Our Pioneering History in the East

Compiled by Lydia West, Keda, Kezia Newsong, Shem, and Apelles Cheshire, and the testimonies of the faithful pioneers in each of the fields

The first two teams sent out—one to Hawaii (North Pacific) at the end of 1971 and one to Australia and New Zealand (South Pacific) in 1972—became the beachheads that began to win more national disciples and raise funds for pioneering the surrounding countries.


Hawaii was the major border base to the North Pacific for the first 4–5 years. Justin, Ami and Michael Jolly landed in Oahu, Hawaii, on New Year’s day, 1972. Later, the remaining big Burlington camp and school in Washington state moved to Hawaii and on into the Pacific.

Justin recalls:

During the first month we wondered if we were missing the mark somewhere, because we had no disciples yet! We met a supporter who gave us some tents, we got a bus, moved on the beach, and shortly thereafter we had almost 10 full-time disciples and 6 Catacomb1 military brothers from the big American Army, Navy and Marine bases there. Then within the next six months we had almost 20 full-timers and 10 Catacombers. In 1-1/2 years we had seven colonies on the Island!

The servicemen, God bless them, were some of our most faithful disciples, coming for Bible classes and fellowship. Servicemen were some of the major supporters of the work, not only in Hawaii, but also in Japan and the Philippines.


The team (Abby, Laadah and Medad) arrived in Tokyo In 1972, and Hawaii began to send them more personnel. The first to go were Filipino-Hawaiian Shiloh (who would later marry Medad) and Elisha and Zaccur, Japanese disciples won in Hawaii. More brethren came from Hawaii in the following months and years, miraculously obtaining seven-year missionary visas instead of the normal two-month tourist visa, with the help of Brother Paul, one of the very first American missionaries to Japan to marry a Japanese and become a Japanese citizen. He helped them quickly learn the customs, traditions and some of the language. The Letter “Become One” (ML# 208) was written to him and the brethren in Japan at that time.

One of the biggest breakthroughs into the “Missionaries’ Graveyard”—as Japan has been called by the Christian world—came with breaking tradition by litnessing2 and giving Holy Ghost samples3. After united prayer, we went out with our Japanese New Testament Gospels and began distributing them to everyone on the streets and trains. Then, that night, we all went to a big concert in Tokyo, and as the crowd dispersed we began our Holy Ghost sample and distributed the literature. It resulted in our first two Japanese full-time disciples, Jacob Sparkles and Mika in May 1973.

Medad and Shiloh remember that,

Our nationals could hardly speak or understand English. After much prayer the Lord spoke to Medad and Abby and told them to try regular translators. The Little Sisters of Jesus were a great encouragement to us and translated some of our first MO Letters. The Lord also led us to other translators who helped us to get the Lit Revolution on its way.

One of the most fruitful outreaches became the “Catacomb Kids” parties of high school students, with skits, music and witnessing, and scores of these kids became full-time disciples.

As the work got under way, Japan became a springboard and sent out three new pioneer teams to Thailand, Korea, and Taiwan.


The first pioneer team to Taiwan consisted of our first German disciple, Corinth—won by Faithy in Germany—and his wife Hannah. They had hitchhiked across India and SEA and miraculously found the first little team in Tokyo. They left Japan and entered Taiwan on student visas, attending language school and teaching English for support. They were soon joined by other brethren from Hawaii: Zac Newsong and Zenus. They learned Chinese fluently and won faithful disciples—Rebecca, our top Chinese translator and Leila, followed by many others.


The Philippines is a very receptive field with thousands of souls saved and many national disciples. The Catholic Church as well as many Protestant missionaries have spread the basic knowledge and principles of Christianity.

The litnessing revolution was one of the biggest booms to the first pioneer team here of Zichri, Shalisha and Daniel Noah from Hawaii. They began to get the message out like never before, and the people would crowd around by the hundreds to try to get a piece of literature. The donations helped to print more lit and open new colonies.

The Catacomb ministry started soon after that and began to win a lot of disciples of high school and college age.

Hong Kong and Macau

Hong Kong and Macau’s first team was Rehob and Abdiel who arrived from Hawaii in ’73. Zac BC and Aaron Arrow also helped pioneer the field. Maacah and Katrina, the two earliest Chinese disciples in the country, are both active in translating the Words, singing and translating songs for the local radio show “Wonderful Music.” In the spring of 1976, Ho, Esther and Ruthie arrived, and soon Gold Lion Publishers (GLP) began produ­cing volumes of Letters, as well as Wild Wind products for the Pacific and around the world.

The Pacific Islands

The first team sent to American Samoa was native-born Ezekiel and American wife Mail and one child. After reinforcements came from Hawaii, teams went from this small island to Western Samoa and Tonga. We also reached a lot of Korean fishermen there. Some got saved and took lit and the message back to Korea.

Tahiti’s first team was Amos and Abigail and their children, who went from Hawaii and had a fruitful time there. Different French-speaking brethren, including Christian and Hanne, also went. New Caledonia is similarly French-speaking, so Amos and Mary, Christian and Phoebe and Hanne opened it up and did well, God bless them!

