemed very reputable and actually catered mostly to churches. My dad purchased the machine along with a case of blank tapes, had them delivered to my house then put me in charge of the tape duplication.

Tapes of my dad's teachings  had been available for quite some time. They had been built into a small informal library but this was the official beginning of what would be called "the tape ministry". The next edition of "The Communion" (the Assembly of the Body of Christ" newsletter); listed me as the direct contact for tapes. The going rate was just a buck to cover expenses. "The tape ministry" would remain in my control for about the next five years then was given to someone else to manage after  I was ex-communicated.  The individual who took it over did not understand the necessity of using "slave tapes" for high speed duplication and instead used the "master tape" on every run. The last I heard most of the masters had been destroyed from overuse so the tape library is now gone.

The group in Grants Pass was a cohesive group. Most were related in some way, by blood or by marriage, so kinship existed naturally and nearly all who were not kin had known each other through school and had been good friends most of their life. This kinship and friendship carried over into everyday life as well as in the meetings. A few were related directly to Gilbert Larson ; the Apostle; or were related by marriage. I was not related to anyone directly, but I had known most for years, felt  accepted as part of the "family" as soon as I moved there.

After I moved from San Diego my dad began making regular telephone calls to me in Grants Pass.  It was pure manipulation and not love. He would call and ask me to make suggestions to the elders or group about this hing  or that thing. Pleas for more money generally and he would want me to make sure everyone understood how great the financial needs were for his new ministry in San Diego. He would suggest ways to drop hints in the meetings that more money was needed. As time passed the phone calls became even more frequent, more desperate for money and it seemed he was becoming very frustrated with the people in Grants Pass. Felt they were not contributing their share. (I knew nothing at that time about the contentions many in Grants Pass had about the abuses they saw happening in San Diego with the tithe money.)  My dad began suggesting to me that perhaps there was "rebellion" brewing among the leaders in Grants Pass, although I had personally sensed nothing, and was quite insistent in his phone calls. He wanted me to let him know about anything I might see or hear that would indicate any sort of rebellion brewing. I felt as if I was becoming  a spy stuck in the middle of something I didn't really want to be stuck in the middle of and it was a very uncomfortable situation. I had learned not to question however and there was also the thought that perhaps he saw things I just didn't see. I kept my eyes and ears open and after a while it did seem as though a storm was brewing in the distance, like it had years earlier in Snohomish county, but I wasn't sure of the cause. I was a little concerned that perhaps the waters were about to get rough again and was not pleased I was in the thick of it.
When the storm finally did erupt and the waves finally rose and crested I was living in San Diego again on my father’s orders...but had also been ex-communicated. My family, and several other families in San Diego, were pushed out of the church in a mass ex-communication. This ex-communication took place after an impromptu "body counsel" session called by my dad. At the end of it, three whole families were ex-communicated and I was completely and publicly disowned by my father.  The meeting ended with my dad leaving the house angry to the point he drove his van across the front yard leaving deep furrows. Robin Hesley and his wife, were one of the families expelled at that time. Robin later divorced this wife then married his way back into the ABC.  After this meeting, I had very little contact with anyone on the inside of the ABC for roughly the next six years so I know only tidbits of what happened during that period. Most of what I know I have gleaned  from the details told by others who remained through the big turmoil. I can only speculate, based on my dads earlier complaints, and the little bits I have heard here and there, exactly why the Grants Pass group seceded from the ABC. It seems to me it was the same as in all previous turmoils...the secrecy over the money and autonomy.

