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". 

  • 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.


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.


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". 

17-A Corporate History Primer

Note: I am entering the "Grants Pass" period in my narrative; and the period when "the group"  became officially known as "the Assembly of the Body of Christ". It is easier to give the corporate history in a single post since the transformation happened over a period of years. It will be much easier to follow show the money side of the ABC church business all at once rather than trying to list the details in different posts representing different eras.

This post is an abbreviated history of the corporate structure of the Assembly of the Body of Christ (ABC) that developed over a number of years. I have acquired as much information as I am able through public sources, as well as bits and pieces I heard from my dad and others, but there are still bits of the story I will never have access to. This part of the story is deliberately left shrouded by the leaders of the ABC and my status as son of the founder gave me not much more insight into the daily workings than any other person that is not in a leadership role.  Some of this mystery is left behind from the various power struggles over the years but money is power after all, and there is considerable money, and power, in the tithe of the ABC. It is to the direct financial benefit of a very few that the  use of the tithe money not become common knowledge.

Prior to 01/21/1982 the ABC; actually just called “the group” then; stood alone and without any sort of  legal structure. When persons would ask for proof of tithes paid my dad instructed them that  it was unscriptural to claim the tithe on your taxes. To do so would be "robbing God" since the IRS would actually then be paying your tithe and you would end up paying less than the required ten percent. Thus...you will have robbed God.  Certain persons became unhappy with this explanation and pushed for a legal structure that would allow them to claim their tithe as a deduction on their itemized tax return. But this would then mean “the group” would need to form a legal structure, and acquire a name in the process, in order to gain status as a legal non-profit. There was a great bit of consternation with many about forming "the group" into a non-profit corporation, and acquiring a name, but "the group" in Grants Pass hired an attorney anyhow to effect this and, on 01/21/1982, "the group" officially became a non-profit corporation named "The Assembly of the Body of Christ" based in Grants Pass OR. Rodney Graham, a man who was then in the group, was listed as registered agent. On 9/13/1982 my dad, having lost control, countered this move with a California corporation he would have control of and named it "The Mexican Ministry of the Assembly of the Body of Christ".  The registered agent was Michelle Oslund, a woman in the group at the time. After my father's death Michelle left the ABC completely and joined with a group Yvonne started in Tijuana Mexico and this Mexican Ministry  corporation was  dissolved.

In 1983, and well into 1984, the ABC went through the largest upheaval of its existence in both San Diego and Grants Pass. A separate corporation was formed in Colorado in August 1984 by Gilbert Larson and this finally removed corporate control from the Grants Pass group entirely. The Grants Pass corporation remained in existence just a short while longer and, on 7/24/1985 was dissolved.
Three months later, in October of 1985, my father had a massive heart attack in a Mexican restaurant in San Diego and died.

Since I had been disowned by my father in January of 1984, as well as being ex-communicated from the church, I work from third party reports on some of these facts during these years. From reports of others I heard the torch of control was uncertain for quite some time. Ultimately  that torch passed to Gilbert Larson, who had now proclaimed himself to be an apostle since he had founded a new group in Denver Colorado, and David North, from what I heard, was one of the contenders for control. He was not able to wrest control but was eventually named "the prophet",was given a home to live in paid by for by the ABC, a salary, and partial control. David had been one of the predominant players in "The Mexican Ministry" but ultimately lost in the power chess game that ensued after my father's death.  Yvonne had attempted to maintain control but was unable and left to form her own church. I had no desire to take a leadership role in my dad's church and would not have accepted even if it was offered. Those vying for power eventually pushed out Yvonne, my dad's spouse and eventually took control of his entire estate. I did receive, in the mail, a toy gong that once belonged to my dad. I had given it to him as a joke when he was laid up in bed with a severe illness when I was fourteen. This came in a box from Yvonne with a note telling me my dad wanted me to have this after his death. It was intended as an insult.