In the spring of ’73, Shua led the first pioneer team to Fiji, where they met a lot of receptive people and developed good contacts for the future. Shortly afterwards, Zaccur Baker and Gather were our first team to Papua New Guinea. They learned to speak good Pidgin and won lots of friends. Several years later, Jude and Sharuen Horizon, Esther and Renee Aaron had a really fruitful outreach there.

New Zealand and Australia

By Shem

In 1972, as a result of the letter “Great Escape”, hundreds of COG members streamed towards the border base in New York in preparation for going to Europe. We (Shem and Shua) were working in Dallas, helping prepare these teams, when the Lord began to convict us about launching out and pioneering. Shua was a passport-holding New Zealander, and her parents had just returned to New Zealand to live. Also, my father was a vice-president of a large air freight company and I was able to fly at discounts of 75-100% on most airlines! Little Andrew and Jezliah (who was seven months pregnant at the time) were the other part of our team. Being married to a New Zealander gave me an automatic permanent resident visa—a very valuable asset. So the Lord had clearly planned it all years in advance! Praise the Lord!

Finally we were all four airborne—leaving mainland USA and landing in Hawaii, where we stayed about ten days fellowshipping with the team there. Then we boarded the plane to New Zealand.

On June 22, 1972, we landed in Auckland, New Zealand. Our modus operandi was to quietly enter the country and scout, rent a house, get a used van, witness to the university students, and once we were established, sock it to the public with Holy Ghost samples, tracts, and get media coverage.

Our early pioneers were Gibea and Mercy, Peter Atlanta, Lydia Nun, Isaac Numbers, Abarim and Merisha Zelotes, Apelles Cheshire, Miriam New Love, Nadab, Abel and Anna Issa­char, and Maresha. We began to witness in Jesus People coffee shops, universities, pubs, and on street corners, which soon brought in new disciples, the first lasting fruit being Matthew.

Our public debut came when the local newspaper reprinted an anti-COG article from the USA. We phoned the paper and mentioned that we were the local branch of the group and would grant them an exclusive interview. They immediately came and did a very good article on us which spread our message throughout the country. The Revolution for Jesus had begun!

On September 1, 1972, armed with my free air ticket, Peter Atlanta and I flew to Sydney, Australia. We called for reinforcements from New Zealand and began working with a radical Christian coffee shop doing singing programs and teaching classes, as well as Holy Ghost samples at the Domain (the “Hyde Park” or speakers’ corner of Sydney), appearing on TV and radio and winning disciples.

Gibeah and Mercy and a small team launched out to pioneer Melbourne, the second-largest city. Later a pioneer team of Carpus, Ashnah, and Abel went north to Brisbane, the third-largest city.

Australia was a radical country. The man on the street was often a socialist, with a newly elected Labor government which immediately stopped the draft and pulled out of the Vietnam War, recognized China, as well as received us heartily. We witnessed to senators, ministers, and regularly corresponded with the deputy prime minister and sent him MO Letters! Australia was very open to our religion of love. Praise God! It was a witnessers’ paradise. We were mainly financed through forsake-alls4, mail donations, and extensive provisioning5. We moved into a larger house in February 1973 near King’s Cross, Sydney, where we set up a print shop, darkroom, taping ministry, and office and base for the area.

After the Letter “Are We Catholics or Protestants?” came out, we met the Little Sisters of Jesus in Sydney and became quite close. In the early days before some untrue and negative publicity got around, we were very well received by the Catholics—singing in schools, convents, seminaries and even for masses!

Isaac and Rebekah (our first Australian disciple) were married in the biggest Catholic cathedral in Australia, which was filmed in full by the major TV station! Shua and Lydia Nun met Mother Teresa and got her blessing during the gigantic Eucharistic Congress held in Melbourne in 1973, which was attended, of course, by many of our tract-passing COG members!

Up until this time we had no oversight, so we were desperate with God, because we didn’t know what to do. Thanks to the Lord’s guidance, we seemed to be riding a fast-moving wave—every Letter as it came out gave us timely and specific directions on how to ride this wave! Now most of these early pioneers have gone on to other fields In Asia and India and are helping to reap the harvests of the Golden Triangle. Thank You, Jesus!

Singapore and Malaysia (1973-1977)

In May 1973, Shem and Apelles Cheshire set off from Australia to Singapore, just a week or so after Zatthu and Morningstar had come through on their way to Indonesia! This was the point at which East met West.

Apelles wrote:

We took different flights as Shem had found a cheap stand-by flight, where they put you on a waiting list, and I was scheduled on another economy flight the same day, seven hours later.

It was a miracle how God got Shem on that flight only minutes before the departure! God works in mysterious ways, for little did we know that God was going to use Shem’s waiting in the Singapore airport to help us meet the person whom He was going to use to open many doors in Singapore! He met a Catholic Mother Superior, who was the head of one of the Catholic orders. The Letters that were coming out at that time were really the key and very timely, such as “Are We Catholics or Protestants?”, “Maryknoll Fathers” and “Arrivederci Roma!” These gave us the vision and faith we needed to reach out to Catholics. Also, our previous experience of working with Catholics in Australia made it easier for us to relate to them.

