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.   (Ralph)


ALAN BONJOUR
I just got thru reading the many memories with R on the NWF history bio page. It conjured up a memory I had of a visit short visit to Kazoo. I remember Ralph making several attempts to convince me of some Biblical application, on which I saw differently. I was not very conversant in those days (now I know it was due to cerebral palsy). I could see that Ralph was getting pretty peeved at me for not caving in to his side of the coin. I finally told him "Ralph, you can talk circles around me, but that does not mean you can convince me." I still swear I could see the steam coming out of his ears as he grabbed onto his allwearing cap and "harumpp"ed out of the room.

JIM JT THEISEN
It's funny now, not so much when it happened. Ralph and I were downtown Kalamazoo in the Ambulance. We were on duty and the car phone went off. one of those radio jobs that cost an arm & a leg for airtime. R picks up the phone (he's driving, "hello,ok I'll call back" R looks really animated about something. He pulls in front of the Federal Building and double parks and instructs me to get behind the wheel and "STAY HERE". He runs into the building and I take the wheel. Well the lane he parked in was the Left turn only lane (Mich ave was one way.) before you can say 'don't panic" cars and trucks are blasting me with their horns, it's rush hour! I try to parallel park that long awkward Cadillac, I'm coming unglued, a big 18 wheeler blast me with his air horn. I had the wheel turned to the left to back into a parking spot, another long loud blast from the air horn and I gas it to go around the corner. BAM, right into the car next to me, I wreaked Ralph's baby!! I get out and glare at the truck driver, (it was all his fault) lol. I go inside to find Ralph and find him on a pay phone. "Ralph", he holds up one finger the wait one min sign not the other lol. "RALPH" "What? This is important I have a problem here" me--"Ralph you have a problem outside, I hit a parked car" I don't know if any of you have ever blown R's mind like this but I can still see the look on his face as it changed from irritated to shock in the wink of an eye. I almost laughed, when I think back on that moment I still smile. It's not that I enjoyed his misery but that look on his face. A contorted face like some invisible hand was twisting his face into utter shock. Needless to say it wasn't the best day at work with R, end of story.

DAWN ULMER
A rant among OLD friends: If you know me at all, you know that I don't rant at all so…that being said, here goes. You are welcome to stop reading at any time. It has saddened and sickened me greatly to read the various memories of those who were 'there' when R would chastise people in Bible studies, at churches, at youth groups. I remember the time at Biebers and maybe one or two other times. WHERE WAS I? I searched my memory files and realized last night that I WAS NOT THERE. It seems that whenever there was a confrontation, I was not 'invited'. Many times the brothers went out to the meetings, the sisters did not or only 1 or 2 of them went. I never heard the full story of what went on out there. Whenever someone would disagree with the leadership of R over the years, I was never 'invited' to sit in. I only heard the version of what happened that I was meant to know. If one disagreed? You were gone. Including ME. Looking back over that 35 years, yes THIRTY FIVE YEARS, that was the pattern. I was not 'invited' to know - even in my own household. Abuse was going on and I did not know it! THAT sickens me! How could that happen? Trust me, it did and does in some households. Some that 'look' quite godly. That CANNOT be allowed! Fast forward to NOW, the End Times (we certainly hope). According to the Word, many may be deceived, even the elect unless the days are shortened. I want to be wiser this time. I do NOT want to be deceived ever again! I want to have my eyes and ears wide open. I want to ask - Am I being deceived? What is being hidden from me so that it looks like something else? That is and will be so important in these latter days! If we are under anyone's authority in the church, in the fellowship, in marriage, MAKE SURE you know WHO the person really is who is taking authority over you. Are they to be trusted in word and deed? If not, RUN. Does their teaching or their beliefs match the WORD? If not, RUN. How do they treat people - with simple kindness or harshly, out of proportion to what is happening? If not kindness consistently, RUN. Are they even tempered? If not, RUN. Do they look good when they are on 'stage' and abusive when at home with their family? If abusive in ANY way - physically o r emotionally, RUN. How do they handle money? If they can't be trusted, RUN! There can be so MANY red flags….we may not see them because we are so trusting, not believing or wanting to believe someone could be that….arrogant, unkind, abusive, untrustworthy, full of deception.…. Yes, we must try to work things out in a scriptural way with that person but if we see the other person continue in sinful behavior, abuse, deceit, quarreling as a habit, excessive anger….RUN. May God who gave us eyes to see and ears to hear, find us faithful in being AWARE as Jesus' return draws near. Rant over.

