In July 1971, the Jesus Revolution hit England! Faithy, Jonas, Dutch Ben and Miriam, and Apollos and Lois arrived, and Faithy was able to take part in a panel discussion with some British intellectuals and church officials, televised throughout England. The reaction from this one show brought a rash of phone calls, so the team soon had openings in churches throughout the country within days of their arrival, where they would sing, give their testimonies, and show the NBC Film “First Tuesday.”
Their aim was to take the message of Jesus to the youth, so they were soon engaged in long witnessing days at Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus, where international travelers and hippies congregated in downtown London.
Within two weeks of first landing in England, French Joseph joined the team, but since their Polish landlady, Mama Helen, didn’t take too kindly to hippies, Jonas had to sleep out in St. James Park, along with their first new disciple. The Lord soon opened the door of a London City Mission in Bermondsey through some kind church people, who also gave them the use of another little cottage in Horsmonden. Hop-pickers Medical Mission, near Tunbridge Wells, became the first European center for the training of new disciples, (and the following year was graced with the presence of Dad and Maria, who stayed there for a few months).
Hosea and Esther, Miguel, and Tiras soon arrived from the United States, followed by a small team of others, most of whom spoke European languages: Becky, Eliaphaz and Grecia, Ready and Prisca, Mash, Jocabed, Darkon and Elisha—and these went on within time to pioneer yet other countries!
The first English disciple to join was Samson, followed by Ara and later Samson’s brother, Michaiah. Samson and Michaiah’s father gave the COG team the use of a portion of an old factory in Bromley, which the team inhabited at the end of that summer. As their population expanded, they were soon given the use of the remainder of the factory, which was fixed up into office and living quarters. Samson and Michaiah’s father also gave them the use of an island he owned in northern Scotland, which was used for a training center for new disciples, and later that fall two other houses located at Chinbrook Road, not far from Bromley, to which we later moved our printing and publications center.
By this time, the team had acquired two old double-decker buses that soon became familiar sights around Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. Every Sunday at Hyde Park, these bright yellow buses, emblazoned with “The Jesus Revolution” in startling red, would pull up and let out Children of God members with guitars who would converge upon the crowds, singing “The Children of God are on Their Way!”
Those first months in London resulted in a witnessing explosion which made “disciples of all nations,” with almost every witnessing excursion resulting in potential new disciples! Besides French Joseph, there was Solomon from Liberia, Johanon from New Zealand, Thomas from Mauritius, Theophilus and Zebediah from Australia, as well as English missionaries Joseph and Mary (Joseph had been born in Pakistan), Gibeon, and Sarah Ireland, German Sheriah, Lukas and Onesimus, Canadians Hosanna and Gamaliel, Adam, who had been living in Kenya. Kezia from the U.S.A., Beno from Malta, Taberah and Rebekah Red from South Africa, as well as Swiss Nashon, Swedish Dorkas, and Cherubim from Scotland. Much national fruit was also borne as Thaddeus, Bartimeus, Daniel, Joel, Sammy Samaritan, James, Carshena, Michael, Jacob and Rachel, Cabbon, Giddel and many, many others joined!
Each evening in Bromley as the team got together for snack, after a spirit-filled inspiration,1 prayer, and loving fellowship, sitting on the only furniture in the room—a huge pipe skirting the baseboards—the evi-dence of how the Lord was “adding to the church daily” was manifested by how far down the pipe the seating arrangement extended! There were soon close to a hundred people in the old Bromley factory, and so much of the leadership was continually being skimmed off to pioneer other European countries that these new disciples were put right to work teaching others to teach others!
By the end of the year, new teams headed by new young leaders had branched out into Scotland and Ireland, as well as other English cities.
England was indeed the major staging ground for the Children of God’s expansion to Europe. “From this first beachhead, we spread to the next nearest target area as rapidly as possible, like stepping stones ... Just as soon as each new colony was established and going under good leadership, the pioneers moved on to the next!” (ML #151). Many of these new disciples won in London were on the pioneer teams which branched into the rest of Europe as our world conquest of love rapidly spread from country to country!
Dutch Ben, who joined in America—the first foreign disciple to join the Children of God—and his lovely wife, Miriam, also of Dutch descent, were on the first team to Europe which arrived in London in the summer of 1971. With Faithy’s pioneering encouragement, shortly thereafter they left London to pioneer their home country of Holland, first visiting with Ben’s parents in a small village. Soon to join them from London was American inspirationalist [musician] Jonas, and the very first disciple won in Europe, French Joseph.
Jonas and Joseph lived right in Vondel Park amongst the hippies, where Ready and Prisca joined them in early June ‘71. Holland has been renowned for years for its open attitude towards youth, and the city of Amsterdam opened central Vondel Park to the hippies, who would gather there from around the world to not only congregate to do drugs, play music etc., but also eat and sleep, as the government even supplied public bath houses for their use! The team of six Children of God continued daily with personal and musical witnessing from early morning till late every night.
Ben and Miriam meanwhile had made contact with a woman who became our first Amsterdam landlady, an eccentric widow named Elsa who lived in a huge house right off the Vondel Park and who opened her house to Ben and Miriam. Ready and Prisca also sometimes stayed with Elsa, as did dear Faithy, who came to help boost and shepherd and pioneer this very important city, although much of the time Faithy and the rest of the team slept in their sleeping bags in the park amongst the hippies. This of course was an exceptional example to Elsa, who wondered how far we’d go to reach the lost. It was truly Faithy’s sample of full-time witnessing and her desire to reap this harvest field that kept Amsterdam the fruitful witnessing and training base it was for the next several years!
After sleeping in the park and squatting houses, the team was given the use of an attic portion of a night club and more help joined them, such as American Jocabed and the first disciples won in Amsterdam’s famous Dam Square: French-Canadian Gideon, American Ruhamah, Hawaiian Arnon and American Shalom.
Dutch Ben combed the city for a new living location and found one right off the main streets of Amsterdam along the canal—the famous Children of God headquarters in Amsterdam for the next several years—Kerkstraat 7. A Christian supporter let the team use the house for years, and later donated a printing press plus the use of his print shop to help print our message. The team was thrilled beyond measure to have a stable roof over their heads, and the building was almost just that—a roof—with only the main walls and pillars remaining, but lacking any solid floors within the three-story-tall, thin building, which was only as wide as two windows! Ben, a tried-and-proven carpenter, got busy finding donors for all the materials and working on restoring that house, along with our first few new disciples, including Belgian Lazarus and German brothers Erastus and Lambflock.
In only several weeks’ time the deteriorated building was reconditioned, soon to accommodate literally hundreds of God’s children and visitors flocking to the door to “come and see” the sample that they had seen witnessed daily on the streets of Amsterdam! Within a very short time, visitors of all nationalities were guests in the colony, drawn especially by the Children of God’s offer of free food for all! Many times as many as 100 people would follow the team home at the end of the day, where the witnessing would continue before the free meal was served!
The first Dutch disciples were Joshua 1:8 and Phoebe, who later were married, Indonesian Dutch Zatthu and catacombers2 Israela and Cyrene, who were later able to join full-time.