This Mother Superior was thrilled to see Shem’s PR booklet, which had lots of pictures, testimonies and letters of recommendation from other Catholic orders in Sydney to whom we had been ministering before. She introduced us to the heads of several other Catholic orders, who received us warmly and openly accepted us as brethren. Through these God gave us many golden opportunities to sing in churches and minister to all the students of several schools, of which almost all were saved! We kept going back for repeat performances and God gave us some key people to concentrate on. This is when we met some lasting fruit. They were just teenagers around 15 years old, but they were so anxious to serve the Lord, and some of them, like Andrew and Psalms, are still going strong for Jesus!

After 2-1/2 months, a follow-up team of Gibeah and Mercy arrived from Australia to help get something more solid established.

At this time we received the letter ‘Shiners or Shamers?’6 Wow! At first we felt maybe it would be too dangerous to apply in Singapore, but the Lord encouraged us that ‘all things are possible.’ So we started by giving away a few issues of the New Nation News (NNNs, one of our first magazines). We would give out 12 in a night and we thought this was a lot, but little by little the Lord gave us more faith to get it out, and soon we were printing locally and giving out thousands, often with donations in return! God was really blessing our obedience, and through litnessing we were meeting lots of receptive people.

In January ’74, after the arrival of Ariel and Elishama from Australia, the Lord showed us it was time to pioneer Malaysia, and Shem suggested I head this scouting party with Elishama.

We took a train from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, which is the capital city of Malaysia. First, we stayed with some of Elishama’s friends. They were Tamil Indians, who were very sweet and helped us to get adjusted to this new city and country. But soon we followed up on some Catholics who had given us their addresses in Singapore. A wonderful nun introduced us to the head of one of the biggest schools in Malaysia, who gave us permission to stay rent-free in the Priest’s Conference Center. Praise the Lord! We put on lots of school programs in the city and out in the small village schools.

Thailand (1972-1978)

At the end of 1972, Horeb Holykiss, an American serviceman who’d served in the country during the war, returned after joining the Children of God in San Diego. Adron and Heart and their cute kids soon arrived from Japan and it was a real credit to them how quickly they started learning the tonal languages. Soon others, Toni, Aphrah, Zac Lantern, Gibeah and Mercy joined them, and the Lord soon started bringing in full-time, lasting disciples.

When dear Crystal, a former drug addict, joined in 1975, she became an excellent translator. Very few of our disciples, friends, and supports spoke English, so Adron and others were always faithful to get more Letters translated every month.

We had a really fruit­ful coffee shop in downtown Bangkok, then more and more the Lord started leading teams up-country to Korat, Udon, Chiang Mai and elsewhere. A lot of outreach was with the US Air Force men and their Thai girlfriends, and they were always so receptive, as life was so insecure as many flew B-52 bombers into Vietnam!

Later, Thailand became one of the top countries for literature distribution. Teams would go out and send boxes and boxes of lit up the line to different cities they planned to go to, since it was too much to carry! School programs have been a tremendously effective outreach with thousands of souls won monthly! Recently, many Scandinavians have arrived and have been a real asset to the field—they adapted extremely quickly to this tropical field and we have been winning more new Thai disciples than ever before! Praise the Lord!

Indonesia (1973-1977)

In Holland, early 1973, Zatthu and Morningstar got married and then they set off for Indonesia. Zatthu had been born in Amborne, Indonesia, and as with many upper-class Indonesians, his family, during governmental turmoil, fled with the Dutch to Holland.

He had been won to the Children of God in Amsterdam and was now able to return to his home field and establish a work! Just a few weeks later, Peter Atlanta and Lydia Nun got married in Australia and set off for their honeymoon mission also—a love affair with Indonesia that was to bear so much fruit over the following years!

Reinforcements in the form of Daniel and Miriam Newlove (US) arrived from Australia and Zebadiah from London, and this formed the core of the original Indonesian work. They quickly began to learn the language in their outreach and started faithfully translating Letters. All through the years the team there kept the translations really rolling so that when our national disciples joined they had a good foundation in the Word—a rock to stand on! Michael Bandung was the first to join and stay, and Michael Artist, from Surabaya, was the first of five brethren from the same family to join!

We had teams on many of the distant islands, and the local radio show “Allman Surya” was one of our most effective outreach tools.

  1. Catacomb or catacomber: Refers to a person who is serving the Lord and would like to join full-time, but is unable to for reasons of age or other obligations.
  2. Distributing literature.
  3. Informal live musical performances as a witness of the free Holy Spirit and to reach a wide audience, mostly done outdoors (in parks, on walking streets, etc.).
  4. Donations of goods and possessions from those who, like the early disciples, gave all they had to follow Jesus (Luke 14:33).
  5. The donation of goods and services from others.
  6. An admonition from David Berg to get out the message in printed form as never before.