Hitting the road

From Miami, they launched out on the road in a mobile home with all four children, in full-time radio and television work. As they travelled, they taught the children the Word and witnessing, and had them continue their studies through correspondence rather than sending them back to public school.

Deborah, their eldest, was soon married to Jethro, a young witnessing Christian from Florida Bible College, who accompanied them on their travels. Later the two of them returned to Miami to continue their studies there until the summer of 1964, when they rejoined the family in New York with new baby Joy Jane, to help man their witnessing exhibit at the World’s Fair, then journeyed on to Los Angeles, where Jethro became the manager of Fred Jordan’s Church in the Home office there.

The three other children, Aaron, Ho and Faith, continued to travel with Mom and David until they set up headquarters on the ranch in Texas. Fred needed someone to be the custodian of the former Soul Clinic missionary training school, so he offered it to them. There Aaron and Faith attended a little country school superintended by a good Christian pastor who had not allowed God and the Bible to be removed from his school, and where Aaron and Faith graduated the coming May.

But by April 1966, David had been laid off his job, which he precipitated by writing a letter of ultimatum to Fred: “Go color [in your TV broadcasts] today, or you’ll be the forgotten man of tomorrow!” Fred had already been doing his local L.A. show in color, but didn’t want to invest in doing a nationwide color show. David had built up the nationwide audience for the show by personally visiting local stations and getting it on public service time, which he got the stations to donate free. However, on public service time, unlike his L.A. show, Fred was unable to ask for donations. Therefore Fred’s advisors didn’t value this vast network David had built up, not seeing many direct financial returns.

However, David always saw it as a real ministry in reaching people with the Gospel. He also knew that over half of Fred’s mailing list, from which he received donations for his various mission projects was a result of the nationwide program, even though donations weren’t actually solicited.

As Fred and his material-minded advisors saw it, one local show was producing half their income, and the nationwide aspect of their program just wasn’t enough of a money-making project to be worthwhile. So Fred’s reply to David’s letter was that he wasn’t going to go color, which meant that David was out of a job. Without a color show to offer, there was really nothing to promote, as television stations were accepting no new programs but color ones.

All the compensation David had ever received for his services was just barely enough to cover his family’s meager expenses, so he had no money saved up, and now had no more income. After years of faithfully serving the Lord the best he knew how, it seemed he was completely defeated.

But one night that April 1966, in the glow of a campfire under the Texas stars, as Aaron strummed his guitar and Hosea and Faith joined him to sing some of their folk Gospel songs, David was suddenly inspired. “It seemed like the hairs stood upright on the back of my neck, and I was so thrilled and the Spirit of the Lord came upon me. I saw a picture of these young folks singing out before other young folks these same songs. They were just singing that night for their own edification, more or less, enjoying a little family fellowship out under the trees around the old campfire. And yet, as I heard them it seemed as though I could see them singing before teenagers far and wide. I was thrilled! It came to me that if they could sing like this just for their own entertainment or pleasure, why couldn’t they sing like this for other teenagers? If they enjoyed it, why wouldn’t other teenagers enjoy it?”

So when they had finished singing, David popped the question to them: Would they like to do as they had done before and spend the summer out witnessing for the Lord? But this time there was a little catch. He was now without income and had made the mistake of accumulating some debts; the Lord was going to have to supply some $400.00 before they could be free to leave the ranch to serve the Lord by faith. That’s when Aaron, his oldest son, who had just sold his cattle a short time before, decided to forsake all. He had been planning on investing his money in an airplane, but he told David that he would take what he had received from the cattle and pay the bills.

The bills got paid, but because of having to wait for Aaron and Faith’s high school graduation and because of other delays, it was another three months before they were actually ready to go—and by that time they were flat broke again. Telling the Lord that he was sorry for having been so long in getting started, David said, “Lord, if You’ll just give us something to get us started, if we could just have a little money to kind of encourage our faith, something to go on, to buy the gasoline and so forth, we’ll go right now.”

At that time someone put $350.00 in his hand, someone he didn’t even know had any money. That someone was Joshua, who had been visiting them for the last few weeks. He had met Aaron and Hosea the year before when they were running a witnessing booth at the New York World’s Fair, and had accepted Aaron’s invitation to come to the ranch that summer.