Dam Square, the huge rustic square in front of the government buildings in the centre of Amsterdam, was the Children of God’s daily witnessing turf for several years. They would leave the house singing and dancing along the streets with their guitars, along with the previous day’s new disciples, pied-pipering interested people to Dam Square, then continuing for hours with Holy Ghost Samples,3 songs, and witnessing skits, as Faithy and Jonas had pioneered and trained the team to do from the very beginning!
Meanwhile, the Children of God was getting many invitations from various church and youth groups to sing and witness at their meetings, which they obligingly did for the small favor of feeding them dinner for their performance. Leading inspirationalists at that time were Gamaliel the Jew and Mephibosheth, and main spokesmen were Joshua 1:8 and Zatthu as national representatives in these meetings.
A training center was set up where the new disciples had Bible studies and training for a few weeks before returning to the Kerkstraat for front-line witnessing activities. Whenever a new MO Letter was read aloud, there were at least five running translations going in various languages, as the COG population was so international! Disciples of many nationalities, including many Latin Americans, joined in Amsterdam and were usually sent on pioneer teams to their own countries.
Christmas ‘71 was one of the peak harvest times in Amsterdam, as at least one new disciple joined every day. Among these new disciples were Peter Amsterdam and Damaris, Tiago and Tabitha, Mark GLP, Zaccheus, Paul and many others. Ben and Miriam became regional shepherds, as other Homes were opening in Rotterdam, as well as a COG coffee shop right on one of the canals in Utrecht, and a yellow “Banana” bus which converged on Dutch university cities. New teams also branched into Belgium and Luxembourg.
In 1972, Utrecht, Holland, was the location of the world council of churches world convention, where the COG became one of the main attractions. Through our witness at this convention, the COG was given invitations to countries all over the world. Several leaders, including Catholic bishops from various countries, actually slept on the floor of the Kerkstraat house with the COG and participated in our daily witnessing and musical outreach at Dam Square.
Every day and night the house was wall-to-wall full of people, and the Lord continued to faithfully supply enough donated food to feed an average of 75 extra people per meal! With the arrival of more brethren from the U.S., the house was so crowded that a team moved right into Vondel Park, where more disciples joined, and had an “open-air” colony! Thank the Lord, by the time cold weather began to set in, the Lord opened the door for the COG team to also occupy the adjoining house to the main Colony, so we had both Kerkstraat 7 and 9!
Amsterdam was truly blessed by God as one of the greatest centres of the European disciple harvest, and remained a fruitful witnessing and training field for other pioneers to branch out into new mission fields over the next several years.
The COG continued to reap a mighty harvest through the Poorboy Club4 and the Lit Revolution in the following years, with many of the Dutch disciples going on to pioneer new far-flung fields and preach the Gospel to every creature! Praise the Lord!
Our pioneering of Germany actually began in London in August ‘71, where Faithy and her team met Hans Steinacher, a German publisher who had just released a paperback book entitled Jesus Kommt—all about the famous American Jesus Revolution. He received us as representatives of this great spiritual movement, and offered to help us get started in Germany, where he felt our revolution was greatly needed. He later even asked us to write a chapter about the Children of God for the climax of his second book on the Jesus Movement, which we did, and he published it in its entirety, with our message of Mark 16:15, Luke 9:23, 24; 14:33; Acts 2:44, 45 and Ezekiel 34.
On September 20, 1971, only 2-1/2 months after Faithy and her little team set foot in Europe, she took another group of six to Germany: Apollos, Lois, Gideon Harper, English Daniel, and German Lucas, who had joined about a month earlier in Holland. Mr. Steinacher introduced them to his Christian friends, who were very warm and friendly, admitting their need for help to reach the many lost youth of Germany.
The day after their arrival, Mr. Steinacher took the little group to the big modern YMCA hostel in Essen, a large industrial city in the cold, hard, Ruhr area. There they were told that it was theirs to use as they pleased! But instead of choosing one of the beautiful large conference or meeting rooms which were offered to them, they chose the unused little cellar in the basement, which became known throughout the city and in the press as the “Keller”, and was soon filled nightly with many troubled young people who came to us, searching for answers to their problems. So by day the small team sang and witnessed in the large shopping and walking streets of Essen, and by night they were witnessing, counseling, and singing to those who came down to the “Keller.”
About a week after their arrival, they went to a very large and highly publicized “Jesus Generation Festival” in Herne, which had representatives from many religious groups, churches, and denominations. Outside the huge auditorium was a group of leftist demonstrators who weren’t allowed in by the organizers. The religious leaders begged Faithy to speak to the crowd, but she wouldn’t go in until they let the protesters in too! Finally she spoke, with the message that our spiritual revolution was not a part of the festival, but a dedicated band of full-time revolutionaries for Jesus, determined to give all in obedience to His Word to reach the lost who they were locking out! Her explosive “sermon” caused no small stir, and there was a division among the people (John 7:43) and some lasting fruit joined which remains till this day!
Many church, religious, and youth group meetings followed this one, as pastors and youth leaders would invite Faithy and team to speak to their youth with our challenge of full-time service and radical witnessing activism. One of the main tools at these meetings was the “Ultimate Trip” film, which was followed by songs, personal testimonies, and ultimately the call to receive the Lord and even forsake all to follow and serve Him! Many of the earliest German disciples joined after these meetings.
Another man whom God used as a great help to the early pioneers was dear Dr. Deichmann, a Christian businessman who owned a shoe-store chain throughout Germany. He was a great help to the early COG team, providing stoves, beds, and clothing for them, as well as nice new shoes and warm boots for the entire team throughout Europe during that cold winter of 1971.
The next open door was in Bonn, where Gideon went and soon brought back a new disciple, German Habakuk. In the second week of October, a fresh team arrived from London: Elisha and German Sheriah, Darkon, Aphek and Onesimus. Faithy left around this time with a small team to go on to the new field of Scandinavia, leaving Apollos and Lois and the growing little team there responsible for continuing to preach the Gospel to every creature in this strange new land of Ger-many. Many more church meetings followed, which were largely crowds of unchurched curious youth who were attracted by the churches’ advertising our appearance, so they attended the meetings to find out what this “Jesus Revolution” was all about!
Often unruly, slogan-shouting, pro-Marx, anti-God (and anti-church) rabble-rousers would pipe up in the middle of these huge meetings in an effort to disrupt, embarrass, or discredit us and our beliefs! But we soon found out that nothing attracted and held these crowds of German students like a hot debate or raging controversy!—And the Lord definitely caused “the wrath of man to praise Him” (Psalm 76:10) as we socked ‘em back with the answers from His Word with the conviction of His Spirit. And they were always astonished at our doctrine, for we taught them as one having authority (Matthew 7:28, 29).
The Children of God also received a tremendous amount of favorable, although often somewhat sensationalized, publicity in the early days, with full-page articles in many national papers and major magazines, TV interviews, etc. All of the publicity helped the little team tucked away in the industrial town of Essen to reach the entire country with our message of salvation and challenge of discipleship, which brought countless receptive visitors, supporters, friends and helpers to our doors! The little Keller actually got so crowded that there was a waiting line to get in, and they began having to ask the merely curious, already saved folks to please come back on Sundays, and thus make more room for the poor, unsaved, drug-ridden youth who were pressing into the fold (Luke 1:53)!
