OUR HISTORY   back to main history
Some personal stories of why Jesus called us, where we came from and why most of us are still here.   (Larry)

Here's my 2 cents worth on the changing of our group's original name of "Old" to "New." I'm only speaking for myself with all due respect, I have no clue how others in our original group feel other than the few comments I read when the name changed to New.I joined a group of believers who were basically hand picked because they started coming around and following Jesus back in the late 60's to mid 70's. and we are now old folks compared to our children and grandchildren, many of us well into our 60's, and there is no shame in that. I love reading the old stories of everyone's experiences, and things that happened in that magical period of the 70's and beyond. Praise God that those in the original Old group are still following our Master and thanking Him for His mercy and grace. He is always good to us, in each decade since we began following Him. I joined the "Old" group because I have something in common with them that I don't with the newer folks. My common ground with the original Old members is that we've weathered storms, rough ones too, for over 40 years and by God's grace and mercy, still cling to Jesus for dear life. I like that common ground. I love the people in the original old group for that special reason. My request is to change the name back to what most of us joined, and for that common reason. This is the Old group in my mind, even if I see New in the title.This is really no big deal compared to all the serious and painful things happening in the world right now, but it's been on my mind and now it's out there. Let's see what others in the original group say....but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. God bless you Dave, and thank you for starting this group.