A little over five years later, on 3/11/91, two new corporations were formed in Washington state and that is where they remain today. The officers of both of these corporations are or were Gilbert Larson, Caralee Larson and James Shierman per the last public record I obtained.  Previously David North had shown as an officer. I am uncertain what led to the forming of these new corporations. The corporations are named  "Assembly of the Body of Christ" and "Assembly of the Body of Christ, Northwest Ministry". Click on "Additional Information" when following these links to view the officers. It is unclear why two separate corporations were formed instead of just one. Both have always been renewed when they are about to expire but in March of 2014 the "Assembly of the Body of Christ" corporation was allowed to expire and now only the one corporation "The Assembly of the Body of Christ, Northwest Ministry" continues. (Click pictures to enlarge)

I asked over the years, as an elder and faithful contributor, for an accounting of how the tithe money was spent. Each time my request for information was refused and I was instructed I just needed to trust God that the money was being spent correctly.  I had seen how money was spent over the years and what I saw was certain individuals fulfilling their own desires with the money, including my dad. I knew the system in place allowed no method of oversight by the people and so could be subject to great abuse by those who had set themselves as leaders. Trust only comes with transparency.


16-On to San Diego

I was at work at Sambo's restaurant when, quite unexpectedly, my dad called me from San Diego  to inform me my great aunt  Elsie  had died and left me an inheritance. I barely knew her. I had seen her only on Thanksgiving or Christmas perhaps five or six times  but when her will was read here she had left  me a good size trust fund to be used only for college. This was to my dad a "sign' that God wanted me to go to college. School's were cheaper in California  he said and counseled me that God wanted me to move to San Diego as soon as possible. He said he would help me get settled but that was another lie.

Neither myself nor my wife had ever been to Southern California so we were not sure we would even like it. Both born in the Pacific Northwest, southern California seemed like foreign territory, so we decided to go first on vacation; see if it was to our liking; and, if it was, then commit to a move. 

It took a couple months to prepare for this visit but we finally  hit the road to San Diego. We drove straight through with the exception of just one brief stop, for lunch, at a relatives place near San Francisco. We arrived in San Diego dead tired and just in time for a meeting at Susan's house.  My eyes may have been open that evening, but my brain was definitely asleep.  I remember only that my dad taught but I have no idea who was even there.

We spent less than a week in San Diego on this visit, saw a few of the sights, including a jaunt north to Disneyland for a day, but the highlight of the trip for my wife was the beach at Coronado. She loved it more than Disneyland. This convinced her San Diego was the place she wanted to be.  I admit to not being much of a "lay on the beach" person so I was not as thrilled about the beach opportunities but there definitely were a lot of other places to explore.

We returned to Klamath Falls then, shortly after the birth of our first child, I gave my notice at work, we loaded everything we owned in the trunk of the car and set sail for San Diego.  This time, since we had our infant child with us, we did not drive straight through. We stopped just south of San Francisco for one night before continuing. Our daughter was born very sick and had severe intestinal problems with chronic colic. She was in constant pain from this condition and made for a very  long drive with a screaming  infant in the back seat but we arrived in San Diego in one piece. Only after the death of her son Cameron did we learn she carried a genetic mitochondrial defect that was likely the source of this chronic colic.

On the vacation trip we had been introduced to Susan and a few others in San Diego but, this time, we were given the address of someone  I had not yet met named David North. David  and his wife lived  in Imperial Beach;  just south of San Diego, and not far from the Mexican border. When we arrived at their apartment the front door was wide open and inside there were Navy guys laying all over the floor, listening to music, talking, having fun and doing lots of eating.  Unlike most guys up north who had long hair; this was the 70's after all; these guys had neat and trim navy haircuts. Everyone said "Hi', we were invited in with open arms and given something to eat.

David North was the brother of Jackie;  one of the original attendees at the Wilcrest apartment and she had introduced him to “the group”early on. David was in the Navy and these guys were all friends he had introduced to "the group".  Everyone seemed very happy, the mood was mostly raucous, and the most prominent memory I have of that day was of a man named Gabriel who showed up with an enormous bag of figs. Not finding many takers for his figs he consumed nearly  the whole bag by himself then became quite sick and had to leave the room.