When the welcome at the YMCA started wearing thin as they discovered that we were quite a “heisse Kartoffel” (hot potato), the Lord opened another door at an unused school building in Essen, which Dr. Deichmann helped the team to secure, furnish, and set up. This became the central HQ for the Children of God in Germany for many years, from where new teams went out to German-speaking Europe, preaching the Gospel to every creature!
Faithy later returned and spearheaded a pioneering push in southern Germany, and although they tried to witness mainly on the streets, there were some very important meetings with the top heads of the Lutheran church, including the bishop himself. A meeting with many prominent churchmen occurred in Nurnberg on Feb. 5, ‘72, at which Faithy gave the message of Ezekiel 34, which needless to say was not a popular message. On March 14th, Faithy and her team of German Lambflock, Aphek and Apollos met with the bishop of the Lutheran Church in Munich, aided by a friend, Gunter Rattey. At this meeting Faithy answered their many questions about our doctrines and beliefs, and spoke of the need for real spiritual revolution in order to reach the lost and wandering youth of Germany.
Another milestone which occurred during our early days in Germany was our first en-masse MO Letter distribution at the Munich Olympics in August 1972, at which we distributed thousands of “Are You a Good Sport” Letters, especially written for the occasion. Brethren from all over Europe convened at a large “tent city” just outside Munich, which the municipal authorities had set up to keep “undesirable” hippies and travelers off the streets of their city during the Olympics. Here in the tent city we were able to arm the troops with lit, make our battle plans, and rest and recuperate for the next day’s witnessing.—As well as witness to the many kids who were royally escorted to this location by the city authorities!
In October of 1971, Faithy went to Stockholm, Sweden, with Arnon Quickclick, at the invitation of a Swedish man who had met the Children of God while abroad and who ended up helping the COG get established throughout Scandinavia.
Faithy and Arnon were soon to be joined by Miguel, Simon Black, Shalom, Johanon, Ruhamah, Mordecai and others. They began witnessing in the hippy hang-out GamlaBro, where Swedish Peter was led to the Lord. Later many of his friends from a hippy commune in Huddinge joined, amongst them Titus, Abigail, Barechias, Andrea, Israel, and Aristacus.
From Amsterdam came Jonas and Jochebed, as well as French Joseph, who travelled to meet Faithy in Copenhagen, Denmark. They began witnessing in Christiania, a former Danish military base that was now occupied by a hundred or so students and hippies who had received permission from the city government to establish an experimental alternate sub-culture there. The Lord led the early pioneers to Nehemiah, an older leather worker living in Christiania, a sort of city father amongst the hippies. Nehemiah was a strong Catholic and fell in love with the Children of God and helped that first little team to get their own Army barracks house, which was later christened “New Jerusalem”.
In January of ‘72, more labourers came from England, among them Jason and Chloe, followed by Melchizedek and Mara, Johannan, Hosanna, Adam Africa, English Jerusha and Eliphas and Grecia.
Beside the New Jerusalem house was a huge building housing a commune called “Solvognen.” Since the Children of God team shared the toilet and wash-up facilities with the members of the Solvognen commune, it provided an excellent opportunity to witness to them daily, and soon Nahum came over to “come and see.” When he didn’t come back, Valiant went over to see what had happened and also ended up getting saved and staying as well. Then Valiant’s sister Rose came over, determined to get back her two commune comrades, but she too fell in love with the Spirit, received the Lord, and stayed on. This prompted her boyfriend, Israel, to come stomping over furiously one night, only to be brought to his knees in prayer to receive the Lord also and move in!
With the majority of the commune all joining, the COG team moved in to occupy Solvognen. The remaining commune members were somewhat taken aback but eventually decided if they couldn’t beat this new phenomenon sweeping their ranks, they’d better join too! Valiant’s brother Jonathan joined and last was Valour, who forsook his Communist dogma to come and preach the Gospel. Eventually the building was renamed “The Prophet.”
Needless to say, it was no small testimony when all these original members of Christiania began dropping out to follow Jesus, publicly burning their blocks of hashish as a witness against the system they were dropping out of! Some of the youth at Christiania were heavily into hard drugs but had amazing deliveries. Finnish Bethlehem, after receiving the Lord, miraculously kicked her “junk” [heroin] habit on-the-spot and her boyfriend soon followed suit. Dutch Eleazar joined at this time as well, as did Danish Angelo, a “hopeless” addict whose liver had been destroyed from drug abuse; doctors had given up hope on him and said he would be dead in six months. But he was totally healed after receiving Jesus! Thank the Lord for the miracle-working power of salvation which so many experienced there! Although the “Christiania Utopia” was eventually formalized into another “system,” many found a real Christian Utopia in Jesus.
In Norway, American Gideon (who had helped pioneer Germany) and team visited different Christian youth groups and even wound up running one of their coffeehouses! Norwegian Joan and Jacobus, who were the somewhat disillusioned daughter and son of a well-known Christian missionary in Oslo, were among the first to join. When Norwegian Priscilla and Martha, who worked in the office of Jacobus and Joan’s father, also dropped out, it caused no small stir! Phoebe and her twin brother Phillip also joined about this time. As more and more sons and daughters of the city’s top citizens started dropping out to join the Children of God, they began receiving considerable publicity. Norwegian television filmed this exciting new Jesus explosion, at which time one of the film crew, Zac Lightman, got so interested that he too dropped out to join!
The youth of Scandinavia were ripe for the Revolution for Jesus, and with so many new disciples joining, they soon branched out into the other cities. In Sweden a Christian lady offered them the use of her facilities at Skillingsfors, in a remote part of Sweden which they turned into a place where new disciples could be immersed in the Word and cleansed from their old habits. Arhus in Western Denmark was the site used for training the Christiania new disciples.
Down in Malmo, in southern Sweden, an American draft deserter, Isaiah, received the Lord and opened up his apartment to the COG. Lund, a college town in Southern Sweden, was pioneered as well by Jason and Chloe.
In the spring of 1972, the Scandinavian team got together in Christiania for a week of fellowship and reorganization. There were well over 100 COG members there, and by getting the use of the communal kitchen coupled with massive donations of food, they were able to feed hundreds during that week. It was a tremendous example to both the long-time residents of Christiania, as well as to the NBC television crew who had come to Europe to film “Chronologue.”
Little Esther, former head of the Jesus People Army who merged with the Children of God, came to Scandinavia at this time and eventually got married to Danish Valiant. They oversaw the Scandinavian work as it continued to blossom over the next few years, and all of Scandinavia was reached via the printed Word.
Two days after meeting with the bishop of the Lutheran Church in Munich, Faithy wanted to get away so she could pray and seek the Lord for His plans and next moves. While she and her team were searching for a cheap hostel in which to stay, a man came up to them on the street. He was Omar Stahl, a sweet American Mennonite missionary, and he said that the Lord told him to bring someone home with him that night! So Faithy, Ruthie, Apollos and Lois went with him, and stayed and prayed there for two days. And this was all Faithy needed to give her the burden and faith for her next move, and the little team took off in their van for Italy.
