...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 3:5I 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 4:17-19When 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.