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

The root of the "Mexican Ministry of the Assembly of the Body of Christ" 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 catalyst to  "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 even aware at the time the tape was made my father was placing me in that role. It 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 direction the “Mexican Ministry” took, I am quite certain I would not have continued for long.

The entire tape is 26 minutes long so I provide a synopsis in bullet points below. You may listen to it's entirety at this link: LINK TO ENTIRE TAPE

  • Tape purpose: To open a new ministry for everyone.
  • My father 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 discovered the US border was closed to evacuees so he allegedly became stranded in Mexico.
  • Luis is presented as an honest man who speaks English, Japanese and several other languages. He now works in Mexico, established himself in Tijuana; married, had a child, then lost his citizenship in Nicaragua because he had been away for five years. He alleges he became a man without a country and stated he had to lie on his marriage certificate about his age, place of birth, father's name and even falsified his name to get married. (Note: Luis never stated what his real name 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 gains a foreign citizenship other than with a country Nicaragua has a dual nationality agreement with.)
  • Luis wants help to become a citizen of the US so my father spoke with a US attorney. This could only happen if Luis had $40,000 or could find a job no one else could do. Neither is possible for him.
  • Luis wants instead to become a Mexican citizen so he can get a passport to enter US and get a job. It is a long process, very costly and since there are lies on his marriage certificate it is not possible without a Mexican attorney.
  • My father found a tourist public defender in Mexico with ties to the Mexican Government who can bribe officials to have the marriage license changed to eliminate the four lies. If not fixed, Luis could allegedly be jailed.  Luis is considered by my father 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 four Mexican government officials and have the marriage license corrected.
  • My father 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 father 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 who may want to associate with the ABC.
  • To help Luis the money cannot, allegedly by scripture, be used from tithes or offerings, it must come only from alms. If people will send 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 $2000.00 retainer to get started.
  • Luis's wife is allegedly  “impressed with my father and the honesty in his face”. My father states God is moving in the Mexican area and they are dealing with another family too. They plan to spend the night at this family's house. Another man volunteered to become an interpreter if my father 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 father 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 and 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 will truly be blessed. Alms should be given quickly, he stated, before the right hand knows what the left has done.
From my many experiences with my father calling and asking me to go begging for more money this tape seemed just another shakedown. The ABC was becoming wealthy and my father 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 father died.

I know little of what happened in San Diego the two years I was away at school. By the time we returned in May 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 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 been around a while. This made the San Diego group mostly self-sustaining and my father, freed from having to assist with the daily activities of the church in San Diego, and all other areas, focused his efforts out of the country now, in Tijuana Mexico.

The bus was permanently parked now at the San Ysidro RV Park in South San Diego; just one mile from the Mexican border; and my father had 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 father and Yvonne used the trailer as their primary living area.  The downside was that LaVonne now had very little oversight and her drug habit was completely out of control.  David North, his wife and family also moved into the RV park as well and were assisting with the newly forming "Mexican Ministry."

Gilbert Larson formed a new group in Denver Colorado; Bruce Leonard moved to Vancouver Washington from Seattle and started meetings 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 moved to Belfair Washington and  began civilian work at the Naval Shipyard. They had a very small meeting with just their families and this group never gained much in attendance beyond just those few families.

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

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

18-State of the Family Address

As I move into the final San Diego period; final for me anyhow since I have no plans to live there again; I now jump slightly ahead in the story to write about the impact my father's "church-building" had on  his natural and adopted family. This is important to analyze because if a man cannot build an earthly family correctly, and give it some glue, he cannot be expected to build a spiritual family that also maintains some glue. It is 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. Following the ABC guidance, I failed that role myself. I did what I learned; even if what I learned was wrong. But I have no intention of starting a church, as my father did, and do not feel qualified.  I also do not feel my father was qualified to start a church.

