Religious Teachings Attract Some 150 Crusade Trainees

By John McCleskey, Editor, Stevenville Empire-Tribune, Texas

January 3, 1970, North America

“Today’s younger generation is now relying on drugs throughout the nation in an effort to seek true personal identity and solutions to society’s ever-mounting social, governmental and economic problems. Our delegation is assembled here to fulfill God’s teachings according to the Bible. Praise the Lord, brethren.”

These idioms were voiced Thursday afternoon by Jonathan Byrd, former Huckabay resident and spokesman for the “Children of God” assembly now residing some five miles south of the Thurber community. The site is owned by Henry Jordan of Los Angeles, founder of the Texas Soul Clinic in 1946.

Initiated in 1967 by Byrd’s parents, the Children’s working teams began traveling throughout the United States recruiting members for their movement and reorganized approximately five months ago to begin solicitations in several major cities. This tour included sessions in Washington, D. C., New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago and recently Houston before entering their Erath County confines.

Byrd noted that the retreat now has 150 members participating in the religious testimonies. Twelve tribes have been designated with each group being responsible for one specific chore such as vehicle maintenance, sewing, washing and caring for the young children.

Situated on the cliff’s peak overlooking vast countryside near Thurbur, The Children’s camp has one main classroom where Biblical sessions are conducted throughout the day, one central dining area with a capacity of 110 persons, designated male dormitories on the camp’s western [boundary], women’s dormitories to the east, one central office and housing facilities for the married couples and staff members.

The delegation’s spokesman emphasized that the establishment was not merely a summer camp or weekend resort but a full-time organization devoted to reaching individuals through the word of God. “This camp is living proof that our students are dedicated persons training to be full-time evangelists and thus serve the Lord in every aspect of life. This is not a rehabilitation program for hippies, although most of our patrons were college students at one time and have experimented with drugs in some manner.”

Some of the delegates, such as Byrd’s parents, are middle age as several preschool youngsters under seven years of age reside at the camp. Special classes have been established for these younger students with emphasis being placed on Biblical readings and scripture memorization.

The extended Biblical sessions, which proceed about 11:00 a.m. daily and continue for nearly six hours, drill these young students through lengthy studies as some five-year olds have memorized up to 30 verses of scripture and one resident even quotes 4-050 chapters of the Bible.

Each individual on the commune has visions of one day being a group leader, according to Byrd, as a tribal hierarchy has been established with each overseer having an assistant who in turn has an individual working with him. Therefore each tribe maintains a constant training program.

Questions concerning food and clothing supplies brought the ready response that “miracles still exist as in the early church. Our worldly possessions were delivered to the altar and God utilizes them for our continued care and protection.”

Children of God Assembly Residing at Texas Soul Clinic

The camp maintains one frame building for clothing storage as patrons use the commissary when their specific needs arise. Byrd added that “the general public has been extremely generous throughout our wide-spread crusades. The majority of business men are very cooperative as many farmers and grocery stores donate any extra produce which may be available.” Byrd commented on the success of his six family members during their two years of religious teachings. “We have gained 150 students in our short tenure and the projected results promise to be great as the movement progresses.

“Drugs seem to be the major problem confronting today’s young people throughout the United States and the spiritual need that drives them to these extremes is the main thing lives. It is this spiritual deprivation which causes people to use drugs for escape and then turn toward violent revolutions. These individuals are attempting to counteract this spiritual need with drugs and then revolts.

For these persons seeking some type of change, the best weapon against such activities is the teachings of God found only in the Bible. Our Country is only as strong as its young people and these individuals must find some system of witnessing to realize success.

Today’s young people have rapidly diminishing standards as God and the Bible are outlaws on the majority of college campuses. We have seen results ranging from California to Florida and know that the majority of young people are on drugs and desperately need the word of God to escape from the addicted society.