PART THREE– Israel to Bernalillo (cont.)
Paul had become a believer before he and Alison married. He told me that he had been sleeping with her before marriage, and he had asked God for a sign as to whether they should marry or not. One night, he asked that, if they were not to be married, Alison would wake in the morning facing away from him, but if they were to marry, that she would wake facing him.
“She woke facing me,” Paul said, arguing that he received a sign from God as requested, thus proving that Alison was to be his lawful wife.
In this way, Paul confirmed what I was seeing. I now began to understand the implications of what I first saw of them, when viewing the room next to ours. It became more and more evident that I would have to deliver a message to him that I didn’t want to deliver. I struggled, wondering if I was right, but I realized the Lord required it of me to speak and I would have no peace until I did.
Paul and Alison weren’t supposed to have been married. Marriage license or not, they were living in fornication as far as the Lord was concerned, and I had to break the news to them that Paul was to forsake her.
I tried to communicate subtly to him, hoping he would come to the realization on his own, but it didn’t happen. I was afraid that if this message was clearly recognized by others in the community as coming from me, my name in Revivim would be mud. Likely we would be expelled from the kibbutz, and if so, our hopes of remaining as citizens in Israel would be dashed.
As I hesitated and time passed, I knew we would have to risk the contempt of the community and forsake living in Israel, if I was to successfully deliver the message to Paul. Now the informal training of communicating I had received at Arc Industries with the mentally handicapped would bring forth some of its value. I had to make myself very clear.
“Paul, two things,” I finally said. “One, believers are not to be yoked with unbelievers. That is what the Bible says.”
I then quoted:
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship does righteousness have with lawlessness? And what partnership does light have with darkness? And what agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what part does a believer have with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-15 MKJV).
I continued, “You two weren’t married when you became a believer. You married Alison after you became a believer, which was contrary to God’s counsel.
“Two, you asked God for a sign but what does Jesus say about signs?”
I quoted Matthew 16:4:
“A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign. And there shall no sign be given to it, except the sign of the prophet Jonah. And He left them and went away.”
I continued, “You asked for a sign, but God plainly says He doesn’t give signs. So then, what of the supposed sign you received? Either it was coincidental (there is no evidence of a miracle, as with Gideon’s fleece), or the sign came from a source other than God. Satan would be glad to furnish you with a sign, and would have the license to do so, seeing you sought one against God’s will. Satan comes with all power, signs, and lying wonders.”
I provided him with:
“He will use everything that God disapproves of to deceive those who are dying, those who refuse to love the truth that would save them. That’s why God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe a lie. Then everyone who did not believe the truth, but was delighted with what God disapproves of, will be condemned” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 GW).
I said, “Paul, you need to leave Alison. She is not your wife.”
He looked at me as though he didn’t want to hear it. “I love Alison,” Paul returned.
I said, “Yes, you love her, as Solomon loved many wives he wasn’t supposed to love.”
Paul broke the news to Alison, at first not as a decision, but as a matter of discussion, still not prepared to take the step of obedience. News spread quickly through Revivim, and soon, Alison was the victim, Paul was the dupe, and I was the villain (to bystanders without knowledge, this would be understandable).
We talked with Alison. While she was dismayed and wanted to continue as Paul’s wife, she honestly declared she didn’t agree with Paul’s bearing witness to the Lord, particularly among Jews. More specifically, she reiterated her disagreement with posting the article he did in the paper on the meaning of Yom Kippur.
We took into consideration another passage in Scripture in light of these matters:
1 Corinthians 7:12-15 MKJV
(12) But to the rest I speak, not the Lord, If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is pleased to dwell with him, do not let him put her away.
(13) And the woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is pleased to dwell with her, do not let her leave him.
(14) For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; else your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.
(15) But if the unbelieving one separates, let him be separated. A brother or a sister is not in bondage in such cases, but God has called us in peace.