David North was on duty when we arrived but showed up later that evening. He seemed to me like a nice guy, laid back and both he and his wife were tolerant of this gang of navy guys just hanging around their house, relaxing, acting as if it were their own place.  The David I knew then is not the David I know of today.  He was a kind and gentle person  then, very tolerant of others and had a quick smile. This would change years later and he would be told that his new name “given to him by God” was  "Face of Flint". This name was given to him  through “prophecy” by Andy Atwell; the evangelist. I personally do not  regard the name as a complimentary but it is however fitting.  The David I met on this first trip to San Diego was a man of  love, tolerance and was  seemingly very compassionate and humble. The David I know now years later is indeed stony faced but also stony hearted with little tolerance in his heart.   It is sad  that this  man I once knew with a huge soft heart is now praised as having a hard face of flint which evidences the stone cold heart beneath.  If this was truly a prophecy of God by Andy I do not believe it was meant to be complimentary as has been assumed.  A heart of mercy will always trump a stony face of judgment. The Pharisees of Jesus day were men with "faces of flint" and this is not the example we should emulate.
So speak, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that has showed no mercy; and mercy triumphs over judgment.  James 2:12-13 
There was seldom a time when there was not at least one navy guy lounging around David North's apartment; day or night.  The whole aura in San Diego seemed to be one of love and acceptance of each others blemishes and wrinkles. I felt very welcome at Dave and Cindy's house. We lived there for just a short while, on their living room floor, while I found work and a place to live.

Work was much more plentiful in San Diego than it was in the northwest and finding a job took only about a week. My dad and Yvonne were still in San Diego when we arrived but,  soon after,  major trouble erupted up north. This was actually the same issues over tithe and autonomy that had been brewing under the surface since nearly the beginning and it had now erupted completely and was visible to all.  Even the “new babes” knew what was happening this time so my dad and Yvonne  left San Diego in  a rush to head north and quell the problem.

I don't recall exactly how long they were gone up north but I believe it was about a month. When they returned my dad had a letter he distributed it to all of the people in San Diego. He had already distributed this same letter in all of the other areas on his way back down and it addressed the “problems up north", detailed the "disciplines" that had been laid down and ordered that the men “causing trouble”, and their wives and entire families, were to be shunned as "rebellious".  Some, including myself,  also received a tape of that meeting.

There had been discipline in the group prior to this event but this new level of discipline; born as a result of that Bob Mumford meeting a couple years earlier; was a massive ex-communication of peoples and was intended to leave the subjects completely humiliated and devastated. This practice is in stark contrast to scripture (which the ABC contends they follow more closely than all others) which tells us we are to build each other up and to show mercy.  A few who were not in  leadership positions were  "disciplined" rather than fully ex-communicated that day  but these people were forbidden to take communion and told they must sit in the back of the room and were not allowed to speak.

Paul, in the scripture, realized he had it within his nature and temperament  to cause this type of destruction simply by weight of his authority.  Rather than visit Corinth personally he sent them a letter instead. At the very end of his letter to the Corinthian church (a church with some huge issues by the way) he wrote:
Now I pray to God that you do no evil; not that we may appear approved, but that you may do that which is honorable, though we are as reprobate. For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. For we rejoice when we are weak and you are strong. And this we also pray for, even your perfecting. For this cause I write these things while absent, that I may not deal sharply when present, according to the authority which the Lord gave me for building up, and not for tearing down. 2 Corinthians 13:7-10 
The tape I was given was ninety minutes long but did not actually contain a recording of the entire meeting. It is my understanding the meeting ran about three hours or more and, since there was only one blank tape available,  only the first half of the meeting was actually recorded.  Ninety minutes  was plenty of tape to realize the room was full of puffed up egos on both sides  of the issue, there was lots of shouting back and forth with little true communication and nothing in that room was being done for anyone's edification. The meeting  did not bear any good fruit and should have never happened. I listened only to a small segment of the tape before turning it off.  It was not edifying to listen to and only brought me sadness. These were people I knew well and had been quite good friends with for many years. Many years later I found that tape again, during a move,  and listened to the entire ninety minutes. Most of the emotion of the time was gone and  I listened to the entire tape. It was mostly just a lot of incoherent shouting, bickering and arguing over what seemed like very petty matters to me. The predominant issue on my dad's side was still the differing viewpoint over  when a person receives the Spirit; going into the water or coming  out; and the main target of the inquiry tried to acquiesce many times, saying it was a minor point to him and he did not wish to argue it. My dad, however, did not want to let it go and continued to bulldog the point for the entire ninety minutes on the tape. The real issue was still money and autonomy but this subject was again pushed aside in order to argue out this minor point.

