PART THREE– Israel to Bernalillo (cont.)
As I showered the next morning, the Lord spoke to me. He said, “Dave Cohen is a madman. You have to leave. He will be coming to kill you.”
I was shocked at what I heard, but I believed it. I expected he would be back within days. I told Marilyn what I received, and I knew that while we needed to act immediately, there was no cause for panic or undue haste. We took immediate measures to pack what we had, put a topper on our truck, and notify our customers that we wouldn’t be able to fulfill our moving commitments. We had a few disappointed, even angry, people.
We had already purchased a Casa Rolla 13-foot collapsible Fiberglas trailer from Brazeaus, had a hitch fitted on the truck, and our furniture was sold. I called Don Puhach, the landlord, and told him we had to leave. We cleaned the suite, completed all our business matters, and headed to Art and Doreen’s before we headed out of town.
There were still customers to notify, so we gave the Beals their numbers, asking Art to call them and let them know the unwelcome news that we couldn’t make it. Finally, we told the Beals that if they should hear from Paul or anyone else, get contact information so that we might get in touch. We weren’t prepared to give anyone information on our whereabouts.
We had told Paul about the potential trouble from his father, but he didn’t see it, even as he didn’t understand at first what I was trying to tell him at Revivim. Therefore, we decided Paul couldn’t know where we were, and we didn’t tell anyone else, lest Dave should get information from them.
I so wanted to speak to someone who might give us good counsel in such a trying time. I thought of Carroll Vance, a prophet in Calgary, Alberta, who in recent years had a True Word from the Lord on several occasions for me. Before we left our home, I called Carroll and told him what had happened. When I told him I heard the Lord tell me we were to flee, he replied, “That doesn’t witness with me because the Bible says we as believers don’t flee.” I don’t recall the specific Scriptures he was referring to. He continued, “You need to report those turkeys who think they can do anything they please and lock them up.”
Carroll was either still active or retired as a detective with the Calgary Police services and speaking from the flesh as a policeman, I gathered. In any case, I didn’t believe what he said. Right or wrong, we followed through on our plans to not report the incident to the police and decided to flee as instructed by the Word of the Lord to me.
Besides, there were saints who did flee. David had to flee several times; Jacob had to flee; Elijah fled; the prophet Elisha sent a prophet to deliver the Word of the Lord to Jehu and anoint him king of Israel. Upon fulfilling his duty, that prophet had to flee (2 Kings 9). There is a time of flight and a time of fight for many saints. Our time was to flee and we knew the Lord would work it all out… which proved to be the case. And no man or police force or army can ever begin to work out justice and recompense as can and does the Lord.
From the time I received the warning from the Lord, it took us about three days to clear out. I expected Dave, and perhaps his accomplices, to arrive at any time. Art received that we would “go out with joy” (Isaiah 55:12) – I didn’t know what he was talking about; this was anything but joy. As we were driving out of town, he followed us to the perimeter of the city in case there might be trouble. We headed west on the Trans Canada Highway, imagining all sorts of threatening evils and thinking about all that had just happened.
For the next several years, I would be looking over my shoulder, studying strangers coming near me, watching cars on the road, wondering who was at the door when a knock came, and who was calling when picking up the phone and finding only silence.
Yes, I was physically attacked and strong-armed to the ground; yes, a friend was kidnapped in our own home, and that by his parents, who pretended to be friendly. We were betrayed, my tires were slashed, a hired foreign team was used to violate us, and our lives were threatened. But we suffered little harm physically, and the event was brief.
What about those who have been raped or brutally assaulted or whose house has been broken into and vandalized? What do those suffer who have been taken captive for days, weeks, months, and even years by heartless, ignorant terrorists, and held in dark prison boxes, blindfolded, cut off from all freedoms and loved ones, almost totally isolated and even tortured mentally and physically, with the constant threat of pain and death, day and night?
If such a minor incident affects one who knows the Lord and receives consolation in Him, and who understands some of what He does and how He does it, how does a more severe incident affect those who have no hope or understanding?
I had no nightmares as a result of the incident, for which I can be very thankful, but I can imagine how many people are traumatized for the rest of their lives, both in ways they well know and ways they aren’t aware of.
It would be years of caution, suspicion, skepticism, at times anxiety, and even small bouts of fear, in varied circumstances, before a fiery event would come and cleanse and heal me of a lifetime of scars, and leave me with only benign memories of the past. By the way, Marilyn wasn’t affected so negatively. She says I’m a more intense person, which I am.
On our way out of the city, we remembered the Branhamites in Portage La Prairie, Bert and Marie Tower, of whom the Gilberts had told us, and decided to visit them.
