Leroy E. Grey -
1958-1959 – I had a hard time making the transition from Edgemere Elementary to Sparrow Point High school and decided to coast for a while. In Elementary school my grades were all A’s and B’s. There was no middle school back then, so when I entered High School and got my first two “D’s” and my first “E”, my dad put down an ultimatum. He was a working alcoholic who lived for his drunken weekends. He was also a bully, and at age 13 I ran away; I was heading north to Canada, to live in the wilds using my scouting skills.
However, that first night I was picked up by a teacher who offered me a place to sleep. He knew I must be a runaway, but instead of turning me into the police, he talked to me about how I would be messing my life up forever if I dropped out of school. He talked me into returning home the next day and applying myself in school.
The following semester and thereafter I surprised a lot of people, by being a regular on the Honor Roll. The guidance counselor once told me my IQ score, which was 125, above average but no genius. I’ve since learned there are a LOT of educated people who are book smart (even geniuses) but life dumb, lacking any common sense for everyday problem solving skills. Having a high IQ is really overrated.
Fall 1964 – Spring 1965 I graduated from Sparrows Point High School in June of 1964, then worked at Bethlehem Steel’s Sparrows Point plant during the summer.
[IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: This photo of the 300 foot blast furnace demolition is all that’s left of Bethlehem Steel’s 3,100 acres of property and 13,000,000 square feet of buildings, circa 2015. At one time, they employed 340,000 employees around the US. This was before our Federal government refused to levy tariffs to prevent steel dumping by Japan and then China, then created NAFTA and other globalist trade deals that put other countries first and shafted the American worker! Bethlehem steel is not alone. Since those trade deals, our open border policies towards illegal immigrants that serves to lower wages and the corporate use of H1-B foreign worker hires to replace American workers with much cheaper foreign workers, over 63,000 manufacturing plants have closed. But that is only the tip of the iceberb, for countless thousands of small businesses that services those employees were also forced to close.]
My parents were on the poor side of middle class so I had to pay my own way. It was a great paying job too.
Unfortunately, I worked as a mechanic’s helper in the same department where my dad worked. The most interesting guy there was the one and only black mechanic. Since he always ate alone I went over during lunchtime one day and struck up a conversation. From then on, I would eat my brown bag lunch with him.
One day in the locker room my dad came up to me and forbid me from eating or talking with the black man, telling me that some of the other guys were threatening to jump me and beat me up because I was, as he put it, “a nigger lover”. That’s when I discovered that the Klu Klux Klan existed and thrived at Bethlehem Steel. Well, I didn’t stop eating lunch with him or talking to him and nothing happened to me, other than my dad telling me I was no longer his son.
After my summer job, I started school at Essex Community College. I rented a room from two old ladies and met the first serious love of my life, Christine Oldewurtle. When her dad asked to borrow my bike one day I lent it to him without question. Unfortunately, he had to drive my small 80 cc Honda motorcycle back home in the rain. He got sick soon after and died of pneumonia. At the funeral Christine leaned on me for support, but it soon became obvious she blamed me for her dad’s death, that if I hadn’t leant him my motorcycle he’d still be alive.
Within weeks of the funeral, we were riding in the back of a friend’s car together and she broke off our secret engagement (she was still in high school). In a moment of teen angst and passion (I was 18 at the time), I threw our rings out the window then grabbed the only sharp object I could find, a “church key” (vernacular for a “V” shaped pointed can opener) and began ripping my arm open. I still have two jagged scars running down my forearm, a constant reminder of that day. But in the end, it was a valuable life lesson. Seeing that side of myself so early in life enabled me to gradually reason my way through the folly of wanting to give into fear and despair, and the absolute self-centeredness of wanting to harm one’s self. Unbeknownst to me, I had begun my journey of self-discovery.
Soon after, I signed up for a college course on psychology. Somewhere deep, deep inside my psyche I began to reach into that place where God’s Spirit touches the core of our humanity and lights the way of every human born into this world, that place we humans like to call our soul.
But my belief in God came slowly by reasoned degrees. In high school, I considered myself an existential atheist and devoured books by Camus and Sartre.
But near the end of my senior year a Methodist minister, who was counseling my girlfriend at the time, invited me into his office. In less than 30 minutes he destroyed forever my atheism, helping me realize I did in fact believe in God, not a supernatural God but nature as God. He did this by appealing to my reason, having me read the dictionary definitions of “Faith”, “God”, “Omnipotent” and “Omnipresent”, then asking probing questions like, “You say you have no faith, but doesn’t it require faith to believe the Sun will rise tomorrow, since no one say with certainty that there won’t be some cataclysmic cosmic event that destroys the Sun?” In less than a year I would choose to continue my spiritual journey with an experiment, one that was spawned by my college thesis on Hallucinogenic Drugs. That’s when I took that LSD laced sugar cube. I did it because I wanted to understand, through my own personal experience, what Harvard’s Psychology professors Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert had described in their clinical research papers. Their experiments with LSD had resulted in the reversal of some patient’s schizophrenia.
I believe the soul is much overused and misunderstood word. When someone says a person has “soul”, they’re usually commenting on that person’s passion for life, their understanding and embrace of cultural traditions. But according to the dictionary, a soul is “The spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part.”
If the soul is that part of us which is spiritual, and we are by nature physical, then I believe the soul is best understood as that place inside where the physical and spiritual realms meet.
If as Jesus says, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21), and I certainly believe that to be true, then it logically follows that somewhere inside each of us is that invisible door to God’s spiritual kingdom Jesus talked about when He said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone HEARS My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).
In that secret, hidden place I discovered, but as yet could not enter at will, I began to sense God’s guiding light as a whispering inner voice, what we humans call “intuition”, an inner prompting which I soon realized could help guide me around or through life’s storms. It would take me many years to realize what I was hearing was the “voice” of God.
Those who don’t believe in God, believe those promptings are just part of the brain’s physical nature and function. But such an explanation is totally incapable of explaining many of life’s mysteries.
For instance, consider the story of the engineer who solved the long-standing riddle of what man-made insulating material could withstand the 10’s of 1000’s of volts necessary to create our high power electric grid. Without those insulators, we could have no large-scale manufacturing capability. And yet this problem remained for decades, until this man had a dream. In the dream, he saw himself in a pyramid sifting sand, and was so certain that this dream was God’s answer to his prayers that he immediately flew to Egypt, brought back some sand, and discovered the missing ingredients needed to create high voltage insulators capable of withstanding high temperatures.
My bold gypsy-like life freed me from social conventions and traditions. And my rebellious “I don’t give a damn what other people think about me” attitude, freed me to accept change as an inevitable part of life, something that should be welcomed.
But as I was to discover later, it was this very unmaterialistic lifestyle coupled with my extreme desire for truth (no matter the consequences), that allowed God to reach me, to connect through my intuitions to what I felt God would have me do. Yes, such choices inevitably lead to mistakes too. But that is all part of the process of learning, just like the learning process a child must go through in this physical world.
Once I was able to become like a little child (who in their learning is not afraid to venture forth and make mistakes), I was finally able to surrender and be born-again spiritually. To me this is a very natural and necessary progression. And according to Jesus, no one can see or enter God’s spiritual kingdom, that kingdom which has a door that resides in the soul of every human being, without first becoming like a little child, without humbling oneself before their Father God, without asking to be born-again of God’s Spirit, as Jesus promised.
Since I did not yet have a knowledge of Jesus Christ and His teachings, I was still falling often and struggling to understand God’s plan. And yet I cannot deny that God’s invisible hand was directing me, that these inner promptings were happening, and that the people I met helped me to bring clarity that led inevitably to ever greater truth.
As these issues weighed on my mind, I began to realize just how few people really cared to pursue truth. So many of the people around me were incapable of communicating their problems until it was too late to find solutions: my dad disowning me; the love of my life rejecting me for no good reason; not to mention the bullying I had to endure at school because I was the tallest guy among all my schoolmates and I didn’t like fighting.
But there are turning points in every person’s life, if they are wanting to grow. One such turning point was the day I got bullied one too many times and struck back at my high school’s meanest bully. I beat the crap out of him! After that I gained a lot of respect and no one bothered me. It seemed foolish to have to go through such lame rituals, but it isn’t always about me, it also about how others see me, relative to their own limited viewpoint.
I dropped out of Essex Community College just before spring finals in ’65. My thesis for that last semester was on the Hallucinogenic drugs and after researching the work of Doctors Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert I decided that one day I’d like to experiment with LSD.
Summer – Fall 1965 – I was able to land a pretty amazing job at John Hopkins University, working in the Oceanography department with a very talented jack-of-all-trades guy. He would create anything the professors needed for their research projects. I learned quite a lot from him, that summer and fall.
Fall 1965 to Winter 1966 – I moved in with some hippies who lived on Bolton Hill, not far from the John Hopkins University campus where I was still working during the fall of 1965. I also met Bridgette, who was seeing Huey. I don’t think that was his real name. He was a pretty paranoid drug dealer and secretive, so I never did get to know his last name.
Bridgette was a knock-out beauty, someone I usually would be too afraid to approach, for fear of being rejected. But I could see she didn’t want to be with Huey so I asked if she wanted to go for a motorcycle ride with me and she said yes. That ride turned into a whirlwind romance and the renting of our own apartment. I was glad to get out of the hippy house, as I was the only one working and paying for just about everything. The only problems we had in those early months together was her great Dane dog, whose wagging tail would bleed from hitting the walls and doorways, and her need for a never-ending supply of Coke Cola.
In January of 1966 I took my first LSD “acid trip”. Bridgette and I were visiting my high school/neighborhood friend, Bob Adams and he had gotten hold of some Sandoz Labs pure LSD on sugar cubes (LSD was still legal in Maryland at the time). After we got high, I became bold but they got more fearful. I tried to get them to explore things outside but they refused to follow. So, I went off on my own.
Around the corner, just in front of the entrance door to the famous Lyric Theater, I saw two cops, but instead of avoiding them I wanted to see if I could keep my emotions under control, in spite of the fact I was seeing all manner of amazing colored patterns on their faces. So, I asked them the time of day (it was dark out) and realized they didn’t have a clue that I was flying high on LSD!
In High School, I considered myself an atheist but this LSD trip convinced me there is indeed a God. Little did I know that I was about to have the first of many vision. I was only 19, 3-months shy of my 20th birthday.
After walking past the old Lyric Theater, I stopped at the grassy hill overlooking the old Mount Royal train station in Baltimore city.
As I stood there looking at the magnificent view, I began to focus on this growing sense of belonging to God and being interconnected with all God’s creation.
Suddenly I felt this spiritual wave, this vibrational energy that is God’s life in all things visible and invisible, moving through the earth towards me. Then I felt it enter my body and mind, where it was multiplied by me. After being amplified inside, this wave was sent out by me, into the large, high-steepled Christ Church on the distant hillside next to te Maryland Institute of Art.
Inside the church, God’s people did what I did, they received this life-wave of God’s energy, they amplified it, and then they sent it out as well. But what I witnessed when God’s people did this, was the destruction of that church building, for its roof and steeple were blown off, high into the sky. God’s life-wave of energy, which entered those believers able to receive, understand and multiply it, destroyed the church as they knew it. Then, what those believers had received from God and multiplied, rose up and up, like a gigantic volcanic plume of whiteness, spreading outwards until it enveloped the whole earth, thence raining down its life-energy upon all the world.
This happened over 50 years ago and seven years and ten months before I finally accepted Christ as savior (which was on Saturday, November 24, 1973).
Soon after this I got a draft notice to report for a physical. We decided to go north, and try living in Montreal, so I could dodge the draft in Canada. Neither of us believed in the legitimacy of the Vietnam War and I had participated in a protest march on DC while attending college (and civil rights marches too). Bridgette and I stopped by my sister’s place in Cranston, just outside Providence, Rhode Island, where she was raising her newborn all alone. She was married to Mike Renner but he was in the service and away most of the time. I could see she wasn’t very happy but didn’t know how I could help.
We both loved Montreal. I got work as a dishwasher at a restaurant but after only being there a few months Bridgette got lonely for her granny and wanted to return. I said I was staying and she left, telling me that if I wanted to get back together it would have to be as husband and wife, because she was serious about me.
I stayed in Montreal, in the large room we had rented on St. Denis Street in the French quarter. I loved savoring all the new sights and food… especially the street vendor’s hot dogs topped with sauerkraut. One night I went to a Jazz club and met an older French woman (maybe in her early 30’s; I wouldn’t turn 20 till April ’66). She invited me over to her place and we made love. Then she invited me to stay for a few days and travel with her, to see the sights outside Montreal, so I did. I liked her and we enjoyed each other physically but I began to miss Bridgette. I finally broke it off and returned to Baltimore where about a month later, I think it was mid-April, just after I turned 20, we were married and had our reception at my parent’s house (8706 Wise Ave., just across from the Sparrows Point Country Club in Maryland).
Spring of 1966 – My first wife, Bridgette, and I were staying in a hotel somewhere in West Virginia, where I was working as a Surveyor Rodman. She hated staying in the hotel while I was in the woods surveying and eventually convinced me to leave. While on our way back to Baltimore, my old car broke down again. We started hitchhiking east when a fancy Lincoln Continental stopped on the opposite side of the road, heading in the opposite direction, west. The driver, an impeccably dressed black man was motioning to us. He wanted us to help him drive to LA. He had just lost his wife and he wanted company. Once he told us he’d pay our way if we helped drive, we said OK, abandoning our car and dropping our plans to return to Baltimore where we intended to look for work. As a result, we had some amazing experiences. He said he was an interior designer but he must have owned the company. We stayed at the finest, most expensive hotels with carte blanche treatment. At one hotel, I think it was the Ritz Carlton, we were in the elevator and because I had long hair, my wife looked like a movie star, and the black man was assumed to be our chauffer, we were invited to a party in Oscar Peterson’s suite. He’s a famous jazz musician for those who don’t know.
We all traveled north to San Francisco where Bridgette and I parted company with the rich black man.
After experiencing some of the hippy scene in Haight-Ashbury, we met a guy with a small dog who said we should check out the Morning Star commune, just outside of Occidental, CA. So, all three of us hitchhiked there, but the guy soon left. Bridgette and I decided to stay and I began building a tree house between four redwood trees. But after a month or so, just as she did in Montreal, Bridgette began to worry about her granny and fret about her health. I think we stayed a few months and visited another commune several times, Wheeler’s ranch, which was only a few miles away. We then realized the total lack of structure at Morning Star was causing too many problems and left (the owner, former Limelighter, Lou Gottlieb actually deeded the land to God, but the court ruled that the land could only be deeded to God if God showed up to sign the deed).
Fall 1966 and Winter 1966-67 – I got a job working as a Psychiatric Aide at the Maryland State mental hospital. Me and a bunch of my friends rented “The Mansion”, a really large house just off Reisterstown Road, outside Baltimore. The attached greenhouse still had lots of expensive orchids and it was in the middle of a large grassy field, about 100 yards from an old railroad building that I think was once used by passengers but was now an antique shop. We had a lot of wild parties at “The Mansion”, with fires in the fireplace. After Bridgette and I left California and rented the mansion, she and I were having problems. So, she traveled north to New York with some guy and we lost touch. But one day she just showed up and asked to get back with me. She said she was sorry she left so I forgave her and we tried to make our marriage work again.
Spring/Summer of 1967 (Summer of Love) – Returned to San Francisco and the Haight-Ashbury district in time to experience what the tabloids called the “Summer of Love”. Bridgette and I eventually left, because it began to turn ugly from too many speed freaks. They were ripping everyone off. She went back east to be with her granny
1968 - At age 22, I somehow met Perry Sudan, who I believe was living in the Grass Valley area. I was able to stay with him and his roommate while searching for a cheap place to rent and a job. I came across a Nevada City trailer in the classifieds, owned by a Hungarian immigrant. It turned out to be one of the most important decisions of my life. He astounded me with his vigor at age 82: he was up and working out way before me. Turns out he was dying of some incurable disease at age 22 and was visited by a Naturopathic doctor who told him about the raw foods diet. His change in diet saved his life and, 60 years later, had never been to a doctor for any ailment. My landlord in turn introduced me to a 77 years-old fellow who lived nearby. When I visited him, he was climbing down from a water tower he just completed. He told me about having arthritis at age 55, that was so bad he could only move his arms about a foot from his side without extreme pain. As he began telling me the story about all the ineffective western medicine treatments (surgery and drugs) he began to do jumping jacks, proving he now had full movement of his arms and was free of pain. Well, I didn’t need any more convincing and began eating a raw foods diet, which though somewhat modified, I maintain to this day.
I soon found a job as a mechanic/helper for an inventor, Keith Bandimere. He began to teach me silver soldering for his modified toilet systems. I slept in the shop loft and was made to feel part of the family, invited to eat with his two girls and one boy. Keith and his wife, Annie, considered themselves followers of Jesus Christ but were very spiritual and non-religious. He shared his books with me, like the multi-volume, “Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East” by Spalding, and introduced me to local characters, like the wheel bound professor who lived a mile or two away. He told me about Carl Wickland, who wrote a book, “Thirty Years Among the Dead”. What was most interesting about our conversation regarding the author and his wife, who together helped dead people accept their death and move on (preventing them from remaining as ghosts, bound by their physical attachments), was that Madam Blavatsky, the founder of the Theosophical Society, who was a lifelong believer of reincarnation, used the gift of Carl’s wife, her ability to be a medium for spirits to speak, to tell the world she had been wrong, that there is no reincarnation!
Not sure how long before I quit that job and moved on, but I believe it was sometime in late 1968 that I returned to Baltimore.
Spring-Summer 1969 – I stayed in Baltimore for a few months after meeting my new girlfriend, Kathi Schussler. We were planning to return to California, with my nephew, little Mikey. I had confronted Mikey’s dad, my brother-in-law, Michael Renner, about his girlfriend’s treatment of Mikey. It was obvious to me that she was violently abusing the child, as there were marks on him regularly with no believable explanation. When it continued and I realized Michael was too drugged up to really care, I told him I’d like to give Mikey a better life and take him with us out to California. To my surprise, he said yes. On the evening of my birthday, April 3rd, the day before we were to leave for California, we decided to smoke some weed. I didn’t keep any drugs in the apartment, for fear of being raided, so I went out to my van to retrieve my stash. Unbeknownst to me, this was the day before the one year anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death, which happened April 4th, 1968. The police were out in force, paroling the streets and hoping to avoid a repeat of the disastrous Baltimore riots, which took place April 6-9, 1968. As I rounded the corner of our apartment building’s parking lot, entering the alley behind the building, I noticed a car in the distance that suddenly sped up. I immediately figured it was a cop and since I believed my right arm and hand were still behind the building, I reached into my pocket, grabbed my weed, and threw it as far away from me as I could. Unfortunately, the cops saw me toss it. I figured I was still safe, since it wasn’t in my possession, but when they found the tossed weed they put it in my pocket and then lied on their report, saying they found it on me.
The police then accompanied me back up to the apartment and searched the place, but found no more drugs. Still, I was busted and didn’t have near enough money to make bail. After a few days in city lockup they moved me to Maryland State Penitentiary. Fortunately for me, my cell mate was a black guy, a convicted murderer who took a liking to me. He used to tell me who he was going to kill when he got out of prison and he set me straight about my girlfriend. He said no way would she be there for me when I got out. He was right. During one of her visits to the prison she informed me she had started seeing one of my friends, Lynn, and they were now living together.
I in the Penn waiting for trial for two and a half months, during which time I was nearly killed. Having heard horror stories about prison life and young guys being made some thug’s patsy, I knew that to survive I needed to look tough and sound crazy. When some guy bragged at the lunch table that he was going to make me his bitch, I upended the entire table with all the food into his face. The security guys broke up the brawl quickly. On the way back to my cell, I should have been looking to get ambushed, but guess I was too naive. At the top of the steps, on the second-floor tier of cells, three guys jumped me. I fought back of course, but was overpowered and tossed over the side head first. Fortunately, on the way down I was able to reach out and grab the edge of the floor, which flipped me from head first to feet first.
Since I had no prior arrests, I was given probation for possession of marijuana. But I wasn’t free yet. It turns out that California had a warrant out for my arrest for check forgery (which I didn’t do). So, a marshall flew me across the continent to Grass Valley, so I could stand trial in Nevada City, where the check charge originated. I had naively cashed a check for a total stranger who forged the check. When they compared my handwriting, and realized I wasn’t the forger, they let me go. Thankfully, I didn’t have to go through the whole parole thing.
I would have gone to Woodstock that August, but I was now stranded in California with no money. Of course, that wasn’t the real reason for staying, since I’d hitchhiked across the USA many times, with as little as $5 in my pocket. I guess I was just afraid of being put in jail again and I certainly didn’t feel safe about returning to Baltimore. It was now June and I was set free in Nevada City. I want back to Keith Bandimere’s place and asked him if I could have my old job back. He kindly agreed.
I met Perry Sudan, at some rock concert I think, and we became good friends. I stayed with him briefly, probably before getting my old job with the Bandimere’s back.
Later that summer I ran into him again, and he was living in Camp Meeker, a 19th century logging camp in the Redwoods just outside of Occidental, CA. It was an amazing and magical place that had become an artist colony. Perry introduced me to “Ace” White, who was looking for someone to rent a space in his one-room with loft, converted church (it had no stained glass). There was also a basement workshop and when Ace offered me free use of his torches and other sculpting equipment I moved in.
From time to time I’d hitchhike into San Francisco to attend rock concerts at the Fillmore West hall. Nothing like today’s super secure and mammoth concerts. The Fillmore was rather small, with a stage that was only a foot or so above the main floor. I saw Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane group (before they changed their name to Jefferson Starship); the Grateful Dead; The Moody Blues from England; Janis Joplin (when she was still with the Holding Company); Jimi Hendrix; Santana and lesser known but extremely talented groups like Osceola and It’s a Beautiful Day.