There was one specific event during my Grants Pass days that is probably worth a mention since it hits at the heart of the ABC's attitude toward natural family. It may seem straight out of "Sound of Music", and somewhat comical now, but I think you might agree it was not one of my brighter moments.
The story is this. My natural mother; who my dad had instructed I was never to see again at age fourteen; discovered I had moved from San Diego and now lived much closer to her...in Grants Pass Oregon. She lived in Bellingham Washington still, near the Canadian Border, and how she discovered I  moved to Grants Pass is a story too long and convoluted to tell here but it involved an ex-communicated member who had also moved to Bellingham.  But this grapevine apparently worked in both directions as my dad also heard about my mother’s  plan to stop in Grants Pass to see me.  He knew of her intent to visit before I ever did. (Note: My brother and I had made just one trip up to Bellingham when I was seventeen, and he twenty, to see her. Other than this trip, I had had no other contact with mother. Not by mail, in -person or by phone. This trip when I was seventeen came off as rather tense since none of us knew how to approach our long estrangement from each other. My mother was also never informed I was to marry and she would have been forbidden to come to my "wedding" anyhow if she had somehow found out. There were many years she would completely lose contact with where I lived and had no idea I had even moved to San Diego until she found out I was moving back. This was mostly my doing but I had been led to believe, over the years, that I would be sinning if I ever contacted her. I was told that, at the least, I would become "oppressed" and would need to be prayed for and, at the worst, she might even cause me to fall away by encouraging me to leave “the body” which would then cause me to lose my salvation. I was gullible and bought into it.)

I received an urgent call from my dad a few days before my mom's impending visit. At this point, I had not even heard she was coming and was surprised that he knew about it before I did. Much later I pieced together how that all happened but it had to do with someone who used to be in the ABC but now attended my mom's church.  It’s a long convoluted story.

My dad, on this phone call, commanded me as my "father in the Lord" not to see her when she arrived. He told me she was coming to "entice me away from the body with her lies." He also told me; and looking back now I don't think it was actually true; that he was going to have the elders watch my house the day she was to arrive in order to prevent her from seeing me. It was I am certain a lie.

My mother had my phone number from information and waited until the day she arrived in Grants Pass before calling me. She telephoned me on a Sunday afternoon but, following my instructions, I turned her away rudely and told her not to come to my house. After the call my wife was quite upset about the way I had treated her and felt I was wrong. We had a rather heated discussion and I discovered she was right, I was wrong, and had a change of heart. I called my mom at the motel and said we would come over.

In order to avoid detection we waited until after dark, left out our back door, pushed the car down the alley without the lights or engine on and, once we figured no one could see or hear us, started the car, got in and  drove to her motel. Since it was late when we arrived, we didn't have much time to spend together but she didn't try to "entice me away from the body" on her visit. Although she did have some rather unkind words about not being able to find me all those years.  I do not recall becoming "oppressed" in any way from the visit and, looking back, I have been much more oppressed by the authoritarian abusive ways of the ABC than I could possibly have been by her visit. Perhaps if she had enticed me away it might have actually been a blessing.

That whole incident of pushing the car down the alley in the dark that night seems laughable now, but at the time I was only twenty-four and I was sincerely afraid of getting caught and suffering through another ABC "discipline".  I had been put through many "disciplines" for more than a decade at that point. some very humiliating.  I still wonder if anyone was really watching my house that day, or if it was just a ruse my dad used to prevent me from seeing her. I'll never really know but it would not have been the first or last time my dad lied to me to maintain control of me. My inclination is that the elders in Grants Pass probably would have not gotten involved in such a scheme. Most did not even know I had a natural mother and  assumed Yvonne was my natural mother. It was some very weird times.

