While David was initially doubtful about starting a ministry to the hippies, the Lord soon revealed to him that working with these radical “dropouts” was to be his new ministry. He later recounted the story:
One dark night, as I walked the streets with those poor drugged and despairing hippies, God suddenly spoke to my heart and said, “Art thou willing to go to these lost sheep to become a shepherd of these poor little beggars? They need a voice to speak for them, they need a shepherd to lead them and they need the rod of My Word to guide them to the Light!” I burst into tears and I cried out to the Lord and I said, “Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief!” And that night I promised God that I would try to lead them and do everything I could to save them and win them to the Lord and lead them into His service.
But I must confess that I was startled and mystified by this revelation and I wondered what it could mean, as I hadn’t the faintest idea of how to go about it! I really had no idea what it was leading to but I just knew that we had to somehow preach the Gospel to those hippies! They’d been churched to death and preached to death and hounded to death by the System and it hadn’t done any good, so we just had to get out there and somehow love’m back to life!
So we followed them down into their gutters and their dives and their dope-dens and their hard-rock hells and we invited them—not to come to church, not to sit in fancy pews—but just to come to Jesus and He would solve all their problems, answer all their questions, satisfy all their longings and hungers and give them something wonderful to live for—the truth of His marvelous love!
“I Will Set Up One Shepherd,” 1984
David and his radical “Teens for Christ” soon organized sit-ins and picketing at local churches that ostracized and rejected these evangelistic hippies, and at college campuses where they had been forbidden to preach the Gospel to the students. This Revolution for Jesus had divorced itself from the System and there was no turning back.
We began with an all-out attack in California in 1968, where we at last found some on-fire radicals like ourselves amongst the outcasts of society, the hippie generation, the fed-up youth of America! Our militant attacks on System-addict religion and the educational and commercial system in general with invasions, sit-ins, demonstrations, marches, picketing, beach baptisms, revolutionary shouts, wild worship, and real, red-hot, subversive, radical, Bible teaching ... really turned the kids on! The hippie generation was ready for the Jesus Revolution! Hallelujah!
“Other Sheep,” 1972
As can be expected, opposition soon followed, as the local churches and authorities tried to clamp down on these radical new Christians who believed in spiritual revolution and that you could love Jesus even if you had long hair and bare feet. Foreseeing that their ministry in Southern California had run its course, David decided it was time to hit the road. In April 1969 he and his burgeoning band, which had grown to about 50 full-time members, went to Tucson, Arizona, where a liberal-minded pastor permitted them to live communally in his church.
It was in Phoenix, at a Full Gospel Businessmen’s meeting where a team had been invited to sing and speak, that they met a pastor’s daughter, Maria, who was later to become David’s wife and successor. This church youth leader and legal secretary was so impressed with the Teens for Christ’s dedication and zeal that she immediately joined.
From Tucson they traveled across the country, first in small groups, then in a single caravan of 30 ragtag vehicles, camping out wherever they could, holding dramatic “sackcloth vigils” in many large Eastern U.S. cities. Witnessing wherever they went, their numbers continued to grow as more searching youth felt called, like Jesus’ disciples of old, to “forsake all” (Luke 14:33) and follow Him, banding together with fellow believers as did the early Christian church in the book of Acts (Acts 2:44, 45).