Turns out Ace was also a drug dealer, who had a direct connection with the manufacturer of some high-quality LSD. His friend manufactured the LSD in a roving 18-wheeler, so it was a big-time operation. By the late summer I was flying LSD hidden in large birthday candles to Baltimore and selling to the larger street dealers who would buy in lots of 100 or more tabs.
At one of those concerts I met Marsha Stewart (NOT Martha Stewart!). We were both high on LSD and I brought her home to Camp Meeker where we made passionate love. Not only was the passion dramatically increased by the LSD but just as we were both climaxing a substantial earthquake hit, making our bed slide as it bounced around. Can’t make this stuff up… just one amazing experience after another.
Fall 1969 – Returned to Baltimore in the fall, to sell more drugs, and brought Marsha with me. I introduced her to my friends but she kept insisting I could do better as far as friends goes. She also told me I should stop dealing drugs. I should have listened to her on both counts. She flew back to California, because it really wasn’t working out between us.
Unbeknownst to me, my brother-in-law had already been busted. And because my sister was pregnant, he had struck a deal with the cops to set me up. I think it was October when this went down. After I was arrested my lawyer showed up at the jail and said, "They caught you red handed and because the laws have gotten a lot tougher, you're looking at a minimum 10 years in jail". From that moment until I fled the country, I began laying plans to escape. No way was I going back to the Penn!
December 1969 – My brother-in-law owed me big time and I told him he was going to help me escape… period. My apartment was being watched day and night now, so I had to create an elaborate plan to lose the cops tailing me. The night before I was to show up at police headquarters to finger the manufacturer of the LSD I was buying and selling (of course I had no intention of fingering anyone) I put my plan into effect. I took a number of buses and initiated various evasive actions: at one stop I pretended to get off and changed my mind at the last minute; at a busy stop I blended into a crowd and made my way to another bus, hoping they didn’t see which bus I took; and finally I ran from the last bus to Noel’s waiting Pontiac GTO. We sped away to the airport, hitting speeds over 100 mph!
Unfortunately, I missed my plane by only minutes. So, I ran to catch the next scheduled non-stop flight from Baltimore to San Francisco and just made it. After my non-stop flight was over Colorado, the unexpected happened. The pilot got on the speaker and told everyone we were going to make an unscheduled landing. No one knew what was going on. Before the aircraft doors opened we watched as two long lines of automobiles sped across the runway and surrounded the plane in two circles. In the outer circle were the black cars, which we soon learned were FBI. The inner circle was made up of taxis, which we were ordered into. They took us to an airplane hangar and the FBI began interrogating everyone. I figured they must have thought I was a bigger dealer than I was, to have gone to all this trouble!
While waiting to be interrogated, I asked to go to the bathroom. I flushed all my ID’s down the toilet, and quickly worked out a cover story. And after what seemed like an eternity, we were told it was a bomb scare and a false alarm, so we all re-boarded our “non-stop” plane and continued to the San Francisco airport. Like I said, I couldn’t make up all the weird experiences I’ve experienced.
New Year’s Eve - 1969 – I had friends in San Francisco, including my wife Bridgette, who was living with another man. My first stop was Marsha Stewart’s place, but her girlfriend roommates said she was out of town. I stayed there for a few days while laying plans. I contacted Bridgette and asked if her and her boyfriend could take me to the border, so I could sneak across into British Columbia, Canada.
I made it across, albeit with some rather comedic happenings, like being stuck for over an hour in a briar patch because of a barking dog that would start barking every time I moved (there are a LOT of amazing things that happened but space here is just too limited to tell them all).
I stayed holed up in an attic of a friend of a friend for a few weeks, afraid to come out. Knowing I couldn't stay there for long, I began to check out hippy businesses in the Vancouver phone book, knowing they might be sympathetic and pay me "under the table". I noticed one store called "Shum Organic Foods" and decided I should give them a call. The guy who answered the phone turned out to be one of the stores two owners and soon after I began to speak, he surprised me by asking, "Is this Leroy Grey, I'm Al Baker from Boy Scout Troop 356 in Dundalk!" I could hardly believe my "luck", and soon we were reminiscing about old times as boy scouts back in Baltimore... 3,000 miles away, at the other end of the country! I now had a job and a home, moving in with Al and his wife, their new born infant and another girl, who worked at the store too.
[For all those who are wondering, yes, I was a fugitive running for 11 years. Half-way through that period I invited the Spirit of Christ into my heart. As a result, I knew I had to eventually face up to the evil I had sown. I even went so far as to confess to a Salvation Army commander who also happened to be a criminal court judge. I was tired of running but I was also a husband and father by then. The path to clearing up all this was not so cut and dry as those who have not walked in my shoes might believe. God's ways are not our ways and we usually see little to nothing of the future. This judge floored me by telling me he would pray about it instead of immediately calling the RCMP. The next day he told me God had made it clear to him, that now was not the time for me to turn myself in. He also told me I should begin putting together letters of commendation from the people I had known and helped over the years. Years later, when I did return, in November of 1980, I had 17 letters, many from prominent people. I'm not sure what helped, especially since my lawyer told me the judge I would face was the same judge who had my case when I fled the country and he knew she wanted to make an example of me. I told my lawyer that though I might go to jail for a short time, God had given me a promise through a pastor and his wife, just before I left Canada to return and face my charges. That promise was Psalm 50:15, "Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you and you shall glorify me". And this God did, delivered me in my time of trouble. I have glorified God by sharing my story of God's intervention and deliverance. But if I had followed the standard advice given by most Christians, instead of God, especially those few Pastors in whom I confided, all of whom said I must immediately turn myself in, I might still be in jail and this ministry would not exist.]
Spring 1970 – I was traveling in British Columbia with an older Romanian man and his two wives, learning the craft of wire beadwork. He parked his “gingerbread house on a pick up” at a dead-end road and we took up temporary residence in an abandoned, dilapidated lake front home. While swimming, I look out to the other side of the inlet and as my eye travels up the cliff I have an epiphany. I feel caught up in a spiritual vortex. I KNOW there is going to be a community of people taking up residence on the other side of this lake and I am to lead them.
Summer 1970 – I returned to Vancouver, BC and within two weeks of posting my desire to establish a community on the other side of this lake, a short hike up a very steep hill to the much smaller Pat Lake, I attracted 22 people and all the money and equipment that we would need to establish the Pat Lake Commune. As we are pulling out of the driveway to begin our adventure, I get a last minute call from Allen Bibby, a world renowned videographer and adventurer who said he would like to include footage of us in his documentary on the family. I agreed, so long as he didn’t give away our location and he could meet us at the ferry in less than an hour. To my astonishment, he was there with all his gear, ready to go.
Allen Bibby’s video of our commune was part of a CBC-TV special on the family, a year or two later. My girlfriend at the time, Kris, just happened to catch it on TV and came rushing into the room, all excited about me and the Pat Lake Commune being on TV.
Fall 1970 – A first attempt to evict us from public “Crown Land” fails as I had obtained a mining permit and dug the required size hole to meet legal requirements. However, the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), after realizing the majority of us were from the US, decided to deport all the Americans, thus breaking up the community. When they arrived I just happened to be away, so I was spared, but this ended our experiment in community living because it took 5 people just to paddle and steer the large abandoned logging boat we used to get back and forth to the mainland. One of the communitarians, Kris Stone, and her 6 year-old daughter, Amy, were part of the entourage that went to Vancouver to get supplies. While we were all in Vancouver we discovered what had happened with the RCMP. Kris was starting to get intimate with this guy I hardly knew, someone who I felt was well beneath her in terms of intelligence and ambition. So, I pulled her aside, talked about us getting together, and from that night on we were a family.
Winter 1970 and Spring 1971 – Kristine and I rented a cottage on the ocean, outside Victoria, BC. In the spring, we planted our first garden and it did extremely well (the soil was naturally very rich there, as most of the weeds were over 5 feet tall). We began planning to travel and make money along the way. We bought an old van and I converted it into a sleeper with fold out workshop, complete with all the tools and equipment necessary for her to do her sandal making. I also used the bed-to-table-top conversion to create a space where I could mix together my all natural candies and yogurt.
Summer and early Fall of 1971 – Kristine, Amy and I traveled extensively throughout the interior of British Columbia, especially the Kamloops area, the Okanagan Valley and around Nelson, selling our crafts, candies and yogurt (my very first entrepreneurial venture!). We also sold our wares at a week-long Renaissance Fair, near Vancouver, where crafts people gathered and built large, temporary, wooden store fronts. I met Joni Mitchell in one of the tents there. She was practicing at the piano and walked over to introduce herself (one-on-one and not another person around!). Honestly, I was so shocked I didn’t know what to do. If I had any sense I would have realized she was attracted to me and exchanged contact info (it would have had to be her contact info, as we were traveling like gypsies and had no home.
Around May/June during haying season we were told of the need of a Quaker family in Argenta, BC so we stayed there long enough to help with the haying. They used the old methods, with horse and wagon and old time rakes to rake the hay into huge mounds. The husband had been poisoned by pesticides and was a nervous and physical wreck, unable to do the haying himself. We learned that Argenta first started changing to a Quaker community in the 1930’s, when it became necessary for survival during the Great Depression, followed by two waves of more Quakers, in the 1950’s McCarthy era, and during the Vietnam War. They put in a small hydroelectric turbine to provide electricity and a communal freezer, but everyone owned their own homes. When we visited, the hydroelectric turbine was still running and providing electricity and the freezer was still being used by the whole community, but our tour guide said that other than those physical things and their weekly worship services, there was little left of the original community.
We attended their old-fashioned Quaker (or Friends) Meeting that Sunday. The men sat on one side and the women on the other, there was no music and since they don’t believe in pastors there was neither lectern or pastor. They said that Society of Friends members believe all men and women following Christ are part of “a holy nation”, members of the “royal priesthood” 1 Peter 2:9, and as priests of the Lord, every member was capable of receiving and giving a word from God.
During the service, we sat there for an hour, waiting in total silence for God to inspire someone with the Living WORD for the day. It was an awesome experience and even though I hadn’t yet given my life to the service of Christ, I could sense God’s presence. This experience was a turning point in my spiritual journey.
Fall 1971 and Winter of 1971/1972 – Kris and Amy and I decided to winter in an abandoned house on the Sechelt Peninsula north of Vancouver, on the same dirt road that dead-ended at the lake where we used to launch our boat, paddle to the far side of the lake, then hike up to our Pat Lake Commune. A girlfriend of Kris’s moved in with us. Then one day, during a cold rain storm, everyone left to go into town but me. I just happened to look out the window and see an RCMP, along with two immigration officers, walking up the dirt road. I quickly exited the house in case I had to run, since there was only one door. With my back to the house I began answering their probing questions about where I was born. I told them St. John’s, Newfoundland, believing that was safe, since there was a great fire that destroyed official birth records prior to 1949. Also, I believed that Newfoundland didn’t become an official province of Canada until 1949.
However, as the questions continued I began to sense they knew I was lying. The RCMP officer started moving to the side, to close the only open spot in the circle they’d formed around me. That’s when I bolted, throwing down my hunting knife and running at top speed downhill towards the harbor.
I hear the RCMP officer shout, “STOP, or I’ll shoot!!”, just as I reach the steepest part of the path down to the water and make a sharp left turn. I was hoping it would enable me to dodge his bullets. To this day, I don’t know if he fired his gun at me or not, because I had only one thing on my mind. I was totally focused on escaping and nothing else was registering, not even the pain of hitting my head on the jagged rocks at the water’s edge. When I reached the bottom of the hill there were a number of very large logs washed up on shore and when my foot hit the first log it slipped on the rain soaked slime of its surface. I fell suddenly and with great force. I saw stars and then blackness but as the blackness began to envelop me something rose up deep in my mind and forced me to shout silently and with great force, “NO”!!
Immediately the blackness left and I continued running along the shore for a short distance then straight up a very steep and deeply wooded hill. I didn’t stop until I reached the top. I grabbed onto a tree with one hand, to keep from collapsing, and my heart with the other. The pain was so great I thought my heart was going to burst. It was in that moment that I understood how deer sometimes fall over dead after being chased long distances by dogs.
I had long been in the habit of checking out the surrounding area where I lived, just in case I had to run from the cops, so I knew there were some nice summer homes along the inlet, accessible only by sea. My goal was to get off this peninsula, to cross the inlet to a small island where an acquaintance, Jim, lived in a cabin. I broke into the first house I came to, took a rain coat and jacket, and then found an old inflatable raft under the house. Not being a criminal by nature I felt bad about taking these things, so I left the owner a note telling them I was sorry for taking these three items but my survival depended on them. I then blew up the raft, found a paddle, and began rowing the ½ mile or so to the Island.
The storm winds were blowing fiercely and since I was paddling against the wind my arms soon began to tire. After what seemed like a very long time I looked at the Island in the distance and to my horror realized it wasn’t getting any closer. But far worse, the raft was filling up with water. At first I thought it was just from the waves breaking over the sides of the raft but it soon became apparent that this inflatable raft was abandoned under the house because it leaked! I began to panic… there wasn’t anyone foolish enough to be on the water in a storm and all the fishing boats had long ago made their way to safe harbor. Whether the raft sank first or my arms gave out and I drifted till it sank, it seemed an absolute certainty that today was my last day on earth. The icy cold water that already soaked my bottom would find its way into every crevice of my clothing; it would pull me down by its every increasing weight; it would rob me of every feeble unit of heat my thrashing arms and legs could generate; and slowly, imperceptibly I would die of hyperthermia, long before I could swim to shore.
But suddenly there was a deep throbbing sound in the distance, the pulsing thrust of oiled metal exploding against oiled metal, and as I turned my head to see what was happening I saw emerging from the corner of my eye a ship’s hull. Within seconds there were strong arms pulling me to safety and wrapping my shaking wet body in a blanket. They asked me why I was out there in the middle of this storm and at first my mouth wouldn’t work, couldn’t form the words because my teeth were chattering so badly. But soon I was able to talk and told them the lie that instantly formed as I opened my mouth, “I was canoeing along the shore, headed for my friend’s house on the island, when my canoe overturned and was swept away by the storm. So, I borrowed this raft I found under someone’s house. I didn’t know it had a leak until I was part way across the inlet.” One of the burly fishermen spoke up and said, “You don’t know how lucky you are. All the fishing boats returned to port long ago but we had engine trouble and were delayed. We’re the only boat still on the water.” Even as cold as I was, I realized that twice this day I had faced death and lived. I couldn’t help but think, “God is helping me, despite my foolish decisions.”
Jim had a long pier that jutted out into deep water, so the fishing boat was able to pull up to the pier and drop me off. I walked up the hill to his house but he wasn’t home. It was getting late so I stoked the fire and climbed up to his empty loft with some bedding and went to sleep. I was jolted awake by voices. When I peered over the edge of the loft I was shocked to see the love of my life, Kristine, embracing Jim. I soon realized that she had lied to me, that shopping for supplies was an excuse to be with one more guy on her ever-growing list of lovers. She left her husband to join our commune, whereupon she bedded Jeff, then Ted, then me and now Jim, all in less than a year’s time. Were there others? Did she even care what damage this could do to her daughter, Amy, who just wanted what all kids want, a stable home environment with a mom and a dad?
I confronted Kris about the situation and she showed no remorse whatsoever. In fact, when the evening came she told me matter-of-factly that she would be sleeping with Jim. Since it was a one room cabin and I would be privy to everything happening down below I asked her to just wait for a couple days, till I could hitch a ride with the double-masted schooner that plied the British Columbia coast, delivering and trading goods among the hippies and communes. When she insisted that I had no say in the matter, I pleaded with tears, but all to no avail. Kris would do what she wanted when she wanted and my feelings be damned.
I was finally seeing Kristine for who she really was. Fortunately, Jim had more compassion for my situation and told Kris she would have to wait. The next day the ship docked at Jim’s pier and I asked them to drop me off in Victoria, where I figured the police would be less likely to look for me.
It was sunny and a lot warmer that day, and as twilight came upon us and we neared Victoria, the ship began ploughing through bioluminescent phytoplankton. I was so excited (this was the first time I ever saw such a sight) I didn’t think about the pain of diving into the icy cold water and those who watched from the ship were amazed by the streams of light flowing from my body and fingers as I swam.
I realized I needed to get a new identity and figured it would be easier to do that on a large campus, like the University of British Columbia. So, I took the ferry over to Vancouver and stayed with some friends from the Pat Lake Commune who were living on campus. I looked at the campus student directory and randomly picked a name: Alexander McKinnon. I figured I could get a copy of their student card and not get caught because I wouldn’t be living on campus. And if I added a middle initial it would make me different from the real Alexander. When I went into the administration office to get a copy of the ID, I told the woman my name but didn’t expect what came next. She went to the student records, pulled up Alexander McKinnon’s file and holding it open asked, “What’s your birthdate?” I had absolutely no idea what this guy’s birthdate was. All I could do was guess and hope she wouldn’t call security. I just said the first date that came to my mind and was astounded to see her put the file back and issue me my student ID! Coincidence? It would appear so… except that when taken in the context of the increasingly long list of such “coincidences” I would have to eventually conclude, years later, that God did indeed take a keen interest in my day to day life and intervened in ways that could only be described as miraculous!
This all took place in the fall of 1971. While living in Victoria I was able to participate in the creation of Canada’s first food co-op, the Amor De Cosmos food co-op, named after British Columbia’s second Premier.
I soon tired of the city and during the late fall/winter was able to rent a house outside Victoria with Larry Ashmore, one of our commune members and someone I had worked with at Shum Organic Foods. Soon after we moved in Larry told me Kristine was asking about me and wanted to get back together. Seems that her infatuation with Jim wore off and he didn’t measure up to her expectations. Kris and I met, talked and she and Amy moved in with us.
Early Spring 1972 – During the winter Kris and I were told by a friend that we could stay on his old farm outside Antigonish, NS, on the other side of Canada. Since there was an old Singer treadle sewing machine up in the attic, Kris and I decided to buy some canvas, then cut and sew a large teepee that we could live in once we got to the farm. We arrived by train around May first and then walked to the farm, which turned out to be very remote. Unfortunately, we didn’t have our TeePee, since someone stole it from the train.
There was a livable old house on the farm, which still had a wood stove for heat, so we made the best of our situation. But on May 10, 1972 we woke up to 10 inches of snow and began to wonder whether we made a mistake coming to Nova Scotia.
Summer 1972 – Antigonish didn’t work out. The land was so poor we couldn’t get our garden to produce much of anything, even with the help of a neighbor who came over to help us install a garden fence and who gave us all sorts of advice on growing. We left and went to Halifax after the Antigonish Highland Games, a ritual of the primarily Scottish immigrant population. We were able to land a job subsidized by one of the Canadian government work programs, running a youth hostel in one of the houses on Dalhousie University’s Campus. We also struck up a friendship with a local Quaker family, the Duckworth’s, who lived just down the street. But once the youth hostel job was over, after two years together as a family, Kristine left with her daughter Amy for good.
Fall 1972 and Winter 1972-73 – I stayed in Halifax, met and became friends with Dave and Janet Romeril. Dave was a defrocked Episcopal minister, but he never said why he was defrocked. I think it was at Dave and Janet’s that I met Scott Smith, a musician (or was it Bob Smith?). They always had lots of people hanging around it seemed. Dave had this huge pile of 2X4’s behind his house and when he mentioned a need to get rid of them I got this idea to build a plastic covered A-frame on the lake that was about a half mile from the road, within view of the ocean (from the upper loft of the A-frame) and only about a mile walk from Dave and Janet’s. This area around Dave’s place and the lake was tundra-like, nothing but huge boulders and shrubs.
I wrote to the Canadian government and told them of our plans, that I was going to write about the experience and Scott and I would be making music together (I played blues harp and later the flute; he played guitar). To my amazement, the government wrote back and gave the OK! We could build an A-frame on the public Crown land next to this lake but we had to remove all traces of the building within one year.
Well, it turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We could hear nature like few people do, because there weren’t the usual walls to stop sounds. For instance, the lake froze over for months and many a night we could hear ice cracks running across the ice, sounding like rifle shots that would go on and on, echoing through the night. And when the moon was full and there was a good breeze, we would be sitting against the plastic walls and they would breathe slowly with the wind, while the entire space inside was bathed in an eerie, silvery light. AWESOME!!
Spring 1973 thru October 1973 – Scott and I decided to move to Bear River, Nova Scotia, where we heard we could rent a cabin for $25 a month… really cheap even back then. I put in a garden for food, since the only money we had was his unemployment check and I felt a need to contribute.
On Easter Sunday (sometime in April) I was walking through town. Bear River is known as the “Little Switzerland of Nova Scotia”, because of the steep hills, narrow roads and Victorian houses I suppose. I remember looking down towards the river, watching a sea gull fly below me, when I heard this voice coming from the road above. It was Watson Peck, a local organic gardener and farmer who was in his 60’s but full of life. He impressed me, so when he invited me to Bible study and mentioned they were studying about Christian community as described in Acts 2, I said yes. From April through November I attended meetings at two churches… Sunday worship, Bible study, and youth group meetings at both. And I began to compare what I was learning, what Jesus said in the Bible, with what various gurus and eastern religions said about Jesus.
The end of June Scott’s unemployment ran out and he left Bear River for parts unknown. I think he was using an alias because he admitted to coming to Canada to dodge the draft, which may explain why I am confused about what his real name was. I’ve never seen or heard from him again. Well, I decided to stay in Bear River, even though I had no money whatsoever. I figured I could live off my garden produce and what I could forage. There were LOTS of abandoned apple orchards, which were abandoned after WWII. There had been a thriving export market to England for Nova Scotia apples, especially ones that were loved by the English (e.g. Cox’s Orange Pippin and the Russett varieties), but this market suddenly ended with the start of WWII. Evidently the Nova Scotia climate yielded a superior flavor.
