PART THREE– Israel to Bernalillo (cont.)
Deeper and deeper the Lord took us in Him. Now we were seeing good in evil and evil in good; that is, whereas we once thought we knew the difference, now we began to see more clearly. That which we thought was holy was otherwise, both within and without, and that which we thought was wrong wasn’t always so.
Such experience brings its own struggles and torment, but God brought us through and delivered us from evil.
On March 2nd, I received another song.
(Click HERE to listen to “Growing in Christ Jesus,” or to read the lyrics.)
A few months after the Lord spoke, we paid another visit to the Cohens. Paul picked us up at the airport. According to the Word of the Lord, I was a slim, trim 153 pounds at 5 foot 10. Paul remarked on it, having seen me flabby and as high as 167 pounds in Israel and perhaps 160 in Winnipeg.
He had remained living with his parents, but he was having various conflicts with them because of his faith in Christ. This visit wouldn’t be the same as the last one. The Cohens took us to some places for sightseeing again, but our conversations got deeper concerning spiritual realities. We spoke of the walk of faith with the Lord, and the requirement for all those who partake of that walk to forsake all, mother and father included.
At one point, while we were out for a drive, seeing that Paul was siding with us in debate, Frada burst out crying, “You’ve taken our son away from us!” Dave lost it, driving his car erratically, and uttering a string of vile outbursts, which I won’t mention here, some of which I well remember.
(Years later, he developed a painful sore on his lip that wouldn’t heal. For years he searched for a cure and found none. This I saw as a result of his foul mouth.)
They drove us home; we immediately packed our bags and headed out the door. As we were about to leave, I thought to give Paul whatever money I had, in case he wished to leave his parents’ home and live elsewhere. I beckoned with my arm to come to the door. The Cohens interpreted the gesture to be one of calling him to come with us, understandably so, though I didn’t realize it at the time.
As Paul tried to approach us, they tried to stop him. He forced his way through and because of the unexpected struggle, he decided to come with us then and there, not to continue with us on our trip so much as to identify with us and help us with our luggage.
What was happening and would happen from there was strange. Dave decided to follow us on foot while we walked to who knows where! Perhaps we were going to take a cab or a bus to the airport, but as I recall, our flight wasn’t for another day or two. We really didn’t know what we were going to do. We just walked. Dave wouldn’t leave the three of us, and Frada followed in the car.
At some point, Dave and Frada talked, and he began changing. We didn’t know it at the moment, but a strategy was forming in their minds. He became somewhat friendly, reconsidered our leaving, suggested we make amends, and invited us back. We accepted the offer (rightly or wrongly), went back, and talked more.
I tried to explain some misunderstandings but, though they were toned down, I didn’t feel I was getting anywhere. Something wasn’t right. We stayed the night or nights, and Paul drove us back to the airport, remaining behind. Back to Winnipeg we went.
Returning to Winnipeg, I wrote a letter to the Cohens – a few pages long, I believe. I recall prophetic words being spoken, some of which were meant for Frada:
“Your blood and guts will be splashed against the background of your standing.”
We realized how Frada had influenced Dave, working him up to a mad rage.
Mike Trepanier and I drove to see Len and Lillian Delafuente at their home in Winnipeg. I found Len still trying hard to be something or somebody, to be recognized as spiritually knowledgeable and worthy of holy respect. He was involved in religious works wherein he was trying to rise, yet he was bound and kept in the lower levels. There was nothing I could say or do, and we parted.
The trucking business became hectic, particularly at month’s end. Marilyn would take desperate calls and press me to try to fit others in when I had no more time open. We worked hard and fast, twice the pace for the money (since we were charging by the hour, not by the job). Was it appreciated? Not that I could ever tell.
Many of our hauls were for welfare people. I charged by the hour and they often didn’t care what they were paying. There were homes where I would have to pick the socks off the floor and butter off the table. They would do nothing for themselves. I would go to the basement and find a corner of it filled with discarded damaged items that were often nearly new – bicycles, TV sets, stereos, furniture and furnishings, games of all sorts, pictures, ornaments, knick knacks, magazines, clothing, name it – all wasted and destined for the dump.
Their diets were mainly of TV dinners, prepared foods, treats, and sweets, which were more expensive and less nutritious, usually poisonous. I would see KFC buckets, pizza boxes, beer and whiskey bottles, soft drink cans and cartons, cigarettes, prescription drugs, various pharmaceutical supplies, and many other things that one would think poor people couldn’t afford. Many times I could have taken things home to repair or sell at a garage sale, as they were, and made some good money.