While Alison was pleased to dwell with Paul as a man in the world, was she pleased to dwell with him as a witness of Christ? Of which pleasing does Paul speak? More importantly, what if they weren’t supposed to have been married in the first place?
A song was given to me at this time for Paul concerning his decision.
(Click HERE to listen to “Crossroads,” or to read the lyrics.)
Paul related to us a dream he had in 1979. He writes:
“Around the time the Muslims took over the U.S. embassy in Iran, I had a dream wherein I was watching a U.S. helicopter in an Arab/Muslim country hovering over a city with its ladder descended and soldiers starting to go down it. I tried to, or wanted to, warn them not to go down as I knew it was a trap and felt great anxiety for them. But it seemed I had no way to warn them off; they were determined to enter, and did. Immediately I felt a sense of doom, because there was no easy reversal after this commitment, and I feared they were going to get the worst of it.”
Victor’s note at time of posting, in 2012: I see the Iraq invasion as the fulfillment of this dream.
One day when I was away from home, Paul dropped in and talked to Marilyn. She asked him when he was going to leave Alison. “I am going to wait and see when the time is right. Maybe the Lord will have more to show me,” he said. Marilyn replied, “You won’t be hearing from the Lord anymore.”
Paul tells us that those words greatly impacted him and that he knew what he had to do. He believed that what was spoken was from the Lord, decided to obey Him, told Alison what he had to do, and she told others.
One day, Marilyn and I took a hike into the desert. I loved the dunes, wadis, sand, stones, succulents, solitude, sun, sunset, and even the scarcity of serpents. I loved everything – as long as there wasn’t too much of it! In part because of the landscape, and in part because of the troubles brewing in the kibbutz and threats of violence from some young American Jews, I was inspired to write a poem, “The Desert.”
We lived in a literal desert in Israel, and within my soul, I could feel all the things expressed; we were in a desert in our spiritual lives, a desert through which all pilgrims on the journey to the City of God must pass.
This poem was prophetic of events that would shortly come to pass as we spoke the Word of God to Paul, whom the Lord had given us to be our friend:
The desert is dry and parched, and I am hot and thirsty;
We two have been matched as partners in this stretch of our history.
The sun’s scorching face is forceful enough; from it I find no escape –
No shade, no water, no nightfall to comfort my soul in its wearisome journey.
Miles and miles of burning sand, I scarcely know where it began.
It started with greenery, then greenery and sand, and now it’s sand upon sand.
After some miles I’ve trodden and feel I can go no farther,
A trickle of water comes out of a rock, destined for that very hour.
With leanness of soul and hungering for life, not a soul for months I’ve seen,
All my possessions have slowly been lost, ‘til much lighter my journey has been.
It’s strange how the harder the trials, the sweeter the life becomes;
Easier the life filled with comforts, the more ensnared in this wild.
Many storms form on the horizon, threatening I know not what,
And only the odd one materializes to give me the wisdom I’ve sought.
With serpents threatening my life, and insects disturbing my peace,
I travel over jagged and treacherous rocks and long, from this desert, release.
Many mirages promise me life, yet they are at a distance,
But somehow I’m learning the difference between what appears to be real and what is.
I can’t tell how much longer this wilderness journey will be;
I know only this: I can’t turn back, not while I have yet to be free.
Methinks I’ve seen circling above, those wretched birds of prey,
Who hover and wait so endlessly, for their opportune day.
But I believe in the One Who has promised to keep me until the Day,
And when it comes, it’ll be by His choosing, and with Him I’ll arrive to stay.
I didn’t realize it then, but from the time the Lord spoke to me in the log cabin at the end of March 1976, to the time I spoke to Paul at the end of September 1979 was three and a half years. This specific time measure is mentioned in both Daniel and Revelation.
How did I link these two events? It was many years before I made the connection and realized the significant implications. There was no study or calculation – it was only a matter of revelation.