On 19 March, 1972, they arrived in Italy, and spent five beautiful, peaceful days in a small town north of Genoa in a sweet Italian woman’s house, reading the Word, corresponding, and praying about the coming trip further south to Rome. Then they left for Rome, and on the way ran out of money, so they picked up two German hitchhikers who paid their tolls and meals the rest of the way.
In Rome, the small group spent the first night camped out in the back of their van at a famous piazza in the middle of the city. The next day they rendezvoused with Nathan and Syria, who became part of their team. Nathan and Syria had previously met a sweet Baptist missionary woman who was the supervisor of a small orphanage just outside of Rome, and she agreed to let the small team of six stay there.
The next weeks were spent singing and witnessing, one of the favourite spots being the “Piazza di España”, or Spanish steps, where many Italians as well as tourists and foreign hippies gathered. It was on one of these times singing there that Emanuele first saw us, and was spell-bound hearing Faithy pouring out her heart, singing “Amazing Grace,” preaching and dramatically acting out the message of her songs to the crowd! That was on April 1, 1972.
The next day, April 2, was Easter Sunday, and Rome was filled with people who’d come from around the world to see and hear the pope speak at Vatican Square. It was difficult for a little group of six to be noticed amongst so many, but the Lord showed them a way. They made tall signs bearing the message in English and Italian, “The Love of Jesus is Not Religion!—But Reality”!—And attracted quite a few people, among them the Little Sisters of Jesus, who befriended us then and with whom we later had much contact.
Emanuele immediately put Faithy and her religion to the test, inviting her and the little team to the nearby home of a communist friend of his to witness. But Faithy wasn’t intimidated by him or his critical attitude and questions, and she showed him the simplicity of the Gospel and love of Christ and what real revolution is all about, which was enough to prove to Emanuele that this was the real thing! A week later he invited them to stay with him at his big empty farm outside Florence, where they continued to witness to and win him and some of his friends by their testimonies and examples.
In September of 1972, Dad envisioned the river of God’s will flowing down in the direction of Italy as he bade Faithy farewell upon her departure to Italy for the second time in the Letter “Arrivederci Roma” (ML #180). In it, he advised us to “fellowship with them [the Catholics] in the Love of Jesus”. This new direction and added counsel of “Are We Catholics or Protestants” (ML #184) from Dad was just what was needed to reach these staunchly Catholic countries of Southern Europe, as up to this time so much of our outreach was to hippies, whereas these countries required a completely new approach.
By this time more help was recruited from England, including Chronicles, Vessel and Malachi Wind and families, who together with Jonas and later Sarah Violin, formed a little music group, “Mountain Child,” to “make the Italian Boot dance.”
In fulfillment of Dad’s vision where he saw Faithy meeting with the Pope, on October 4, 1972, accompanied by Sister Magdalene of the Little Sisters of Jesus, Faithy had a “Papal Audience” (ML #192) with Pope Paul VI! A team of Faithy, Rachel, Martha, Giddel and Ruthie, Nathan and Syria, and Emanuele accompanied the Little Sisters of Jesus to the Vatican. This was a miracle in itself, as Little Sister Madeleine had been so sick that day she wasn’t going to go, but we prayed for her and the Lord miraculously raised her up!
First, little Rachele, daughter of Nathan and Syria was blessed by the pope as he passed by. Later when he was done with his speech, Little Sister Magdalene and Faithy waited for him. He greeted them and gave each of them his hand to kiss, and Little Sister Magdalene introduced Faithy. The pope put his hand on her head and prayed almost fervently.
As he turned to go, Faith said, “Pray for the Children of God!” and he turned around and put his hand on her head again the second time! Prior to this, during the course of his speech, he had given a lengthy greeting to the Little Sisters of Jesus and the Children of God and said, “The Church sends you to be witnesses in the world ... As a sample of His love among the people!”
Contact with the Catholics was so close that when the clergy at St. Paul’s cathedral were fasting, Faithy and team gave a Bible study on Isaiah 58 to the bishop and his colleagues on the purpose of fasting.
About this time, Faithy met Mimi, a young divorcee who joined, and the Children of God turned her art gallery, close to Piazza Navona, into our first coffeehouse where the Mountain Child Band played evenings, after being out ministering daily in the streets of Rome.
Emanuele had also opened the doors to his apartment in Rome, as well as his “Bassetto” farm near Florence to additional COG members. Nathan and Syria had opened a colony down in Sicily, while Fortunatus and Tema pioneered Naples and another team occupied a farm near Torino, close to Bricherasio.
A tent camp team at the Roman beach-town of Ostia camped out all winter, where their sample of unity and sharing everything was such a testimony to the local communist town that each weekend they were besieged with interested visitors bearing food and supplies, amongst them the local leader of the communist party, who became their close friend, even helping them translate and lead visitors to Jesus.
In early 1973, Emanuele visited England along with Rachel, who was still bringing him into the Children of God, and being brought to a decision through “Bell, Book and Candle” (ML #203), Emanuele made the choice and made the transition from supporter to disciple. Rachel and Emanuele’s union was later made public as they were married in St. Paul’s cathedral on Easter Sunday, April 22, 1973, with the ceremony re-enacted by the Bishop of Rome on the Spanish Steps later that afternoon. The same spot in the centre of Rome that Emanuele had originally met the Children of God the year before, now hosted his marriage.
The wedding was filmed for TV and publicised in newspapers and magazines throughout Italy, and during the public reception, Faithy and the Mountain Child Band sang atop a van, holding up a sign stating “St. Francis lives today in the Bambini di Dio!” And indeed he must have been helping us, as director Franco Zefferelli admitted after spending a great deal of time in our colonies that we were the main inspiration behind his movie “Brother Sun, Sister Moon”!
In the early summer of ‘73 the team attended the Milano pop festival, which was organized by the communists as a propaganda machine, but which resulted in the Bambini de Dio taking over the festival and being more of an Acts 2:44 and 45 sample than the communists could have ever hoped to attain, which drew the net on many disciples.
With the new emphasis on litnessing presented at the end of the summer, all of Bassetto emptied into the streets of Florence and began to distribute the meager amounts of literature produced in Italy at that time. This got Italian publications really rolling with a full translations and publications department set up in the basement of Bassetto, with Aarone Red, Magdalena Mirth, Francesco, Ella Burn-free and other nationals translating, while Adin, Samech and Esli printed.
This newfound method of lit-in-the-language of the land inspired teams to branch out to all the major cities of Italy, where a litnessing revolution was soon underway, and shiners like Sheba Bear averaged 3,000 pieces of lit distributed per week for the entire year of 1973! A Poorboy club was later opened in Rome and wielded the scythe in reaping many souls and Catacomb members.
Teams trained in Italy soon received the call to help in other pioneer fields worldwide, many moving to the Mid East, Africa, India, and Latin America.
The pioneering of Switzerland began on April 12, 1972, when Faithy told Apollos and Lois that they should pray about where God wanted them to go from Italy. They prayed, “Lord, please show us where to go by having us meet people from that land.”—And that day at the Spanish Steps, the first receptive people they met were Swiss, one of whom received the Lord, and then met others who took them to eat and described life in Switzerland to them. And by “coincidence,” two days later the supervisor of the little orphanage where they were all staying was going to drive up to Zurich—and had room in her car for them and invited them to come along!