DAWN ULMER
R was confronted 1:1. By ME. He was confronted by 2 - Samuel, hiis adult son, and me. He would NOT put himself under any 'church' authority so there was no church to take him to in order to set this right. I fault no one for not knowing what to do since he had not made himself a part of ANY fellowship. He had to be the leader, would never submit to being anything 'less'... Thus, it is where it is today. NOT gossip but we are each telling our own stories of conversion and some of what we have been taught by the Lord since. Many of us were saying only the positive about those days and R. There was a huge elephant in the living room which we weren't addressing. Now it is addressed. What happens next? Just saw the previous posts by Julian and Marcia. R was NOT a part of the NWF so how could any there be faulted? No one. R chose to be a lone ranger as he taught us NOT to be. From what I 'see', he has cut himself off. I know that Milton went to see R. He was AGAIN insulted and knows that trying is toxic so, also according to scripture, has nothing to do with an angry man. Yes, the subject has been addressed. Each of us has experienced something different. We are looking at this from all angles...and it can be healing, if we allow it to be so.

SAM MORRISON
This post deals with the uneasy topic of Ralph. Given my Mom's (Dawn Ulmer's) insightful "rant" (below), which I prefer to redefine as "imparting wisdom" smile emoticon … I felt the need to follow up with something that helped me figure out who my Mom, sister and I lived with. R was always such a mystery, so mysterious that the only explanation SEEMED to be that he was set apart by God. It wasn't until he walked out on my Mom and sister, leaving me financially responsible that I began to question who he REALLY is. That was in 2003. Fortunately, God provided crystal clear evidence. This list was absolutely instrumental in the early (and ongoing) stages of my healing from R's abuse. The mystery of R was solved the moment I read it. ALL the pieces fit. TRAITS OF A SOCIOPATH • Failure to conform to social norms • Deceitfulness and manipulation • Impulsivity: Failure to plan ahead • Irritability, aggressiveness • Reckless disregard to the safety of self or others • Consistent irresponsibility • Lack of remorse after having hurt, mistreated or stolen from another person • Glib and superficial charm that seduces others figuratively and literally. • Exhibits a kind of glow or charisma. • More spontaneous, more entertaining, more intense, somehow more complex than anyone else. • Grandiose sense of self-worth. MARRIAGE & RELATIONSHIPS • Shallowness of emotion, hollow transient nature of affectionate feelings. • No empathy or genuine interest in bonding emotionally with a mate. • Once surface charm is removed, their marriages are lifeless and one sided. • Partners are viewed as possessions, they may feel angry to lose their partner but never sad or accountable. LIFESTYLE • Their only real ambition is not to have to exert themselves. They don't want to work like everyone else. • Living on the fringes, using handouts from friends and relatives • Despite their parasitic lifestyle, they never feel irresponsible or neglectful. • For the sake of appearances, sometimes they pretend to feel embarrassed about their lifestyle. For every item on this list, my Mom and I can give countless, and often heartbreaking examples of R's patterns of abuse (mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually)… some of you know exactly what that abuse entails. As much healing that my Mom, whom I refer to as a fellow prisoner, and I have experienced these past years, it's still a struggle. For me, what were nightly nightmares have become monthly, even after 12 years! I've been able to forgive. My view of God has improved, which is miraculous given our views of God are often based on our fathers. Through the years, my Mom and I have commented that it's amazing we're sane. It's even more miraculous that we're spiritually sane. In sharing this list, I hope it resonates with some of you that knew R and still find it difficult to figure out what he is… for me, my final word about R is that he has always been a spiritual con man and false prophet.