Arriving at the Towers, I think that only their son, Brent, was home. He was about 18 and ready to drive to their denominational conference in Jeffersonville, Indiana. His parents had gone on ahead. He invited us to come. Having “no particular place to go,” we decided to accept the invitation, parked the truck and trailer under cover, and headed out with him.
Arriving in Indiana, we told the Tower family what had just happened to us. Bert urged us to speak to the leader there, someone who was supposed to be wearing William Branham’s mantle, a fellow who had been kicked in the head by a horse and left with a large scar on his face. We didn’t feel led to talk to him about the affair.
(Something we noticed in the South was that people there, compared to Canadians and Montanans, were generally heavier and more often appeared sickly, with pasty, grayish faces. Many were obese.)
The conference was week-long with several hundreds attending. The whole affair was a social one of entertainment, more than spiritual edification, one of promoting the late William Branham and themselves. One fellow on stage repeatedly, exuberantly “testified” about how good he felt. “Oh, I feel good! I really feel good!” He must have said it at least half a dozen times.
I recall each preacher trying to outdo the other. One even imitated Branham’s voice, but only when preaching. Brent Tower was going with this preacher’s daughter, and he later married her.
When we returned to Manitoba and visited with the Towers for a day or two, they tried hard to persuade us to join them. However, when questioned about their doctrines, they couldn’t answer or explain. “Well, our pastor could explain it better; you can talk to him,” they would reply. This is the reply we have had from people of several religious persuasions.
I recall one writer saying (in similar words), “If one is unable to explain what he is saying, it is better to question his understanding of it, rather than his ability to express it.”
If one cannot express or explain his or her beliefs, how can they be sincere in them? Of what value are those beliefs? If they don’t have their own oil, how do they expect to be sustained indefinitely by someone else’s? Such is not acceptable to God when it comes to Christian faith and doctrine. One need only read the Lord’s parable about the ten virgins (Matthew 25).
Before we left, we urged the Towers to consider that they were deceived. We shared many points that showed what they believed wasn’t true. We told them that, in believing lies, it couldn’t go well for them.
It occurred to me to give them a sign. I said to them, “This is the sign that you are wrong. Brent and his girlfriend won’t marry.”
(Brent was serious about the girl, but as I observed them, it seemed that he was chasing after her, and though she entertained him, it seemed she had other things on her mind. I felt that there was something necessary missing for a true marital bond and therefore expected that they wouldn’t marry.)
We left the Towers and not long after being on the road, I thought, “Why did I say that? I think I was persuaded by logic and deduction, rather than speaking by spiritual inspiration of God.” I had remembered how Isaiah prophesied something to happen and gave a sign:
“So, the Lord Himself shall give you a sign. Behold, the virgin will conceive and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His Name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14 MKJV).
I was chagrined at what I had done, and I think Marilyn also wondered why I said what I did. She wasn’t sure of it, either. We would hear more on this matter years later.
We arrived at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and found a campground. There at a concession booth, on a hot summer day, they were selling ice cream, and I wanted some. We had learned not to eat the garbage sold on the market, and ate only homemade ice cream. God had disciplined us to eat properly.
I was in shape and happy for it. I could wear boys’ size 30 jeans at 5-foot-10, a miracle in itself. I was indeed slim and trim. God’s Word was fulfilled. I remained slim and trim for close to half a year.
But that day in Swift Current, I succumbed to my desire and purchased a garbage ice cream bar. I saw the dark spiritual forces in the faces of those near me, including the lady selling me the ice cream, and they were chuckling. Imagination? Guilty conscience? Perhaps, but I don’t believe so.
As I opened the wrapper, ready to bite, I heard a stern voice say, “If you eat that ice cream bar, you will have your weight problem again.” I don’t recall God ever speaking to me in that tone before. Rationalizing, I disregarded it as my imagination, or even as the voice of the Devil because of the stern tone, and ate the bar. I was guilty, however; I knew I was guilty, and I felt the guilt. Woe, woe, woe!
Within months, I had to suffer the general defeat of intemperance with food and resulting excess weight, along with guilt, self-consciousness, and low self-esteem. God is Judge, not to be disregarded. My judgment and prison term would last many years.
“Behold then the kindness, and the severity of God; on those having fallen, severity; but on you, kindness, if you continue in the kindness. Otherwise you also will be cut off” (Romans 11:22 MKJV).
Seeing we planned to live in Alberta, to Alberta we went. We wandered from campground to campground. We came to Lethbridge and looked around, but there was nothing open to us. I was disappointed and wondered if I had been right in believing it was God’s will for us to live there.
Or was I even concerned about God’s will? Wasn’t I the one who decided we may as well go live where we preferred to live, because God wasn’t doing anything with us in Manitoba?