Revivim, being disturbed by our influence, as they perceived it, immediately assigned Marvin, an American Jew, to do some sleuthing to gather evidence and analyze our activities. He didn’t once come to speak to us or to Paul, though he spoke to many others.
The leaders decided that I was proselytizing – converting Jews to Christianity – something they abhorred. Within days, they arranged for a hearing to determine what they would do with us. While it’s true I had talked to others about the Lord, even as Paul had, I didn’t proselytize Paul – he had become a Christian the year before. This didn’t matter to them.
There were a few young American Jewish men, Matt and Baruch (two troubled and potentially violent boys), and two others, who threatened to take matters into their own hands and do us violence to force us out of Revivim, all because of my message to Paul.
Meanwhile, Barry, a supervisor, arranged for the director of the ulpan program for Israel to come from Tel Aviv and preside at a hearing two days hence. We had previously met him and received his approval to come to the ulpan in Revivim. I liked him.
The hearing had a foregone conclusion. By then I was realizing that we had come to Israel, not to live, but to speak to Paul. Our job was done.
They gave us three days to leave Revivim. Marilyn came to tears, and Barry was very happy to see this happen to us. It seemed he was quite bitter toward Gentiles and nominal Christians. When we graciously accepted their decision, saying we understood their feelings and position, his countenance fell; our reaction seemed to rob him of satisfaction.
We advised Paul that he needed to obey the Lord without delay, though we didn’t expect him to leave with us. We decided to go back to Hotel Nes Ziona in Tel Aviv and told Paul where we could meet, warning him not to tell anyone where we were or to allow himself to be followed. We then took the next vehicle out of Revivim, two days before the deadline to leave.
Some volunteers were in awe over what was happening and remarked that they felt judgment coming to Revivim for what they had done to us.
There was another Gentile from the U.S., David, who had been a prominent and responsible volunteer at Revivim, though not in the ulpan. He was also editor of the kibbutz paper, in which Paul’s letter and my poem, “The Desert,” were published. We heard later that he publicly questioned the justice of our expulsion and wondered how it was that Jews could practice such intolerance, given the history of their victimization in like manner. They had granted us no rights or benefit of doubt as defendants.
We decided to go back to Moshav Habonim to let our friends know that we were expelled from Revivim and that we wouldn’t be returning to Habonim. It seemed that the news had gone ahead of us, though there was nothing mentioned – nobody seemed willing to talk about it. The atmosphere was unsettling, and I realized there was nothing I could do about it, given the circumstances.
At Habonim, Artur had befriended us, and now he was hurt. He walked away, thinking we had been proselytizing, and that, in an underhanded way. He seemed to feel betrayed. I knew there was nothing we could do but pay the price of ignominy. I hoped that some day in the future, Artur would understand and recognize me as a friend (now 32 years later, it hasn’t happened, not that I expected it would). We left, sadly, with hopes dashed, yet relieved it was over, and headed for Tel Aviv.
Notwithstanding the sadness, I was petty, resentful, and stubborn. When we had first arrived at Habonim, being judged to be wimps, they put us to work the first day, though Marilyn was still ill and we had to clean our filthy living quarters before we began work elsewhere. When later volunteers came, we discovered the policy of Habonim was to acclimatize newcomers, giving them a day of leisurely introduction and touring.
There was a daily allowance paid to all volunteers, which, adding insult to injury, we didn’t get for the first day we worked because we weren’t supposed to be working! While the allowance was a pittance, I told Mr. Hooker, the bookkeeper, that I wanted it for both my wife and me. While he was willing to pay, he gently chided me, saying that the idea of volunteering was to participate in, and contribute to, the kibbutz way of life. I ignored his counsel and took the money. I wish I hadn’t done it. I see no good purpose having been served.
Back in Tel Aviv, we sat in front of the Nes Ziona, wondering if Paul would soon obey and meet us. A day or two later, there he was, coming down the sidewalk. As he approached, I saw a man as though cut in half. Paul was spiritually crippled. He seemed like someone trying to walk out of an operating room after major surgery.