All of the people involved in this latest scuffle I would never see again. This would be the first of many times arguments such as this would rise and "the group" would split after unbearable "disciplines" were placed.  Based on my own event, a person is now even considered  "eternally judged" and is now forbidden to even speak in their own defense.  This new twist ends any arguments, makes the accusers always right; at least in their own eyes; and nearly finishes the progression of conquering people completely.

I found work within days of moving to San Diego with Aero-Pacific vending. It was a good job and soon my wife and I would settle in to our own place and everything went well at first. I had a few conversations with the bank that held my college trust  fund and discovered it was not large enough to pay my tuition and books, plus living expenses for a guy who now had a family. I decided full time college would have to wait, so took only one night class for a year (1975-76).  Unlike high school, college was quite enjoyable and this taste of higher learning made me look forward to continuing my education.  

After living in San Diego a short time  a man named Robin Hesley, and his first wife,  felt "impressed by God"  that I, and my family, should move with he and his family to Phoenix Arizona and begin meetings there.  My job with the vending company was  requiring me to go to some rather obscene book stores to service the machines so I decided it was probably best to quit that job anyhow. I gave notice at work and  our apartment and one month later moved to Phoenix Arizona. Robin, and his family, intended  to follow us a few weeks later but his wife was pregnant and, since Robin had been in the Navy when she became pregnant, she wanted to give birth to her baby in San Diego at the Naval hospital as there would be no cost for the delivery. We waited. Two short weeks later we received a call from Robin in San Diego. His baby had died shortly after birth and the plans to move to Phoenix had changed...they were no longer coming.  We found ourselves alone  in the middle of a hot Phoenix summer with a small child and a  car with no air conditioning.  Phoenix was not turning out to be the picnic we had expected so we decided, that night, we would not stay. We begged the apartment manager to let us out of our one-year lease and made plans to move at the end of the month. After the dreadful heat of Phoenix we both missed the Northwest and decided not to return to San Diego. Instead we drove back to San Diego, made a brief stop to visit, then headed north to the Apex Airpark. On our route, we made a brief stop in Beaverton Oregon, to stop at Gilbert Larson's house. We lingered in Beaverton and I spent a few weeks working with the surveying firm he worked for. I had spent part of a summer with Gil as "rod man" on a crew but still knew very little about surveying so this did not go well.  We went north to Silverdale but did not end up staying long as my dad came again to the area, told us we were wrong to have left San Diego,and said “God wanted us to return”. We were obedient and we returned.

We returned to San Diego in the spring of 1977 and I enrolled in Southwestern College again, but now as a full time student. I declared my major as undecided  but my unspoken goal was to attend Southwestern for two years then transfer to a four-year school and pursue a degree in Geology. My ultimate goal was to work  for the United  States Geological Survey and I would have continued on that path but, in my first semester, I had enrolled in a Psychology class. The class was  part of the requirements to receive a transfer certificate from Southwestern to a four-year school.  My dad quizzed me about the classes I had enrolled in and when I mentioned the psychology class chastised me for enrolling in it. He demanded I drop the class and the reason given was that it would “teach me earthly wisdom" and “shake my faith in God”.  I had attended only one session of the class and I chose to drop it rather than fight my dad on the issue.  I then sought a major that did not require psychology but that was very difficult so the only option was to opt out of my desire to get a transfer certificate.  I found only one path that did not require psychology and I declared a new major. I have regretted not fighting my dad on this issue as it completely altered the career path I wanted. I truly do not think a few psychology classes would have shaken my faith in God. In fact it may have actually opened my eyes to the abusive manipulation of my father and his church and this likely was the real reason I was pressured to stay away from this class.

