The Poorboy Clubs

In London, meanwhile, another aspect of the music ministry was breaking forth: The Poorboy Clubs. The London COG had been looking for a way to reach young people, so Dad suggested to Jethro that maybe they ought to get all the local artistic and creative talent, put it all together, and see if they could come up with some good entertainment that would reach the kids and get the message out.

The first week they put together a 45-minute show of a few songs and a short skits with a few of the latest testimonies and a MO Letter. Jethro said, “Just the fact that our musicians had practiced for a couple of hours and knew their songs and we had the lights down low and used a slide projector as a spotlight … dazzled even our own kids! The two or three visitors we had there that week loved it.”

The next week they did a more dramatic skit of 15 minutes, showing the plight of the coal miners in England and added a few props like a miner’s hat and a shovel, and Zachariah Waxman sang “Sixteen Tons”. Said Jethro, “It was a smashing success; people were actually weeping, and many of the 20 or 30 visitors that came that week got saved.”

A few weeks later they had added a disco, some comedy sketches, and topped it off with an entire musical production called “Cromwell,” with most of the songs having been written by members of the COG. No one had much experience, but as Jethro commented, “They did have the one thing that counted, the desire and the guts to try it.”

At the end of the musical dramatization, Zachariah, the “working class hero,” dropped to his knees in despair to find a crumpled “Cromwell” Letter lying on the stage, and Simon Peter ap¬peared from the darkness in a 17th century sol¬dier’s uniform and quoted the entire MO Letter “Cromwell,” delivering it as an actual impas-sioned address to the audience.

The plight of the coal miners was something the English could relate to and understand. It broke their hearts and made them weep, as it spoke to their hearts and made them ready and willing to receive Jesus, and to surrender to the love of God.

Soon Poorboy Clubs were opening up all over the world, each one presenting the message needed for its particular location—Tokyo, Toronto, Paris, Puerto Rico, New York, Rome, Hawaii, and many others. And not to be kept within four walls, they soon burst out into the streets, taking their theatre with them and putting on skits for thousands every week—at Hyde Park in London, at pop festivals, and any place they were invited or could draw a crowd of people.

The COG explored every possible avenue to get their message and music to the masses, and the Lord saw to it that they were the subject of hundreds of television and radio shows, either as guests or in documentaries about them. Radio was definitely the medium of the future with the COG, as in the areas they were beginning to concentrate on, such as India, Africa, and Asia, the majority of the masses were largely illiterate or semi-literate, and television sets and record players were luxuries only the rich could afford. But almost everyone had radios. In even the most remote, poorest villages in some backwoods area that the Children of God would be unlikely to ever tread themselves, the center point of the community is the village radio, usually hooked up to an old but powerful loudspeaker, and around which the village folk nightly gathered to tune in to favorite shows.

By mid-’75, the Lord had opened the way for the COG to have weekly radio programs in Bogota, Colombia, and Iloilo, Philippines, reaching millions. But the real radio ministry explosion came on the day after Christmas 1976, when Simon Peter began broadcasting his weekly radio program “Music With Meaning” from the station with the largest listening audience in the world, Radio Ceylon, reaching the entire sub-continent of India, and with clear reception as far away as Tehran and Singapore.

It was a show Simon put together from the COG’s many music cassettes. “We put together our first four programs in this guy’s studio just from the music cassettes we happened to have around the colony in Bombay,” Simon said in an interview in the “New Nation News.” “Just from what we ourselves had there, we had enough good quality music to make six months’ worth of programs without ever having to repeat the same song!”

They were inspired to promote a music club that interested listeners could become a part of and receive a regular monthly mailing of NNNs, MO Letters, and a personal letter, all geared toward music. The purpose of the program was to feed the spiritually hungry and find the real potential ones to become disciples through the ministry of the mail.

The response was tremendous, and they were soon receiving over 150 letters per week; hundreds had asked for membership in the music club, and dozens were being reached through the mail ministry and joining the COG who had never personally met one Child of God. Countries that were virtually impenetrable in person and whose young people would not bother to listen to religious broadcasts were now being reached through music.

The music had come a long way, with thousands of guitarists on the streets, small groups singing in discos, nightclubs, and restaurants, bands playing at concerts, recording records, playing before millions on television and radio.