Remembering John Taal from Camp Caroline in 1976, and knowing he lived in Lethbridge, we called him. He came with a friend to meet us where we were staying in the KOA trailer campground. John was zealous to do what he believed to be the will of God. He came to try and do whatever he could for us. Instead of ministering to us in the Spirit, however, he did so in the flesh. He gave us money, thinking that was our need; it wasn’t.
We were a bit down and doubting, wondering if we were still in danger from the Cohens, and wondering where to go or what to do. John then tried guessing what kinds of problems we had with God. Was there sin in our lives? Was there doubt? Was there this or that or what? He didn’t know, and we didn’t know what to say. It was obvious we were under stress, and he tried to deal with it. We might still have been hunted for our lives, but we couldn’t tell John anything of those trials. Why? I don’t know.
In the following days, I considered what John had been doing and where he was coming from. I wrote a letter from wherever we were on the road. In the letter, I criticized him for guessing, instead of knowing from the Lord specifically what the issue was with us, or anyone else for that matter. I likened his approach to using a sawed-off shotgun at close range, yet unable to hit a barn door. I told him he wasn’t going by the Spirit, but making a show of being a minister of God.
I would come to question what I had done in criticizing him.
We visited the Mediwakes in Brooks, Alberta. Muriel was prospering in real estate and Merv was prospering in his work with Lakeside Feeders. Merv needed a repair or connection on his stove, so I did it for him. The interest in fixing things was developing in me, though I didn’t realize it.
We traveled to Fort Macleod and stayed at the Daisy May campground. We decided to call the Beals to see if they had heard from Paul, which they had. I don’t recall for sure if we stuck to our conviction about not letting anyone know where we were at this point, but I believe we stayed the course. Either way, we finally got in touch with one another. He was in Illinois at the time. Learning where we were, he immediately set out to join us.
Within two or three days, he arrived at our trailer about two in the morning, accompanied by the campground owner, and knocked on our door. We awoke with a start. Was it danger? Who was it?
Then we heard Paul’s voice and were overjoyed.
We were very happy to see Paul. He told us his father had hired a team in the U.S. to capture and deprogram him. Seizing him behind our home, with Dave Cohen as the driver of the getaway car (I hadn’t had a chance to see him), they immediately sped to Falcon Lake, a resort near the U.S. border where they began to work on him.
For several days, they tried to change his mind about us, constantly questioning him. Paul would quote Scripture and reason with them, and they were powerless to do anything. One fellow got angry with Paul, threw the Bible on the floor, and clutched him by the throat. Dave Cohen quickly stepped in and said to the fellow and the rest of their team, “That’s enough. You’re through!”
That night the team had a party, relieved their job was done, while the Cohens still had their “problem.” The party must have been a vexatious insult to the Cohens, who were paying for the team’s service royally, yet fruitlessly. The team took off for the States, and the Cohens returned with Paul to Winnipeg.
They came to our place at La Verendrye and found it empty. They checked next door with the landlord, who couldn’t tell them where we were, only that we had left abruptly. David was angry and frustrated.
They drove around for a while looking for us and the Beals. In his naïvety, Paul wanted to call the Beals while with his parents, not realizing the possible danger to us from his father, who intended to kill me. However, Paul couldn’t remember Art and Doreen’s last name and didn’t have their phone number. I say God withheld it from him for our sakes.
All along, Paul couldn’t believe his father was capable of what the Lord said he would do, given the opportunity, which was to kill me. But when Paul related to us how his father was angry to find us gone, I immediately recalled where David told Jonathan that King Saul’s anger would be a confirmation that he wanted to kill David. King Saul was furious when he found David missing, and nearly killed his own son, Jonathan, in his rage (see Samuel 20, especially verses 27-33). (I marvel how Paul doesn’t remember things happening this way to this day.)
The Cohens drove to the airport for their appointed flight and left Paul in Winnipeg with the rental car. Soon after, while driving around, Paul remembered the Beals’ name, called and talked with them. At that time, Art and Doreen didn’t know where we were or how to contact us.
Paul headed back to the U.S.
We decided to do some traveling together. Marilyn and I had the Casa Rolla trailer, and Paul had a tent. We traveled through parts of Montana and Alberta, visiting and talking. In looking to live in Alberta, I applied to several motels for a management position.
I was looking to motel management at a time when the economy was sluggish, imagining some sort of security in that occupation. Jobs seemed scarce, and I wasn’t trusting God to provide. I left applications on file both by letter and in person. I gave prospective employers our old St. Boniface post office address to which they could reply to us, seeing we had no fixed address and didn’t know where we would be.