LAWRENCE BOYLE
Dawn, let me tell you this one thing. You were NEVER lumped into the harmful things that were done back then. You were always a sweet and gentle woman who wanted good for everyone. We knew that. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt grief over those days, but please never feel guilty for any of the bad things that happened. God is good and either has or will heal all those who were harmed who come to Him. No man can take away what our true God has given us, the love and mercy of His Son Jesus.

MY COUSIN NIKKI
Sometimes we know in our hearts that something is not right...but at the time cannot put our finger on it because we are receiving mixed messages ...but the bottom line is that a persons Behavior behind closed doors , when they think no one is watching is who they are ,no more no less. Manipulation of others and a controlling spirit is unacceptable ...deceit is a terrible thing... We must listen to our gut feeling. If you smell a rat it's no doubt a rat...unfortunately sometimes it takes years for the truth to come out..we were all very young and naive ,and wanted to follow JESUS ...research is important ...if a mans ways do not match His words ...red flag ..... What you Do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say ,as the saying goes.. And be sure your sin will find you out...abuse in any form is a terrible thing..a liar is a thief and a robber ,stealing precious time out of the lives of the people he is lying to...narcissists fit this profile... You will know them by their fruit.. The fruit of the spirit is Love Joy Peace Patience Kindness Gentleness Faithfulness SELF control.NOT control over others... God is Love and He who walks with God walks in Love and God with Him...Love is kind , period...it is NEVER the deceived who should be ashamed ,but the DECEIVER ....now we know that none of us are perfect ...but those who are CONSISTANTLY off base and out of line with the fruit of the spirit raises questions to the motives of a person who CONSISTANTLY disturbs the peace and well being of others..we must question things when we feel discomfort ....Thank you for sharing Dawn..may God Bless you and give you double for your trouble,and restore unto you the years that the locust ate... It took Bravery for you to share the truth ... Your honesty will help others

MAGGIE KRUGER CAREY
In spite of Ralph's quirks, he spent his life on us ! I daresay I might be dead if they hadn't come along.

LAWRENCE BOYLE
I agree Margaret, the Lord used him to bring me to my knees.

MY COUSIN NIKKI
Have to give credit where credit is due R was a good teacher of the word



DAVID SCHULER
Ralph, with his never ending smile was a great teacher. If you didn't get "it" he would explain it. As much as we were afraid of him, we also respected him to no end. Larry and Maggie said it best...They would probably be dead were it not for Ralph. ALL of the teachers we had played an important role in bringing us to Jesus, along with all the brothers and sisters that shared our vision, and all the nay-sayers that opposed our vision. We would be lost without the wisdom of Jesus piercing through the havoc that was and is around us. That's why I'm still here..


DAVID SCHULER
Anyone remember the green van that Ralph had? He wrote some Hebrew stuff on the back. We would ride in it to go where-ever to talk to people about the Lord. Most of us (if we paid attention) would notice people staring at the van and its odd occupants and point to the "lettering" (wish i could remember what it said...anyone ?) on the back door and scowl. No wonder, we'd always go through Southfield and Oak Park. Ralph just drove, never acknowledging the constant looks we got, we just sat there and smiled. Thinking back, it was pretty creepy.

JULIAN STROH
It was Hebrew for, "Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord."

MY COUSIN NIKKI
I do not remember any of the vans LOL what I always remember is the singing and the songs that were newly created on Mark Twain I think Mike Labadie was great on the guitar and I remember the singing in bill and Marie's living room in Calif. and singing on the radio station in Glendale California the music and cooking were my fave times in California. Marie's dump cake and Mexican food. She is amazing. The walks in the mountains and picking tomatoes on the tomato farms .. Seeing the seals at the ocean in Santa Barbara .. Bill and his bees playing the bagpipes for them and Jim getting stung badly frown emoticon These are a few of my memories

DAWN ULMER
I remember the olive green step van. There must have been two green vans. OH, I think Char is talking about the Channel 7 van we brought from CA to Detroit when we first got there??? The green van I was thinking about had a couch, Samuel's port-a-crib behind that with Margaret, maybe Lucinda, John Carey? R and me headed to Boulder, CO for R teaching at the request of Gene Thomas at the university for a month. Then on to Solvang, CA where we met up with Char's group. Bill and Marie Brown deserve an entire posting all of their own so I will do that one of these days. I'm still in touch with my friend, Marie, Karen and Little Bill, Bill having gone Home a couple of years ago.