Sometimes I would have to accompany my would-be clients to the welfare office, where I discovered that those on welfare had moving allowances. If they didn’t like where they lived after a month or so, they could apply for more funds to move again, for almost any reason. “The landlord isn’t very helpful,” or, “There are noisy neighbors,” or, “The plumbing doesn’t work very well.” Young social workers were gullible, and they would give the people what they requested. I never saw one refused. The system was wasteful and sick. As a taxpayer, it made me angry.
When I was a young boy, we knew a large farming family of about 8 or so that was quite poor. My mother would pity the Smylskis and give them used clothing and whatever else she could scrounge. But what did they do with their money?
At that time, there were the Gay and Dauphin movie theaters in town and the Dauphin Drive-in Theater in the country (owned by the Marshes, who also published the Dauphin Herald). Each theater in town would have a different movie, usually twice a week. We would see a movie perhaps once a year, if that, while living in the country. The Smylski family would drive ten miles to the movies, often twice a week or more. They were addicted, it seems.
Just who are the poor, and what is the best way to deal with their ignorance and incapability? I saw no effort on society’s part at education or discipline or requirement of any decent amount of responsibility. Those sorts of things were too “demeaning” or troublesome. They just gave the allegedly poor financial assistance and, for the most part, let them decide what to do with it.
Please don’t ask me to give to the poor unless I’m able to have some assurance that what I donate isn’t going to the dump or to the toilet or sending the recipients to doctors, clinics, and hospitals for “free” care because of what they are allowed to buy and use with my money.
As I was driving through the streets near Portage and Main in Winnipeg one day, there were some strikers picketing. I have driven by many picketers before and since, without saying a word or thinking much about it. I drove by these, and I had to return and speak to them. I stopped on the street, got out of the truck, and said, “What you’re doing isn’t right. There is someone here who knows that God isn’t pleased with what you’re doing.”
They all stopped and looked at me. I wasn’t sure all striking was wrong, but I felt that, in that particular situation, there was something amiss. I felt like someone there was a believer and was striking against his or her conscience, and that this particular strike was wrong.
The lead picketer, a woman, said, “OK, thank you,” in a dismissive way and they went on.
I don’t know what impact I had on anyone, but I had confidence I did have a decisive effect somehow.
My father came to Winnipeg and stayed with his brother, Uncle Fred, without calling us (we found out later that he had been in the city). Though I felt bad that he didn’t contact us, I couldn’t blame him. We did much more of that to him than he to us, so it was perfectly understandable that he would be hurt.
I saw a difference though. While I was called of God to forsake my parents, he wasn’t called to forsake us. And we weren’t ignoring or ostracizing him in the usual way of the world, or bearing any negative emotion or motive, as he was with us.
The day would come, however, when I would learn how much a father cares for his son, much more, it seems, than most sons care for their fathers.
Paul’s greatest weakness, that I could tell, was women. He was ever looking for a marital companion. There was Alison to begin with, to whom he briefly returned more than once. Then Caren Lampitoc in Huntingdon Valley, then another Alison in Albuquerque, with whom he tried his wedding ring.
Then there was Karen, a waitress or hostess at a restaurant in Vermont. In this particular case, he wrote saying he heard God say to him, “I will magnify you in her sight.” I told him it wasn’t God Who spoke to him, but his own vain imagination. I was so disgusted with him.
I was dismayed at his delusions. He was fantasizing about several women, not sexually so much as matrimonially. I came to the conclusion he had spiritually given himself over to the bondage of wanting a woman ever since he took Alison in marriage against the Lord’s will. I constantly had to tell him he had no business being married to anyone until the Lord said otherwise, and He wasn’t saying.
Around this time, I came to realize that there were only two churches on earth, the True One and the false one. It was revealed to me that church history, as studied in Bible schools, colleges, seminaries, and universities, is about the false church, not the True. The True is hidden to, and from, the world; the false has persecuted the True; the True is counted as heretical; and it is the false one that writes the history of what has happened.
What we read in church history concerning the saints is how the false church persecuted and martyred them as heretics.
The greatest component of the false church is, of course, the “Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Church.” Record will bear witness to the fact that it is certainly Roman and universal (the meaning of “catholic”), but it is anything but holy, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the apostles of Jesus Christ. Rome’s daughters are quite the same, those being what Rome calls “Protestant.”
