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.   (Marcia)

Marcia Bonner
On thinking about these things, it has dawned on me that God can and does use anyone and anything He so chooses to accomplish His purposes. This should humble us, and should never be used as our personal "assurance" that we are in God's will and belong to Him - that is not the litmus test! He could summon stones to praise Him if He wished. St. Paul soberly pondered the scary thought that he could lead others into the kingdom and yet not enter, himself. Jesus warned that on Judgment Day there would be those who said, "But Lord, Lord, didn't we...in your name...? Sobering. Let us not be deceived!

My Mom moved me and my younger sister Donna to an upper flat in 1968, in the Cooley HS district. My 3 older siblings were on their own by then. In the fall of '69 I was starting my junior year and I was miserable - shy, depressed, lonely and longing to fit in, feeling outside of what seemed like the 'hip' inside crowd. At school there were hippie kids who suddenly stopped the drugs and were talking to everyone about Jesus. I was skeptical and outwardly critical of them, thinking it was all just another passing fad. I prided myself in the fact that I had been going to a Lutheran church with neighbor friends for a few years. But their boldness in proclaiming Jesus really got to me - how could they be so brave? In the fall of '69 a girl in one of my classes named 'Debbie' (not sure of last name, but she may have been Jewish?) told me about Mark Twain house and a couple named Ralph & Dawn and "invited" me to come, but she never really followed up - I secretly regretted the missed opportunity while outwardly I criticized the Jesus freaks. I was jealous for their zeal and their joy. In the winter of 1970 Bill Hepola was in my study hall, a year older than me, and everyday he preached in class. I asked him about Mark Twain house and learned they now met at a bigger place called Stansbury, in a church basement. On Saturday, March 7, 1970 I finally got to go; a girl from my church was supposed to come with me, but at the last minute her parents said "no" because they were afraid there would be pot smoking! I ended up feeling this strange desperation to go, even if it was by myself; I didn't drive, and talked my mom into dropping me off. I had this funny feeling all that day that my whole life was about to change. I was afraid of strangers but I thought that at least Bill would surely be there that night - well, he wasn't among the sea of faces that night. It seemed there were hundreds of people there! I was 16 and I think most of the crowd were slightly older than me. I remember Smiling Dog taught something from the bible while we all sat on the floor. I heard that Ralph and Dawn were in California. Then the meeting broke up and I thought about leaving, when 2 girls (names?) sat down with me and proceeded to ask me if I was born-again. I said, "well, I go to church." They gently explained that that was fine, but it didn't mean I knew Jesus. Then they asked me if I wanted to pray and ask Jesus to take over my life. Just like that. I was so ready, and to their surprise I think, I said, "yes!" So we prayed, then they said, "praise the Lord!" and they moved on. They said not to worry if I didn't feel any different; feelings are not faith. Everyone was leaving and I looked around for a pay phone to call my mom to pick me up. I asked a guy there where I could find a phone. It was Toe-Bob. He took one look at me and saw I was new, then he found out my story. He assured me he'd get me a ride home, but first we sat down and he read to me Ephesians 1, telling me, "this is THE TRUTH ABOUT YOU NOW." The flood gates opened, and I never looked back. Sisters Angie and Barb, along with Debbie Zuccarini drove me home. Some people I met during those few months at Stansbury included a guy named Pete whose every-other-sentence was "praise the Lord!" I met Milton there, I think. I talked a couple of times with Susie Liuzzo. I became friends with Lowell, Dwight and Jeff Gilchrist. I met Paula Bangos. I did eventually see Ralph there, but I never really felt under his influence or leadership, for some reason. Being the rather weak, impressionable girl that I was, I think I would not have lasted long under his controlling ways. I believe I was spared much. At Cooley I became friends with Freedom and used to walk the 2 miles home with her and Ed Martel; I think they were seniors. I met Tiny Tim Bob through Ed. That summer was spent in Peterson Park, where I met more people like Linda and Larry, Nikki, Rachel Bieber, an older lady with glasses and a bun named Edna, and Herb Munz, who explained to us the vision of the statue in Daniel. I got my brother Paul to come to the park, and he met Tommy Brown, and was blown away by his testimony. Both my younger sister Donna (only 13!) and Paul were saved. Later on in 1970 Jeff told me he and other guys had helped move this really cool bible teacher named Haskell Stone into a house on Gilchrist. When the weather turned cold we all moved indoors to Haskell's house for meetings. Haskell became a wonderful father figure for me, and I ate up all those teachings. I do remember the night that newlyweds Larry & Linda stopped by Haskell's, and how flabbergasted and happy Haskell was. Later I met the Martin family and Diane took me under her wing, too. I met Mary Jo Shoemaker, Harry Martin, Chuck, the Kelly clan, Amy and Betsy Martin, and Brian, Kevin and Tim. I remember Chris being so young then. I lived the summer of 1971, following h.s. graduation, with Jim and Nikki on Curtis. I met so many people then, Bill Hoffman, Joe Doucette, Bill Mamo, Matt Gannon, so many. Nikki taught me so many practical things, cooking and cleaning skills. In the fall of 1972 I moved to Gladstone, against the advice of Diane, who thought I should stay put on the NW side. It was in fact a big mistake for me in many ways. But God has this way of blessing in the midst of our stubborn and often foolish ways, and that time was no exception. Several months later I moved back home and I settled in and slowly grew up in the Lord. I met my amazing husband Bob and he used to visit Pembroke house in the summer of 1973, where I lived with Debbie Z, Mary Bean, CaRessa, Denise (Durfee) Baxter, and maybe others I can't remember. While I was at Gladstone Bob had just gotten out of the navy, and a year before discharge he had started following Jesus in California at Calvary Chapel. He met Dave Reise in line at a Michigan Sec. of State office his first day home, and that night he went with him to Haskell's.
(not the end...)