MY COUSIN NIKKI
I never feared Ralph LOL I think the experience for those who visited us at Mark Twain and the experience of the boys was different than the girls experience. That is for the book hahaha?? we may have some differences of opinion but there is a good bond that was formed between those of us who lived together. Anyone know where Marilyn Labadie is now ???

MATT GANNON
I inherited the green step van while living at the Curtis house i in turn left it there when I moved out. Jim Parte drove in after that for quite a long time.

JULIAN STROH
I think Jim Partee might still have that step van.

DAWN ULMER
The green step van. It ONLY ran from Detroit to Boulder to Calif and then back to Detroit. It NEVER ran once it hit its destination. No one could figure out the problem. It would be a treasure if Jim Partee still has it. Wow! Can you find out? Get a photo from him?

STEVE AKINS
Does anyone remember Ralph and friends had the EMS gig in Kalamazoo? Eugene and me went to K to see the saints back in the day...

DAWN ULMER
Yes, Steve Akins, I remember well! We had come to Kalamazoo in 1972, the brothers to work the streets sharing Jesus at Western Mich. Univ. We had Bible studies every night and many moved to Kalamazoo, too. Patrick and Gail Coffey, Deb and Dan Oliphant, Bourgets, Poirers, Scott Kloin. Did I forget anyone? Oh, Dan Naud, Dennis Werth.... Please speak up if you were there! Bible studies were great. Students from WMU were finding out about Jesus - Elaine Bonjour, Kathy Knight, Ena Brown., many lives were being changed. It seemed an extension of the days of God's outpouring of His Spirit in Detroit. Then R had the idea to own/run and ambulance company. He borrowed money from Bill Brown from California. We all took EMT classes - the first in the county. We bought an old hearse and turned it into an ambulance. Then we bought another. Then added a wheelchair van. We lived in a communal house and began work 24 hours a day, every day and every night. Years later, R would say that it was a mistake. The emphasis had gone from JESUS only to running the ambulance. Burnout started to happen and people who had followed us from Detroit began to get hurt. After a little over 2 years, everything fell apart. People left. We moved to Allegan. The early days of fellowship in Kazoo never was the same after that. The emphasis had gone from JESUS to Ambulance Runs for Jesus as the newspaper called it. Good intentions but not GOD's plan. Thus ended the ambulance saga. Exciting but NOT one of our shining moments!!!

LUCINDA THEISEN
Jim & I moved to Kalamazoo and Jim worked for the ambulance service. At first we lived out on the property in Allegan. I think it was Bill Browns property. I remember when I had a miscarriage and the ambulance came out and took me to the hospital. Also Dawn took care of Bekah who had never had a bottle, she was only nursed. That was quite a challenge for Dawn to feed this infant that had never had a bottle. Our stay in Kalamazoo had a very unhappy ending, we ended up moving away from the fellowship, the fellowship kind of fell apart and we fell away and went back to our old way of life which would soon be the end our our marriage. But God is amazing, because He continued to take care of us in spite of ourselves. 9 to 10 years later after I had fallen deep into the depths of alcoholism, I got sober in Arizona. Once I did the 3rd step,which is turning your will & your life over to God. (which even then I did reluctantly), Jesus was just waiting for me. He has been with me every minute of the way since then! And I have come to realize that He never left me, I just stopped hearing Him.

LAWRENCE BOYLE
Who remembers the phrase that had "root beer and oatmeal cookies" in it?

