During these months that the team had delayed coming to California, Grandmother had continued writing them, begging them to come and help the hippies of Southern California, saying that in the little beach town where she lived there was a coffeehouse run by church people, but they just didn’t know how to reach the youth. She had wanted them to come out and teach these people how to win souls and help the youth, and now they had finally arrived.
The Teens for Christ team had already been working full-time with youth across the nation for over a year and a half. During this time they had been going to the churches at night to try to get them to go out and witness, and also to get their support and offerings. But in California they could get almost no meetings, and so were virtually flat broke, until after a month or more with Grandmother, she was actually supporting them on her small pension at 82 years of age.
Nobody wanted a pitiful little group of teenage Texans—musical amateurs—when the churches of Southern California had all the top-flight stellar celebrities of the Gospel entertainment world at their beck and call. They were nobody and no one had ever heard of them. They belonged to nothing but the Lord, carried no credentials and no denominational ties. They had bookings at one or two churches where they had been taken in just because Grandmother recommended them, and where they ministered to little handfuls of Christians.
What was even more discouraging was that they still had no fold for all the sheep they were winning to the Lord, no place where they could train them. They already had eight to ten people trying to live in Grandmother’s little three-room cottage on a back alley.
David still remembers that bleak day in 1968 after witnessing at a New Year’s Day parade, sitting there in the parking lot in the cruiser: “We were getting discouraged because the Lord had opened no place for us. But the Lord spoke and said He was preparing a place but it was not quite ready yet, and if we could just be patient and wait, He would open the door. Little did we dream that it was going to take six or seven months for that door to open, and that door would be the club in Grandmother’s own California beach hometown!”
So they waited and kept busy for the Lord, with a few little meetings which amounted to very little. But still no door! No new ministry! With finances and spirits low, they finally decided to go back East, where they had been better received, and one night in late January or early February they called a little prayer meeting to inform Grandmother of their decision.
There was no new ministry for them here; it all seemed so hopeless! And then the Lord spoke through Grandmother and said, “When you don’t know where to go, sit still! When you’re driving your car through a fog and it becomes so dense you can’t see, you don’t just keep on driving. You pull over to one side and wait; sit still until the fog lifts and you can see your way!” He also said, “Be still and know that I am God, and I will soon reveal to you what you should do—that I am even now preparing the way.” And then, “Open your Bible and I am going to show you what I am going to do!”
Immediately Ho opened his Bible, and this is the passage that the Lord gave them—the glorious prediction of their future ministry, Psalm 68, on that desolate, discouraged night in the winter of 1968: Verse 1: “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered: let them also that hate Him flee before Him.” God Himself was going to arise and defeat their enemies—the forces of Satan that had so discouraged them!
Verse 2: “As smoke is driven away, so drive them away.” God was going to drive away the clouds and the smoke that now obscured their vision, the dense fog of frustration they were in and the satanic forces that had bottled them up, and was going to deliver them and scatter the enemies’ forces.
Verses 11 and 12: “The Lord gave the Word: great was the company of those that published it. Kings of armies did flee apace.” These verses nearly scared them. They were having a hard enough time just having faith for their little family, without caring for a whole company of publishers! But David knew from these verses that the Lord was going to give them an incredibly fruitful ministry.
Verse 19: “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.” Everything they needed to build up His kingdom!
And true to God’s promises, David soon got a check in the mail for over $500.00, the most money they had seen in a long time, from an insurance company in final payment of a claim they had sent in as a result of Hurricane Donna in the Florida Keys eight years before!
However, there still didn’t seem to be an open door or new ministry—just this ugly old coffeehouse run by Teen Challenge. David went and checked it out and saw they needed help, so he asked his children to go over and see what they could do.
This was the club that Grandmother had written them about, encouraging them to come out and help with it. Her faith had brought them there, provided for them, given them a place to stay, and encouraged them with her prophecies—and then, on March 15, 1968, she died, after over 50 years of faithful service to the Lord. She was buried on a hillside overlooking the sea, next to her husband who had died just three years earlier, and their bodies now await the Resurrection.
Grandmother’s prayer had been that when it was time to go, the Lord would just take her, that she wouldn’t have a long illness, being a burden and expense with hospital bills and so forth, but that she would keep going to the last day and die “with her boots on”—which is exactly what happened. Right up to the last day, she was driving her little three-wheeled electric cart down to the beach to pass out sandwiches and Gospel tracts to the surfers and hippies.
On the last day, she got a little tired and sick, saying she kept hearing voices calling, telling her to come now, and that she wouldn’t have to go through the riots and bloodshed of the coming Great Confusion. And David later said it was probably not the Great Confusion that the Lord wanted to spare her from, but the uproar and notorious headlines that her own son was about to cause right there in her own little town of Huntington Beach, and throughout Southern California and the United States and the world.