Since I no longer had rent money I had to move out of the Cabin, deciding to fix up the abandoned farm across the road and make it livable. I found out the address of the owner and wrote to ask if I could live there for at least the winter. He said yes. All I needed now was some help with fixing the place up, as I had no money to tar the leaky roof, nor plastic to cover the window frames (there weren’t even any windows left, just the main frame of each). There was also no electricity, but there was an old dug well outside, with good water.
One day I got this brainstorm to hold the first ever, week long, Nova Scotia Health and Healing Conference, the first week of October. I could kill two birds with one stone, getting help to fix up the farmhouse while providing a valuable service, the Nova Scotia Health and Healing Conference.
This was the second time I experienced that “vortex of energy” and that “knowing”, which gave me total confidence that what I was seeing in my mind would come to pass (the first time being the Pat Lake Commune). Given the fact I had zero cash and zero income, no car, no phone, and absolutely no experience, I’m sure it looked totally foolish to everyone but me! But I believed!! And that belief drove me to seek others with whom I could share my excitement and get to believe also. I turned to my friends in the area and soon found some who would help, especially Mark and Beth Crosby, who spent an entire week prior to this week-long conference helping me to pull it all together. Other friends contributed large amounts of food, especially dried nuts, grains and seeds, all of which would later help sustain me through the winter.
In addition, the local health store owners (Brian Flemming and his young wife) offered the use of an empty one room building they just bought, which was perfect for showing films. I called Rodale Press and they sent some films on organic gardening for preventative health. I borrowed a film projector from one of the two churches I was attending.
I had been following the live-foods work of the Hippocrates Health Institute in Boston, so I called and invited the founder, Anne Wigmore. She was adamant about not coming but eventually relented. She gave a talk on sprouting and the importance of Living Foods.
I also invited: Judy Pruss, a friend who had gone to England to study to become NS’s first licensed Mid-Wife; Dr. Hayhoe from St. John, New Brunswick, a licensed Naturopathic doctor who was immensely knowledgeable and a great guy who had become more than an acquaintance; and many other friends who possessed expertise in various health areas. Each of them contributed by giving talks. We ended the conference by building a large Indian sweat lodge out of bent saplings and plastic. Everyone who remained for this ritual gathered inside to share the experience. Ann Wigmore stayed for the sweat lodge and told me her little secret. She said that when she realized how far out the conference was, and the condition of the farmhouse it was held in, she nearly asked to be taken back to the airport. But she stayed, gave her talk on sprouts and raw foods to about 15 people, and there in the sweat lodge she told me it was one of the most amazing experiences of her life, that she was really happy she stayed.
People from various parts of Canada ended up at the Nova Scotia Health and Healing Conference; one guy said he was on his way back to Saschatewan when he heard about the conference and detoured his plans to attend. Quite a few people later told me they were initially shocked by the primitive and dumpy-looking venue, but once they got past the appearance were astounded by the quality and breadth of teaching provided. To a person, they were especially impressed by the camaraderie, which most had never experienced in their entire life.
November 1973 to February 1974 – I continued to live on the vegetables I grew and stored in layers of leaves inside the old wooden bins, still resting on the dirt floor basement. I drew my water daily from the large stone-lined dug well. I was also sustained by the many large containers of food contributed to the Health and Healing Conference; by the carrots, beets and turnips I grew and stored in the wooden bins in the basement; by the greens I grew in the greenhouse bay window with shelves, which I built into a south facing window frame (there I grew wheat grass, alfalfa sprouts, and sunflower seed, brocolli and radish greens); and by an abundance of apples I picked from a number of local abandoned orchards.
Anne Wigmore gifted me with the expensive wheat grass juicer she brought for demonstration (a hand-cranked auger) and I used it throughout the winter to make wheat grass juice and apple juice. When combined, they created a tasty, very nourishing high-energy morning drink. I also gathered and “canned” local raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, using a raw-foods, no-heat recipe I developed through trial and error. I discovered that by covering each fruit-filled canning jar with a 50-50 mix of honey and water, eliminating all contaminating air by filling to the brim, then dipping the tightly screwed on lids and rings in many successive layers of wax and setting the finished jars on the constant temp dirt floor, I was able to store and eat my “canned” fruits all winter! And what a surprise when I opened each jar; there would be an initial explosive fizz (so I always opened the jars in a large bowl). The fruit and juice were absolutely delicious, having a distinctive carbonated tang and intense, rich flavor. I also collected local nuts: filberts, walnuts and butternuts.
I heated with wood and by night read with the aid of the very bright Aladdin Lamp that Scott left behind (brighter than a 100 W incandescent light bulb!). I studied the Bible and other spiritual books while attending those two local churches, which I had been doing faithfully since soon after my arrival.
Not having any money meant I had no flashlight or batteries and three nights a week would walk home in total darkness (except when there was enough moonlight), feeling my way by the sound of the dirt road under my feet. I normally walked home without fear but one night I heard a wild animal following me as I walked, causing me to fear for my life. All I could do was pray for God’s protection.
Over the previous 8 months of intensive study (April-October) I compared what Jesus said in the Bible about himself with what other so-called “Masters” or “Gurus” said about Jesus. I was studying, “The Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East”, written by Baird T. Spalding, a six volume set about the travels of 11 men (including him) in the 1890’s, during which they met with ; “The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali” written in … ; and “Autobiography of a Yogi”, written by Paramahansa Yoganandi.
After I moved into the farmhouse in September I began to have this recurring experience of opening the Bible and “seeing” (with my mind’s eye) God’s light emanating from the pages and piercing the defenses of my brain. Finally, on Saturday, November 24, 1973, at a tiny little country church in Parker’s Cove, NS, when a singing group of young people called “The Carpenters” gave testimony after testimony of God’s miraculous power to heal broken hearts and mend sinful natures, I gave up my fight and surrendered to the truth that Jesus lives and is available to help any who invites him in.
That Christmas in Bear River was one of the two most memorable Christmas’s of my life (the other being three years later, in 1976, when Cindy and I were in Ottawa Canada visiting Starr and her new husband; we attended a midnight service in a large ornate Episcopal church and while singing the rarely sung second and third verses of many familiar old Christmas carols, I suddenly realized the song writers were born-again believers who wrote their songs because of their own suffering and redemption in Christ!).
On Christmas eve of 1973, I walked the narrow snow covered roads of Bear River singing Christmas carols with a mixed group of young and old church members. Occasionally we were invited in for hot chocolate before continuing our journey among the majestic Victorian style homes that dotted the steep hillsides overlooking the river. But by February of ’74, I knew I had to leave Bear River so I could find work and buy seeds for another vegetable garden. I hitchhiked to Halifax, where I knew people and was able to land a job at Sanpaka, a natural foods restaurant that paid me “under the table.”
February to May 1974 – I worked at the health food restaurant in Halifax till it burned down in March or April. I witnessed to one of the friends I made there, Cindy, and with the help of Starr Courtney, a truly gifted black woman, she accepted Christ into her heart. The last day of April we hitch hiked together to a Mayday festival we heard was happening at Qua Qua farm near Bridgewater, NS. I was somewhat attracted to her, but also tried to avoid her repeatedly. I think God was trying to get me to avoid her, as events later proved we weren’t very compatible.
While visiting at Qua Qua I heard that a husband and wife I had once met (they were Hare Krishna devotees at the time), had also recently become Christians. So I decided to travel to their farm to see them. Cindy tagged along, even though I told her I didn’t want her to come. When Joe Umidi and I met for the second time as brothers in Christ, God intervened. Both of us experienced the presence of God in power and KNEW it was our destiny to start a Christian community on Joe and Marie’s farm. Cindy and I dropped everything and moved to their farm that May.
June 1974 – On summer solstice day, Friday June 21st, I had a most profound and unique spiritual experience. I was literally taken to heaven. It was not the usual near death experience so many have experienced and written about. I call it a “near-life” experience because I was awake, fully conscious and in perfect health. I was in a car with my three closest friends, Joe, Marie and Cindy. We had come together to establish our “Northwood Christian Community” seven weeks earlier, about May 4th. And that evening, as we all stood in the midst of the ripe field of Buckwheat that Joe had planted back in April, after having argued about whether or not he should have used commercial fertilizer instead of readily available manure from neighboring farms, the Spirit of God came upon us, healing our differences and bringing Christ’s forgiving love. But though we sensed the seed of God’s presence being planted in our hearts, we were not prepared for the blessing that God would soon bestow.
It was twilight by the time we all got in the car and began traveling down the gravel road that ran along the Hanley Mountain ridge, just outside Middleton, Nova Scotia. Suddenly our car was surrounded by an intense white light and just before it blotted out everything visible in this world, Joe pulled over and turned off the engine. As I was soon to learn, this was not the fullness of God’s light, even though its brilliance was beyond any light seen on this world, even whiter and brighter than the sun’s light.
While all our bodies remained motionless in the car, being unable to see past this intense white light and with zero desire to speak, due to the intense awe we felt in God’s presence, I alone experienced the transport of my Spirit self to heaven, where I met and communicated with angels. My heavenly sojourn was a gift from God, for a specific purpose and a future time. I was told God had chosen me to gather and feed His sheep, to build communities of the faithful, each a church in the truest sense of the word. I understood that this heavenly sojourn would be a sign to others, a witness of God’s seal of approval and my heavenly ordination by an angel of God for this ministry.
Please visit this link for more details about this experience: http://www.3circles.net/heaven (and to all you who call yourself “Christian”, who have followed the traditions of religion and those religious men who promote the false teachings of Paul, telling you that you must “Obey those who rule over you and be submissive” [Hebrews 13:17], WAKE UP, you have been blinded by religious indoctrination; I therefore implore you, PLEASE, do not pass up this opportunity to begin your journey towards experiencing first-hand the greater spirit-centered truths that Jesus taught!). I also recommend signing up for my free Special Report, “Make Christianity Great Again”, at http://3circles.org
August 1974 – On the 5th I finally got baptized in Ray & Roe Hunter’s farm stream, at B.A.R.N. ’74, by Bill Hunt, a chalk artist and evangelist from Daytona Beach, Florida. It meant so much more after reading Watchman Nee’s “Love Not the World”. Glory to God! Both Beth and Mark Crosby accepted Christ (in that order) and we were all baptized together.
Fall/Winter 1974 – Joe and Marie have ended our Northwood Christian Community on Mt. Hanley (just outside Middleton, NS) by moving to another house nearby (they owned the land but it had no home on it and we were all renting a house together, till Sept.). Cindy and I got engaged and moved down on the Bay of Fundy but I had growing doubts that she and I should be anything more than friends.
Cindy and I were able to go to Camp Peniel Oct. 11th -14th, by volunteering to work in the kitchen. And in December we spent a month in Ottawa, visiting with Star and her husband. We went to a large church for a midnight candle light service on Christmas Eve and as we were singing some of the old Christmas carols I had the realization of what those words meant to the writers, who obviously were born-again believers too. Tears were streaming down my cheeks during many of those carols.
January 6th – Feb. 15th 1975 - I am invited by the owners of Qua Qua farm/community, Henry and Kathy Perry, who also chose to be born again through Jesus Christ, to teach what I know and help their community make the transformation to Christianity. I turn them down at first, believing I’m too new a Christian to teach anyone anything, but they insist and I decide to help them as best I can. We have a lot of meetings to sort things out, plus daily bible studies. They decide to rename the community, “The Garden of Jesus”.
Eventually, the owner has a dream and asks for help in the interpretation. I pray and believe I have been given understanding, but the owner disagrees with my interpretation. I believe if he interprets it his way the community will suffer so we are at an impasse. Rather than being patient, continuing to pray and waiting on God’s answer, I decide that at the next meeting I’m going to do everything in my power to get him to see it my way. At the meeting, we start with prayer about the issue. During this prayer time, I’m going over and over in my mind what I’m going to say and how I’m going to get my interpretation accepted by clever argument.
Suddenly, while all of us are still in prayer, I sense God at work in me. I try to move and I cannot. People are coming out of prayer now and I try to do the same but I cannot speak either. God has struck me dumb and immobile and I feel totally helpless. But I’m not afraid and continue reflecting on what God is trying to tell me. Everyone is talking and I’m still under God’s power. The general consensus was that the community should follow Henry Perry’s interpretation of his dream.
However, because another 10 minutes or so have gone by and it seems to everyone else that I’m continuing to pray, they begin to talk about my still being in prayer. God is teaching me a lesson I will never forget. Mark tells everyone that we should follow my lead and continue praying. Everyone goes into prayer for a much longer time and God’s power is sensed by everyone. Slowly and unbeknownst to me, their minds are being changed by God, as God delivers the power of his Living WORD into each of their hearts. After what seemed like a long time, we all come out of prayer about the same time. I am able to move now but God’s power has worked deep into every part of my mind and body, transforming me by its glory. I still can’t speak, and just listen as each and every person tells the others that they agree with my interpretation of his dream, including the owner and his wife. I am in awe of God’s presence and power and I finally get up in silence and go to the other room to stoke the fire. Cindy comes in and falls to her knees, weeping profusely. She tells me how she and everyone else were against me and talking behind my back. She repents for having disrespected the authority that God had obviously entrusted me with as a leader and for not wanting to submit to God’s order of things, and for not wanting to accept the biblical idea of wives submitting to their husbands as the final authority where there is an impasse over a decision.
All of us were totally unfamiliar with submission and I struggled with the idea of submitting to God’s authority and how the authority of husband and wife should work. For although the bible does say for women to submit to their husband as unto the Lord, it also says we are to submit one to another. Any man who can’t realize his wife could have the right idea or right decision on any given topic and thus treat her ideas and opinions with the utmost respect, even to the point of modifying or letting go of his original decision in order to embrace hers, is a man who doesn’t yet know what it means to be a leader and a true husband. There are certainly far too many men who are tyrants in their home instead of leaders!
But likewise, there are far too many women who try to be the resident tyrant, in their own way, threatening a lack of sex or a prolonged separation, or to take the kids and disappear if the man doesn’t go along with her decision. Neither way is conducive to a sound marriage. And in those marriages where the man just goes along to get along, because the woman has become the tyrant in their marriage, there is even less hope for a successful, lifelong marriage. In such cases the woman usually sheds her God given place as nurturer. But a woman doesn’t just nurture her children, she nurtures her husband as well, in the process making of him a much better man then he could ever be if she was not there to counsel and balance out the man’s often ego-centric and bullish nature. Working together in this way, with two heads instead of one, they will inevitably make the right decisions and choose the right paths for their family.
But for those women who insist on being the dominant one, the one who is most aggressive and most vociferous in their demands, she will have taken on the mantle of protector, a role that by nature belongs to man. In such a home, there can never be true harmony, and at best only a false peace. The key for a woman today, nearly every one of them infected by the leaven of feminist lies (which lies are always intermingled with some compelling truths to win them over) is to seek God’s help in learning to renew their trust. If a woman can learn to trust God, then she can learn to trust her husband as final decision maker on matters they disagree on. I’m not saying a woman shouldn’t fight for what she believes and she should certainly try to convince her husband if she believes he is wrong. But in every marriage, there comes a time when no amount of debate is going to sway their mate’s decision and someone must make a decision. In such cases the husband and wife who have accepted the roles God has given by reason of their individual genetic makeup, can move forward without bitterness over the final decision, knowing that in due time it shall become abundantly clear as to who really was right!
All of us at the Garden of Jesus were in our 20’s. I was the oldest at 28. We had much to unlearn as well as learn and in community learning is always accelerated. One day when we were all in a meeting I began to notice how often the women would be the first to speak and even more often would cut off the men in mid-sentence. The meeting was typical and it suddenly dawned on me that our meetings were always marked by tension and confusion.
I’m not sure who spoke up first about this but it soon became obvious that God was speaking the same idea to all our hearts, including the women, for I remember the women taking a leadership role in agreeing that there was a lack of order and they could see how they were contributing to that by not being patient and being too quick to speak. We all eventually decided to experiment with the men opening the meeting, the women not interrupting, and the men showing they valued what the women thought on any given matter by their making sure they were heard. This literally changed our lives because the meetings were no longer marked by tension and confusion but by harmony, purposefulness and joy. It was like the difference between night and day.
February 16th – 27th 1975 – I broke off my engagement to Cindy, left her at the Garden of Jesus community and moved back to Bear River, where the parents of Pastor Waterman’s wife, Pat, were kind enough to put me up for a few days. Sterling and Stella Cassidy are really nice people. There was a large age difference between them, but it mattered not to them and they obviously love each other deeply.
After a few days at the Cassidy’s I moved in with the Peck’s (it was Watson, the family patriarch who first befriended me and invited me to their church –leading eventually to my salvation). I also met and started seeing Karlene Saunders who is about 12 years younger and still in High School. Her father was at first wary but when I cut my hair after he complained, he began to realize I was serious and warmed up to me. I get along well with Karlene’s older sister (who joined the Mormon faith) and her 2 younger brothers.
Feb. 28th – March 23rd 1975 – All the joy of meeting and dating Karlene evaporated in one call from Cindy on the 28th of February – she is 6 weeks pregnant. I feel I have no choice now; I have to do the right thing. Since Cindy is married but waiting on the final divorce decree (she married a guy to help him get landed immigrant status; the marriage was in name only and never consummated) we decided to get married spiritually and then legally, after the divorce decree is final. On Sunday the 23rd of March, Pastor Earl Waterman married us spiritually with many of our friends present: Mark and Beth Crosby and their son Benjamin; Earl’s wife, Pat; Joe & Marie Umidi and their son, Jason; Pastor Doug Hapeman; Les and Eleanor Mullen & their 2 kids; and Doug Armstrong.
Spring/Summer 1975 – We tried to make a go of it in Bear River but nothing was working out. The first of April we decided to look around St. John, New Brunswick, a short ferry ride from Digby (which is only a few miles from Bear River). We wanted our own business so we bought a restaurant that was left to deteriorate for a few years (leaky roof and a few break-ins). The equipment was worth more than the $1,000 he was asking. We then looked around for a place to stay and discovered “Crossroads”, a large empty building that housed young people who were homeless and spiritually lost. Arnold and Carol Allen ran it and decided we were the answer to their prayers for a Christian couple to stay there as house parents. Cindy and I began to make whole wheat muffins and bread, as well as homemade candies, using some of the recipes I developed when Kristine Stone and I were living like gypsies. We began selling our natural foods at the St. John Farmer’s market. Doug Switzer then traveled here from Bear River and joined us, helping with the work for room and board. Soon after I first moved to Bear River, in April of 1973, and was attending the Bible study at Advent Christian Church, I also began to attend worship and bible meetings at the Baptist Church, where Doug’s father was pastor. I really liked his dad, who was a recovering alcoholic I believe. Doug has been into drugs and drifting for years. But praise God, Doug finally made a total commitment to Christ at the second Baptist Youth Congress on May 18th, with the help of myself, Cindy and Laurence Harvey.
By early April some of our Christian friends heard we were married spiritually but not legally and they, being legalistic by nature, fought to get us separated until we were married legally (Ray Hunter from the Born Again Barn and Les Mullen in particular). This also caused our “friends” Arnold and Carol Allen of Crossroads, to withdraw their support, forcing us to leave.
After this legalistic furor began, I at first decided to go along with it, especially since even our closest friend, Joe Umidi and my other pastor from the Baptist Church in Bear River, Doug Hapeman, had come to bring us the news and encourage us to go along with their decision. Cindy, however, was devastated and feeling abandoned. She cried most of the night after I agreed to go along with our Christian friend’s decision.
The next day we went to Pastor Earl’s to pray and get further clarity before separating and I began to discern the importance of Divine Order: we are bound to Christ first, our marriage second and the body of Christ third. God had joined us together, with the witness of His body, the Church (not the denominational church but this new body of believers God had brought together) so I decided I had to stand up for my new wife and God and for the divine order of things; I decided to resist their present legalistic desire to tear us apart after the Spirit of God had clearly worked through them to join us together.
This was the second time I had stood up against the legalism of my friends. The first time was shortly after the August 1974 B.A.R.N. weekend meeting and music fest. I believe that either Ray & Roe or some acquaintance was in touch with Derek Prince and his Christian Growth Ministry and they sent up a guy to teach everyone how to speak in tongues. Cindy went to the meeting but not me and was all excited when she came home because she finally got the proof of her conversion, which she often doubted.
However, a number of red flags were raised for me, so I suggested we study the Bible together and pray for Holy Spirit guidance to be sure. We both concluded that the Holy Spirit’s anointing and speaking in tongues are gifts from God and as such can’t be taught or given by other men at a predetermined time (like at just about every worship service). They were teaching believers to make non-sense sounds as a way of loosening their tongue. But the scriptures say that the Holy Spirit is like the wind and God decides to whom and when, gifts of the spirit will be given. Some of our supposed friends began to avoid us, just because they disagreed with our stand. We believed this was further proof they were on the wrong track, since we shared the same spiritual rebirth and our unity in the Spirit should take precedent over differences of scriptural interpretation.
September 1975 – Cindy is nine months pregnant but we decided we’ve had enough of our so-called Christian “friends”. We were kicked out of fellowship at Spring Water Habitation, even blocked from attending Sunday worship services which are open to the unsaved. Spring Water members are being taught that born-again Christians can be demon possessed and not know it; they are openly sowing fear and fulfilling what Paul the Apostle preached to Timothy: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind… Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (2 Tim 1:7 and 1 Tim 4:1). Henry Perry and Mark Crosby, two of our closest friends, refused to pray with me when I suggested we pray together and ask God to help us resolve our differences.