After a brief stopover in Italian Switzerland, they arrived in Zurich on April 17, then went straight on to Bern at the request of a chicken farmer who had met the Children of God in London. He was Walter Niederhauser, a Pentecostal preacher who brought Apollos and Lois to many church meetings to try to teach the Pentecostals how to use the power and tools of the Spirit to reach people and witness, rather than just playing with them as toys. These meetings helped them establish many good contacts and friends and reach many youth with our message. When not busy with meetings, they would go into Bern, singing and witnessing in the train station, coffeehouses, youth hangouts, etc.
But just a few weeks after their arrival in Switzerland, they were called to London for an organizational meeting, so left the dear chicken farmer, church groups and new friends behind, with a promise to return. Lois returned to Bern with a small team on June 3, and shortly afterwards received a letter from a Jesus People-type Christian in the US, telling them about a small commune in Zurich of newly saved ex-hippies who were trying to serve the Lord. Within two days, Lois, Dutch Israela and their little team arrived in Zurich and met this small Swiss “Jesus House,” and their example of wholehearted witnessing and on-the-spot soul-winning in the youth haunts of Zurich inspired their leader, Petrus Bear, to join us with his little flock! The Letter “Other Sheep” had just come out and was the exact counsel needed at that time. Both of Petrus’ parents were very well-known actors in Germany and they opened their posh house in Zurich to us for some time, from where the team met and won quite a few full-time disciples.
Soon the Lord opened a beautiful old country farm house for the Children of God’s use in the tiny town of Huttwil, which became the new disciple training center for Switzerland. Many other little teams went out to different small towns and cities of Switzerland in these early days.
French Switzerland was actually pioneered in Utrecht, Holland in 1972 at a World Council of Churches (WCC) congress, which Faithy, Hosea, and many others attended. The main lasting fruit of the Congress was an invitation from Wim Schot, a Dutch staff member of the WCC, to open a colony in Geneva (a very international city and headquarters of the WCC and several UN agencies and organizations) where he could introduce us to the WCC as a new radical religious group! Aside from his theological interest, Wim was really touched by the Spirit and particularly interested in our witnessing approach to the hippies.
After a short stay in his home in Geneva, Hosea opened our first Colony with the help of Big Josh, Apollos, French Canadian Gideon, American Jason and a few others in an old run-down building called the “Prieure”. This former hospital was on the lakefront near the center of town and was being squatted by illegal migrant workers, motorcycle “rockers”, communists, and hippies who were passing through. Quite a lively place!
So by the fall of 1972 we had two witnessing outreaches established in Geneva: the first was a more “civilised” approach at the WCC, and the second was at the “Prieure”, witnessing to the hippies and rockers.
In the beginning it was a fight for survival, as the rockers would often get drunk and come at night, banging our doors down, or try to get our sisters from the girls’ sleeping room at knifepoint! The communists were also at odds with the “rockers”, and one evening they tear-gassed the whole building, forcing us all out into the streets! They eventually calmed down after they saw the sample of our loving way of life and that we weren’t there to cause more trouble, but rather to try to help them all get it together and organize their madhouse. When they saw that we were the only organized group there, they voted that we should be responsible for the communal kitchen and cooking the meals.
So, apart from our daily witnessing to the permanent residents and the many lost hippies who were constantly passing through, we were able to offer them all three substantial nutritious meals a day, prepared with tender loving care by our head chef, Shiloh Muesli! It was a real testimony to them all to see how the Lord provided for them through donated food, and how we didn’t try to profit from it, charging only one Swiss Franc per day (50 cents). If someone didn’t have any money, they could wash the dishes or help on meal prep. Mealtime was always a very lively affair, as sometimes the bikers would ride through the dining room on their motorcycles, trying to cause trouble!
Every evening we would have a long inspiration in one of our rooms, open to all. Sometimes there would just be COG members singing at the start, but as the evening wore on, other residents would slip in one by one and join in, knowing in their hearts that this was the true love and spirit that had caused so many of them to start travelling. We would sing COG songs for hours, in several different languages so that they would all feel a part. During those months we were able to witness to many and they all knew without a doubt that we and the Lord loved then, and many were saved, thank the Lord!
Meanwhile, Imrah had replaced Ho in our outreach to the WCC and was keeping busy meeting many of their officials, explaining our work to them and being an example, as Dad had suggested in “The World Council of Churches” (ML #183). Many of them were very convicted by our presence at the Prieure and came to visit us there, seeing a living example of what they had been only preaching about: “true brotherly love, true unity and true sharing”! We won many friends there, including Rex Davis.
While the hippies, rockers and WCC were benefiting from our work at the Prieure, the city officials of Geneva were not! To them the building was an eyesore in the middle of clean, respectable Geneva, and the fact that it was flourishing as a hippie pad thanks to our organization did not improve matters any. They tried to ease us out by cutting off the water (which was foiled when an enterprising hippie found the water connection and cemented it open, permanently!), and then the electricity. But this didn’t stop us!
The climax came at 5 am on the morning of December 22, 1972, when we were awakened by police loudspeakers and the glare of floodlights surrounding the building! The police told us that we all had 15 minutes to get our possessions and come out and surrender. The police, considering us as the actual “managers” of these squatters, were not in any mood to accord us any special privileges, and hustled everyone off to police headquarters in police wagons. Then, with typical Swiss efficiency, they razed the building to the ground in a matter of hours, a very abrupt end to an exciting colony!
A local politician was behind the destruction of the Prieure and he immediately departed for an extended vacation to avoid any repercussions. Upon his return he found that his summer house in the mountains had been burned to the ground by the communists whom he had evicted.
At the police station they separated us into rooms, according to nationality, while they decided what to do with us. As most of the COG members were Canadians (about the only ones who could speak French at that time), we found ourselves all together and began a good inspiration, causing an officer to ask us to please sing more quietly, as some people down the hall thought there was a party going on!
We discovered that they were planning on fining, imprisoning, or deporting eighty hippies (including us)! The 30 of us would have been deported if it had not been for the help of a pastor-friend of a very influential church in town who pressured the authorities to let us out under the sponsorship of a woman who owned a couple of hotels in central Geneva and who guaranteed room and board for all of us. When this was arranged, we heard throughout the corridors of the police station, “All the COG can go!”
This caused a division amongst many of the hippies and rockers, some of whom had become very close to us and were considering joining the COG. They now had to make a choice, and thank God some of them made the right one, including Jacob Hopper.
This sudden eviction from our building opened up a mighty wave of publicity in all the local papers with such titles as, “COG in jail for Christmas,” etc. It created quite a scandal, especially as the Genevois are very proud of their heritage of religious toleration, so many prominent citizens and church groups offered to help us and had us come to speak to their church groups. We benefitted not only in provision, but also in protection, as the main newspaper’s editor-in-chief had fallen in love with one of our sisters, French Tirzah, and came to our aid, publishing some very favorable articles on us. This also helped all of us long-haired hippies to obtain six-month and later one-year visas, a near impossibility in Switzerland! Praise the Lord! So this seeming defeat turned out to be a much greater victory than we could have possibly imagined, taking us from “rags to riches” overnight, ending our ministry to just the hippies, who had heard the message and seen the sample, and raised up many new friends both in the administration and the clergy, who opened so many doors for us to witness.