She had gotten them out to California to work with the hippies, and then she died, as David said, “leaving us holding the bag”—and the burden of a youth work with the hippies. But it was going to be a brand-new “bag” and a brand-new day. Old church methods weren’t going to reach the hip generation—only radical ones—and the Lord had taken Grandmother because she couldn’t have stood it.
She believed in her son’s message and had even received such revolutionary prophecies for him as, “Behold, I have made thee a sharp-toothed threshing instrument which shall beat the nations as chaff and rip with violence the pillows from under the arms of them which sit at ease in Zion.” But despite that, and despite the fact that she had been pretty revolutionary in her day, at 82 it’s hard to be a fighter and a rebel, so God took her home to be with Him.
Working with radical, revolutionary youth was what the Lord had shown David his new ministry was to be. “One dark night, penniless and in despair, I walked the streets with the drugged and despairing hippies as discouraged as myself who were wandering about as sheep having no shepherd, when God suddenly spoke, ‘Art thou willing to go to these lost sheep to become shepherd of these poor, lost beggars? They need a voice to speak for them; they need a shepherd to lead them and guide them, and they need the rod of My Word to guide them to the Light!
“The Lord spoke to my heart that all they needed was His love and a good shepherd to guide them, and He asked me if I would be willing to be that shepherd. Startled and mystified by this revelation, I wondered what it could mean, as I didn’t have the faintest idea of how to go about it. I could hardly deal with their problems from personal experience, as I had never taken drugs or gone through the things they were going through; but I had been a sinner of the worst kind: a self-righteous, hypocritical, holier-than-thou, churchgoing Pharisee, a staunch, bigoted, ultraconservative fundamentalist—a Pharisee of the Pharisees!
“I felt that my generation, their fathers and mothers, with their corrupt social, economic, educational, religious and political systems, were to blame for the plight of the youth.”
There was no class more oppressed than the poor rich youth of America. Raised in the spiritual and cultural wasteland of affluent America, they had everything, yet had nothing. Their parents had left them a selfish, dog-eat-dog economy that conducted massive slaughters in nations, like Vietnam. They were forcing their children into bondage, slavery, and death for a system they did not create, but were forced to live and die for—whether they believed in it or not:
And their children hated them for it, striking out in protest against everything their parents stood for—in the way they looked, with their long hair, beards and unconventional clothes; in their philosophy by rejecting the dead religion of their parents and turning on to drugs, ancient mysticism and the spirit world, to seek the reality of the supernatural and miraculous; in their political philosophy, by nationwide demonstrations on campuses and in the capital, protesting the wars of their government, refusing to give any more living sacrifices of human blood; they were forsaking the rat race and returning to the ancient patterns of cooperative, socialistic, communal living of their forefathers.
All the church of the day had to offer these rebels, after Jesus, was going to church on Sunday. And some religious leaders had little faith that they’d take that, and little desire to see them in their churches. Church leaders wanted to save them from their rebellion against a system that had rebelled against God. They didn’t want barefoot, long-haired rebels, like Jesus and His disciples had been, but rather System-addict zombies—and the kids would have none of it!
They didn’t want hayrides and church “socials”; they wanted reality. If they were going to take Jesus, it was going to have to be the Jesus of the Bible, the radical Son of God who stood for the truth against the whole world. They wanted revolution, and the Lord had called David and his little family to give them a radical Jesus!
It had taken David 49 years to find his life’s work, and there in California, in 1968, he finally found it among the dropped-out, disillusioned youth of America. The Lord had “opened a door that no man could close” (Revelation 3:8), and David plugged into their circuits, and like an electric current that had suddenly found its ground, they both began to turn on to the electrifying Spirit of God!
But like most things, it began quite small—with David’s encouragement to his children to go over and help the small Teen Challenge Light Club, who were trying to reach the hippies with two church-like services every week, and having absolutely no success.
With the Light Club just 150 feet from the beach, on the main street of this surfing capital, there were plenty of young people around. The problem was that the people running the club were unwilling to adopt the dress, language, customs and way of thinking of the people they were trying to reach. When David and his team first came to Huntington Beach they couldn’t have reached the kids either, with their appearance. David saw that if they were ever going to reach this type of youth, they were going to have to become hippies too. So they began to let their hair and beards grow, to frequent the youth hangouts around the beach, and went to the Light Club with the idea of opening a club for hippies—and it worked!
They began packing in the “freaks” during the other five days when Teen Challenge wasn’t holding its church meetings—feeding them physically and spiritually. As they became more actively involved at the club, they offered to help with the utility bills, and finally offered to pay the rent and take over the whole operation. In July of 1968, Teen Challenge turned the club over to Teens for Christ completely.
Although David’s children had never been involved with the drugs and vice that were big business even on the high school and junior high level in Southern California, his teenaged rebels were freaks of the natural, revolutionary doctrine of simple early church Christianity. They fit right in with the kids’ attitude of rebellion against the religious, educational and commercial system, and the Lord used them to turn the kids on to the idealism of a revolution of love, peace, truth, and beauty, and the reality of godly tribalism in their collective commune under the personal guidance of Jesus Himself, through the personal power of the Holy Spirit.