I continued at Southwestern College through Spring of 1978 when Proposition 13 closed the school. I was advised by the college that  there was a school in Hayward where I could finish my credits. The Hayward school would then transfer these credits back to Southwestern for my degree.  I moved to Hayward but this school also ended up closing  due to Prop 13. I called Southwestern and was advised I could attend an out of state school,they would still accept all of the credits as their own and issue me a degree. I chose Rogue Community College in Grants Pass Oregon since I had known people in Grants Pass for years and loved the town. We gave notice on our apartment after living there only a week and moved north to Grants Pass. 

After a short "corporate history primer" I will cover my Grants Pass days and the turn of events that caused me to be ordered by my dad (who was now calling himself my  "father in the Lord") to suddenly vacate Grants Pass and move back again to San Diego. It would turn out to be a very very bad decision to follow these instructions.


15-Apex Airpark

Some who left the Assembly of the Body of Christ (ABC) and found peace later remarked that looking back they must have been wearing rose colored glasses.  I have pondered this statement for quite some time and have felt the same. One day however I came to the realization the glasses were not actually rose colored...they were polarized. These "polarized" glasses effectively masked the glaring errors right  before me even though they were very apparent to one not viewing them in a polarized manner.  There have been many glaring problems, and upheavals, over the years but we in the ABC just put on our polarized lenses and pretended they did not exist.

As I look back at my life in the ABC and how I and my family were treated I realize how much fallacy  I actually just blocked out. There have been several periods in my life when I was able to escape all, or most, of  the ABC's influence and it was during these periods I found times of peace. Why I left that peace and returned to the ABC is not so really a mystery as I returned the second time out of a sense of imposed guilt. More on that later.

Much of the "under the surface" tumult; glare if you will; is invisible to the newcomer as they are deliberately shielded from it. This way, by standard practice in the ABC, the "new babe is not harmed". It is impossible to keep these glaring problems  hidden forever though and when it finally comes to light the new person is advised, "for the sake of unity" just put on these polarized lenses like everyone else, ignore the glare of problems and upheavals all around you, and continue with us in the same direction. 

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by them that make peace. James 3:17-18 
The goal in life should be peace. There is not a great deal of  peace in the ABC.
I lived just a short while in Santa Cruz after my dad and Yvonne suddenly left. The restaurant where I worked shut down and I found myself in an even worse financial situation than when I first came. My single option was to call my dad. I was surviving only because my neighbors were very generous and were providing  me with food and companionship. I had been ordered by my dad to have nothing to do with these neighbors since they would “pull me away from the body” but they were very kind, generous and very good friends. It was no longer just  a matter of food though as I was no longer able to  pay my space rent. I knew I could not rely on their generosity forever so I had two choices left. Live on the street or return "home".

I called my dad and told him about my situation. He ordered  me to come back to the Seattle area to the Apex Airpark in Silverdale Washington where they were staying.  I was told that if I could find a way there someone would buy my trailer from me and he stated he would help me out until I found work.  I borrowed forty dollars from my charitable neighbor and headed north up I-5 to the Apex Airpark. I arrived two days later after a brief stop in Grants Pass. 

The Apex Airpark is a small private airport community that was then owned by a sweet woman named Roberta Walker.  Most called her either Mom or Grandma, depending on their age, since she was extremely generous in many ways. Roberta's  husband had built Apex Airpark from a raw piece of ground decades earlier and had unfortunately died before his visions of a planned community were completed. Roberta now ran this private airport all on her own with a little help from a few of the local residents.  The runway has since been paved but  then it was still just  dirt and gravel with crude lighting.  

Roberta was  introduced to "the group" through her daughter Janet who was one of the original group members in Mountlake Terrace. Roberta had  offered the use of a large space next to her home to park the bus and, since the bus was not handling the strain of the additional weight of the conversion, my dad used this as an opportunity to rebuild the engine. He was in the middle of that project when I arrived. On that very evening  I arrived my dad told me to clean out my trailer, had me sign over the title to him, then told me to tow the trailer over to Ralph and Karen’s house on the back side of the airpark.  It was my understanding  they were buying the trailer from me; I had made all of the payments on it except for the first sixty-dollar down payment which my dad made for me in Klamath Falls but I never saw a dime from the “sale”. Not long after the trailer was gutted and converted to a goat shed. It was sad to see since, even though it was very small, this had been my home.  I was angry,felt cheated and lied to but I still remained gullible, obedient and felt if I did not do what I was told God would certainly punish me.