I don’t recall whether it was in 1980 or 1981 that my great uncle died, but nobody let us know until a short while later. When I found out, I was a bit emotional and wrote a letter to Auntie. I tried to comfort her and pay what compliments I could to Uncle. I spoke of his continuous jovial attitude – always seeing the funny side of things, and making everyone laugh (which was true).
But I had a dream that night. I don’t remember it very well, but I can recount the essence. The dream described Uncle as a very cruel man, mean and ruthless, without mercy. He seemed to get pleasure out of someone’s pain, especially in revenge. Never was anyone able to get one up on him.
In the dream, I saw him doing horrible things to chickens (defenseless creatures, representing defenseless people) and deriving wicked pleasure from it. He bled them and sicced dogs on them to tear them apart, or he would tear them apart himself. There were feathers flying, and blood and guts splattering everywhere. The birds couldn’t escape, being in a pen. What an ugly dream it was!
When I awoke, I realized that what I had written to Auntie was false altogether. When considering so many things in the past concerning Uncle, I knew that the dream spoke truly. I recall my mother was surprised at what I had written about him. She had known what he was like. I wonder, though, that she didn’t seem to understand he had been my father for a year and a half. Or wasn’t she willing to face having farmed me out to them?
Notwithstanding his outward demeanor, Uncle was cruel, crude, selfish, proud, and ignorant. He was all those things to a greater degree than many.
I came to a place in the trucking business where we were making good money. I always had cash in my pockets. It was a good feeling. However, the Lord was again drying up the oasis to send us across another stretch of desert (though I didn’t realize it then). I became agitated and restless. I saw little purpose in moving furniture and goods day after day. I wanted something more. “Lord,” became my repeated prayer, “please… deliver me in this trucking or out of it, but deliver me!”
In 1981, Art Beals invited us to a Kenneth Copeland meeting. It was held at the Convention Center in downtown Winnipeg, I believe. While there, we were uncomfortable with the entire scene, with Copeland’s spirit, and with the spirit and form of worship.
As everyone was “praising the Lord,” with hands lifted up, Marilyn suddenly and urgently told me to put my hands down. I knew I needed to do so. As I did, I saw flying, or floating, in along the high ceiling, from the right side of the auditorium (where the entrance was), a cloud of spirits. These spirits came down and entered into whomever they chose of those who had upraised hands. In those moments, I heard some screaming here and there.
We knew the Lord had spared us and revealed to us what Kenneth Copeland was all about. It wasn’t good. When we told the Beals what we experienced, they didn’t believe it and were resentful. So what was new? They were constantly resisting us.
There we encountered Gord Fuller from Earl Grey, Saskatchewan, who was quite enthused about Copeland and the meeting. (Did he receive one of those spirits?) We had hoped to have some fellowship with him, at least there, if not at our home, but he would have none of it. (Come to think of it, I wish I had asked him if his hands were raised during the praise session.)
“This guy has some pretty far-out doctrine,” he sarcastically remarked to a companion.
He was contemptuous of me and of the doctrine of the reconciliation of all things, a doctrine we had shared with him and his wife in his home at Earl Grey a few years prior. However, he boasted of how there were miracles happening in Earl Grey, that even the dead were being raised.
Years later, we heard more of Gord and his wife and of the things he mentioned. At that future time, he would tell us something we didn’t know about Copeland and the Winnipeg meeting. More interestingly, we would hear more of Gord and his reward from the Lord he presumed to worship and serve.
Paul followed a month or two after we left Philadelphia and spent time with us in Winnipeg. We would take walks in the evenings and, on occasion, he would take a walk by himself to the nearest grocery store about half a mile east of our home on La Verendrye in St. Boniface (I tell you this little tidbit about his walks for a reason, as you’ll see).
We decided to quit trucking and move to southern Alberta, where I had wanted to live since I was a boy. I thought, “God isn’t doing anything with us here. I may as well be living where I want to live, if nothing is happening.”
I decided that June, a few months away, would be our last month in Winnipeg. We would meet all our commitments, pack, and head out. (I have to say that such a thought was a rebellious one. In fact, God had been doing plenty with us; I was just too dull to know it.)
We started to run “For Sale” ads in the city paper, hold garage sales, and sell our possessions any way we knew how. We also began to receive strange phone calls. People would call, saying things like, “We were talking to someone in the park who said you had a church we could belong to.” They asked when our meetings were and if they could come (we had no church or meetings). They sounded strange; we had no idea what they were talking about but we would soon find out what was happening.