My job at JC Penney was going very well for me, and I was in line for the next slot at managers training  to be held in Portland. I was to be trained as a buyer for the shoe department but, as it turned out,  I would not be afforded that opportunity. In March of 1980, I received a very distressing phone call from my dad. He called me work and was quite agitated. He began telling me one of the elders in Grants Pass was directly involved in some rather serious "evil" and; referencing the churches at the beginning of Revelation; said God was  going to remove his candlestick from its place in Grants Pass. I should get out of Grants Pass as quickly as possible, he told me, and when I did I should "wipe the dust from the bottoms of my feet" as a sign against them. His words sounded ominous and were a loose reference to the scripture in Luke 10:10-12 which reads:
But into whatsoever city you enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaves on us, we do wipe off against you: nevertheless be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.
He recommended I return to San Diego instead of going north. Even though I didn't see all this "rebellion" and "sin" he warned against I thought perhaps he just saw something I didn't.  I began making plans to leave and head back to San Diego. I was still young, very impressionable (OK I'll admit it...ridiculously gullible), extremely immature and, despite the many times my dad had led me astray and outright lied to me I just always did what he said.  Over the years I have tried to figure out why I was so obedient to his commands but having read books on the subject I have found it is quite common among many. To be honest, as I write this post I realize how stupid I may seem to have been. I'll grant that as a fair assessment but I had also been raised in a household system, since I was a youth, that required I do exactly what I was told or else be disciplined severely or humiliated before all.  At this time in my life  I just did whatever I could to avoid conflict much as possible...so I obeyed even though I hated it and felt very trapped.

I was not thrilled with leaving my job at JC Penney's, since I would soon have the prospect of becoming a manager, but I still readied myself and my family to leave behind a really nice group of people and return to San Diego. Upon my return to San Diego I would find the atmosphere quite the opposite of the love and peace I knew before. In its place was a state of constant and extreme agitation, most caused by my dad and Yvonne. I still regret this move from Grants Pass and have no doubt had I not returned to San Diego my life would have gone much better. The move to San Diego would leave what remained of our family in utter ruins and my somewhat fragile marriage, which was going along mostly fine in Grants Pass, would end.  I would also end up being disowned forever by my dad and being labeled as "in rebellion" for refusing to participate in things that were  fraudulent or illegal. More on that subject later.

After my dad disowned me, I would never see him again. He died very soon afterward and when he died, no one from the ABC had the decency to call me and let me know. I heard days later from my oldest brother who had heard from David North. I was told by David North on the day of the funeral I was to be forbidden to attend. Apparently my dad had left these instructions. But, it seems I've jumped ahead of the story a bit here and I will elaborate more on that topic in a future post. I mention this here only as a focus point on where San Diego was headed during this period.

After moving to San Diego I discovered the "evil" thing the elder and his wife in Grants Pass had done was that he and his wife  had traveled to Portland Oregon to attend a Neil Diamond concert. Worse yet they had returned home with Neil Diamond tapes to play at  home. By doing so they had "invited demons" to "the body" in Grants Pass. They had been commanded to get rid of the tapes but passed it off as a silly request and kept them anyhow. Since they had not "repented of their actions", they were considered to have rebelled against my dads authority and God was therefore going to remove the candlestick from Grants Pass and the group would die. God’s presence would leave, I was told, and they would no longer have a "sanctioned" meeting if they continued.

Yvonne apparently had received "good information", and was of the belief, that Neil Diamond was a warlock and thus his music was meant to "call demons". I heard this part of the story of their "spiritual crime", and their "giving place to the devil", as part of a lecture my dad gave me about my own music "rebellion". He insinuated I was "advocating drug use" by the music I listened to. At issue was a song on a tape I owned, sung by John Denver, called "Rocky Mountain High". 

Much of this ultra-restrictive outlook about music was influenced by a teaching from Bob Larson called "Rock Music Uncovered" and this tape could be found in the ABC tape library. One need only Google Bob Larson to discover he is obsessed with demonology, exorcisms, oppression and the like. His message during this time completely flavored the environment in San Diego though and the only way I can really describe it is that things got very very weird.

Near the end of the  lecture about John Denver music, and my supposed "impending drug addiction" if I continued to listen, my dad loudly exclaimed that I was no better than the elder and his wife in Grants Pass who worshipped the warlock Neil Diamond. They, he said, were now fully caught up in rebellion and it was destroying the whole area. I, he said, must have learned their rebellion when I lived in Grants Pass and he commanded me as my “father in the Lord” not to listen to John Denver. My defending of John Denver's music as fairly docile; as compared to lets say Inna Gada da Vida by Iron Butterfly; he considered to be rebellion.  I still listened to his music but just did so in secret.