After I dropped the trailer off at at Ralph and Karen's house  I asked my dad where I was supposed to live. He showed me to an old bus that had been left at the airpark by Jim; the man who had help construct my dad's bus.  The bus  had no bed, no stove, no table, and was basically just a ramshackle empty space full of garbage and mouse droppings. An old mattress was thrown on the floor and this was to be my new bed and home. My dad promised he would help me  fix it up later and told me he envisioned me traveling on the road with him. It was a lie but it ended my balking for the moment.   I slept in the bus on the old mattress the first night there but when Roberta Walker heard of the arrangement she offered to let me live in her back bedroom instead. This would give me an opportunity to make the bus more livable, I thought,  so I went along.  The bus project never got off the ground as my dad reneged on his promise to help me fix it up. He instead recommended I drive it to Ernie’s house so he could work on the engine. I found out later my dad had actually given the bus to Ernie since I was “no longer using it”. On the trip out to Ernie’s the bus caught fire and so it ended up scrapped. Oh well.

Within two weeks of arriving at the airpark I found myself married to a girl I had met only once before, for just a few hours, when she attended a church picnic in Santa Cruz.  There is a much larger story to all of this, but for the sake of this narrative suffice it to say that "matchmaking" or "arranged marriages" were quite common in the early days of "the group" and still are but to a smaller degree. I was nineteen then and she just seventeen. We had each been  counseled separately that God wanted us to marry.  We were both very young, impressionable, gullible and believed this was something we had to do to "stay in God's will".  My dad officiated the marriage outside at the airpark, and Roberta's daughter, Janet, made the cake. About a dozen people attended, most of them I had never met.

Arranged marriages in the ABC are no longer arranged in exactly the same fashion but marrying someone from outside the group is frowned upon. I heard recently of  a young child that was already being matched with another for a future pairing so the arranging is still happening.  Marrying someone from outside the ABC is not accepted as valid as marrying this person would mean  you  had "unequally yoked yourself with an unbeliever". The only solution, to make the marriage valid, is for the person to volunteer to be baptized by someone in the ABC.

It is 1974  now and I find myself suddenly married, living in the back bedroom of Roberta's house with my new wife, unemployed, Seattle is in a major recession and finding a job not easy. I  barely graduated high School and have no college education so I am forced to take whatever odd jobs I can find through temporary employment agencies.  Emotionally, and in every other way, I was not ready for this marriage and neither was my new wife.  The marriage lasted only a short time; perhaps a month; before things fell apart. She left and ended up living at the home of a couple that had broken off from "the group" to start their own ultra-authoritarian, mostly communal, "Shepherding / Discipleship"  group. 

The Shepherding Movement / Discipleship teachings had been  introduced to "the group" when Bob Mumford, and others from his movement, came to Seattle and spoke.  Mumford, at this time, was directly connected with Derek Prince and Ern Baxter from "The Sharon Orphanage" days (and thus the Broadway Tabernacle days as well) and it was this connection to Derek Prince that had attracted my dad to attend his Seattle meeting.  My dad came back from this meeting excited  about what he had learned about "church discipline".  It is this meeting, and this moment in time, that would paint a great deal of  havoc into many peoples lives through even more repressive discipline for decades to come. Indeed, my own ex-communication, twice, is a distant result of this one meeting with Mumford and his erroneous teachings. 

The "shepherding movement" affected both mainstream and home-based churches, but regardless of the structure of the church or group, the scripture still states, in Paul's words to Peter:
"…not as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock…" (I Peter 5:3, NKJV)
Below is a very small excerpt from an article in the Cephas Library. It is a rather long article, but I encourage those following along on my historical narrative to read the entire article. It explains very well the "discipline" abuses still happening in the ABC.  These abuses are a direct result of the teaching by Mumford in Seattle that was attended by my dad and a few other men.  This excerpt has to do with Bob Mumford's alleged repentance in 1990. There is indication he did not truly repent however, as many individuals in his movement, as late as two years ago,  have had to seek treatment for severe PTSD,anxiety, depression etc.   Here is that excerpt:
... in a subsequent Charisma & Christian Life article published in February, 1990, reportedly after having sought the advice and counsel of Jack Hayford and others, according to the article, Mumford spoke more as one who was genuinely chastened, repentant, and willing to deal with the issue in a more direct fashion, accepting full responsibility for his error. According to the article, Mumford read a statement in November of 1989 "to a gathering of pastors at the Christian Believers United meeting in Ridgecrest, North Carolina,"11 in which he said,
"I repent. I was wrong. I ask for forgiveness," Mumford said about his involvement in the discipleship movement.
The article went on to say:
...Mumford decided that he needed to publicly 'repent' of his responsibility in setting up a system where so many people were hurt by misuses of authority. "Some families were split up and lives turned upside down," says Mumford. "Some of these families are still not back together."   