For the first few months of 1973 we occupied an entire floor of the Hotel Pascal, eating in the restaurant along with the other hotel guests. Juliette had many reli-gious groups stay at the hotel, and she insisted that we witness to them.
A tremendous ministry of “new bottles”5 then started as we had so many catacombers come over for classes after school and on through the evening. Many of these catacombers later joined: Wim Schot’s daughter Ruthy, Mary Swiss, Julia, Christina, and Milka. The Lord miraculously supplied a temporary house in a church parish and later a beautiful five-bedroom Swiss chalet ten minutes from the centre of town which had been evacuated for eventual destruction in the renovation of a city complex, but we were allowed to “rent” it for free for a whole year through the influential aid of another supporter, Mr. Tokio. The Swiss chalet then became our sample Home for many delegations of the WCC to visit.
In April 1973, Mother Eve, Stephen, and Aaron visited from Paris. They arrived late in the evening and the next morning, Aaron was missing. After he continued missing for a day, they decided to seek the help of the police to try to find him. We went both to the Swiss and the French Police and spent the next three days across the border in France in the nearby towns to see if he’d gone out witnessing. It was at the time of Rachel and Emanuele’s wedding in Rome and many of us had hitchhiked to Rome. Upon our return, Aaron was found at the foot of the “Saleve,” a high mountain on the French border overlooking Geneva, which he had fallen from while hiking. We were all present at his burial (in a small churchyard at the bottom of the mountain) with many of our friends in attendance.
Throughout the rest of 1973 and ‘74 the colony in Geneva continued to grow and prosper, winning many new disciples and witnessing to the thousands who pass through this crossroads of Europe. After “Shiners or Shamers” came out, a printing operation started, providing some of the first French literature! Food donations were plentiful, and one of the fruit and vegetable contacts, Mr. Stuki, became a close friend of the COG; his daughters joined, and one of them married Jephthah, who had taken over the WCC witness from Imrah. Many of the catacombers grew up and joined the Children of God full-time, and are still serving the Lord on the mission field.
It was Faithy’s visit to Amsterdam in early summer 1972 that challenged Ready, his wife Prisca, and a chosen team of four other Spanish speakers to make a pioneer push into sunny Spain! Faithy said, “If you don’t hurry up and get down there, I’m going without you! The summer harvest is now, so GO!” This small team of six, ready in only two weeks time, piled into a second-hand station wagon that Dutch Ben had just purchased at the Utrecht car auction for $100 with all their luggage and camping gear and what little Spanish literature they had been able to get a hold of, and less than $100.
Travelling with Ready and Prisca were two new disciples won on the streets of Amsterdam, American Nehemiah and Venezuelan Zichri Sweet, along with married couple American Baruk and his English wife Shabua, all taking turns in getting every bit of gas and food donated along the way to their first destination—Barcelona! Having had plenty of witnessing experience by now, Nehemiah and Zichri stayed in Barcelona with their backpacks to establish contacts for living quarters, while the two married couples continued further south on the invitation of Elsa, our elderly Amsterdam supporter, who had invited them to join her for a week on the Spanish seacoast.
When united again in Barcelona, the team of six stayed in the small apartment of a helpful American professional basketball player who received God’s chil-dren for the next two months, God bless him. By this time the team had grown in number as several other disciples arrived from Amsterdam, including Mephibosheth, Ezekiel Venezuela, and American Melita Bonita.
While they were all desperately praying on their faces for the Lord to open a door for new housing, as they suddenly had to move out one morning, the phone rang with the invitation of a dear Christian woman offer-ing her beautiful home for the team to live in for the next three months! That very Sunday morning the team had sung in the English-speaking Protestant church of Barcelona and was very well received, and these American church members opened their beautiful four-bedroom, furnished home to the pioneer team. The pastor of their church invited the Children of God several other times to sing at Sunday services, as it was quite a novelty seeing these “missionary hippies” who lived totally by faith!
More newcomers arrived—American brothers Abednego and Nadab, and Belgian sister Mary Revolutionary, and these three within the same month made up the very first team into North Africa—a backpack team to Algeria! The Barcelona pioneers continued to sing in various churches and youth meetings on invitation, as well as witnessing most all the day on the main streets and in student centers of Barcelona, still getting every meal and every need donated and receiving more incoming disciples, particularly from Amsterdam and the Scandinavian fields.
In a very strategic witnessing location, the Lord supplied a small, unfurnished apartment near the port, and it was from this colony that their major daily witness reached many Spanish young people, who soon became catacomb members, as well as many favorable friends and catacomb sailors from the American Sixth Fleet, as hundreds of American sailors were docked there over the following months.
Our Spain pioneers learned soon enough that although the radical “Cataluña” region of Barcelona was more receptive and ripe for the Jesus Revolution, it was still obvious that the youth of Franco-Spain could not readily accept hippy Christians, especially when they professed no certain Catholic doctrines or practices. It was at first very difficult to win full-time national disciples because the Children of God had no religious denomination. Yet the Lord won the hearts and souls of many Spanish via our singing witness in churches and at youth groups and at schools with an ecumenical approach. Dad’s Letters “Are We Catholics or Protestants?”, “Are the Children of God a Sect?” and “Arrivederci Roma” were direct answers to prayer and the greatest help to reap the harvest in this strict Catholic field. The Little Sisters of Jesus were also friends and helpers of the Children of God at this time, and our pioneers learned to “become one,” shape up and clean up in order to win some of the fiery Spanish youth in this tremendously potential field.
Staying in close communication with other teams in South America, Spain sent several Latin nationals to help pioneer with Aminadab in South America.
First disciples won in Spain were American Gibea and Kish, and the first national disciples were Spanish sisters Jaspe, Belen, and Jerusalem, as well as several other Spanish girls, the credit going to the many single brothers who helped pioneer every major city of Spain and “woo the women,” as the brothers usually outnumbered the COG sisters three or four to one!
Music was the key to the Spanish hearts, and regardless of any denominational differences, COG songs in Spanish won all types of people, from students to hippies to Catholic priests and bishops! The team sang on radio on several occasions, as well as met the most influential priests and bishops of several major cities.
The capital city of Madrid was not fully pioneered for quite some time yet, but road teams and van teams often visited, especially reaching the many hundreds of students in the university area.
The second major witnessing outreach was located at Rota, the site of the American military base in southern Spain. The team was headed by American Epath and wife Samaria, who successfully witnessed to hundreds of lonely sailors who were very anxious to enjoy fellowship with the Children of God, Bible classes and inspiration, and also very willing, God bless them, to donate towards needs. Meanwhile the island of Ibiza in the Balearics was pioneered by, again, single brethren who had an incredible outreach in this witnessing paradise to the hundreds of searching hippies covering the islands at that time. Portugal was also pioneered by Isaias Brazil and American brother Zaccur, who won the heart of beautiful Paz, who later married English Joseph.
Southern Spain was also pioneered mostly by single brethren and road teams, including beautiful Sevilla, the home of the Gypsies’ famous “Feria de Abril” [April Festival], where Faithy visited Spain for the first time to join this mass musical witness with guitars and dancing for the Gypsy crowds and Spanish elite.