In July we received a letter from Ron Cunningham, who is a traveling evangelist with a book ministry who frequents the valley and Spring Water Habitation. It was addressed to Cindy and in the letter, he told her that he and others had concluded I was demon possessed and that in order to save her soul she must leave me!! We were shocked to say the least. Worse, we later learned that though he was thinking that I might have a demon, he wasn’t sure until he went to his cab (he lives in one of those cabs that people install on their pickup for hunting trips) and because the door was jammed and wouldn’t open he concluded the devil was preventing him from studying his “Daily Bread” pamphlet for the week. When he opened to the day’s lesson it said, “Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about , seeking whom he may devour”. Because he was thinking of me and wanted to know what God thought, he concluded I was the “adversary… seeking to devour” the work the Lord was doing at Spring Water Habitation and throughout the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
Both of us are out of work and we obviously need some new Christian friends, ones who will sow positive thoughts into our life instead of negative destructive ones. So, after asking the Lord for guidance we got the impression we should go to St. John’s Newfoundland. With only enough money for the ferry ride, Cindy and I decided to hitch hike across Newfoundland to St. John’s and give it two weeks. If there is work and fellowship, we’ll stay.
The first evening we arrived in St. John’s we learned about a Catholic Charismatic meeting that evening. So, we decided that would be a good place to contact Christians and start telling people I was looking for work. Cindy wanted to work but we doubted anyone would hire her at nine months! Over the course of the evening it became clear that God was speaking a similar message through many: that we must learn to be better servants; that we should praise him for the trials we go through. It gave us an opportunity to tell them we were new in town and looking for work, but not one person offered us a place to stay or a job. So, that night we had to stay at the “The End of the World Youth Hostel”, she on the third floor, me on the second.
The next day I go to Mary Jane’s Health Food Store to look for work and the owner’s, who are Hippies and definitely not Christians, offered that we could stay with them and I could work around the store for a few days to get enough money for food and to look for permanent work. Odd that Janet Marshall and Lance Barney should show more love than all those Charismatic Christians!
I was able to find some temporary carpentry work but by the last week of September our stay was wearing thin and we knew we needed to leave. Lance and Janet argue as much as we do, and we all need our own space. Around the 26th we attended a weekend Dave Wilkerson Crusade at Memorial stadium and helped hand out “reserve” tickets at the University. Dave Wilkerson’s willingness to listen to God and go anywhere reminds us of our own desire to do God’s will above all else.
October 1975 – Finally, the Lord has answered our prayers for a place in a big way: we were offered a cabin rent free for the winter and moved in on the 4th, just 4 days before Zoe was born. We had planned a home birth all along so I delivered Zoe at 10:15 pm, October 8th. I studied a book on child birth; learned a lot from our mid-wife friend, Judy, who had promised all along to be here for Zoe’s birth (but alas is in England at a Mid-wives conference); and Cindy and I attended Lamaze classes, a natural child-birth system that helped ease the fear of doing a home delivery.
The morning of Zoe’s birth Cindy made an unexpected visit to Dr. Paytey because of growing labor pains. Because of our insistence on a home birth, he has promised to come to our home after Zoe was born and make sure all is well. Dr. Paytey examined her and told her it was false labor pains and the baby would probably be born in 3 or 4 days. Cindy had contractions all day, but nothing serious until around 4:30. We arrived to our cold cabin around 6 and I began to time the contractions. By 8pm I was sure she was in labor and the baby was coming tonight. So, in spite of Cindy’s need to believe the doctor I started preparations: prepare the bed with absorbent pads; boil the water and shoestring to tie the umbilical cord; and thoroughly wash my hands and Cindy’s bottom after she took an enema. However, this later proved to be a waste of time, since she was two days constipated and we didn’t get it all. Feces was everywhere, as Zoe’s head moved down the birthing canal.
By this time, Cindy was confused and couldn’t remember what to do or what stage of labor she was in. Prior to transition she had difficulty following the Lemaze breathing routine and I began to get scared. As the baby’s head began to push against the pubic arch she found the pain unbearable – I believe the tight squeeze against her full intestines probably made it worse. As the baby’s scalp started showing I saw the ridge but horror of horrors it looked a lot like a baby butt!
If it was a breach birth she’d need a hospital. She began to sense the panic on my face and I realized that she was about to emotionally freak if I didn’t offer some reassurance. Since I didn’t really know if it was the head or the butt I just said, “Everything’s fine and you’re doing great, but try to hold back on pushing, so your perenium can stretch and not tear”. I knew I needed to keep comforting and coaching her but sometimes I’d forget to say anything and she’d start to freak out.
But now the head was crowning more fully and I could see Zoe’s hair. After the occipital, the front part of her face moved out and I was truly awestruck by the whole birthing process and what the baby as well as the mother has to endure. After the head was out the baby seemed stuck momentarily. I remembered reading about using my finger to help the baby’s shoulder get free, so I did this. The next thing I remember is catching Zoe as her entire upper body squirted out into my hands. She was all rubbery and with the next contraction the rest of her thighs and feet squirted out. I held the baby’s head down, to drain the water and mucous but it seemed like forever that she wasn’t breathing. So, I held her by the feet, with the umbilical cord still dangling and she began to breathe and wimper. I placed Zoe on Cindy’s stomach and waited for the cord to turn white before cutting it.
Before the placenta delivered I ran next door to Wayne and Sheila Corish’s to call Dr. Paytey. He came out that night, and then again the next day, and was very pleased, telling us what a joy it was to have a call where everything was going fine. Cindy amazes me. Right after the birth she began to straighten up the house and the next day baked some homemade bread. She also made supper for Ethyl and Molly, 2 women who are working with a nutritional survey grant, which I hope to work on too.
October 1975 to Mid-February 1976 – Got a job with the Pouch Cove fisherman working on a government grant project to cut trees with hand tools only (no chain saws, only pulp saws, two man saws and axes): larger trees are to be sent to their local saw mill and used to build a volunteer fire house and the smaller ones, which they call “longers” are the straight long saplings that grow close to one another and thus eliminate side shoots/branches. They will be used for fencing around the firehouse and the town.
The fishermen have enlightened me as to the dirty political deal struck by their former Premier. He told all of Newfoundland’s fishermen that they could have a better life and there were lots of jobs waiting… all they had to do was give up their fishing licenses and move to the big city. What he didn’t tell them was that behind the scenes he’d been working deals with countries around the world, to give them the licenses these fishermen were forfeiting. This enriched him and Newfoundland, for a little while. Most of the fishermen found out there were no jobs, only the hope of jobs, and they learned about the redistribution of their wealth by the Premier. Many of the fishermen eventually moved back home but minus the ability to do what they knew best, run their own business as a fisherman. And all those countries sent bigger and bigger ships with greater capacity to find and capture more fish and now the fish populations have crashed. Some of the fishermen who didn’t give up their licenses told me how they used to go to the Grand Banks and bring in tons of fish but now it’s difficult to break even.
They’ve also introduced me to all kinds of food I’ve never even heard of: Cod’s tongue; fish head soup; and seal meat (from when they go far north in the wintertime, when they can’t fish, to kill seals and sell their meat and pelts). Seal meat is the only one I didn’t care for, the meats extremely dark and oily.
Fishermen know how to work hard! We worked right through a number of storms. So, when there was a full-blown blizzard I figured those fishermen would still show up to cut trees.
The morning of the Blizzard there was already about a foot of snow on the ground. I dressed extra warm with my down coat and many layers. But the wind was so strong it found its way through every needle hole of my down jacket. Walking to work took about an hour and I had to walk at about a 45 degree angle just to stay upright!
When I entered the woods where we were working I was amazed at how tranquil it was, the snow gently falling. But over the top of the closely growing fir trees the winds were howling and the tree tops swaying. And sure enough, they were all there.
Later, during lunch break I walked a few hundred yards to the ocean, to see what all that noise was about. I was awestruck by what I saw and felt. The rocks under my feet felt like they were moving with each crashing wave. The waves were at least 25 feet tall, maybe more, and when they hit the rock cliffs they sprayed up into the air a good hundred feet or so. I can’t imagine what fishermen feel when they are out there, caught by a giant storm and fearing for their lives. Their boats would be like tiny flotsam, riding up and down giant 30 foot walls of water.
Sometime after Christmas Cindy and I came across an ad in a farmer’s magazine, Acres USA. A fellow named Eric Sandeman, from Boswell, BC, is looking for someone to caretake his farm and after writing him we’ve discovered he’s a Christian who is considering Christian community too. The farm overlooks the 80 miles long Kootenay Lake.
Looking back, I can see the same pattern in my spiritual life: I get a word from the Lord that is clear, but circumstances, especially financial difficulties, force me to go against what I believe is clearly God’s will. This is what happened with this latest move. I spent two intensive weeks in prayer about whether to go to BC or stay in Nfld., and twice, late at night in prayer, the Lord gave me an indication that we should stay. One of those times I jumped into bed and woke Cindy, telling her that it was definitely God’s will for us to stay in Nfld.
However, our desire to recapture the joy and spiritual power of living in Christian community, coupled with our inability to find a place to move to (we had to move the end of March) made us decide to move. Looking at it now, I realize we still had 6 weeks and that is more than enough time for God to help us work something out.
Anyway, when we got to the Sandeman farm we were crestfallen. Eric is one of those eternal optimists, even when things are obviously not the way they should be, so his description of the farm left out the fact that he was giving us a burned-out cabin full of soot and smoke damage to stay in! There was no way I would subject my wife and newborn to breathing that toxic air so I told him we would be moving into the upstairs empty bedroom in the main house. Well, he’s also a pack rat so we had to spend a day just clearing a path through a ton of boxes. That first night there, in the serene quiet of this farm on a road that hardly anyone travels after sundown, I had time to reflect. I realized, albeit too late this time, that if I get a sense of God speaking to me and he says, “Don’t go”, to hell with the circumstances, we’re not going!
September 1976 – Cindy and I tried hard to make it in Boswell/Nelson, BC. Just down the road from Boswell is a ferry terminal that takes people to Nelson, a larger town in a large inlet on the other side of the lake. I tried repeatedly to find work there (any kind of work) but there was none to be had. We grew a garden at Eric’s farm and tended some goats he let run wild (Eric made no sense; he let the goats run wild and they were eating the bark of his very old fruit orchard of heirloom apples, slowly destroying them). Eric would give us some money from time to time, so we could buy essentials and stay on the farm, but by September we knew we needed to leave. We decided to hitch hike across Canada to St. John’s, Newfoundland, where we at least had a few friends and work would be easier to get.
We heard stories along the way and one of them was “Don’t get stuck in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan”! Turns out they were right. Even with wife and baby in tow thousands of people refused to stop and give us a ride. We stood there hitching for nearly 24 hours before someone finally took mercy on us.
By the time we were near Ottawa, Cindy was overwhelmed by a devastating cold. We called Star, who has since married a guy named Courtney (I think his name is Levan) and they graciously offered for Cindy to stay with them till she recovered, while I would continue to St. John’s to find a job and a place for us.
October 1976 to April 1977 - I found a job right away, as a baker’s helper for a bread manufacturer and two weeks after that found us a very large house to rent, cheap, because it needed work. The landlord said he would supply the materials like paint, wallpaper and linoleum for the floors, so we can fix it up. I thought it was a wise decision, given our lack of money and our desire for ministry. We could take in the homeless and reach out to the street kids. I discovered that a lot of parents in this city viewed their kids as an impediment to their freedom to drink and party, and I heard from the older kids that some very young kids were told to go outside without shoes in freezing weather.
Cindy, unfortunately, ever the “Debbie Downer”, didn’t see my decision as a wise one and at first refused to move in. There wasn’t really any choice but for the entire 6 months we were there she complained constantly about everything. To her, all she could see was that the floors were too dangerous because a pin could be lodged in the cracks, which Zoe would find and swallow. For me, I would see the solution, that the landlord said he’d supply the linoleum and as soon as it was delivered, I’d install it… no more cracks, no more pin problem! But for Cindy, it was still a problem to complain about, right up till the day it was fixed.
I wish she would be more supportive, as so many blessings have come our way after renting this place. The Salvation Army, where we’ve been worshipping, heard about our taking in some of the homeless and working with the local street kids and they provided us with a truckload of furniture. And we met an amazing woman, Sister Anastasia Moore from the Bonaventure Convent. After decades as a nun she finally experienced a spiritual rebirth and realized her church traditions had kept her from experiencing the great joy and power that comes only by the Holy Spirit. She gave us a $1000 to help with the added expense of caring for our tenants; and some people who came to the convent seeking help have been sent to us. And then there were the kids… they were so in need of someone to love them. We had an open-door policy for them and have done things like a weekly movie night where we rent some National Film Board movies and provide popcorn. They loved it and have been thankful to have a place to go, because they are made to feel unwanted at home.
Sometime in December we decided we needed to start our own business. We had been living on welfare for a few months (my job as a baker’s helper ended suddenly and unexpectedly, shortly after Cindy’s arrival) and decided we had to get off welfare. Sitting in the welfare office, listening in on conversations and observing people come and go, I realized that some of these families were multi-generational welfare recipients. How sad is that! So, we made up our mind to start a business and get ourselves off welfare.
The business we decided on was selling seeds through a mail-order catalog. We’ve called it “Sower Seeds”. It will be a recession proof business, one that can grow even during the hardest of times. But how to do it… there are no books on “How-to Start a Seed Business”!
I decided to call around to seed companies and see what I could learn. Some of the owners were helpful, especially Mr. Vesey of Vesey Seeds on Prince George’s Island. So, I made arrangements to meet him and pick his brain. I hitch hiked there and was surprised to discover that he had started his business with absolutely no experience as well. He took me on a tour and gave me much valuable info, especially about how to deal with customs for seed importation, an absolute necessity since seeds are grown in other countries around the world, not just the US. Amazingly, probably due to our being the first seed catalog to sell a wide variety of herb and unusual flower seeds, we achieved a 50% profit on the welfare money we saved and invested.
But alas, at the end of our 6 month lease I had to make a decision as to whether or not to stay. Cindy made me feel that she wouldn’t be happy if we stayed and that weighed heavy on my heart. I wanted us to stop fighting and have some peace in our marriage, but to leave would mean a great loss for all those kids we minister to, and for the homeless in St. John’s. We finally decided to move to Kilbride just outside of St. John’s after our lease on Pleasant St. was up, the end of April, and that made Cindy happy. Cindy got a job working several hours a week, coaching our subdivision’s swim team (she used to be on her schools swim team) and I got a full-time job working on a L.I.P. project. I would pick and shovel all day, then come home and pick and shovel for 4 hours in the garden. I immediately built a greenhouse and turned over a garden plot, so we could begin seed trials and report our findings to our seed customers next year.
September – December 1977 – While living in Kilbride we continued to attend the Salvation Army Temple on Springdale St., in St. John’s. We started attending there the first time we lived in St. John’s, as I made note of this in a November, 1975 entry shortly after Zoe was born. But I think the following Salvation Army related event happened during our second time in St. John’s, from October 1976 to September 1977 (just prior to moving to Bell Island) either during our six months on Pleasant St. or our 5 months in Kilbride (I tend to think this happened while we lived in Kibride). This is being written many years later from my journal notes and there are 15 pages missing.
We befriended a couple who were about to have their first child. She was a homemaker and he a well-respected criminal judge. They were both members of the Springdale St., Salvation Army Temple. The fact that I had to lie about my name and background ever since I became a Christian has weighed heavily upon me for years. But every time I thought of turning myself in I felt I had to wait. Around the time we met this couple, (sorry, I can’t for the life of me remember their names) I had a crisis of conscience and just wanted to get the whole thing over with. I figured that if I confessed my fugitive status to a judge, especially a criminal magistrate whose job was dependent on his always doing the “right” thing, that he would have to call the RCMP and have me arrested. To not do this would mean he would put his reputation as well as his new family’s wellbeing on the line.
Well, to make a long story short, I confessed and he shocked me by what he said, “I’ll pray about it”. What was there to pray about, I thought to myself? If I was in his position I wouldn’t hesitate to call the cops. He told me to come back the next day and he’d have an answer for me. Well, the next day I got an even greater shock. He said, “God has said it’s not time for you to turn yourself in. While you’re waiting for the right time you need to get together letters of recommendation from everyone of importance you know: Doctors, Pastors, evangelical and youth workers, long-time friends whose lives were changed by your testimony and your leading them to the Lord.” One thing was for sure, when I left their place I was convinced beyond any doubt that this was a miracle, and further proof that God’s hand was upon my life.
Our move to Kilbride in the spring didn’t worked out. We had problems with the landlord… stupid stuff like putting our boxes under the cellar steps (his wife didn’t like that and wanted them moved, but we had no place to move them to). Also, we started germinating and growing our seedlings in the cellar, prior to completion of my wood A-frame plastic greenhouse, but because the electrical outlet in our basement didn’t work, we asked to run an extension cord through the window and over to their basement. They agreed because we were entitled to have electricity in our basement but then held that against us because I was using it 24/7 to grow plants. The utilities were included in the rent. We tried to open the lines of communication and be nice to them: we gave them vegetables and offered them a space to garden with us, but they concluded it was us who were the “users”. And yet they sold the land where our garden plot was, right out from under us, without one word about the possibility that all my hard work would be for nothing. I once heard his wife say, “I know your kind”, which obviously meant she had stereotyped us from the beginning as “hippies” and nothing we could do would change her mind. Rather than celebrate our rebirth in Christ, our entrepreneurial spirit and tell us that next month they’d have to raise the rent to cover the extra electricity we were using, they just complained and made everyone miserable. They finally gave us notice to leave and by October we were living on Bell Island.
The place we rented on Bell Island was another old house, but it was in pretty good condition. Bell Island used to be an international source of iron ore used in steel making and was active from 1895 to 1966. It’s a very nice place to live but just no work. We make enough during our seed business peak period, February to May but need to find outside jobs during the rest of the year. Since we are going to do seed trials anyway, we’re thinking of expanding our income period with a greenhouse that sells bedding plants and a garden to provide vegetables to the restaurants and farmer’s markets.
From the last week in November through the first week in December we have been moving our stuff to a storage unit in Halifax, using the car we bought. The car was an answer to two years of prayer. It cost us only $100 and came with all the spare parts we’ll need to keep it in top shape (including a radiator, another battery and a muffler). My getting a license was an answer to prayer too, given the expectation of a background check. Our friends threw us a going away party on the 23rd of November (the eve of my spiritual rebirth in Christ 4 years ago). It was Rosalyn Whalen’s idea and in attendance were: Phil & Eva Heath, Nan & Mike Ross, Jim & Carol Tilley, Mick & Rosalyn Whalen, Paul Thompson, Sister Anastasia Moore, Samuel Whitten, and two tag-alongs, Elvira and Randy. We received $80 in love gifts, bread, sandwiches, apples and a salad from Nan for our journey. The fellowship was good.
January 28, 1979 – Well, here it is, over 1 year since my last entry. I just haven’t had time for the luxury of keeping up my journal. We went to Halifax and tried to sell Sower Seeds as planned, staying at Burney Horn’s apartment. Hundreds of people joined us in praying for its sale, but to no avail. The main reason for trying to sell is our lack of money to expand. Looking back, I have to admit we weren’t very patient and the timing wasn’t good; we only tried to sell it over a 5 week period, when people were busy with the Holidays, right up to the end of December!
We decided to move back to Bear River and everything has worked to that end. Pastors Earl Waterman and Doug Hapeman were both working together on a discipleship program (which we had approached Earl about, 3 year earlier) and we found new friends, Pauline and Frank Kinney, who let us stay with them while we were looking for a place. And in spite of a VERY limited number of rentals in Bear River (years ago, we had tried on two previous occasions to no avail), we were able to rent Isabelle Davis’s house, with its Victorian gingerbread house look and wrap around porch where every section between posts is framed by a wooden circle. There is space in the back for a garden too.
But oh, what a mad time that first winter was! We were able to get two loans for $700 and $1,500 from two local banks. We got the catalog together, ordered our seeds and I went up the valley to spend two days running off 5,400 1978 catalogs on a mimeograph machine at Paul & Ruth Colvilles. Deadlines piled up and I often found myself working till 2 or 3 in the morning most nights and sometimes till 7 am.
As customers began to order I bought a quonset style greenhouse to use for seed trials and to grow bedding plants to sell. I only did this after talking to the lady who brought in a large number of bedding plants and sold them to the locals every year (Mrs. Proulx); she said she wasn’t going to do the bedding plants anymore. We knew she sold thousands of dollars of bedding plants every year and since she promised to send all her customers our way, we felt safe in making the investment. It only cost us $200 for the zinc coated greenhouse hoops but at least another $1,200 for the plastic, growing trays, potting mix, organic chemicals, etc. In the end, Mrs. Proulx was not a woman of her word and she once again brought in bedding plants to sell, making some $2,000 her first weekend, compared to our $50. By the end of the season we only made $750, which meant we suffered a huge financial loss.
Sower Seed catalogs wouldn’t have gone out without the volunteers from church, who helped us with collating and stamping the catalogs, packaging seeds and setting up the greenhouse. But our gardening was another matter, one we did entirely by ourselves. It was a herculean task to break sod and remove couch grass with only a shovel and pick, on 4 separate garden plots within a two-mile radius. We sold lots of tomatoes and cukes, since we had 500 plants of each left over when most of our greenhouse bedding plants didn’t sell. Later, we realized we could make money from saved seed so we saved a bread box and several large ice cream containers full.
We knew we needed a farm and since I had been using the old Foreman place as one of our garden plots (where I had lived years ago, and held the healing conference; see “Spring to Fall 1973” journal entry), we wrote the owner and drew up a two year purchase agreement to buy the farm with our Sower Seed, bedding plant and produce income. But things are not looking good. We owe the banks $10,000 and can’t borrow any more from them. I tried to explain the situation, that hundreds of our customers wrote to tell us they got the catalog too late and had already ordered (we sent it out in February but other seed companies send their catalogs out in November/December), so all we had to do was get our catalogs early and our income would jump dramatically.