A major era in my life ended in San Diego. The events that happened during this chapter of my life caused my father to thrust me completely out of his church and his life.  I was present in his life, but not once did I ever feel I was actually in his life. When he finally disowned me completely; because I would not see everything exactly as he did; he did not even tell me this himself. He instead left word with another individual that when they saw me again; they were to tell me he never wanted to see me again. It is a promise he kept to his grave and is a scar that will never heal.  Despite our differences, and despite the pain he brought to me and many other people, I still wish we had been close. At least for a short period.  It never happened. Sadly, only a few ever questioned his actions, then or even now. It was assumed, since he had appointed himself  "the apostle", everything he did or said must have been correct and "from God." I assure you, it was not. From an insider perspective, of both his family and church, he was just as fallible as anyone else and committed many acts which would have caused anyone else in the church to be "disciplined" or cast out. He committed a few acts which could have seen him confronted by the justice system. Because of his self appointed status as "apostle", he was never once called to account for his actions  by the members of the church.

After my father's death, and after many of the facts of the  "Mexican Ministry" period began to surface, Gilbert Larson visited 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, then told me God needed me "in the body" and requested I return.  After my father had thrust me out, in such a violent manner, I had no intention of ever returning to the ABC. Especially after the humiliation I suffered when I was told by David North I was not welcome at my father's funeral.  My siblings; who had long ago rejected the ABC; were apparently welcome to attend, yet I was not.  My older sibling made a scene, threatened a lawsuit against the ABC, they backed down and I  attended. However, I was told I was not allowed to speak. I went to the funeral, which despite the ABC contention they are not a "church" in the usual sense, was held in a chapel and was very "church-like". It felt like the final abandonment by my father as he reached beyond the grave to once again slam me into a wall one last time. That sting hurts to this day but, if I were to put our complete family history on full display, my father had a history of abandoning his family long before I was even born.

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

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 "cult-like"  and overly authoritative. He told me then he did not like the directions things were heading and saw  people were losing their ability to think for themselves. At the time he mildly suggested I get out too. I did not listen but I wish I had.

There is no reason to list all the messy details but life at our home was much less than calm. As a result, my oldest sibling left our home at age seventeen, choosing the Vietnam war, and military service, over the war at home. They never chose to be part of the ABC.

I have two step-siblings; a stepbrother Jon and a stepsister LaVonne and have not seen them since the day I was disowned so I know little firsthand 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, and a substance abuse problem but the last I heard he had moved to LA, straightened out his life and had a great job with a telecommunications company.  He was smart, when he applied himself, so I know he has done well.  He also separated himself from the ABC, as soon as he could leave home, and did not return. 

My stepsister drifted 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, keeps 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 itself in any other way than monetary. 

There was a time, a number of years ago, when all the anger I stuffed about what my father had done to our family, and his adopted family, leaked out when 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  families and lives. This pain will never be completely resolved.

The last day I saw my father alive was in a hastily called "body counsel" in San Diego. At this "body counsel" I asked to speak to him privately in his office. He adamantly refused, became enraged, ran out the front door, got in his van and, still in a rage, drove out of control across the front lawn leaving deep furrows. He did not ever return that night and instead passed word through others he had disowned me completely. It was heartbreaking then, and even more so now. When I see others present him as a "man of God", and feel he had something more from God than all the rest, it is honestly painful. He was not in control of his emotions and this last incidence of rage was not an anomaly. I know 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 a man with faults like any other and the myths that have grown around his life are difficult to hear. I was there in his real life. I know the truth.

Many loved my father and, honestly, despite my anger with him at his actions toward our family, I loved him too in some ways. He was my father; he had a good side, and, with a few exceptions, would not regard him as plotting or evil.  He was mostly driven to fulfill his goal of heading up a church and he let that goal own him. Even to the point of abandoning his family responsibilities and even to the point of  deliberately manipulating others through lies and falsehoods. I was, at one time, early on, an admirer of what I thought was his vision. That of a group of people who would serve God in peace, love  and true fellowship; but the words he spoke did not ever match  the reality of what actually happened. 

While I loved my father, he never did  truly love or respect his natural family. We were mostly a burden to him and interfered with his "mission" of building a church of his own design. He pulled us along, on his ever growing quest to build a church, mostly out of obligation, and not love of family. On San Juan Island, when that burden became too great, he left his family behind to pursue his "church building"  but this time with even greater fervor. For some reason, and this has always confused me; he abandoned his natural family then immediately adopted a brand new family. 