One rainy evening, Marilyn, Paul, and I were sitting in our living room, talking about something we had bought at the store, when a knock came on the back door. I opened the door, and there stood a slim six-foot-tall spectacled fellow, wearing western boots. He said he was having problems with his car and asked if he could use the phone. I consented and he walked in, not removing his boots, which instantly annoyed me, but I let it pass.
This in itself was strange. First of all, why would someone come to our back door? Also, the chances someone would ask to use our phone for car trouble was remote, and he wasn’t even courteous enough to remove his dirty shoes.
When the man used the phone, he seemed to dial strangely, as though he wasn’t doing it right. And he was steadily looking at Paul while he was on the phone.
All this was happening while we were talking about a paltry matter. I was subconsciously picking up on these things, but not paying attention. Marilyn was also uneasy about what was going on.
The fellow said he couldn’t get through to the intended party so asked if we could help him. It was strange that his car was in the back alley, right behind our home.
Paul and I headed out the back door with him, came up to the car, which had the hood up, and began to look. Suddenly, somebody grabbed me from behind, and the fellow and another man grabbed Paul.
The guy holding me was strong. I don’t know if it was the element of surprise or what, but I seemed quite without strength with him. He took me to the side of the house, put my face to the ground, not hurting me, and said, “You stay right there and don’t look up. There’s a rifle on a rooftop trained on you.”
He left, and I heard the car take off. Somehow I didn’t believe there was any real danger, so I got up. They were gone, with Paul, and I went inside.
Marilyn saw the expression on my face and asked, “What happened? Where’s Paul?”
“They took him,” I said.
“Who did? What happened?”
“I don’t know.”
I described what happened, and we sat there, shocked, wondering what to do. Should we call the police? Who did this? Why?
We suspected Paul’s parents had something to do with it. We began to pray. We also called the only people with whom we had anything at all to do in spiritual matters and whom we thought might have something of value to say about the incident – Art and Doreen Beals. They said they would be right over.
Meanwhile, the phone rang, I answered, and it was Dave Cohen. He said, “Gather Paul’s things, put them in the back behind the garage, and go back in the house.”
“OK, Dave,” I replied. I don’t recall saying much else, unless it was that he didn’t need to break in on us and use force if he wanted to get together with Paul; our home was open to him. He ignored me as though I was a complete stranger and enemy.
We packed Paul’s suitcase, I set it outside and went back in. I checked in half an hour, and it was gone. It seems like we could have called the police and had them arrested on various criminal charges, but I didn’t feel we needed to do anything, and that it would all work out for good.
Apparently Cohen and company didn’t think there was much risk involved in what they were doing, either. Hanging around for Paul’s meager belongings showed me they were quite confident of their security. Just what did they intend to do?
Art and Doreen arrived, we talked and prayed, and Marilyn received that this event was for God’s glory. The Beals had nothing significant to say, though they marveled at what was happening.
I marveled at what had happened. Why did Dave Cohen and his party do what they did? They treated us as enemies, like some stereotypical cult, and our home as a restrictive compound. Now we had an explanation for the strange phone calls in the past two weeks. They had been keeping surveillance on our home.
But why the use of force and kidnapping? It made no sense. They would have seen Paul was free to come and go as he took solitary walks to the nearby store ten blocks away. They could have taken him at any time by himself. They could have come into our home, if they wished, and talked to Paul. We would have gladly let them in to talk all they wanted, or if they wanted to talk to Paul privately, fine. We had nothing to hide or fear, and they had nothing to fear.
Why did they not gather objective information? Why did they not talk to us? Why did they go to all the trouble and sensationalism? I was beginning to suspect that Dave was going about it in such a way as to make a hero of himself, perhaps sell a story or even make a movie. I expect he sold us to his hirelings as a dangerous, brainwashing cult. (What a pitifully scant amount of material a book publisher or movie producer would have had to work with!)
The people Dave had hired would have been unwilling to discover we were harmless. If they believed we were innocent and did the honest thing, it would have meant the end of their lucrative mission. There would have been no need for them to treat us the way they did. This way, they could take advantage of Dave’s evil imaginations and passions, and collect some pay.
I discovered the group had slashed the rear tires on the truck. That was disturbing. Two more new tires down. Did they really think I was going to take off after their getaway car in an old beater truck? Perhaps they did, but to me it appeared to be more grandstanding, spicing up the story for future use.