In September 1970, David and Maria, now his wife and full-time secretary, made an exploratory trip to Europe, traveling and scouting out possible locations for new COG outposts. During his tour of Europe, he had a strong impression that the youth of Europe were ripe and ready for the “Jesus Revolution.”
The first team of six members arrived in England in July 1971. With little money and not a friend in town, they launched out “by faith,” singing and witnessing to the hippies in Hyde Park and elsewhere around London. Within two weeks they had won their first European disciple. Their numbers quickly grew. Joined by reinforcements from the U.S., the team split up into small teams that spread out across the European continent—first to Amsterdam, then Germany, and Scandinavia. Singing on the streets and openly preaching a radical Gospel to the youth wherever they went, they won tens of thousands of people to Jesus, and scores joined their ranks. By the end of 1971, COG teams were making news in eight European countries.
In April 1972, David had a vivid dream that was to have a profound effect on the Children of God. In a Letter entitled “The Great Escape,” David articulated his dream, which he interpreted as God’s warning to the Children of God. He advised his followers to leave the U.S. as soon as possible to escape God’s judgments on America for its sins and rejection of God and His call for repentance. As a result, a full-scale migration of missionaries soon took place, and the message of God’s love and the Revolution for Jesus traveled to many new cities and countries outside the U.S.
The storm of God’s judgments upon the ease and luxury of these nations, particularly America, is fast approaching … God has warned us time and again, from the earliest days in 1962, when He first gave us the “Message of Jeremiah,” that His judgments were going to be soon poured out upon America, and we [the COG] should flee that country, if possible, as soon as our prophet’s job of warning them was finished, the last harvest reaped, and the storm about to break!
We’ve enjoyed such a rich harvest in North America, we have been reluctant to leave those lush lowlands and their present peace and safety to struggle through the difficulties of the long, hard climb through the passageways to other countries on higher safer ground where the going is rough, rocky and steep, and the pasturage sparse, but to which God has called us in His Great Commission to reach all the world!
We now have too many Colonies in America and not enough abroad. ... All those who speak Latin American languages should be evacuated to those countries as rapidly as possible. ... Every opening in foreign countries should be seized immediately, and at least enough personnel transferred to these to hold these forts until reinforcements are available.
“The Great Escape,” 1972
In accordance with counsel in subsequent Letters, “border bases” were established to help prepare and launch teams for distant mission fields. Soon the COG’s first colony in the Pacific was established in Tokyo, Japan, followed by one in New Zealand. With Hawaii as a jumping-off point, new colonies were soon pioneered in Australia and Southeast Asia. The first COG team arrived in India in late 1972.
A month after “The Great Escape” was written, a pioneer team of four established the first COG colony in South America, in Lima, Peru. Among the first new members to join them were nationals from Chile, Colombia, and Argentina, who soon set out to bring the message to their respective countries. By the end of 1973, COG teams had witnessed in virtually every Latin American country, establishing fruitful works in many of them, joined by scores of zealous young Latin nationals.
In all, 1971 through 1973 marked a remarkable expansion of the COG into all the world. At the end of 1970 there were only two colonies and 300 members—all in the US. By December 1973, the movement had grown to 180 colonies and 2,244 members in 23 countries on six continents. In 1972—the first full year statistical records were kept—142,503 people were personally led to receive Jesus as their Savior. The following year’s total witness1 skyrocketed, from 431 million in 1972 to just over 1 billion in 1973—mainly due to the worldwide media coverage which the movement attracted.
- “Total witness” referred to the estimated number of potential opportunities for individuals to see, read or hear the Christian message via any COG witnessing method, including through the mass media; in many cases the same people would receive more than one witness.