Well, we finally got the seed business going but the delay will mean our catalogs go out around the first of February. We’re going to lose orders again. We wanted to dramatically increase the number of catalogs going out to the mailing lists we purchase from Rodale Press, because the more catalogs that go out, the more customers we acquire. We’ve also noticed that the more seeds we offer, the more money we make; we doubled the number of seed varieties and saw an increase from $5 to $8 average per order. Our original plan was to do 50,000 catalogs but we’ve had to scale that down to 27,000. Because we’ve been in business for several years now, we were able to order most our seeds on 30 days net. I managed to talk the bank into backing us for ½ the printing cost and one acquaintance loaned us $600 to cover the bill from one seed company that wouldn’t extend us credit.
August 1979 – As our seed business got going in February we realized we had to hire some help; but since we couldn’t afford it until after the money started coming in, we had to hire people willing to wait a few weeks for their first paycheck. The main reason for hiring help is because Cindy finds it increasingly impossible to cope with our children and help with the seed business too. We hired Isabelle Sidey full time and Burrel Henderson part-time, 2-3 hours in the afternoon to take care of mail and help get out orders; and I hired two part-time workers to help with bedding plant production so we could be ready by May 1st.
We managed to get two additional loans from the fellow who loaned us the $600 for seeds: $2,000 for postage to send out catalogs and another $700 for operations until the money began to come in. Unfortunately, because we couldn’t get the money we needed earlier, we were two months late getting the catalogs out and that resulted in 1,400 less orders than anticipated.
We also put an ad in a Christian magazine, Cornerstone, looking for community minded Christians and began corresponding with the Rodgers in Pennsylvannia.
By mid-May Cindy and I had gotten a legal separation and she went to St. Louis to be with her parents. Once greenhouse sales were over, and after a number of phone conversations that made me realize she was giving up on us, I flew down to try and save the marriage. We had six of the most beautiful days we’ve ever experienced. We visited the Missouri Botanical Gardens and different greenhouses to see how they did things. We took evening walks together; we ate out at a restaurant with a piano player that served stupendous cheese cake; we went to the park and an international food festival. We also visited with her girlfriend and relatives but the highlight of the whole trip was attending a 2nd Chapter of Acts concert. That helped us to get us back on track with God.
When we got back to Bear River we were un-expectantly given notice we had to move. Seems Isabelle has relatives who decided to move to Bear River. We realized the lack of money meant we couldn’t buy the Foreman place, so we canceled our contract. Earlier in the year, before we knew our income would take a nose-dive we tried to purchase the Peter McGregor farm, which had been used for decades for vegetable production and had many acres of really productive bottom land. We put together a five-year plan for the bank and his widow but alas, it was all based on our business doing well.
These circumstances forced us to move in July to the only place available and rent-free, the old Foreman farm. Because we had almost no help it took us nearly a month to move the greenhouse, belongings and 1000’s of pounds of seeds. But we knew our move was only temporary. With no electricity, no running water and no kitchen there was no way for us to do our seed business from here.
So, we began to look at moving to the Wolfville area, where our dear friends, Mark and Beth Crosby were living (Mark wrote us a letter of apology for acting so unchristian towards us; he sensed something was wrong with his prayer life and when he asked God about it was told it was because of his siding with the legalists and mistreating us). We’ve been sensing that God wants me to write a book and Wolfville has some great libraries, including one at a seminary.
January 1980 – Last September, when I got a job as a dairy hand, pig hand and apple orchard hand for Norm Palmer in Berwick, we moved from Bear River. The job came with a house. He hired me on the spot because I was the first honest person who said I had no experience with dairy but really wanted the job. Unfortunately, he was not so honest with me. He said the house was rent free, but neglected to tell us we’d be paying $40 a month for the insurance on it. The house was in perfect shape and Cindy loved it. We also got apples and milk as part of the deal.
Also, unfortunately, I never asked his neighbors about what kind of a guy he was to work for. Turns out he had gone through 5 other employees the previous year. I could see why. He constantly criticizes everything and won’t listen to practical advice on how to increase milk production. Since he said I would get a raise commensurate with increased milk production I borrowed his “Hoard’s Dairyman” mags and read everything I could. I learned that increased milk production comes with cleanliness, with good unrotted feed, and careful handling of the chemical cleaners. He kept insisting that I stop my cleaning in order to be used somewhere else but I kept coming back to finish my cleaning whenever I could. The mangers had rotten hay in them, which kept infecting the new hay we added, so I cleaned the mangers too. I read that rotten feed meant the cows would eat less and this would lower production. After working there about 6 weeks I learned from the other hired hand that his milk had been rated premium for the first time in a very long time, due to low bacteria count. Norm would never make the connection with my more thorough but slower washing of floors, equipment and teats. The only reason he was probably still in business was due to his daily evening washing of the milk line with Iodine solution, which foamed up considerably and was left in the line to be swept into the milk tank with the next day’s milking.
Norm is obstinate to a fault. I read the label on the Iodine solution and started to do it the right way. But he eventually found out and wanted me to do it the way he always did… which was to use 130-degree hot water, even though the label said never to use water over 110. I couldn’t remain true to my conscience if I stayed there so I gave him notice we’d be moving as soon as I found another job.
I had also been advertising for someone to buy our seed business and got a letter from the Rawlinson’s. They were interested. They lived in Truro, which just happened to be where we were thinking of relocating anyway. We got assurances that they would buy and I suggested moving to Truro so I could tutor him on the ins and outs of the business. But before we sealed the deal I said I wanted to have his word that he wouldn’t weasel out of the purchase at the last minute, once he learned what he needed to know. He assured me he would never stoop so low as to back out after learning how the business operated but that’s exactly what William Rawlinson did. Our purchase price was $13,000 but that included a lot of seed inventory and the equipment we had amassed over the years, some of it custom made by me.
By October we were living in Oxford and I was working at Gordon’s Greenhouses… about 10 acres under glass with a huge chip-waste fired boiler. They grew mostly roses. Because I had experience owning my own greenhouse operation I was told I would be quickly promoted to a lead position. We rented a really nice house nearby and everything was finally looking up. Or so I thought.
Well, it turned out that the guy who built up this enterprise was retired and his sons now ran it. I learned that the original owner was a pretty hard task master but fair, and his employees respected him for that. They knew that if he walked by and they were leaning on their broom or not working at what they should be doing he might not say anything at the time; but the next day they would be fired. He was there before the employees arrived and stayed long after they left. His sons on the other hand were lazy and wouldn’t show up till 10 am or later, stay only a few hours and then go home to spend more leisure time.
Soon after I arrived I noticed that our foreman was often shooting the bull for an hour or more before quitting time, and encouraging those he was responsible for to do the same. I never joined in and began to get a lot of negative feedback about my choice to give the owners a good days work. So, I went to office and talked with one of his sons about the situation. To my utter surprise, rather than thank me, he told me he didn’t want to hear about it, that he didn’t care so long as the orders they got each day were filled. He even indicated that it was I who was being a trouble maker! Well, a few days later, just before Christmas, I got a termination notice. There was no doubt as to why, even though I was told it was because of a slowdown.
We started bankruptcy proceedings but then learned it would cost us $750 to do it. I was astounded… people who have no money must pay to go bankrupt. I can understand the lawyers want to get paid but surely there should be a way for those most destitute to do it on their own.
Since we would have to try making a go of the seed business again, I decided to take a free course at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, called, “Pedigreed Forage Seed Production”. There were only 6 students, 4 resource personnel and a lot of info on the whole seed trade setup and techniques of seed growing. I was able to stay with William and Gladys Peters to avoid the cost of a hotel.
I finally found a job as Chick Hatchery Manager. The job came with a house and it had an alarm tied to the hatchery about 10 yards away.
September 1980 - With the income from the Chick Hatchery job and a lot of existing seed inventory we were able to get out another Sower Seeds catalog. As usual I did germination tests and most of the seed was still germinating high. But the only way we could continue the business was to dramatically cut costs, like eliminating purchase of a mailing list and sending catalogs only to existing customers.
We managed to purchase 120 acres, 90 in woods, much of which is mature trees that could be cut and sold to keep the farm going if needed, and 30 acres of fields. The farm is on the Malagash peninsula and between the Hatchery and our Sower Seeds income we managed to put together our down payment. Right now, we’re getting by on my Unemployment Insurance checks and temporarily living at the farm in the old barn. There is no house.
Our marriage has been on the edge of divorce since soon after we were married and though we’ve gone for counseling a number of times, prayed often, read books about marriage and forgiven one another again and again, the sense of incompatibility remains. One of the biggest issues for me is she’s not the kind of mother I had; she doesn’t enter into play with the children very often and when she does, it’s not on their level; and I have to keep insisting that she let them outside to play… she’s always afraid they’ll get muddy or hurt, so she keeps them in the house and underfoot, which drives her crazy. I don’t think she’s suited to being a mother. Cindy’s just too much about herself and her space and her needs. There are permanent trust issues as well, because I regularly catch her lying to me.
It seems that Cindy purposely persists in whatever bugs me the most. For instance, I ask her to empty out Caleb’s potty when she’s the one supervising his dump. But day after day, week after week, she lets it sit and stink up the place. And then, when she does finally empty it, she only rinses the pot and doesn’t scrub it clean with comet or disinfectant. Same for the toilet. We have stayed together, but it is only for our three children, Zoe, Caleb, and Aaron, and, I have to admit, for the great sex. That’s always been one of our strongest bonds. Whenever we make love it seems to break the dam of pent-up negatives, we are filled with positiveness, and our dreams are given renewed energy.
October-November 1980 – We rented a place in Malagash, not far from the farm we purchased, so we could have running water and a stove, so we could can the tomatoes we harvested from our garden in Truro.
By the end of October I was certain we had to separate. One day I was out with the kids, getting some food from a local natural foods store, and as I was leaving I saw this tall beautiful woman going into the store. I just knew I had to meet her and find out her name, so I put on the brakes and went back to the store. I introduced myself and found out her name was Nancy McNeil. She lived close by with her three kids, Oona, Shawn and Cameron, on a farm purchased by her and her husband, but they were separated. She invited me to a Halloween party at her place and I decided then and there to separate from Cindy. I told Cindy I was moving out that same day.
After the Halloween party Nancy invited me to stay the night, which I did. That was the beginning of our affair. One of the uncanniest things we both noticed over the coming few weeks was our intuitive connection… we both believed we were true soul mates as both of us could sense when the other was going through a difficult emotional time.
Nancy and I began to plan our life together and everything began working in that direction: she had $600 in stock returns coming to her; Nancy called her mother in Ohio and it just so happened that one of her mother’s rental properties had been recently vacated; Nancy asked Christ into her heart as a result of my witness, then realized that this farm and all the friends she and her husband had would only serve to undermine her commitment, so she felt it would be best for both of us to start over together (especially since her husband had returned unexpectedly and was not welcome).
Nancy said her husband didn’t care anymore and was a seducer. This was proven true when he went over to Cindy’s place to try and seduce her… not because he had fallen in love but just because he was the type of person who would try to seduce just about anyone. Cindy really didn’t know him so when he kissed her suddenly she ran outside, he ran after her, and then she ran back into the house and locked the door.
However, I soon began to realize that moving to Ohio with Nancy would mean I wouldn’t be seeing my kids. I could hardly bear the thought. Eventually I realized I wanted my kids more than I wanted Nancy and decided I had to end the affair.
I confessed all this to Cindy and after she prayed about it she agreed to take me back, but with conditions. She said I was to turn myself in as a ransom for her and to prove to her father that I did indeed love her. I was to pay for all the costs of getting her to St. Louis and the costs her Father would incur in providing room and board for her and the children. And I was to do the following: I was to go down to Baltimore now and turn myself in; she would travel to St. Louis and live with her dad and his second wife, Nina; then, when my legal situation was resolved, she would join me and we would have a new start as husband and wife.
I arrived at moms about 3 or 4 days before Thanksgiving (which was Thursday, the 27th) and promptly found a “Christian” lawyer. Turns out he is pretty nominally Christian, but at least I’m able to ask him to pray with me about the situation, which he does.
Just a few days after I arrived I got a “Dear John” letter from Cindy. Contrary to her own word and what she told me God revealed to her, she decided to seek a divorce and totally end the relationship. In the letter, she says she doesn’t want me back, because she keeps seeing Nancy making love to me and doesn’t want to forgive me. But she also admits to getting drunk and being confused. So, I called up Cindy and tried to reason with her. She said she would move in with me if I moved out to St. Louis (she was assuming I would be doing jail time and wouldn’t be moving out there anytime soon, so that was a safe thing to say at the time). So there goes all the good sharing with my family, which she says she prefers. Also, there goes the possibility of forming a partnership with Joyce’s husband, Chuck, who offered to be a silent money partner to see us continue our Sower Seed business.
I saw the lawyer again and we’ve decided I should turn myself in on Monday, December 1st. I’ll be doing it alone. I really needed Cindy’s support and I no longer have that. All day I’ve been a bit depressed so I went over to Phil and Norma’s. Since Norma was out, Phil and I had a really great religious discussion. We embraced and though Phil was a bit drunk he said he thought of me as a brother. I like him.
December 1980 – The day for turning myself in was moved up to Thursday, December 4th . After a week of enquiry my lawyer told me I would be spending time in jail, because the same judge was on the bench and wanted to make an example of me for running from the law. He also saw my file with the ones they intended to prosecute. The lawyer said he thought they would try to get me to pay some of the bail money that was forfeited when I jumped bail, or to be placed on probation, but at the very least I would have to appear before the judge.
I told him God never promised me no jail time, but he did speak to a minister’s wife to give me Psalm 50:15, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify me”.
Several days later, on December 4th, I was to meet him at the courthouse and officially surrender, but when I called just prior to meeting him, my lawyer told me, “There’s been a change in plans; meet me at my office”. He wouldn’t tell me why. At his office, he threw a piece of paper across his desk, saying, “There’s your ticket to freedom: ‘Nolle Prosequi’; which means the Prosecutor is saying, ‘NO Prosecution’. There won’t even be a record of any crime on your file”. I believe it was those letters of recommendation from prominent professionals and people whose lives I had helped change, that they made all the difference.
I immediately drove out to St. Louis, to surprise Cindy. But the harder I tried to get her back, the harder she resisted. One night, at a home Bible study I was attending, the woman host took me aside and shared the story of her struggle with Lupus. What a horrible debilitating disease. It attacks the nerves between the connective tissues of the body and is extremely painful. Which surprised me, because this lady was so serene.
I then shared my situation with Cindy and she gave me the best advice anyone had given: stop pursuing her and turn her over to God… let God handle the situation. I took her advice and within a few weeks Cindy called and said, “Does that offer to move in still stand?” I told her yes, and then asked why. Turns out she and her father had a falling out. They had offered her the money to go back to school; they paid her rent; and they even bought her furniture for her new place. But the falling out was total, and all help withdrawn, leaving her with no option other than me.
We were back in Baltimore before Christmas and were able to stay with my sister Norma and her husband Phil. I looked for work every day but after about three weeks our stay was wearing thin. And Cindy was ragging on me too, because she wanted our own place. One day, as we were arguing about it, I felt the boldness of the Spirit and predicted that I would have us a job and a house in two weeks. That seemed impossible, given the fact we were about out of money and I would need to work for at least a month to save up enough money to rent a place.
I was calling nurseries and landscape companies, because that’s the kind of work I knew best, but they all said the same thing, call back around mid-February when they would be hiring. One of the nurseries I called was Marshy Point Nursery. Harry Weiskettle was the owner. He also told me to call back, but I insisted on coming out to see his operation and he finally relented. When I got there I walked his property with him, impressing him with my knowledge but more importantly, pointing out all the things I could do to save him money. He hired me and then said, “Oh, by the way, the job comes with a rent-free house!” True to the prophetic words I felt God gave me to speak, I had a job and a house in two weeks.
January 1981 – September 1982 - I worked at Marshy Point Nursery for about two years. We were able to save about $3,000 because we weren’t paying rent. Cindy got pregnant with our 4th child, Melanie, who was born in December of ‘81.
That first year at Marshy Point we decided to get remarried in an outdoor ceremony on the nursery’s fabulous 400 acre peninsula, which jutted out into the Chesapeake Bay.
When winter of ’81 rolled around I wanted us to do a honeymoon trip. Since nothing much happened at the Nursery during the winter it wasn’t hard to convince Harry to let us spend a few months traveling. We went to Cumberland, KY to visit my Aunt Ocie and Uncle Orville; to Huston, TX where my brother Ron and his wife Jan were living; then out to New Mexico to visit the Carlsbad Caverns; and on to San Diego California, to swim in the ocean. We had a station wagon and by putting blankets in the back and letting the kids play there, it was a very pleasant experience! Much more freedom back then. Kids got to be strapped in and that’s a near impossible formula for traveling with them!
I loved the fact that Harry was open to my going to Cooperative Extension and University of Maryland short courses… learned a LOT during those two years. After returning from our road trip and taking a short course on energy saving measures for greenhouses, I was able to convince Harry to invest in installing hot-water in-bed heating, using neoprene like tubing under sand, with the pots on top of the sand, and a 3-foot high plastic canopy over each bed. I kept temperature and electricity use records and proved it was saving us a lot of money.
But by late summer of 1982 we were both wanting to return to Canada. Our friend Eric Sandeman from Boswell, BC offered to pay us a small salary to take care of his farm. He was in Calgary, Alberta, managing an apartment complex, so it was impossible for him to get away for any amount of time.
Not sure if I drove or took an airplane, but I took my vacation time to meet with him and hammer out the details. I didn’t get a good feeling about moving back to Canada, and if the following incident didn’t happen, I probably would have stayed at the Nursery for a few more years at least.
While I was away, I called to talk with Cindy and she wasn’t there. So, I called the nursery number and an employee who picked up the phone told me I should get back as soon as possible. He hinted that Cindy was trying to seduce Harry, that Harry wasn’t interested, but it would still be wise to return.
I came back, we argued. And it turned violent. She threw objects at me. I pushed her and I tried to restrain her from attacking, but as God is my witness I never hit her with my fist or tried to do her harm. I just wanted her to stop trying to escalate the confrontation. Unfortunately, during that struggle her elbow went into the window and it shattered, causing cuts on her arm. She left for a few days but we reconciled, deciding it would be best to leave and return to Canada where we could start over.
Our final decision was to return to Canada and caretake Eric’s farm. So I gave notice to Harry and we left Marshy Point Nursery (and our free house!) the end of September or early October.
Fall to Winter 1982/83 – We soon realized that Eric’s small salary for caretaking his place wasn’t enough. I looked for work in nearby Nelson and in Creston, but to no avail.
I hitchhiked to Vancouver, some 300 miles away and found work putting advertising circulars on people’s doors. But I was increasingly disturbed by the fact that nearly every time I called home the next-door neighbor was “visiting”. I figured they must be having an affair and in early February returned to protect my kids (I found out this stranger from next door lived in a teepee with a well-known, local whore and though in his mid-thirties he’d never had a relationship that’s lasted more than a couple of months).
Upon returning I realized my fears were true, they were having an affair. But before I can take steps to make sure the neighbor doesn’t visit again, Cindy calls the police and lies to them, telling them she fears for her children, believing they are in danger. I am immediately kicked out of the home without a trial or a hearing and seek help from the local church I’ve been attending. Several families put me up for a week or two at a time, but after the second family no one steps forward and the Pastor informs me I’m on my own.
Spring 1983 – I had only enough money remaining to afford several nights in a motel. It runs out and I have to vacate the next morning, so I am desperate to find a solution. I am on my knees most of the night, crying and pleading with God for mercy. An answer comes but at first it makes no sense. I am told, “Go and buy a car”. At first I think it’s my mind speaking to me and disregard those words. But the same sentence keeps being repeated over and over until I begin to believe it’s what God wants me to do. I then decide that if it is indeed God speaking to me, there must be a way to buy a car, I just don’t know how. So, I begin thinking about my resources. I don’t have any personal money but I did have money given to me by Eric a few months back. He made me promise to spend it only on expenses related to attending the Saanichton Research Station’s “Tissue Culture” course (Eric fancied that in the future we could work together to make his farm profitable, using the knowledge I would gain from taking this course; my background in chemistry made it doable).
I quickly did some calculations in my head…. “OK, I have $700 for travel expenses, the course, accommodations and meals. If I buy a car I don’t need the money for traveling there and I can sleep in the car to avoid paying for accommodations. I could shower at the local university gym. I don’t have to eat out and can live on peanut butter sandwiches, boiled eggs, cheese and fruit during the week-long course. That means I could knock $200 off the bill.”
Suddenly I realized this was doable. I could buy a $200 car and then when I returned the car would be my temporary home! The next day was Saturday, and I had until noon to get my stuff and leave the motel. I left early to find a used car dealer who would sell me a car for $200. I stopped at every car dealer in town and was crest fallen when some of them laughed. Most of the cars were going for around $1,000 and up, none below $500. I returned to my motel with the intention of finding some discarded building materials and building a shack in the woods.
But as I was crossing the street to get my stuff from the motel I looked down the road and saw one last used car dealer I had missed. When I got there, the owner was beginning to close up. I said, “I’m looking for a $200 car, do you have one”? He said, “I just might”. He then showed me a car that had just been traded in by an old man who took pride in keeping all his cars in perfect condition. It was an old station wagon but had new tires, new brakes, a recent engine tune up, new muffler, basically a completely overhauled vehicle. I told him I’d take it and as I’m signing the paperwork he says, “I don’t why I’m selling this car to you for $200 when I know I could get a lot more”. But I knew he was an answer to prayer, a fulfillment of God’s prophetic WORD to me.