Coastal cities Alicante, Torremolinos, and surrounding areas were also especially fruitful with summer vacationers and tourists receiving plenty of Gospel through these faithful brethren. In Alicante the team actually lived in a windmill!
Sevilla served as a southern base for “Los Niños de Dios” in the Capuchino [Capuchin] Catholic monastery. Thrilled to see their youth’s response to the Lord’s music and witness, these monks opened their monastery to the Children of God for actual living quarters—boys, girls and married couples in one entire wing of their building and singing regularly in their catechism classes, youth meetings, and at every Sunday mass and leading in Scripture readings!
At a beautiful orange and olive grove farm in Alicante, Spain, the Children of God was invited to set up a center for training new disciples by two Catholic priests who owned this Catholic youth resort. The Children of God’s wave of popularity was quickly sweeping through Spain via their music and personal witness in Catholic and Protestant churches, as well as in many schools, youth groups, and major fairs and fiestas, besides the massive daily personal witnessing and litnessing in almost every major city!
On the heels of such popularity came persecution, and Franco’s Guardia Civil police began knocking at colony doors with machine guns in hand, investigating every disciple but especially interested in Spanish youth who were living in as full-time members. Almost every mailing of literature into the country was inspected. An early morning visit from a jeepload of armed police was not an uncommon occurrence, but regardless of every search and interrogation or visit to the police station for passport check, etc., no member of the team was ever detained.
Moving on to Africa: Although Morocco had been visited by Little Esther and her Scandinavian husband Valiant on one occasion, the first real pioneer team there consisted of American Zion, Gamaliel the Jew, and Comfort. They were stopped by police for a routine search within their first couple of weeks, and when Christian literature and Bibles were found in their possession, they were imprisoned. Ready and Ed Altar also made a trip to Morocco to try and locate the missing brethren, who were eventually freed after a very difficult legal struggle.
Spanish publications began to really roll when the Barcelona Children of God received an invitation from a count for the use of his vineyard outside Barcelona, and was launched with the faith, dedication and inspiration of American Baruk and Peruvian Meschech, who worked daily on translating the Letters into Spanish, with Love Dove as typist. A full darkroom and pubs centre was set up and a major push on lit distribution began, this being at the time of “Shiners or Shamers”!
This began a whole new chapter in the history of the work of Spain, as teams throughout the length and breadth of the country cut loose with the literature in the language of the land. New teams under the new shepherds Shaul and Abiah pioneered untouched territory, so eventually the whole country was reached!
Spain became the leading country in translations of Letters and pubs, as well as several years later becoming the center of the WS [World Services] worldwide publications.
Shortly after Faithy, Jonas, and the original team arrived in Europe in 1971, the first French and French-speaking disciples were won in London and Amsterdam: French Joseph, Buzi, French Canadian Gideon, French Canadian Timothy (Paul) and Taberah. Following a few months of training and pioneering in various cities, they came to Brussels to prepare for pioneering France.
In early 1972, through a church contact, a house was offered to us in Aix-en-Provence, in the south of France, which became our first French colony, headed by Tiras and French-Canadian Gideon. It was here that the first disciples won in France, American Micah and Maacah joined, shortly followed by French Tirzah Moonlight, a talented executive secretary. Shortly after, French Joseph, Jerusha, Buzi and Paul headed for Paris, where they were able to find a little base in Montgeron (a nearby suburb) in an old caravan lent to them by friendly nuns. It was there that some of the early disciples were won, such as ex-priest Meggido, Leah, French Rebecca and many others. Most had been looking for a true sample of Jesus’ love, teaching and simplicity in the church, only to find it with Jesus’ true drop-out church. And drop out they did!
In the meantime, Tiras had returned to London to recruit more personnel, and in July ‘72 he returned with an impressive “Revolution for Jesus” double-decker bus ready to launch an all-out witnessing trip to Paris. Amongst his team were English Charity, Ruhamah, and Marianne, who had joined the month before in Ireland where she had been a teacher. God bless these early pioneers who faithfully witnessed the best they could and won French disciples!
In early 1973, French Joseph was leading the work, and Joan of Arc arrived to help in this pioneering push with her beautiful singing and her on-fire witnessing, which won many to the Lord and to full-time service. After desperate prayer, as they were still lacking a permanent base, the Lord supplied a large house in Montgeron where we were able to move the translating team, which until then had been based in England.
During these early stages of pioneering, the Children of God team was faithful to witness and minister to many Catholic priests, nuns and workers, in line with Dad’s counsel in “Arrivederci Roma” and “Catholics or Protestants.” Most of them were very friendly and helpful, promoting and helping us to get established in this staunchly Catholic country.
Faithy received a dream in which the Lord showed her that the work in France would not really take off until we had a definite base inside Paris (instead of this faraway suburb). Marianne happened to have a tiny apartment in the Bastille neighborhood of Paris (the Bastille was the stronghold that the revolutionaries took over in 1789, which started the French Revolution), which became our base for many years, headquarters for the new spiritual revolution in France! It was from this time on that the work in Paris, and the rest of France, began to blossom.
While many other leaders went on to other fields, Aaron remained in Paris and developed a great love for the French and inspired the first real translating push, as well as the distribution of the Letters. Aaron worked hard to instill a love for the Word into the translators before his death in the spring of 1973.
Shortly after this, one of the main Catholic newspapers did a very favourable article on our work, publicizing our frequent singing and witnessing in front of the famous Notre Dame Cathedral. This opened many doors amongst Catholic society, and led to us being offered the use of the basement of a parish building right around the corner from Notre Dame! This new witnessing base allowed us to explode right in the heart of Paris, led by the crazy faith and fire of Faithy and French Joseph. Besides the tiny Bastille flat, all of our motley crew were living in one big basement communal room, much like the early church, and many came to see our fire burn and join our wild bunch! The clergy of Notre Dame worked with us for a number of months, helping us, and even asking French Megiddo, a former priest, to help give communion at mass one Sunday!
Shortly after Faithy returned from Rachel and Emanuele’s wedding in Rome, she heard about a weekly talk show on TV which was extremely popular at the time, viewed by about 15 million people. The theme of this one particular show was going to be the “Hippy Movement,” and various university professors and one radical hippy were invited. She saw the tremendous possibility of delivering our message, as who better than us could talk about hippies and give the true answer to their quest and heartcry? Full of faith, she walked into the TV studio and pushed French Joseph forward, who was only allowed to sing one song at the end of the show, “You Gotta Be A Baby”! But that little song and that one TV program proved to be the turning point for the work In France!
The one hippy invited (Mary Magdelene), a psychologist who had dropped out and written a book about it, blasted the old-fogey professors with a frustrated final outburst of “I could show you my ass!” At the height of this tumult, French Joseph spontaneously began singing, “You Gotta Be a Baby.” Mary Magdelene turned around and joined Joseph in his song, as she was inspired by the simplicity of the message and the radical way he had approached the subject, thus making it a tremendous testimony to millions of French people watching the show. In fact, after receiving Jesus in the ladies’ room at the TV station (just to “please those sweet freaks”!), she came to visit the Children of God the next day. Faithy’s warm love and strong faith particularly impressed her and she soon joined us for good, stopping all smoking and drugs, and becoming the subject of many articles in the press, as many could hardly believe the radical change that had taken place in her after that scandalous TV program.