This incident was one of the things that started opening my eyes that something was really not quite right. I was an adult, married with children and I began to realize that all of these commands to go here, go there, do this, do that, were really an abuse of authority. I should be allowed to lead my own life and make my own decisions. Most go through this "rebellion" as a teen but I had missed that period either locked in my room or on some other sort of degrading discipline. My natural teenage rebellion had been pushed into my twenties and, to this point anyhow, I had never really ever rebelled against my father. I began to rebel now though and stopped just doing everything he told me to do. He did not like that attitude.

Teenage rebellion, I have learned, is a natural stage of growing up. I was slow in realizing that I need not obey his every command, even if he were my "father in the Lord" as he claimed. Unfortunately this would end up causing me major problems later. (Note: My dad began calling himself my "father in the Lord" after the first time I balked at one of his commands on the phone in Grants Pass. I had tried to reason with him that I was married, had kids, and had long ago had "home leave me". I had my own life I had told him and was not required to do what he ordered me to do any longer. After some back and forth on this, he laid out a compelling argument that it was different for him since he had baptized me and was therefore also my "father in the Lord" and not just my natural father.  I must still obey him or I would displease God. It seemed scriptural at the moment but then lost much of its air as time wore on. Eventually, in San Diego I began to not obey his "father in the lord" commands and this earned me the label of "rebellious son". It is a label I carried with me even long after his death. I don't deserve that label.)

Yvonne, as well as my dad, had adopted some other strange viewpoints in San Diego. One of them came from a book they discovered about symbols. After reading this book, they came to the belief that star symbols (as well as many other symbols) were witchcraft symbols and if one had them displayed anywhere on their belongings it would invite demons and cause oppression. An elder up north was considered to be "in rebellion" since he had been told to to sell his Chrysler car that had stars on the upholstery but refused. Even Miss Piggy of the Muppets was not off the hook as Yvonne began teaching that Miss Piggy represented a witch since she carried a wand and had symbols on her clothes. The instruction was that children should be forbidden to watch the Muppet Show as well as even other fairly innocuous kids shows like Sesame Street since there were symbols displayed. To turn these shows on was alleged to "invite demon oppression."  Having left peaceful Grants Pass, San Diego was a shock to my system. It had changed drastically from when I lived there prior and was not the peaceful place I remembered. I did not realize this until it was much too late.

About a year after returning to San Diego my dad started dropping hints to me that there was something major brewing with the money again. This time his focus was on several individuals in Grants Pass who were  pushing for the formation of a corporation. They, it seemed, from what he was telling me,were threatening to to start a corporation of their own then run all the tithe through it first before sending part of it along to him.

I do not know exactly who led the charge to form the first corporation in Grants Pass. I can only speculate based on hearsay, but the dispute or an issue that spawned from this dispute, would eventually cause an end to the relationship between the ABC and Grants Pass years later and that first corporation would be dissolved.

It would be a few years after I left Grants Pass before the ABC connection would be completely broken but I never did see "God's destruction" rain down on the area as my dad had told me would happen. He had also prophesied Northern California would be totally destroyed in a massive earthquake and this also did not hat happen. I am sad to say I followed his instructions and brushed the dirt off my feet as a sign against them when I drove out of town. I did it because he told me and did not really understand why. It would seem that the carpet in my car got an extra dusting from my ridiculous action that day and not much else happened. I probably owe them an apology now since I have told on myself. They did not deserve my, or anyone else's scorn.
I have covered a slight bit of the San Diego period here since there were a few links between San Diego and the Grants Pass stories. In the next post I will cover some more family history then follow up with an introduction to the newly forming "Mexican Ministry". 
NEXT POST