I say “I,” because Marilyn wasn’t with me on motels. She simply didn’t want any part of it. Why? I don’t know, unless she instinctively or wisely knew what was involved, without ever having been involved. However, motels always held some mystique to me, and I was intent on following through, if possible.
This was a case where we weren’t in agreement, contrary to the principle we thought we had learned from Ernie Chadwick in 1976 in Caroline, Alberta.
From time to time, we went to one of Vic Graham’s meetings in Calgary, and more than once I was compelled to speak to him of things he taught that weren’t right. With Paul, we went to one of his meetings again.
Whether at this meeting or another, Vic Graham said that while our spirits and bodies would be saved, our souls would not. He likened our situation to a light bulb: The source of the light was the electricity, which he likened to the spirit. This would not perish. The bulb was the body, which the Bible testified would be resurrected from the dead. The soul was the light that existed before the bulb burned out, which wouldn’t be restored. He concluded that it was only his opinion.
Days later, after considering and searching the Scriptures, I wrote him a letter and quoted some verses to him, perhaps the following, though likely from the King James Version:
“And the Lord your God is to be loved with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5 BBE).
“And the Lord your God will give to you and to your seed a circumcision of the heart, so that, loving Him with all your heart and all your soul, you may have life” (Deuteronomy 30:6 BBE).
“For You will not let my soul be prisoned in the underworld; You will not let Your loved one see the place of death” (Psalms 16:10 BBE).
“He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. (Psalms 23:3 KJV)
“Because Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Acts 2:27 KJV).
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 KJV).
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 1:2 KJV).
I made three points:
“Where in Scripture,” I asked, “do you find substance for your opinion?”
“If you, of all people, believe in the reconciliation of all things, then, of all things, why would not the soul be reconciled to God even as the Scriptures testify?”
“A man of God isn’t permitted to preach opinions from the pulpit or anywhere else. He’s called to preach the truth and nothing but.”
We received no reply – nothing unusual.
In our travels, we arrived in Medicine Hat, Alberta, where we visited Dennis and Charmaine Holland, a peculiar couple indeed. They professed faith in Christ, had been attending Grace Gospel Church in Calgary, where Archie was attending and where John Martello was an elder. We knew that Charmaine had the Spirit. I recalled her prophesying and interpreting tongues at meetings, and sharing things of the Spirit, all of which witnessed with us. While Dennis acted quite spiritual, I was always skeptical of him. He was a strange fellow.
Charmaine was horribly deformed in body and face, cross-eyed, hare-lipped, short, and quite obese, while Dennis was somewhat of a fit and handsome man. He publicly treated her with great affection. His conduct with Charmaine, though strange, was impressive to all, it seemed.
Charmaine later confided to us that when she first laid eyes on him, she said, “Lord, I want that man for my husband.” It happened. I thought, “God has graciously given her a husband of her choice, beyond her hopes.”
While we visited with them, however, issues came up. Charmaine confided several things to us about what Dennis was like privately. She told us that he would openly court other women, even in her presence, cautioning her to behave herself and pay no attention or go into the house, as he carried on with them in their car in his driveway.
What was she to do? She needed physical care, didn’t have anyone else to do it, and thus seemed locked into a helpless situation. It appeared that he was a man without a conscience.
He informed us that he had been in prison for manslaughter (I don’t recall that it was intentional – something to do with illegal and reckless, perhaps drunken, driving – I don’t recall accurately).
Charmaine had a prophecy for me. She prophesied God would be causing me to speak, and I would ask myself, “Did I say that?” It would be words I was speaking, yet the Father would be speaking them through me. This prophecy was similar to one from Carroll Vance. Both prophecies came to be manifested continuously, but much more so in later years.
Paul and I told her that what Dennis was doing clearly demonstrated that he wasn’t a believer (believers don’t flout their spouses with open adultery), that she was a believer, that they were unequally yoked, and that she should leave him.
While the Scriptures say a believer shouldn’t put away an unbelieving spouse if the unbeliever is pleased to dwell with the believer, we couldn’t see that Dennis was so pleased. I think she believed that what we were saying was true, but couldn’t bring herself to act. Her security was an issue. I told her that the Lord was up to taking care of her in any circumstance.
Charmaine talked to Dennis, and he talked to us and to her and commanded her to publicly renounce us and send us on our way. She did. Dennis was quite satisfied with himself, like the proverbial cat having swallowed the canary. We were gone.
Frankly, as I look back, I don’t know how it could have happened any other way. I’m glad she didn’t listen to us. It seems that God provided him for her, despite his waywardness. Years later, we heard that she had major, fatal health problems. He may have taken care of her.
It was time to part with Paul again. He took a Greyhound bus to Great Falls, Montana from Medicine Hat, and we returned to Lethbridge.