DAWN ULMER
I remember! At least, I think it was the first. Peaceful, beautiful home filled with a motley group of people who were there when we arrived for Bible study. They lived across the street from Caressa's family's home on Vinewood where we eventually moved. Bieber's home was like an oasis in the midst of the neighborhood. Yes, I remember 'root beer and oatmeal cookies'. Lawrence Boyle, can you share the context in which that was said? Seems to me that the very ones who were accused of serving root beer and oatmeal cookies are still thriving in the Lord! Just sayin'

MAGGIE KRUGER CAREY
I was there. I remember their beautiul, peaceful home. Don't remember the rootbeer and oatmeal cookies but it sounds like something we might have said in our youthful pride. I am amazed at God's ways. We humans quickly become pharasaical but God shows enduring love and patience. We thought God was moving out of the 'established' church but he went on to move in it, through it and around it. He is not confined by our notions of who he is and what he does. God continually confounds us because his ways are not our ways and his thoughts are high above our thoughts.

LAWRENCE BOYLE
I was there. I remember being shocked at Ralph's reaction to these dear souls meeting to study the bible. It was the "we're not here for root beer and oatmeal cookies, this is spiritual warfare!" rebuke that I heard a few times during that crazy period in our early walk with Jesus. The most valuable lesson I learned that night was from Dick, my first of many wonderful lessons I'd learn from that man of God. He accepted the verbal assault with no defense or argument and with great humility, although of any man I've met, he could have defended his group. I'm thankful that God had great mercy on our over zealous and prideful attitudes. God is always good, and does great work in spite of us.

Mycousin Nikki
It's unfortunate that Ralph had some issues .. funny though the man and the church building that he had issues with Dick Bieber and Messiah Lutheran church were great helpers to Ralph ...God has a sense of humor... Messiah Lutheran church because of Dick Bieber , Fed and sheltered many ?? they were a church alive to God and His leading... And I agree with Dawn it wasn't us ,it was Ralph..but Dick showed Gods love to someone who He knew was off base and out of line...and never held anything against him ... Now that is a true example of a man of God

KAREN BROWN CHRISTENSON
As for my perspective, it is very mixed, and I find myself a bit careful about what I share. Suddenly, there were about a dozen people living with my family. Time alone with my family was gone, and there was very little communication between us. I did see many good things as examples. I also was very confused, especially when R declared I had "an attitude problem", and decided I needed to be "disciplined". The hardest part for me was that I never understood what I had done to cause it. I have realized over time that his approach was inappropriate and abusive, but I was 10, didn't understand, and felt I had no one to turn to for help. God was with me through that, and has brought good out of that pain, but it hasn't been easy. My parents and I have grieved over some of the things that happened. I am thankful that my parents were a help to many, but have been extremely cautious about others staying with my family as a result of how it was for me.

DAWN ULMER
Oh, Karen. I always wondered about how you felt about it all. You are absolutely right - it was abusive to you! Someone should have stood up to R to protect you. I'm so sorry!!!! I, too, experienced and saw this happen between R and my own children and for me, too. Attitudes always needed adjusting, it seemed and that was SO damaging. I did what I could do, spoke up when I could but, looking back, I now know that I should have LEFT early on. Maybe that would have stopped the damage to so many. Of course, we were being taught that women were to be submissive and quiet. Well, I was and it severely damaged my children and me. I'm so sorry, Karen. I wish I had been older in the Lord and understood what was truly going on. So, we pick ourselves up and continue on with the Lord knowing that HE is our Savior, our Protector, our ALL! He will heal us totally!

MILTON RESH
The incident at the Bieber's was not the first or last time something of that nature happened. I remember we loaded up into the van and went to share at Military Ave. Church where a friend of Dick's was the pastor. After the evening service we went down the street to Pastor Ron Shaw's house. The youth group was there. They were playing games and Ralph called all of us and the youth group together. Ralph asked a leading question where you knew where this was going. (south) Boom! We were ordered to leave cuz these folks were not serious about Jesus. Mrs. Shaw begged and pleaded for us to stay but I think? we left in a huff.

DAWN ULMER
I remember that, Milton. SAD!!!! We each were so young in the Lord that we didn't know what to make of this so we were silent, not objecting to what we saw. It happened MANY times. The last time I remember was HERE in 2011 before R left. It was at a church camp, youth meeting. Same scenario almost word for word, 30 or so years apart. SAD!!!

(not the end...)