Josh was a 6-foot-2-inch, 200-pound former wild man from the “jungles” of New York City, who had been a star basketball player who had been offered scholarships to several outstanding colleges. Looking for excitement and a place to blow off steam, he had accepted an invitation from explorer Fred Salazar and joined him on a couple of Amazon expeditions into areas where no “civilized” man had ever been before. The story of the expedition was reported by radio, television, and major newspapers, and Salazar later wrote a book called “The Innocent Assassins” about their harrowing experiences. Some of these near-fatal experiences made Josh start seriously thinking about God and death, which he had come close to so many times on these expeditions.

When he returned to New York, he was still living wild, driving his motorcycle into supermarkets and down the halls of an apartment building, but the reality of God kept coming back to him. One day when he was sick in bed, recovering from a kidney infection, “I got to a place where God put His hand on me. I had a vision, like a picture, of the love of God, and then a quick picture of the love of the world. That’s where I had to make my decision. I remembered a few Bible verses from my mother. I got down on my knees, and by faith I said a little prayer: ‘Lord, I need help.’ And I took another step of faith and asked the Lord to come into my life and change me. ‘If You will, I’ll do my part to live my life according to Your Word, not what priests or ministers or rabbis have to say; but according to Your Word, Lord, I’ll do my best to serve You.’ I never felt any great thrill, but I knew there was a change.”

The next day Josh walked into the shop where he worked and told everyone what had happened. Everybody mocked him and laughed at him, but that didn’t stop him; he still kept telling everyone about what had happened to him.

After being a constant witness on his job for a year, and meanwhile a faithful churchgoer, he had had enough time to give everyone on the job the complete message and to become disillusioned with the church. He had a zeal to serve the Lord with all his heart and life, but he felt the church had nothing to offer him. He felt like he might not be able to go on serving the Lord, and feared he would even slip back into his old ways.

That’s when he met Aaron and Hosea, and though he was able to spend only a few weeks with them before they left to go back to Texas that October of 1965, the impression of their constant, fruitful witness for the Lord stayed with him and encouraged him to go on witnessing. But as the months wore on, despite the fact that he had an interesting job making $250.00 a week, he felt that God had something more for him. He decided to leave his job so that he could serve God full-time. But where?

The Lord soon answered. After seven months without hearing a word from Aaron or Hosea, he got a letter from Aaron inviting him to come to the ranch in Texas. Despite opposition from his mother and other Christians whom he respected, a few days later his bags were packed and he was on a plane to meet with them in Texas. Josh arrived there about two months after the Bergs had decided to go on the road for the summer, and sat for a month under David’s teaching, but then, because they were about to launch out on the road, Josh felt that he should return to New York City.

But Mother Eve thought Josh should travel with them, and invited him to come along. David felt it was too much at first; six people living in a Dodge camper was like six people living in the same room—and they hardly knew Josh. But really, the biggest thing was that David was afraid that Josh would see that they were all just human, living in such close quarters, and become disillusioned with the whole work. Besides, Josh still wasn’t sure how he should serve the Lord—whether he should go back to his job, go to Bible college, or what. And they weren’t planning to go to New York City anyway.

By this time Fred Jordan had put out some feelers to David, indicating that maybe he would go color and maybe David could start working again in the fall, and David wanted to be back on the West Coast so that he could resume his radio and television work. They had already been in New York City for the last two years anyway, witnessing at the World’s Fair.

But as he prayed about it, David received a vision of a man rising up out of New York State and saying, “Come over and help us.” He asked the Lord, if this was a true vision, to confirm it by letting him open to the exact place in his Bible in the book of Acts where Paul had received his Macedonian vision—the man of Macedonia saying to Paul, “Come over and help us” —and he opened his Bible to the very chapter (Acts 16:9).

It was then that David rather reluctantly agreed to take Josh with them to New York. So it was that the Lord used Josh, someone that David didn’t even know had any money, to supply the funds for that first road team to begin.

Finally, on a hot day in July 1966, the first little team of six, travelling in a Dodge mobile camper and an old Rambler, set out to go witnessing for the Lord for the rest of the summer.