A popular French singer, Jacques Monty, was one of the television audience that memorable evening. He loved the antics of Joseph and Mary and was thrilled by the simple song he heard Joseph sing! He was determined to find out more about this ex-hippy who sang with such boldness and conviction. He visited the team and our faith, sincerity and talent was something he had never seen. He decided to record and promote this new peculiar group, “Les Enfants de Dieu” and their Don Quixote-like theme song “You Gotta Be a Baby,” as he wanted to help others know of the love, faith and happiness that he had seen in the Children of God.
The first recording in the fall of ‘73 was such a funny experience, as none of those present were professional singers. Few in fact were singers at all, but everyone was there for the first recording of “You Gotta Be A Baby”—mothers, secretaries and all! This song, released as a single, became quite popular, and by the end of the year could be heard on the radio, in shops, and on jukeboxes throughout France. Radio and television engagements followed, and it dawned on us that the Lord was presenting us with a tremendous golden opportunity to reach the French. During these first months of “show-biz,” the team was living with “no certain dwelling place,” as the priests at Notre Dame had asked them to leave, as they were getting a little too controversial. One of their temporary homes was the basement of a Protestant church which was named “Holy Holes,” where everyone slept on the floor, and Big Josh slept in the bathtub they used to baptize people in! Jacques Monty was bringing all his top show-biz friends to see the team, who spent hours witnessing and singing the songs of the Spirit to them, causing many of them to break down in tears as they felt the power of His love.
The Spirit was certainly hot and heavy at this time, as we did little more than witness, litness and sing, often not knowing where we would sleep that night, like so many of the Children of God. The Lord finally provided us with an old warehouse (after coming back from witnessing one day to find that the Protestant minister had evicted us, putting all our belongings on the sidewalk!) which we called “The Stable”, and where we spent the winter of ’73-’74, sleeping on the cold cement floor with a few cots and heaters that Jacques and his partners had bought us.
Because our music seemed to be opening so many doors, other Children of God musicians and performers were brought in from various fields—Jeremiah, Nehemiah, and Windy from Amsterdam, Simon Black from Italy, Jeremy, Jamaican Tracy and Micah Bear from London, Paul Michael from the States, Mercy and Topaz for help with choreography and dancing, Michael Listen, etc. As the group grew, more heads and hands were needed to help take care of it. In January of ’74, Deborah took over, with Big Josh shepherding “The Stable.”
In the early months of ’74 the show group appeared weekly on “The Guy Lux Show,” the Ed Sullivan show of France, viewed by about 25 million people, and we became quite popular with the song “My Love is Love”, which made us a household word in France. It was quite a paradox, as we were becoming quite famous, but the 120 of us were still piled up in a freezing cold warehouse, sleeping shoulder to shoulder in one big room with only a cardboard ceiling over our heads to keep the heat in! Through mismanagement on our part and the deceitfulness of some of our supporters, the COG was not receiving much in the way of royalties, so we still had to trust the Lord for all our needs and be faithful to get out the literature. But those days were electric! Beautiful new songs and inspiration were pouring in, and it was exciting ministering to top actors and singers, and reaching all of France through TV and radio!
But this Paris Show Group was absorbing so much talent and personnel that we started to give more priority to TV and shows than to our main job, which was to use this wave of publicity to flood the country with the Wonder Working Words! We were still blobbed up together, scrounging for our living, until we really got on the attack with the lit. This helped us to reap a great harvest of new disciples and we opened a training center for them outside of Paris.
Our business associates in the record industry didn’t show much concern for our poor living conditions, so in the spring of 1974 a team of Children of God members who were “professional squatters” came from London to help us “crack” a building. We were able to squat an empty six-story office building in excellent condition, smack in the heart of the financial district of Paris! It belonged to the National Electrical Company and had been vacant for several years. The 120 of us with mommies and buggies and pots and pans were able to enter in without being noticed and were busy cleaning and setting up furniture by the time the police showed up the next day. (The guards at a large bank across the street had called the police, thinking that we were planning a heist!)
Despite many attempts to evict us, we were legally able to remain there for two years. The show group was popular with many members of the then new administration of Giscard D’Estaing, and the Interior Minister refused to sign an order to evict us. Squatting was common (and legal) in England, but no one had ever squatted a building like this in France, so they weren’t sure what to do!
For the next two years, the “Paris Building” not only supplied the accommodations we so desperately needed, but it became a busy beehive which helped us reap a tremendous harvest at the peak of our wave of popularity. It housed our recording studios, reception rooms, nursery, training center, publications department, donations department, photo and printing unit, and the only fifth-floor disco in Paris (The Poorboy Club). During this time French publications really got rolling, translating and printing hundreds of Letters for the public and new disciples.
During this time the work remained quite centralised, huge homes absorbing all the talent, so Dad’s command to decentralize was just what we needed. More and more teams started to reach the many untouched cities throughout France, and new French leaders and disciples got to flap their wings and the lit started to pour out all over France. The tremendous wave of publicity helped us establish extraordinary contacts and prepared the way for a flood of literature distribution. We were able to continue strong until the time came to move to more receptive fields. Many full-time workers were won who continued to serve Him faithfully on other fields.
- A time of united singing and praise to the Lord.
- Catacomb or catacomber: Refers to a person who is serving the Lord and would like to join, but for reasons of age or other obligations, cannot join full-time.
- 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.).
- In the early 1970s, the Children of God in various countries organized weekly meetings for the public that were styled after a disco, with music, sketches, and live performances. These meetings attracted an audience of young people. These discos were sometimes called “Poorboy Clubs” after the magazine of the same name that was distributed at the time.
- The term “new bottle” originated from a time when Jesus was eating with the publicans (tax collectors), in order to witness to them, to the horror of the Pharisees (the learned elders of the church) who were so pious that they would never have anything to do with such “sinners.” (Tax collectors were considered the worst of the worst by the Jews, since they were working for the Roman occupation and often overcharged their fellow Jews for their personal benefit.) The occasion is related in Matthew 9, and in verse 17 Jesus says, “Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.”
The bottles Jesus was referring to here were not the common glass bottles of today, but they were wineskins made from leather. When these wineskins were new, they could stretch. The bottles had to expand as the new wine that had been freshly made continued fermenting. However in time, the leather hardened and was no longer pliable and stretchable. This was fine if the wine, too, had stopped fermenting. But everybody knew that these old wineskins would no longer be able to be used for new wine, as the gas being given off in the fermenting process would cause the “old bottles” to split at the seams!
The Pharisees were the old bottles, hardened in their self-righteousness and no longer able to receive any of God’s fresh new Word and ways, but the publicans and sinners hungered for salvation and the truth and “heard Him gladly” (Mark 12:37).
The terms “old bottle” and “new bottle” came full force into the Children of God’s lexicon with the publication in 1973 of the Letters “Old Bottles” and “New Bottles.” A “New Bottle” is happy to receive the “New Wine”—the Lord’s fresh counsel through the Letters and direct revelations.