My father left a legacy of a broken family and also left behind the legacy of a  broken church. This church "The Assembly of the Body of Christ" (ABC) now follows in those footsteps he left behind and leaves in its wake broken hearts and broken people just like my father left behind a broken family.  
I learned directly this concept of abandonment from the practices and example of my father Ramon A Haas. Gilbert Larson told me, more times than I might count, that God hates divorce.  Yet my father not only divorced my mother, he also divorced his family and it is only because my mother was not a stronger person I actually ended up living with him. It was clear I was not entirely welcome in his home. The Bible states Jesus came to heal,  lift burdens and set us free, yet when I removed the polarized lenses that shielded my view of all that is unpleasant, it became glaringly clear the concepts of Christ's ministry; healing, lifting burdens setting at liberty, etc. are completely opposite those in evidence in the ABC. That causes me great sadness.
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 

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

17-Grants Pass and Beyond

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. Not the same as the 1970s when it was a wonderful peaceful small town and quite friendly.

When we first arrived in Grants Pass from San Diego we had an apartment waiting for us. The guy with the figs in San Diego, had left the Navy, moved to Grants Pass and, being friends with the manager of the complex where he lived, had had an apartment ready and waiting  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 and I enrolled in school for my remaining two terms. Before long, had earned all the credits I needed to graduate and received my diploma from Southwestern College in Chula Vista. This was now May 1979 and I contacted a few four-year schools to continue my education and found that without that transfer certificate most of my credits would not transfer, not even in California. It was very disappointing. To continue school would mean making yet another move and I had two kids now so decided we were not ready for that. For now, I planned to just pursue full-time work and pay the bills.

It was not a large group in Grants Pass. Altogether there was only about a dozen people, not counting children, and they held Thursday foundation meetings at Rod's house and Saturday communion meeting was at Lowell's. Gilbert Larson still lived in town for part of this time 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 scrub but I loved being out in the brush. On our very last day in the field we dug out an enormous boulder perched on a hillside to watch it roll down a steep hill. It was a great experience watching that boulder tumble and only later did we wonder if there was perhaps a scout camp or a ranger station at the base of that hill. I saw no news reports of flattened cabins or children so I think we're probably OK.

A few families lived outside Grants Pass; in Cave junction and Merlin; and meetings were occasionally held at their houses. I taught a small foundation meeting in an unnamed community west of Grants Pass once per week on Tuesdays and every other week 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 at Lowell's. I kept very busy.

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

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

At one Saturday meeting in Grants Pass my father made a 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, 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 to locate 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 a need for such things). They could supply him with the machine, seemed reputable and catered mostly to churches back then. My father purchased the machine, along with a case of blank tapes then had them delivered to my house and put me in charge of the tape duplication.

Tapes of my father's teachings had been available for quite some time, but this was now 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 and the going rate was just a buck to cover expenses. "The tape ministry" would remain in my control for about the next five years and was then given to someone else to manage when I was ex-communicated.  This individual though did not understand the necessity of using "slave tapes" for high speed duplication and instead used the "master tape" on every single run. The last I heard most of the masters had been destroyed from overuse and the tape library is allegedly now gone, although I have heard conflicting reports on this.

The group in Grants Pass was a cohesive group. Most were related in some way, by blood or by marriage, and a kinship existed naturally between them. 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 the meetings. A few were related directly to Gilbert Larson ; the Apostle; or were related by marriage to Gilbert. I was not related to anyone directly, but had known most for years and felt accepted as part of the "family" as soon as I moved there.

After I moved from San Diego my father made regular telephone calls to me in Grants Pass.  These calls were fraught with manipulation and no love. The purpose of his call was always to ask me to make suggestions to the elders, or group that he needed more money. He would want me to make sure everyone understood how great the financial needs were for his new ministry in San Diego and would suggest ways for me to drop hints in the meetings. As time passed, the phone calls became even more frequent, more desperate, more urgent requests for more money. It seemed my father was becoming frustrated with the people in Grants Pass and felt they were not contributing their share. (I knew nothing then about the contentions many in Grants Pass had with the abuses they saw happening in San Diego and with the tithe money in general. I would only see this for myself when I moved back again.)  My father suggested to me there was "rebellion" brewing among the leaders in Grants Pass, although I had personally sensed nothing. He was insistent of this in his phone calls and asked me to let him know about anything I might see or hear that would show any sign of "rebellion". I felt as if I was becoming a spy stuck in the middle of something I didn't really want to get stuck in the middle of. It was a very uncomfortable situation but I had learned not to question and thought perhaps he just saw things I didn't see. I kept my eyes and ears open and, after a while, it did seem as though perhaps a storm was brewing in the distance, just like it had years earlier in Snohomish county. I wasn't sure of the cause, but I was concerned perhaps the waters were about to get rough again and I was not pleased I was directly in the thick of it. When the storm finally erupted, and the waves rose and crested, I was back in San Diego again. This was on my father’s orders. More on that in a moment.