Early summer 1983 – I’ve been living out of my car for a few months, down by the Goat River at the end of a dirt road. Almost no one bothers to travel this road and though I’ve been looking for any work I can get, finding a job with no phone and no permanent address isn’t easy. I figure farm work is what I’ll end up doing, since farmers ask few questions, caring only that you are a hard worker who gets the job done. But the beginning of fruit harvest season is weeks away. In the meantime, I’ve been spending my abundance of free time studying scripture. I’ve started meditating again, something I stopped when I got saved 10 years previous, as no one in the traditional church really meditates (many say they meditate because the scripture commands it, but in truth the Christians I’ve met who say they meditate are actually reflecting on what they’ve read for a few minutes and calling that “meditation”). So, for the past 10 years I’ve prayed consistently for a God approved Christian form of meditation
One day, during this time of homelessness, I come across this passage about Jesus going to pray in the garden of Gethsemane. He asks the three disciples he brought with him to wait outside the gate, to watch and pray for him there. Twice he comes to the gate to check on them and finds them asleep. When this happened a third time he said, “Could you not watch with me one hour”? The Holy Spirit gave me understanding as I read that passage. To “watch” in ancient times was to have people standing on a high wall, being vigilant and looking to identify the enemy should he show himself. To “watch” one must be entirely focused and disciplined upon that one thing, the very definition of meditation.
Suddenly I realized that one hour is the minimum time we are to meditate. Jesus was identifying an hour as the universal minimum time required for one to overcome this world through meditation. Humans are all similar in their need to let go of troubles and quiet the mind. So, I began meditating for longer periods, making sure it was at least an hour. And then it happened. After about three quarters of an hour I experienced a breakthrough, an exponential shift to a higher plane of awareness, accompanied by a far greater peace and joy. It felt like I was being infused with God’s light. And from that time on, this sense of God’s glorious light, joy and peace happened on a regular basis.
That second passage of scripture I read that day (both of which God led me to read and understand, for this was the answer I had been seeking for 10 years) was II Corinthians chapter 3. This chapter talks about the differences between the written word and the Living WORD, which comes directly from God by his Holy Spirit, “Written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God; not in tables of stone [the law, the 10 commandments], but in fleshly tables of the heart… for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life”. This chapter goes on to tell us that mankind wasn’t ready to see the glory of God in all its power, so when God’s glory came upon Moses on the mountain, he was told to put a vail over his face, lest the people see through to the end of the law and the letter, a time when people would experience spiritual liberty and partake in God’s glory on a regular basis.
According to II Corinthians 3 their, “Minds were blinded: for until this day remains the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ… when it [their heart] shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face [all our social masks removed] beholding as in a glass [mirror] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
After reading these passages I had an epiphany. I understood that the great peace and joy and the glorious, transforming light of God I experienced in heaven, could be experienced to a lessor (but still transformative degree) by anyone, by any born again Christ-believer. They simply had to discipline themselves to meditate for a minimum of one hour, long enough to quiet all the external voices in their mind, long enough to begin hearing God’s voice. The e a breakthrough to God’s transformational glory inevitably follows the believer’s obedient action.
And the description of this process in 2 Corinthians 3 was right on: it’s like looking in a mirror, but instead of seeing ourselves we see Jesus in his glorified body, that glory being transferred to us and transforming us, “from glory to glory… by the Spirit of the Lord.” I now realized this was the foundational principle upon which the church was intended to be built, the principle upon which our 3Circles Church Communities would be built. The beauty of this process is that not only do we receive God’s transformational glory, but we also connect directly to God’s ultimate vehicle for delivering truth directly from the source, God’s Holy Spirit, also described in scripture as “The Spirit of Truth”.
The truth thus delivered is God’s Living Spirit WORD, the source of every written word of God recorded in the scriptures. This Living Spirit WORD is direct from God and is thus of more importance that the written word of God, which was obviously and provably manipulated by religious men who created the institution we call Christianity.
In other words, we can either choose to filter the Spirit’s Living WORD through the limited perceptual framework of the written word, long tainted by man’s religious mindset, OR we can choose to filter the written word through the Spirit’s Living WORD, sent to each man and woman’s heart, directly from God. According to the scriptures, this is what Jesus told us should be the case, for Jesus said he would send God’s Holy Spirit to “Guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). Jesus did not say, “I give you the scriptures to guide you into all truth”, in which case the scriptures would be the filter through which ultimate truth would be understood, which is how the religion of Christianity determines truth.
January 1984 – I’ve been living in a rented house since late last spring and have arranged regular visits with my kids. However, my heart is troubled by the facts. My wife called me one day, asking if there were any natural cures for genital herpes. She contracted a lifelong, very severe case of herpes from her now ex-boyfriend (I thank God that I never slept with her after she was unfaithful, even though I was tempted by Cindy coming onto me a few times!). Also, my oldest, Zoe, has confided in me that she misses her mom praying with them at bedtime. When I raised this issue with Cindy, I assumed she would start praying with them again, but instead, she refuses and gets very angry, telling me it’s none of my business. How a mother can deny her child’s request to pray with her is beyond my comprehension!
It’s early January and I’m living in Canyon, BC, just outside of Creston, with spectacular scenery all around, including a 2000-foot canyon wall rising up to the left of my rented home. One evening, as all this was weighing heavy on my mind, after having sought God’s help all day, I went for a moonlight walk on the snow-covered road in front of my place. Along the way, I begin to sense God’s presence and continue praying. Suddenly, I begin to see my whole life flash before my eyes, like an extremely fast, fast-forwarded movie. What was most amazing about that experience was God saying to me repeatedly, as important events came up and were paused, “I was there”.
I soon realized that many of those scenes, such as when I started that commune in British Columbia, occurred before I was reborn in Christ. This was humbling, shattering the widely disseminated Christian belief that until you accept Christ, you are not in God’s will and therefore God cannot guide you. Immediately after this life movie I was shown a vision of computers and satellites connecting Christians around the world. Remember, this is 1984, ten years before the World Wide Web began to transform a network created by DARPA, a Corporate-University-Defense research network, into the publicly accessible Internet we know today. The WORD that was delivered to me during the vision was that I must learn this technology because it would have a vital role to play in the development of our communities.
March to September 1984 – It became impossible for me to stay in Canada. Cindy was my Canadian sponsor and one day she told me she would not be signing the document that would continue her sponsorship. I asked her how she could do this, knowing how much my kids meant to me. She said I could move to some town across the border. But that was BS. She knew there was no work to be had in any of those small towns, not even the seasonal farm work I enjoyed in Creston, due to its mild micro-climate and orchards.
I was already nearly destitute, as the migrant farm work season hadn’t yet begun. I prayed about making a bold move, and decided to take my children and return to the states. I left her a note explaining I had no intention of keeping the children from her, but she had to change: to consider my own needs and not just hers; to start praying with our kids again; and to stop sleeping with men who were obviously poor father material!
To be honest, when I prayed about this I got a clear message, that if I did this, if I took the kids, even though I never had any intention of keeping them for any length of time from their mother, everything related to our family would be destroyed. However, it was already destroyed, so what’s the difference I reasoned.
In March I stored all my belongings (except for my irreplaceable journal and other writings) in my neighbor’s basement and with my four children, headed for Baltimore where my family lives. I was certain I would find work there, as I had worked as a stevedore on the docks in times past. But along the way God speaks to me and tells me not to go to Baltimore. It makes no sense, but I obey.
I stopped in Kaiser, West Virginia, to spend the night at a local motel. After paying, we went to a Christian book store I felt drawn to. While there, God speaks to a woman and she tells her husband, that they must help me.
That evening she and her husband visit us at our motel room. She tells me about a woman friend from Social Services and that they’d introduce me to her. But I insist that on the way here God spoke to me clearly about this, that I was not to go on welfare. That decision led to a different set of questions, from which they discovered I had been working as a seasonal farm worker the year before. There was an “A-HA” moment in which the woman realized I might be eligible for help from the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Association. And since they knew a woman who worked there, Georgia Hott, who also happened to be a born-again believer like them, it seemed like the perfect solution.
Georgia came, along with the director of the program and they made arrangements for me to go through a series of aptitude and education tests. I test much higher then what they’re used to and suggest I get training in some sort of blue collar work. But I know what I have to do, so I tell them I can’t work as a blue-collar worker, that God showed me a vision of computers networked together and told me that is what I needed to do.
Well, my mom and her husband Richard came to see me and the kids in mid to late April, just after an ice storm. I rented a house, got a phone installed and took a job with Olan Studios, calling people to get them to sign up for family pictures. It was something I could do from home and still take care of the kids. I also enrolled Zoe in a Christian school at the top of the mountain. Like my mom did with me in Baltimore city, I walked her to school the first day and then told her she’d have to do it on her own from that day forward. I know the scary feeling, but I also know how it empowers a person to realize they can do whatever they set their mind to, even scary things.
I knew that Cindy would try and find the kids through school, which is why I chose a more flexible private school. The pastor kept asking for her records and I kept making excuses. But he went behind my back and called the school to get the records himself, and a teacher there alerted Cindy.
She showed up with a guy who knew martial arts. He told me that if I tried to stop her from taking the kids back he’d break my arm. But I tried anyway, and got in a few blows before he had me pinned in a position where he could have broken my arm.
After they left I knew they’d be taking the main road down, but I knew of a back road that would allow me to arrive at their juncture before them. I sped down the mountain road like a race car driver, sliding on the gravel around corners and almost going over the side a few times. Looking back, I feel lucky I didn’t kill myself.
I blocked the road just before they got there. They got out of the car and there was arguing, but I asked the people in a trailer facing the road to call the cops. By this time there were 4 or 5 other cars all trying to get down the road and everyone was angry. Unfortunately, everyone got together and bounced my car, pushing it as it bounced, until it was out of the way. Cindy sped off with the kids before the cops got there and I didn’t wait around.
Over the next few days I did a lot of crying and praying. In between I was planning to return to Idaho, to stay just across the border, so I could see my kids regularly. But at some point, I heard God loud and clear: I had a choice that would change my life forever. It was my fleshly desire to go to Idaho and be near my kids. But I saw many doors being opened by God. I knew I couldn’t do both. After considerable prayer, God spoke to me. I had to let go of the normal life of dad and children for the higher calling God had given me. Like it says in scripture, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29).
For the first time in their history, the WV Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker’s Association made new rules to accommodate me, offering to pay my tuition and a stipend if I can find a suitable school. There are no computer schools in WV so I go to look in Maryland and Virginia around the DC Capital area. I keep finding computer schools that teach programming, but that’s not what I’m supposed to do. In fact, when I told the spokesperson at each of these schools that it has to do with computers and satellites and a network that stretches across the globe, none of them knew what I was talking about.
Finally, since most schools start classes in a week or so, time is running out. I’m in a phone booth and have the yellow pages open to schools (can’t remember if it was computer or technical schools). I decide to pray and ask God to guide my finger. With my eyes closed I let me finger drop. It lands on “Capitol Institute of Technology” (later renamed Capitol College). I call them and the guy who answers the phone tells me right away that what I’m looking to learn is called Telecommunications and their school is the only one, south of New York City, which offers training in computers and telecommunications. I enroll and start school in September of 1984.
Summer 1985 – During the ’84-’85 school year God begins to show me the importance of Principles. During my meditations, I have this moment of enlightenment, in which I see one of the laws of electricity, Ohm’s Law, as also being a spiritual principle that outlines the relationship between God, man’s will and the power that is generated by lowering one’s resistance to God’s will. It has profound implications. [This was the beginning of my meditations on principles for 3Circles Church Communities and over the next two decades I outline about 44. There are many such lessons I’ve put into my journal and I see how important it will all be the future community.]
While attending Capitol Institute of Technology I’m living at a rented apartment in Laurel, Maryland. In October, 1984, I notice a section of the local paper dedicated to helping men and women find dates. I see an ad from a school teacher in her 30’s like me, but she’s never been married. There are no pictures, so I don’t know what she looks like. I write her and discover she never put the ad in the paper, her mother did, but she’s interested and we begin corresponding. Her name’s Jane Robbins and I find her to be extremely attractive, both physically and spiritually. Over the next few months we date and fall in love.
Jane lives and works in Weirton, WV, which is a couple of hours’ drive, but I see her every weekend, meeting her girlfriend, members of her church and members of a Woman’s Aglow fellowship she’s part of. Jane is especially close to one member of the Women’s Aglow Fellowship. I forget her name, but her and her husband, who is a reformed alcoholic, invited us for dinner and we all had a great time of fellowship. Everyone we meet tells us how obvious the love is between Jane and I, and they are happy for us. In December, 1984, just before Christmas, I ask Jane to marry me and she says yes!
I’m shocked when I visit Jane’s parents with her. They are pack rats, especially her mother, who wears repaired flip-flops and rubber gloves with holes in them. Walking through their house was like walking through a warehouse of junk in boxes, piled to near the ceiling, with narrow walk-ways through the maze. Hard to imagine they’re millionaires, but her dad is a famous ornithologist (bird scientist) and author of “The Golden Book of Birds”.
Just after I proposed to Jane, she takes out her checkbook and reveals she’s worth a quarter of a million dollars, all from stocks her mom and dad gave her and her brother when she was a young girl. I had no idea. But I can’t help seeing this as a sign from God, that this money can be put to good use furthering the ministry God has called me to, the building of Christian communities.
I’ve been working two jobs and taking 18 credit hours, so I decide to take a well-deserved vacation during the Memorial Day weekend, driving to Nags Head beach in North Carolina. The very first day I leave my stuff in the car to go swimming. When I return, my window is smashed in, several hundred dollars has been taken from my pocket and my briefcase is gone.
In my briefcase, I had the originals of my journal and the principles it contained. There were no copies. I decide that if it was truly God’s will that I learn to meditate to hear his Living WORD and my journal is full of that WORD, then those papers are vital to the furtherance of the work God called me to do. I prayed a prayer that went something like this, “God, I know you are real and that my journal and its principles are vital to establishing these communities. Therefore, if you want me to carry on, if you want to make it known to others that I am indeed doing your will and speaking the truth, then I am going to expect that somehow you will return those papers to me, otherwise I will have to conclude this is all in my head and forget this ministry.” I gave the police my number and address, returned to Maryland and school, and left it in God’s hands.
Months later I got a call from one of the policemen. He asked if I wanted the papers that were in my briefcase. I then asked him how they were retrieved. He told me that he was hiking around a wooded lake and came across this briefcase, which had floated back to shore. There was nothing inside but papers but after reading some of them he realized they might be important. You see, he was a born again Christian too. I now know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that everything God has revealed is true!
Late spring, just before Jane’s 1985 summer break, her mom begins to insist that we need to purchase a house, so Jane can move down to the DC area, be near family, and prepare for our late summer wedding. I’m uneasy about this, given the fact that all the money will come from Jane and we’re not even married yet. But Jane believes her mom is right. I feel even more uneasy when her mom insists that I should sign the mortgage when we find a place, so I’ll be co-owner.
We find an amazingly beautiful house that sits way back off the small rural road, sitting on 2 and a half acres of land. It’s in Brandywine, Maryland and includes some old-growth woods behind the house. It’s only 12 miles from DC, and yet I can walk across the road in front of our house, and follow that dirt road through some amazing farmland interspersed with woods.
We sign all the papers and within a few weeks Jane and I move in, sleeping in separate bedrooms. Jane has a hard time showing affection, but I contribute that to being a virgin in her 30’s. Anytime I start to go to second or third base she stops me, so all we do is kiss and hold hands.
I start a garden and start fixing things around the house. But I soon realize I need tools. I start looking in the classifieds and come across this ad for “12 tools in one”, for a used woodworking machine that would save us money over hiring others to do the work. I’m surprised to find Jane is reluctant to buy the machine and it takes quite a bit of convincing before she agrees. I’m beginning to see that our marriage might not be like the kind I’m used to, where everything is shared.
Since we met, fall, winter and spring, we fell more and more in love. We didn’t argue like most couples and if I remember correctly, I contributed that to her being a Libra… I had one other girlfriend who was a Libra, and it was likewise a very harmonious relationship. However, there were two unexplained and troubling incidents the summer of our home purchase.
When I visited Jane, that January following our engagement, I learned that after Jane told her girlfriend of our engagement, her girlfriend attempted suicide. Looking back, I should have seen something was REALLY wrong, that her girlfriend would react so strongly to our engagement.
The second incident was a family trip to their New Hampshire summer home on some lake. When we went swimming Jane’s father took hold of Jane and dragged her out past all of us, some 200 feet to where the water was up to their neck and it was hard to see what they were doing. Every time I looked out to see where Jane was, I noticed they were in an embrace that never ended. It was really bothersome… like abnormal. Who takes their daughter away from her soon-to-be husband and holds her in a lover’s embrace? They weren’t kissing, but what other reason could there be for such a long embrace, except that he was fondling her? Needless to say, I wasn’t having a fun time. And after swimming, when I confronted Jane with my suspicions, she acted with extreme disgust that I would even think such a thing.
Meantime, Jane’s mom also offered to pay for legal fees, so I could get the right to see my kids again. I had to hire two lawyers, one in the states and one in Canada, and then share my journal entries and answer all sorts of questions. Her mom really wanted us to be a stable family, with me being able to visit my kids and have them visit me.
By late August or early September, the family court in Canada determined I had the right to supervised visitation and even granted me the right to do so at Cindy’s place. It was really an uphill battle to get this approval, since I did take the kids for those few months. But I believe people began to see my motivation was the protection of my children. The very fact that she didn’t keep her love interests away from our kids until she was certain they were safe, weighed heavily in my favor. I mean, who in their right mind would regularly invite a guy in this 30’s, someone who lives in a Teepee with a known whore, into the house while her husband is away earning the money they need to survive? We talked, so I knew she knew he had never had a relationship that lasted more than a few months, and yet she talked glowingly about him, believing he would make a good father!?
The main, still unresolved issue was the support of local pastors, including my pastor. I knew why. Cindy is a very practiced and excellent liar. She always sounds so vulnerable and believable, but in time I believed they would see through her manipulative ways and I would be granted unsupervised visits, then be allowed to bring them to visit Jane and I.
Once the Canadian family court granted visitation I made immediate plans for Jane and me to see my kids. It was now early September and school was about to start. When we arrived at the building where the visitation had been arranged, I saw my old Pastor, who had taken her side. It was easy for him to believe her, because we didn’t get along. When I was homeless, and was helped by two families for a week each, and then no one offered to help me further, I confronted him about the lack of love in his church, quoting 1 John 3:17, “Whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” He got offended and was now believing anything Cindy said.
But during our visit several things happened, some good, some not so good. On the not so good side, Cindy took Jane aside while I was talking and playing with my kids (the three younger ones anyway). Zoe was confused and withdrawn, hiding under a lectern, and though I pleaded with her to come out she refused. By the end of the visit she did warm up and hugged me, but this was really disturbing.
On the good side of the ledger, my former Pastor happened to overhear a conversation between Cindy and me. She had no idea he was listening so she spoke to me like she usually did, with hatred and violence in her heart. The court decree said I had the right to arrange supervised visits at her house. That was the law. But Cindy, who during our entire marriage always manipulated things to her favor through withdrawal of sex and threats of taking the kids away, didn’t care what the law said. When I suggested I could visit the kids for a few hours at her house, before flying back to Maryland, she got extremely hostile and loud, saying, “If you dare put one foot on my porch I’m going to get my shotgun and blow your head off!”
As I left the room, my pastor pulled me aside and apologized profusely for taking her side. He overheard the conversation and was shocked. I told him that Cindy was always a good liar and excused her violence towards me (like throwing objects and hitting me) but when I would try to restrain her and cause bruises, she would run to the authorities to make them believe I was the instigator and the violent one. He then told me that he would provide testimony as to what he heard, so I could eventually get custody of my kids, because he now realized she was only pretending to be a Christian, while my actions proved I was. He wanted my children to grow up in a Christian home he said. I just wish he had talked to me before making the decision to believe her and take her side.
On the flight home Jane is quiet and reserved. I know something is wrong. I try to tell her it takes time to get used to having step kids, but that with God’s help we’ll get through it and my kids will grow to love her.
Fall – 1985 – Soon after we return home, Jane’s former girlfriend from Weirton (the one who tried to commit suicide) suddenly shows up to “visit.” However, after the period of her visit is up, she remains and I sense something is up. I’ve already seen indications of a lesbian relationship. I sleep in the basement at night but every night I hear her girlfriend’s door open, footsteps across the floor towards Jane’s room, and for the hour or so I remain awake, no return footsteps. Why I didn’t just go upstairs and surprise them by opening the door to Jane’s room, I’ll never know.
I suspect her girlfriend is the “butch”, as she is manly in appearance and mannerisms, but to be sure I need to find some answers from family and friends, especially those friends they both knew in Weirton To my utter surprise, I find out that everyone but me knew she was in a lesbian relationship! Her brother and sister-in-law, her mom & dad, and all her friends in Weirton, everyone knew. They didn’t want to tell me for fear I’d dump her, since everyone felt I was an answer to their prayers, for Jane to get right with the Lord and marry a man.
However, from my perspective this was a huge betrayal of trust. How could I ever trust any of them when they withheld such important information? The truth is I wouldn’t have dumped Jane over this, and knowing the situation I certainly could have prevented her girlfriend from moving into the house.
Right before my second year of school starts, Jane tells me her girlfriend is staying and I have to move out of the house. I’m not just shocked. I’m heartbroken. Jane knows the situation with my children, that I worked many months getting all the paperwork together, spending some $5,000 and then we did the visitation and it went well. The lawyers were telling me that because I’m marrying, own a home and my former pastor changed sides, it looked good for me getting visitation at our home in Brandywine. They could even see the possibility of us getting custody, because Cindy’s never been in a stable long term relationship since we parted ways, and she couldn’t provide for the kids as well as we could. I remind Jane of all this. I remind her of our deep and growing bond of love; I remind her of our ministry plans; but she is unrelenting and cold as ice in her insistence that it is her money and her house and I need to leave.