When I look back on how I came to know Jesus, I see that He broke through to me in lots of big and little events in my teenage years. And He continues to break through to me even now much in the same manner. For anyone who is curious, here is my testimony of how I came to know our Lord Jesus: I was a young hippie in the early spring of 1968 having just turned 16. A group of 10 hippies, some friends, others acquaintances (like Margaret Kruger Carey), decided to go to California in a 1953 Dodge panel truck, of which I was invited to join. I had no money, was living at home in the 10th grade at Henry Ford High, and had nothing to lose by joining the adventure. It was a wild trip, and we finally ended up in a home in The City of Industry outside of LA. After several weeks of craziness and parties, the police showed up one night on a tip that there were runaways in the home. Of course I was hauled off for being one of the 2 underage hippies, the other freak hid under a bed and wasn't found. I spent 3 days in some California Youth Home waiting and hoping my mother would send airfare to bring me back to Detroit. I was even enrolled in their school on my second day. They told me they were going to cut my hair to which I objected. My choice was cutting my hair or spending the rest of my time there in isolation. They would not tell me anything of my mother agreeing or not to sending me money to fly back home, so I knew nothing of my immediate future. I chose isolation rather then the hair cut, and I remember that first night getting on my knees, crying, and telling God that if He got me out soon, I'd do anything He wanted. I had no clue if I would be there for another day, or another month, or until I was 18. However, I woke up the next morning to the guard telling me it was time to leave, my mother had sent the money. I completely forgot my promise to God, but He sure didn't. It would be another year or so that I would be following Jesus with the other Christian hippies. I spent the summer of '68 doing what all the other hippies were doing: smoking dope, going to the Grande Ballroom or any other local concert, and just hanging out getting high and listening to music. My family moved from the Northwest side of Detroit to White Lake Township near Pontiac. I hated it there, so I would regularly hitchhike back to Detroit to see all my friends and do our normal partying. My closest friend was Joe Hamel, and some of my other hippie friends back then included many of the 10 people who I had gone to California with, Mike Webb, Kearney Fitzpatrick, Mary Jo Shoemaker, and several others who lived at a hippie home on Minock in Detroit. One day while hitchhiking back home, I was standing on M-59 at a light, my thumb out, and this young man walks up to me and begins talking to me about Jesus. I found it so crazy that this stranger would approach me and want to talk about Jesus. Having been raised a Catholic, I knew the basics of Jesus intellectually, but not at all in my heart. After several minutes of him sharing the gospel, of which nothing stands out when I look back, he asked me if I would pray with him, right there, cars whizzing by, on a busy city corner at night. I bowed my head, a little embarrassed, but went through with it anyway. You'd think I'd remember a word he prayed, or even shared, but no, I really can't. And you know, I didn't need to remember, because God used this man to plant a seed in my heart. That was another event along side my cry for help in the youth home that eventually led me to Jesus. The next memorable event on my road to Jesus came shortly before I met Linda in early 1969. I called my friend Mike Web to see what he was up to and where we could go to get high. He shocked me and told me I had to get to his house and read this book from the bible he had just read. He was very scared of the future, and told me I had to read it too in order to understand his fear. This book was Revelation. I hitchhiked to his home, sat on his bed in his room, and read the entire book. My first reaction, like Mike's, was panic and fear. Out of everything I read that day, this is what stood out and burned into my conscious: Rev 9: "The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man. During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them. The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. Their hair was like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions' teeth. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. They had tails and stings like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon." The idea that I would suffer this way because I did not have God's seal on my forehead was very fearful to me. Mike and I had no clue what to do now, and going to a traditional church was out of the question since they were filled with "straights" who certainly would never welcome hippies like us. I don't remember what we actually did to change our behavior, and to be honest, I wasn't sure exactly what behavior I had to change. I wasn't a bad person in my own estimate, swore some, smoked dope and took acid, but never hurt anyone intentionally. Remember, this was the "peace & love" period of the 60's and my crowd was pretty much in that scene. What we ended up doing was going to a religious book store on Grand River and Southfield, getting some simple catholic tracts with pictures of Jesus on them, and passing them out at love-ins and sometimes at party's. Did we know anything of the love of God, or the Cross? Not in our hearts. Speed ahead to the summer of 1969. I met Linda just before Valentines Day and we were together through this whole period. We ended up going to Peterson Park with a bunch of other hippies, just hanging out. Somehow we heard that Smiling Dog (Jim Rehberg) was having bible studies with some older dude and his wife from California. This was Ralph and Dawn. I remember Ralph being in army fatigues, and he welcomed us and anyone else who came to the Park to hear about Jesus. I remember how welcoming he was and non judgmental, in spite of our crude language at times, and some of us readily admitting that we got high on a regular basis. At that early time, Ralph did not point out any specific sins. He just taught us about Jesus from the gospel, and we really liked hearing him teach. As the weather began to get cooler, I believe it was in September that Ralph and Dawn rented the house on Mark Twain and that's where everyone began to meet instead of the park. The meetings and bible studies were an every night occurrence. I was renting a home on Birwood, about a mile or so from Mark Twain, and lived there with Joe Hamel. Joe, Linda and I would go to the Mark Twain house almost every night. I remember Joe stopped smoking dope and taking any other drugs, and so did Linda. I can vividly remember Joe and I having an argument on whether it was a sin to get high. Joe insisted it was, that we didn't need that anymore, and I disagreed, claiming it didn't hurt anyone. After several weeks of nightly meetings at Mark Twain, I remember getting there early, during the day, and was sitting at the dining room table. Ralph came up to me, and stood over me. He told me to say "Jesus is Lord" to which I did. He shouted at me, "liar!" He asked me again to say, "Jesus is Lord." I looked at him, very confused why he was calling me a liar, but replied, "Jesus is Lord." Ralph again shouted in my face, "liar!" By now I was embarrassed at him shouting at me, and I became pissed off. Ralph finally told me very sternly to get out of the house, and not come back until I repented of my sins and asked Jesus to come into me life. I stood up and stormed out the front door, mumbling under my breath that it was a pleasure to leave. I remember driving home, this very strong and powerful feeling coming over me that I had never felt before, like being exposed and found guilty of a crime you knew you committed. I went into my house and fell down on my knees at my bedside, crying like a baby, pleading with God to forgive my sins and asking Jesus to come into my life. It was at that moment that I realized that I was truly a sinner in need of forgiveness. The Holy Spirit came into my heart that very day and I was born again. Incidentally, at that time, my sins were smoking dope and stealing albums from the place I worked, thinking these were the big ones. Jesus, in His mercy and grace, took His time showing me that those two sins were just the tip of the iceberg in my life. He is still being merciful to me to this day, some 46 years later, by not overwhelming me with my utter sinfulness. While I was at home sobbing and begging Jesus to forgive me and come into my life, Linda went to the Mark Twain house and Ralph told her she wasn't to see me anymore. Linda wasn't sure about this restriction, but held her objection until she could talk to me. It wasn't long before I came back to Mark Twain. I entered the house, and there was Ralph. He could see with one look that God's Spirit was in me, and quickly came to me, hugging me and praising God for my repentance. I remember it was a very joyous occurrence, and people were singing and praising God like we did anytime anyone professed Jesus as their Savior. This was my first day in God's Kingdom as His child, and I finally recognized that His seal was on my forehead (praise God, no scorpions stinging me for 5 months in my future). As a side note, I know there are some very sad stories of things done in the past to others that have brought great harm. It is my hope and prayer that repentance will occur where appropriate. In the end, I praise God for how He used Ralph to bring me to my knees and help me come to know Jesus.