There was one specific event during my Grants Pass days 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 it was not one of my brighter moments.

The story is this. My natural mother; who my father had instructed I was never to see again at age fourteen; discovered I moved from San Diego and now lived much closer...in Grants Pass Oregon. She lived in Bellingham Washington, near the Canadian Border and how she discovered I  moved to Grants Pass is a story too long and convoluted to tell here but involved an ex-communicated member of the ABC who moved to Bellingham and began attending her church. The grapevine apparently worked both directions as my father heard about my mother’s  plan to stop in Grants Pass to see me. He somehow knew of her intent to visit me before I ever did.  

(Note: My brother and I made just one trip up to Bellingham when I was seventeen, and he twenty, to see my mom. Other than this trip, I had had no other contact with my mother. Not by mail, in-person or by phone. This trip, when I was seventeen, came off tense since none of us knew how to approach our long estrangement from each other. My mother was never informed I was to marry and she would have been forbidden to come to my "wedding" anyhow even if she had somehow found out. There were many years she would completely lose contact with where I lived and did not know 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 contacted her. I was told that, at the very least, I would become "oppressed" and would need to be prayed for. At worst, she might  cause me to fall away and encourage me to "leave the body” which would cause me to lose my salvation. I was gullible and bought into it.)

Back to the story. I received an urgent call from my father a few days ahead of my mom's impending visit. My father, on this 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." Looking back now I don't think it was true; but he also told me would have elders in the area watch my house to prevent her from seeing me. It was, I am certain a lie.

My mother got 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, told her not to come to my house. After the call, my wife was quite upset about the way I treated her and we had a rather heated discussion. I admitted she was right, I was wrong, and had a change of heart so I called my mom at the motel and said we would come over.

In order to avoid detection we waited until dark, left out the 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. And, 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. Looking back, I have been much more oppressed by the authoritarian abusive ways of the ABC than I could possibly have become from her one night 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 seems laughable now, but at the time I was just twenty-four and sincerely afraid of getting caught. That would mean suffering through yet another ABC "discipline". I had been put through many "disciplines" for more than a decade at this point. Some very humiliating.  I still wonder if anyone was watching my house that day, or if it was just a ruse my father used to prevent me from seeing her but I'll never really know. It would not have been the first, or last time, my father lied to me to maintain control. My inclination is the elders in Grants Pass would have not gotten involved in such a scheme. Most did not even know I had a natural mother. Most assumed Yvonne was my natural mother. It was some very weird times.

My job at J.C. Penney was going well. I was in line for the next slot at managers training to be held in Portland and was to be trained as a buyer for the shoe department. As it turned out, I would not be afforded that opportunity. In March of 1980, I received a very distressing phone call from my father. He called me at work, quite agitated, and began telling me one of the elders in Grants Pass was directly involved in some rather serious "evil". He referenced the churches at the beginning of Revelation and said God was  going to remove his candlestick from its place in Grants Pass. He warned me I should get as quickly as possible and I should "wipe the dust from the bottoms of my feet" as a sign against them when I left. 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.

My father recommended I return to San Diego instead of going north, no specific reason given. Even though I didn't see this "rebellion" and "sin" he warned against I thought perhaps he saw something I did not so I began making plans to leave and head back to San Diego. I was still young, very impressionable, extremely immature and, despite the many times my father 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. Having read books on the subject, I found it is quite common actually and to be honest, as I write this post, I realize how stupid I may seem to have been so gullible. I'll grant that as a fair assessment of the situation. I was young and was raised in a system of guilt since I was a youth. This system required I do exactly what I was told, or be disciplined and humiliated before all and there was also the belief I would not be obeying God's instructions.  In my life I did whatever I could to avoid conflict as much as possible so I obeyed, even though I hated it and felt very trapped.