I had a long conversation with her closest Christian friend in Weirton, that woman who’s part of the Women’s Aglow Fellowship. The next day she calls back to talk to both Jane and me. She tells us that the Women’s Aglow people held an emergency meeting and prayed about the situation. She tells Jane that the word from the Lord was, “Your girlfriend is the one who must move out, not Leroy.” She said that if Jane was obedient, all would be well and God would bless us. But Jane was unmoved emotionally,
Soon after this, I then get down on my knees and plead with all my heart for Jane to head the advice of all her friends and family, who were unanimously in favor of me and her staying together and working this out. I suggested postponing our Christmas marriage plans till the spring, to give her some time to think about this. Again, she remains icy cold. So, I finally plead with her for my kid’s sake, if not for me; would she at least allow me to stay until Christmas, so everything looks fine to the lawyers and the family court. I know that by then things will have changed dramatically and Zoe will have warmed up (I was always closest to Zoe, so I had no doubt of this), and I’ll still have a good chance to go back for another hearing where they might reconsider the present conditions. But, once more, I am appalled by the fact that nothing related to me seems to matter to her now. How could she be so cold and unmerciful is beyond my comprehension. It’s certainly not the Janey I grew to love over the past year.
I did a LOT of crying over the next few weeks. And I got really, REALLY angry with God. Why? Because at some point just prior to meeting and getting engaged to Jane I realized why my love life was so messed up. In all my previous relationships, even the one’s following my Christian conversion, I always ended up getting sexually intimate. Of course, being a person who falls in love easily and marries quickly, I was always justifying pre-marital sex on the basis of, “We’re going to get married anyway”.
But, with Jane I made a vow to God, to NOT get involved sexually until after we were married, and I was faithful in keeping that vow. As a result, I began to see order and empowerment increasing in my life. I believed this was the result of my obedience, that God was showering blessing upon blessing into my life, letting me know I was both chosen and blessed.
It took years to sort through those feelings, bringing me to a place of greater understanding on my view of God. Christians must understand that the Bible contains multiple viewpoints and some of those viewpoints are decidedly built upon superstition. For instance, in the Old Testament we can read multiple scriptures about famine being the result of the people’s sin.
In Hosea 10:12 we read, “Sow for yourselves righteousness… Till He [God] comes and rains righteousness on you.” And in Amos 5:9 we read, “He [God] rains ruin upon the strong, so that fury comes upon the fortress.” Oh, really? Do you see God raining down justice in the form of ruin on a strong, evil billionaire like George Soros, who has throughout his life sown revolution and left many a country in ruin for his own gain?
What I finally concluded is this truth: Yes, there are indeed multiple viewpoints in the Bible. So, I choose to identify Christ’s viewpoint, and where it differs from the Old Testament or the Apostles, I will choose to follow Jesus Christ.
For instance, in Matthew 5:43-45, “You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He [God] makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
That last part is key. Jesus puts to bed all those superstitious Old Testament ideas of God punishing a sinful nation with famine and ruin. The Father God Jesus knows is endlessly merciful.
If we are to love our enemies, that means God loves our enemies. It also means that the Catholic Church, the originator of the Just War Theory and absolutely anti-Christ in its disobedience on this issue, having chosen to hang, torture, burn and otherwise murder all its supposed enemies, reveals by its fruits that it is Christian in name only. The saddest part of our heritage as Christians is Christianity’s many centuries of willful disobedience to Christ. And if we are honest in our understanding of history, we acknowledge the killing of Christianity’s enemies was practiced by both Protestant and Catholic alike.
At the root of this killing is religion, for religion is NEVER Spirit-centered as the teachings of Christ espouse. And this record of killing also reveals that the most hated “evil doers” (so-called) were other Christians, the Spirit-centered Christians who obeyed Jesus and most closely exemplified His life.
Unfortunately, religion is by its nature indoctrinating. It develops teaching institutions to brainwash succeeding generations. It sows a fear of lost salvation, should anyone dare to question their man-made religious doctrines (doctrines that Jesus Christ never taught and therefore did not endorse). And through the social pressure inherent in Christianity’s threats of excommunication or withdrawing the “Right Hand of Fellowship”, Christianity seeks to squash any deviance from their institutionally approved doctrines.
Well, I must return to the events of Fall, 1985. By October I decided to forget trying to do the “right” thing, since I obviously didn’t have the discernment to foresee Jane’s lesbian tendencies and apostasy.
I hadn’t called or written to Nancy McNeil in 5 years, but I never forgot her and thought about her often. So I call her in Nova Scotia and to my surprise discover we’re both still in love with one another. I arrange to fly up and visit during my Thanksgiving break from school.
Soon after I arrive and our always good sexual intimacy is rekindled, Nancy opens up to me. She tells me that after we broke up she discovered she was pregnant with our child. She decided to keep the baby rather than abort and that she would raise it as a single mom, regardless of whether or not we ever got back together. Unfortunately, she had a miscarriage. She gave our baby a name and buried the premature dead infant under the tree in her yard. We both have a good cry about the loss and I tell her I’ve always believed she was a soulmate. She says she feels the same. So, I ask her to marry me and she says, “Yes!”
I decide to spend an extra week in Canada, helping her pack and finalize her affairs. She has been going to a “Society of Friends” Quaker meeting and she and I attend a meeting that Sunday, announcing our engagement and arranging a hasty marriage ceremony through her church.
Nancy has three children, Oona, Shawn and Cameron (in that order). The kids and I get along well and I look forward to the new experience of being their step-dad.
However, before leaving I can’t help but notice that Nancy doesn’t do well at disciplining them. I know it isn’t easy for any single parent, since they must work and be away from the children for most of the day, but that shouldn’t be an excuse.
During the week before we leave I discover Shawn openly disobeying his mother’s rule, that they’re not to snack between meals. I see him eating from the fridge and later confront him. He then lies about it.
I make Nancy aware of what happened and she reluctantly agrees we should punish him for breaking the rules. I can see that we’ll have to set down some rules we can all agree to, so I quickly put together some rules and call a family meeting.
Surprisingly, her kids agree they need rules, and they’re OK with the idea of writing them down and making them clear. I bring up the Bible’s admonition that parents who refuse to punish their children are failing to “Train them up in the way they should go”, an indication that they don’t truly love them.
Again, I’m surprised when all of them agree with the Bible view. I then tell them I don’t really like corporal punishment and won’t do so unless they engage in the worst forms of behavior: direct disobedience of either parent and lying. For those instances where it’s called for, both Nancy and I must be in agreement and either she or myself will only whip them with the flat of our hand, never a belt or other object (because using my hand means it hurts me too, which prevents me from whipping them too hard).
When Nancy sees our new home, she can hardly believe her eyes! She loves it! I tell her that I’m part owner, that I decided to stand my ground rather than move out when Jane dumped me, but eventually, probably in a year or so, we’ll negotiate for the sale, because I should get paid for the thousands of dollars of labor I put into improvements.
1986 – Early 1986 I realize the costs of taking care of Nancy and her kids is a LOT more than I could have imagined. So, I decide to quit school and look for work.
I’m OK with the decision, because when I pray I don’t see a lack of further schooling is going to impede my ability to get involved with this as yet unnamed and unknown world-wide network. Besides, during my previous school year I was able to attend some DC area computer conferences and learned more talking to the business exhibitors than I had learned all year at Capital Institute of Technology. I’m being serious here. CIT requires many non-essential, non-technical courses to get one’s degree, which for an adult student returning to college at age 39 is a royal waste of time.
I land a job as a courier in the DC area, at Apple Couriers, which is run by a Filipino. I can work all the hours I want and the pay is good. I can make hundreds of dollars a day, depending on the jobs. So, I work 6 days a week and am making some serious money. Since the kids are in public school, Nancy decides to go back to work. I suggest working with Apple Couriers, she likes the idea and soon we’re both working as couriers.
The most amazing part of this job and getting to see all the insides of Washington, DC… the Russel Senate office building, the Congressional House offices, the Executive branch office building next to the White House, dropping packages off at the White House’s guard booth, deliveries to the amazing Library of Congress and the Smithsonian museums. Not to mention all the amazing art work and statues I get to see in major corporate headquarters. It makes driving in DC traffic worth the stress.
One day in DC, both Nancy and I have an unusual lull in pickups and deliveries and by chance run into one another. She’s writing a letter to her Quaker friends in Canada and shares it with me. She tells them she is head-over-heals in love with me and her life with me and the kids is so much richer than anything she’s known. I tell her it’s the same for me.
With Nancy’s help we’ve created a list of chores to keep our kids busy after school, after homework and on weekends. We’re amazed at how well they’re doing. I remember a conversation with Sean that revealed this clearly. We had a wood stove in the basement that pretty much heated the whole house. We harvested dead trees from the old-growth forest behind the house and the boys helped me saw and then split them. It was Shawn’s chore to split those logs over the course of the winter and together with Cameron, bring them into the house to burn. Shawn showed a wisdom beyond his years (he was 9 or 10). He said, “I didn’t like this chore at first, because it was hard work. But now I enjoy the exercise and see that work has it rewards. First, we cut the wood and the work made us warm. Then I split the logs and burn them, and it makes us all warm a second time.”
Spring of 1986 we’re still living in Brandywine. Nancy and I are talking about starting a family business but we need extra money to make it happen. So, I think about what I know and how I might leverage my knowledge to create a third income. Having a lot of experience in nursery/greenhouse work I visit a nursery that’s only about a mile away, on route 5. I also have landscaping experience, having hired and managed our landscaping crew at Marshy Point Nursery.
After talking with the owner of the local nursery I realize he buys a lot of wholesale plant material for landscaping and I suggest taking all the plants he doesn’t use and growing them another season at my place. If he bought those bigger plants it would cost him much more due to shipping and higher growing costs. He said he’s interested and asks me for a proposal. Over the next few days I measure the huge front lawn we have, figure the costs of setting up overhead sprinkler irrigation and estimate what I would have to sell the plants at a profit that also lowers his costs if he was to purchase from a regular wholesaler. We handshake on the deal. I lay down the landscape cloth and setup the irrigation and he delivers the plants. At the end of the season we realize a net profit of $3,500.
I believe it was sometime around the end of the 1986 summer, just before the start of the school year, that I signed the papers to give up my interest in the Brandywine home. I did this in exchange for about $1,500 in improvements. Nancy, me & the kids move to California… Maryland that is! It’s only a few miles away and the house we rent is on the water.
I’m still working steadily as a courier. Nancy was working for the same courier company shortly after she and I got together, end of November 1985, to the fall of 1986. With the kids in public school and Oona being old enough (11) to look after the two boys until we both got home, so it all worked out.
But after moving to this new school district, the school tested Cameron and decided he should be placed in special education. I get angry and say, “No way”! I tell Nancy that he’ll be scarred for life if we allow them to label him “Special Ed”, and she agrees. After we talk it over we decide she should quit the courier job and homeschool all the kids full time. We know that Cameron’s a smart kid, just a bit slower than other kids, but we believe that’s due to the family trauma they all experienced when Nancy broke up with her former husband.
Through my courier job I meet a really interesting person from the Department of Agriculture, who’s involved in multi-media, his focus being the development of video enhanced education on the new Laser Disks. I’m excited by the possibilities.
I forgot to mention that when I started the ’84-’85 school year I bought one of the recently released Apple MacIntosh computers. Hard drives were still very expensive, so it only came with a 3.5 floppy disk drive. And although the software for Bulletin Board systems had been around since 1978, allowing the networking of computers to a distant file server through phone lines and modems, the school I was attending provided no education on any of this, which was one of my primary reasons for quitting CIT. It was this cutting-edge stuff that I wanted to learn and there were no schools teaching it!
I believe it was the Dept. of Agriculture guy that turned me onto a fellow in Virginia who had created a business making educational laser disks. He became a business mentor and I learned a lot from him, including how to negotiate non-exclusive contracts for educational materials. I also learned about several problems within the industry: a need for external removeable disk drives that could store large amounts of video data, which could be filed away and easily retrieved; and the need for an inexpensive computer-video workstation with touch screen to make it easier to create courseware.
With the release of the Commodore Amiga computer in 1985, a computer made for video, and another company’s touchscreen monitor soon thereafter, I could see the opportunity for creating the first Amiga based educational video workstation. The only missing piece is a removeable drive capable of interfacing with the faster data transfer capabilities of SCSI.
Nancy and I form a company we called Inner Connection, I think this happened sometime in 1986, because we attended the February 1987, National Religious Broadcasters Convention (and I believe we had a booth as Inner Connection).
Basically, I’m working two full time jobs. I spend my evenings creating a laserdisc development training course that eventually fills a 2.5 inch, 3 ring binder.
About this time, I heard about a business-research consortium between major corporations and Lehigh University, near Philadelphia, PA. Turns out they’re looking for small startup companies to join them and our plans to develop a high-tech educational course development workstation is a fit.
I was also encouraged to apply for office space at the Ben Franklin Business Incubator Center. I started the process, Nancy and I even began looking for a place to rent in the rural PA outskirts around Lehigh, but eventually we decided to stay in Maryland.
At the first consortium meeting I attend I begin to realize just how amazing an opportunity this is, to be invited by Lehigh and these corporations to join their group. I sat at a huge conference table with Bethlehem Steel (at one time the largest steelmaker in the world with nearly 300,000 employees), Air Products & Chemicals, and Commodore International, among others. Commodore International, at that time, was the largest microcomputer manufacturer in the world.
At one meeting I was asked by Commodore if we needed anything for our training facility. I think they asked this towards the end of 1987, when they were looking for tax write-offs. I told them about the Laserdisc development course I had created and was teaching and that I could use some computers to do the training (this was just prior to development of our Amiga-based, course development workstation). To my utter surprise, we received a shipment of 35 Commodore Amiga computers to our rented house in California, Maryland. The reason we had rented this place was because it had a large room with wall mounted outlets and desk-high counters running the entire length, an ideal setup for computer training stations.
I believe it was spring of 1987, when Nancy’s sister visited. At first I thought it was a good thing. But I soon realized she was on the run from some drug dealers in Ohio, to whom she owed money for cocaine. I let Nancy know she can’t stay, otherwise we might find some violent drug dealers with guns on our doorstep, looking for her. She finally agreed. However, her sister is incensed and thinks it’s my fault we’re kicking her out. So she tries to convince Nancy to leave me: I’m a former criminal; I’m over bearing in how I discipline the kids; etc.. This has a significant impact on Nancy and we are arguing more often now, especially over the kids. Funny how that wasn’t an issue before her sister showed up!
The training course I developed on educational laserdisc development was delivered to a small class of friends and family (who weren’t charged of course). However, after that I could find no paying customers and the higher rent we were paying for our California, Md., place was unsustainable.
By fall and the start of the ’87-’88 school year, Cameron, Shawn and Oona are begging to go back to public school. We have Cameron tested again and he tests normal, realizing that the homeschooling was a lifesaver for him.
I believe it was the fall of ’87 when I realized the potential for creating this interactive videodisc development workstation, using an Amiga computer, a removable media, 5.25 inch Iomega Bernoulli drive, and the touch screen. But there is a problem. Fast data transfer is required for video and that means using a SCSI board and interfacing it to the Amiga, something no one’s done yet. I start talks between the SCSI company, Iomega and Commodore, exchanging and signing non-disclosure agreements (NDA’s).
I locate two knowledgeable programmers in the DC area. Between them, they have the required knowledge to create the interface software. We do a couple of planning sessions and I contract them to do the work.
I have looked in vain to find the exact info on when and where this computer conference tool place, but it must have happened at the end of ’87 or early 1988. Between the air fares for me and one programmer, the exhibition fees and the car rental to travel from LA (where the conference took place, at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel) to San Diego, where the SCSI manufacturer was located, the cost was in the $1,000’s. But it was a high-risk gamble that we could complete the interface before the conference began, only 3 days away!
We got the programming data for the SCSI Board and returned to the Westin Bonaventure Hotel. I told my programmer that I was literally going to lock him into our room and not let him out until he’d finished the software interface. He agreed, so for the next three days I bring him meals and except for sleep time, he does nothing else but program.
At 10pm, the night before the conference and exhibits opened, he finally finished the software! Meantime, I’d been working to setup the exhibit and install our demo workstation. Next morning we’re in our booth meeting and greeting potential buyers.
What I didn’t know at the time, was the most sales happen after these shows. One very interested potential customer was a representative from a UK computer company who wanted to license the software to use in their Amiga computers, for sale throughout the UK. Not sure where I came up with the figure, but I confidently told him that his company could purchase exclusive rights for the UK only, for $12,000. Within a few weeks of the conference I had closed the deal and had $12,000 deposited into our Inner Connection bank account. Heady stuff.
I must admit that we thought we’d made it bigtime. But the stock market crash in October, Black Monday they called it, changed everything. Computer sales (and especially optional computer peripherals like our SCSI interface) went through a dramatic downturn and our sales dried up.
As a family, we had a lot of fun this year. We were able to go skiing numerous times, late last winter and this winter too, something we all enjoyed tremendously. However, in December of 1987, just before Christmas, I broke my leg when I hit an icy patch and flipped head over heels, coming down on my left leg.
At the same time, our landlord wants the house back, for a relative I believe. So, we have no other choice but to move.
1988 – Sometime in January I find us a place, only 10 or so miles away, on St. George Island. It used to be a Catholic retreat run by nuns and is near the mouth of the Potomac river, where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay. It is amazingly beautiful and the owner is willing to lower our rent in exchange for Nancy and I caretaking the place, me doing the outdoor stuff and Nancy the cleaning for occasional occupants in the empty cabins.
However, Nancy doesn’t want to move to St. George Island and argues about the kids not being able to have friends there, because it’s so out of the way. I counter with this certainty, that kids always find other kids and will soon make friends. She doesn’t believe me and continues to resist. However, there’s a deadline for moving, and since we didn’t find anything else, and I make the decision to move. I believe that in time I’ll be proven right and all will be well.
The kids love our new place… lots of places to explore on the large property, with woods, river, sand beach and lots of animals. We see ospreys building their nest (or repairing it) in the giant, weathered pine tree in our front “yard”
(a sand berm between the house and the river).
Nancy was even able to admit she’d been wrong about the kids not making friends. All three have made good friends and in Oona’s case, her best friend ever (according to her).
Nancy and I both work for the courier company still, so we’ve been doing well financially, even though there have been no more sales since the $12,000 one. I bought Shawn a shotgun for hunting and we’ve gone out hunting during duck season.
The kids are enjoying school, and we decided to make up for the lost parent time (we both work long 10-12 hour days at the courier job) by initiating a competition. Shawn won, so he gets to camp outside with me, stay up all night, if he wants to, and enjoy a campfire and cookout. Its sometime after the 4th of July, so swimming is pretty much done till late September, due to the over-abundance of stinging jellyfish in the bay.
Neither of us would forget that night. At some point Shawn goes for a walk, out on the pier (where we put down crab cages and fish) and suddenly comes running back, all excited about something. I go to investigate and realize its bio-luminescent jellyfish. As the gentle waves knock them against the pier posts they light up. So, I get our crab net, which has a long wooden handle, dip it down into the water and as I drag it the small jellyfish get excited and light up, creating a long trail of liquid light behind the net. It was awesome to behold!
I put all the money from our one big deal back into the business in 1988, crisscrossing the country with exhibits at: an early February Religious Broadcaster’s Convention (we exhibited at the Feb. ’87 one too); the Computer Graphics convention in New York (Feb. 22-24); AmiExpo Chicago, in July; S.A.L.T.s August 24-26, “Interactive Videodisc in Education & Training” conference and exhibition at the Marriott Hotel in DC; but all to no avail.
My sex life with Nancy has always been great and neither of us have been unfaithful. Also, the children are better behaved than ever, thanks to our consistent discipline and clear rules. But there was a growing discontentment on the part of Nancy, which started with her sister’s visit and my decision to tell her sister she couldn’t stay. I’ve also since learned that Nancy’s mom has taken her sister’s side and concluded that Nancy should leave me, even offering a rent-free home and potential to take over the mortgage of a second house her mom owns.
I’m beginning to think that the modern woman is incapable of maintaining happiness with one guy for life… since everything in the media, the schools (especially universities), the legal system, and the government is aligned with promoting the needs of women at the expense of men and intact families of a man and a woman. Women really believe they don’t need a man to be happy, which is only a half truth. Women can be happy without a man, sure, but they cannot be as fulfilled or achieve their greatest potential without the opposite sex providing a God-ordained balance through marriage. And the same is true for men, of course. Real lasting happiness is something we have to work at, something that is exponentially increased through a Godly marriage, because a Christian man and woman understand God created marriage to curtail their natural self-centeredness. The present system makes it easy for women to go it alone, encouraging them financially and rewarding them with custody of their children in majority of cases.
I want to be completely honest. I’m not an easy-going, laid back guy who always says, “Yes dear” to maintain the peace at home. I’m a passionate guy who grew up in a large family where raising one’s voice and shouting to get one’s point across was considered normal. And in the past, during and immediately following my fugitive days, I had some psychological damage I had to work through, and when combined with a combative wife (Cindy) who threw objects that could do bodily harm, who was often the first to shove or hit, I did strike back. It was NEVER with a clenched fist, but it was still wrong. And to correct the false record and lies she’s established in the minds of our children, the one-time Cindy took refuge at a women’s home for the physically abused, it was because of my failed attempt to hold her, to stop her from throwing things and hitting me, that caused the accident of her arm going through a window,, causing bruises and cuts. But with Jane, then Nancy, and every woman since, there has been no physical abuse.
Which makes it all the harder to understand why Nancy decided to leave and start over in Bellefontaine, OH, once her mother offered the rent-free house her mother owns.
1989-1994 (To be added).
1995 to 1996 – The Internet begins to emerge in 1993 and I decide that the Internet is exactly what God revealed to me in my 1984 vision. So I try to find books to read about how to become an ISP (Internet Services Provider) but there are no such books yet. I realize that to establish my own Internet business I’m going to need a lot of study and planning time. Winchester, VA is offering incentives to entrepreneurs who establish their Internet business there. So I move to Winchester and begin looking for a super cheap office/living space and a part-time (30 to 32 hour) flexible evening job that makes me decent money. I discover that Rubbermaid is opening up a retail store in Winchester so I go to apply. I have no retail experience but I continually return to convince them I’m a fast learner and great worker. They decide to hire me if I give them two months of 10 to 12 hour, 7 day work weeks. In return, I get the flexible hours I ask for, at the end of the two months. I find an office/living space for only $200 a month, but its bathroom is at the end of a hallway and has no heated water, no bathtub and no shower, just a toilet bowel and sink. I take sponge baths for the entire year but manage to save money and learn enough about the Internet to feel I can establish myself as an ISP using banks of modems and a T1 connection provided by the local telephone company.