Ripping  families apart has been a recurring theme in the ABC and it is  justified by stating "the body is your family now” and the quoting of this scripture:
And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Matthew 10:36-37 

One of the men who  listened to Bob Mumford speak that night, split from "the group" and began his own "discipleship" gathering at his home in Everett Washington. This gathering was not officially part of  'the group" but he kept in touch and would still attend ABC meetings at times. This man demanded complete submission, in every way, to his leadership. The setting was mostly communal as all lived together in his very large home. This is the group my new wife would align with when she left.

As a single man again I was able to find a straight commission "job" selling Electrolux vacuum cleaners door to door. That did not go well. I was still broke, and my  future as a "married man"  was pretty uncertain. At the time I had no idea where my new wife had gone, and frankly did not really care. I was not financially or emotionally  ready for marriage and wanted out anyhow. After a few weeks, the man who was operating  this spun off “discipling” group called me then visited me.  He told me  my wife was living at his house now, had "submitted to his authority", (which meant they had shared a bed together) and told me I should come and join her to "submit to his authority" as well. I did not. Word of our separation and her joining this other man's group began to get out to the people  and this was causing scandal so my dad knew he had to take some sort of action.

My dad called a man named Tom in "the group" who managed a store in Bellevue where I was now living.  Tom searched me out, had me come by his store and told me to use his phone to call my dad. On this call my dad asked if I would come to the airpark and teach on the armor of God. I agreed I would but being asked to teach was simply a ruse to get me to the airpark. My new wife, who was now living in Everett, was also called and asked to come to the airpark "just to talk".  I arrived at that meeting that night, much to my new wife's surprise, and the moment I stepped through the door we were both whisked to the back room. We were counseled that  God wanted us to stay together and we were told God wanted us to move to Klamath Falls Oregon. Here, we were told, we could get our marriage stabilized because a couple named Don and Darlene would help us patch up the marriage God had joined us together in. Need I say again I was young, gullible and my back was against the wall?

Both my new wife and I, wanting to stay in "God's will", and under "spiritual duress" to stay together, agreed to go. We were very confused kids, completely broke, dependent on others for our support,  thrown together into a mixing bowl and  given a good stir. We had both been trained well that what we must do what we were told by “the elders” and anything else was rebellion. Rebels will suffer eternal punishment. We left Silverdale the next day to travel to Klamath Falls to live with Don and Darlene. 

I had known Don and Darlene since I was about sixteen.  Don and I fished quite often together in the Puget Sound and we had many good times together.  I  babysat their kids when they went out and they were good friends, very good people; gentle, kind and admirable. Our time together in Klamath Falls would turn out to be just as pleasant and, through their love and encouragement, my new wife and I were able to calm our marriage and live mostly peaceably. We lived at Don and Darlene's  house for a few months, had meetings, talked, played games, patched up our ill-timed marriage and let life settle down. My new wife and I worked our way off  welfare, and I took whatever odd jobs I could find for additional money.  The winter of that year I found a job full time as a cook at Sambo's restaurant and was able to get off welfare completely except for food stamps and medical. This would be my second time living in Klamath Falls and it was mostly a time of peace. That would end however when I would receive another phone call from my dad which, for a second time, would take me to California.  But this time it would be San Diego and not Santa Cruz and this time I was not a boy....I was a married boy.

In the next post, my wife and I travel to San Diego, meet David North (the prophet) for the first time, and settle in to "real" life.