I was not thrilled with leaving my job at J.C. Penney's, since I would soon have that prospect of becoming a manager. But, I still readied myself and my family to leave behind a 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 from living there before. In its place was a state of constant, and extreme, agitation, mostly caused by my father and Yvonne. I still regret that move from Grants Pass and know 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. My somewhat fragile marriage, which was going along mostly fine in Grants Pass, would end and I would also end up being disowned forever by my father as he labeled me as being "in rebellion" for my refusing to take part in things that were actually fraudulent, unethical  or illegal. More on that subject later.

After my father disowned me, I would never see him again. He died very soon afterward and, when he died, no one from the ABC even had the decency to call me. I heard, days later, from my oldest sibling, who heard from David North. David North told me on the day of the funeral my dad left instructions I was to be forbidden to attend. But, I've jumped ahead of the story a bit and I will elaborate on that topic in a future post. I mention it here simply as a focal 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 he and his wife had traveled to Portland Oregon to attend a Neil Diamond concert. Worse yet, they had returned home with Neil Diamond audio tapes. By doing so, they had "invited demons to the body in Grants Pass". They had been commanded to get rid of the tapes by my father but passed it off as a silly request and since they had not "repented of their actions", they were considered to have "rebelled against my father's authority". God would therefore "remove the candlestick" from Grants Pass and the group would "die" as God’s presence would leave. They would no longer have a "sanctioned" meeting if they continued in this "sin". This is how it was related to me.

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 about their "spiritual crime", and "giving place to the devil", when I was lectured by my father  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 Larson tape could be found in the ABC tape library. One need only view Bob Larson Ministries website to discover he is obsessed with demonology, exorcisms, oppression and the like. In the early days of the ABC my father also conducted "exorcisms". My father's newer message  completely flavored the environment in San Diego and the only way I can describe things is they 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 father loudly exclaimed I was no better than that elder and his wife in Grants Pass who worshiped the warlock Neil Diamond. They, he said, were fully caught up in their rebellion and were destroying the entire area. I, he said, must have learned this rebellion when I lived in Grants Pass and commanded me as my “father in the Lord” not to listen to John Denver any longer. My defending of John Denver's music as fairly docile; when compared to say Inna Gada da Vida by Iron Butterfly; he considered an act of rebellion.  I still listened to John Denver, I just did so in secret. Many years later I would return to San Diego and discover one of the elder's who had supported my father in his condemning of John Denver music had two children who started a rock band. This elder did not get lectured.

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

Teenage rebellion, I have learned, is a natural stage of growing up. I was slowly realizing I need not obey his every command, even if he stated he was my "father in the Lord". Unfortunately, this would end up causing me major problems later.

Yvonne and my father adopted some strange viewpoints in San Diego. One of them came from a book they discovered about symbols. After reading this book, they came to believe star symbols (and many other symbols) were witchcraft symbols and, if one was displayed anywhere on a persons belongings, it would then invite demons and cause oppression. An elder up north was found to be "in rebellion" and told he must sell his Chrysler vehicle because there were stars on the upholstery. He refused. Even Miss Piggy of the Muppets was not off the hook. Yvonne taught Miss Piggy represented a witch since she carried a wand and she had improper symbols on her clothes. The instruction was children should be forbidden to watch the Muppet Show or Sesame Street since there were symbols displayed that could bring about demon oppression. Having left peaceful Grants Pass, San Diego was a shock to my system. Things had changed drastically from when I lived there prior and it was 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 father dropped hints 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 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.  The dispute, or an issue 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 then be dissolved.

It would be a few years after I left Grants Pass before the ABC connection to Grants Pass would be completely broken. I never saw "God's destruction" rain down on the area as my father had told me would happen. He had also prophesied Northern California would be totally destroyed in a massive earthquake, but this too did not happen. I am sad to say I followed his instructions and brushed the dirt off my feet, as a sign against Grants Pass, when I drove out of town. I did it because he told me, even though I really did not understand why. I probably owe them an apology. They did not deserve my, or anyone else's, scorn.

I have covered just a slight bit of the San Diego period since there are a few links between San Diego and the Grants Pass stories. In the next post I will cover more family history then follow up with an introduction to the newly forming "Mexican Ministry".