The full-time disciples began to pour in, as diverse and radical as anything David had ever seen: Shadrach was an ex-marine who had been critically wounded in Vietnam and left in a trench with sticks supporting his head to keep it out of the water until he was rescued. It was experiences like this that radicalized him and turned him into a System-hating, dope-smoking, acid-head freak, until the Children of God won him to the Lord and channeled his hate for the system into a useful cause, and within three weeks David made him manager of the club.
Abner had been student-body president of his high school, a leader in sports and academics until 1965, when he began getting involved in protests against the Vietnam War, refusing to salute the flag because he felt it was a travesty. While a student at Antioch College, he was beaten up during a Vietnam protest in Cincinnati, Ohio, suffered a concussion, and was thrown in jail. In the fall of 1968, he left Antioch and set up a draft counseling center to open people’s minds to what a hell of a system they lived in. From there, he went to Los Angeles to find a job, and one night in October 1968, he walked into the Light Club in Huntington Beach. When he saw the love and unity there, and that they were even more revolutionary than he was, he became interested. For three hours they showed him Bible prophecies of the past and near future, and finally, at 12:30 that night, he decided that maybe Jesus was for real and to try it himself. And then something really radical happened: Jesus came into Abner’s life, and he decided to join God’s revolution.
Ruth had left her sheltered childhood on the deserts of Arizona for the glitter of California, where she began her dancing, modeling, and singing career in Hollywood. Then it was on to a dancing contract in Las Vegas, and eventually high-fashion modeling in New York, where she appeared in top national magazines such as “Life”, “Vogue”, “Bazaar”, “Mademoiselle”, “Town and Country”, and “Cosmopolitan”. Just at the peak of her new career, Timothy Leary came on the scene and introduced her to psilocybin, the magic mushroom. As one of his early experimental subjects, Leary took her to Harvard University to observe her, but she went into a sort of “orbit” for about three months, and they wrote on her records that she would never come out of it.
Then one day, after many more months of hell, she called out with all her heart to God, and at that moment saw Jesus dying on the cross for her, His blood washing her clean. Yet even when she met the Teens for Christ team months later, when she was travelling around in an old bus, the spirit of fear gripped her to the point that she could hardly talk. David held her in his arms for hours, quoting her Scriptures on fear and rebuking the Devil. She was finally set free and filled with God’s Spirit, forsaking her fears for a new career serving God full-time.
Rachel, a dark-haired California beauty, looked and acted several years older than her actual 13 years when she met the Children of God in her Huntington Beach hometown. With other girls, she organized Bible studies in her school, where she was a straight-A student, and began passing out tracts and hitting the headlines as a result. Her infuriated father came to her school, hitting her and dragging her to the principal’s office in front of crowds of students, ripping off her dress in the process! Who could blame her for running away from home at 14 and later coming to find Teens for Christ on the road?
And there were dozens of others: Justin, who had surfed up and down both coasts of the U.S.; acid-freak Jesse, known as “Perma-trip” by his friends; Esther, a Kansas beauty queen and folk guitarist; Benjamin, who had never touched drugs in his life and was a dropout from pursuing a law degree, where he was making top grades; Becky, a college dropout, world traveler, and doper; Jeremiah, a teenage juvenile delinquent, kicked out of his school for witnessing after getting saved; Jonathan and Rahab, high school students and dope dealers.
These kids and many others all gave up their dope and various other trips in exchange for a real revolutionary new life—living as the early Christians had, having all things in common and sharing their possessions and goods, as in Acts 2:44 and 45.
By this time there was only David’s original little family to take care of, teach, and train all these new disciples the Lord was adding to the flock. Caleb and Lydia, now married, had gone to visit friends and family in Miami, and had stayed there for several months.
Although Josh had managed to keep out of the military for almost two years since he had been with the team, he finally submitted to the draft in order to prevent possible legal retaliation against David for his draft counsel, which could have destroyed the work at that early stage. In New York, after months of service and on his way to Germany, he phoned David and asked him to pray with him that his bad ear would act up with the infection that it was prone to, so that he could get a medical discharge. The Lord honored his faith and he was soon out, but on his way to Miami, to start a work of his own with Caleb and Lydia there.
So there was virtually no one left to take care of all these new disciples coming in except for David and his little family. But the years of training that he had invested in his children began to pay off. Even Deborah and Jethro, who had gotten somewhat bogged down working full-time in Fred Jordan’s mail ministry, began to come over and help organize the business end of the Light Club, finally going full-time for the Lord later that year. But it was Aaron’s singing, Faith’s inspiration, and Ho’s practical talents that became David’s voice to lead the way in the Revolution.