1996 to 2002 – It turns out that Winchester couldn’t deliver on their promises (such as a free T1 from AT&T for one year). So I relocate to Romney, WV about a 45 minute drive from Winchester. I open my doors for business, April of 1996. I ran into many obstacles, not the least of which was an $8,000 expense for specialized equipment.
However, when I first meet with Dave Pancake at the Romney Development and Planning Commission I had that same KNOWING happen…. I knew I could do it and it was going to happen, regardless of the obstacles (of which there were many). Another major obstacle was a total unfamiliarity with setting up the CSU/DSU’s to interface between the telco’s T1 and my router and Internet servers. I eventually talked the telephone company into buying our $8,000 equipment as a tax write off and an opportunity to dramatically increase the number of phone lines sales. After I had all the equipment and was at a total loss as to how to get it all to communicate with one another, I setup a booth at a local country fair to tell people about the launch of our new Internet services. A lady befriended us and later came by to tell us her friend could help. He just happened to be visiting and had already setup equipment for two other ISP’s. We were introduced and he agreed to do the job for just room and board. It took nearly at least a week of day and night work to get it all up and running.
Finally, in order to provide the cash flow to see us through the first few months of operations, when cash would be scarce, I offered a deep discount to those who paid for a full year’s service up front. I eventually sold the business around the end of 2002. There were three competitors who were interested in buying. I decided to sell to the highest bidder. But the owner turned out to be a crook with a history of cheating ISP’s. I was cheated out of half of the original agreed price of $60,000 by a last minute contract change that seemed innocuous. The loss of $30,000 of the sales price leaves me financially strapped. When the IRS came down on me and demanded $35,000 in taxes, I was ruined (my CPA lost her father and had a nervous break down, failing to do my taxes for 2000 until October 2001; unlike other years, where I made a decent salary and paid all my bills, 2000 and 2001 proved to be very profitable years; the money I set aside each year for taxes proved to be far less than was needed… multiplied by two!).
April 1997 – I had a very powerful dream I knew would be prophetic regarding the woman I would eventually marry, Vonda. I knew this because of the power of God’s presence, which caused me to wake suddenly. I was surrounded by that “peace that passes all understanding” and felt that “joy unspeakable” in my heart. Unbeknownst to me at the time of my dream, Vonda would succumb to a bug induced viral infection just 5 months after the dream, in September of 1997. This viral infection would inflame her brain, putting her in a coma for two months. She fought back from the brink of death, only to find her self wheel-chair bound. The doctor’s told her she’d never walk again, but she proved them wrong and after 5 years began to walk with the aid of canes! You can read about how God helped us to find one another and then worked miracles to remove many obstacles, by going to this webpage: http://www.3circles.net/testimony
1998-2003 (To be added).
July to October 2003 – I use my Internet expertise to land a state contract job that pays $55 an hour, moving all the states websites from old Windows NT servers to the newer Windows 2000 Advanced Server. However, although I still had my car and enough money to buy gas and food, I didn’t have enough to stay at a hotel. I wouldn’t see my first check for 4 or 5 weeks. So I decided to live in my car until I got my first check. Then I moved my old RV down to Charleston, renting a great place to hook up from Bob Williams, a man who was outside doing lawn work when I stopped to ask. The job was supposed to last six weeks but continued for twelve.
November 2003 to September 2004 – The well paying state job ended in October, 2003. I found employment soon after, at Lowe’s Nursery department, but it wouldn’t start till mid-February, 2004. In between, during December, January and early February, I wrote a book based on Matthew chapter 13. This chapter was an answer to many years of prayer about why it’s so much harder for someone poor to get free of debt or launch a successful business. I gave it the title, “$ecret$ - 12 Principles of Prosperity for Spiritual Entrepreneurs”. The subtitle is even more descriptive: “Twenty Years of Meditation Uncovers God’s Totally Awesome & Unique Principles For Breaking The Rich/Poor Barrier & Creating Families That Endure.” You can find out more about the book by going to this link: http://www.3circles.net/dream/biz/home.htm.
No need to buy the book if you decide to become a 3Circles Church Communities member, because I give a free copy to each person who signs up. I also had a dream in September, just one month before I met Vonda online. I actually had three dreams in a row, on the same night, with the same woman in each (VERY unusual, having never happened to me before). During those three dreams I was given the certainty that this woman in the dream would be my wife and I would meet her soon. I felt that God was speaking to me, that both she and I were being made ready for one another and that the time was near at hand.
October to December 2004 – I met Vonda online, at Christian Café, a Christian dating site, at about the same time I started a new job with FEMA (mid-October). FEMA hired me as a Research writer assisting with disseminating info about what FEMA was doing to help with the WV flood. The job was temporary, being tied to flood relief and scheduled to end just before Christmas. God worked plenty of miracles to make it possible for Vonda and I to find one another; for me to get the money needed to travel to Tennessee and setup home; and for me to convince all of Vonda’s family that this was indeed God’s will. You can read all about it here: http://www.3circles.net/testimony.
January 2005 to 2008 – Vonda and I married legally on January 13, and then spiritually with her family members and friends on January 15, 2005. I originally decided to start my own in-home computer repair business, which I did from January through March. By early April the calls for service ended overnight, when all the ISP’s began giving away Anti-Spyware software to their customers for free. And about the same time Vonda nearly had an accident in the shower while I was away. I realized for the first time, the potential for her to have an accident that could be life threatening. We sat down and talked it over, agreeing it would be best if I was home full-time, working a home-based business from my computer.
Over these past three-plus years I’ve continued to receive revelations from God regarding the Church, the Bible, Christian history, and some really amazing understandings about things I thought I already knew or had never questioned. For instance, during these three years I discovered that the New Testament is NOT what everyone thinks it is (it is NOT the 27 books in the bible we call the New Testament). This fact is irrefutably stated in the Bible itself, but conveniently overlooked by everyone.
Also I came to a realization that all Christian leaders have, for at least 16 centuries (and probably longer) chosen to sit at the feet of other men in order to learn about God, choosing the reward of credentialed acknowledgement by their institutions of “higher learning”, rather than obeying Jesus Christ who told us clearly we have no need of other men to teach us the things of God. Jesus told us he was sending us the Holy Spirit, to lead us into all truth.
Here is another shocking truth I learned recently. ALL the references to scripture in the New Testament are references to the Old Testament scriptures. As with almost all contemporary writings, they are not afforded the same degree of reverence as the classics of old, which in this case is the ancient scriptures of the Jews (our Old Testament containing most of those same scriptures). There is not one use of the word “scripture” or “scriptures”, which refers to the New Testament letters written by Paul, Peter, John, etc. Do a search for yourself, and read every passage where either the word scripture or scriptures is used. Out of 52 references, there is only one that could be construed to assign the word scripture to the New Testament books. The passage is from 2 Peter 3:16, where Peter states, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction”. However, interpreting this passage that way would be a mistake. Remember, Paul was a “Pharisee of Pharisees” by his own admission. And as such, he was very familiar with the scriptures, including, as we see in his writings today, many references to the Old Testament scriptures. So, what are the “other scriptures” Peter refers to? Is it Paul’s other letters? No, because the context of that statement, “speaking in them [in Paul’s epistles] of these things”, is referring to Old Testament scriptures that point to Jesus Christ as the messiah, something Paul writes in his letters again and again. Simply reading all of Paul’s references to “scripture” or “scriptures” proves this point, because he himself ALWAYS uses those words in reference to the old Jewish scriptures now found in our Old Testament. Remember Paul’s background was dominated by his being “A Pharisee of Pharisees” by his own admission. He was very learned, an expert in understanding the scriptures. And if this line of reasoning isn’t proof enough, then look at the proof of 51 other references to “scripture” or “scriptures”, for each and every one of those 51 undeniably refer to the scriptures of the Jews and NOT to the letters of the apostles and other disciples. The significance of this is in showing how the Catholic Church’s canonization process, which took place over three centuries after the death of the original apostles, involved not only their decisions to deny canonization of books considered inspired by almost everyone else, but also their decision to give to the Apostles letters more importance than they themselves ascribed to them.
Today’s Christian leaders are not taught how to meditate nor is it mandatory for them to take classes on the art of being still. These so-called men of God have been trained to be modern day Pharisees. They are unable to receive of God’s spirit of truth, God’s Living WORD, because they are so preoccupied and focused on the written word about the WORD. Like the Pharisees of old, they know about God, but they truly do not KNOW God. If they knew God, their focus would be on the Spirit of God rather than on the letter. It is their pre-disposition towards erudition and arguments over each letter of the Bible that kills the very Spirit for which they profess to be an expert. Paul said it so very clearly, “[God] has made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life (II Cor. 3:6).
So I have come to this inevitable conclusion, that today’s Christian leaders know almost nothing of God outside of what they have read and been taught by other men. Abraham had no Bible, no Talmud, no scriptures of any kind, and he had no teacher. So how could he hear the word of God? It is obvious he did not hear it by reading the written word of God, he heard it by hearing the Living WORD of God. According to the Bible, Abraham was one of the greatest men of faith. And it was that faith which allowed him to believe in God’s Holy Spirit. I do not believe that the Holy Spirit only came with Jesus, but rather than the Holy Spirit has always been there to teach and to impart God’s Living WORD… for all who had the faith to listen, to hear what God would say.
A Spirit-Centered life goes hand in hand with knowing how to “Abide in Christ”. There is a deep mystery here. Jesus promised to those who learned to abide in him the same oneness with the Father that he experienced (read John 17: 11 and 21). If Christians understood the importance of meditation and abiding in Christ there would be no disunity, nor would there be a lack of love. These divisions within the Church flow naturally from men who “Have a form of Godliness, but deny the power thereof [the Spirit]… For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power”.
Jesus told us the Scribes and Pharisees knew not how to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and receive God’s Living WORD. Therefore they could not instruct those they taught about how to enter in either. That is the exact same situation we have today. And it is this leaven of today’s modern Pharisees, their hypocrisy of proclaiming to know God when they do not, that continues to spread like a cancer throughout all of Christiandom, preventing their congregation’s members from knowing God as well. Hear the words of Jesus
you so-called men of God, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in” (Mt. 23:13).
Update – November 2011
After moving to Tennessee to marry Vonda I started my own in-home computer repair business, which I ran from January to April, 2005. By early April the calls for computer repair services all but ceased. This is when ISP’s began giving away Anti-Spyware software to their customers for free. About the same time, Vonda nearly had an accident in the shower while I was nearly an hour away, doing a repair job. For the first time I realized the potential for her to have an accident, one that could even be life threatening. We sat down and talked it over, agreeing it would be best if I was home full-time, working a home-based business from my computer. I figured it would be best to make money AND launch our ministry but since that would take time and money, we would need to do something online during the interim period. So, we got involved in several online MLM ventures.
1) GreenZap – Greenzap intended to go head to head with PayPal as a payments processor. They also intended to go head to head with eBay, by creating an auction and classifieds site on which their Greenap payments processor would function, saving them millions in payment fees. They also were working on the creation of an online interface that would post to both sites simultaneously (ebay and greenzap’s ZapExchange). But after the CEO, Damon Westmoreland, fired the heart and soul of their company, President Alex Sonkin (who was a man of his word, unlike Damon) everything went downhill. The first year they added three quarters of a million customers (I think we built an organization of about 3,500 members in our first 6 months). The second year (after Alex was gone and Damon reneged on some of his agreements to us sales reps and his $1,000 partner members) they added about 6,000 members. We joined the $1,000 partner plan via a $100 monthly payment plan. However, after hearing some of the rumors I prayed about it and got a clear indication I should get out. As a result, we only lost $100.
Also, the feds investigated them when they partnered with another company that was obviously scamming people, a company called EcoEnergizer. GZPN is publicly traded on the pinksheets and there were promises of getting them on the OTCBB prior to full trading privileges but that never happened. I bought penny stock, some 47,870 shares that are now worth $100. According to Alex Sonkin, Greenzap originally hired the guy who was a top programmer for ATM’s and bank transaction systems and he was going to get the processing time down to seconds from days by eliminating the bottleneck of the banks transaction systems. Greenzap bragged that they owned the gateway transaction processing system, which took PayPal 5 years to do. They even said they had several thousand ebay power sellers ready to use that classified/auction system that eventually was only a classified system.
Greenzap also has a “Private Label Banking Application” that allows businesses to do what banks do, earn interest on the money that remains in their distributors accounts. Basically, it’s an online commission management system ( http://www.mazumah.com/web/newlook/default.asp). I thought it was a phenomenal idea and was putting together a sales team to sell it when Alex was fired and everything went into a state of limbo. I know their are a number of companies out there using that system because it existed before GreenZap. Either Damon created it or owns Mazumah. On July 30, 2007 Mazumah filed suit against EcoEnergizer (http://www.forbes.com/businesswire/feeds/businesswire/2007/07/30/businesswire20070730005940r1.html) the company that originally brought in the feds, due to their fraudulent practices. According to Alex Sonkin, Greenzap originally hired the guy who was a top programmer for ATM’s and bank transaction systems and he was going to get the processing time down to seconds from days by eliminating the bottleneck of the banks transaction systems. Greenzap bragged that they owned the gateway transaction processing system, which took PayPal 5 years to do. They even said they had several thousand ebay power sellers ready to use that classified/auction system that eventually was only a classified system.
2) Citizenre – a solar panel business that planned to ride the wave of state and federal government programs. These programs provided incentives for adding solar electric panels and selling the excess electricity back to the local utility company. I was very successful during the pre-launch phase. I built a large organization by getting many people to sign pre-sales contracts and adding a large number of distributors under me. But the people running the company made many HUGE mistakes, not the least of which was firing a very influential PhD involved in R&D for them. They also failed to follow up when I connected them with the former engineer and partner for Hughes Aircraft’s space division. He actually designed and helped setup their factory, which manufactured solar panels for the satellites NASA launched into space. Since Citizenre was at planning stage for building their own factory and stated they had promises for capital sufficient to build them, this was a no-brainer – at the very least they should have called him and picked his brain, but they never did. This was my first real indication that those who ran the company didn’t know how to run a real-world business. Within 6 months the banks pulled their promised loans and Citizenre fell apart.
3) GBG – a Christian owned and operated vitamin business that was just getting started. There were many promises made, such as automatic spill over from the downlines of those above but in spite of the fact that we were under Brad Aspin, a rich investor in GBG who was directly under the owners, that spill over never happened. I received many excuses but none of the made any sense after more than a year of efforts on our part. I was building a downline and making about $60 a month. I could see the possibility of this amount increasing ten-fold within 6 months and kept believing in spite of the lack of any spillover from Brad. I don’t really like sales, but if I believe in something I am automatically an enthusiast and that sells. I believed in GBG because they promoted themselves as being for “the little guy”; their compensation plan was built on that premise; the people below me were making money and that began to increase our income. They GBG did what every other MLM I’ve ever belonged to did: they changed their comp plan to favor the biggest multi-level networkers. And when the top guys are suddenly getting paid more, the little guys below are suddenly getting paid less. Overnight, the income for everyone in my downline was drastically cut and our $60 a month of income went to near zero. That was the last straw. I talked to Brad and told him what had happened but he continued to believe the new plan was better (it was for him, as his income rose dramatically).
4) My book, “$ecret$ - 12 Principles of Prosperity for Spiritual Entrepreneurs”. Self-promoted sales of my book as an e-book. I’ve sold (@ $12 a copy) or given away a few hundred copies over the years but after doing some research and spending time attending various author related seminars (especially those put together by Steve Harrison and his “Radio-TV Interview Report – RTIR”; Robert G. Allen’s “Millionaire Mindset” and “Multiple Streams of Internet Income”; Lisa Sasevich & Suzanne Falter-Barnes, “Get Started Speaking”; Joan Stewart’s “Publicity Hound” and many others I don’t remember) I came to the conclusion that getting a traditional publisher AND doing our own promotional tours would be the most successful way to sell my book AND gather people who would help grow 3Circles Church Communities. So, beginning in 2010 I decided to change the title of my book and started rewriting it.
Pardon me while I digress a bit, but I think it’s vitally important that I take a few minutes to reach out to those of you who consider yourselves “called, chosen and faithful” (from Revelations 17:14 “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful”).
Over these past 4+ years with Vonda I’ve continued to receive revelations from God regarding the Church, the Bible, Christian history, and some really amazing understandings about things I thought I already knew or had never questioned. For instance, I’ve discovered that the New Testament is NOT what everyone thinks it is (it is NOT the 27 books in the bible we call the New Testament). This fact is irrefutably stated in the Bible itself but conveniently overlooked by everyone, including myself up until about 2006.
Also, I came to a realization that Christian leaders have, for at least 16 centuries (and probably longer) chosen to sit at the feet of other men in order to learn about God, choosing the reward of credentialed acknowledgement by their institutions of “higher learning”, rather than obeying Jesus Christ who told us clearly, we have no need of other men to teach us the things of God. Jesus told us he sent the Holy Spirit, to lead us into all truth.
Here is another shocking truth I learned more recently (2008). ALL the references to scripture in the New Testament are references to the Old Testament scriptures. The “new testament” letters were NOT considered scripture by their authors or those who read their works during the first few centuries following the death of Jesus Christ. As with contemporary writings today, which are not afforded the same degree of reverence as the classics of old, the “new testament” writers used “scriptures” to refer exclusively to the ancient scriptures of the Jews (our Old Testament contains most of those same scriptures).
In the Bible’s New Testament there is not one use of the word “scripture” or “scriptures” referring to the New Testament letters written by Paul, Peter, John, etc. Do a search for yourself, and read every passage where either the word scripture or scriptures is used. Out of 52 references, there is only one that could even remotely be construed to assign the word scripture to the New Testament books. The passage is from 2 Peter 3:16, where Peter states, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction”. However, interpreting this passage to mean that all “new testament” writings were considered scripture and given the same reverence would be wrong.
Remember, Paul was a “Pharisee of Pharisees” by his own admission. And as such, he was very familiar with the scriptures, including, as we see in his writings today, many references to the Old Testament scriptures. So, what are the “other scriptures” Peter refers to? Is it Paul’s other letters as we are told today? No, because the context of that statement, “speaking IN them [in Paul’s epistles, his other letters] of these things [prophetic references to the coming messiah, Jesus, found throughout the scriptures]; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures”, refers to the many scriptural passages in the Old Testament that Paul quoted in his other letters. Paul’s many other references to “scripture” or “scriptures” proves my point, for if in all the other 51 references he uses those words to describe Old Testament passages (which is extremely clear) then in this one passage Peter’s reference to “the other scriptures” must also be the other Old Testament scriptures, especially the one’s Paul references in his other letters.
The significance of this is in seeing how the Catholic Church’s canonization process, which took place over three centuries after the death of the original apostles, involved not only their decisions to deny canonization of books considered inspired by almost everyone else for three centuries, but also their decision to give to the Apostles letters more importance than the Apostles themselves ascribed to them, teaching that they are also scripture.
But let us not abandon reason. Is it not natural during the lifetime of the founders of any religion, that their writings are not assigned the importance they latter take on? As time goes by and less and less is remembered in terms of the writer’s common frailty as human beings, their writings are eventually referred to as not just inspired but “sacred”. And with the passage of more time, their writings are considered “God breathed”, being the very words of God. This process is evident in the “new testament” books if we read them with an open mind.
Today’s Christian leaders are not taught how to meditate nor is it mandatory for them to take classes on the art of being still. These so-called men of God have been trained to be modern day Pharisees. They are unable to receive of God’s spirit of truth, God’s Living WORD, because they are so preoccupied and focused on the written word about the WORD. Like the Pharisees of old, they know about God, but they truly do not KNOW God. If they knew God, their focus would be on the Spirit of God rather than on the letter. It is their pre-disposition towards erudition and arguments over each letter of the Bible that kills the very Spirit for which they profess to be an expert. Paul said it so very clearly, “[God] has made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life (II Cor. 3:6).
So, I have come to this inevitable conclusion, that today’s Christian leaders know almost nothing of God outside of what they have read and been taught by other men. Abraham had no Bible, no Talmud, no scriptures of any kind, and he had no teacher. So how could he hear the word of God? It is obvious he did not hear it by reading the written word of God. He heard it by hearing the Living WORD of God. According to the Bible, Abraham was one of the greatest men of faith. And it was that faith which allowed him to believe in God’s Holy Spirit. I do not believe that the Holy Spirit only came with Jesus but rather, I believe the Holy Spirit has always been there to teach and to impart God’s Living WORD… for all who had the faith to listen, who would take the time to hear what God had to say.
This is the Spirit-Centered life, and it goes hand in hand with knowing how to “Abide in Christ”. There is a deep mystery here. Jesus promised to those who learned to abide in him the same oneness with the Father that he experienced (read John 17: 11 and 21). If Christians understood the importance of meditation and abiding in Christ there would be no disunity, nor would there be a lack of love. These divisions within the Church flow naturally from men who “Have a form of Godliness, but deny the power thereof [the Spirit]… For the kingdom of God is NOT IN WORD, but in power”.
Jesus told us the Scribes and Pharisees knew not how to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and receive God’s Living WORD. Therefore they could not instruct those they taught about how to enter in either. That is the exact same situation we have in today’s Christian church. And it is this leaven of today’s modern Pharisees, their hypocrisy of proclaiming to know God when they do not, that continues to spread like a cancer throughout all of Christiandom, preventing their congregation’s members from knowing God as well. Hear the words of Jesus you so-called men of God, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in” (Mt. 23:13).
Update – February 2014