Here's the true robe story as far as I can remember. We were all living at the Stansbury House, which included the married couples, Ralph & Dawn, Jim & Nikki, and Steve & Jan. Then there were all the single people including Milton, Dwight, Char, Margaret, Lee, and me. I may have forgotten some, so if anyone else remembers, please share. Ralph thought it was important that the "elite spiritual warriors" (the men of Stansbury) should be set apart by wearing robes during all the evening gatherings, which were 7 days a week. It seemed weird, but like good sheep we all went along with the idea. I do remember asking Haskell what he thought of the idea, and he looked at me with a sly smile and said, "All I know is that Jesus tells us to beware of men with long robes." The night came where we were going to do a dress rehearsal with the robes that the women made. I remember us sitting at that long kitchen table, as somber as can be, all in our robes. Except Milton. He was late for the dress rehearsal. We were all sitting there, waiting, nobody saying a word, glancing at each other in our new elite robes. Then, Milton comes in. He was rummaging around the church's Christmas decorations and adorned himself like a shepherd. He had a staff, hood with a band around it, in his colorful robe. Every single person at that table burst out laughing. Leave it to Milton to put perspective on how ridiculous we all looked, unless we were auditioning for "The Greatest Story Ever Told." That was the one and only time we ever wore those robes

My dear friend Verna reminded me of another classic Milton story for anyone who wants to hear. Way back (perfect for the "Old" group) in 1969, when we were meeting at the Mark Twain house, Ralph gave all the brothers (the heavy brothers mind you) this little book called "Soul Winning Made Easy." He expected us to practice the scripts for when we went out and made disciples. We were able to pair off as we chose, and of course Milton and I hooked up (I wonder why?). The main question we were supposed to ask our victim, err, ahh, lost soul, was "are you interested in spiritual things?" to which, according to our script, the other person practicing with us was supposed to answer "YES." The no answers were a few chapters into the book and required much more finesse to answer, all we were practicing was how to respond to the yes answer, and only the yes answer. Of course, we would have none of that. After studying our assigned chapters, Milt and I squared off, and he took the role of the soul winner and me the lost cause, pardon me, lost soul. Milton: "Excuse me sir, are you interested in spiritual things?" Me: "No I'm not." Milton: "Well then, have fun in the Lake of Fire." Needless to say, the Lord added to our numbers daily back then, and it was all IN SPITE OF US. However, I wouldn't give up those early days and the lessons we learned for anything, because, in spite of our foolishness and immaturity, God was doing a great work in Detroit, an incredible outpouring of His Spirit over that city. I'll add bits and pieces to the Old site or the NWF site of that journey from time to time. Not all of it was foolish, unless of course it was Milton and I doing something together. Oh wait, and Dwight JUST FOR FUN

(not the end...)