Branching Out

Almost from the moment the first team landed in California, they had begun appearing on Fred’s television show, “Church in the Home”. The disciples would give their testimonies of how the Lord had saved them from drugs, vice and crime. The viewers liked to hear it and it made good money for Fred!

Fred raised enough money on behalf of the Children of God to buy a 100-acre date farm in the Coachella Valley near Indio, California, containing a huge ranch home and swimming pool. He promoted it on television “so these kids could have a quiet place to get the training they needed.”

The ranch was officially opened March 22, 1971, with gala, hoopla, ribbon-cutting, and crowds, and was broadcast to Fred’s television audience. What the viewers didn’t know, though, was that the kids never got to use the beautiful ranch house, but rather stayed on another much smaller acreage he had also purchased in Coachella, sleeping on the dirt floor of a metal Quonset hut in 100-degree weather. The only part of the new ranch house that was reserved for “these kids” was the run-down garage, where nearly 20 of the boys stayed while they worked on Fred’s date farm.

The COG had kept their initial part of the bargain to improve his properties, and the COG got what they wanted—the souls of men—genuine, full-time disciples for Jesus, which is the real kingdom of God! The Lord was already preparing other properties and other buildings for such a time when they would leave the Jordan properties.

Soon after Dad’s departure from the U.S., the third Children of God colony was established in Elisabethtown, Kentucky, in September 1970. By then there were nearly 400 disciples, and facilities in L.A. and TSC were bulging at the seams; they really needed some new places. Kentucky was the first step taken in the direction of colonization outside of Fred’s properties, and like most first steps taken in the direction the Lord wants you to go, it was a real fight!

The tiny house they occupied was built around the 1900’s, and had stood vacant, dilapidated, and in disrepair for ten years. It had never had electricity, and by this time didn’t have windows or doors either. Adin, who joined the COG in Griffith Park, installed electricity for the house—a trade he had learned from four years in the U.S. Air Force. They not only had to install the electricity, but also their own electricity poles and telephone poles, as well as clean and paint the entire house, and install all the windows and doors!

It was located in hillbilly country too, where all the families up and down the road are actually one big family clan—certainly not the kind of people who usually take to hippies. As the local paper put it:

God’s Children

Elisabethtown Courier Journal, 24/10/70

Larue officials fear it’s a “hippie colony”; residents say it’s a Mission dedicated to God! The young Bible students—former hippies, drug addicts, and youth simply disenchanted with society—have migrated from Children of God colonies in Texas and California and settled on a 74-acre section of overgrown land near the Hardin-Larue County line.

Their presence during the past month has stirred up suspicions of area residents and Larue County officials, who “don’t want a hippie colony around here.”

But the “children” say the brush-covered farmland that has been leased to their movement is a mission, from which they will send their members to “witness for the Lord”.

In Hodgeville, however, Larue County officials find it difficult to believe that this commune is inhabited by fundamentalist Christians.

Shortly after the group arrived at their new home and began restoring a small house for use as living quarters, Larue County Sheriff, B. F. Brown, visited the camp and questioned its residents.

Since that first visit, he has sent young county residents to see what they could learn about the Children of God.

During each visit to the colony the Sheriff and his agents have been told the same story about their strange, new neighbors.

The small group of 12 young men and women is part of a Texas-based sect organized about 2½ years ago and named the Children of God. The sect, which now claims a membership of about 400, preaches a literal interpretation of the Bible.

One of the group’s elders, Shadrach, after welcoming a visitor with the group’s greeting, “God bless you,” sat down and told the visitor about the group.

“What we’re hoping for is places on the East Coast, and this would be just a stopping-off place,” he said. “What we hope to do is have colonies all over the world, from where we can go out and witness.” The officials in nearby Hodgeville remain suspicious.

“As far as legally, we don’t have a thing on ‘em,” said Sheriff Brown. “We’re just playing it by ear—watching and listening.”

Well, thank God, he must have heard something good, because he let them stay, and in fact, there is still a team there—the longest extant colony!

At the time, Kentucky’s crew of 12 seemed rather insignificant to most of the disciples living in their two huge colonies of hundreds. Little did they realize that within a few years, after many admonitions from Dad to break up into smaller units, almost all of them would be living in just such small colonies.

Even though Kentucky, with its rural location, was more like an outpost than an actual witnessing colony in or near a large city, its team of 12 was the first sample colony of how the Lord wanted things to be in the future.

From there the COG branched out to the nearby big city of Cincinnati, Ohio, in October 1970, where they met up with some Jesus People who had a large three-story, six-bathroom house only a few blocks away from the University of Cincinnati campus and its ripe witnessing field of 30,000 students. After 12 solid hours of Bible studies with the Jesus People on how Christian disciples were really supposed to live, they all headed out to the streets witnessing the next day as full-fledged members of the Children of God—and the COG had a brand-new colony!

Soon both Cincinnati and Kentucky were flourishing, Cincinnati as a witnessing outpost in the middle of a big university town, and Kentucky as a training center where new disciples could get away from the city to study God’s Word in His creation. Meanwhile, the West Coast was opening up too, and by mid-October, a semi-permanent bus team had been established in Santa Barbara, where they were winning so many students at the University of California campus that a little saying began among the students: “Don’t get on the bus or you’ll never get off!