While I had compassion for him, and the sight wasn’t a pleasant one, I knew it had to be the way it was. Marilyn and I never doubted it, though such a spectacle might have caused us to exclaim, “Oh, God! What have we done?!”
Paul informed us he told Alison that he had to leave her. She was distressed and called Paul’s and her parents in America. David Cohen was on his way immediately.
Meanwhile, we planned to fly back to Winnipeg, Manitoba almost immediately. Why Winnipeg? I don’t know, except it was in my heart to go there. We could have gone anywhere; there were no compelling ties.
We visited with Paul and shared what we could with him concerning life and his spiritual walk. We took him to the Mediterranean Sea near the Sheraton at Tel Aviv and water baptized (immersed) him in the Name of Jesus Christ, praying that he would receive the Spirit. The Lord said, “Paul will receive the Spirit at a time in the future.”
We knew that people, particularly Paul’s father, would be searching for us, and decided to avoid trouble by leaving the country, but we were stopped. There was a strike involving the banks, and our money wasn’t available. We didn’t even have money to pay our hotel bill. The manager told us not to worry about it, that we could send him payment when we had the money. We appreciated that.
This gave us several more days with Paul, which we later realized he had much needed. God met that need, and He assured us that though danger threatened, we were safe.
In a few days, the strike was over; we bid our farewells and told Paul he might find us in Winnipeg. He took his plane for the States, and we were bussed to ours at the Ben Gurion Airport; however, our flight was suddenly delayed, so we went back to Tel Aviv.
They put us up at the Tel Aviv Sheraton in pleasant, comfortable rooms and provided the best buffet I have ever experienced – a wide variety and excellently prepared and presented.
That evening we shared with a Jewish couple in their fifties, who had a hard time receiving things I had to say, but couldn’t refute them (I don’t recall what they were). The next day, our flight took us to Copenhagen, Denmark, where we were put up for another night in a good hotel.
Coming off the plane, the cool October air of Denmark was invigorating, compared to the dry desert heat of Israel. We were also feeling the refreshing freedom to come and go independently, unlike the socialistic, restrictive atmosphere of a kibbutz. And we felt safer out of Israel, not threatened by people seeking to do us harm.
The next morning in Copenhagen, before our flight was to leave, we took a stroll and came by a city park that was frequented by drug addicts, dreamily, pitifully begging for handouts. The place was messy and desolate. We saw the corruption of the world, and death slowly strangling what we have called civilization.
Returning unexpectedly from Israel to Winnipeg in October of 1979, what were we to do? Where were we to go? I decided to call my old college and Amway acquaintances, Marvin and Marietta Mielke.
I recalled that they were involved in a group called “The Move of God,” or just “The Move,” started by Sam Fife, a former Southern Baptist become Charismatic. I heard they had some peculiar doctrines.
Their main unusual doctrines were that they didn’t believe in the literal, physical, historical, personal return of Jesus Christ in His own private resurrected body. They taught that Jesus Christ comes in His people, who are His Body, which not only made sense to me, but also stirred in me as a spiritual revelation.
Furthermore, they gathered to live in communities, be they large rooming houses or “end-time farms” in Canada and the U.S.
They didn’t celebrate Christmas, watch TV, or wear makeup, and paid attention to the moral aspects of hair care and clothing, among other things.
Marvin readily received us, so we grabbed a cab from the airport to their place in Elmwood. (I realize now that there was a Marvin that worked to get rid of us in Israel and now we were being received by a Marvin – I recall a similar situation with the two Gordons when I left Riverbend School to attend Dauphin Plains.)
Another couple, Harold Sibley, his wife and three or four children lived with the Mielkes. He was a former Anglican priest turned Charismatic and was consequently expelled by the Anglican Church. And there were two young bachelors, Hiram and Klaus. Marv offered us to stay in their community home until we found our own. Undoubtedly, they were hoping we would join them.